My group is gearing up to play DFRPG, and one of the players is interested in making a Changeling with mortal evocation and Summer Court fae magic.

The other day, he asked me how he would affect technology. He's not quite a mortal practitioner, but he's also not quite one of the fae, so his effect on technology was in a bit of a grey area.

I realize that in the FATE system, a question like this pretty much comes down to group consensus, but at the same time this seems like a question that would have come up with other groups before. Further, it's entirely likely that this interaction may be covered by the rules and I've simply missed it.

For the time being, the two of us agreed that his mere presence wouldn't disrupt technology, nor would his Seelie magic, but his mortal evocations would. However, if there is rules support (or strong arguments) against that interpretation, I'd like to hear it. This particular character is the only one even conceptualized so far (of a group of 4 characters, most likely), so changing things is easy.


2 Answers 2


In Cold Days, Ebenezer suggests that it's the emotions and conflict within humans that cause magic to behave strangely.

Ebenezar McCoy believes that the reason the magic of human wizards disrupts modern mechanics and technology—though the magic of Faeries does not—is that human beings are inherently conflicted. Magic responds to emotions and thoughts, and people's thoughts and emotions are always conflicting. This means that there is a turbulence around those with magical talent and its the turbulence, not the magic itself, that disrupts technology.


As a result, if Ebenezer is right, if he's currently a changeling who has yet to decide, I'd say he would affect technology. There sounds like there is a wealth on conflict within him. That said, this is based entirely on one wizards theory in the books themselves, not on actual written rules, so this is definitely open for interpretation.

Personally, I would probably say that regardless of the type of magic he is using, if he is conflicted / confused, he would have technical difficulties. If he's acting within a strict set of rules based on his principles, no technical difficulties.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice, even more interesting analysis than I was thinking of. +1! \$\endgroup\$ Aug 25, 2014 at 17:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ I love the analysis, although if we're delving into the novels, what about Butters' scientific take on the technology-disruption? (Something to do with electric fields, mentioned in Skin Game IIRC.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Brian S
    Aug 25, 2014 at 18:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BrianS I believe that still works with this interpretation. Butters theory deals with the how, not the why. In my answer, the magic would generate the electrical field due to the conflict. That said, if you want to say any mortal magic creates this field, that's definitely your prerogative. In that case, anyone with a potent gift would cause technical difficulties. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 25, 2014 at 18:44

The most recent novel Skin Game gives some possible insight:

She bumped my first with hers, and turned away -- and as she walked away from me, I saw her pull a cell phone out of her pocket and turn it on.

That stopped me in my tracks.

Cell phones were some of the technology that was absolutely the most sensitive to the unbalanced fields of energy around a mortal wizard. When one of us got near a powered-up cell phone, it was likely to kick the bucket right there.

Inhuman practitioners, on the other hand, had no problem with that effect whatsoever.

And I suddenly felt very afraid for Molly.

Now, Molly is more than a changeling, she's the Winter Lady. She is also still a wizard as is made clear by her actions at the end of Skin Game (no spoilers but they were directly related to her specialties as a mortal wizard, specifically those in Proven Guilty). Those actions occur less than a day before this and where it is reasonable to believe Molly had the cell phone on her.

That, combined with Dresden's fear which implies that being the Winter Lady is making her something other than human lead me to conclude the character in question would have little or no effect even if he is active. Somehow the inhuman portion of the character is shielding the human parts from affecting technology.

You could also look in Summer Knight. I don't have it handy but it might give the most direct insight as it has the most changelings in it so might give more detail.

The problem goes beyond Fate rules versus the books to include the fact the books are still being written. As an area un-detailed (although I clearly believe Skin Game gives us some detail) whatever you choose is subject to being arbitrarily changed by Butcher (a process often called "gregging" in the gaming world after Greg Stafford's habit of changing previously known things about Glorantha) in the next decade or so as he finishes the series.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You should probably explain the term "gregged" or use a different one. I only understand it because I'm now an Initiate myself... \$\endgroup\$ Aug 25, 2014 at 22:29

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