The Sessile Ones: A Refinement of Form


The Inanimae are among the strangest, most ineffable creatures of the dreaming. Inanimae: The Secret Way is one of my favorite original Changeling texts, but to be honest most of the systems were difficult to understand and often thematically odd. Changeling the Dreaming 20th did a lot to revise the Inanimae, and introduced some concepts that fixed a lot of the old problems with them, but as I’ve read through the chapter a few times I’ve run into some brand new thematic problems and contradictions, and some of the quirkier rules from the original text were included in C20. I have put together a few house rules for my home game to make the Inanimae a bit more approachable, while working to retain the goals that the C20 developers. As I am not one of the C20 devs I might miss the mark and may have misinterpreted the reasons for some of these rules, but I hope my take on these are useful for some of you out there adventuring in the deepest kingdoms of the Dreaming. Simon will be posting some more dramatic modifications to the Inanime very soon for players and storytellers who would rather integrate them more completely with mainstream Kithain playstyle.
House Rule 1 Somnolence/Slumber
Original Rule: When an Inanimae has a Banality rating that exceeds her Glamour rating, she runs the risk of falling into Somnolence. For some this is a good thing, as it cleanses them and renews their spirits before waking again.
Current System: Roll Glamour every time an Inanimae with a higher Permanent Banality than Permanent Glamour gains a point of temporary banality (difficulty of Banality + 2, maximum 9). If the roll fails, the Inanimae is slammed back to her Anchor and falls into a deep slumber. This sleep lasts for one year for every dot by which her Banality exceeds her Glamour. Once that time passes, her Banality rating drops two dots below her Glamour, and she removes all temporary Banality. If the roll is botched, or if the character’s Banality rating ever reaches 10, the inanimae is Undone.
My wording above is a mixture of the original text and the C20 text. C20 didn’t really change this rule, but it did lose some important descriptors from the writeup in The Secret Way. This rule gives you a place to anchor remembrance on, saying that an Inanimae doesn’t lose memory from the mists when it changes husks, but is hit by the mists during Somnolence.
What I Feel Needs to be Changed: This creates a dynamic where the higher your glamour, the less banality you are able to purge. This is thematically strange for several reasons. Especially if you use Somnolence to trigger remembrance then this event would basically equate to character death in most cases, and setting the rule up so that when you drop enough banality you just wake up misses a lot of thematic potential in terms of what actually triggers the Inanimae to reawaken. This also doesn’t align with the description of what awakened the Inanimae from the long Solomnence after the Shattering. Given that even Changelings in temporary chimerical death need a jolt of glamour to reawaken this seems like an ideal opportunity to create parallels, and eliminate the scenario where the more glamorous you are, the more banality you will necessarily retain.
Proposed House Rule: System: Roll Glamour every time an Inanimae with a higher permanent Banality than Permanent Glamour gains a point of temporary banality (difficulty of Banality + 2, maximum 10). If the roll fails, the Inanimae is slammed back to her Anchor and falls into a deep slumber. Every year the Inanimae sleeps they lose one permanent banality. When their permanent banality drops below their Permanent Glamour-2 they have a chance of reawakening any time their anchor is exposed to a strong jolt of glamour. That jolt could be a dreamer being inspired in their presence, or perhaps a Changeling experiencing Chrysalis, or summoning particularly powerful magics (any unleashing or a cantrip with 5 or more successes) in their anchor’s presence. When this happens the Changeling rolls their permanent glamour against a difficulty of their permanent banality. The number of successes required to awaken depends on the intensity of the glamour they are exposed to. An artist being inspired while resting on a Glome’s boulder, or under a Sylph’s canopy may require 3-4 successes. A Changeling calling on the Wyld to complete a great quest may only require 1 success. The number of required successes is ultimately up to the storyteller. Should the Inanimae succeed they will reawaken, but with no husk. A Changeling or Kinnain may make a Kenning role to see the Inanimae, but until they go through the process of building a new husk they will not be visible to humans, or even most other Fae.
This system will very rarely be used as written, because going to sleep for multiple years puts a character in a place where they are probably just being written out of a story until the right moment to re-introduce them. There are a few cases where I can see this roll (or the roll from the original system) being used, and I think this evokes potential narrative hooks for storytellers in a way the original system didn’t.
House Rule 2 Sessile Magic
In The Secret Way the Inanimae had special arts called Slivers. These arts functioned very much how regular Changeling arts do, they had a special set of realms they used to pair with the slivers. This gave the Inanimae a bit of distinctness from the Kithain, but most of their powers were duplicative, not only with the Kithain arts, but often with other Slivers. Several of the Slivers didn’t map well to more than one or two of the Sessile realms, and the act of using the Slivers was not described as including bunks. Without bunks most of the difficulty dynamics of cantrips fall apart, and for Inanimae with low husk ratings exposing themselves to the dream comes with rather profound banality risks, so this made sense, but overall the system didn’t feel particularly coherent.
C20 tackled these issues by setting up the Slivers as broad domains of magic that could only be used for unleashing. The narrative explanation for this is that the Inanimae are more primal than the Kithain and meat Gallain and therefore are not good at the more structured magic associated with the arts. This creates a distinct play experience, and avoids the duplication of the previous Inanimae magic systems. Mannequins can learn Kithain arts, though it is more difficult for them, represented by the fact that they do not receive any automatic points in arts or realms, and must develop both the same way Kithain do before they can make use of Kithain cantrips.
Problems with the new system: The primary thematic issue with only allowing the Inanimae to unleash is that unleashing always causes Nightmare. While Kithain can do extensive magic without ever risking Nightmare the Inanimae are hindered by the fact that everything they do causes Nightmare. Especially if they want to develop a new sliver they risk large amounts of Nightmare while their mastery is very low. While having relatively modest control over their magic makes sense for the wildness of the elements, the accelerated path towards Bedlam makes them difficult to play long term. The Inanimae also gain a nightmare for every success on their equivalent of Ravaging, so their ability to mitigate Bedlam Imbalance is somewhat compromised compared to Meat changelings.
The other problem is that Sliver unleashing has a sentence at the end that says “When in the Autumn Realm, effects are chimerical, and only count as Wyrd if the caster invokes the Wyrd”. The problem with this is Unleashing invokes the Wyrd for a number of minutes equal to the successes on the Unleashing roll on a normal success, or for the entire scene if they lose control. So the scenario described at the end of the Sliver writeup would never happen. If the sentence is saying that Slivers never invoke the Wyrd then the Inanimae are in effect getting far less benefit for the nightmare points they are taking than a Kithain. As unleashing always costs glamour, Inanimae are also struck with considerably greater costs to creating subtle effects than their meat relatives.
Given the above, the goal of this  house rule is to introduce the risk/benefit decision making that a Changeling navigates to the Inanimae, leave them with a path to Nightmare and bedlam, while eliminating that dynamic as a requisite of all magic use. I also want to give the Inanimae a sustainable mechanism to act in a completely chimerical/hidden form similar to how they are depicted in The Secret Way. This is accomplished by bringing back a concept from the leaked Unleashing rules from the Changeling Kickstarter, and tweaking them for the Slivers.
Proposed House Rule: When unleashing a Sliver the player decides if they want to coax or command the powers of the Dreaming. Coaxed Slivers do not call on the Wyrd, and therefore cannot impact the Autumn world in any direct way. This includes creating any effect that can be directly seen by mortals. While it is possible to dance close to this line with effects similar to Dream Logic, or Confounding Coils (Parosemes are especially fond of dancing across a battlefield with the lightness of wind, just within the bounds of what could be “expert but believable agility”) the line to truly visible magic cannot be crossed if an Unleashing is coaxed. If an unleashing is coaxed, and the Inanimae rolls more successes than their level in the Sliver they are unleashing then the effect becomes Wyrd for a number of turns equal to their successes, they automatically spend 1 glamour and gain 1 Nightmare. When a coaxed unleashing is successfully controlled the effect costs no Glamour, and produces no Nightmare.
When a coaxed unleashing fails the effect does not happen and the Changeling gains no Nightmare. When a coaxed unleashing is botched the Changeling gains 1 nightmare.
When an unleashed Sliver is commanded the effect is treated per the normal unleashing rules C20.
House Rule 2 Seasonal Magic
In The Secret Way one of the sections talks about how each of the seasonal holidays is observed by the Inanimae. Each group of Sessiles were tied to one of the equinoxes or solstices. As an alternative to the above rules, or in addition to the above rules you can allow the Inanimae to purchase the seasonal arts connected to the seasonal feasts their Phyla observes. The writeup on these observations is on page 47-48 of Inanimae The Secret Way
Autumn Equinox is jointly hosted by the Parosemes and Ondines.
The Winter Solstice is hosted by the Glomes
The Spring Equinox is hosted by the Kubera
The Summer Solstice is hosted by the Solimonds (though the celebration is a farce of its previous grandeur)
The Mannekins do not have a seasonal art that they are associated with but they can learn all Kithain arts with appropriate effort.
It is recommended that learning the more structured seasonal arts be treated in the same manner as Mannekins learning Arts. It is possible, though not the default mechanism the Inanimae use to perform their magic, so they gain no automatic dots in their associated Art or in the Realms necessary to fuel them.

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