Television, doctors, lines at the bank, money machines, traffic, malls... all of these things carry the taint of Banality and negatively affect changelings. Anything that removes the wonder from the eyes of a child, anything that teaches one not to believe in magic or faeries is a source of Banality in the world and is a bane to changelings. The effects of banality upon a Kithain is measured by a temporary Banality rating. It describes to what extent the mundane world has tainted the fae's ability to dream and to find wonder in the things around them.
Despite this, Banality is an essential part of every Changeling's existence; without the protection offered by the Banality of their mortal seemings, Changelings would not be able to survive in the highly banal mortal world and would quickly perish. But even with this protection, powerful sources of Banality can harm or even destroy a Changeling's soul, and so it is greatly feared.
As well as being anathema to Changelings, Banality destroys a mortal's ability to Dream, and to create. Banality is thus seen as a major force in all that is dark and miserable in the World of Darkness, and it has many ties to the static reality sought after by Technocracy mages.
A few beings, most notably the Autumn People, are able to use Banality for minor "magical" effect in much the same way as Changelings use Glamour.
Effects of Banality
- If a character's temporary Banality ever exceeds their permanent Glamour score, they begin to slip into the Mists, reverting to their mortal seeming and forgetting that they are Kithain. (This generally occurs between stories when the character is not actively involved with other changelings.)
- Banality hangs over mortals and supernatural beings like a shield of disbelief. In order to use Glamour on someone or something (enchanting someone for instance), the character must roll against the target's Banality score equal or higher. Most humans have a Banality of 7 or higher.
- Beings that have a Banality rating of 8 or higher actually physically affect changelings. The Kithain may become nauseous, experience headaches, or just get very irritable and belligerent. This occurs especially if the changeling spends any time in the company of high Banality people, and gets progressively worse the longer the changeling remains in their presence. As a general rule normal mortals and others with ratings of 7 or lower do not have this effect.
- A Changeling gains a temporary point of Banality whenever they use their own Banality to resist a cantrip.
- If a Kithain's attempt to overcome a being's banality fails, they gain a temporary point of Banality.
- Destroying a treasure and some chimera can cause a changeling to gain temporary Banality.
- Killing a changeling's chimerical form causes a Kithain to gain a point of temporary Banality, ending the mortal life as well adds another point.
- Spending time in the company of high Banality will rub off on one of the fae as well, giving temporary Banality. Often, a character will earn a temporary point of Banality for each point the Banal person has over 7, per scene spent there.
- By acting too mundane, one of the fae can gain Banality.
- If a character's temporary Banality ever exceeds 10, they gain a permanent point of Banality
Getting Rid of Banality
- Any time one of the fae is supposed to gain a temporary point of Banality, they can choose to add a Nightmare Die to their cantrip pool instead.
- When gaining a temporary point of Glamour, the fae can choose to remove a temporary Banality point instead. The time the point of Glamour is gained is the only time this option is available.
At the Storyteller's approval, a character may decide to undertake a quest that will effectively reduce their permanent Banality. These quests usually involve an oath, which will bind the changeling to the task and punish them for an unsuccessful result. Once decided upon, the quest must be completed successfully or the character gains a point of permanent Banality rather than loosing one. Any one of three types of quests will serve this purpose, but the details of the quest are up to the storyteller.
- Quest of the Deed: The Kithain must swear to undertake some task, such as recovering a lost item or rescuing someone.
- Quest of Inspiration: An individual is chosen and the changeling must spend the next several months or years (however long it takes) to bring that person to greatness. The Kithain may not interfere directly in any way; they may only inspire.
- Quest of Dreaming: A changeling may attempt to bring the Dreaming into a mortal's life. An individual is chosen, generally one firmly entrenched in their own Banality. The Kithain must then bring the mortal back to living with a sense of joy, awe, and wonder about the world around them (Think of the angel in It's a Wonderful Life). This can take years or a single night (Think A Christmas Carol), depending on the cleverness of the Changeling. However, once the fae has brought the mortal around, that mortal becomes their responsibility, and if ever the mortal should fall back into the clutches of Banality, the Kithain has a duty to re-establish the miracle.
The Coming of Winter
- As related by Carolan Walks-Far, eshu storyteller, harpist, and friend of Arthur Fishlips and Runcible.
In the early years of humankind, Banality did not exist; or rather, it didn’t seem to. In these times, everything was new, so the fae who lived alongside humans were never without a source of Glamour. There was no need for Ravaging, for there was plenty for all.
As time passed, more and more of reality was named by the Dreamers, and as it was named, Glamour was tied up into these names, for names have power. This did not readily reduce the Glamour available to the fae, nor was the effect truly noticed for a long period of time.
Over the centuries, the fae were humanity’s constant companions. To doubt the existence of the fae would be to deny the sun or the moon. Many humans saw the fae as gods or goddesses, for they had much power in those days. But gradually, beliefs and attitudes shifted. Religions died and new ones arose to take their place. People became no longer satisfied with accepting a supernatural explanation for all they saw. If they were, it was from a limited number of sources, such as the Christian God or Devil and their minions. The fae were simply not needed as they had been in the past.
Soon, technology arose. At first, since this was the first truly new concept in millennia, there was much Glamour to be gained from these new discoveries. But these scientists did not accept or desire the existence of the fae, and their lack of belief harmed many of those feeding on the Glamour created by their inspirations. It was almost as if the Glamour the fae were drawing from these individuals’ creations was actually burning them. Of course, the reason for this is obvious now. Perhaps if we had approached things differently, things wouldn’t have turned out as badly as it did. Sadly, there was no way to know how things could have been changed, so there is no point crying over crushed pearls.
These Kithain were hurt by the Glamour they drew from the rational men and women of the era. Most simply left scientists alone, but a few tried to find a way to work with this energy without harm. These were among the first Dauntain. In fact, it is suspected these individuals or their students are manipulating entire societies in order to increase Banality. Ridiculous? Possibly. But take a close look at the world around you and then decide.
Science and technology did not cause Banality to rise themselves. It was the point of view of those who practiced these disciplines which gave it more power. Scientists willing and able to accept, even welcome, concepts and theories outside of those they were taught tend to be less banal than those who try to explain all they see with a limited set of rules. Indeed, any rules are ultimately constraining and may lead to a general increase of Banality among those who adhere to them.
Scientists provided humanity with explanations for all the little things once ascribed to the supernatural. Diseases were not curse, they were simply microbes. Bad weather was not caused by wrathful gods, but by the way the wind blew, the climate, the season, and numerous other factors. Suddenly, everyone came to view the workings of the world in the same way. Very few were willing to contradict “known facts,” and this too gave way to more Banality.
The fae have always been dependent upon humanity’s belief and creativity, but belief was quickly fading. Instead, they built upon the foundations laid by the scientific and religious communities of the Renaissance, reinforcing and expanding old views.
What did this all mean? It didn’t just mean that the Kithain were no longer wanted. It meant they were no longer needed. Humanity was doing for themselves what the Kithain had taught them so many millennia ago. This was truly unbearable to the sidhe. Rather than face this defeat, the sidhe abandoned humanity to their own devices. Many of the common kith chose to stay on Earth, but with the rising tide of disbelief and Banality, they had to find a way to survive: a means that came to be known as the Chrysalis. With all the trods to the Dreaming closed, it was the only choice. Those who stayed and underwent the ritual were born and reborn into human lives over many centuries.
In 1969, the United States landed a space capsule on the moon, and the flow of Glamour focused by years of science fiction tale and the experience of humankind forged a trod to Arcadia. This resulted in a huge influx of sidhe from five houses. Have all of them surfaced? I seriously doubt it. Considering their vulnerability to Banality, many of these unfortunates are likely still stuck in their human seemings.
This was a brief, fragile hope, for soon afterward the space program slowed to a crawl and the strength of Banality began to reassert itself. To the horror of all Kithain I knew at the time, the portents of the coming Winter doubled and redoubled themselves. Among the most notable of these signs, unfortunately, is that the number of Dauntain seems to have increased greatly in the last 25 years.
The arrival of Winter is a time feared, hated, and often ignored in hopes it will go away. Many Kithain are aware that when Winter comes, their lives, their fears, everything they know and hold dear will be stripped from them, leaving only a barren, gray landscape for the humans to celebrate their dry science. It is not without reason the fae are frightened by the future and will do anything they can to stop it, or at least mitigate its effects on them.
Many Kithain hold the belief that Winter will herald the end of all meaning in the world: an Armageddon of the soul which will annihilate all creativity and magic remaining in the universe, leaving nothing to inspire or change. This loss will not be a bang, but a whimper. We will merely gradually wake in our beds with no memory of who and what we are. Finally, the last of us will be gone and there will be no memory of our passing, as Banality steals even that away.
A few heretics believe that Winter (and Banality) will not destroy the Kithain; it will simply banish them back to Arcadia. Those who take this to heart too closely often skirt becoming Apostates of the Dauntain. Personally, I strongly doubt the veracity of this claim. If the true fae will not allow us in now, why then would they take in one of us who is utterly tainted with the gray thoughts of humanity? (Supposing, of course, even that much remains.)
One belief which is not widely held, but gains more popularity as the time approaches, is the Winter, like Spring, Summer, and Autumn, will pass, leading back to Spring and a new age when we are accepted. Perhaps not in the forms we wear now, but certainly in some manner. The proponents of this belief state that the world is composed in cycles, that just as humanity no longer depends upon Kithain, mortals must move along to a stage where they are manipulated by and depend on no one, including (especially) the Prodigals. To them, Winter will be a time of maturation for humankind, a time for them to discover what their true potential is. When the time is proper, the humans will invite the fae to return, but this time, the humans will be the teachers.
Ultimately, though, most view Winter with much trepidation and fear. They would rather stave off the Autumn as it is now and bring back the halcyon days of Spring and Summer. Winter is death: death without promise, without rebirth. When you get to the heart of the matter, it is death without meaning.