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Inanimae: The Secret Way
Sourcebook for Changeling: The Dreaming

Rob Barret, Roger Gaudreau, Stephan Herman, R.S. Martin and Angel McCoy
White Wolf, 120 pages


Art: Terese Neilsen
Inanimae: The Secret Way
Additional Information
Changeling: The Dreaming has escaped some of the dark, oppressive atmosphere surrounding much of White Wolf's main tier RPGs in their World of Darkness line, but kept the same exceptional standards of writing and production, making it a favourite for serious role-players of all ages.

White Wolf Games
Changeling: The Dreaming Free Quick Start Guide & Adventure
Changeling: The Dreaming Product List
Changeling: The Dreaming FAQ
Changeling: The Dreaming Signature Characters
Changeling: The Dreaming Forum
Changeling: The Dreaming Character Sheets

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Don Bassingthwaite

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One of the things I like about Changeling: The Dreaming is the sense of wonder and enchantment that pervades it. Far more than any of White Wolf's other World of Darkness games, Changeling is a game about what the world (the game world or even our world) could be, charged with imagination and magic. Those are the same reasons I like Inanimae. This sourcebook has an incredible sense of wonder, enchantment, imagination -- well heck, the best way to describe it is "fantastic," in every sense of the word.

Inanimae presents a new series of inhabitants of the magical world of the Dreaming, the fae spirits that inhabit elemental and inanimate objects. Like changelings, these spirits survived the long banality of the Shattering by linking themselves to physical objects. Unlike changelings, however, these host objects are inanimate -- stones, trees, streams, breezes, and flames. They also took to these host objects far earlier than changelings did, with the result that the Inanimae have their own mythic history and legendary customs quite separate from those of the Kithain. Just as the Kithain are now enjoying a renaissance with the return of the Sidhe, the Inanimae are also awakening from their long slumbers and returning to the world. Just as the Sidhe are discovering, however, it is a world much altered.

Aside from the obvious changes of technology and the spread of Banality, the reawakened Inanimae face a change unknown to the Kithain. Where once the vast majority of Inanimae lived free and natural lives, the spread of civilization has resulted in a new multitude of Inanimae returning to consciousness and discovering that their host materials have been captured by humanity and worked into a new shape. Such worked Inanimae are called Krofted. Within Inanimae society the division between Krofted and natural (or gladelings) is as sharp as between Seelie and Unseelie Kithain and generates as much tension and distrust.

This is clearly a detail-oriented book and the work that has been put into developing the Inanimae as a "culture" (not an entirely accurate term as each group of Inanimae has its own culture as well) is impressive. The book is filled with marvelous snippets that really bring the inhabitants of the Great Slow Empires to life -- a sidebar story, for instance, tells the tale of a Sidhe lord, newly returned to Earth, and his confrontation with an Inanimae who remembers what the Sidhe's previous incarnation did before the Shattering. The Inanimae, it seems, have long memories.

Rules are given which allow players to create all manners of Inanimae characters: ponderous Glomes (earth-based), flighty Parosemes (air-based), peaceful Ondines (water-based), shunned Solimonds (fire-based), or mysterious Mannikins (the leaders of the Krofted, inhabiting puppets and mannequins). As with the descriptions of Inanimae culture, these rules are very well worked out and satisfyingly complete. Forget any of the various sourcebooks that add on "oh, by the way, here's how you can play one of these critters." Inanimae gives you the works and explains how Inanimae can be worked into existing Changeling chronicles.

In fact, this is one of the most all around satisfying sourcebook products I've ever seen. It's complete in every way, from base concept to fine details to integration with the parent game setting. It's well-illustrated and very well-written. There are five authors credited -- kudos to Rob Barret, Roger Gaudreau, Stephan Herman, R.S. Martin, and Angel McCoy -- and yet the flow of text is so smooth that it feels like it was written by one. Probably what's most astonishing is that this isn't a necessary game book. You could play Changeling quite happily without it and in my experience that's the type of expansion accessory that most often tends to be shabby, knocked together, and a complete waste of money.

Inanimae is not one of those products!

This is a beautiful, charming book and using it will add a rich dimension to your chronicle. The material could also be adapted to give a little twist to Werewolf: The Apocalypse or Mage: The Ascension games -- although Inanimae makes only a brief (but amusing) mention of Garou and mage interactions with Inanimae, I think there are some intriguing possibilities here. I really hope that Inanimae sells the way it deserves to -- it's just great.

Copyright © 1999 by Don Bassingthwaite

Don Bassingthwaite is the author of Such Pain (HarperPrism), Breathe Deeply (White Wolf), and Pomegranates Full and Fine (White Wolf), tie-in novels to White Wolf's World of Darkness role-playing games. He can't remember when he started reading science fiction, but has been gaming since high school (and, boy, is his dice arm tired!).


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