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White Wolf and Plurality

By Zaphkiel^Isere

One of the old irritants of the White Wolf gaming system has been their catagorization of plurality as a five-point flaw. Previously, there was no distinction made between functional and non-functional; every form of plurality was 'multiple personality disorder' and while your character could have 'an alternate personality' which had a different Nature/Demeanor, it was still considered a derangement.

In the most recent version of Changeling (under the new paradigm) we came across this section while browing the updated Changeling: The Lost:

[p. 44. Emphasis ours.]

...A very few unusually eccentric or traumatized Lost discover a strange, but sometimes disturbingly functional, solution by developing two entirely separate personalities, one that knows it is a changeling and another "human" personality that is completely unaware of its true nature and that functions perfectly in the changeling's mortal life. In some extreme and problematic cases, neither personality knows about the other. However, most often the changeling personality knows about the mortal personality and can occasionally listen in on what is occuring when that personality is in charge. In such cases, the changeling personality is often able to take control easily and with minimum trouble when the mortal personality is forced to deal with something outside of its experience.

Functional Multiple Personalities As a reaction to a combination of the horrors the character experienced in Faerie and the shock of returning changed to the mortal world, some changelings develop multiple personalities to help them deal with their experiences. These changelings typically have two personalities, one personality that knows it is a changeling, and another that thinks it is human and has no knowledge of the body's experiences as a changeling. This second personality always has some plausible story about who it is and what happened when the changeling was abducted. If neither personality knows about the other, this is a typical example of the Multiple Personality derangement. However, a few Lost have managed to resolve most of the psychological issues involved without reintegrating their two personalities. This odd but less extreme condition counts as a Flaw, but is only a mild derangement.

Such characters present a challenging but fascinating role-playing experience. In such cases, the changeling personality knows about the mortal personality and can at will observe and offer subtle hints of advice that come across to the human personality as unconscious thoughts and urgings. The human personality knows nothing of the character's life as a changeling, but definately knows that something is odd in its life and that there is someone else in its head who deals with all the "weird stuff." In most cases, the two personalities can actually communicate in a limited fashion, although the human personality rejects and rapidly forgets any suggestion that it is anything other than a normal human being who is forced to deal with a variety of unusual situations. Each personality can call on the other to take over if needed, but usually does so only when confronted with something outside of the personality's experience. In the case of the human personality, this includes changelings, the Fae and other supernatural oddities. For the changeling personality, this usually includes the changeling's family, close mortal friends and the changeling's mortal job.

These personalities are always different from one another. Their emotions, tastes and desires all differ, although not necessarily radically. With the approval of the Storyteller, the player can also purchase a special one-dot Merit only available to such functional multiple personalities. This Merit, called Shared Sleep, means the character needs only four hours of sleep a night to feel fully rested, as long as she spends at least six hours a day in each of her two personalities. In effect, one personality sleeps while the other is awake, significantly reducing the amount of sleep the character's body requires. This Merit should only be available to characters that are played such that each personality is a recognizable individual.

Our feelings on the subject are mixed, naturally. Our overall reaction is that:

  • 1. Functional multiple personality being recognized (though still considered a derangement) is an improvement.
  • 2. Having non-integration as an option and having it called functional is also nice.
  • 3. Re: the 'special Merit.' We feel it's total BS about needing less sleep on a regular basis (even if the mind is restored, the physical body needs a certain amount of sleep and will start to wear down after too little rest under its own requirement), BUT the fact that there is a special beneficial merit does help to make functional plurality look 'cooler' than the dysfunctional version. It's attractive now, or at least more attractive than just a freakshow flaw.
  • It's a nice change to see, at least. Small, baby steps.

    pavilion @ karitas . net
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