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Peter Breaks Through

By: Kismet

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The Peter Pan story has such obvious Changeling applications and overtones that it is natural to want to use it in a game, which is what I had the pleasure of doing for one of my players.  She was incredibly enthusiastic about setting up a Lost character who thinks she is the "real" Wendy Moira Angela Darling because she has spent too much time away, enchanted by the story of her Keeper.  My player whipped up a character sheet just to get the idea out of her head, and I had to admit that I was intrigued.  I had read the tale by J.M. Barrie but I'd never looked at it with gaming in mind; it was a very different read the next time around, and very encouraging.  I put my own spin on Barrie's excellent tale, as Storytellers are wont to do, and there is enough here for another Storyteller to use.  If you can find a map of Neverland and the music from the film, I found that they add a special something to the experience.

The Island Come True

Neverland is a conglomeration of the fantasy dreams of children. The locations in the Peter Pan books and films – like Peter’s home under the ground, the mermaid lagoon, and the pirate harbor – are regular fixtures of the realm, though their locations change. The wilds between are mutable and filled with all the hungry dangers children can dream of, making navigation particularly perilous. There are jungles, beaches, oceans, forests, and mountains, but rarely swamps or deserts.

Everyone knows the directions to Neverland: second star to the right, straight on till morning. Getting out of Neverland is far more difficult. The ability to fly is rare, and the air itself resists efforts to fly away. Still, it might be possible to make a deal for a dose of fairy dust. There are also rumors of a way out through the coral caves underneath the lagoon, but that requires the ability to breathe underwater and to get past the mermaids. Few have returned from ranging over the mountains or the smaller islands, so there might also be escape routes in those places.

Do You Believe in Fairies?

Peter Pan, Hook, and the Indian Chief are three Keepers that “share” Neverland. They are forever in pursuit of each other, but the order changes: sometimes Hook hunts the Lost Boys, but other times the Lost Boys go on the offensive. Sometimes they meet and clash, and many changelings die as a result; sometimes they meet and relatively peaceful pledges are exchanged, but they are always short-lived.

Peter is a young boy with vaguely elfin, mischievous features. He is adorned with skeleton leaves and tree sap, which glistens on his cheeks. He has all of his first teeth. He has courtly and gentlemanly manners but slips at times into boyish arrogance. Sometimes his Shadow scouts ahead of him, in Neverland and on earth. (It is said that interacting with Peter’s shadow will get you a one-way ticket to Neverland).

Peter is known to have a fickle alliance with a creature called Tinker Bell. When Peter is gone, she is a ball of light almost too bright to look at directly; when Peter is near, she reveals a glittering ultra-feminine frame. She seems to be bound to fulfill his direct orders but she has been known to twist them if she is able. Tinker Bell has particular hatred for any girl currently fulfilling the role of Wendy.

The Chief of the “Indian” tribe is not so much Native American as the fear of all savages brought together in an overwhelming presence. He is a very large man with a plump belly (loosely based on the Disney rendering), with gleaming black eyes and a disgustingly wide mouth rimmed in blood. He is bedecked with scalps and other body parts, and he’s as likely to stalk on all fours as on two legs.

Captain James Hook has a jarringly elongated face with piercing blue eyes that have red dots in them at all times. He wears elaborate clothes and dark black curls, and hooks that come in many cruel varieties. He treats his men like dogs, and like dogs they obey, but he’s most sinister when he’s most polite. Hook is literally the cutting edge of high breeding (and, not coincidentally, pledge-making).

The Children Are Carried Off

Children can visit Neverland in a misty dream form but they end up back home upon waking. This is arguably more common now than it used to be, what with the popularity of the Peter Pan story itself. Sometimes the familiarity someone builds with the realm draws the attention of a Keeper who lives there, and they see to it that the visitor is brought over bodily. Other times, Keepers (namely the Chief and Hook) go hunting for adults who have been twisted by time but still have Neverland in their hearts.

The Happy Home

Changelings in Neverland develop according to their Keeper and group. Peter’s Lost Boys most often become [darkling] tunnelgrubs, [fairest] dancers, flowerings, larcenists, minstrels, playmates, romancers, [wizened] gameplayers, soldiers, thussers. (Peter regularly keeps one set of twins.)

Piccaninny tribe members become beasts and elementals of all descriptions. The “braves” are older teens and men; if they please the Chief, they are allowed to create a shade-wife as a reward. This shade is rendered by the island itself and appears solid while it is within the boundaries of Neverland. It has the personality desired and does everything it is ordered to do, but can be dispelled by the Chief at will.

Hook’s pirates tend to become [darkling] leechfingers, mirrorskins, moonborn, nightsingers, razorhands, whisperwisps, [ogre] bloodbrutes, renders, water-dwellers, [wizened] soldiers, thussers. Hook takes on the most women of the three Neverland Keepers. (Some say he has only gathered more as crime rates amongst women have gone up.)

There are three special roles for three specific changelings in Neverland: that of Wendy, Smee, and Tiger Lily. The humans chosen for these roles are picked for certain personality traits and are more likely to develop unique or rare kiths. There is usually only one changeling assigned to a special role, although there have been exceptions – Hook has had men duel for the right to be Smee, while the chief has experimented with hosting more than one “daughter.” These changelings can last longer than the average pirate or Lost Boy, but their punishments can be quite severe, since they serve as examples. Once they arrive on the island, Wendys, Tiger Lilys, and Smees are never referred to by their real names again. If they manage to escape Neverland, they become primary targets for the vengeance of their Keepers.

Wendy is chosen between the ages of nine and twelve. She tends to have a sense of responsibility for others without being weighted heavily by obligations (making older siblings prime candidates). Wendy is generally attractive, gifted with some form of art, and enjoys playing house. Wendy will remain ageless until and unless she starts to develop “older” thoughts: cares and worries that refuse to be soothed away.

Tiger Lily is a girl between thirteen and sixteen. She can be physically striking, but a strong personality is more important. She is known for a capacity for fierceness and violence, and more than one Tiger Lily has come from a juvenile detention center. It is said that Tiger Lily will remain in her position of power as long as she does not take a lover from outside her tribe. It is not without cruelty, then, that Peter Pan aims to charm every Tiger Lily he meets.

Smee tends to be a man in his forties or older, with a sense of order and responsibility not unlike Wendy. He must have an obedient nature and a capacity for bloodshed, however, to remain with Hook for long. Smee is the only pirate allowed to directly touch Hook or to tend to the captain’s quarters without penalty. He is sometimes responsible for maintenance of the ship and its weapons, and any gadgetry is likely to come from him. It is said that Smee must have gray hairs and that he must be the oldest visitor in Neverland.

Wendy’s Story

It was 1955, two years after the release of Disney’s Peter Pan. A ten-year-old girl was reading the story to her little brother when she caught sight of Pan’s shadow, listening. She managed to trap it for a while but it got loose. Since it was scouting for Peter anyway, Pan showed up to collect his latest Wendy. She cared for the Lost Boys until she was misled by Tinker Bell and captured by the Indians.

Once in camp, Wendy was told Peter had seven days to bring tribute; if he didn’t, Wendy would be made a wife, or dinner. Desperate, Wendy started trying to engage the braves by talking to them, telling stories at meal times and singing. She ended up singing a song from earth that one of the braves remembered. During her stay, she helped him to remember more about the life he left behind and vice versa. He explained that the women in camp weren’t real, and she used that knowledge to convince the Chief she would make a better prize than dinner. For the first time, she started to age. On the last day, Peter arrived and paid all of the Lost Boys as tribute. Some of them were butchered for a gruesome “peacetime” dinner.

A new crop of Lost Boys was found, along with a boy named Michael who was very vocal about going home. He gave all kinds of details about earth and demanded his mother, which sent Peter into a tantrum. As Wendy tried to protect the boys and started to recall more about home, Peter got bored with her. One night he brought New Wendy, a bright, very young girl to go on all of the adventures outside the house. He expressed real distaste for Old Wendy’s being – well, old, but he allowed her to take care of the house. Which meant she was to stay there.

Old Wendy snuck out with the childish belief that she could find her Indian friend if she wished it with all her heart, and eventually she did find him. He didn’t know if a way out of Neverland, but together they remembered Tinker Bell and executed a plan to trap her. Wendy reminded Tink that she knew about pledges, and that Peter had abandoned them both. Tink agreed to supply fairy dust on the condition that Wendy kill New Wendy, bring back her scalp, and never return. In a horrifyingly one-sided fight, Old Wendy discovered how much she’d grown up.

Tinker Bell held up her end of the bargain, and Wendy started to fly away with her friend as quickly as possible…only to realize that she could see right through him. She realized that he was dead and created by the island out of her desire for his company. Just before he faded completely, he repeated his last words: “Oh God, I really am going to die here.” And then she remembered the boy Michael, and that he might be her little brother. She tried to fly back for him but it was too late. The next thing she knew, she was a grown woman thrown into a street that made no sense to her – in the year 2009.

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