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Other Games, Development, & Campaigns => Play by Post Games => Topic started by: The Yann Waters on February 20, 2007, 07:51:10 am

Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on February 20, 2007, 07:51:10 am
A legend has it that long before Heaven invented time and the stars rose to the skies, the Creator (whom the angels call Cneph) bargained with strange entities known as Excrucians so that he might purchase a tiniest fraction of their beauty for his great handiwork, the Ash of Yggdrasil and all the worlds which hang suspended from its boughs, with the Earth somewhere among the branches. It is not known what he promised in return for their favour, but he never kept his word; and so, five thousand years ago, the Excrucians led the armies of nothingness to the gates of Heaven, murdering their guardian with a blade named Atrocity and beginning the Great War of Valde Bellum, and with it the Age of Pain which continues to this day. This ancient enemy seeks to unmake all of Creation itself, erasing it from existence one concept at a time, and what they destroy is not only gone forever but has never existed in the first place. Should light fall before their swords and sorcerous rites, all would be dark from the dawn of history until the end of everything, and no one could imagine the outlandish notion of "sight". This is not an idle threat, either: over the course of the millennia they have achieved countless victories, and the mortal world cannot even remember what has already been lost.

Against the peril of these Dark Horsemen, a truce of necessity has been formed between the angels and the devils, the lords of the Light and the magisters of the Dark, the Wild and the Gods and stranger beings still: all those grand personifications of Creation collectively and commonly known as Imperators. For the most part, the War rages in the spirit world, an elevated plane of reality which lies utterly beyond all common comprehension, and only unwavering vigilance on the part of the defenders keeps the hordes of oblivion from engulfing the realms of unsuspecting humanity. And meanwhile, someone has to take care of the more earthly concerns...

Hence, the Nobilis.

As a precaution, an Imperator may descend into the material universe, claiming a piece of a world as a sanctuary for its body and granting fragments of its soul to a handful of lesser creatures so that these newly knighted Nobles may then serve as its guardians and emissaries, as a family of demigods bound together by spirit rather than blood. Humans are eminently suitable for this honour, although frankly anything may be enNobled: a clump of dirt would suffice in a pinch, and has in the past. The divine soul-shard holds a facet of reality represented by the Imperator, and this one concept (violins, violence, the colour violet, to name a few out of boundless possibilities) is entrusted to the Noble as her Domain which she is charged to rule wisely and protect at any cost from the ravages of the Excrucians and all other threats.

Of course, it's never quite that straightforward...

The dominion over the Earth has been yielded to Lord Entropy, the bloody-handed embodiment of destruction, desecration and scorn, due to an obscure prophecy which states that he may redeem all his sins and crimes in the final battle on the day of Ragnarok. In the meantime, his Code Fidelitatis is the legislation by which all Nobles are expected to abide, and its first law is simple: "Thou Shalt Not Love Another."

The world itself has been sundered into two distinct perspectives ever since the wrath of an exiled angel burned away the dinosaurs. In the Prosaic, the alternation of day and night is governed strictly by the measurable forces of gravitation and the rotation of the planet. In the Mythic, the night falls whenever the Sun can no longer can bear to look upon her earthbound son whose features from time to time resemble the face of his monstrous father. Both of these things are true at once.

Among themselves, the Noble Familias are engaged in a neverending "game of flowers", a web of rivalry and courtly intrigue in which occasionally the pettiest feuds last for centuries and entire nations become pawns, and in which the deadliest weapon is knowing what your enemies cherish more than anything else: an indiscreet love affair between the Duke of the Future and the Marchessa of the Past may have unexpected repercussions, and the Viscount of Individuality might have to take steps to protect himself against the clockwork assassins from the Domain of Progress, and perhaps the Regal of Lost Bric-a-Brac has just had enough of being everyone's laughing-stock...

And over all this looms the certainty that the end of the age draws near, and that all worlds too must once come to an end.


[links][/links]
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on February 20, 2007, 08:27:49 am
'Ello.

As mentioned here (http://www.therpgsite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=77092#post77092), this thread is reserved for questions and answers about the setting and system of Nobilis, along with the process of character generation as well as miscellaneous OOC comments from prospective players and nosy bystanders alike. The mechanical aspects of the gameplay can be largely handled in any IC threads themselves, and marked as such by square brackets: "I hit him with my axe [A4]" for "I hit him with my axe as a level 4 Aspect miracle", and so on.

As we all know, the common problem with PbP games is the unfortunate tendency of players to drift away during play, and planning too far ahead wouldn't therefore make much sense. So, the first question is whether the game should begin with most of the background detailed in advance and independently of what the characters might turn out to be like (as in the dungeon example), or follow the usual conventions of Nobilis, with nature taking its course after the chargen as various adventures and mishaps result directly from the properties of the PCs and their Estates. In either case, that introductory scenario should probably be fairly brief: the next one can always pick up from where it left off.

Preferences and suggestions?

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Character Creation, Briefly

(For further details, see "Nobilis 101" and "Amadan's References" in the link section to the left. At a guess the game could comfortably accommodate 3-6 players, out of which three have so far expressed a tentative interest: if you are curious, this would be a good time to join in.)

0. Choose a Concept and an Estate

To begin with, decide on a few basic details about your character. What is his Estate, that little slice of the universe entrusted to his care? Why was he chosen for this duty, and how does he feel about it? Who was he earlier, before entering the service of the Imperator, and what sort of connections does he still have to that past life?

After that, you are ready to proceed to the more mechanical aspects of creating your Noble. For all the purchases during this process, you'll have exactly 25 character points to spend. Note that strictly speaking the only mandatory steps involve choosing your Code, Bonds and Design: still, as any unspent CPs are lost before the actual play begins and cannot be saved until later, it might be smart to invest possible leftovers into increasing the miracle point pools or gaining cheap but effective Gifts.

1. Purchase Attributes

All of the four Attributes start out at zero and each further rank always costs three CPs, regardless of its current state. For Nobles, none of the Attributes can be raised beyond five; for Imperators, that limit is seven.

Aspect -- The distance between all the physical, mental and social abilities of a common mortal and those of a miraculous creature, such as your character. At zero, your body is still the same as it ever was, and your skills are little better than those of an ordinary human being on one of those good days when nothing seems to go wrong. At five, your body has been fully infused by the sacred essence of the divine soul-shard within it, allowing you to break the limitations of common flesh and blood with perfect ease. This Attribute governs all actions that anyone at all might perform, only exaggerated further and further until they reach mythic proportions, and determines the amount of punishment you can suffer before dying.

Domain -- The degree of power and control that you have over the Estate within your care. At zero, you are its servant rather than the other way around. At five, you have merged with it to such an extent that it's difficult to tell where the Estate ends and the Noble begins. This Attribute governs all the different ways of manipulating your Domain, from spying on others through some distant part of it to destroying every last bit of it from the face of the Earth.

Realm -- The influence which you have over the Chancel, the hidden miniature world ruled by your family of demigods, as well the social standing that you enjoy among the local population there. At zero, you are just another of the citizens, although usually still influential and respected. At five, you are true royalty and a veritable deity within the Chancel, and treated as such by everyone. This Attribute can be used to manipulate anything within the confines of the realm much like if it was an actual part of your own Domain.

Spirit -- The harmony between your mortal spirit and the shard of divinity within your heart. At zero, you remain fundamentally human. At five, you are either on the verge of burning away the last remnants of your humanity in a blaze of godhood, or else have reached an enlightened state where your two souls fuse together and remain perfectly balanced. This Attribute determines the efficiency of whatever magical rites you might perform, and also provides a considerable amount of defence against hostile miracles.

2. Purchase Secondary Domains

A Noble may hold more than a single Estate, although the original one will always remain more important than any other and even those lesser areas of influence generally are in some way connected to it, so that for instance the Power of Engines might also control the Secondary Domain of Oil. Each rank in one of these additional Domains costs only one CP, with the caveat that none of them can ever rise above the current rank of the Primary Domain.

3. Purchase Additional Miracle Points

Miracle Points measure the reserves of mystical energies coursing within the subtle bodies of Nobles and other supernatural beings: by spending these points, you can go beyond what would normally be possible through the Attributes alone. Each Attribute has a separate MP pool associated with it, and each of these four pools starts out at five. Raising any pool by a point costs one CP.

4. Purchase Gifts

"Gift" is the common term for any unusual skill or ability or power, from spells taught by ancient grimoires to transformations which might occur during a Noble's Commencement to literal gifts granted by gods. The base cost for such a talent is the minimum level of the miracle that it's based on (so that flinging fireballs from your fingertips might be a Lesser Creation of Flames, a level 4 miracle of Domain), and the following modifiers are then applied to that amount.

Activation: what does it take for the owner of the Gift to trigger it?
+1 CP if it's automatically activated whenever appropriate
-1 CP if the activation requires a simple miracle (which has no MP cost)
-2 CP if it takes a normal miracle (which costs 1 MP)
-3 CP if it takes a hard miracle (which costs 2 MP)

Area of Effect: what is the size of the area that can be affected by the Gift?
+1 CP if its power can be felt (almost) anywhere and everywhere
-1 CP if its effect is restricted to the local surroundings
-2 CP if it only affects a single target
-3 CP if it only affects the owner of the Gift

Flexibility: how useful would this talent potentially be?
+1 CP if it could solve all imaginable situations
-1 CP if it covers a wide variety of situations
-2 CP if it only has a limited number of possible applications
-3 CP if all it can do is a single "trick"

Rarity: if the Gift can be considered uncommon in the setting, the GM should include a further penalty of +1 CP.

The minimum cost for a Gift is always 1 CP. Additionally, for Gifts that affect a group of related Estates (say, "all living things"), the cost is doubled; and for Gifts that can affect any Estate (literally anything non-miraculous in the universe), the cost is tripled. The GM may also impose further modifications to the costs, depending on the circumstances.

(Note that picking any of the three basic defensive Gifts, "Durant" or "Sacrosanct" or "Immortal", is highly recommended. "Durant" especially may well be one of the most common Gifts among Nobilis.)

As with all miracles, supernatural creatures may be protected against Gifts by the strength of their Spirit, and any additional points of Penetration meant to overcome that protection must be added to the base cost when the Gift is purchased. Unlike regular miracles, Gifts cannot be boosted during play with MPs, only improved with CPs gained through experience.

In addition to any Gifts purchased while the character is being created, all Nobles by default start with three special abilities: Guising (which allows them to blend in with the local population), the Sight (which allows them to sense mystical influences and recognize supernatural creatures), and the Blessing of Tongues (which allows them to understand, and be understood in, any ordinary human language). Leaving your PC without one of them would qualify as a Handicap.

5. Choose Handicaps

Handicaps consist of various disadvantages and flaws which might cause problems for a character from time to time, but also yield him fresh miracle points whenever that happens since there is spiritual strength to be found in facing adversity... Limits are a constant nuisance, and therefore give extra MPs at the beginning of each new story: these include the likes of being deaf or dead. Restrictions come up occasionally and even then may be circumvented, and so they only give MPs when the character is actually hindered by the situation: these include being unable to cross running water or having some unnatural feature which must be kept hidden from mortals. Virtues are much rarer than the other two, and also beneficial as they render one aspect of the character's personality utterly inviolable: someone with the Virtue of Honesty can never be forced to lie, and someone with the Virtue of Cruelty can never be swayed to feel kindness.

Remember that while new Handicaps may later be picked at any time, even during play, they can only be removed permanently between stories.

6. Choose a Code

Each character follows a Code of ethics and morals by which he lives, either any of the five universal affiliations (Heaven, Hell, the Light, the Dark, and the Wild), or that of some True God, or a unique set of personal convictions. Write down three statements which reflect these beliefs, in the order of importance. Act according to them, and you may earn MPs for remaining true to what you believe in. Act against them, and you may lose MPs for struggling against your nature.

7. Choose Anchors

"Anchors" are humans or other commoners who have been taken into the service of a Noble and bound to him through a magical rite, so that the Anchor may at any time call upon the Noble who in turn may at any time act through his servant. Keep in mind that the ritual which creates the connection requires that the Noble must either love or hate the Anchor, and that breaking that connection more often than not would result in the death of the mortal. The maximum number of these Anchors any character can have at once equals his Spirit Attribute plus one.

8. Choose Bonds.

Emotional ties hold the Nobilis tightly, and in many cases attacking those causes more harm than any physical assault against the often invulnerable godlings. Distribute twenty points (not CPs, that is) between all the things that your character truly cares about, whether they are persons, items or ideals: the higher the score, the stronger the Bond, and more important to the character. Note that these points may be later rearranged at will, and that you may even lose Bonds entirely only to find new ones. Nobles can be fickle at times.

9. Decide on a Heraldic Design

Every Noble possesses a Design which combines a symbol of his Estate with a symbol which stands for himself, both portrayed against a stylized background that represents his Code. Traditionally, these symbols are flowers; however, other known possibilities include runes or images from the Tarot deck or even more common heraldic beasts. Anyone who knows this coat of arms can use its symbology to contact the Noble in question, and it also provides a measure of protection against malevolent magic.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: TonyLB on February 20, 2007, 09:13:07 am
You've got a lot of text on the Valde Bellum and really only a little text on the whole intrigues among Nobles.  I'm hoping that doesn't indicate the emphasis of the game.  My experience with Nobilis is that a "Let's fight the Excrucians tooth and nail" atmosphere leads to, frankly, a game that needs a different ruleset entirely.

Personally, I'd far prefer the social sniping and passionate peccadillos, with the Excrucians being a distant boogey-man.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on February 20, 2007, 09:36:29 am
Quote from: TonyLB
Personally, I'd far prefer the social sniping and passionate peccadillos, with the Excrucians being a distant boogey-man.
Well, the Excrucians are the reason why the society of the Nobilis in its modern form even exists since before the War Nobles and Chancels were much rarer, and their constant presence in the background defines the Age...

But that's precisely one of the matters that should be discussed before the actual play even begins: what does everyone expect from the game? It can be run as anything from a Matrix-inspired action extravaganza to a more cosmic version of Dangerous Liaisons, after all.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: TonyLB on February 20, 2007, 09:55:29 am
I'm sure it can be run either way.  What do you (the GM) want to do?  I mean ... you're the one organizing the game.  First priority should be to make sure you're happy with it, right?
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on February 20, 2007, 10:26:26 am
Quote from: TonyLB
I mean ... you're the one organizing the game.  First priority should be to make sure you're happy with it, right?
Er... nope? What's fun for me is seeing others have fun with the game, and the tastes of the players determine how it will run. Personally I prefer investigative scenarios in the style of Sapphire and Steel, but someone else might be more interested in courtly intrigue under the hollow hills, and another in beating up sundry critters from Japanese folklore by learning the Polished Mastery of Martial Arts, and yet another in zooming through time and space in a Chancel disguised as an old police box... Making it all hang together is a challenge.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: TonyLB on February 20, 2007, 10:59:45 am
Quote from: GrimGent
Er... nope? What's fun for me is seeing others have fun with the game, and the tastes of the players determine how it will run.
Ah!  Useful information.  Now I know that I'm not interested.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on February 20, 2007, 11:14:34 am
Quote from: TonyLB
Ah!  Useful information.  Now I know that I'm not interested.
Out of curiosity, how else would you resolve the conflict between the GM wanting to run a low-key noir game and the players designing a fully functional starship as their Chancel, complete with an alien hypercomputer which has ascended into Imperial godhood after transcending the limitations of the long-dead civilization that originally created it?
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: Stumpydave on February 20, 2007, 11:21:00 am
I'm in.  But I'll wait to see who else is in and what their ideas are before I start so as to fit in better.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: TonyLB on February 20, 2007, 11:21:12 am
GRIM: There are many ways for groups to resolve conflicts.

Having one person appoint themselves to be the selfless servant who will do whatever anybody else wants and will never express any conflicting desires of their own is one such way.

It's just not one I want to be associated with.

Personally, on your particular example, I'd say "Okay, so how are we going to make this alien hypercomputer thing fit with my desire for a noir game.  Is it broken down?  Crazy?  I want flickering neon, and cheap floozies hanging out under the streetlamp on the corner.  How we gonna make that happen?"

And if there wasn't any answer then I'd say "Okay then.  No hypercomputer.  Next idea?"

But you can run the game any which way you want.  It's your game.  It won't be my game, 's'all.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on February 20, 2007, 11:29:00 am
Quote from: TonyLB
Personally, on your particular example, I'd say "Okay, so how are we going to make this alien hypercomputer thing fit with my desire for a noir game.  Is it broken down?  Crazy?  I want flickering neon, and cheap floozies hanging out under the streetlamp on the corner.  How we gonna make that happen?"

And if there wasn't any answer then I'd say "Okay then.  No hypercomputer.  Next idea?"
Unfortunately, that goes completely against the spirit of the game as written. The other players create the Chancel and the Imperator. The GM may make suggestions and give advice, but he only gets to control those elements of the setting after they have been finished. The group together decides all their permanent properties.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: TonyLB on February 20, 2007, 11:35:20 am
I am not getting into a fight with you about this.  Play hard.  Have fun.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on February 20, 2007, 11:39:19 am
Quote from: TonyLB
I am not getting into a fight with you about this.  Play hard.  Have fun.
Eh, likewise. But since the purpose of this thread was at least in part to correct misconceptions about the game, that's one of them. The GM cannot, say, pick the negative property "Failing" for that computer, or populate the Chancel with cheap floozies against the wishes of the group. Only the players can do that.

(The crew of the starship might at some point find itself docked at a spaceport crowded with the said floozies, but that's an entirely different matter...)

Actually, this could be a good time to clarify a little something about Chancels in general. It's a piece of the world claimed and changed and torn away by a being of godlike power; and when that happens, mundane history is nearly always revised to explain how it faded into myth or was destroyed ages ago or never existed in the first place. It can be a tenement slum which no one would ever miss, or it can be Australia. It could be located in the lost wires of the telephone network or the childhood memories of an old man who will never die as long as he carries the realm in his head. It can be that spaceship, or the TARDIS, or Leviathan that carries a city in its belly. It can be the land behind all mirrors or the secret basement beneath every burger joint in the world. And there are hundreds if not thousands of them on Earth.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: One Horse Town on February 20, 2007, 12:19:28 pm
What bizarre views Tony has. I admit i hardly understood a word of what he was saying, even though they were mostly little words. :confused:

Well, Grimgent, i have a copy of the big white book (signed by James Wallis no less! with a message to the recipient that they'll play a proper game next time!;) ).

I've never played and to be honest have never had the wish to in a face to face at least. But as a PbP game, i think it'll be a better fit. As long as the metaphysical stuff is kept to a minimum, i'm game to give it a go.

My first thought is that my dude's Domain would be Evolution. That should be a nice physical and cerebral one, evolution of ideas, inventions, as well as lifeforms etc. My other idea was St.Hubbins, patron saint of footwear. :D
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on February 20, 2007, 12:41:18 pm
Quote from: One Horse Town
My first thought is that my dude's Domain would be Evolution. That should be a nice physical and cerebral one, evolution of ideas, inventions, as well as lifeforms etc. My other idea was St.Hubbins, patron saint of footwear. :D
Hey, that's not so odd: I've used "the Power of Bunny Slippers" as an example on several occasions... Evolution is more immediately useful, of course.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: One Horse Town on February 20, 2007, 01:32:18 pm
Quote from: GrimGent
Hey, that's not so odd: I've used "the Power of Bunny Slippers" as an example on several occasions... Evolution is more immediately useful, of course.


Ah, sorry, that was a Spinal Tap joke. :D

Evolution or hair i think. Hair has it's appeal, simply in a rapid growth, swinging around on it or suffocating kind of way, but is a bit banal. So Evolution i think.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on February 20, 2007, 01:45:02 pm
Quote from: One Horse Town
So Evolution i think.
In the sense of organisms and ideas adapting to the current circumstances, rather than the purely genetic definition? That should work.

Incidentally, there seem to be two distinct approaches to chargen in Nob. Some players start out with an idea for the Domain and only later begin to consider the human side and personal history of the character: "What would War be like if you met her on the street?" Others come up with the personality first and then almost as an afterthought think of a suitable Domain for someone like that to guard. 'Tis another matter of taste, apparently.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: One Horse Town on February 20, 2007, 01:57:54 pm
Quote from: GrimGent
In the sense of organisms and ideas adapting to the current circumstances, rather than the purely genetic definition? That should work.



A couple of examples of what i was thinking of perhaps.

1) A cruise missile is coming towards us, i devolve the circuitry in it from state of the art to it's inception, maybe moon landing equivalent. Boards go fizz pop, GPS is a no no, maybe the ciruitry expands into the size of a living room, making the missile go pop.

2) Annoying git is reverted to an ape.

3) Get plunged into water, rapidly evolve gills.

4) Able to spontaneously come up with improvements (evolution) of design or ideas such as equations etc.

Do they seem approapriate for this sort of domain?
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on February 20, 2007, 02:02:40 pm
Quote from: One Horse Town
Do they seem approapriate for this sort of domain?
Certainly. The trick with the gills was the first thing to pop into my mind when I thought about appropriate miracles.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: hgjs on February 20, 2007, 03:28:00 pm
This sounds quite interesting, and I would like to participate in this.

As to whether to detail things in advance or relying on player-generated content, both approaches have their advantages.  I have no firm preference in either direction.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on February 21, 2007, 05:30:00 am
Quote from: hgjs
As to whether to detail things in advance or relying on player-generated content, both approaches have their advantages.  I have no firm preference in either direction.
In any case, the Imperator which the PCs will serve is going to be the embodiment of all the Domains that you choose for your characters, as usual. Also, early on during the chargen it might be worth considering just what this being is, even if it won't spend much time in the spotlight later: for instance, "Evolution" doesn't really fit in with the agendas of Hell or the Dark nearly as much as it does with those of the Light or Aaron's Serpents, since the Imperator in question would undoubtedly care about improving life, and those first two factions... don't. Of course, you could always go with a True God as each one of those has its unique goals and pursuits, although that might lead into slight problems if you have to spend any greater lengths of time away from your own world.

There are a number of ways to enter the service of an Imperator, as well, and not every member of the familia necessarily did so at the same time. Perhaps the most common one of these is simply being caught up in the creation of a Chancel, and for one reason or another attracting the attention of its maker. Others have been in the right place at the right time to witness the death of a Noble and ended up inheriting his Domain. A few resourceful mortals have even discovered on their own the existence of an Imperator and then sought it out in order to offer their talents. And at least one Noble simply popped spontaneously into existence one night, much to the surprise of her new master.

About that last one: Nobles don't have to be human to begin with, and even if they are, they may become something else during the Commencement, the moment when they begin their new lives as Nobilis. For example, the Power of Evolution might be an elderly biologist or a plucky street urchin. He might also be a smart dinosaur from a hidden corner of the world which managed to avoid their extinction, or a swarm of cockroaches which sometimes gathers together into the shape of a man, or a mutant engineered in a secret government laboratory, or the pinnacle of human evolution who fell to the present day through a temporal rift and now cannot find his way back to the end of time...
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: hgjs on February 22, 2007, 06:08:03 pm
I'm having a hard time imagining what an Imperator of Evolution (in the more general sense used here) might also be an Imperator of.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on February 22, 2007, 06:32:26 pm
Quote from: hgjs
I'm having a hard time imagining what an Imperator of Evolution (in the more general sense used here) might also be an Imperator of.
The connections between the various Domains don't necessarily have to make any earthly sense: Imperators can be rather ineffable, so it might remain forever a mystery why a warrior god's areas of influence also include Cauliflowers... Still, with Evolution, some associations which come to mind include Chains (of events as well as steel links) or Flies (commonly used in genetic experiments) or Ambition (becoming better suited for what you want to be) or Age (for the generations which the evolution of a species requires) or Oceans (where life began, at least according to the prosaic view of things).
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on February 23, 2007, 09:46:27 am
In other words, whatever your choices might be, the Imperator itself will form the connection between them. That's not really something you need to be concerned about. Start out with simple ideas, come up with a concept that you'd like to play, and the rest will grow out of that.

Were you shanghaied or seduced into Nobility, or did a messenger give a choice, or was it all an accident? What kind of a creature would do that, and should you think of it as "it", or "him", or "her"? What does it want? Is your Imperator a kind and loving mentor who protects and helps you at all times, or is it a cruel and sadistic master who treats you like slaves and constantly gives you impossible tasks to perform just for the hell of it? Is it almost indistinguishable from any ordinary human being, or does it resemble a celestial clockwork that perpetually rearranges and improves its own design? Does it interfere with even the most insignificant aspects of your personal life, or spend all its time asleep in the heart of the Chancel only to emerge once a year (if even then)?

And the Chancels? For the most part, the world outside them (the Earth on the Ash) isn't in the end all that different from our modern reality; but within each of these secret realms, reality is defined solely by the will and whim of the Imperator and its Familia. Do they rule over a barren wasteland or a thriving metropolis, or do they instead of ruling in an obvious manner choose to live quietly among the local population? Has this little pocket universe been around for thousands of years, or did it appear only yesterday? Does it serve a greater purpose for the society of the Nobilis, like education or research or combat training? Is it a primitive jungle island where evolution has taken a different course and tyrannosaurs fight against giant apes, or a futuristic arcology where technology is centuries ahead of the present day on the outside and having yourself genetically engineered into something new is no more uncommon than shopping for a new jacket? Does bizarre magic or superscience hold sway there, or do all the same laws of nature apply as outside its gates? Is the place completely isolated from everywhere else, or are its borders open to any tourist who might wander in? And are those borders defended by sophisticated arrays of devolution rays which reduce their targets to primordial ooze, or guarded by gun-toting gorillas?

All you need is a starting point.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on February 24, 2007, 09:16:25 am
(Incidentally, I'm updating the original post. If there's something that anyone interested in playing really should know but that hasn't been mentioned already, this would be a good time to ask about it.)
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: hgjs on February 24, 2007, 09:28:04 pm
Quote from: GrimGent
All you need is a starting point.


That's the rough part for me.  There are so many possibilities, it's hard to know where to begin.  Tell me how this sounds as an idea for an Estate:

Fire, both in the sense of physical burning and in the sense of passion or obsession.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on February 25, 2007, 04:47:15 am
Quote from: hgjs
Fire, both in the sense of physical burning and in the sense of passion or obsession.
The Domains usually allow for at least some metaphorical leeway, so the Power of Fire might cause someone to burn with passion just as the Power of Hearts could urge another to follow her heart, although the Power of Emotions would still have a far greater scale in that sense than either of them... Still, I'd recommend taking Obsession as an actual Secondary Domain of its own. Your character could be based around the theme of "moths to the flame": that's flexible enough to range from luring others to their destruction (which is very Dark) to sacrificing yourself for a moment of beauty (which is in keeping with Heaven), depending on what sort of a Noble you want to play.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on February 26, 2007, 08:43:24 pm
...And then there is the prospect of burning away those who prove too weak to withstand the fire, which ties in rather neatly with evolution. Consider how any of those possibilities might suit the background of the PC: is that an alchemist who sought obsessively to understand the mystery of the blue flames which surround the universe, or a popstar who was an obsession to others and never safe from stalkers? Or for something a mite stranger, the character might be a virtual idol designed to be irresistable for commercial purposes, an old oil painting brought to life by the passion of a sorceror, or an incubus/succubus from Hell.

One vital piece of information about the backgrounds in general is deciding how long these Nobles have been serving their Imperator. Does the game begin with the Commencement of the Familia as a new Chancel takes shape around them, or are they already completely familiar with its every nook and cranny after decades or centuries of service? If it's the former and the Imperator is only now claiming its realm, are they all unsuspecting mortals caught up in the last of the hundred nights which the creation of a Chancel requires, or have some of them been around longer than the others, perhaps secretly making preparations for the arrival of their lord and master? And even if the Chancel itself is old as hills, have the PCs lived there ever since its beginning, or are they merely the latest generation in a long line of Nobles, perhaps elevated to their position after the recent and suspicious deaths of their predecessors?

Also, there remains the little matter of genre preferences: should the game be influenced by Sword & Sorcery, Cyberpunk, Horror, Espionage, Romance, Western, Pulp, Noir, Wuxia...? When they are not out defending their Domains, are the PCs diplomats, teachers, mercenaries, spies, investigators, thieves, or just all-around party animals? What do you want to see in the game? And what don't you want to see?
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: hgjs on March 03, 2007, 11:17:37 pm
Quote from: GrimGent
...And then there is the prospect of burning away those who prove too weak to withstand the fire, which ties in rather neatly with evolution. Consider how any of those possibilities might suit the background of the PC: is that an alchemist who sought obsessively to understand the mystery of the blue flames which surround the universe, or a popstar who was an obsession to others and never safe from stalkers? Or for something a mite stranger, the character might be a virtual idol designed to be irresistable for commercial purposes, an old oil painting brought to life by the passion of a sorceror, or an incubus/succubus from Hell.

One vital piece of information about the backgrounds in general is deciding how long these Nobles have been serving their Imperator. Does the game begin with the Commencement of the Familia as a new Chancel takes shape around them, or are they already completely familiar with its every nook and cranny after decades or centuries of service? If it's the former and the Imperator is only now claiming its realm, are they all unsuspecting mortals caught up in the last of the hundred nights which the creation of a Chancel requires, or have some of them been around longer than the others, perhaps secretly making preparations for the arrival of their lord and master? And even if the Chancel itself is old as hills, have the PCs lived there ever since its beginning, or are they merely the latest generation in a long line of Nobles, perhaps elevated to their position after the recent and suspicious deaths of their predecessors?

Also, there remains the little matter of genre preferences: should the game be influenced by Sword & Sorcery, Cyberpunk, Horror, Espionage, Romance, Western, Pulp, Noir, Wuxia...? When they are not out defending their Domains, are the PCs diplomats, teachers, mercenaries, spies, investigators, thieves, or just all-around party animals? What do you want to see in the game? And what don't you want to see?


It's a lot easier to look at a proposal and say "yeah, that sounds cool" or "I don't want to play that" than to come up with something.  This is is a game I've never played before; any of the things you suggest sound like they could be fun, but it's hard to get any traction when the foundation is so undefined.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on March 04, 2007, 06:49:02 am
Quote from: hgjs
It's a lot easier to look at a proposal and say "yeah, that sounds cool" or "I don't want to play that" than to come up with something.  This is is a game I've never played before; any of the things you suggest sound like they could be fun, but it's hard to get any traction when the foundation is so undefined.
That's not an uncommon problem with settings that sometimes seem "too open", and certainly Nob can without much trouble out-gonzo the old World of Darkness in that respect ("your sister is a sentient virus from outer space, your brother is an alcoholic minotaur, and you all run a ramshackle motel alongside a highway which leads through time"). By default, it's a high-powered modern fantasy RPG in which a family of demigods defends their godlike master, their home in a hidden miniature world and the pieces of reality entrusted to them against both the machinations of their rivals and the assaults of the outsiders, in a universe in which any myth or fable may turn out to be true: although all of that is rather easily negotiable, working with those basic ideas is a good way to get a better grip on the game. The Estates, the Chancel and the Imperator that the group picks in the beginning do much to define the tone, of course, so that's yet another reason to make everyone's expectations clear from the start.

For someone who is more or less unfamiliar with the workings of the game, it's probably for the best to have the PC too be ignorant about it all and recently enNobled (perhaps just as the first scenario begins). Even if the character was originally something like a computer simulation or a demon, what he remembers of that earlier existence may consist of little more than vague memories of tranquil calculations in the first case or rage/lust/hunger all rolled into one in the second: receiving the soul-shard of an Imperator brings with it a human-level intelligence and a sense of personality also to things that used to be rather mindless before, so for them that is literally the beginning of a new life. That should make all but the oddest character concepts more playable.

Consider someone who is both Fire and Obsession. What about him, if anything, actually resembles fire and obsession? If he was mortal or mundane earlier, how much has he changed since then and how does he feel about the change? What do the people on the street see when they look at him while he's wearing a human face, and would they notice anything extraordinary? What do they see when he isn't, and how would they react? What comes to your mind when you think about the things that such a creature might do for fun and profit? What would he care about, and what kind of an effect would that have on the object of his attention? Where did he come from, and what sort of a place could he live in and fit in?

There's no need for an elaborate background to start with, necessarily: just a simple notion or two about the character that you'd like to play will suffice, and it really can be just about anything except a common mortal. The concept can then be fine-tuned as required.
Title: [Nobilis - OOC]The Recruitment Office and the Peanut Gallery
Post by: The Yann Waters on March 05, 2007, 07:15:56 pm
Incidentally, unless there are any objections, for that first story arc I'd be interested in adopting the basic set-up which I developed after coming up with that earlier "dungeon crawl" example: the PCs are enjoying the hospitality of the royal court during a visit to Aelfscienne, when things begin to go terribly wrong somewhere far below... I'd still like to tailor the details to fit the actual characters, of course, but that should give you at least some indication of what might lie in the future.

Still, if all or most of the Familia are recently enNobled and if you want a softer landing into the setting, it wouldn't be a bad idea at all to start out with a short introductory scenario, set in the hundredth night if the Chancel is new as well, and play through their first encounters with the Imperator.