Long live the Empress! Taldra'Quesa, Dragon of Aldra, Zinuxa of the Mar!
Long live the Empress! Taldara'Quesa, Dragon of Aldra, Zinuxa of the Mar!
Prince Marku ground his teeth as heard the paper boy run down the street, calling out the news. He narrowed his eyes and snarled. "Upstart..." but his swear died off as he realized that a new standard was rising up above the Gerhorn Palace. Two flying Blue dragons quartered with two of flying black cats. It must be the standard of Taldara of House Quesa.
Which means that Taza Oberon of House Qin had failed...
That the upstart, who had taken his rightful place as Heir, had reached the city alive...
He turned and blessed himself that he was at his mistress's flat in the city and not his rooms in Qin House...
For if Oberon had failed, then the hounds would be after him...
He needed to escape to the Folds, the ancient homeland of his ancestors the warrior Mar, and raise his standard there...
There he would raise an army, to take his rightful place as Emperor...
Prince Marku'Qin did not look back over his shoulder, just turned to run...run for the Folds, and his destiny.
So recently I've had some time to myself to think of ideas about a world/story...
And thought that perhaps I should poke at those ideas by playing an RPG inside of said world...
And now I am soliciting interest in playing in my little world...
So the concept is to play this as a RISUS based game to save us all time in character creation and trying to perfectly generate a balanced character.
What is RISUS? The basic description and rules are below
The character Clichâ”œÂ® is the heart of Risus. Clichâ”œÂ®s are shorthand for a kind of person, implying their skills, background, social role and more. The Ã”Ã‡Â£character
classesÃ”Ã‡Ã˜ of the oldest RPGs are enduring Clichâ”œÂ®s: Wizard, Detective, Starpilot, Superspy. You can choose Clichâ”œÂ®s like those for your character, or devise something more outrâ”œÂ®, like Ghostly Pirate Cook, Fairy Godmother, Bruce Lee (for a character who does Bruce Lee stuff) or Giant Monster Who Just Wants To Be Loved For His Macrame Ã”Ã‡Ã´ anything you can talk your GM into.
Each Clichâ”œÂ® has a rating in dice (the ordinary six-sided kind). When your characterÃ”Ã‡Ã–s prowess as a Wizard,Starpilot or Bruce Lee is challenged, roll dice equal to the rating. Three dice is Ã”Ã‡Â£professional.Ã”Ã‡Ã˜ One die is a putz. Six dice is ultimate mastery.
Each normal character gets 10 die to distribute his or her Cliche's. Typically a character has at least 3 Cliche's. Max die for this game per Cliche will be 5* (See additional rules about races below)
The GM may award you extra points per Cliche, or extra die based on character weaknesses.
Gear should fit the character...and if the GM can't see why you have it based on the character...then no...
Tools of the Trade come Ã”Ã‡Â£freeÃ”Ã‡Ã˜ as part of each Clichâ”œÂ®, but theyÃ”Ã‡Ã–re vulnerable to loss or damage, which can (sometimes)
cripple or limit the power of the Clichâ”œÂ®. A Roguish Space Pirate, stripped of his star freighter, loses all ability to haul
booty to distant suns ... while a Psychic Schoolgirl loses none of her ability to be freaked out by murder scenes if her plushy backpack is stolen. A Hirsute Barbarian(3), forced into a pit-fight without his trusty blade, can still rely on his bare hands, but heÃ”Ã‡Ã–ll operate at half-dice Ã”Ã‡Ã´ a mere Hirsute Barbarian (2) Ã”Ã‡Ã´until heÃ”Ã‡Ã–s once again properly armed. The backpack-deprived Schoolgirl might face similar penalties when itÃ”Ã‡Ã–s time to do her homework.
Mundane gear or tools of masterwork quality will often give a bonus of +1 (possibly more) to die rolls when used as required tools for a Cliche. You will be allowed up to three bonus objects to start with
In the course of adventuring life, lucky explorers may discover enchanted and/or cutting-edge and/or otherwise special equipment. The most basic sort is called Bonus-Dice Gear (such items let you roll an extra die, or more, when using them) but there are other kinds of Ã”Ã‡Â£specialÃ”Ã‡Ã˜ to be found, in the form of
alternate game mechanics (Ã”Ã‡Â£With this experimental piloting software, you can reroll any 1sÃ”Ã‡Ã˜), in-world powers (Ã”Ã‡Â£Only a Stradivarius can be used to seduce a Vampire PrinceÃ”Ã‡Ã˜) or even mixed benefits and restrictions (Ã”Ã‡Â£While wielding the Sword of Mercy, you always roll dice at least equal to your foe, but you
must spare his life if you win.Ã”Ã‡Ã˜)
Whenever anybody wants to do anything, and nobodyÃ”Ã‡Ã–s actively opposing it, and the GM doesnÃ”Ã‡Ã–t think success would be automatic, the player rolls dice. If the total rolled beats (equals or exceeds) the Target Number set by the GM, success! If not, failure! Target numbers follow this scale:
5: A cinch. A challenge for a schmuck. Routine for a pro.
10: A challenge for a professional.
15: An Heroic challenge. For really inventive or tricky stunts.
20: A challenge for a Master. Nearly superhuman difficulty.
30: YouÃ”Ã‡Ã–ve GOT to be kidding. Actual superhuman difficulty.
The Target Number depends on the Clichâ”œÂ®, and anyone can try anything. Crossing a chasm by swinging on a rope or vine would be childÃ”Ã‡Ã–s play (automatic success!) for a Swashbuckler or a Lord of the Jungle, easy (Target 5) for a Pulp Archaeologist, and challenging but definitely doable (Target 10) for a Gymnast,
Barbarian, or Cat-Burglar. Even a Wheelchair-Bound Eccentric Occultist could try it.
In Risus, Ã”Ã‡Â£combatÃ”Ã‡Ã˜ is any contest in which opponents jockey for position, make attacks, bring defenses to bear, and wear down their opponent to achieve victory.
The GM decides when a combat has begun. At that point, each combatant make an attack in turn. What constitutes an Ã”Ã‡Â£attackÃ”Ã‡Ã˜ depends on the nature of
the fight, but it should always be roleplayed (if dialogue is involved) or described in entertaining detail.
The GM will determine what type of Clichâ”œÂ® is appropriate for the fight. In a straightforward physical brawl, Clichâ”œÂ®s like Viking, Soldier,Swashbuckler, and Ernest Hemingway are equally appropriate, while Clichâ”œÂ®s like Hairdresser and Latin Lover are not.
Attacks must be directed at an opponent. Both parties in the attack (attacker and defender) roll against their chosen Clichâ”œÂ®. Low roll loses. Specifically, the low roller loses one of his Clichâ”œÂ® dice for the remainder of the fight Ã”Ã‡Ã´ heÃ”Ã‡Ã–s been weakened, worn down, demoralized or otherwise pushed one step towards defeat.
Eventually, one side will be left standing, and another will be left without dice. At this point, the winners decide the fate of the losers per the GM.
Inappropriate Clichâ”œÂ®s arenÃ”Ã‡Ã–t forbidden from the fight. They can still be used to make attacks, provided the player roleplays or describes it in a really, really, really entertaining manner. Furthermore, the attack must be plausible within the context of the combat, and the genre.
Magic is controlled a bit more than everything else because I don't want the mages too powerful. Therefore I'd like to keep magic to basic colleges
Beast-Wizard (speaking with animals, summoning animals, turning into animals)
Diviner/Clairvoyant (reading Tarot cards, seeking missing persons, scrying out enemies' plans, sensing the great destinies of newborn princes)
Fire-Mage (igniting torches, throwing fireballs, summoning fire elementals)
Healer (healing wounds, neutralizing poisons, maybe resurrecting the dead...)
Illusionist (causing hallucinations, making things invisible, disguising people)
Meta-Mage (spells that affect other spells: see "Universal Mage Abilities" below)
Necromancer (summoning ghosts, raising zombies, draining life force)
Summoner/Demonologist (calling up Things From Hell, controlling same)
Telekinetic (picking locks, throwing things and strangling people by remote control, rigging slot machines)
Telepath/Mind-Mage (enslaving the weak-willed, erasing memories, communicating by thought alone)
Force (Shield Magic, Throwing force balls)
You can use dnd spells if you want, but in general the following automatic difficulty levels apply:
0 level spells require at least a roll of 2. (So an putz has a 66% of getting it cast correctly)
1 level spells require at least a roll of 5 to cast. (So even a putz has a 33% chance)
2 level spells require at least a roll of 8 to cast.
3 level and above spells require a roll = 2+ spell level X 3
The story is set in a fantasy world much like the late 17th century. There is magic but also early fire arms in this world as well as most of the fictional races. The story will begin in the city of Tarhoe, former city state, then regional, then the imperial capital for a few decades. Now it has revered to being a semi-prosperous port city on the western side of the Aldra Empire. The story will begin in the old Protector's Palace, Court of Uxe, a Guildhall for mercenaries. (Which is a semi-respectable professional choice within the empire and the city.
There following restrictions on 'class':
That it has to fit in the time period.
That they have a reason for being in a mercenary inn.
That if they are Mar, the human race that rules the Empire, then they automatically need to have one "fighting" cliche and a "force magic" cliche but get an automatic + 2 Shield Spell bonus for each "Fighting" cliche.
The following race restrictions do apply:
Elves, known as K'zar, are quite long lived and get a bonus die. Unfortunately, they get an automatic hook of being a race hated by all other races for spending a few thousand years of either warring with all the other nations or conquering them.
Vampires - please pm me with your idea because of limitations on vampires are complex, related to the story.
Goblins - Seafaring race from the far isles to the southwest
Dwarves- Race that lives on the continent of Zur across the sea to the south
All player races should be within a human range (less that 8 feet)
If you need ideas, please ask.
Human size limit please
If your interested just post a character idea, or ask a question. I will likely be taking up to six players for this game, based on first to post a character.
An example: And both I and Burns were having similar ideas with the whole Pirate Ninja theme...
And now for some guidance on the Mar...
Who are the Mar?
The Mar are a race of man who for centuries lived along the far eastern regions of Aldra. Historically, They were herdsmen of sheep and cattle that organized into extended family structures to both provide manpower for herding animals as well as protection against raiding parties from the sea, and later other Mar family groups. They lived in large, multi-family fortified dwellings which is why these extended family groups are called 'Houses'. Today Houses are more economic-political in nature, with Houses possibly having large swaths of land under their control. Also, unlike many agricultural based elites, the Mar have little problem with trade or industry, as historically they had to be involved in such to gain much of what they wanted from the outside world.
What separate the Mar from most other races of humans is their reliance on Force magic, which they developed independently of either Dwarves or K'zar. Almost any Mar who is worthy of the name has learned the basics of using Force magic, especially shield spells, in fighting.
There is some debate within the Mar themselves if those Mar living on the Alcozia islands of off the eastern coast of Aldra are Mar or Sea-Mar. Although politically, and socially, similar to their mainland cousins, they tend to be far more individually independent.
The Mar in appearance only differ from most humans in having slightly tan skin, reddish hair and a tendency for blue eyes.
Houses are run by the Caru, the leader of the House. Most Mar within a House are members of the Household, but this is not automatic. It is somewhat dependent on the whims of the Caru and of the individual themselves. To be part of the Household means protection, and some income, but also being bound to the House and its needs (To an extent, see Zinthra below). Joining the Household is a formalized affair, which typically occurs during one of the ritualized meetings, Kuthra, of the Houses. There are three distinct Kuthra, each held every two years. However, there are other more immediate means of declaring someone a member of the Household.
Within the Household, the Caru is advised and guided by the Thra. The Thra is many times composed of the elders of the House, but it is not unknown for a Thra to include younger individuals holding down Household posts. The members of the Thra effectively have the right to argue with the Caru, and even the right to replace the Caru for poor leadership. As such, member of the Thra typically have more independence and influence within the House.
There are several other relationships an individual Mar can have with a House:
Sheltered-Those that have some paid position within a House, and protections of the House, note that non-Mar servants and warriors are also among the sheltered.
Gathered-Those that usually are just dependents of the House, usually children and the elderly
Seekers -Those that have left the rules, and protections, of the House to seek their own path.
Banished -Those that have been thrown out of the House for violating rules pissing of the Caru and Thra.
Xemar -Those that have joined other Houses or founded their own house.
Barmar - A Mar that is barred from the House because they are considered to be a rival/enemy.
Unseen - Those that work for a House clandestinely, typically considered to be somewhat dishonorable, they do exist especially during this Imperial period.
There are several naming conventions for Mar used in the Empire depending on what region the speaker is from. The two most common are the old Mar way, and the Western way.
The old Mar way is to refer to a person and what House they are from if they are a Householder and when they are of the primary family line. For example, Paul of House Anteris would be Paul of the family Anteris proper. Legally he would be referred to as Paul Metha Anteris, with his middle name being his other parent's House.
If Paul was from a cadet family, say Bau, of the House, then he would be Paul Bau of House Anteris. His legal name would be Paul Metha Anteris Bau.
If Paul was a seeker from House Anteris, then he would be Paul Anteris.
The Western method uses a va' or zu' to indicate status. Va' is reserved for those of the Household and Zu' is reserved for those not of the Household.
The examples above then become:
Paul Bau va'Anteris and
Obviously this method is much faster for clerks which is why it has been more widely adapted since the moving of the capital to the West.
The Zin are the great houses of the Mar. It was the fist nine houses, that originally joined together at the circle of Zin, to formulate a defense of Mar lands against the K'zar legions. The Zin, in preparing for the K'zar onslaught across the Saven river, became both defenders of the Mar and their overlords. The leaders of the Zin are known either by the title Zin'demar (male) or Zin'camar (female); (The elected members for the cities are referred to as Zin'destra)
The Zin number fifteen currently. The composition of the Zinthra has changed over time, at one point numbering 18 houses during the final stages of the First Aldra Empire under Neif V. Former Houses of the Zin, the Xezin, found themselves reduced and ejected due to a combination of backing the wrong sides in the Protectorate Wars, treason against the other Zin, and multiple generations of incompetence and mismanagement. New Zin were ennobled to: pacify the former city states, incorporate Houses of great war leaders, and as a means of incorporating key principalities into the Empire without bloodshed; such as the Grav of Alcozia and the Prince of Estaz.
For most Mar, the Zinthra is the ruling body of both the Empire as well as the Mar as a people. The Emperor (or Empress) is the not the font of sovereignty but the war leader, and chief of the Zinthra. When attending the Imperial Court, the throne in the Chamber of Stars is flanked by fourteen seats for the Zinthra. As such, being a member of the household of a Zin House is prestigious, but for a House to have members serve the Emperor in the government, or Zinthra directly, is also a boon.
Mar and Government
The dichotomy of having to serve both the Empire, as well one's House, has long been the key problem for the Empire. Having a member of one's House benefits the House in that they don't have to be supported by household incomes or lands, and that when retired they can support themselves and have influence within the Imperial government. However, there has always been that push to have the House benefit by direct action regardless if it benefits the Empire as a whole.
The corruption issue has led to three Imperial policies:
1-Many Imperial posts are filled with non-Mar citizens, the Xethe and Bra, which helps prevent one or two Houses dominating a particular region.
2-The Uxa guard, which acts as the basic militia and constabulary of the Empire, typically consists of Xethe, Bra, Seekers, and low House Mar.
3- The Auditors, are Mar who are sworn to the College of Auditors for life, their primary role is to Audit the government for the Zinthra and prevent illegal or corrupt activities. But they also have the roll of investigating the Houses when required.
In general the Empire is ruled by the central government for some matters, but most are taken care of at a regional level. These regions are the former kingdoms and city states over-run by the k'zar who simply installed Governors over the regions backed by the k'zar legions. By the time of the Protectorate Wars, most of those Governorships had been filled with , and backed by, Mar for generations. Primarily as the k'zar themselves retreaded back to their homeland due to the long drawn out process of the Blood Wars. Today, the twenty one regions of the Empire are governed at the regional level with the central Imperial government focused on taxes, trade, war, and the law.
A Mar House's rank is typically dependent on its influence within the Empire and the region. As more members take up more important positions, the House gains influence. Likewise as a House gains in income, it too increases its influence regionally and increases its rank. In general, the Upper Houses, those seen as influential in the Empire just below the Zin Houses, typically hold a title of nobility. Usually this is because they have gained permanent control over those lands through marriage or Imperial grant. However, it is not unknown for a titled family to be considered nearly Low Mar because of poor choices and investments. Low Mar is a phrase used for those who are not seen to have much influence outside of themselves.
The Bra are the non-Mar nobles of the Empire. Because the K'zar over ran some fourteen independent kingdoms along with a slew of semi-independent duchies and city states, there were a good number of existing, and former noble families inside of the Protectorate. Neif the First, realizing that he needed to gain the support of the non-K'zar in his new Empire, restored many of these titles. By the time of the Protectorate Wars, the Zinthra needed to entice them into the fold, and so created the Brathra.
However, in doing so, they also included all of the other Mar Houses in this body. This inclusion induced the social division of the Bra into High and Low. The Empire is full of various noble titles, and because of intermarriage has caused some to Bra titles to become Mar titles. The key way to differentiate Bra from Mar is the use of a naming convention. A Mar noble will typically incorporate demar (male) or camar (female) into the title. So when the Duchy of Ethron was inherited into House Galde, the new Duchess was known as Duchess Ethron'camar. Note: Being the noble of the House does not make one Caru. Many times titles are held by members of the House Thra but not the Caru themselves, which means that the House gets two votes in the Brathra to elect the Brauzin rather than the single House vote.
The Xenthra are the advisers of the non-Mar to the Zinthra, elected to pass additional taxes, or pass laws. The Xenthra consists of the Brauzin and the Xenuzin. The Xenuzin are elected by the various electorates of the empire to represent the non-Mar, the Xethe, to advise the Zin and the Emperor. With the various wars with the Protectorate over the past generations, the Xenthra has become more powerful because of the taxes required to pay for those wars. In general, most Mar don't care one way or the other about the Xenthra other than when they refuse to pay for more military support or go agianst them in some scheme.
The Mar still do dominate the officer levels of the Military for obvious reasons. Primarily Dragoons, (mounted infantry) or the Cohorts are seen as the most prestigious postings. This is followed by: Artillery, Riflemen, Calvary, and Infantry. Most naval positions are dominated by the Sea-Mar and some of the Northern Houses. Marines are found only in the isles, and very few Mar are found in their number.
Mar must obey the law. Mar houses must pay Imperial Taxes. The k'zur's tendency to allow themselves to do anything they wanted to any non-k'zur was one of the major problems of maintaining control during the Protectorate period. Such behavior was completely banned by the Zin when they asserting their authority over the New Empire.
That said, four important cavet's exist. First, Mar must be tried before an Imperial magistrate, even for a crime usually considered a local matter. However, the local Uxe guard can charge them before any Imperial magistrate. Second, the Uxe guard typically does not arrest a Mar without backing of the local Cohort or Auditors, primarily because of the pain of charging them for a crime and the pain in capturing them. This problem becomes even greater with a Mar of a powerful House as that can make matters even more complex. Third, in legal matters between Houses, either party can demand a trial by combat between the accused and the accuser, though magistrates tend to only allow it when no clear proof either way exists. Finally, taxes on the Mar are assessed at the House level and not at the individual level and only Imperial taxes apply. Therefore a wandering Mar, without recognized House, is not subject to any taxes. Since a large percentage of the taxes that are applied to people are at the regional level, this adds to the resentment against the Mar.
The Taza are the equivalent of Mar knights. Historically the Taza were 'knighted' after three days of competition at the Kuthra by acclaim of a majority of the Caru present. Taza within the House was an item of prestige as well as influence since they were seen as mighty, honorable warriors that could help defend a House and its allies (or subjugate a House that opposed them). The Zinthra gave itself the right to name Taza as part of organizing a common defense, including naming the Marshall of the Taza and the Captains of the Taza. Today the Marshal of Taza is the imperial Heir, while the Captains of the Taza are the Eastern and Western Consuls.
The Zinthra does not pick the Emperor (or Emperess). They select the Heir. Effectively this means that at any time there may be no family relationship between the Heir and the current Emperor besides them both being Mar. Obviously, a good deal of time and politicking goes into both establishing, and maintaining, the Heir's position.
The Empire uses slavery as a form of punishment. Essentially, crimes against the Empire result in the Empire allowing the Emperor to sell your services. As such the slaves, referred to as Vau, can be slaves for a set period of time. The Emperor, via his Executors, leases the labor of those convicted of crimes to work for various concerns for a set fee. Usually it is up to the Executors to ensure that their charges are properly fed and clothed, and that appropriate punishments for lazyness or other infractions are enforced. Many Houses, especially involved in the lumber business, will hire Vau from the Empire and try to get discounts from the Executors.
A Mar, unless banished from a House, will never be made a typical Vau. Primarily this is because they are considered too dangerous to leave about. Mar are instead sent to the Prison Isle of Ju. Ju is one of the largest known surface bodies of Black Carr, which absorbs all magical energy and turns it into heat, known. Initially Ju was a mining facility of Black Carr, but today most prisoners have to weave iron thistle to earn money to pay for food.
The Xethe are the common citizens of Aldra. This includes the wealth gentry, the middle class freeholders, and even the poor. The Mar only respect those that can, and do, fight. Usually referred to as a Uxe, which was the lower class fighters found in the Mar homelands. Most of the rest are looked down at because they fell to the K'zar Legions without a fight (usually a falsehood, but the K'zar's rapid west to east invasion of most of the rest of the continent has led to this misconception). The resentment against the Mar can be palpable at times considering that most wandering Mar are provided a stipend by the Imperial government (to prevent lawlessness), the Mar seldom get charged for minor crimes against Xethe, and those that do get convicted of crimes are sent to some distant unknown island while the local population gets to watch local boys and girls be slaves for even minor crimes. To counteract the resentment, the Imperial government provides a stipend to Bards to sing the songs of remembrance about the ugly high handedness of the K'zar Legionares, as well as the printing of newspapers that regularly include stories about the horrors of the current Protectorate in the far West (where the K'zar had occupied long enough to enact serfdom on a majority of the population). This 'light handed' approach seems to temper most people to just having a strong dislike for uppity Mar.