Sunday, 29 January 2012
They ran a Kickstarter earlier this year to release the roleplaying game, but I wasn't able to contribute as Amazon Payments isn't easily available to me as an Australian without a credit card. I wish that either Kickstarter would start supporting PayPal, or more RPG businesses would switch to using IndieGoGo (and other PayPal supporting websites) for their crowdfunding needs.
I have always been vaguely fascinated with the alignment system in Dungeons & Dragons; somehow, its unsatisfactory codification of ethical complexities into a simple nine-point grid holds a certain charm. You know what your Lawful Good paladin stands for, and why he has issues with the Chaotic Good bard, even though they're both on the side of the angels. The merits of the scheme are probably best expressed in Planescape, where it forms an expressive backdrop for the Great Wheel's unique cosmology and the interplay of belief and ideas.
In that vein of thought, let me present a somewhat whimsical alternative to the standard system of ethical and moral alignment, in which character's personal values and codes are presented in the form of Colours, Pieces, and Suits. It could be easily used in place of any system of codifying characters' moral or ethical alignments. A honour-bound steel-hearted paladin might be a White Knight of Diamonds, while passionately faithful paladin might be a Red Bishop of Hearts.
The Colour of one's character represents their moral perspective on the world. In a phrase, you might say it colours their definition of good and evil.
The colour White stands for strict benevolence, for the greater good over all other concerns and emotions. To be aligned with White is to reject the concerns of the self and focus only on the betterment of the world. White is the most moral of all the Colours because it rejects selfishness and destructive emotions.
Passion and romantic idealism are embodied by Red. Red characters are lovers and warriors, fighting boldly for their ideals even in the face of reason. Red is the most moral of all the Colours because it holds love to be the most important force in the universe.
Grey is a rejection of extremes. The Greys stand for balance between competing forces; a neutral stance in a complex universe that cannot truly be understood. Grey is the most moral of all the Colours because it rejects extremes and holds to neutrality.
In the spectrum of Colours, Yellow represents greed and self-interest, but also ambition and the seizing of opportunities. Yellow characters can be greedy mercenaries or gluttonous merchants, but they can also be ambitious artists who hold their work above all. Yellow is the most moral of all the colours because one can only be true to one's self.
Black is the colour of the void and of oblivion. It is the colour of nihilists who hold that the universe is flawed and the destruction, and deserves to be corrupted or destroyed. They may not take any pleasure in suffering or destruction, but Black characters fundamentally believe in the wrongness of creation. Black is the most moral of colours because the universe deserves to be destroyed.
Pieces refer to the relationship with power and authority; how one reacts to rules and laws, and where one believes ultimate responsibility lies.
A Bishop places their faith solidly in the otherworldly and the divine. They hold that moral order stems from some force greater than themselves, rather than from any human ideals. Morality may come in the form of a divine text, or in the answers they hear in their personal prayers, but it is something unmistakably unworldly and immaterial.
Knights hold true to a personal code of honour and conduct, unalterable by external forces.
To be a Rook is to respect temporal authority and to hold true to one's station in society. They hold laws and traditions in high regard, and will not easily be moved to break them. Rooks make implacable servants and loyal officers, and can often be found serving in bureaucracies, or as guardians of civic order and virtue.
"No lords, no masters!" is the dying creed of the Jack. Mercurial and changeable, they cannot be pinned down to any code of conduct. Jacks are anarchists and radicals, scoundrels and renegades; found only on the edges of a society they fundamentally reject.
Some believe that authority stems fundamentally from themselves. These Queens are the ambitious and the powerful, those who believe themselves the rightful makers of law. While they may hold to some moral code, they believe themselves best placed to implement it in society.
A character's Suit represents the virtues that they value most strongly, and the means by which they seek to achieve their goals.
Diamonds respect excellence in all areas of life, and disdain the mediocre. No Diamond will settle for good enough; they will always push to achieve greater heights of skill or quality. The greatest gift you can give a Diamond is an exquisitely crafted tool or weapon.
A character in the suit of Hearts will hold creativity as the greatest of virtues. To create is to be close to the divine spark, to touch the gods. They strive for innovation, beauty, and clever solutions to difficult problems. The greatest gift you can give a Heart is an expressive work of art.
Spades value diligence and simplicity; the virtue of a hard day's work. The greatest gift you can give a Spade is to satisfy simple pleasures with a hearty meal and a refreshing beverage.
Clubs thrive on competition and in contests of skill. They seek to prove themselves superior through victory over their foes and rivals. The greatest gift you can give a Club is to challenge them to a game that tests their strengths against yours.
The unpredictable and the unexpected are the domain of the Joker. Nothing is sacred; they push for change at every opportunity. The greatest gift you can give a Joker is something unique and surprising.
Wednesday, 18 January 2012
Tuesday, 17 January 2012
Languille's unique culture is the product of a centuries-long dance between the sun kingdom of Soleille and the great continent of Zwuyala. Decades ago, the city was ruled by the Solaise nobility, who formed an elegant and graceful cream on top of an underclass of oppressed Zwuyalan slaves and poor Reman laborers. But that was before Big Tuesday, and the Mort Reveille; the day the dead walked out of the river.
To escape the rage of the Sun King at the loss of one of his most prized cities, Baron Tuesday sort the protection of the Waldorf Ceasar, Emperor Otto von Karlswick, and in an unusual fit of competence and unity, the Reunited Imperium's armies found it in themselves to stop fighting against one another and smash the Sun King's armies at the Battle of Dunniewadér. And so it was that Languille passed from Soleille to the Remanschreik, and the dead went back to sleep on the river floor... for the most part.
Decades have passed, and the city has settled languidly into its new form. It may be true that Baron Tuesday is technically a lich, or a vampire, or a werewolf, or a black-hearted necromancer, or the Lord of Hell himself; but he is undoubtedly a popular ruler, at least outside of the Caged Ones or "Cajuns".
Perhaps no-one is surprised that, as the tables have turned, the newly-powerful black bourgeoise have begun to emulate their former oppressors, and the lily-white Cajun underclass have adopted several Zwuyalan traditions. The court of the Baron Tuesday seeps with all the elegance and opulence of a stately Lumiéran ball, from the overwrought corsetry to the elaborate masquerie, while the gutters and sewers of the Cagé Quartier, Cajun rootworkers delve into ancient Zwuyalana soul magick.
- Gang of wandering sailors, fresh off the boat, looking for thrills in the Lurid Quartier
- Zombi labourers clumsily unloading a merchant's cart
- Huge jazz funeral parade winding its way to Cemetery Hill
- Exquisitely beautiful painted ladies from the Red Windmill, dragging what looks to be a corpse
- Doc Delamour and his ambulatory carriage, selling his wares
- Tattooed Cajun heavies in leather jackets, enforcing a protection racket for Monsieur Brique
- Cajun rootworker disguised as a beggar
- Fetid swarm of swamp rats spilling out onto the streets
- Ancient gothic tenement collapsing into the swamp
- Sedan chair bearing the arms of the Baron Tuesday
Friday, 6 January 2012
Particular thanks to Jeff Rients, from whom I pilfered Omnia and the Frog gods.
Chief god, general grumpy sky dad and master of lightning, Aon (or another suspiciously similar deity) is worshiped in almost every human culture on the Coin, although they vary as to which goddess is his wife and queen (leading to some interesting and very heated arguments). He is typically shown with two animal companions, although what these are varies - in the Hublands, he is shown with an owl (representing cunning) and a bear (representing badassery), while in the League heartlands he’s more often shown with an eagle and a lion. Combinations of these creatures might be considered holy gifts (griffons) or profane abominations (owlbears).
The primary goddess of rivers and fertility around the Friendly sea, and often depicted as the wife of Aon. Hippopotami are considered holy animals by her faith, and ancient depictions of her often show her as a ponderously-proportioned anthropomorphized hippo, although the modern church frowns on this. They also frown on the worship of Khadahan (see below).
A martial goddess, Areena’s creed promotes physical and moral purity, as well as crusades against evil-doers (or, if there aren’t any evil-doers around, foreign faiths), and the justice of trial by combat. There are several orders of warriors devoted to her, in the League and in a few other countries. Invariably, they are single-gender groups. Unicorns are considered holy to her faith (whereas everybody else thinks they’re crazy and dangerous). Her followers heartily dislike the followers of Frikk.
Another god of rivers, as well as sunbathing and long baths, the Crocodile-headed Khadahan was mostly only worshiped in Aratha until a recent miracle at the temple in Al-Harraj unified the splintered factions of his faith, and expanded his portfolio into the realm of fertility. His faithful are now trying to spread his worship around the Friendly sea, setting up bathhouse-shrines in several major cities. As a result, they’re in direct competition with the church of Hippatara.
Goddess of war, alcohol, and carousing in general, Frikk’s faith is main popular in the Hublands, where the locals really appreciate those things. Where Areena’s warrior-clerics promote purity and honour, Frikk’s worshippers are encouraged to brawl, drink, sing loudly, and do whatever they want so long as it doesn’t hurt anybody (unless those people are your enemies, in which case, go right ahead). Areena’s faithful are generally considered to be too uptight, and should be mocked and needled wherever possible. Chainmail is considered a gift from her to mortals, and holy folk almost always wear it (often in far smaller quantities than would be considered sensible or proper, to show their faith in the goddess).
The Solar Dragon
The Solar Dragon is sort of a borderline Dark God. On the one hand, his Sollais faithful abhor all other dark gods. On the other, they abhor ALL other gods, claiming them false and demonic, while periodically sacrificing virgins and enemies of the state to him (by guillotine). The Sun Prince of Solielle is considered to be his chosen leader on the mortal plane. Images of a more feathery version of the Solar Dragon have also been found on some old temples in Zwuyala.
Another strange and unpleasant god from the jungles of Zwuyala, Iggujugglyoo, also known as He of the Thousand Teeth is a bloodthirsty god of carnivorous dinosaurs, particularly velociraptors. Little else is known about him, except that his worshippers tend to utterly crazed.
Rzngl the Unvoweled
Depicted as an elf with the heads of two deer, each able to shoot burning rays from their eyes, this demon prince (or princess, it seems to vary) enjoys blood sacrifices in a pleasantly woodland setting.
A goddess of temptation and corruption, Tormentara offers mortals their wildest desire, but always finds a way to take that desire to such an extreme as to be horrifying for the unfortunate that caught her attention. Her worship is both open and prevalent amongst the Dark Elves, who hope to placate her evil whims.
A demon god of earth, stone, monsters and deathtraps, Gi’Am’s dungeon-temples are a favourite target for adventuring parties. Which seems to be just the way he likes it...
The Frog Gods of Chaos
Not a single god, but a multitude of extra-dimensional amphibious horrors devoted to corrupting or destroying the universe as a whole. Thankfully, they’re so chaotic that they often work at cross-purposes.
God of sewers and plumbing, Urinor is among the youngest gods on the Coin, his faith only having existed for a few decades, at most, since his slightly unhinged prophet, a dwarven adventurer, began spreading his word. He mostly receives prayers in the form “Oh God, I really need a privy”.
Different cultures differ as to whether Roadael is a demigod, a saint, or an archangel, but whatever the case, he is the patron of porters, hirelings, and servants, and is said to aid the other gods in preparing for manifestation on the mortal plane.
Goddess of Everything Not Covered By Other Gods. As a result, the things Omnia is responsible for are strange, eclectic, and generally only come up in very unusual and specific situations. Her followers are rare and a bit weird, but are mostly quite nice, except for an shadowy (and insane) cult that wishes to destroy all the other gods so as to expand her power.
The Bird God of Birds, Kwaaak’s faith dwindled to almost non-existance a thousand years ago, after he went insane over wizards developing flying brooms. His church was resurrected recently by an elvish princess, and is making headway promoting him as the (much more sane and reasonable) god of airborne travel in general.