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2 Introduction Its free, again. All the material in this book is available for Huey, Blake Hutchins, Philippe Jofresa, Daniel free on the Internet and, quite possibly, youre M. Kane, Joonas Katko, James Kiley, Adam reading this off you laptop screen as a .pdf file. Krump, John Larkin, P-P You forgot the Map! If you paid for that .pdf, you got robbed. This Lefebvre, Trygve Lie, John Lucania, Thomas compilation of free material is meant to be, Lullier, Antti Luukkonen, Mario Magallanes, itself, free. Jorge Prieto Martine, Herv Trickster Maugis, Matt M McElroy, Shane Mclean, Paul Mitchener, If youve got one of the nice physical books, Brad J. Murray, James ORance, James Palmer, yeah, thats sold for pay because physical things Jakob Pape, Mikko Parviainen, Reverance still cost money. But thats really a convenience- Pavane, Eduardo Penna, Euc Pereyra, Brian of-form cost. All the ideas, are free. Peters, Phubar, Corporal Plessner, Guillermo Heras Prieto, Hobbie Regan, Guy Reece, David This came to be through the Ransom Model and Rego, Drew Robertson, Jack Robertson, Jean- the generosity of fans. The Ransom Model is Franois Robillard, Roman, Mike Sands, Andrs pretty simple: I tell people, Ive written 10,000 Santamara, Eduardo H. Schaeffer, Merrick words of supplementary goodness for REIGN Schincariol, Adam Schwaninger, Stephen Lea and when I get a thousand bucks itll be free, for Sheppard, Alexander Siegelin, Nikodemus everyone, forever. Nobody pays more than Siivola, Jerry Argent Skld, Cameron Smith, then want, lots of people get to freeload, and I Damien Sornette, Michael Stevens, Simon make a decent per-word. Everyones happy, Stroud, Laszlo Szidonya, Kai Tave, Bruce Turner, right? the unlisted contributor, Justin Unrau, Kevin The Unshaven Veale, Janne Vuorenmaa, Ken But its a system built on trust. The fans trust Watford, Petri Wessman, William Where, Stew me to deliver good stuff and to have it done Wilson, wraith808, and your GM. Yes, I mean before I start selling it. I trust my audience to yours. underwrite it. So far, they havent let me down. The artwork in this release has benefitted I, however, feel like I let them down a little by greatly from the generosity and creativity of the not listing donors in First Year of Our REIGN. stock art community on, Im going to remedy that right now, with a particularly Marcus Ranum and Ahrum Stock. master list of everyone who has rightly asked Check them out at http://ahrum-stock.deviantart. for their support to be known. Lets give them com/ and all a moment of acknowledgment. Additionally, Id like to thank the playesters Aaron the Akfu, Arakis, Stphanie Armand, for Die, Men!, especially Shannon and Joe who David Bagdan, Joaquim Ball-llosera, David suffered through the worst draft. I mean, the first Barrena, Shawn Barrick, Chris Xombie draft. Shannon Obendorf, Joe Donka, Lindsey Bedford, Aaron Berthold, Harold Brub, Ingo Poyner, Jerry Hrechka, Joe Robertson, Beth Bass, anderland Beyer, bikewrench, Paul Bird, Brian White, Karyn Griffin, Brock Mitchel-Slentz. Noah Bogart, Phil Bordelon, Christian Bouffard, Jon jonthegm Bristow, Sam Burnstein, Doug/ On a personal note, its been a treat for me to go CaffeineBoy, Bruce Campbell, Jos Luiz Ferreira through this list and see just how many people Cardoso, Andrew Castner, Colin Chapman, have stood up for REIGN over the last couple Chaz, Chris Cooper, Myles Corcoran, Michael years. The list has a lot of familiar names, people Cule, Scott Cunningham, Neal Dalton, Jim Ive had the good fortune to meet at conventions DelRosso, John Dornberger, Paul Douglas, or who are just known through internet posts. Paul Eclecticon Douglas, drnuncheon, Sean Some people who donate over and over and M. Dunstan, Bryant Durrell, Steve Egolf, some who just chipped in for one thing that Philip Eisner, Marco Fall, Benot Felten, Cdric caught their eye: It all makes me smile. Thanks. Ferrand, Jonathan Fish, Fishmonger, Wilhelm Fitzpatrick, Dan Forinton, Galandris, Angel All right, enough of my maudlin gratitude. On Manuel Garca Garca, Paul Glenn, Felix Girke, with the hurricanes, mountainous trees, unjust Mark Green, Sam Greene, Viktor Haag, Chris societies and rules, rules, rules. Hall, Dave Harfield, Aaron Harmon, David A. Harrison, James Holden, John Hoyland, David - Greg Stolze, March 7, 2009 2

3 Table of Contents Book 1: Book 4: The Encyclopedia 4 Matters of Enchantment 132 Book 2: Chapter 1: Blood Magic of the Crimson Guard 132 Matters of Color 20 Chapter 2: Bodymasters 138 Chapter 1: Coins 20 Chapter 3: Maemeck Quellers 144 Chapter 2: The Maemeck Matriarchy 24 Chapter 4 Mirror Magic of the Opetkans 150 Chapter 3: The Ussient Tribes 38 Chapter 5: Ussient Chapter 4: The Ussient Forest 50 Fire Mimicky 160 Book 3: Book 5: Matters of Law 66 One-Roll Tools 162 Chapter 1: After Them! Chapter 1: One-Roll Truils 162 (Pursuit and Evasion Rules) 66 Chapter 2: One-Roll Ulds 166 Chapter 2: Esoteric Disciplines 70 . Book 6: Chapter 3: Constructing Esoteric Disciplines 84 REIGN Recipes 170 Chapter 4: Die, Men! (Squad Book 7: Level Combat) 98 Alternate Maps 198 Chapter 5: Fluid Combat 108 Book 8: Chapter 6: Martial Quick Reference 200 Techniques 118 Chapter 1: Chase References 200 Chapter 7: Work For Your Lives! (Storms at Sea) 120 Chapter 2: Combat Reference 201 Chapter 3: Die Men! Reference 202 Chapter 4: Unconventional Warfare Reference 203 3

4 The Encyclopedia Black Mountain fully watched. Black Mountain can feed itself, but is surprisingly bereft of Free State mineral wealth. For trade, they offer instead their woven goods. The looms B Wider than the Anvil of Heaven, taller than Sky- tusk, Black Mountain rises above the plains and forests of eastern on the lower slopes work white wool brought in from the area around, but the black sheep at the summit... their wool is reserved for the sorcerers who tend them and need them to produce Heluso in solitary majesty. Remark- fateskeins. able for more than its size and unique- ness, Black Mountain soil is rich and Fateskeins can only be hand-woven fertile. On its lighted face it produces from the wool of a Black Mountain abundant wheat and rice, while its sheep, and they have the eagerly shadow is thick with the fungi, mosses sought quality of drawing things and vines that thrive away from the to them. Like destinys driftnets, a suns regard. properly-woven fateskein can draw wind into a ships sails, or lure ani- Black Mountain isnt a traditional na- mals to a hunters snare, or draw the tion or city, but an amalgam of both. blows of weapons away from the body The entire mountain is settled, but and towards a shield. only in certain areas the govern- ment district, the marketplace, the They export fateskeins at fabulous soldiers quarter is the population prices, and every aggressor has been dense enough to meet the expecta- met with the threat of killing the mys- tions of city. Its spread out and tic sheep, halving the provinces value sprawled with terraces and waterfalls in a single stroke. Holding their sheep and irrigation canals crisscrossing the ransom, as well as being a defensible mountains gentle slopes. Even where position that has sprouted many its most chokingly populated, one fortifications over the years, dissuades only has to walk for an hour or ninety invasion of the fiercely proud moun- minutes to reach a farmers field. tain people. Indeed, one can walk through the soldiers quarter and, in the middle Black Mountain is a member of the of it, find the descendants of a stub- Heluso Confederacy, but far more pro- born farmer who refused to sell his tective of their national identity than land. The one-acre farm is walled in the other three Confederate nations. on all sides by tall buildings, but it has The Free State is too small to support simply switched to crops that flourish many noble houses, but it does pos- in darkness. sess two royal bloodlines. There is the line of the King and the line of the At the summit are the the pastures Queen, which are forbidden by law where the fabled Black Mountain to ever mix. Every generation, rule is sheep are grazed and tended and care- 4 The Encyclopedia

5 divided between the King, the Queen, Regardless of the original intent, the and their spouses (who are expected Games became very popular per- to govern with the same wisdom and haps because they were held during authority as the rulers by blood). the first week of Winterlock, which is just about the time that various ruling As one might imagine, an unmar- classes are beginning to lose patience ried King or Queen is regarded with with the small number of people intense interest by anyone of mar- theyre caged with in their manor or riageable age and appropriate gen- castle. Now theyre held every third der. The rewards for making such a year, and have become a phenomenon match are tremendous, and with no followed far beyond the Confederacys second-tier nobility, the Queen could borders. theoretically marry a beggar and give him the power of Queens Consort in Making the trek from (say) the one stroke. (This has never happened.) far reaches of North Hold in the dead The King and Queen have incentive to of winter is no easy task, and often it stay unmarried in order to keep their can take the larger part of a miserable authority undiluted. At the same time, month to get there, and its a similar the healthy and affectionate rivalry journey back. But often the pilgrims between the two royal families pushes band together to carry trunks of sup- them to ensure legitimate heirs as plies, pool their funds to hire Flame soon and safely as possible. Dancers to melt their way, or import fire charms from the Ussient Forest to take the edge off the chill. Black Mountain There is one main event for each of Games the Games seven days. Magic, even to the extent of attuned competitors, Initially, the Black Mountain Games is not permitted among the athletes. were held every other year, and their The first day starts the long walk. The exact purpose varied, depending on second day lightens things up with whom you asked. the vertical foot race, and the ice chute competition on the third is always a Those whose views tended towards crowd-pleaser. The fourth days event optimism, or Black Mountain loyalty, is a horse race around the mountain, or towards accepting the simplest followed by the fifth days comical explanation, say that the games were icicle duels. On the sixth day, all feast, founded as an opportunity for people but none more than the competitors at from all over the Heluso Confederacy the gluttons quest. The seventh day to come to Black Mountain and com- ends the competition with the glorious pete in sporting events, to the honor winter war. of their nations. Others, more cynical or inimical to the nation of the black In more detail, the long walk is a sheep, consider the Games a transpar- brutally simple competition. All ent sop by Black Mountain, intended who choose to participate are lined to belie the notion of Black Moun- up at the same starting point, given tain snobbishness while in fact only the same woolen clothes and leather providing ample opportunity for its boots, and all set off on the same display. 5 The Encyclopedia

6 northern highway. They are given at the top, ride a device of whatever neither food nor water, and the win- design down the ice (navigating some ner of the competition is the one who hair-whitening turns and arcs along gets farthest without stopping, col- the way) and come out at the bottom lapsing or giving up. Speed doesnt without a humiliating, injurious, or matter, only stubborn endurance. The deadly crash. (The difference between long walk typically ends early in the the three is usually down to whether third day, but has stretched as long as it happens early, in the middle, or the fifth. Typically, the group starts as towards the end.) Theres no real way a cluster but gradually stretches out. to time the event, so the winner is They usually cross the line of shadow whoever travels the farthest across the some time around noon on the second field. There is therefore much debate day. After that, the race takes place in over whether it is better to have a inky darkness. light racer, who creates less drag and friction, or a heavy one who produces The vertical foot race is more of a more inertia. standard race, harsh and cruel in a different way. All competitors start The horse race is simply a horse race, at the base of Black Mountain, and though often one enlivened by snow the first one to reach its summit is the drifts, slick patches and other barriers winner. Since the mountain is thickly natural or intentional. populated, a route is charted through the city, and residents are forbidden Icicle duels are by far the least hazard- to use those streets during the day. ous of the Black Mountain Games. Many competitors go off that track, (Though the gluttons gorge has yet to however, pursuing shortcuts and seek- produce a fatality.) Hundreds of icicles ing advantage. The winner is almost are grown throughout the city, and always a mountain native, though the competitors must choose their weapon competition between two local rivals in sight of an official. (Again, there is at the last race was so fierce that they some local advantage to being able to hobbled each other and let an outsider cultivate your own ice blade.) Duels beat them both. (In fact, one local are fought in brackets, with each loser couldnt finish the race after a snare being forced out of the fight. If ones set the night before cracked his ankle icicle breaks, one is out. If both com- bone.) petitors break their weapons, both lose. Since striking someone with From the bottom of the mount up, an icicle is a fine way to break it, the the competition then shifts to top goal is not to hit the opponents body. down. Starting with the first freeze, Rather, it is to successfully catch a a winding but mostly-straight main ring, roughly the size of a human eye, drainage channel is carefully wet on your icicles tip. The rings are all and smoothed, with layers of ice be- constructed to exacting size tolerances, ing lovingly polished by the lucky and all are hung by a short length of residents on its route until its silky chain from the duelists sword-hand and high-gloss. This ice chute gradu- elbow. (Only one-handed fighting ally emerges at the mountains base, styles are permitted, to the great dis- pointing out over a broad, open field. gust of the Western Marches.) The object of the ice plunge is to start 6 The Encyclopedia

7 Gluttons quest has been deemed a With up to eight armies competing, grotesque and wanton gustatory ram- victory is as often won through the al- page by one revolted Ob-lob traveler liances made in the first six days, often who, nonetheless, conceded that it had to be broken on the seventh. Though a certain compelling quality to its there an advantage redounds on the wasteful perversity. It is quite simple. Confederate teams who, despite their Competitors are weighed, naked in rivalry with each other, are rarely public, at noon, and then set loose in a willing to let it interfere to the point public banquet hall full of dense and that foreigners especially Imperial varied viands. (Only water is permit- foreigners can prevail. ted as a drink, however.) After four hours, a second naked weighing deter- The prizes for these events are mines the winner, who is the person crowns carved of ice. In the past, a who has gained the most weight in the few have been preserved through interim. While it is always popular to enchantment, but theres an unspo- watch, especially among those whove ken understanding that their fragile never seen it before, repeat viewings and temporary nature is part of the are few after the first chain reaction point. Everyone ages, loses their vomit. This usually happens when one strength and surety, until death and competitor goes too far and cant hold decay evaporate the body as surely it in, after which it can spread to any as warmth melts the trophies. But the nearby eaters. It has very rarely gotten victories won and the honor given are into the crowd, but once that happens, never as fragile as that award which all the spectators fun is definitely vanishes when worn. over. Then there is winter war. Teams of Cult of Greed twenty are fielded by each nation, and C by others outside the Confederacy for after the first few games, its reputa- In Opetka the most com- tion had spread abroad, with the West- mon religion holds that the ern Marches, Dindavara, Uldholm and universe was created out of the Sunless Plains all, in time, sending Greed, literally. The god Greed (Sa- a trickle and then a flood of competi- honst in Opetkan) created all won- tors. Each twenty-person team is given derful things in order to hoard them, a fortress of four snow walls and a hill and only made humanity and other in the middle. At the summit of the gods that he might be envied. (All hill is placed a banner. The instant an the bad things in the world emerge enemy touches your flag, your army is from either Greed or one of the other defeated and disbands. The winning gods spoiling things in order to spite army is that one which either elimi- one another.) Through various tricks, nates all competition, or is the first to Greeds three children Past, Present set two enemy banners at the foot of and Future steal most of the uni- its own. Spells are forbidden, as are all verse from him and then beat him into weapons beyond snow, ice, and the submission. As he surrenders, Greed banner staves. spitefully curses his three children that, should they ever all meet togeth- er again, he will arise and consume all that had ever been his. 7 The Encyclopedia

8 Greeds children, fearful of this prom- Deers Gift ise, gave up much of their godliness in order to hide among the souls of mankind. Periodically, they are re- incarnated, and recognized by the following signs. D The Deerwood native reli- gion holds that a primor- dial deer and stag licked salt into the forms of Heluso and Past always appears as a woman who Milonda, who then went on to birth all is old before her time and never ages. of humanity before falling into deep slumber. In recognition of these acts Present is always a man who is two of creation, the people of Deerwood men. celebrate the day of Deers Gift on the first day of every Threemonth. Future is always an unexpected man who is his own father. Deers Gift is not a raucous celebra- tion indeed, life goes on largely as People have been identified as these usual, but at some point in the day deities reborn numerous times its tradition (if so moved) to give a throughout Opetkan history. They jus- gift to someone you know and who tify claims of authority through vary- youd like to know better. The craft- ing interpretations of the prophecy ing of these gifts occurs beforehand. one man who had taken his fathers Depending on personality and inten- name and reclaimed his fathers priest- tions, a deer gift may be a symbolic ly appointment announced himself circlet of woven flowers made on the as Future reborn, while the current spur of the moment, or it could be an Kuklach Prime of the city Muhulc is elaborate piece of craft taking months adored as Present because he has two to create. heads, four arms and three legs fused together at the trunk. Although favor Often this is a prelude to romance (or is believed to follow the gods reborn, seduction) but it isnt assumed to be. the Opetkans arent sentimental about Even if the gift is given between an un- killing them, as in the case of the Elder married woman and man, there isnt of Upunzi who claimed to be Past. The the automatic presumption of a sexual destruction of the universe is just too or amorous element. In Deerwood, great a risk, so whenever two reborn the notion that women and men can deities are identified, one gets killed be close friends without that sort of often both. undercurrent is more common than elsewhere. That said, when a husband This task typically falls to (or is and wife exchange deer gifts, its seen claimed by) the Cult of Greed, a small as a highly romantic gesture. sect with a hereditary priesthood and few worshippers. There is a tie between the Cult of Greed and the Double Opetkan War Givers, who seem to be- lieve the Cult can absolve them of war Anniversary crimes in exchange for respect for their waiting, envious master. The eleventh day of Angermonth is celebrated in the Heluso Confed- 8 The Encyclopedia

9 eracy in remembrance of two events. restrictions on what strategies can The first is the surrender of Imperial come into play. general Vigor Threadneedle after the his resounding defeat at the Battle of Another Double Anniversary tradition Broken Point. Exactly twelve months is followed in the city of Ash Grove, after that, the three nations that had much to the disgust of outsiders. Each fought together to turn back The year, the richest and most powerful Empire bound themselves (along with of the townfolk are required to judge the Kingdom of Green River) together a filthiest chamberpot competition. into the Confederacy and agreed to Moreover, the award isnt small: Every break ground on the city of Meetpoint. living person in town is bound by law to contribute a full coin of some size The Double Anniversary is a time of towards the purse. Thus, the competi- drinking, excess, and intense competi- tion is fierce among those desperate tion. Along the borders of member enough to enter in the first place. It nations, this often takes the form of has been noted by the shrewd that inter-country rivalry, friendly in although Ash Grove is by no means theory if not always in practice. Horse a wealthy community, there are few racing, tests of strength, jousts and families in the direst poverty because other, more obscure contests fuel the chamber pot prize always seems to fierce wagering and loud, day-long go to those most in need. celebration. Double Anniversary is a varied and On one hill in Green River, three local often coarse celebration, but no mat- communities have a yearly contest ter what form it takes there is always for possession of a bronze cup. El- a strong element of loyalty and na- ders from all three ensconce it at the tionalism. While loyalty to the Con- summit, then carefully erect a fence federacy is a powerful theme, tones around the hills perimeter. Any who of patriotism to a particular country wish to help battle for the cup sur- are often discords within it. The Black round this palisade (and any who Mountain Free States people disdain breech it before the signal are handed to compete with their neighbors, who over to strong men of the other towns grumble over it. Green River distances for a thrashing). At noon, the elders itself from the ruder conflicts and is bang a great gong, at which point all mocked for its fastidiousness. But are allowed to attack the fence in an despite these strains, the Confederacy attempt to reach the cup and bring it is a strong and compelling idea to its back to their home town. Some shov- members, as any outsider who dares ing and jeering and the occasional win a Double Anniversary contest is elbow poke occur before the tocsin bound to discover. rings, but most save their strength for the actual climb and struggle. No weapons, spells or animals are permit- ted. Its dishonorable to strike some- one who has one knee or more on the ground. Other than that there are no 9 The Encyclopedia

10 The Goddess Ciovla decorated as circumstances permit. A typical temple has an open area where any can come and talk to a priest or G At least three nations in Milonda claim to be the homeland of Ciovla, the goddess of healing and kindness. Ci- priestess (but not touch: The clergy are not permitted to touch the unclean except in emergency circumstances). Adjacent to this is a public bath where ovla wrestled the Gravedigger Queen people can confide their minor sins (or, in variations of the story, other fu- and illnesses to the holy people, wash nerary deities) into submission at the themselves, and then be forgiven. very gates of the deadworld to save Once washed, touching the ministers the soul of a beggar girl whose life was is permitted, as is admission to the In- taken in error. Her temples are wide- ner Temple. spread in many nations where varied religions are tolerated (meaning they The Inner Temple is a small chamber thrive in The Empire and Upunzi, less (or a series of them in more opulent so in the Maemeck Matriarchy). churches) where the faithful can be as- signed penances for more serious sins, The center of the Ciovla religion is its or consult on more grievous wounds temples, all of which are as lavishly and illnesses. For the most horrible of faults, admission to the Holiest Pres- ence is required. The Holiest Presence is the most secure room of the temple, often small but dominated by a statue of the god- dess with an altar before it. In large temples, this room is constantly being cleaned: Every hour, a different novice enters to wash it, sometimes in differ- ent ways and chanting hymns specific to that time of day. In small temples, its simply cleaned thoroughly each day. Those who are most wounded in body or spirit are brought here. The physically wounded are subjected to the secret skills of Ciovla, while epic sinners receive epic tasks to mitigate their guilt. Some who follow Ciovlas teachings never leave the temple, but this is not required of every priestess and priest. Those who travel outside are, how- ever, expected to cleanse themselves before entering the Inner Temple. The healers of Ciovla are taught tech- niques for mending the human body 10 The Encyclopedia

11 with tools and implements, many of the Kuklach spouse was elevated to which appear fearsome or cruel to the high status siblings and parents uninitiated. (These are described on and cousins remained in their old page 81.) To learn the higher reaches station. Nevertheless, there were often (the four and five point Disciplines) material benefits to having a child or the priest must visit a House of Death. brother (or parent) catch the eye of one Houses of Death are sort of anti- of the nobles. Moreover, the Kuk- temples where bodies are brought lach often were popular among the for shriving before burial. However, governed class because they moved the bodies are cut open and explored among them (at least when unmar- before burial, in rituals that seek the ried) and were in any event only one fatal injury or cause of death, and it generation removed from commonal- is by seeing the inner workings of the ity themselves. body laid bare that the greatest skill is attained. (After studying at the House The system of Kuklach/peasant mar- of Death, the Ciovla worshipper must riages may have worked too well. The cleanse himself through a two-week common people expected, practically fast and purification ceremony before insisted, that those married into high once more passing into a temple.) station lead lives of opulent luxury. The rising demands of sumptuous- (Working in a House of Death han- ness, coupled with natural human dling corpses is a frequent punish- competitiveness on one hand and ment meted out in the Inner Temple. natural human laziness on the other, Houses of Death are administered by led to a nobility more and more con- defrocked Ciovla Priests, those who cerned with spectacle, pleasure and have committed the gravest sins, such ostentatious display of leisure. as betraying the faith or taking a hu- man life. These fallen who serve in the As the generations rolled on, the Houses of Death can only be forgiven nobles became increasingly feck- when they, themselves, perish.) less, foppish, and self-indulgent. The priests took to organizing the tedious details of governance, initially in order Kuklach to help the Kuklach, but eventually to supplant them. The military became K involved as well, relieving the noble At one time, the Kuklach class of the burden of maintaining of Opetka were a typical social order and squabbling with the noble class. They claimed priests over who would take over the possession of the land and a divine courts. (Currently, theres a smolder- mandate to rule, they adjudicated ing stalemate on that front. In practice, court cases, resolved conflicts and the military usually claims the right dispensed justice to lawbreakers. The to try anyone they arrest for a crime, primary difference between a Kuk- while the priests insist that anyone lach Prime and a Duke or Earl is that can come to them for justice and re- Kuklach were forbidden by their holy dress. The priests get many voluntary writ from marrying anyone other than requests for mediation, but asking a a peasant. (In this case, that excludes priest to come in and wrench you out all other Kuklach, Opetkan War Givers of military jail is a much less certain and members of the priesthood.) Only endeavor.) 11 The Encyclopedia

12 Eventually, the Kuklach descended For every five to twenty squads (de- to the level they currently occupy: pending on circumstance) there is a A wealthy, pampered, coddled class Field Master. The Field Master gives with practically no real authority. The orders to the Squad Masters and can military and the priesthood keep them only be challenged to single combat sedated with rich food, fine wines, once per month. If he overcomes the and staggering entertainments. In Squad Master, he retains his privi- exchange, the Kuklach dont complain leges, otherwise hes busted down to to the peasants, who would certainly Squads again. An officer may bounce rise up in their defense. In the past, between Squad and Field several times such uprisings have occurred, mostly before the twice-yearly opportunity to expressed through work stoppages challenge for the position of Assigner. but sometimes with violence. The Assigner divides up duties among five to ten Field Masters. Defense of a Opetkan War Givers large city or small province would be the job of a single Assigner. When a O Field Master challenges an Assigner, The Opetkan military the Primary Leader himself has to class is a meritocracy. It is countenance the challenge. (Some controlled, at each level, have been carried out without approv- by those who either excel at killing or al. If the troops are loyal excel at getting others to defend them. enough, such oversights may be forgiven, if not forgotten.) The chal- Thus, a typical Primary Leaders ca- lenger and his troops go to a ritual reer would begin when he presented battlefield in central Opetka, while the himself to the War Givers and asked to Assigner picks one other Field Mas- join. Looking him over and seeing no ter to bring his soldiers for the battle. obvious infirmities, the soldiers would The troops are given wooden weap- then beat him. Depending on how he ons, wooden shields and wooden took the beating, theyd either send helmets, but fatalities are still com- him home with a curse or assign him mon. (For one thing, its not unusual to a squad. for a squaddie to see a Squad Master injured and finish the job to advance Lowly squadders train with their his own career, and so on up the chain gear (typically spear or axe, shield of command.) The battle ends when and helm) and get drilled in mindless either the challenger or the Assigner is obedience to their Squad Master. At captured, unconscious or dead. any time outside of war conditions, a squadder can take a swing at the One route to authority, then, is to Squad Master. If he does, the Master be aggressive, ambitious, and dif- fights him. Depending on the actions ficult to kill. But the other route, just of the other squadders the new re- as common, is to be a clever builder cruit either gets beaten senseless (thus of coalitions, friendships, debts and learning a healthy dose of fear for the covert agreements. The very finest boss) or triumphs, gaining the right to Assigners who can, once every five command. years, challenge the Primary Leader are something of both. To become 12 The Encyclopedia

13 Primary Leader, the Assigner must miserable war for the plainsmen, who return to that same sacred battlefield were called the Inestari. They were and lead his entire corps of followers outnumbered. Their weapons were into battle. The Primary Leader gets to inferior. They were not organized field the exact same number of troops, behind a single plan, and they faced a but he can select them from any of the callous and implacable enemy. Defeat armies that any other Assigner con- after defeat drove them further and trols. If the challenger can overcome further back, until the return of one the best possible force the Primary woman turned the tide and eventually Leader can assemble and capture the drove the foreigners out. But Winu Primary Leader alive, the Assigner can was not the name of that woman. seize the position. (Displaced Primary Leaders typically retire to teach at war Annak had lost her sons and husband colleges, or to just go get some rest.) to the Opetkans and had fled to the east, to the Masterless Wilds. She had, Challenges to the Primary are far previously, been unexceptional, but from common, and successful ones when she returned she brought some- desperately rare. More Primaries have thing with her. There was a haunted died in battle, in bed, from treachery look in her eyes, as if all her fear had or mischance, than have ever been been replaced with a dread, placid removed from office through a formal certainty. She did not pause to speak challenge. Every Primary is required, with any of her old friends or remain- each month, to deliver each Assigner ing family. She simply went to the a sealed and signed order indicating biggest, closest encampment of Opet- who should succeed him if he dies or kans and said she had a message for can no longer command. These docu- their leader. When she judged she was ments dont need to all contain the near enough to the center of the camp same name. When the Primary fails, she said, Now. I fulfill my part of the the Assigners open the orders. Which- bargain. Then she started to sing. ever set is most common is enacted. What came next, was the Winu. It took the form of green fire, and a Plains of the Winu wind, and a groan like bending metal. The fire rose, and spun, a twisting P North of Opetka and the Maemeck Matriarchy lie the Plains of the Winu, a land of perpetual darkness. At one time, whirlwind of light and sound reach- ing taller and wider, spinning in place, engulfing the camp and consuming its soldiers. Plainsmen and Opetkans alike were terrified by the inverted they were a sparse grassland, peopled cone of light that could be seen for by cattle-herding nomads. But Winu miles, reaching up into the clouds. was not then the name of the land, nor They were afraid and they remained was it ever the name of the people. afraid when they realized that the glowing tornado was not moving, was As the power and population of not dispersing, was simply circling in Opetka grew, they came in time to cast place. covetous glances on the lands of their neighbors. Invasion followed. It was a 13 The Encyclopedia

14 That Winu, the first, is still there accept its blessings, and offer their today and is still the largest. But there own, they will never worship it and are many more throughout the plains. never, ever trust it. Some are only as tall as a tree, scarcely a hands-breadth across at the base. Others are vast enough to rival the Purefast first. (Atanarhi) Annak was the only one to emerge alive from that first Winu and she Purefast is a Pahar holiday celebrated taught others. Soon the green columns the third week in Plantingmonth. This were rising all over the plains, and is the rainy season in the Pahar Na- where their light touched, weakness tion, and for the first six days of the and despair could be called upon the week, people are somber and quiet. invaders through sacrifice and song. They dress in dull colors and abstain The Opetkans withdrew, fully ex- from sweets, spices and liquors. Tra- pecting a counter-invasion that never ditionally, this is the time for making came. The Winu stopped at the edge right their sins and errors of the year of the plains, and went no further. before atonement, but also making amends. Asking forgiveness during Since that time, nothing has been the week of Purefast is more signifi- the same for the Inestari. Plants that cant than doing so during ordinary could never grow before in the plains time, and withholding forgiveness at darkness flourished in the light of the Atanarhi is despicable behavior. But Winu. Those who bound themselves tradition holds that the wronged one to it could touch any Winu and sense from whom forgiveness is requested through all of them, sometimes even may, by right, make forgiveness traveling from one to another in an contingent on the completion of some eyeblink. Messages, money and magic task. The greater the sin, the more mo- traveled the plains at rates unimagi- mentous the task can be without rous- nable to most, and the population ing comment from the community. swelled to match Opetka. Today, the plains are home to villages, towns and The climax of Atanarhi week is its even castles. Almost all of them lie seventh day. All toil is forbidden on within the radius of a Winus light, the seventh day, with exceptions only almost all the townsfolk sing to it, and for essential persons like physicians. periodically cut themselves to bleed As soon as the rain begins, a clamor for it, and make their yearly or month- of drums, chimes and musical instru- ly or weekly offering of an animal to it. ments arises from every home, and then the people rush out stark naked It is the followers of Annak, the only and yelling. There is dancing in the ones who can touch a Winu without street, the sharing of food and drink risking death, who insist that it is not (particularly those that have been for- a god. It is they who beg or demand bidden the previous days) and a great that towns be built in the dark, where and wild celebration. the people cannot be seen and touched by the green power. It is they who say If it does not rain on the seventh day they have spoken to the Winu and of Atanarhi, it is a dire omen indeed. If that while they will deal with it, and the rain is but light, thats regarded as 14 The Encyclopedia

15 a warning from the gods to mend sin- Children born on the ninth full moon ful ways. A torrential downpour, on after Dyingmonth are blessed with a the other hand, is divine favor. blameless conception and are often held to a higher moral standard than their peers. But by the same token, as Shameless Day adults they may find it easier to find positions of authority if they are known (Kag Ungkrag) for being sinless born. S This Truil holiday is cel- ebrated on the first new moon of Dyingmonth to ob- serve the anniversary of Raungmts Southport Southport is a busy trading port for the adultery. In the deepest darkness of Heluso Confederacy, and particularly for the year, the Truils believe their god- Green River. Goods from across the sea dess has her face so fully turned from and up and down the coast flow through the world that she cannot observe her its copious and unusual harbor, the un- children below. Any sins committed derdocks. on Kag Ungkrag are therefore held to no divine reckoning. In addition to its economic value, South- port is a site of great religious significance (Mortals, of course, hold their own to the primary faith of Green River, grudges as they see fit. But avenging reverence for The Bull That Mounts The a wrong done on the Shameless Day World. In addition to the massive temple is believed to face the goddess judg- atop the walled-in capital hill, Southport ment as if it was performed upon an hosts the Field of Holy Valor where, ev- innocent. Many such revenges are ery three years, the ruler of Green River is therefore saved up until the next Kag sacrificed on the horns of a flawless white Ungkrag.) bull bred for killing viciousness. When not used for this sacred purpose, the Wise Truils understand that you can Field is used for more mundane sporting percieve much about a community by events, often displays of equine skill. witnessing its Kag Ungkrag behav- ior. When all engage in wildness and passionate sexual excesses, it indicates a group bound by trust. When there Underdocks is much violence and cruelty, it is a momentary symptom of an ongoing illness jealousy, resentment, and se- cret grudges can all burst into fruition during the Shameless Day. If its a day U Sailing towards the Green River city of Southport, the approach looks much like any other Helusan coastal town. The of caution when most hunker down city and land rise from the water as a and keep to themselves, it shows a curtain, the hills and fields spread out community of no great closeness, to the left and right. But at the bottom but with general contentment. Most of this city, at the join of hill and sea, groups, of course, have some violence, there is a black gap. Aiming the ship some caution and some libidinous towards it, one can sail beneath the city outbursts. like a mouse creeping under a tapes- 15 The Encyclopedia

16 From either perspective, the underdocks are deep and dark. There are pock- ets and wells down there that are unexplored by the ordinary townsfolk. Per- haps the soldiers of the fortress have a complete map of those dark places. Per- haps not. One corner of the underdocks is the largest known settle- ment of White try. This cavern leads to the spacious Pahar. They keep to themselves, rarely Southport underdocks. emerging to the surface and engaging in most of their trade with the fisher- Immediately above a sailors head is men and merchants who base their a series of fortified firing positions, enterprise from the shared darkness. leading up into the basement of the watching fortress above. Crisscrossing the ceiling are staircases and catwalks, periodically interrupted by great stone Ussient Forest columns where ships can be moored. The underdocks are indisputably an To the north of Dindavara, up and excellent shield against storms. down great slopes and in a vast val- ley plain, travelers are often amazed Approaching the underdocks on foot, to find that the descriptions of Ussient from the city above, presents a differ- trees arent exaggerated. Hearing of ent perspective. To one in the grip of branches thick enough to support a the land, the underdocks feel like a mansion, trunks with diameters the cliff face, with the surface of the water size of a family farm, and bark so thick parallel to it. One can watch the boats that cozy dwellings are built within sliding down its surface while leaning its folds and knotholes whod be against the wall that is, to the sailors, a blamed for suspecting a tall tale? ceiling. But its all true. 16 The Encyclopedia

17 The Ussient people look like shorter, thinner Dindavarans, though their arms and legs tend to be a bit longer in proportion to their bodies. Almost all of them are, of course, excellent climb- ers. Some spend their entire lives in the trees, walking the branches, swing- ing on transport ropes, netting birds and crossing from tree to tree on rope bridges so high that the ground be- neath is lost in a green canopy. There are farms around the bases of the trees, but groundlings are the butt of jokes among those who live on high. Typically, each trunk has its separate tribe, but theres a great deal of skir- mishing between them out on the tips, where the branches interlace like fingers. Full scale invasions reaching to the homes that gird the boles are vanishingly rare, but tough competi- tion for bird eggs and hunting areas is expected even between friendly neigh- bors. When two tribes go to war, the trick is to sneak close enough to the foe to steal stores or destroy them, often through perilous underside travel. In Ussient history, there have only been two cases of full conquest. The first, the invasion of the Arb tree two hundred years ago, was a special case. three bicker about control of Arb, but At that time, a powerful blight sorcer- most of the conflicts on the bark are po- ess ruled the Arb, threatening the ad- litical proxy battles (because Marn, for joining Kulia, Marn and Iylem tribes. example, doesnt want to unify Kulia Unable to assassinate the enchanter and Iyelm against it by damaging Arb). through normal means, the three Any actual bloodletting takes place on neighbors joined forces on a risky as- the frontiers between Kulia, Marn and sault from base to top. They never did Iyelm, each of which is essentially a catch the magician, but they claimed corner of a triangle surrounding Arb. enough territory to shatter her political power. Since that time, Arb has been The other invasion took place on the a vassal state to its neighbors, paying northern border seventy years back. them yearly tribute. Though pure- Trunk Ulbrock converted to the faith of blood Arb folk form an underclass, Arb the Ironbone Theocracy and, backed by is (ironically) the most prosperous of priestly magic and foreign troops, they the four, and extensive intermarriage invaded and conquered their neighbors has left servant Arbs rare. The other on trunk Breiss. The victory was hard, 17 The Encyclopedia

18 and the occupation proved impos- either dragging them into a war that sible. The Breiss wouldnt give up their couldnt be won, or for losing the war native pantheon and, like all Ussient through cowardice and ineptitude. warriors, were more comfortable with secretive raids than mass engage- There are trade routes through Ussient ments. The Ironbone troops could hold lands. Tree-tribes along those roads individual villages, but at the cost of take tribute and offer protection, while constant vigilance, always watching those off the road sometimes send the natives who smiled and nodded long-ranging squads to raid and steal and sabotaged and poisoned. The the metal goods and cloth flowing Ulbrock invaders skills matched the north from Dindavara and the Con- Breiss at arboreal hit-and-run combat, federacy, or the furs and foodstuffs but the Breiss troops knew every twig moving south. and knothole on the bole. The native resistance fighters also had help from The massive Ussient trees bear equally all those Breiss who were polite to the massive fruit, ranging from boulder occupying troops faces, while put- to haystack size. Ussient fruit ripens ting insects in their beds and weaving from the outside in, so its possible thorns into their climbing ropes. for the exterior to rot while the core is still unripe. It has a sweet, tangy Ultimately, too many Ulbrock found flesh, and while the skin can be eaten, themselves in sympathy with the in the Ussient lands its more likely to Breiss, who spoke their language and be dried, cured and made into clothes shared their culture. Even with the that have the texture of fine-grained Ironbone faith, they were unwilling to leather. The seeds can be roasted until watch foreigners punish and threaten they crack open, and the matter inside their Ussient brethren. Five years into swells out like popcorn. Some grain the occupation, the Ulbrock quietly and corn is grown locally, but more is stopped pursuing the Breiss loyalists, imported. making only a token effort. With the Breiss out of check and redoubling (For more detailed coverage of the their attacks on the Ironbone troops, Ussient Forest and its people, turn to the northerners cut their losses and page 50). withdrew, telling the Ulbrock to contain their neighbors, if they really wanted to. The Ulbrock didnt really Western Marches want to, given the extensive raids their W home branches were suffering from neighbors because their best fighters Lying between Cen- were pinned down in Breiss. ter and Dindavara, the Western Marches Two generations have passed since have always been The Empires shield Ulbrocks withdrawal. Tensions have against Dindavaran aggression. eased, but theres still a lot of animos- Before coming into The Empire, the ity, and almost a third of the raids from Western Marches had been longtime Breiss to Ulbrock end with someone rivals (and often outright enemies) dead. Ulbrock and the Ironbone Theoc- of the Sunless Plains, which border racy despise one another, despite shar- them on both the north and south. ing the faith. Each blames the other for Belonging to the same political entity 18 The Encyclopedia

19 has eased their mutual distrust and and the government against the white contempt, but only to a point. priests, who were exiled from the Pa- har nation forever. Even today, hen- While the culture of the Marches ex- pecked Pahar mommies threaten their alts the ideal of the gruff and muscu- children that the whites will come for lar warrior, its greatest contribution them if they arent good. (This has to The Empire is its vast and fertile caused no end of unpleasantness for farmlands. While the other nations honest Ob-lob traders who made the have farms, grain and corn from the long overland trek to The Empire.) Western Marches are fundamental foodstuffs for almost every Imperial As for the persecuted dissidents, their city of size. problems were just beginning. They fled to the Sunless Plains, where their The magicians known as the Smoke curious creations were welcomed but Sculptors originated in the Western they, themselves, were just tolerated. Marches. In time, the Sunless King came to believe the strange foreigners could extend his life beyond its normal span White Pahar and, when they refused (or were un- able) they were driven into the Light- less Jungle. The so-called white Pahar are a race apart, whose origins are ancient and None but the white Pahar themselves subject to much disputed scholar- know what befell them in those deadly ship. The agreed-upon outline of confines, but emerging into North their history is as follows: Many years Hold their numbers were reduced and ago, before The Empires formation, their attitudes rather queer and insu- there arose a group of Pahar whose lar. Hearing of the Ob-lobs, they mi- skin was papery pale, who were born grated towards the coast, where they with white hair and whose eyes were were as accepted as any impoverished an eerie red. Not all of these prodi- foreigners of outlandish appearance gies bred true, but if two of them had could be. children, those children were almost invariably colorless as well. Many of the white Pahar intermarried with Ob-lobs, or with cosmopolitan One of the Conjoining Priests of Confederates, but a few intermarried Setekesh declared that the white within the same strains and main- Pahar were favored of the goddess tained the same religious practices and destined to tend her groves. (He, including, quite possibly, human himself, was one of the whites.) Many sacrifice. An accusation of kidnapping white Pahar flocked to his banner and children for abominable experiments they soon became a powerful faction led to their expulsion from the normal- within the church. Their power rose ly accepting city of Darkport twenty so quickly and so greatly, in fact, that years ago. Currently, the largest the church cracked under the strain. known concentration of white Pahar The white Pahar priests endorsed live in the Southport Underdocks. increasingly bizarre conjoining and often incorporated non-white humans into their fusions. This abhorrent practice turned the people, the nobles 19 The Encyclopedia

20 Matters of Color Chapter 1: Coins T and men, I already know it all, cousin he Ob-lob lust for gold Seenitera was going on about it after a is so great that they couple glasses wash their coins more Your cousin, his uncle said, shaking his head and grimacing. If her mouth carefully than their children. isnt open for wine, its open to blather or its open for ugh. Thats not why -Nadansk Ghal, youre here, so you can lighten your Wu-Hra Pathmaker blush. Your father wants me to show you something about money. At that the boy perked up, before immedi- ately attempting to quell his enthusiasm The youth Chochukoti was sullen as he into a mature and worldly interest. Re- slouched toward his uncles stall at the ally? Merchant Hall. Uncle Solistano, he said. Father said I was to come see you. Solistanos throat produced another To learn something important. The rough sound. Do you know what this last words were accompanied by a sort is? he asked, holding up a coin. of nihilistic shrug, eloquently indicating his suspicion that nothing could ever be Of course, its a Dindavaran gold important. mark, the boy replied. Solistano grunted. He sat behind a table Of course. After a brief rummage, scattered with papers, inkstones, quills, the older man picked up another coin. and coins of many nations. The disorder This? radiated from a well-oiled brass scale and its tiny lead weights. Just beside it was An Imperial pound. a bowl of fine Opetkan glass, decorated with rising lines of blue cobalt. The lines If I offered you one, which of these were tight together, running straight for would you choose? most of the bowls circumference before sprouting the lines and curves of Ob-lob Chochukoti tilted his head. The pound, writing. The writing was staggered so I suppose. that the tiny letters wouldnt overlap. Why? The boy looked left and right before mum- bling, If its about the ways of women Dindavara is closer than The Empire, so I suppose the coin is rarer. 20 Matters of Color

21 The Dindavarans like their traditions, Hmph. Solistano put down the mark which is why you should have picked this and picked up another pound. If I of- one and not the pound. fered you these two, then which? In reply to a quizzical look, Solistano A shrug. Doesnt matter. put the mark in the bowl. The level of the water rose exactly to one line, which Hah! You really do have a lot to learn. Chochukoti could read with a squint. The boys blush of embarrassment, which Gold mark. had indeed faded, surged back with re- sentment. The water tells it true, is the coin as big as it ought to be? The older man pulled The coins trade one for one for one, why the coin out and dried it with a grubby should it matter which I pick? towel. He set it on one arm of the scale, a lead weight on the other. It was, and Sit. it weighs as it should too. I call that a clean, whole mark. Chochukoti slouched into a chair. He swept the weight off with practiced On the Dindavaran coin, his uncle fingers, replacing it with another mark said, leaning in to point with stubby fin- coin. This time, the scale slowly tipped. gers, We have the mountain, I think they Looking closer, Chochukoti could see that believe their god made the world there this coin was a bit more worn and bat- or some such. On the back, the sword, tered. When his uncle put it in the water, of course. You know what dindavaran it seemed to him that the level rose just means, yes? has it had before. People of the sword. Look closer! The levels lower. I paid very dearly to have this bowl made just And the runes? so. This mark isnt a whole mark. Its been scraped. Chochukoti shook his head. Scraped? Me eithernot exactly. I think the mountain side has something like, our With practiced movements, Solistano wealth is not gold, but courage. The brought from under the table a small back is where gold ends, steel begins. bucket and a sharp knife. With a slow smooth slice, he shaved a thin plane from They like their coinage dramatic, dont the coins smooth side. they? 21 Matters of Color

22 Scrape it too fast or too deep and the The hole in the center is Broadlands. It coin looks bad. Some people dont care, represents their secret gods. but you should. Huh. He put it back on the table. If Im offered an Imperial pound or a Din- Thats not much gold. davaran mark, which should I take? No its not, and it took me only seconds Depends. A mark thats clean and com- to get. The bucket had several similar plete is your baseline, but Id take an old slivers glinting on its bottom. Shave Imperial pound, a Grace IX or older, over a hundred coins and pretty soon youre a clipped mark. talking about real money. Why does the age matter? Is that what you do in here all day? Why do you think? Not only that, Solistano said, his tone hurt. Some coins arent worth shaving. As his nephew frowned in concentra- Take the Confederate pound. A smart tion, Solistano picked up the two imperial man can trade one bad mark for two good coins and put them on the scale, which feddies. tipped once more. Yet if I gave them the water test, theyre the same size. Eh? Because you can bore out from the hole in the center and its harder to notice? So The Empire has been polluting its coins? Solistano cackled. Thats one reason, but to sell what you shave you have to Its called debasing the currency. melt it together, and that Confederate gold is impure. Look. The Dindavaran Why would they do that? Everyone coin, you can mark with the back of a knows theyve got more gold than the knife. Its soft because it has lots of gold. ground. Cant do that with the feddy. Too much brittle stuff melted in. Thats why. Everyone knows The Empires coins are good. Theyre like Chochukoti picked up the Confederate the voice of The Empress in your purse, coin. He hadnt seen as many of them. recommending your money worldwide. Her reign eternal first before heaven and Whys it the same on both sides? all that. Each of the last three Empresses His uncle shrugged. Confederate coin- has cheapened their coins. Ill give them ers have lazy imaginations? credit thoughthe milled edges make them worthless to clip. Like the Uldish Wheres the symbol for Broadlands? wreath here, he said, picking up another Theres the hill for Black Mountain, the bull coin. Shaving thats more trouble than god of Green River and the trees of North its worth. Hold, but no symbol for Broadlands. 22 Matters of Color

23 Wreaths arent even gold, either. No, theyre silver wrapped around a disc of gold-infused copper. They trade at five wreaths to the mark. But if you melted down that mark and those wreaths, it would take the materials in six wreaths to pay for the gold in one mark. Dindavaran Gold Mark That doesnt make sense. How can the Dindavarans prosper if their coins have a worse margin than their neighbors? The ones who could do something about it dont know or dont care, and the ones who know dont tell and buy up wreaths whenever they can. The beauty of the wreath is that even though the raw value of its component metals is less, its complexity makes it hard to counterfeit. Imperial Pound Clever Ulds. Its value is not only whats in it, but the trust it puts in you. Chochukoti thought it over. If I was counterfeiting, I guess Id make an easier coin thats less expensive. Thats only sensible. Counterfeiting? Counterfeiting? Thats a topic for another day. Usu- ally more trouble than its worth, with Confederate Pound Empresses more or less doing the job for you. Solistano grinned and, for the first time that morning, Chochukoti smiled back. Uld Wreath 23 Matters of Color

24 Chapter 2: The Maemeck Matriarchy T These rebels were little more than pests he mountains around the until one of their number stumbled Matriarchy are perilous across knowledge forbidden by the Book and, in his arrogance, used it. and barren. The only crop nat- He was the first sorcerer, and with low cunning he hid his power from the ural to that soil is dead enemies. wise and showed it only to his fellow troublemakers. With these secret pow- -Prince Will of The Empire ers, the Undisciplined came to draw in more and more with promises of dark his is the story the Matriarchs miracles and secret joys. T tell. All was dismay and disruption, but In the beginning, there was Maemeck no true disaster until one of the Judges and she made the world and put people was led away from the right course upon it. In those days, there were of judgment and lost his discipline. ten women for every man. This was Tempted by the promise of enchant- as it should be, since men can plant ment, which he intended to use for their seed and wander off, forgetful, the good of all, he agreed to study while women are tied more tightly to under the Undisciplined and was soon children, who are of their very bod- warped away from his purpose and to ies. The goddess gave the women the their cause. Because he had his castes Book of Maemeck so that they could gifts of leadership, he quickly came to gauge all their actions rightly, and lead the Undisciplined, organizing for a thousand years there was peace them to spread like weeds. Because he and tranquility. But in time, some had his castes gift of wisdom, he was grew restless with their station and soon the greatest of sorcerers, trans- questioned why things had to be as forming a collection of idle tricks and they were. These were the first of the fancies into tools for a horrible war. Undisciplined. Learn, then, from this. When a great The Undisciplined were disorganized, good is corrupted, it becomes a far but they had sweet words and per- deeper evil than the further fall of that suasive songs, they spoke movingly which is fallen by nature. Strength of the great cause of equality, never turned against its natural course of fully addressing the obvious inequities order is far more dangerous than weak- between sexes and castes. Because they ness following its natural course of lazed in indolence instead of toiling, chaos. they seduced the weak of every caste with promises of luxury and freedom. The battle between the righteous and the Undisciplined raged for genera- tions. Each elder who died took with 24 Matters of Color

25 The Maemeck Matriarchy always, and I shall call the least dissolute among them to your land in the mountains, that they may in time be saved. As for the others, they will never overwhelm you because I shall give you two gifts and one punishment. The first gift is that the great birds who are in my image will submit to carry- ing you, so that you can survey your enemies from a proper po- sition above them. The second gift goes to those Undisciplined her one more memory of the times of who will join you, for this gift is peace. Each child born was another a polluted one. I will show them secret who knew only the strife of war and shapes that will drain the corrosion of could not grasp the joys of a discipline magic out of the world and render it he had never known. Those follow- harmless. Finally, the punishment. ing Maemecks true teachings fought From now on, women and men will fiercely and with honor, but they were be born in equal numbers. This is, I forced back, and back, and back until know, a burden to you, but with the they were at last confined in a ring Book you are far better equipped to deal of mountains. Why? they wailed, with this disaster than the Undisci- Has our judgment failed? Why are plined. we set to suffering by our lessers? Where is the justice that perfect judg- All came to pass as Maemeck predict- ment gives? ed. The sudden influx of male children sundered the Undisciplined forces At last, the goddess Maemeck heard within three generations, turning them their cries and appeared to their Judg- into a vast multitude of squabbling es. You suffer because you failed, nations. Some retain one vestige of she said. You did not see the danger Maemeck wisdom, some another, but of the Undisciplined before it was only we stand on land that has had the too late. Now, they will be with you righteous dwelling upon it always. 25 Matters of Color

26 Overview/Values Overview Values The Maemeck Matriarchy is stuffy, Order is the primary Matriarchal antiquated, xenophobic, sexist and value, and every rule of its hide- founded on a relentlessly striated bound society is aimed at putting caste and level system. Its ability people in their place, moving them to conquer its neighbors is limited to positions where their strengths by its small population and the best serve the rulers, and holding difficulties of bringing an influx out enough promise of improve- of Undisciplined foreigners into ment to keep rebellion at bay. The their carefully balanced society. Empires recent aggression has ce- On the other hand, the Matriarchy mented this Maemeck truculence: is indisputably stable. Indeed, They were a vassal state once, and stability is the defining aspect of after the Bloodcutters decimated the Maemeck structure. What it the Warrior and Judge castes, their does better than anything else is civilization nearly collapsed. For- resist change. With its forbidding tunately for the Matriarchy, a few natural defenses and the strategic of those families were able to hide advantages of their flying mounts, themselves and preserve the core theyre not getting conquered cultural doctrines and documents themselves any time soon. from foreign pillage. Um, Yes Preserve. In actual historical fact, some of the Judge families that survived the Imperial occupation did so by turning into belly-up quislings. Furthermore, when the time came to drive the foreigners out, several versions of the Book of Maemeck were presented (by different families) as the central document. The disparity between the three books has been covered up and integrated and ex- plained over the decades since the country broke free, and the books were in accord about 90% of the time anyway. But those 10% disparities concern pretty essential matters of the highest caste. Does it matter? The families who helped the invaders have been so thoroughly interbred-with that more than half the current crop of Judges has at least one great-grandparent among their number. The bigger threat is that some scholar might find the three books and see the differ- ences. Thats why theyre kept under tight guard at Stagshead. 26 Matters of Color

27 Castes, Tests and Ranks Maemeck means judgment but de- spite their reverence for the concept, they dont mean the same thing by it that foreigners might. The common meaning for judgment is the ability to discern right action under duressto know whats just or whats best in a murky situation. To Matriarchs, judgment means an ability to relate any problem to the Book of Maemeck and find a solution. Castes, Tests and Ranks Seeing Caste The various interactions of caste and Once one qualifies for status improvement, how does rank are illustrated on page 323 of everyone know? The short answer is, you wear it on your REIGN. Keep in mind that males sleeve, though its a bit more complicated than that. of any caste and rank are treated as if they were two levels lower. They Every citizen in the Matriarchy is expected to have docu- retain the rights and prerogatives of ments, stamped and sealed and composed by an em- their actual levelan Undisciplined powered member of the Judge caste, that testify to the male who reaches fourth rank gains individuals proper place in society. But its far too difficult his autonomy. But if he comes into to compare documents every time you need to know if you legal conflict with a third level Undis- should look away from someone in contempt. Therefore, ciplined woman, the Judges are likely each citizen wears a band on her left forearm decorated to favor her instinctively. Further- with one to six circles. Wearing the band isnt mandatory, more, many tests involve getting but without it you can safely be treated as Undisciplined. testimonials from (for instance) a sec- The number of circles indicates level of accomplishment, ond level Warrior or better. For those and the color shows caste. purposes, men are indeed judged at the lower rank. UndisciplinedBlack, for the darkness of their ignorance. The rigid Book of Maemeck is quite LaborerBrown, for the earth in which they toil. explicit that once a level has been at- tained, it can never be rescinded. A MerchantSilver or white, for the coins they gather. fourth level Warrior who betrays the Matriarchy may deserve death, but WarriorRed, for the blood they spill. he dies as a fourth rank Warrior, with all the respect that implies. JudgeGold, for the light of leadership they shine on all. The text is equally clear that one cannot skip ranks. A brilliant doctor The penalties for wearing a band indicating undue accom- who discovers a cure for a hideous plishment are typically harsh but temporarypublic humil- plague qualifies for the sixth level of iation or flogging, or both. Forging the official documents Laborer, but if he hasnt taken the test is far more grave, and is punishable by maiming, blinding, to get to fifth, hes stuck. exile or (in the case of impersonating a Judge) death. 27 Matters of Color

28 Castes, Tests and Ranks Undisciplined Judge (or someone of similar station) for a year without disgrace. Those This is the caste of beggars, teachers who can accomplish that are permit- (of anything other than specialized ted to learn an art or trade (though caste knowledge, like languages or not skills reserved for Laborers). basic math or history), entertain- ers and enchanters. Undisciplined Fourth Rank: When an Undisciplined are permitted to accost and speak to person can amass testimonials to her those of better station because, frank- character from someone of at least ly, its ridiculous to expect restraint second rank in each caste, she can from them. The exception to this present them to a Judge and, if they concerns the highest of Judges. Only are acceptable, become fourth rank. Undisciplined of the sixth rank are At this level, shes permitted to man- permitted to speak in the presence age her own affairs instead of being of a sixth rank Judge. Lesser Undis- subject to her parents or employer. ciplined must remain silent unless that Judge addresses them directly. Fifth Rank: To reach fifth rank, its Theyre expected to be (of course) necessary to get a recommendation without discipline, but there are from someone of sixth rank, any limits. Sixth rank Judges get respect caste. At this high level, she can be even from those who are expected to trusted to manage and command lack respect for anyone else. other Undisciplined. Sixth Rank: On the recommenda- The Undisciplined are forbidden to tion of a fifth rank Judge or better, own land, handle weapons or touch the Undisciplined can be elevated to gold. this high level. This gives the right to interact with anyone, of any level or First Rank: The lowest of the Un- caste, without shame. disciplined beg and do day labor or odd jobs. Theyre not trusted with anything else, really. Only rarely Laborer can they earn more than a few small Laborers are by far the most numer- coins, because no one would trust ous caste, encompassing foresters, someone so lowly with any task that smiths, miners, farmers, shepherds, merits higher pay. carpenters, weavers, farriers and the like. Essentially, anyone who makes Second Rank: To rise above the something or follows a practical trade lowest rank, the Undisciplined must is a Laborer. Second rank Laborers receive a testimonial from someone outnumber all members of the War- on the level of a third rank Merchant, rior and Judge castes combined. or greater. Once that testimonial has been certified by a Judge, the Undis- Laborers are not permitted to own or ciplined is permitted to enter service, carry weapons, nor may they adorn hiring herself exclusively to one their heads with jewelry. employer. First Rank: Uneducated, crude effort Third Rank: The next test of the is the purview of the first rank labor- Undisciplined is to serve a first rank 28 Matters of Color

29 Castes, Tests and Ranks ers. Typically these are laborers who Sixth Rank: The rewards of sixth are too young to have risen to second. rank are rare indeed, bestowed only There are a few who get stuck at first on those who make a significant due to handicap, attitude or because contribution to the nation (as decreed they angered a Judge somehow. by a fourth level Judge). Those who demonstrate their value by bridging Second Rank: To qualify for the com- great chasms, creating magnificent monest level, a laborer must work for public statues or heroically saving one entire year in the service of a first lives can become sixth, who are the level Judge, or someone of equivalent only Laborers permitted to voluntari- or greater status. Once that term is ly travel outside the nation. verified by the appropriate Judge, the Laborer receives permission to study Merchant a specialized trade (smith, carpenter, herbalist, bonesetter, builder, etc.) Handling money, making loans and and apprentice himself to one of its governing the exchange of services masters. and goods is the provenance of the Merchant class. They, and they alone, Third Rank: Third rank Laborers are permitted to engage in com- have demonstrated knowledge in merce. (Lower castes arent trusted a specialized field, and once that to make financial transactions, while knowledge is legally validated, they money grubbing would demean the are permitted to charge money for higher classes.) A commercial ac- that service. tion is when cash, labor, material or documents of debt change hands Fourth Rank: There are sets of higher over something that was not made standards for fourth rank specialty or enacted by either the purchaser or labor, roughly equivalent to being the seller. Thus, when a farmer sells an Uldish master craftsman. Fourth his corn to a fellow Laborer, thats not rank Laborers are permitted to own commerce. When he sells it to a Mer- land and hire servants for terms lon- chant, thats not commerce. When ger than a month. the Merchant sells it to someone else, thats commerce. When a bonesetter Fifth Rank: Very few Laborers reach takes pay for treatmentnot com- the fifth level, because it involves merce. When a Merchant acts as an studying a chapter of the Book of agent for several bonesetters, direct- Maemeck covering the laws and du- ing patients away from the busy ones ties of their station. If they can pass and managing the money for all of a test on that knowledge without them, thats commerce. a single error, they qualify as fifth level Laborers, who are permitted to Merchants are the most heavily taxed voluntarily travel outside the district caste, and (with one exception) the in which they were certified. (Lower higher the Merchants level, the more Laborers can move to other districts, taxes he pays. Cunning Merchants but only in the service of a higher- find that the opportunities at high caste employer.) ranks more than compensate for this extra charge, complain though they might. 29 Matters of Color

30 Castes, Tests and Ranks First Rank: The lowliest of mer- Fifth Rank: As with the fifth rank chants are still permitted to act as the of Laborer, this level is attained by middlemen of commerce, and first taking a lengthy test about the Book level Merchants are more numerous of Maemecks laws. In this case, its than all the other Merchant ranks put the sections on Merchant endeavors, together. but as with the Laborers, not a single mistake is permitted. Once the test Second Rank: There is only one re- is passed, the Merchant has official quirement for a second level license, sanction to charge interest on loans. if one is already of the Merchant (Illegal loan operations are legion caste, and that is to pay a Wealth 3 throughout the Matriarchy, and the surcharge to the Judges. With the pa- Merchants pursue them fiercely. It perwork in order, a second rank Mer- must be said that when they catch chant can travel anywhere within the someone outside their caste breaking Matriarchy in order to trade. (Lesser the loan laws, theyre much angrier Merchants are restricted to the dis- than when its a low-rank Merchant.) trict of their birth, or to a district they were directed to by a higher-status Sixth Rank: The reward of being a employer or a Judge.) sixth level Merchant is a drastically lowered tax rateback to what was Third Rank: If a Merchant can stay in paid at first. But to attain this, the continuous business for ten years, he Merchant has to give all his money can qualify for the third rank (as long and possessions to the govern- as hes paid the fee for second). Its ment and, starting from scratch, only at third level and above that a earn enough to give them Wealth 3 Merchant is permitted to own a shop again. Of course, many Merchants and hang a placard in front advertis- get around this fairly easily with a ing his services. (Many merchants spouses help, but as long as the ini- of lower status get around this by tial sacrifice is big enough, the Judges operating out of their homes, but the turn a blind eye. Disdainful of com- stores of dedicated purpose are held merce they may be, but the Judges in higher esteem.) still arent about to turn down a pile of cash. Fourth Rank: As with the second level, the only requirement is a sur- Warrior charge. However, at this point, its not a fixed amount. Its half of all the The Warrior class serves not only to Merchants possessions. Naturally, defend against foreign incursions (or this spurs many in the third level grab land from nations that would to spurts of generosity right before just misuse it anyhow), but also as the applying for this promotion. The armed will of the Judges. Blasphemy, Judges dont really care, as long as fraud, insurrection and failure to the Merchant isnt contemptuously pay taxes are all investigated by the open in his attempts to circumvent Judges, who also declare guilt and the spirit of the law. Fourth rank pass sentence, but the sentences are Merchants can trade internationally. carried out by Warriors. In large cit- ies, Warriors and Judges often oper- 30 Matters of Color

31 Castes, Tests and Ranks ate in pairs to keep the peace and the helm of five to ten squads), or of enforce the law. entering the Masters Academy. Warriors of any age are the only ones Fifth Rank: Completing the Mas- permitted to routinely carry weapons. ters Academy course in tactics and Even children of the caste are often strategy rarely takes more than two given a symbolic club or bow. They years, more often getting over in one. are forbidden by law to ingest alcohol Graduates earn the title of General or barkwater. and are considered capable of leading an entire army. (In actuality, there First Rank: The lowest Warriors arent enough armies to go around arent even assigned to a unit or a and many Generals wind up chaf- duty. The only right exclusive to ing under the command of someone their station is the right to enter a whos theoretically an equal.) Gener- training Collegium and receive in- als are also qualified to teach at either struction. Most Warriors leave first the Collegium or the Academy. level by pubertysometimes before. Sixth Rank: Only one Warrior can oc- Second Rank: Completing the cupy the sixth level. Its the position coursework of the Collegium usually of Foremost Commander of Maem- takes 2-3 years, sometimes as many as eck Armies and to qualify, a General four and very rarely just one. Those must either be universally acclaimed who emerge have undergone physi- by all other Generals in the nation, cal training, harsh mental discipline, or be appointed to the job by a trio of and rigorous weapon drills. With sixth level Judges. Foremost Com- graduation, theyre assigned to an manders can only be removed by army, a unit, a squad and a regional death, voluntary retirement, or con- station. They go there, join that, and viction of high crimes. Absent those do what theyre told. factors, all the Judges in the country acting in concert lack the authority to Third Rank: After serving three years expel one against her will. at second, or after accomplishing something distinctively brilliant or Judge courageous, a Warrior can advance to third level, the rank at which she can The smallest, best educated, ruling command a squad of ten of her fellow elite of the Maemeck Matriarchy is Warriors. She may be reassigned, but the Judge caste. Only they are per- not typically. This is the lowest level mitted to read sections of the Book at which a woman can begin to train of Maemeck that dont concern their with biauchris. own station. Only they are permitted to touch originals of the Book. Cer- Fourth Rank: After five years com- tain elements of the Book of Maemeck manding a squad, or (again) after can only be read by a Judgeindeed, notably meritorious service, the War- can only be looked upon by the holy rior may be advanced to fourth rank, Judges. at which point she faces the choice of either advancing up to the level First Rank: The callow youth of the of unit command (which puts her at Judge caste still have the right to 31 Matters of Color

32 Castes, Tests and Ranks handle the holy books, though its a ing authority over any Judge of lesser right they seldom get the opportunity level (as well as anyone of any other to exercise. A first rank Judge is un- caste) they are the ones who make de- der tremendous pressure to advance cisions of policy for the entire nation. from everyone else in his class. There are currently nine Judges of rank sitting in council and directing Second Rank: All the Judges tests the Matriarchy. are written examinations about the Book of Maemeck and its laws. All Culture the tests must be passed flawlessly. To reach the second rank, the Judge A nation that disdains its poets, musi- must pass a test verifying her com- cians and painters by exiling them to mand of the laws governing the the lowest social class is, understand- Undisciplined. Success at that test ably enough, deficient in original entitles her to hear the complaints of poetry, music and paintings. Sculp- the Undisciplined and render deci- tors, being classified as Laborers, sions. have it a bit better, and its possible for a talented singer or storyteller to Third Rank: The next test for Judges rise to the highest ranks of her caste is over Labor law, and passing it but that doesnt change the fact that entitles them to render judgment over its the lowest caste. Laborers. Some Judges of this rank also serve as a high court for par- Most music in the Matriarchy is ticularly difficult cases involving the communal, meaning that people get Undisciplined. together, sing, and beat on home- made drums. Construction of instru- Fourth Rank: Mercantile law is a long ments is regarded with suspicion, if section of the Book of Maemeck, and not disdain, so only the most passion- one not clearly written. Nonetheless, ate Laborers study the skilloften to those who master it are entitled to judge their heartbreak when they get hold Merchants and be done with the sordid of an Opetkan instrument or, even affairs of the working and frivolous worse, an Uldish one. Realizing that classes. They can also review and over- their craft is far more advanced and turn the decisions of lower Judges, as honored elsewhere can be crushing. can all Judges of higher level. Or infuriating. Fifth Rank: As one might expect, the The only public spectacles that the test for rank five is on martial law. Book endorses are yearly religious In contrast to the Merchant book, plays (or, as the Judges call them, the laws of war arent terribly com- historical plays). Enacted by the plicated, though this in turn leaves Judge caste themselves, these per- some situations maddeningly vague. formances are often lavish affairs, Only fifth rank Judges and above are each striving to outdo the previous permitted to read the Inner Laws of seasons, and the previous years. It Judgment. doesnt hurt that the plays, though burdened by stilted language, have Sixth Rank: The highest rank of gripping narratives. These plays Judges are those who have mastered are the Inner Laws. In addition to carry- 32 Matters of Color

33 Culture The Giving of the Book: Short on makes compelling and seductive actual conflict, this performance arguments for his position, pointing shows Maemeck descending from out every flaw and problem with the the sun in flames to teach her human Matriarchal system. But at each turn, children the ways of proper judg- hes offered a chance to leave his evil ment. There is much rejoicing, both ways, repent his errors and under- in the play and in the audience. Since stand his (carefully countered) mis- this festival takes place during the takes. In his pride, he refuses them icy Dyingmonth, the opportunity to all, becoming a greater thrall to magic go to a warm place is welcome. (Fire and chaos. The play ends with him is always a prominent theme in The slaying the younger daughter who Giving of the Book, so much so that wont join him and laughing madly there have been some tragedies when over her corpse. effects get out of control. This is one reason that almost every Hall of Maemecks Return: The autumn Judgement in the Matriarchy is made of the year hosts the autumn of the of stone.) Each of the plays three historical Matriarchy. Opposed on acts is punctuated by Judges passing all sides by the Undisciplined and through the audience and distribut- their sorcerous master (now wholly ing gifts of food, drink and coin, evil) the faithful Judges stage a final which also contributes to its popular- defense and are, at last, rewarded for ity. their faith. Their goddess reappears to bless them with quelling and biau- The Rise of the Undisciplined: The chris, which figure prominently in the pleasant weather of Threemonth final battle against the sorcerer. (The brings the performance of Rise of Undisciplined sorceress who defies the Undisciplined. While presented him with her newly-learned quell- as a comedy of errors with copious ing is his older daughter, who fol- slapstick, there are edges of genuine lowed him right up to the point that shock and evil that slice through the he killed her sister. Throughout the narrative every now and againof- final play, shes regarded with suspi- ten when a foreigner, seeing the play cion and mistrust, until she gives her for the first time, least expects it. It life to protect the Matriarchy and is chronicles the first, feckless disobe- posthumously elevated to her blood dience to the Book and how this caste of Judge.) This play is always gradually poisoned the lives of all held outside, so that the charge of the who turned aside from Maemecks biauchris can be enacted with real widsom. birds. (Their riders are the only ac- tors in these plays who arent Judges.) The Sorcerer: The swelter of a Matri- archal Fruitingmonth is an apt setting Cuisine for the third play, a hellish tragedy. In stark contrast to Rise of the Un- The fundamental unit of Maemeck disciplined, Sorcerer chronicles cooking is the goat. Goat meat, goat the hubris and treachery of the first milk, goat cheese or goat butter are Judge to fall away from the Book. featured at nearly every meal. Lamb A magnificent figure, the sorcerer is a close second. Accompanying 33 Matters of Color

34 Culture this is thick black bread made from ers and boots with tooling, pigment the valleys scruffy wheat (or, for or polished metal details. Laborers gourmets, light white bread from eschew such fripperies, taking pride imported Winu grain). The Maem- in the quality of the repairs to their eck mountains have an abundance garments. High level Laborers dress of plants with edible leaves, so in imported cotton, but make a point salads are popular spring through of repairing any damage or wear, fall. Theres also a common starchy often with eye-catching embroidery. sweet tuber (the halnack) that gets put Merchants are ostentatious in the aside for winter, or made into a sort color of their clothes, and take pride of bland, crunchy candy (halnacku), in outrageously long and brightly or gets distilled into a syrupy, thick colored neckwear. Warriors have no liquor that looks almost like blood particular sartorial code, except for and is blindingly rich in alcohol. the biauchrus riders. They are the ex- This beverage, called halnackeck, is clusive owners of their steeds molted by weight the most lucrative export feathers, and they often use them as from the Matriarchy. Its particularly components in cloaks or gowns. prized (of course) in The Empire, where the war with the Matriarchy The Judges break the pattern, dress- makes it extremely hard to get. ing exclusively in robes. Some are elaborate and splendid (most often Clothes those of the men), while others settle for quiet luxury. Hats and head- For daily wear, almost everyone dresses are typical, usually designed wears pants, usually loose wool to emphasize height and grandeur. tucked into leather boots. Broad leather belts constrain a loose, low necked tunic. The shirts loose The Political sleeves are typically held by leather bracers on the forearms, where caste Situation circles are displayed. Woven caps with ear-flaps and chin-ties are com- It is, if nothing else, stable. What- mon in winter, while woven grass ever outsiders may think of the caste hats are used in the sunlit summers. straits of the Matriarchy, the principles Scarves are worn in winter, kerchiefs laid out in the Book of Maemeck are in summer. a powerful engine of social order. Everyone has hope for improvement, Robes and gowns are formal wear. but very few reach the highest levels Most often, theyre worn in a caste- where there are no new realms to con- appropriate color, with the circles on quer. The Judges generally agree with the sleeve embroidered as delicately one another because theyre in the su- as the wearer can afford or accom- perior position. The Warriors enforce plish. the rules because theyre indoctrinated from childhood with notions of honor The clothes of the lower five castes and courage: To them, judging seems are remarkably similar in outline, like listening to people whine all differing primarily in detail. Undisci- day. Similarly, the Merchants have plined often decorate their belts, brac- a nice mix of privilege and freedom. 34 Matters of Color

35 Culture If they lack the accolades of the War- think its likely to hurt The Empire. It riors, neither are they risking their has not escaped Opetkas notice that lives. The Laborers are often too busy the Matriarchy is single-handedly to complain, and like the Merchants holding the worlds greatest army at they arent getting killed or having to bay, and thats the sort of thing that master reams of complicated law texts. puts a damper on any envious eye- The Undisciplined are, in many re- ing of the Matriarchys mines. On the spects, the most liberated of the castes. other hand, theres a faction within The price of their relative freedom is Opetka that thinks a stab in the back is poverty and contempt, but its still best delivered to someone who has all freedom. she can handle in front of her. The greatest political challenges to the Matriarchy are external. Once The Matriarchy at War an Imperial territory, the Matriarchy was stiff and standoffish to their great The traditional military categories are neighbor for generations before The foot soldiers, specialized troops and Empire decided (rather capriciously) enchanters. The Matriarchy is skewed on war. Despite some specious claims towards elite units: The Warrior caste of diplomatic offense, treaty violation ethos ensures it. It also ensures that and reneged debt, few doubt that The foot soldiers are, one on one, often bet- Empires attack was purely mercenary. ter equipped and motivated than their Taking the Matriarchy puts them next to the bounty of the Plains of the enemies. Winu, which could affordably feed enough troops to carve out a piece of Even the poorest troops are likely Opetka down to the sea. Great as The well-equipped, given the nations Empire is, it has no ports, yet. wealth of iron. Breastplates, steel hel- mets and metal shields are standard, The people of the Plains are good along with a war-pick and several neighbors to the Matriarchy. For one javelins. Given the passive function thing, the Matriarchys poor fields of queller runesthey just stall other and reliable mines make them a good effectsfoot soldiers may turn up trade partner for the Plains, who have with one sketched on their shields or an abundance of crops to sell, but little engraved into their helmets. Some- mineral wealth. Propping up a na- times, fraudulent quellers swindle tion that stands between them and the soldiers with phony runes. Ironi- rapacity of The Empire is, certainly, cally, confidence in these empty sigils another reason for the Plains to forgive often serves just as well as a real rune any past Matriarchal aggression. in encouraging soldiers to charge a sorcerer. That leaves Opetka, a notoriously poor neighbor. But theres nothing like a Many of those Warriors survive to restive Empire to make for strange pursue deeper skills, leaving behind bedfellows. They trade with the the role of mass on the battlefield Matriarchy, they send their spies into to specialize in siege artillery, stealth The Empire from Maemeck lands, and scouting, guerrilla tactics or fighting they share what they learn when they in the mountains. Most obviously, the 35 Matters of Color

36 Culture biauchrus riders provide battlefield less effective when its broken up into intelligence, serve as heavy cavalry, chaotic bubbles by unyielding ter- bypass tough terrain and, last but not rain. Maemeck forces do poorly when least, scare the hell out of enemies. outnumbered on a broad flat plain, which is why they rarely venture onto Maemeck sorcery is limited to varia- broad flat plains to fight. Instead they tions on a theme, and that theme is fall back, let the experts do what they no sorcerers allowed. They have do best (kill people and escape un- some effects that take out individuals, seen) and let the mountains do what but for the most part they just offset they do best (kill people and just lie the advantage held by The Empire there). The crowning touch is the air or the Plainsfolk, or anyone else who corps, who can blithely ignore the ter- expects to pull a magical surprise out rain that so constrains and confounds of their pocket at a decisive moment. invaders. The Matriarchys arcane tactics are The Matriarchys victories against The built around not needing sorcerers Empire have made them confident, to accomplish anything, other than almost cocky. Trying to fight another ensuring that the other sides sorcerers country without mountains to hide in dont accomplish anything. Fight- or large, established zones where mag- ing defensively in the mountains has ic is impossible many Matriarchal a similar chilling effect on numerical Generals fail to appreciate just how advantages: A massive army is far different that sort of conflict would be. When Judges Kill Shedding blood is forbidden to Judges, leaving them ritu- ally impure. A Judge found guilty of enacting violence on another, of any caste, is considered Undisciplined until purified in accordance with the Book. The purifications involve quests and ordeals, of increasing difficulty for each level of Judge. The one time a Judge can kill without guilt is when carry- ing out a death sentence she herself passed. Only Judges may take life in the name of Maemeck law. This still leaves them soiled, so few Judges speak the final sentence. If a Judge becomes haunted as the result of an execution, its considered obvious proof of misjudgment. Haunted Judges can never be redeemed. 36 Matters of Color

37 Matriarchal Character Concepts the Warrior boy who always dreamed of riding a biau- chrus Undisciplined gigolo who married into the Judge caste and has just become a widower cunning forger born in the Laborer caste, masquerad- ing as a prosperous Merchant wounded biauchrus rider back from the front lines of The Empire Judge who has lost faith in the Book of Maemeck Maemeck Names Matriarchal Company Concepts Queller conspiracy against the upper classes In addition to common Imperial names, there are some names Merchant spies in The Empires pay from the old language. (Other Undisciplined criminals given the chance to escape than a few names and phrases, that language is dead except to punishment by crossing the border to spy in Opetka the Judges, who mostly read it. diplomatic envoy to Upunzi Even the tests and laws for lower a small village near the Imperial front where rubies castes have been translated into Imperial.) have just been found Male Female Boe Gijini Matriarchal Plot Complications Joho Halneckeck civil unrest erupts throughout Opetka Kulnick Rura crop failure in the Plains of the Winu means a lean Nold Tirl year ahead The Empress sues for peace, on the condition of a high ranking male Judge permanently going to her cham- ber of consorts the biauchris get sick the Laborers enact a work stoppage over a law in the Book of Maemeck that they claim is unfair to them 37 Matters of Color

38 Chapter 3: The Ussient Tribes buried for later, since there was now time unfolded from light and Wirtref knew that Moess would claim even her if she did not eat. But as time passed, Wirtref found Moess tiresome and they quarreled. With neither willing to relent, Wirtref at last agreed to separate that part of it which was light, and let that part illuminate their disagreement, deciding between them. That part which was light became known as Sied, and it said they were both equally at fault. Unwilling to accept Sieds judgment, both went away. Sied sat in the sky and did nothing until one of the hidden seeds sprouted and became a world. It is our world. The seed of the world brought forth many fruits, and the two greatest were humankind and the Ussient trees. The trees are great for their size his is the story the Ussient T Tribes tell. and their value, envied by all other nations. Mankinds greatness lies in its boldness and its ability to grow, to Before we were us, there was nothing become greater than it is. here but waiting potential, the seeds of worlds -- how many, no one can say. In time, one of the people who lived In time, there came to be time, which amid the Ussient trees decided to go at that time was also light, and both up to the sun and ask it all it had time and light were known as Wirtref. seen. Since, at that time, Seid was Wirtref found the potential of worlds closer to the world than now, she was and ate some, and in that act ensured able to climb to the top of her tree and that they would never come to be. jump to the sun from there, though it With that act, Wirtref created death, was a long jump and dangerous. and had to give the part of herself that Finding this human in his lap, Seid was time away to Death, who was asked who she was and she said her named Moess. name was Rusu. She asked him to tell her all he had seen, and Seid, who had Wirtref and Moess did not eat all the long been lonely, did so. So charmed world-seeds, however. Many they was the sun by Rusus attention and 38 Matters of Color

39 The Ussient Tribes curiosity and courage that he asked weakness, drove him from the heavens. her to be his bride, but Rusu said no. Frozen Seid crashed to the sea far to Then the sun moved farther from the the north and west, which is why those world, so that she could not return, lands are always cold. and asked again. Again Rusu said no, and moreover accused him of violat- As for Rusu, she was the first human ing hospitality. Seid replied that it to become a goddess. She tried to was she who had violated his home return home and show her people the by jumping on him uninvited and secrets of light and warmth, but try as that this transgression put her person she might, no matter how she damped under his authority. (In the many her flame she could not keep it con- years since his creation, Seid had tained. Causing disasters and forest become corrupted by loneliness and by fires, Rusu saw there was no longer watching all the ills of the world and any place for her in the world. Sor- its people.) rowing, she returned to the sky and set herself far from the forest, where she Worried, Rusu pretended to relent would never have to look upon frozen and said that her willing compliance Seid again. She still practices her dim- would surely please him better than ming and cooling nightly, and every ongoing resistance. Seid asked how winter she longs to return to the world he could win her consent and the love of her birth, but inevitably her inner he craved, and she said that first he fire returns in the spring, leaving her must apologize. He did. Then he trapped out of reach. must promise never to do it again. With some hesitation he agreed. Fi- As for Seid, some say Moess came and nally, he had to agree to move closer consumed him before falling to the to the world, for his distance had cre- blade of Nictus, the Man Who Be- ated a time of ice and the people were came Death. But others say Seid still suffering. waits in the frozen wastes, plotting his revenge on Rusu and on the race that Seid refused, fearing that she would spawned her. simply jump away when she had the Art on page 38 based on Edge Master 12 copyright chance. She, in turn, said she could 2008 by Ahrum-Stock never love him if he could not trust her, and he replied that she could ask anything else. So Rusu asked for his power of light and warmth, so that she might send it to the people below. Re- luctantly, Seid agreed. But Seid had never known himself without the light and the heat, and he quickly became chilled and cried out in the darkness. He begged for the return of his light, but Rusu refused and, seeing his 39 Matters of Color

40 Overview/Values Overview Values The massive trees of the Ussient The Ussient tribes value ambi- forest are sparsely populated tion and personal excellence, but by insular tribes, each typically also loyalty to their home tribe. claiming a single tree as its verti- To be Ussient is to be expected to cal domain. These tribes, while work hard and pursue the great- less mechanically or culturally est heights of whatever skill, duty sophisticated than their neighbors or profession one picks. The only to the north or the south, neces- segment of society immune to this sarily have a healthy rate of magi- pressure are the groundlings who cal study. Their dominant local live around the base of the tree, magic form mimics the qualities of growing crops and tending gar- fire, often to the near-exclusion of dens. To leave the high-pressure fire itself. Warming oneself with life on the trunk for a muddy life magic is far safer than fire, when watching corn grow is seen as ones whole world is wooden. a disgraceful surrender by most Ussient tribesmen, and this con- tempt for farmers remains unabat- ed when they travel abroad. F or every fool who persuades the world he is wise, there are ten who would be wise - had Religion and Ambition the world not persuaded them they The Ussient tribes worship a panthe- on that varies somewhat from tree to were fools. tree, but the universal feature of their deities is that they were all, previous- ly, human. To an Ussient, foreign re- ligions often seem to be based on the -Ussient Proverb questionable premise that inhuman entities have any interest in worship from mankind. Instead, they believe that humans of exceptional accom- plishment may, with enough luck and courage, supplant the original gods (as Rusu did with Seid) or kill them outright to usurp their position (as the conqueror Nictus did to the original death-god Moess, becoming the god of death and warfare). With sufficient excellence, any mortal can become immortal and demand the 40 Matters of Color

41 Culture respect of all the dwellers in the for- The Ussient songs are often backed est. Thus they believe that their his- by woodwinds, drums and ham- torys greatest magician became the mered wooden chimes similar to goddess of magic and their greatest marimbas. Often these instruments climber became the god of ascent (to are works of art even when silent, for whom one prays for the strength to the Ussient are unparalleled wood- one day become immortal oneself). carvers. A byproduct of this belief is a limited Their carvings often exaggerate and respect for the aged. All the ascended stylize the features found in nature, gods achieved their greatness be- so that the mouths and eyes of their fore the age of thirty summers, and portraits of great leaders are three many other great Ussient who failed or four times larger (or more) than to surpass death were killed before any such feature found on a normal that age. Thus, if you live to be gray human. There is a subtle vocabulary haired, it must be because you were to the patterns used to emphasize fea- too lazy to become immortal when tures and details: Each ascended god young, or because you never accom- has a simple shape associated with plished enough to spur someone into him or her. Including Nictus pattern killing you. on a statue indicates that the person portrayed was a warrior, or died in a war, or had some other close and Culture important association with death. The Ussient trees keep their history in the form of epic chants, with lit- eracy only recently leading to written (or carved) records. These lengthy, superlative-laced, heavily internally- rhymed stories give their form to re- ports of current events and future pre- dictions. When an Ussient wants to make a name for herself through some daring exploit, she typically announc- es it beforehand in a public, rhymed boast of what shes going to go do. If she succeeds, she modifies the song to reflect that it happened and that version is, thereafter, accepted as fact. If she fails, theres some good-natured teasing and, if her brag-song was particularly good, it may still get sung in a sort of wistful and ironic way to recognize her at later occasions in her life. On the other hand, if she backs out of her dare due to cowardice, she is shunned and disgraced. 41 Matters of Color

42 Culture Cuisine biauchrus, some of the birds of prey can weigh as much as a grown man Some farming occurs on the ground and, if unable to carry him, are more around the trunks, grains and corn than capable of knocking an egg-thief where theres sufficient light, salad over the side of a branch.There are greens and large mushrooms else- also squirrels, snakes of all sizes and where. Ranching and herding have the squirrels massive relative, the never caught on, since the terrain cruscius. While squirrel-shaped, they simply wont support it. typically weigh as much as a human adult. There are packs of carnivorous The dietary staple is the Ussient fruit, monkeys to hunt and eat (if youre which is as vastly scaled as every- desperate theyre quite tough and thing else about the trees. These taste rotten even when fresh). Food boulder-sized fruits are completely that doesnt run away is also avail- edible, though the skin is bitter and able in the form of edible molds and is more often tanned for clothing fungi on the dark sides of the trees, than consumption. The flesh rots but theyre an acquired taste some from the outside in, so that one fruit are poisonous, so pick carefully. can be eaten off of for a month or two once the skin is pierced. As for Clothes the seed at the core, if cooked it pops Clothes indicate social status and can like popcorn and provides an oily, subtly indicate beliefs. The lower robust treat. one is on the tree, the more likely one is to wear ucrim, the leather of the The third leg of the Ussient diet is Ussient fruit. The more prosperous hunting and scavenging. Birds, large peoples living higher in the branches and small, are snared with nets or are likely to supplement ucrim with shot with arrows (often tethered). imported foreign fabrics like cow- Nests are raided for eggs, some of hide or pigskin, cotton, wool or (very which can be of great size. While rarely) silk. At the highest branches, nothing in the forest is the size of a where the leaders and the bold dwell, foreign trifles are shunned, but status is displayed through feathers, snake- skin, or fur and leather from the cruscius. The shape of these clothes is almost always pants and a long-sleeved shirt, with shoes optional among any but the groundlings. These garments are laced along the sides to keep a tight fit. As a matter of practicality, clothes worn in the trees need to offer as much freedom of movement as pos- sible, but close garb keeps out of the way when one has to move. The ex- ception to this are the top-tier dwell- 42 Matters of Color

43 Culture ers who wear less practical clothing better light for its groundling farmers as a silent boast about their physical may sell an excess to neighbors, but prowess. Up there one may find by and large the trees are self-suffi- short capes, feather ruffs that spread cient. They have to be. behind the head, colored fringes and elaborate headwear. Instead of raw materials, then, most trade is conducted for crafts. While not as sanguine about personal For example, the tree Ugust grows in nudity as the Deerwood culture, the clay soil near a great river. While it Ussients see less shame in bare flesh is stunted compared to many in the than (say) the Truils. Nakedness is forest, its potters are the finest in the often an enhancing factor for com- region and often trade their wares petitive endeavors. Racing to the for fruit to supplement their diets. top of the tree is an adequate contest. Another tribe, on tree Siess, is several Challenging someone to race naked days journey along ground paths ups the ante. (or through uninhabited trees) from its inhabited neighbors, but Siess lies Jewels and gold are regarded as cu- near trade routes to Dindavara and riosities, pretty but with no inherent the northlands. They are therefore use (other than trading with foreign- able to trade to travelers for metal im- ers, of course). This indifference to plements, which they then exchange the wealth of the earth (which the with Ugust and other tribes. Many Ussient forest largely lacks, not that trees have specialized or unique as- one could mine it easily) endears sets of this type, and they form the them to their northern Ironbone basis of their economies. neighbors. Theyre more likely to adorn themselves with jewelry made Trees that dont have such benefits of wood, which is lighter, easier to often resort to raiding. Stealing from replace and more meaningful. Wear- someone within your own tribe is ing the wood of your home tree is a shameful thing, unless hes your worthy. Wearing the wood of an recognized rival and you bragged allied tribe is fine, though it shows a about how you were going to rip close connection to that foreign tree. him off beforehand. But taking stuff Wearing the wood of a rival is only from other tribes which is raiding, permissible if it was taken as a tro- not stealing is honorable and a phy, either won in a wager or claimed fine way to gain social status. Exces- as war-booty. sive raiding of one tree on another is looked at askance and may lead to Art on page 42 based on Warbot copyright 2007 by Marcus Ranum more severe reprisals, but light rob- bery is considered the price of doing business, like a soft tax. When raid- Economy ing one another, Ussient tribes often rely only on lashes, blunt arrows, and Trading between tribes is limited, as clubs. While enduring a heavy beat- most of them have the same resources ing to protect your property is highly and a lean season for one is the same esteemed indeed, Ussient bandits for all. A more prosperous tree with have been known to beat people un- 43 Matters of Color

44 Culture conscious and then leave them their The Dindavarans have tried to take goods intact as a sign of respect its Ussient trees in the past, but cross- also understood that some people are ing the Grave of Fools is a good way going to take a lick or two and then to diminish your army. Fighting a quit, without any particular shame. vertical war against people who are Thus, Ussient raids are almost uni- used to it is another. Its a tribute to versally conducted without fatalities. their determination, and to the tire- Deadly weapons are only brought out less Burai soldiers who distinguished when one is interfering on their close themselves in the forest fight, that property. Some trees dont even con- they forced three tribes to abandon sider their groundlings worth defend- their home trees and flee deeper into ing with lethal force. the groves. But what the invaders took, they could not hold. They had not the climbing skill nor the inclina- Politics tion to patrol the far branches, and with those ceded to the displaced tribes (and to many other Ussients The Ussient prize valor, exalt conflict, who came to try themselves against and offer regular praise to Nictus, the strange foreigners) the harass- their god of death and warfare. So ment drove them out. A similar its shocking, really, how stable and history against an Ironbone incursion peaceful the tribe and nation are, on secures their northern flank. As for the whole. the Mountain Rider Truils, theyve The Grave of Fools The Ussients preferred trading partners are the Truils. Despite the distance separating them, there is great demand in the Truil wastes for Ussient fire talismans, while the tree-dwellers can never get enough of the Truils hornbows and their drug Kratig, which the Ussient refer to as the Taste of the Hero. Prices for these commodities are driven through the roof by the trade route one must follow between the Truil Wastes and the Ussient forest. It starts with the dark forest, Ussients that never fruit for lack of light, cursed trees where no human dwells and the cruscius have no fear of man. After that, the path lies across a plain the Truils call the Cold Barrens. Considering what the entire Truil Waste is like, it should tell you some- thing that they single out this plain as particularly chilly and singularly lifeless. The most commonly copied map of the area was laid out by an Ironbones explorer and evangelist who wound up lining the bellies of a Blue Face tribe after passing through Mountain Rider territory with a rapidly-dwindling party. His map was traded to Dindavara, where it was translated into Dindavaran and copied. On that map, the uninhabited plains lying between Ussient, Truil and Dindavaran terrain is labeled, The Grave of Fools. 44 Matters of Color

45 Culture no interest in seizing tree-cities their lower than they started. But if the mounts cant climb. higher-ups reject someone popular with the lower-downs, they risk their Tribe on tribe rivalry, conflict, and own position. Higher-ups gain and violence are common. In fact, theyre maintain status by solving problems so common theyve become cultur- humbly brought to them by lower- ally encoded and ritualized. The downs. Someone at the top branch tribes fight like brothers viciously, who is never asked to mediate a with long-held grudges and incessant dispute, punish a criminal, solve picking at perceived weakness, but a mystery or undertake a daring with no real desire to kill. Raiding, journey is someone whose time has robbery, duels and mockery are com- passed. They become irrelevant and mon. Deaths from fights, especially forgotten which is, for an Ussient, the from falls on moving tree limbs, are greatest disgrace. accepted. Deliberate fighting to kill? Thats a story thats going to carry. Many problems, then, are solved by appealing to a higher-status Ussient Tribalism (and offering a generous tribute in recompense). Among the highest Your tree is your tribe, to which Ussient tribesmen there are official you owe primary loyalty. Betray- duties with ornate regalia, ceremo- ing your brother for the good of the nies, rituals and prerequisites. The tribe is low, but not nearly as low as particular offices vary from tribe to betraying your tribe for your brother. tribe, but the most common include Marrying between tribes is common High Priest, Supreme Judge, or and accepted, usually to cement a Warlord. Which office truly leads the trade or political alliance. In such tribe depends, in equal parts, on the deals, one family typically makes the charisma and cunning of the office- more generous concessions, while the holder, and on the historical impor- other family sends their child (son or tance that tribe has habitually given daughter, it matters not) to live on the to religion, judgment, or martial other tree. Such people are regarded prowess. as members of the tribe, but always with a little suspicion or a little Religious Power extra patience. Taking an extremely optimistic view Governance begins informally, but of the perfectibility of humankind, grows a level of ritual continuity Ussient worship has an almost col- towards the top. People who suc- legial tone, rather than the awed and cessfully complete impressive brags adoring approach common nearly gradually move higher on the tree. everywhere else. Every Ussient has If their new neighbors accept them, fantasized about becoming divine, if theyve ascended in social class. If not actually planned on or attempted theyre rejected, scorned, mocked and it. While brags and daring exploits have garbage thrown at them, they generate immediate social currency, crawl back down in disgrace, often theyre also considered a potent 45 Matters of Color

46 Culture religious tool. The gods are powerful tored in the best ways to please their and can subtly or directly influence goddess or god, and what the deitys the world to protect and reward those goals among mortals are. Moreover, who praise and entertain them. each priesthood has a body of secret lore about their patrons mortal life, Priesthoods, then, are those who which is considered essential for un- claim to have hidden knowledge derstanding which sacrifices please, of what their god or goddess likes. what heroism impresses, and what Those who are permitted to join jokes amuse the ascended mortal. (admitted due to family connection, Naturally, priests of Nictus value status, or lavish offerings) are tu- deeds of arms and attract warlike supplicants. The goddess of sorcery has followers who prefer study and I was greeted by a woman of ghastly prize inner strength. Rusu the Sun aspect, scarred more hideous than Goddess religion stresses athleticism, cunning and mastery of fire not any battle-veteran, her very flesh just magically mimicked flame, but the real thing, dangerous and natu- warped and run like a rivers frozen ral. Each tries to please their patron rapids. I was given to understand through deeds of greatness done in their names. Often these brags, that she had got thus of her own will, quests and dares are performed upon local rival temples and religious but my grasp of these brutes tongue persons, rather than against other is yet imperfect. I believe they said tribes churches. In at least two cases, religious tensions within a tribe have she had sung a song, an ancient boast, escalated to deadly warfare that left that she would give herself over to fire their tribes all but vassals to neigh- boring trees. for their sun-saint. By this she became The Shade Societies their priestess. While appalled by such barbarity in pursuit of a false faith, I The open route to power in the great trees is through fame and renown, could not help but admire her courage, but not everyones skills and tem- perament fit them to the arrogance of mad or misguided as it might be. I have public greatness. For the subtle, the fought five duels, two unto death, and shy and the devious, there is another route to influence, rarely discussed walked into each with steady hand. But but all the stronger for it. when this fire-priestess met my gaze, I Almost every inhabited tree has a shook. Shade Society, a group who meet in secrecy, act in darkness, and protect -Rutan Xingshao, Dindavaran explorer and diplomat their view of the social ideal through any means they deem fit. They are self-appointed bogeymen, silently 46 Matters of Color

47 Culture watching for those who break their gized to them, and hanged herself. unspoken laws. Those who step out of line may get a warning, or they No one would even talk to the Iron- may get poisoned and thrown off- bone priest after that. The Sisterhood branch in the middle of the night. of Claw and Dust was mollified and did not expand its vendetta. To some, particularly the ground- lings, Shade Societies are admired as Warfare protectors of the humble. To others, usually those with a view towards General Steads famous pyramid has changing their tribal society, the bulk troops, elite warriors and potent Shade Societies are self-righteous and sorcerers as its three corners, each retrograde vigilantes, afraid of the favored against one of the others. future and hiding behind anonymity. The Ussients are passably armed with enchantment: Their local magic is eas- These conspiracies add members ily adapted to warfare and its widely through invitation only. Often they known. As for elite individuals, their hoard secret knowledge, particularly entire culture urges people to become knowledge of spells that help them commanding leaders with unparal- keep their tribe in line. Some are little leled skills and total self-confidence. more than unofficial clubs where the There are warriors and adventurers influential meet to privately discuss who are better trained, but its hard their use of soft power. Others are to find anyone more eager for a life regimented cabals where each mem- of intense, total conflict outside the ber knows only four others at most. Lightless Jungle or the mad ranks of a Still others have layers of secrets and Sunless poleaxe regiment. Moreover, initiations, leading (in at least one the Ussient god-chasers are cheerful case) to hidden worship of Seid the about it. Fallen Sun. The forest falls short of massy num- Whatever their nature, the Shade bers. Compared to fruitful plains Societies are hardly ever discussed like Green River or Center, the food among the tribesmen, and never to density of the Ussient forest is far outsiders. This made it quite puz- lower and, accordingly, the popula- zling to one Ironbone envoy who had tion is much less. On the other hand, become fast friends with an up-and- the forest is an almost perfect terrain coming young sorceress. The en- to negate the advantage of numbers. chantress was cheerful, confident and energetic until the day she found a As mentioned back on page 44, con- small leather packet slipped in among flict between tribes is formalized and, her belongings. Inside it was an ani- while violent, is almost never indis- mal claw and a quantity of red dust. criminately so. The people acting When she first saw it, she turned out against rivals are ambitious and pale. She left her foreign friend with eager for their individual honor, and no explanation. Four hours later, she theres no honor in slaughtering civil- went to the edge of a branch with ians, nor any real tactical advantage. several of her family members, apolo- Even if a tribe had the will to mobi- 47 Matters of Color

48 Culture lize many of its adults into an army, emy. A low-lying branch from an theyd face the problem of actually Ussient tree can stretch ten horizontal getting to the core of an enemy tree. miles. If any part of your army is Its the same problem that has sty- under it, theyre vulnerable to arrows, mied foreign invaders, because there fire, weighted spears and anything are really only two options. else the people upstairs can lay hands on. First, they can go along the ground and seize the enemys lowest hold- The other alternative is to attack ings. This cuts the food supplies along a branch, fighting from tree to of the tree-dwellers, but only in the tree. The problem here is that you ei- long term, and besieging an Ussient ther have to split your forces between tree isnt easy. Trapping enemy several branches (which is a logistical forces above the groundling level nightmare and requires magnificent is fairly simple, as there are usually leadership to yield a coordinated few ramps and ascents, but the same strike) or concentrate on one branch choke points that make it easy to and face a horrible bottleneck with keep them in makes it easy for them only a tiny percentage of your troops to keep you out. Eventually the loss fighting at any time. If your troops of food from the ground farms can are outsiders unaccustomed to doing become telling, but unless the invader battle high up in the air, on a plat- also closes down the trade routes form that may be oh-so-slightly mov- where the targets branches touch ing, and theyre facing hit-and-run those of other trees, the defenders can raids from people who know every break the blockade with long-lasting inch of the terrain and have spent Ussient fruit. Moreover, taking the decades tunneling through the bark, low road puts you under your en- its much, much worse. But while the Ussients are superb on defense, and can raid each other in a way thats culturally meaningful but never economically disastrous, they cant expand beyond the forest. They just dont have the numbers, the metal supplies or the know-how to take even a single Confederate or Ironbone city. 48 Matters of Color

49 Ussient Character Concepts fire mimicker, recently returned from a rich and hazardous trade expedition with the Truils... shy but brilliant musician, blackmailing the famed heroes whose brags she, in fact, composed... widow who married for love and moved to a new tree, only to have Ussient Names her husband murdered by the local Shade Society... athlete who hears messages from Rusu when he dreams during the Male Female winter months... Crike Edebe groundling who secretly cleaves to the Ironbone faith and spies for Dram Irstro the Theocracy... Ecstron Ivis Eiss Luss Ussient Company Concepts war-priests infuriated by social laxity and decaying morals. Nissed Moni Shade Society conducing a long-term clandestine campaign against Nonik Noss a putative ally. Refran Schomi revolutionary conspiracy masquerading as an ancient Shade Society. followers of a brilliant speaker and idea-man, dealing with the dirty Taive Subuco realities their master ignores. Talt Rusu fed-up groundlings ready to revolt. Tatch Runick Vessen Ussus Ussient Plot Complications Vurvie Utura the trees are getting sick. Can an Imperial wood-sorcerer save them, or an Ob-lob oracle see a solution, or does an answer lie in the leg- endary Library of Salck? dozens of Ironbone priests are flooding the forest. Theyre on the losing side of a political fight and have been effectively exiled. a mixed band of Truil refugees has moved into an uninhabited tree near the Cold Barrens. Should they be expelled, aided or traded with? an Ussient tree, dead for centuries, falls and sets off tremors that col- lapse buildings and drop unripe fruit from other Ussients. Are the rumors that it was bored through by demons accurate? Are there resources to scavenge from it? What about the closest trees, most damaged by the disaster? Aid them or conquer them? the Confederacy invades. 49 Matters of Color

50 Chapter 4: The Ussient Forest and give their produce access to the tree, they also provide a weak- ness in the usually well-protected Ussient settlements, simply by offering a second front for invad- ers in numbers. Fortunately, most trees with these arboreal high- ways are nearer the center of the woods. Rarely are main branches level with one another. Rather, they tend to grow in a staggered pat- tern, radiating around the trunk in roughly one-sixth arcs, with each branch a quarter mile higher een from afar, the mighty than the previous. Its something S Ussients resemble bushes more than tall pines or mighty like a spiral staircase progression, with a strong taper, as both length oaks. Their trunks, often com- and width dwindle quickly to- pletely covering an acre of land, wards the top. look proportionately short until one realizes that squat outline is The precious Ussient fruit grow days away and reaches four miles in clusters, most thickly towards into the sky. the ends of the lowest branch- es. However, the higher a fruit Radiating around the base of a grows, the fuller its flavor and the mature Ussient are branches eight thicker its skin (making for more to ten miles long. Starting a fifth durable leather). of the way up from the ground, they trace an arc from trunk to The trees grow in clusters of tip that rises, then levels out, then twenty to thirty, usually separated descends. Often the ends are only by small rivers or outcroppings of a few thousand feet lower than the stony hills. The trees that thrive point where they attach. In some are usually about six to eight cases, low-lying branches actu- miles apart, meaning that there ally touch the ground, forming a are often several points where the secondary route to the core. While lower branches cross, approach, these ground touches are often or even touch. These are valuable beneficial, since they can support trade routes and the launch points a secondary colony of groundlings of many raids and brag-quests. 50 Matters of Color

51 Ussient Construction Ussient saplings sometimes vertical spirit often infuses their ar- sprout in the shade of the elders, chitecture. when a cruscius or other her- bivore gets to a fruit before the On the Ground humans do. These trees rarely Groundling homes would look fairly grow taller than a normal pine familiar to outsiders, but there are still before the plainsmen fell them differences. Without typical-sized for wood. Often, they dont even trees as a basis, they use shaped tim- get a chance to sprout more than bers stripped from the mighty Ussients one or two branches. The tribes- bark or from exposed roots. This often men know that once the third or leads to houses with curved walls, fourth branch comes out, the tree reaching upward in a beehive shape. is doomed. Starved of light by its The bottom floor is for what livestock parents, it dies from the top down the farmers hold, and possibly a grain storage chamber with a secondary, and, if not dealt with, becomes a external door. A staircase then winds fire hazard, a dried-out hollow around the building, spiraling upward where chunk-biting monkeys can to a balcony encircling the second nest. floor. The everyday door, facing the sun, opens to the familys living quar- Some bold types have brought ters, which are often one large room Ussient seeds to foreign soils and separated by curtains. On the opposite planted them, with indifferent re- side, in the darkness, is Nictus door, sults. While solitary Ussient trees leading to a single room, usually only have grown in the Confederacy large enough for a single bed or pallet. and the Western Marches, they When someone in the family falls ill, he is sequestered in this room until well. never fruit. Moreover, the oldest With particularly dangerous or virulent of these transplants is fifty years diseases, the patient is served through old and only a hundred feet across a small window cut into the door, like in diameter. a prisoner. This room is a ritual space where relics of dead relatives are stored and displayed (typically their severed Ussient life-cords), where prayers to Nictus are Construction made before battles, and where corpses The typical house throughout the known world starts at the ground, perhaps with a dug-out founda- tion, and then builds upwards with piled stones or cut timber. While the Ussients build some structures this way, at least as many are made by boring into a wooden surface or by building outward from a great trunk. Even when they start with dirt, the 51 Matters of Color

52 Ussient Construction are prepared for their final journey with their life-cords, well, its on their from the tree tops. way. Whether rising, dropping or moving evenly, the higher ones social The more fortunate groundlings status the closer one walks to the rim. have homes tunneled into giant tree Really arrogant god-chasers walk the roots where theyve arced up out edge even when going up. of the soil. These homes are larger, with the familys interior space These twin staircases intersect at the divided into actual rooms, though level of the first branch, where the often with interior windows from largest cluster of homes and business- one to the other. es is located, usually around a public amphitheater (or boasting place, in Various outbuildings are constructed the Ussient tongue) hollowed out of of stone or dug into the ground, the crotch where the branch attaches. but even the most earthbound of Often homes line the staircase, on Ussients like to have some height the inside only. These dwellings are where they sleep. bored directly into the trees bark, and usually divided into one long central Along the Trunk chamber with smaller rooms branch- ing off it. Having a home thats the The inhabited trees are almost all sole property of yourself, your spouse follow the same pattern. Two broad and your children is a minor luxury, staircases gird the trunk, cut into the but an attainable one. Since homes bark by decades of toil and re-cut built into the tree can pass from gen- yearly to offset the wear of hundreds eration to generation, theyre durable of footfalls. One staircase spirals up and eventually one is bound to open the tree to the right and the other to up in your price range. the left, usually with the center of the groundling settlement stretched be- Other structures are home to ex- tween the two entryways. Often the tended families, separated by doors, beginnings of these roads are actually stairways and (for families with silent tunnels, readily defensible, easy to feuds in their past) surprisingly long seal, and with periodic murder holes corridors. Long-established families in the ceiling. Eventually, though, with no ambitions to rise can dig deep they emerge into the open air, wide enough to reach living wood and enough for a cart. Travelers climb- have their own springs, as explained ing upwards stay close to the trunk below in the section on water man- so that their journey is infinitesimally agement. But its more common to shorter. Those descending go on the expand upward or downward, be- outside edge because, cause windows only save your lamp- if they fall and oil costs if theyre cut in exterior walls. catch them- selves These dwellings also have a door for Nictus, but this is never accessible from the stair-road. Often a separate stairway leads up over the primary door to the chamber reserved for the 52 Matters of Color

53 Ussient Construction ill, the dead, and those preparing to raiding party, or even trapdoors for fight. launching attacks. Most locals know where these occasional pitfalls are Branch Homes and know that theyre only armed to entrap during a crisis. They never, Homes built out on the branches ever, ever talk about them to anyone are halfway between the horizontal they havent lived next to for years. groundling layout and the vertical When a new spouse moves to a tree, design of the trunk hugger. The flat- acceptance comes when the neigh- test top surface of the branch is the bors casually mention where the main road. Stairways wind down trapdoors are, as if in passing. This off this road, carved out of the bark usually takes about twenty years. On and curving down to a homes main the other hand, when someone whos entrance, which faces away from the trying to ascend is told, its often a road. The simplest of these dwellings sign that his neighbors think he isnt are dug out like trunk lodges, only moving higher. Ever. the door for Nictus is usually lower -- farthest from the road. Often, how- Shade Societies love hidden passages ever, the wood excavated is formed along branches (and between trunk into blocks, which are used to build residences for that matter, but theyre walls up on top of the home. Stacked simpler to bore horizontally on the and pegged together, and after many branch -- on the trunk, you can only years grown into the surface of the reach your neighbors easily). Its branch, these top houses usually rare, but more than one established have doors facing the road and are and influential family has expanded used for businesses separate from the its home, digging inward, only to find residences. Sometimes a ladder and a tiny crawlspace where someone had trap door connect them, but more lay, listen to their private conversa- often not. tions. Naturally, by the time these spy holes are found, theyve been It is not unheard-of for longtime long abandoned and usually thor- branch residents to tunnel under the oughly bricked up, the eavesdrop- road, preparing hidden barriers that per having heard the construction can be pushed upward from beneath approaching. But the angry families a layer of leaves to surprise an enemy often explore the network of tunnels 53 Matters of Color

54 Ussient Construction as far as they can before falling prey A good tap can produce several gal- to deadfalls, ambush or impassible lons of sap a day. It can be drunk barriers. straight if you dont mind the syr- upy consistency and acrid tannin The higher one goes on the tree, the flavor, but more often its separated. more likely one is to find these listen- Churns, as for butter, drive the ing tunnels. heavier water to the bottom and force the nectar to the top. The water is available for drinking (rarely bathing A Word on Water -- its too pure for any but the most lavish to use for so base a purpose). The nectar, in turn, can be pressed to Ussient leaves are broad and act as squeeze out a musky, foul-smelling makeshift funnels. The dwellers in liquid that, when fermented, is the trees have aped this design to equally potent at getting one drunk build rain-collectors, both public and or creating bursts of flame. The personal. Their system of channels remaining residue is a key ingredient that use gravity to take rainwater to for a decently strong glue. central collection points are elaborate and often beautifully carved, if not as reliable and clean as the stone aque- ducts of Uldholm. The Forests Devices The one luxury the farmers possess is ready access to well water and the While the tribes are regarded as forests clean rivers and springs. By somewhat backward and primitive the time rain water has reached a by their neighbors, there are a few de- common pool, its often pretty brack- vices and technologies in which they ish and dark. Private collectors have, by choice or necessity, become -- especially the ostentatious ones of adept. foreign copper or bronze -- are much better, but dont gather nearly as Ropemaking much water. This is why most trunk and branch communities supplement The native Ussient tongue has one their supply with either water hauled word for life and rope. It is rare from beneath in kegs, or by process- to find any tribesman in the branches ing sap. without a forty-foot lifeline. The rope is made the stringy cores of new-bud- The tree sap is close to the surface in ded leaf stems, cut off when theyre areas where new leaves grow, farther still only wrist-thick and stripped out on the branches (where, conve- down to fibers about the width of niently, its hardest to haul casks of a tooth. These are cured, treated, groundwater) and higher up at the pounded to remain supple, and then top. Low trunk families have to dig woven into ropes. deep indeed to reach the living wood and bleed sap out of it, but many find In most trees, childrens hair is not it worth it. Some sap-wells have been cut until they reach their maturity, in place for decades and are bored far at which point their closest relatives into branches. 54 Matters of Color

55 Ussient Construction braid the hair into a rope for them, Consigned to the sky, the family then their personal cord of life. Dyed cuts the life-rope in half, ties the op- fur, thin leather thongs, or pieces of posite ends together, and hangs it in colored foreign fabrics are worked in their lodges sick room. to the rope in patterns unique to tribe and family. Twice yearly, in the fall Lightfalls and spring, there are festivals of life in which all Ussient examine their The lightfall was invented by an ropes and mend or strengthen them, Ussient traveler to foreign lands often incorporating human hair. In named Soessiem Urtaq. In her native addition to their own, they might tree, she is worshipped as a goddess weave in the hair of a close fam- of ingenuity, though this is disputed ily member, a friend, or a defeated elsewhere (particularly in her trees enemy. Thus, having someone steal nearest neighbors). a lock of your hair is a defeat. Hair Soessiem was an herbalist and while thefts are more respectable when traveling throughout Heluso study- theyre the outcome of a lost fight, ing plants, she became fascinated by more humiliating when its the result maple flyers. These winged pods fell of trickery or stealth. farther and slower than other naked seeds. As a woman with ambitions to For all the care they pay their rope, live up high, she started experiment- its really no stronger than the hemp- ing with ways to retard the rate of a en cords common elsewhere. Its just free-falling descent. a matter of careful craftsmanship and close attention. Usually, the Ussient Lightfalls are flexible wooden frame- carry their personal cords tied in a works, with a stretched leather or recursive series of slipknots. This fabric covering to mimic the shape of effectively makes the rope thicker a wing. This is set into a well-greased and about a quarter as long, until socket. When a load is lashed to the either end is pulled, at which point socket and dropped from a precipice, the knots unravel, returning the cord the wing whirls violently on a hori- to its full length as long as its under zontal plane. In this way, the speed pressure. At the end of the rope, one of descent is reduced. carries a grappling hook so that, if thrown off the tree by wind, violence Riding a lightfall is dangerous, and or misfortune, theres a chance to the farther you ride it the more likely fling the hook and catch something. it is to come to pieces from the stress. If the hook is dropped, the tribesman People do it, its a popular and im- might grab high before the rope has pressive brag feat. But people die do- much of a chance to unravel, but the ing it, too. Far more often, lightfalls longer he takes to get it caught, the are used to drop material from upper nastier the shock is going to be when branches to the ground, or to an- the slack goes out. other branch if a tether has been run through the center of the spinner. Ussient funerals often strike outsid- ers as barbaric affairs, since bodies Recently, some followers of Soessiem are taken to a high and sacred place have removed the socket and used and then flung outward into the void. 55 Matters of Color

56 Ussient Construction lightwings to drop liquids, achieving structed a sort of large kite, balanced a powerful centrifuge effect. They so that a man might hang beneath use it to clarify liquor and strain out it and, if not fly, at least glide for the sediment. short horizontal distances along the ground. Manwings When deployed from miles up on an Once Soessiem constructed maple Ussient tree, greater distances were flyers at human scale, it was in- within its reach, and the manwing evitable that someone would try the raid was born. These devices still same thing with bird wings. This cause dozens of deaths every year, resulted in numerous disasters and but those who do master their use deaths until one of Soessiems priests are universally admired and often traveled to Uldholm to consult with permitted higher access on the trunk. Stormtongues about the sensation of Manwings are usually one-use items, flying and their personal observations but the most daring and skilled can of when wings functioned and when use them either to travel from their they didnt. home tree to a close rival, where they raid, steal or perform other dares, or Eventually he learned enough that to escape from such boast-worthy some sorcerers, distressed at the loose exploits. tongues of their fellows, imprisoned him in a high tower. This was not, The largest group of manwings ever it emerged, the wisest course. Us- launched at the same time is eleven. ing a fire charm to crack the stone of Nine of them even landed within his window during a snowstorm, he a mile of each other, and all eleven escaped with a home-made lightfall pilots survived. (though he suffered permanent dam- age to his sense of balance from the twirling). Returning home, he con- 56 Matters of Color

57 Dear Mother and Father, I write this with my own hand, although there are servants here whose script is far more beautiful. I wanted to reassure you that I am comfortable here. How could I be otherwise? When I mentioned in passing that I had slept unwell, that night a matron came to my chamber and lay down first, so that the sheets might be warm and smell of a mothers comfort. There are servants to massage my arms and back should they become sore, servants to wash my feet when they are warm, to style my hair in any fashion, should I desire it. There are servants whose sole purpose is to be available for entertaining conversation. In the most discrete fashion possible, that bed-warming matron let it be known that she could sit by my side, stroke my head and speak pleasingly of trifles until I drifted off. The palace is unimaginably beautiful, and carries its grace like a shaken fist. I find myself in the Hall of Statues when my time is my own. It is immense. I have wandered for hours and seen only a fraction of whats there, the cream of The Empires artistic plundering mixed with the flattering stone portraits of courtiers long forgotten. It is the same with the fountains, with the paintings, with the gardens. The palace is a city of opulence built around one woman. Any conceivable luxury is available, that she might have the option. When she chooses not to exercise those options, we are next in line. You may question why your lovely daughter left Pahar for a life of total obedience, even unto the sharing of chewed food. There are some here who are fanatics - willing and even eager to martyr themselves for The Empress. Others serve out of pride, happy to know that servants quake when they pass and will spring to honor their lightest whim. But for me I had to know. The Empress is as good a ruler as any other, and I have long prided myself on my skill with the sword. But at the bottom of it, I had gained inklings of what the Crimson Guard was doing with their enchantment and I just had to learn the truth of it myself. I wish you would come and visit me, or even stay here - one of my fellow guards has nearly thirty members of his extended family living in the palace on his stipend. But I understand if you do not. Please write me, even if you cannot bear to look on what I have become. Your loving daughter, Eria 57 Matters of Color

58 Dyers Seed The priest was bent over his crops, con- She burst into tears. tent with their progress, pausing now and again to pull one of the weeds that ba grew as unnaturally fast as his mush- rooms and bleached-white vines. Then The girl introduced herself as Dyer and he furrowed his brow, hearing the dogs she hadnt expected the priest to be so bark. Someone must be coming. large. Her father hadnt warned her. She knew the reputation of the Setekesh He turned, straightened and strode to- cult -- magicians devoted to a goddess of wards the single entry to his holy grove. magical abundance, twisters of flesh and It was nothing but a gap in a thick experimenters with animal nature. The hedge, but that hedge had long thorns, hounds of the grove had not only snapped envenomed to give interlopers a painful their teeth at her, but waved short, sharp itch from the slightest scratch. Standing antlers. there, timidly edging back from the dogs was a slender young woman with black She had expected monsters, but hadnt skin and an uneasy expression. When expected the priest to be one. In feature, she looked up at the priest, it deepened to he was human enough, though his skin fear. was a shade she had never seen, some- where between sand and rancid butter. He held out his hand in a consoling He had an impossibly tiny nose and eyes gesture and called the dogs to his side. with pointed pits at the inside corners. Please, he said. Dont be afraid. She had heard people of his race described What brings you to the holy place of and seen drawings, but never met one. Setekesh? Certainly they werent known for being giants. I she said, then looked away, then down. I need help, she said. My Dyer was tall and sturdy, but the priest mother, she started, then tried again was easily twice her height. He was with, My father said you younger than she had expected, with a tidy black and white beard and a simple Please, he repeated. Come in with robe of coarse green cloth. His enormous my welcome. Its clear you lack ill hands had stubby proportions and dirt intent. Refresh yourself in the under the nails. temple. Rest. Then tell your tale. What brings you to this refuge? he I have a seed, she said, holding asked, leading her inside. For a moment, it up. Dyer didnt answer. Her head was back, staring at the ceiling far overhead. It The priest knelt down beside her was open to the sky at the front. That and looked in her hand. Plant it roof, the walls around her, the doorways then, he said. into other chambers and the altar at the front were all of wood, but living, rooted, twisted and entwined by no human hand. Despite being grown and still growing, they indisputably formed a hall, win- dows, seats and a front table. All was 58 Matters of Color

59 Dyers Seed proportioned for her vast host. When she He tried. She almost began to sob climbed into a springy, moss-cushioned again, but controlled herself with a visible seat, her feet dangled like a child. effort. Hes had to hide in the forest for years. The army they want his spells, That seed. It was from a dyers vine, theyre afraid of him. But they could unless I miss my guess? Rare, he said. never find him. She nodded. Certainly, an adept of the wood in How is it that you share a name with trackless forests. Do you, too, follow his it? path? My parents long ago, they visited a She shook her head. I tried and tried. I seer, who told them their fate would hinge could feel the flow, even draw it in me, upon dyers seed. My father but I could never shape it, never tame it. The climbing vine spell, drawing Knew it was a powerful medicine for strength from a plants roots, borrow- the grim chill, he said. Ah. Hoping to ing a trees unbruising skin I couldnt cheat fate, he gave you the name, thinking master any of it. some child of yours might instead It can take years of practice, he said. It didnt work, she sniffed. My Where is he now? mother is very sick. They took him! We needed to move fast, Ah. So you make the pilgrimage here, we couldnt take the long route through where it could grow so swiftly that the the woods. We tried to get through at ear could catch the sound of the vine Passford, hiding, but they found him and swelling. He smiled. Even now, it when they saw his green eyes they asked probably sprouts. him questions he couldnt answer. He pretended not to know me and I slipped Thank you so much! Ive been so wor- away. ried everythings gone wrong Youve come all the way from Passford There there, he said, as she started unaccompanied? to cry once more. He reached out and plucked several midnight-purple fruits Dyer lifted her chin. Im a fully grown off the wall. Here. Have some of these. woman, she said. I can take care of You must be hungry from your journey. myself. Have you traveled far? So he gave you directions to this grove, From Deerwood, she said, biting into hidden far in the dark, and told you that the fruit. My father said you knew him. his old friend Ishanki would take care of His name is Laws Winter. your troubles? The priest raised an eye. That is a name Yes. She smiled at him. And Im I have not heard in some time. Why did grateful. he not come himself? 59 Matters of Color

60 Dyers Seed He gave a shy smile and made a minimiz- A dalak? ing gesture. Let us go look upon your seedling, he said, taking her hand to ...but worth it. Through sacrifice and help her down. They walked to the north the grace of the goddess, I have created side of the temple, and she smiled broadly a new serpent, one with all the qualities to see the dyers vine already poking of the viper, but gifted with the obedient through the soil. nature of a hound. He carefully stroked the serpent, which writhed around his You say you have the sense, he said. hand in pleasure. A viper that adores Do you feel anything here? like a puppy. What tricks will we teach you, little one? He clucked at it, then I havent really paid attention, she said. whistled once, sharply. Will you crawl Im sure you, your dogs and hide in the rooms of the heathen and heretic, waiting to deliver your Obviously. But try. Tell me what you deadly bite? Or should I sacrifice you find. for a threefold conjoining, giving your offspring wings or the color shift of the Dyer closed her eyes for a moment and chameleon? said, Oh my. Yes, the flow is strong here, stronger than Ive ever known. Something in his gloating tone made Its its knotted and tangled Dyer uneasy, and when she looked around she realized that his antlered Good hounds had gathered and were sitting, panting, patient. She began to edge back Over in that corner? Is that right? from them when the priest turned. Let us go see. He smiled, and when Poor Dyer, he said. Truly, misfor- theyd made their way through the boun- tune walked backwards into your home, teous garden she stopped at the sight of for it came with both hands full. He a ropy vine with a single melon swelling gently set the viper down by the rind out from it. Even as she watched, the of the fruit and took a step towards her. fruit swelled and distended grotesquely. First your mother falls ill. Your father, at long last, is captured by his enemies. Not long now, he said softly in her ear. And you, coming in trust to your fathers old partner in infamy, are met instead What is it? by the righteous minister who replaced him. At that moment, the fruit split, revealing a pulpy, fleshy interior and something Ishanki? she said, voice trembling. moving within. Her host stepped eagerly I dont forward, drawing a pair of leather gloves from his belt and putting them on. With That name is not mine. uneasy awe, Dyer watched him lift a snake from within the fruit. Dyer spun to flee. The dogs howled as they launched themselves after her, but You have heard of the deadly Turem her deceptive host was faster. With one viper, yes? It was difficult to acquire one long stride he was upon her, his massive for use as a dalaq-ta 60 Matters of Color

61 Dyers Seed arm swung across the back of her head, You think me evil for pursuing the and then she was in darkness. greatness of my faith and my Empire. I think you evil for attempting to follow ba the footsteps of your nature-rapist father. Laws Winter, he sneered, Master My name is Nasdin-Yeh, he said as parasite, sapping the strength of nature Dyer came to consciousness. for his own selfish gain. The grinding noise began again. I suspect our rela- What? Her head throbbed. She tive positions show where the favor of the couldnt think. Her arms and legs were gods truly lies. bound. She couldnt move. What are you going to do to me? I am Nasdin-Yeh, he said, over a she asked, her voice small. Her vision rhythmic rasping sound. My title is cleared, and she could see he was sharp- Purifier and I have removed the traitor ening a knife. No, in his hands it was a Ishanki from this plot of sacred land. Un- knife. If she held it, it would be a sword. like him, I am loyal to our great Empress. Unlike him, I have never fallen from the You, one human from a teeming true practice of Setekeshs rites. Ishanki multitude, are by yourself nugatory. and those like him, the weak-willed and Forgettable. Unimportant, as one drop sentimental, have infected the recognized in a rainstorm. But what if an eagle had church, driving the truly dedicated and the reason and memory of someone so principled into hiding and shame. But ordinary? He turned a speculative eye our loyalty to the Empress cannot be hid on her, and Dyer felt her skin crawl. and when we have gained her favor, she I have a cat, he said. It has will drive out the pretenders and restore been gifted with the poison us to glory! bite of the rattlesnake, which is not so swift or sure as the Why did you tie me up? viper, but it suffices. Cats are, of course, impossible to He sighed, and the sound of scraping train. But one with your paused. Im trying to show you the mind larger importance of yourself, and me. Do you think it was an accident that led you Id save my first bite for here? If it is difficult, in this rural exile, you. Dyer tried to sound to procure a viper for my conjoining, how threatening. It didnt do much harder is a proper human sacrifice? much good. Your fathers fall to grief, your mothers illness, all these things are the will of the If you were to re- goddess! member, Im sure. But the hybrid can Then your goddess is evil! Dyer said begin its life of it before she could stop herself, before service with an she thought how the priest might react empty mind, to blasphemy. To her relief, he only one it will laughed. 61 Matters of Color

62 Dyers Seed be my duty and my pleasure to fill. He What are you doing? she asked. He squinted at her, tested the knife edge, ignored her. He was chanting and then looked at the patterns of light and brandishing the huge knife. Dyer threw shadow on the floor. Tomorrow is soon herself forlornly into her struggle against enough, he said. Im truly sorry that the bindings on her wrists, but it was fu- you must, necessarily, suffer the trepida- tile. A night of confinement had left her tion of the wait. If you like, I can give hands mostly numb. If she hadnt been you something to help you rest. able to break the bonds before, certainly she wouldnt now. Another blow to the head? Instead of muscle, she tried to contort He winced. That was unkind. herself and slip free. When that failed she called out to Nasdin-Yeh that she was ba hungry, that she was thirsty. He ig- nored her, Dyer became tired and, to her To his surprise and her own, Dyer surprise, she found that she was getting eventually fell asleep. The exhaustion of bored. her travels, coupled with a long hopeless cry, had tired her to the point that weary Yes, bored. She was waiting for a gi- terror could make a seamless transition to ant to cut her open, doubtless in some uneasy dreams. religiously symbolic way, but as she kept waiting for it all he did was chant, pray She woke to a flexing of her secret sense. and gesture, over and over. To distract It was not sound or light that woke her, herself, she turned her attention to the nor touch or taste. It was not the scent of flow of enchantment, and while that was the breakfast that Nasdin-Yeh had made diverting for some time, once she grasped himself, but a feeling within, flowing, the pattern he was weaving, she figured swelling. it would probably take until nightfall for him to complete it. Hours and hours, Dyer knew this sensation. Someone with no food or water. nearby was drawing in magic, prepar- ing a spell. Her father had taught her She was tied around a tree that was at what this eerie, bodiless knowing meant, the front and in the center of the verdant but the movement of power here was temple, big around as one of her thighs, strange. rising through the open ceiling to loom overhead like an upraised fist. When her father had failed to teach her the spell that would drain the strength Priest, she croaked with her dry voice. out of a root and into her own muscles, I need a pot. the flavor of the force had been wild, coarse but vital. It had reminded her of No reply. pine scent. This power was vibrant, but it had a focus and intensity shed never I need the pot, she repeated. Surely felt before. It entered the temple, not you dont want me to just let go on your with the abandon of a daisy field throw- temple tree here. Do you? Isnt that ing forth blossom, but with concentrated sacrilege? elegance. It felt, to her, like an army marching into Nasdin-Yehs will. 62 Matters of Color

63 Dyers Seed He said nothing, but she could see him her might, she could make the tree sway. glancing over his shoulder, reluctantly. The movement stilled as it pulled against More importantly, she felt a waver in the the other limbs and tangled vines of the pattern of his energy. Narrowing her temple walls, but there was a fruit above eyes, Dyer started to squirm and twist, her and she was hoping that with enough reaching for the drawstring of her pants. effort it might drop. When, through painful stretching, she got it between two fingers, she pulled un- He turned back to glare at her and she til the knot released. She started to work stopped. What of water? she asked the waistband down to her hips. him. You cant sacrifice me if I die of thirst. That did it. She felt the pattern of magic falter and then scatter, disorganizing into He opened his mouth as if to argue, but the normal background babble of un- then shrugged and left. He returned with bound power. a cup, small as a thimble in his massive hands and only half full, but he held it to What are you doing? He spun, his eyes her lips. It wasnt in her mouth, soothing dark and annoyed. her swollen tongue, nearly long enough. Im not about to soil my clothes, she More? said. Why? So you can insult me clearly? You! Oh, very well. He picked He snorted and left. up his knife, cut her bonds and roughly led her outside, whistling up his dogs as It took her another twenty minutes to get he did. the fruit to fall, and ten more to maneu- ver herself to it and it to her lips. It was Dyer watched and thought and hoped delicious. hard, but there was no time and no chance to mount an escape. The dogs ba were around her, the monstrous minister gave her no privacy. But she saw some- The next day, Dyer tried to distract him thing that gave her a little taste of hope. again, but he ostentatiously stuffed his The dyers vine was taller. ears with cotton before beginning his chant. She called to him -- filthy names, ba blasphemy, sexual suggestions -- but his ears seemed truly stopped, and her voice You must think yourself clever, was weakening anyhow. She frowned, Nasdin-Yeh said, pacing in front of her. passing the fruits remains between her Youre not. Tomorrow will do as well as hands. It was a smooth wad, round and today, and hunger is only going to make slightly spongy. you weaker. Your bright little mind will be emptied and put in a creature of my As he had the previous day, he faced the choosing, and you, or the best part of you, entry of the temple, then processed to the will serve holy Setekesh. front, past her, studiously looking away. She turned and saw only his massive Tied around the tree again, Dyer paid back. If it went as yesterday, hed be oc- only half attention. If she pushed with all cupied there for at least an hour. 63 Matters of Color

64 Dyers Seed Dyer whistled. She didnt smile long. He hit her very hard. It took her a few tries before a curious dog poked its nose into the temple. She smiled ba and whistled and made kissing faces at it. It came closer, cautiously, and she waved Dyer did not fully wake. She slid from the fruit pit for it. deep unconsciousness to a wordless muddle of images, her mother cough- Fetch? ing out the red leaves of the dyers tree, her fathers back as the soldiers led him She tossed it, best she could with tied away, a kitten with rattlesnake fangs and hands, and apparently its nature was not Nasdin-Yeh looming above it all, no longer so distorted that it had no taste for the house-height but vast as a mountain or an chase. It ran the pit down and pounced. ocean Bring it back now, she said, her coarse She opened her blurry eyes, but the sense voice as encouraging as she could make she relied on more was that extra atten- it. Soon her wrists were tired and aching tion, that attunement to the pulse of the from the contorted throws, but she hoped world and every identity in it. She felt the dog was her friend. Gritting her teeth the march of power and it was easy to tell she began to tease it -- pretending to throw where the priest was, and he was swol- but holding the pit back in her hand. Soon len with it like a tick, he had drunk far it was barking and jumping back and more of it than previously. Everything forth. It had eyes for nothing but that fruit sounded false, distant and echoing, and all core, dripping with slobber. she could see were smears like a painting in the rain, but her sense of touch seemed There was a game children played in heightened. She felt the twined vines Dyers town, trying to kick a ball through around her wrists, not just on the surface a hole head-high on a wall. Shed always but the pattern of power moving through been good at it and, as the dog leaped and them. She whistled for the dog, but the twitched she squirmed until her bound only attention it drew was Nasdin-Yeh. ankles were near to her bound wrists. She He turned and glared, and even paused in dropped it, caught it, worked it between his prayer. her two feet Youll not cozen my hounds again. ...the dog was watching, entranced Theyre leashed. ...she knew shed have only one chance as Even as he spoke, Dyer could feel his she turned her body to aim draw was uninterrupted. She leaned back against the tree, then forward, and noth- GO GET IT! She convulsed from hips ing happened. She tried again, and again, and thighs and snapped her feet forward and then she lost herself in the movement, in a double kick, sending the makeshift ball rocking like a child in mothers arms, full arcing towards Nasdin-Yehs back. of food and comfort and waiting for noth- He turned just before it hit him, and ing. She rocked and rocked and felt the flinched back as his own creature jumped tree start to sway in her rhythm. Then it up. She felt his attention snap and she was so simple to reach down to its roots smiled. The spell was lost for another day. 64 Matters of Color

65 Dyers Seed and drain them, consume them, just as her the knowledge that this burst of energy father had taught. How had she never un- would fail and she would likely collapse. derstood? It was so simple! Why wasnt Somehow, none of it troubled her, for everyone a sorcerer? shed done it. Shed learned her fathers lesson. She was an enchantress. She inhaled a tiny fraction of that quest- ing, stone-splitting strength and she leaned back hard when the tree was at its farthest extension, and she heard it crack. It fell slowly, its roots instantly decayed through as if by years of worm-bore. She clutched the trunk and the other spell, the armoring one, it was easy too. When the roof cracked and sticks showered down, they bounced harmlessly off her. She laughed as the ceiling collapsed, and cast the third spell. It pulled the climbing prowess out of a creeper for the enchanters use, and with that strength gone, the vines confining her turned to dust. The temple was only partially fallen, its roof down but its walls mostly intact. She heard Nasdin-Yeh groaning and snarl- ing, saw a heavy heap of wreckage start to heave as he struggled to get past it to her, but she was too quick. With her borrowed strength and power of easy climbing, she scampered up the north wall and through the hole. She looked down at the dyers vine. Curi- ously, she felt nothing as she uprooted it. She heard the priest blundering out the front, screaming that she wouldnt escape him, that there was only one gap through the thorns, but she didnt pay attention. It was the work of moments for her to climb the barrier he thought impenetrable. She was hurt and hungry, dizzy and delirious. She had an angry giant behind her and a long journey in front, but none of that frightened her. Her mother was ill and her father imprisoned, but she laughed as she ran through the forest, laughed at 65 Matters of Color

66 Matters of Law Chapter 1: After Them! (Pursuit and Evasion Rules) maneuvering behind the scenes. With it, I hope to combine tense and quiet games of cat-and-mouse with parkour-inspired bounding through cities. The Lead Much like combat, each character chooses how shes going to try to escape (if pursued) or close to capture distance (if in pursuit). Players roll. Widest sets go first, Height breaks ties. Eventually, one side triumphs. Which side that is depends on one key factor: The Lead. (It rhymes with bead not bed, just so you know.) The pursuer wants to reduce Lead to zero and get his hands on the prey. The quarry wants to increase Lead to ten. If a chase round ends with Lead at ten, the runner has escaped. Lead often means physical space, but not always. Its possible to amass Lead ten in a tightly enclosed space simply by hiding so effectively that searching isnt going to uncover you. This has the disadvantage of trapping ight scenes are a staple in action you until you act or he leaves, but it F films because theyre exciting. But the neglected younger brother can be done. of action tropes is easily the chase Lead is changed by rolling dice and scene, andhaving grown from applying sets, just like everything else wargamesRPGs are more likely to in the ORE. When Lead hits zero, have detailed fight mechanics than either party can initiate hand-to-hand chase rules. combat. When its one, the sides are close enough, with a sufficient view, In the spirit of giving REIGN expand- to start shooting arrows or throwing ing optional mechanics, After Them! dishes. was built for games that skew more towards skullduggery, secrecy, and 66 Matters of Law

67 Chapter 1: After Them! (Pursuit and Evasion Rules) Its possible to have multiple leads, instead of putting you two to the bad if more than one person is chasing a when his great horse or whatever runner. If one person tries to chase steamrolls your gain set. two or more runners whove split up, the pursuer has to pick one to follow. In combat (the other big extended resolution mechanic in ORE) a Skill Gaining vs. Offsetting usually attacks or defends. You cant block with your Fight Skill or kick Any action taken in a chase can be someone with Dodge. Pursuit is used in one of two ways. It can gain, different. Any Skill you can bring or it can offset. Gain means youre to bear can either gain or offset your changing the Lead. Offsetting means opponent. youre trying to prevent others from changing the Lead. Gains like mak- When you get a set past your oppo- ing an attack in combat: Its an ac- nent with a gain maneuver, you can tive attempt to change the situation. change the Lead by a number equal Offsetting is like dodging or parrying. to the Width of your roll. It makes the other fellows attempt to gain into an opposed contest, with Gobble Dice, as described on pages Ganging Up 15-17 in REIGN. Usually, you want to gain. In fact, if Sometimes you have multiple thieves you dont explicitly say youre try- running from one cop, or many peo- ing to counter what the other team is ple searching for one escapee, or you doing, its assumed youre gaining. have a small group trying to escape Offsetting prolongs the chase with- the prison together. Lead works just out the chance of improving your fine for one-on-one, but what do you lot. On the other hand, when you do do with more? turn it into an opposed contest, you can use all your Gobble Dice even if The answer is, you have multiple your opponent rolled Wider. Keep- Leads. If theres a group that wants ing someone in sight isnt as time- to stick together, theres a Lead be- dependent as avoiding a kick to the tween that collective and their com- shin. Indeed, many actions on both petition. If many are chasing one in a sides of the chase rely on reacting to big clump, its one Lead. an opponents actions. So you may want to use some offsetting actions Splitting up is where its at with when pursued by many people, or chases, though. If three people split as a multiple action with gain, as just up and there are only two pursuers, one example. This is especially true one escapee automatically gets away. when someones getting a big equip- Each chase group can only keep one ment advantage (see page 72). If you Lead at a time. The hunter who pur- know that a set is going to net him sues two rabbits probably loses both. W+2 Lead, it may be in your inter- When two hunters separate to pursue est to offset. Assuming you both get one rabbit, they each have a Lead, pairs, spoiling his set keeps the +2 and any sets the rabbit rolls apply to equipment bonus from kicking in, both Leads. 67 Matters of Law

68 Chapter 1: After Them! (Pursuit and Evasion Rules) So what about hiding a whole group its a little more complicated. Some- who flee together? Shouldnt that times you want to use a Skill with a be harder than hiding one person? lower pool because it might let you Yes it should and, yes, it is. A group trump your opponent. only gets one action per turn, and they roll the lowest relevant pool Trumping means that even if you possessed by anyone in the group. If failed your roll, something about you have two people fleeing together your tactical decision put you in a and only one is really stealthy, the better position. If you can predict klutzs Stealth pool comes into play. your opponents action, it gives you The blatant guy probably gives his the edge. sneaky friend away. Its the same with moving fast. A fast and a slow Trumping works just like Rock, guy moving together are stuck at the Paper, Scissors. If you pick Rock slow guys top speed. and he picked Scissors, you trumped him. If you pick Rock and he picked There are some very important ex- Paper, you lost the advantage. If you ceptions to this Lowest Pool rule, both pick the same thing, neither one however, and they involve Sense and trumps. Knowledge. When a group uses a Sense or Knowledge Skill for their Easy enough, right? The question is, action, they roll the highest pool what does paper mean in the con- available from its members. Just be- text of a chase? Good question, and cause youre blind, it doesnt impair one Ill address right after I showcase your eagle-eyed buddy. Similarly, the fabulous prizes that reward a suc- your own stupidity isnt going to cessful Trump. blunt his tactical excellence. Effects of Trumping Trumping If you trump your opponent, you get a choice. You can defer gratification, or take your benefit right away. The If that was all there was to instant payoff is a point of Lead. Get these pursuit rules, theyd a step closer or farther, your choice. be short, easy to use, and (If it takes Lead to 10, the chase ends terribly stagnant. Every even before the roll!) If you wait, contest would de- you can add a die to the next roll you volve to This is my make in the chase, or offset one dies best Skill. I use worth of penalty. (Nice for those that over and multiple actions.) over. But You can only pick one trump effect per round, even if you trump mul- tiple opponents. If you choose the instant Lead change, you can change only the Lead between you and the trumped party. If you choose the next-turn die bonus, however, you 68 Matters of Law

69 Chapter 1: After Them! (Pursuit and Evasion Rules) Abstract, isnt it? Heres a break- down, tactic by tactic, with appropri- ate pools. Sorcery Pursuit Tactics RockPhysical Effort There are any number of ways to bring magic power to bear on a chase including (but not Sometimes you can win a race just by limited to) flying away, creating a cloud of inky running faster. In fact, you can win a darkness, changing into an animal or whipping lot of races that way. If youre quick up an instant trap out of smoke and cunning. enough, you may get your hands There are no listed sorcery moves listed because on your runner before he even has a Sorcery could be Rock, or Paper, or Scissors, de- chance to do anything cunning. pending on how its used. See also the boxed text It Its Not on the List! on page 71. Body+Athletics: Dive in the moat and swim across instead of going all the way to the bridge. Shove heavy ob- stacles aside, or jump over them. get it to whatever you roll. (This Body+Endurance: Keep jogging along makes the die bonus a lot nicer if effortlessly while hes gasping for air. youre facing many pursuers.) But Hold your breath and charge through if you Rock out and two opponents a midden to get a shortcut. picked Scissors, you still only get the die bonus or the Lead change. You Body+Run: This is obvious, right? cant get one of each. Only one effect per round. Thats simpler. Coordination+Climb: Scramble over obstacles, bypass a lengthy staircase, Furthermore, if Lead is already 0, follow when he climbs. trumping cant take it into negatives. In that case, just take the die bonus, if Coordination+Ride: Like Run, only you the chase even continues. have a mount, which is the most com- mon equipment advantage (see page 72). What Trumps What? PaperOrder, Reason and Force of Personality Rock represents direct, forceful ac- tion, like trying to overcome through If youre observant, you can find the direct brute force. Paper is an at- hidden. If youre smart, you dont tempt to change the circumstances of need to follow because you can figure the chase, usually by falling back on out where hes headed. If youre authority, organization or planning commanding, you can get other peo- ahead. Scissors is intuitive adapta- ple to do the sweaty work of chasing. tion, trying to gauge, moment by moment, the optimum choice for the Charm+Lie: Confound the city watch circumstances. into helping you search. Tell passers- by that hes a spy from a foreign land. 69 Matters of Law

70 Chapter 1: After Them! (Pursuit and Evasion Rules) Charm+Plead: Implore someone to tell Figure out which window he went you which way he went or beg some- through. Notice the flaw in a dis- one to stop him as he runs past. guise. Catch his scent. Command+Inspire: Motivate a crowd Evasion Tactics to seize him as he dashes by. RockPhysical Effort Command+Intimidate: Clear the area so that you can find him or get a straight Run. Climb. Jump. The uses of the line of pursuit. Strike such fear into body in putting distance between you his heart that he stumbles. and a tracker are obvious, right? Just in case though, here are some pos- Knowledge+Tactics: If you have follow- sibilities. ers, instruct them to fan out and look for clues, or surround him, or clear Body+Athletics: As you run, pull over the way before you. obstacles behind you to trip him or make his mount shy. Jump chasms ScissorsPerception and Intuition he dares not cross. Break down doors. Swim across a river to break Sometimes pursuit isnt about cover- your scent trail. ing distance, its about concealment and deception. The fastest horse in Body+Endurance: Outlast him, plain the kingdom is only going to carry and simple. Go through a broiling you farther from success if you cant hot crematorium without getting spot the runner for what he is. scalded. Get down under the water and hold your breath until he runs Coordination+Stealth: Fade into the past. background and shadow him so that he thinks youve given up, or cant Body+Run: Oh, you know. tell which direction to run from you. Coordination+Climb: Turn it into a Sense+Direction: Intuit where hes go- rooftop chase. Scramble over a wall ing and figure out a shortcut. Head his horses have to go around. Get him off at the pass. down into the sewers (if there are such a thing) and give his scent- Sense+Empathy: Determine which of hounds real fits. the identically-masked revelers is acting furtive. Gauge the crowd to Coordination+Dodge: Go through a see whos acting startled by a sudden hazard he cant pass. Start a brawl appearance or disappearance. and then escape it as he crashes in. Sense+Hearing or Sight: Find his hid- Coordination+Ride: Steal a horse, a ing place. Spot him in the shadows. dunim or a biauchrus to escape. Spy the tail of his cloak as he darts around a corner. See through his dis- Coordination+Stealth: Duck into the guise. Hear his footsteps on the roof. shadows momentarily to escape their gaze. Cover ground behind his back Sense+Scrutinize: Track his footprints. with ghostlike silence. 70 Matters of Law

71 Chapter 1: After Them! (Pursuit and Evasion Rules) Coordination+Expert (Sailor): Get on a boat and take to the water. It Its Not on the List! Knowledge+Tactics: Command your fol- The Skill applications in these tidy categories arent lowers to block him, or clear an avenue comprehensive and arent meant to be. Theyre of escape, or clear a false route while guidelines. Players who come up with novel ways you sneak the other way. to use a Skill to throw a pursuer off track or flush out a hiding enemy dont deserve a No, you Knowledge+Student (Local Area): Exploit cant do that! response, but rather Cool! Roll a little-known aspect of the geography it! But when a player manages to justify rolling to hide or avoid pursuit. Coordination+Expert (Weaver), how does that mesh with trumping? Is it Paper, Scissors or Rock? Sense+Direction: Go in circles to con use him, then use your own superior One approach is to simply judge whether its oper- sense of location to get past. ating through blunt physicality, presence and intel- lect, or quick-witted craft. The other is to simply ScissorsCreativity and Adaptation make the unexpected trump-neutralit neither give advantage nor gives advantage away. Pick Not everyone anticipates a stalker, and whichever seems most reasonable and dont let the not everyone has the speed to escape decision break the flow of play. Debating whether through pure physical competence. this particular application of Knowledge+Lore Some need to get inventive, exploit can qualify as a Rock move is not constructive for any passing advantage, and generally everyones fun. So players, if you feel your GM has think outside the cage. made a poor judgment, shrug and suck it up. One trump aint everything. Command+Intimidate: Make an Unwor- thy pursuer hesitate, flinch or momen- tarily dive for cover. (Probably wont work on more competent opposition.) Stampede cattle towards him. Create a PaperKnowledge and Planning civilian panic to let chaos disrupt him. A chase is an ever-evolving conflict, Command+Inspire: Get a crowd to and its difficult to plan in advance. resent him, hurling spittle and abuse But if you can, you can set traps for as he runs by. (This requires a fairly those who pursue, or arrange other good rationale, however.) surprises to give you the advantage. Some examples follow. Coordination+Stealth: Find a hiding spot and burrow deep into it. Change your Command+Perform (Theater): Adopt appearance in and fade into the crowd. a practiced new personadifferent Set a false trail to send him on a wild posture, voice and mannerisms are goose chase. easy. Costuming on the fly is harder, but not impossible. Better, of course, Charm+Lie: Convince bystanders that to have a disguise prepared before- youre a legitimate authority who hand (for that equipment advantage). needs their assistance. Its especially amusing if you change your look and sound, then cry out, Charm+Plead: Play on the sympathies He went that way! 71 Matters of Law

72 Chapter 1: After Them! (Pursuit and Evasion Rules) -A horse: +1W to Ride sets (in addi- tion to permitting the use of Ride at all). Release the Hounds! -A simple prepared disguise: +1W to some Stealth or Perform rolls. The easiest way to handle it when someone has hunting animals (particularly dogs) is by having -A set of 10-15 obedient followers the trainer roll his Expert: Animal Trainer pool, without any particular training: +1 to typically with Knowledge or Charm or Command, Width of Sight, Intimidate or Inspire. depending on his method. The animals themselves Permit some Tactics rolls. can provide an equipment advantage, as described below. -A racehorse: +2W to Ride sets. -A crewed racing boat: +2W to Expert (Sailor) rolls. -An elaborate prepared disguise: +2W of nearby people to get them to hide to some Stealth or Perform rolls. you. Knowledge+Tactics: Figure out his Resolving Pursuit followers search pattern and slip Rounds through its weak points. Pursuit operates in rounds, just like Equipment combat, in order to simplify timing (just like combat) and, just like in Advantage combat, the round is a fuzzy unit of time that can bend and stretch to ac- Often, people in a chase think, Oh, if commodate momentary needs. only I had some rope! (or a ten foot Indeed, pursuit not only works a pole or a different cloak). They think lot like combat, it can transition into this because people are tool-using combat seamlessly when Lead hits animals and its instinct to look for one or zero. To understand how this something that helps you do the job. is done, lets break it down phase by The rules for this are pretty simple. If phase. you have some sort of object or situ- ational advantage that relates to the Declare Skill youre using, it adds points of Width to the set (or sets) you use. Its This is where the biggest difference just like a weapon in combat. Typi- arises. Trumping demands simulta- cal equipment bonuses should be in neous declarationotherwise, declar- the +1 range, while a really good one ing last lets you trump your oppo- gives you +2. Examples follow. nent into the ground without rolling. Besides, in hand-to-hand combat the -Set of hunting dogs: +1 to Width of ability to sense an opponents move Scrutinize sets. in less than a second is far more criti- 72 Matters of Law

73 Chapter 1: After Them! (Pursuit and Evasion Rules) cal than when youre ten feet apart Examples and you need to decide whether to jump the gap or climb down into it. Therefore, the Declare phase works like this. You decide which pool A Simple Pursuit youre going to use, and how, and you put the appropriate number of Agdala doesnt like it in the seraglio, dice in your hand. Then you play and the certainty that her new mas- Rock, Paper, Scissors. (If you have a ter is going to try out the new girl big pool, keeping them in hand may when he gets back in port is enough be tricky with Paper or Scissors. Its to spur an escape. Agdala has the your own lookout for being so buff. following relevant pools: 3d in Hear- Oh fine, you can hold the dice in your ing, 4d Climb, 8d Stealth, 6d Run, and other hand.) Trump effects go off as 4d in Plead. The masters right-hand soon as everyone describes their ac- man is named Nirim and in addition tion, before the dice even hit the table. to collection of gardeners, maids and Once those one-point Lead changes footmen who can be cajoled (or cud- are dealt with, pools get rolled. geled) into service he has 6d Sight, 3d Tactics, 6d Intimidate, 5d Direction, Roll 6d in Run and 4d in Ride. Pools are rolled, sets are sortedits Agdala plans her escape carefully, the typical ORE thing. Remember pinning a silk sheet into something that some pools can be amped up by resembling the local robes and stash- previous trumping. ing another sheet (knotted to ease climbing) between the garden wall Resolve and some bushes. She slips away from the bath attendants: The GM Again, its bog standard ORE. Wid- rules that she just needs a simple est sets go first, Height breaks ties. Stealth success for that. In the gar- Timing matters less in chases, so if den, she throws her rope ladder to youre using a Gobble Die maneuver, the top just as Nirim glances out a you can Gobble against sets that are window. timed quicker, as long as your Height is sufficient. Declaring at the same time, Nirims player is going Paper: Nirim is bel- Example: Rahn is running and Juris is lowing that one of the harem girls getting close. For whatever reason, Rahn is escaping. Get her! But Agdalas decides to offset Juris gain. He rolls player anticipated a Paper move, and gets a 2x10. Juris gets 3x5. Neither because seeing the rope would so trumps. If this was hand-to-hand com- clearly lead him to think Rock. She bat, Rahn would be screwed, but since went Scissors and uses her Stealth to its a chase, he can use his Gobble Dice ease around behind the bush, creep- immediately, ruining Juris set and keep- ing back towards the interior door ing the Lead static. while letting them think shes already over the wall. Her Lead is now 1. Theyre both using Gain. 73 Matters of Law

74 Chapter 1: After Them! (Pursuit and Evasion Rules) They roll: Nirim wants to use his 6d gains. She describes this as getting Intimidate, but the GM thinks thats a deeper into the house and trying to nonstarter. The staff are already terri- disguise herself as a servant. Having fied of him. He needs to direct them trumped him, she too decides for a to where she actually is and tell them bonus on the next round. She rolls what to do about it. Thats Tactics, her Stealth pool, penalized for try- 3d. Agdala gets to use her hefty 8d ing to do two things at once, and gets Stealth pool. Shockingly, Nirim gets only a 2x7. Nirim gets nothing. The a pair of tens. Less surprisingly, so GM decides that Nirim gets his horse does Agdala, in addition to 3x1. She next round or the round after, de- asks the GM if the rope ladder gives pending. Agdalas set goes, pushing her an equipment advantage and Lead to 7. he says sure, its a persuasive piece of evidence that shes over the wall. Nirim Papers by bellowing that if Nirims player curses. Agdala gives up now, no punish- mentotherwise, the Excessive The 3x1 goes off first and, with a +1 Beauty Treatment! (This, he explains equipment bump, Agdala can crank in an aside, is a painful process of her Lead to 5. When Nirims 2x10 scraping and hot water to prevent goes off, he cuts it back down to 3, blemishes and ensure a glowing skin but its still a nice beginning for her. tone.) Hes hoping to Intimidate her Next round, Nirim goes Rock by so that she gives up or, at least, makes running down the steps and heading a mistake. Agdala also Papers: Shes towards the wallwhich is, provi- going to pause, listen and figure out dentially, on the opposite side of the where theyre going so she knows house from the stables. Agdala goes which direction to run. No trump, Scissors with more sneaking. He time to roll. trumps, but instead of changing Lead right away, he says hes going to Shes got 4d in Hearing now and, position himself for a +1d bonus next with a squeal of delight, rolls up a round. They roll. pair of tens. Nirim, with no sound effects, gets a pair of threes. She can Just as he got an unlikely good result raise Lead to 9, but he can immediate- with a bad pool, Nirim gets a bad ly drop it back to 7. His horse arrives, result with a good poolno sets! though. Agdala gets a 2x9 and a 2x4. She can only use one, picks the 2x9 and puts Next round, both of them Rock. Lead back at 5. Nirims is a Ride roll, intended to gain ground with a quick gallop Round three, Nirim has a bonus, so around the perimeter to get the lay he falls back on Paper with a Tactics of the land. Agdala chooses Run and roll (now 4d), telling all the staff to stresses that shes still in her harem drop what theyre doing and fan out, gearbangles and beads and wisps and someone bring him a horse! Hes of gauze. The disguise sheet, shes hoping that Agdala stops sneaking holding to her stomach. Her plan after using it twice, but shes sticking (she explains) is to let them see her to the Scissors shes good at. In fact, wearing the distinctive clothes before she declares a multiple actiontwo she tries to quick-change. 74 Matters of Law

75 Chapter 1: After Them! (Pursuit and Evasion Rules) They roll, her 6d and his 4d. He Nirim jumps off his horse, wrenches gets nothing, while she gets a pair of open the gate, and runs after her eights. Leads now 9. Almost there. (Rock). Shes going to ground in the Next round she picks Rock, using house (Scissors). Wincing, he de- Stealth to duck behind a door while cides to use his Trump as a dice pool Nirim rides past. Nirim thought for increase next turn. They roll. sure shed do Scissors to get in cos- tume, so he picked Rock with Ride Pair of threes and a pair of ones for again. No Trump, just a pretty des- her. Nothing for him. With a sigh of perate difference in pools. She gets relief, Agdala sneaks to the laundry 2x10, 2x3 and 2x2, while he pulls out room and gets a great disguise while a 2x6. She cranks Lead to 11, but his he hastily recalls the servants to seal horse adds a point to his Width, so he up the grounds. When he deploys can pull it back to 8. The GM decides them to search the house top to bot- that he hasnt seen her, hes just hap- tom, Agdala mingles in with them, pened to put himself in a good posi- goes along with the ones checking tion to block her. the perimeter and (making good and sure that no ones watching this time) Cursing, Agdala goes for a multiple actually uses her rope ladder to get action, double gain Scissors maneu- over the wall and escape. verone to change her look and one to move behind Nirim and get into the streets of the city. Nirim picked Paper too, using his Sight pool to scour the landscape for a sign of her. He rolls his 6d, she rolls her 7d. Neither gets a set. Hes got grit in his Thats It? Its Over? eyes. Her disguise is falling apart and she doesnt get a chance to bolt. As you can see from the Agdala/Nirim example, Lead stays at 8. there can be a disconnect between what the rules say happened and what the narration seems to in- Nirim opts for Scissors with a Direc- dicate. In this case, it could seem like Agdala still tion roll. He wants to figure out a has lots of rolls to make to assemble her costume, choke point and beat her there on fool Nirim, climb unseen and such. But the fact of horseback. Agdala picks Rock. Shes the matter is, without a point where the mechan- going to Run back into the estate, ics say, No, its over, let it go! its possible for slamming the gates behind her, then GM or player to extend a chase almost indefi- maybe make her way to the stables nitely. Rather than let one person sandbag the or find a better costume. Because she game (even with the best of intentions) the Lead trumped, she decides to push Lead gives you a way to resolve and be done. At 10, to 9. the runner gets to describe a fairly plausible way that he gets away. At zero, the chaser can initiate They roll. Pair of sevens for her. Pair combat, or the runner can surrender. of ones for him. Lead stays perched at 9. 75 Matters of Law

76 Chapter 1: After Them! (Pursuit and Evasion Rules) A Game of Cat and the burglar. Bee goes Paper by using Tactics to deploy the guards. Because Mouse Meckler trumped Bee, he can either widen the gap or raise his pool next Meckler the light-fingered has 6+MD turn, and he opts for the bonus. Be- in Stealth, 5d in Lie, 5d in Sorcery and cause Oamp trumped Meckler (again) 6d in Hearing. Bee the thief-taker has he drops that Lead to 1 (again) and 7d in Sight, 4+MD in Scrutinize and actually sees himat least for a mo- 5d in Tactics. Her right-hand man ment. The GM and players decide Oamp has 7d in Run and Athletics, that Mecklers up on a widows walk along with 5d in Climb. Meckler has around the house, while Oamp is infiltrated the dukes estate, walked down below on the walkway to the past the rubies and coins (well all carriage house. right, he pocketed the rubies) and stolen the dukes greatest treasure, an They roll. Meckler gets two pair, enchanted walnut. nines and sevens. Oamp gets a pair of fives. Bee gets a pair of fours. The GM has agreed to give Meckler Meckler uses only his nines (because one Stealth roll as a head start, be- he didnt do a multiple action) and cause he prepared for this heist so raises his Leads to 7 and 3. Oamp carefully. He assembles only a lowly and Bee both bump those down to 5 pair, so Lead starts at 2. Hes mak- and 1 again. ing his discreet way out when Oamp checks the chamber, sees that the Next round, Oamp picks up a rock rubies are missing, and sounds the and chucks it at Meckler. Since this alarm. is a combat action, it is neither Rock, nor Paper, nor Scissors (though it Oamp and Bee are (its established) does use his Athletics pool). Meckler working separately. Upon declara- has a Scissors move: He uses his Lie tion, Oamps doing Rock, racing pool to imitate Oamp shouting, He around looking for a thief. Bee is just ran across the throne room! Bee using Sight to Scissors out anything is using Scrutinize to follow Meck- unusual. Meckler is using Stealth to lers tracks from the treasury. Its a disappear (Scissors fashion). Oamp Scissors move, so no one trumps. has trumped Meckler and chooses to They roll, Meckler using his trump drop his Lead to 1. They roll. Mas- bonus from the previous turn. He terful Meckler gets 3x8. Bee gets still gets nothing, though. Oamp nothing. Oamp gets 2x8. Meckler gets a pair of eights, which probably can therefore increase both leads by explains Mecklers failure to imper- 3 points, getting to 5 with Bee and 4 sonate. (He just ran acrossOW!) with Oamp. Oamp can immediately Bees MD gives her a pair of eights as drop that back down to 2, however. well. They declare. Meckler uses Hear- In resolution, Meckler takes damage ing (Scissors) to determine where the from that rock to the shoulder, but search is and where its going. Oamp Oamp doesnt get any closer. Bee, proceeds with Rock again, stomping however, cuts her personal Lead up and down the stairs looking for down to 3. 76 Matters of Law

77 Chapter 1: After Them! (Pursuit and Evasion Rules) One more round. Meckler falls back Esoteric Disciplines on what hes good atStealth. But this time its a Rock move, diving Naturally, something that absorbs behind cover and then quickly sneak- as much human attention as getting ing to a new location so that Oamp away from danger (or getting close cant aim. Oamp is throwing another enough to provide it) merits attentive rock. Bee is closing on the scene, her study, and studied techniques have keen Sight peeled in a Scissors move. emerged on both sides of the Lead. Mecklers Rock trumps Bees Scissors, Theyre on pages 79, 82 and 83. but since hes more concerned with Oamp right now, he chooses a bonus to his next round. Previously Published Meckler only gets a pair of tens, and Disciplines that with 6+MD. Ouch. Oamp gets a pair of threes, which is sure to salve Mecklers pain. But Bee gets a 3x4. The techniques and disciplines de- Bee closes to touch distance, then scribed in First Year of Our REIGN Meckler raises his Lead with her to and the main rule book can be 2 and with Oamp to 3. Oamp draws adapted to the After Them! pursuit back his arm, then furrows his brow system with the following changes. and halts his throw when his target Often the simplest way to handle disappears, only to be replaced by his these is by working them as equip- puzzled mentor. ment bonuses. Fulfill the conditions for use and add +1 or +2 to the Width Next round, Meckler is using the of your set. Scissors of Stealth to do a multiple action, with his MD intact thanks to Autumn Warfare the trump bonus. Bee? Scissors to Scrutinize. Oamp? Hes dropping Quickstep Grace gives a +1 Width the rock in his hand to Rock the wall bonus for Scissors sets. The other dis- with Climb. That trump lets Oamp ciplines just work as described (and if decrease the Lead to 2 before anyone you cant use Stalker Foot in a chase, rolls. youre not trying). With a grin, Meckler uses his Master Dancing Unseen Die to get 3x9 and 2x1. Bee has a pair Dance of the Burglar, Shadows Haze of tens. Oamp has a pair of threes. and Undergrowth and Assassins Going first, Meckler cranks both Dance all work as written. When Leads to 5, where it stays after both Dancing Without an Audience the chasers use their gains and Meck- character can pick a number of indi- ler uses his. Five rounds into it, the viduals equal to the Width of a Scis- pursuers are falling behind, but its sors maneuver and gain an extra +2 still anybodys game as they dance Width against them for the purposes around the dukes rooftops. of changing Lead. However, that set does not give any Lead against any- one else. (Normally, a set gives Lead 77 Matters of Law

78 Chapter 1: After Them! (Pursuit and Evasion Rules) against all pursuers.) Those shadow- Svrana Run ing others can also use this. This lets Instinct for Distraction work nor- Instant Start gives a +2 Width bonus mally as well. on the first round of a pursuit only. With the Wind gives a +1 Width Eyes of the Crown of Salck bonus to Run rolls for Rock tactics. Tireless Step and Inexorable Tread Only Painter of the Mind and Re- both work fine as is. Unsurpassed living Sight impact chases. Painter Fleetness gives a +2 Width bonus to of the Mind gives a -1d penalty to Run rolls. anyone who tries to escape through disguise after the Salckite has sealed the fugitives image in his brain. Re- living Sight gives a +2 bonus to Lead gains when using a Scrutinize roll to chase someone. One With the Land Cloak of the Land lets the character, when chased, use Direction for a Pa- per or a Scissors whenever he wishes. When pursuing, Cloak of the Land gives no particular benefit. As for the rest of the techniques, they have no especial impact on chase scenes. Relentless Pursuit Pursuers Eye, Tireless Tracking, Follow Even the Breeze and Omni- scient Pursuit all work as written. When tracking with The Second Set of Clues, the chaser gets a +2 Width bonus to his Scrutinize sets, but only when the quarry chooses a Scissors Stealth move. The School of Perpetual Readiness Master Mobility gives a +1 Width bonus to Tactics sets organizing Paper chases. 78 Matters of Law

79 Chapter 2: Esoteric Disciplines Climb therefore start falling, the character instead stops short just at the edge. He doesnt make any gain, but he doesnt plunge to his doom, either. Pickpockets Failsafe Roof Flight (5 Points): The characters This set of techniques is exclusively ability to jump over, squeeze under urban in origin, and has spread to port and dive through obstructions is now towns on both sides of the sea, leading so great that even a flying opponent to speculation that the Ob-lobs devel- has trouble keeping up with him. Any oped it. Those whove seen the Ob-lob time the character declares a Rock ac- Roloneepo fighters can describe many tion with Climb, success gives him +2 similarities. The great Ob-lob families, Width. of course, throw up their hands and suggest theres no way they can keep track of every sailor in every port, and Expert: Herbalism that if the townsfolk are getting their purses snatched, thats their problem. Ussient Herbalism Wherever it came from, Pickpockets Failsafe tactics involve great agility and Just as a normal oak may have moss on athleticism, enabling those wise in its its moonward side, trees in the Ussient ways to climb nearly as quickly as they Forest are covered with parasitic fungi, can walk. Pickpockets Failsafe is used edible mushrooms, creepers at the base with Coordination+Climb. and mold colonies on the undersides of the sail-sized top leaves. The tribes have Squirrel Scramble (1 Point): The crafty Ussient fruit as a staple, but theyve thief works in an area where he knows have spent generations finding any- the way out. If the pickpocket has had a thing else edible in their environment. chance to circulate through the area and case it out, he can declare Climb actions Additionally, the constant frontier- as Paper, with no especial justification. branch skirmishes led to battlefield healing lore, based on the properties of Straight Plunge (2 Points): When delib- local mosses and herbs. Many Ussient erately dropping from a high place, the herbalists have traveled far from their character reduces the Area attack from towering homes seeking foreign plant the fall by 5d instead of 2d. lore, and some have brought home shrubs and grasses with medicinal Up is Down (3 Points): One character- properties. Tribesfolk have traveled istic of these trained cutpurses is that as far as Deerwood and the Lightless they change direction instantly, effort- Jungle in this pursuit. lesslyoften with a taunting jibe. The Ussient Herbalism is used with the character can now use Climb actions Expert: Herbalism Skill. with Scissors, similar to Squirrel Scram- Potions and Poultices (1 Point): If the ble. herbalist has access to plants common in the Ussient forest, he can make puri- Quickstop (4 Points): If the player fying salves and medicinal concoctions. rolls no sets when jumping, and would In the Ussient forest, they can be gath- 79 Matters of Law

80 Chapter 2: Esoteric Disciplines ered with a Direction roll, or purchased. obvious wine. Different recipes have These plants have Cost 1 at any Ussient varied results, ranging from (but not tree, and Cost 2-3 in adjoining coun- limited to) jittery nerves, itching, rapid tries. Farther afield than that, the Cost heartbeat, dizziness, headaches, blurred could be low or high, or familiar plants vision and unpredictable sexual arous- might not be available at all. al. But those effects typically fade with- in a half hour, along with pain, stiffness With the right plants, the tribesman can and swelling from bruises and cuts. As make an Herbalism roll. If it succeeds, with Potions and Poultices, vigor wine he can immediately attempt a Heal- doesnt keep: If not consumed within ing roll and, if that succeeds, raise its ten minutes of its brewing, it loses its Height or Width by the Width of the effect and just becomes wine with flecks Herbalism set. in it. Example: Nonik is trying to set his If the Herbalism roll succeeds, the friends broken arm. He knows that rink gives the drinkers next Vigor roll a purifying the wound and partially bonus equal to the Width of the Herbal- numbing the flesh is going to make this ism success. easier, so he makes a Herbalism roll, getting a 2x1 success. Good enough. Example: Nonik gets a 3x2 brewing Making a Healing roll with a 2x4 he can his vigor wine and gives it to a friend either make it into a 2x6 or a 4x4. whos going to handle poisonous in- sects as part of a judicial test in the apt- If the Healing roll fails, the medicine ly-named Unwelcoming Lands. When is wasted. At this level, the herbalist his pal gets bitten and makes a Vigor doesnt know how to preserve the vir- roll to resist the poison, he gets +3d to tues of his concoctions. his Vigor pool. If his friend got beaten instead of bitten, his Vigor roll the next Find the Forgotten Flower (2 Points): morning would have the bonus. The herbalist can make a roll to find the particular plants needed for her art. In Nightlong Draught (4 Points): This the Ussient forest, she can roll Herbal- potion has only one recipe, and while ism or Direction, whichever is greater. its an admirable stool-hardener, thats Outside the forest, its a Direction roll. a side-effect compared to the steady Far, far from home or in an unfamiliar burn of alertness and energy it provides environment, this roll might have a Dif- for about four hours. During that time, ficulty. the first Endurance roll the character makes has a die pool bonus equal to Each failed roll indicates five hours of the Herbalism set rolled to produce the fruitless search. When a roll succeeds, Nightlong Draught. (Its just like vigor it took five hours less the Width of the wine, only with Endurance instead of roll. With a 5x roll, the herbalist finds Vigor.) Its only good for one roll, but what shes looking for right underfoot. unlike vigor wine, nightlong draughts retain their potency for about a year Brew Vigor Wine (3 Points): The recipe after being brewed. Someone who has for this tonic is closely guarded. In fact, this Discipline, has access to the requi- there are several recipes, with no one site ingredients and lives outside the ingredient in common other than the Ussient lands can reliably get Cost 2-3 for the stuff. 80 Matters of Law

81 Chapter 2: Esoteric Disciplines A Jungle of Healing (5 Points): A familiar place with capable assistants. herbalist with this level of ability has In any event, a Ciovla holy man who hand-copied A Jungle of Healing, a makes a Healing roll in an Inner Temple lengthy text with elaborate drawings can add a +1d bonus to his pool. culled from the journals and sketches of many traveling Ussient healers. Many Cruel Mercy (2 Points): These tech- versions of the text exist, and while its a niques can be used outside the Temple. valuable item, the real virtue of copying Indeed, they were perfected by Saint it comes from the deep study of the pic- Mogantiu who took Ciovlas words to tures and descriptions of foreign plants, the battlefield, saving the lives of the their properties and explanations. A wounded on both sides of the conflict. student advanced enough to copy the They are crude, but effective, using fire Jungle also gets to see her instructors to cauterize wounds. private notes and collection of foreign With a successful Healing roll, Cruel herbs. So, to be clear: The book is the Mercy can remove up to the rolls symbol of the knowledge, but its not Height in Killing damage from a hit lo- the knowledge. Having it is useful if cation, replacing it with twice as much you can read Ussient, but someone with Shock damage. this Discipline doesnt need the scroll to use it, and the scroll is only useful to Before the Goddess (3 Points): The others as a pretext to spend XP on herb- priests knowledge of healing extends alism or healing related things. to encompass his understanding of his- tory, nature, and human belief. As long With this Discipline, the herbalist can as hes operating in a Temple, a Width roll to improve a Healing roll, adding bonus equal to his Lore Skill can be dice equal to the Width of the Herbal- added to any Healing success for treat- ism set, just like vigor wine does for ing injuries or trauma. Vigor rolls. In addition, she can squish the resulting roll by three degrees in Mogantius Service of the All (4 any direction. Points): The same woman who used hot coals to save lives was noted for us- ing whatever came to hand as a splint, Healing cast, or (in dire circumstances) scalpel. (Mogantiu was martyred in an Opetkan prison, if youre curious.) Like Cruel The Blessings of Ciovla Mercy, the ability to whip up makeshift The Blessings of Ciovla are used with surgical implements doesnt require a the Healing Skill and, except where Temple for use.With Mogantius Service noted, require expensive and special- of the All, a successful Heal roll gives ized tools and materials with which to bonus dice equal to its Width to some- cut, clean, bless and sew up wounds. ones Vigor roll to overcome injury. It doesnt help with illness. In the Presence (1 Point): Working in a temple, the holy energy of Ciovla fills Defy the Gates of Death (5 Points): The the surgeon with goodwill and peace. holiest, most secret techniques arent Or maybe its just easier to heal some- used lightly, as deals with death always one when youre in a quiet, clean and have consequences, and they most often 81 Matters of Law

82 Chapter 2: Esoteric Disciplines fall on the person saved. But for the to 0. When that happens, even if the desperate, someone who has died of bruiser has already used an Esoteric an injury can get carried to the Temple Discipline, he can activate Bruising and possibly walk out under his own Block. This does an immediate Area power. Shock attack to the pursuer. The Area Attack is equal to the combined Widths A priest who decides to Defy the Gates of the brutes sets (if any) and the pur- of Death takes a -1d penalty to his Heal- suers (if any). ing roll for every hour that patient has been dead. If the roll succeeds, the pa- Rear Leg Trip (2 Points): Its not just for tient lives again, but at cost. The resur- tripping, of course. All kinds of nasty rected loses a point of Knowledge and attacks to the back can be enhanced one Wound Box from his torso location. with the Rear Leg Trip. When the char- acter is pursuing and closes the Lead to zero, he can combine Run with any at- Run tack the next turn, and take no penalty for doing so. Brute Racing Neck and Neckbreak (3 Points): This Foot racing is popular in Opetka, as it cannot be used on the first round of is everywhere, but where most runs are a pursuit, and it can only be declared straight contests of speed, the Opet- when the round starts with Lead at 0. kan assumption is that the race is a bit In other words, the people involved more tactical. Tripping the fellow must both be moving, but close enough ahead of you, or body-checking a close to touch one another. The brute can pursuer are common and expected make an attack without penalty, as with behaviors. Those who compete at a Rear Leg Trip. If it succeeds, its Height higher level, in front of cheering crowds is promoted to 10 immediately. at yearly festivals, have a bigger bag of dirtier tricks. The inclusion of obstacles Runners Dare (4 Points): At the high- in many races only offers more oppor- est levels, this sort of competition is tunities to make trouble. Brute Racing about guts as much as legs. Willingness modifies Body+Run. to risk harm is often a feature of race winnersas are scars from times when risks were misjudged. Bruising Block (1 Point): When being chased, the brute runner slows, pre- When being chased and declaring a tending to flag, and when his pursuer Run action, the brute can voluntarily gets close enough, the brute stops short take a Difficulty as high as he wishes on and throws an elbow or heel backwards his Run roll. If he beats the Difficulty, into whatever part of his rival he can he can change Lead by the Difficulty reach. instead of the rolls Width. If he fails the roll, he takes an Area Killing attack Bruising Block doesnt have to be equal to the Difficulty. declared: Instead, it kicks in any time the following criteria are met. (1) The On the next round, pursuers have the brute is being chased. (2) He made a option of taking the same risk: If they Run rolldoesnt matter if it failed or run, they can face the exact same Dif- succeeded. (3) The pursuer closes Lead ficulty and either take the Area Killing 82 Matters of Law

83 Chapter 2: Esoteric Disciplines attack or gain Lead equivalent to the police of Upunzi do their most comfort- Difficulty. Unless, of course, the brute able watching unseen. When combin- has hit Lead 10 with his daring maneu- ing Sight and Stealth rolls, the watcher ver. takes the normal penalty but uses the better of the two pools. If only one set Batter and Break (5 Points): This tech- is rolled, it must be assigned to the skill nique can be used any time a round whose pool was rolled. starts with Lead at zero, including the first round of a chase. The character Heavy Stenching (2 Points): The can declare a multiple action between names something of a joke. The goal is Run and an attack, with no penalty. If to have an invisible tail that lingers for a the attack set is timed first, the character while after the quarry moves on. Thus, can add its Width to his Run set. If the the advice is you want to follow him Run set is timed first, the character can like a heavy stench. To heavy stench add its Width to his Attack set. (Thus, a target requires at least two people, Batter and Break only does any good if though more are desirable. They have both actions succeed.) to be following in a group, so that theres only one Lead. Each one must know Heavy Stenching. Each pursuer Sight follows for a while, then drops out of sight, passing off the tail to another while either racing in front or falling Elder Eyes back and keeping the new follower in In Upunzi, it is said that the Elders see view. For each person using Heavy all. This is not literally true, as there are Stench to enhance Sense+Sight, the per- only eleven of them and they often have son rolling can add +1 to the Width of better things to do than spy on your his Sight rolls, up to a maximum of +3. particular street. Their reputation for omniscience relies at least as heavily on Know Your Zone (3 Points): If the their network of observers, informers character has been in this area at least and spies. Many of these eyes operate once before, he can use Sight as a Paper right out in the open, wearing tabards maneuver without any extra justifica- embroidered with the eye-in-the-mouth tion. sigil of the city. Just their presence is often sufficient to quell trouble before Shadow Ignored (4 Points): As a Scis- it really starts. But when trouble does sors maneuver in a pursuit, the char- come, the servants of the Elders are acter can roll Sight+Stealth instead of highly trained to watch itoften watch- Sense+Sight or Coordination+Stealth. ing unobserved. Unnoticed, See All (5 Points): This These techniques are used with technique can be declared any round Sense+Sight. immediately after a round when the ob- server got a successful Stealth set. If the The Lidded Eye (1 Point): A heavy lid- character rolls a success with a Sight roll, ded eye may look fully closed, leading he can change Lead by a number equal people to believe theyre not observed to his Stealth Skill (instead of changing it when they are. Similarly, the secret by the Width of his Sight roll). 83 Matters of Law

84 Chapter 3: Constructing Esoteric Disciplines esigning the magic system rank of a path. Take, for example, D for REIGN was highly struc- tured, logical and consistent. I had squishing results. For a Skill thats usually used for simple contests a big list of effects, both positive and either gives a set or it doesnt, and negative, I had a lot of varying squishing isnt a big deal. For one factors and they all fit together nice where Height is more important and tight. than Width, squishing can radi- cally improve that 7d pool. All the Esoteric Discipline paths and martial technique sets Ive But all this is serving as an intro- designed have been exactly the ductory buyer beware warning, opposite. I followed no concrete because I now have broken down guidelines, just eyeball and head- lists of what makes for a good first scratch and doing what felt about level discipline and whats more right. appropriate for the fifth level. Please dont just skim this and start In part, this was because there bolting together your Frankenstein were fewer parameters involved. paths. These lists are meant as With spells theres Intensity, range, guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules. duration, effect and more. With a If an effect seems underpowered at discipline, its basically a question its level with a particular Skill, go of well, is it worth one ahead and add more pepper, but point or three or five? watch out for unintended, game- breaking, degenerate combos. By Moreover, the variety assembling your own paths with of Skills that are open this article, youre approaching the to being modified with triple border where player meets disciplines makes it game master meets designer. hard to say that one So look at what you make as a de- particular effect signer, not as a player. Sure, it may should always be cool for you to have a cheap and be at the powerful discipline that lets you third use your best pool for just about everything and succeed all the time, but something that so grossly goes against the spirit of the game is likely to be a pain in the ass for everyone else at the table with you. All right, enough of me warning and crabbing and acting like an old man. Here are the new toys. Go play. Art based on Hunter Jumper Stock 19 by SeishinUma. 84 Matters of Law

85 Chapter 3: Constructing Esoteric Disciplines One Point Effects Martial Paths? Ignore One Die of Multiple-Action Combat is a more finicky and precise situ- Penalty ation than most Skill uses, for the very Always a favorite. Usually, when good reason that it leaves more bodies you try to do two things at once, you littered in its wake than, say, Fascinate or roll the lowest pool and knock a die Empathy. Therefore, effects that work off for each additional action. With fine for the non-bloodshed-oriented this effect, you still roll lowest, but Skills may turn the game into a travesty you can add an action with the disci- if applied to fighting. Its your game to plines Skill without the penalty. De- experiment with, but consider this your pending on the Skill, you may want red flag. These effects are not tested or to limit it to doing two of the same being considered in light of Martial Tech- action with the discipline Skill, or you niques, only Esoteric Disciplines. They may be fine with permitting additions may work with fights just fine. Or they to other Skills. may blow your game to smithereens. Add a +2d Bonus in Narrow Circum- stances For the cost of this Discipline at character generation, the player could have gotten an extra die in the core Skill, so two dice seems reasonable. art based on Barbarian-Warrior-8 by Marcus Ra- But since nothings free in life, it num. should only come in a particu- lar instance. So, for a Stealth example, it could kick in to stay silent or unseen, but not both. Squish a Set By One Squishing is described on page 23 of REIGN. As a general rule, squishing up or down by X points is a level X discipline. If the discipline lets you squish either direction by three points, it should be the third rank of the path. At five, though, you might as well squish as many points as you want. Time an Effect As If It Had +1W For Skills where timing matters a lot, this is a good level one 85 Matters of Law

86 Chapter 3: Constructing Esoteric Disciplines effect. If timing isnt an issue, you are paired, so its not as good as succeed- (of course) better off with a different ing at the roll). effect, or maybe with just giving a +1W bonus. Add a +1H Bonus, to a Maximum of x10 Add a +1d Bonus to Another Skill If Height doesnt matter for the Skill, Pretty simple: If you roll a set with this is unlikely to make an exciting the Discipline Skill, it gives you a discipline, but there are lots of Skills +1d bonus on a related Skill. Try and where Height matters a lot. have a reason for the bonus: Because I made a Jest roll, I get +1d to my Reduce the Difficulty of a Related Weapon: Bow shot! is random and, Roll lets face it, kind of silly. Very similar to reducing Difficulty in narrow circumstances, and the same Substitute a Close Stat cautions apply. The difference is, Instead of rolling its usual Stat with instead of the restriction on when it the Skill, you can use a different Stat. can be used, its instead a general aid, For instance, Climb is usually a Co- but to a specific other Skill. ordination Skill, but its reasonable to train to use Body for it, or even Sense. Two Point Effects Again, using Charm to climb a hill is random and silly. Ignore More Than One Die of Mul- tiple Action Penalty Reduce Difficulty by 2-3 Points in In non-combat situations, it may be Narrow Circumstances fine to just allow as many actions as As with timing, this is only a good the player wants. Even in combat, its one to use for Skills where Difficulties probably not unbalancing to allow are common. Variations would be extra defenses. Other than that, its reduce Difficulty by a Stat or re- just the same considerations as offset- duce Difficulty by the Width of a set. ting a single multiple action penalty. Reduce Penalties From Failure Improve a Baseline Trait by 20-50% A broad effect that works for a lot of The clearest example of this in canon Skills, this lets you reduce the impact disciplines is increasing the base of attempting a risky act and botching unrolled movement from 15 to 20 it. Its not great for proactive Skills feet. Another movement example where a failure simply means you would be that, when rolling to run didnt get the bargain on that cape, (as explained on page 189), each die or you didnt make the princess eyes in a set improves the rate by 6 feet twinkle with your merry joke. Its instead of 5. Alternately, you could better for reactive Skills where youre do it with rolling Vigor to recover rolling to avoid something bad, and from Shock, and have the wounded the discipline can let you reduce the person recover W+1S instead of WS. hassle of failure. For instance, if an Mechanically, that works just like +1 Endurance failure would usually Width, below. mean collapse, this could permit the character to continue (though im- Keep in mind that while the 30% swing between 20% and 50% looks 86 Matters of Law

87 Chapter 3: Constructing Esoteric Disciplines big, the ORE is grainy. Its not neces- of fall should have a small reduction. sarily as big as the swing between a One that reduces falling damage as 2d pool and a 3d pool. long as you land in water, or only when you fall off a horse? There Get a +2d Bonus in Broad Circum- its fine to eliminate lots of damage, stances maybe even all of it, because those Much like getting the bonus in nar- sorts of falls are unlikely to come up row circumstances, but less restric- as often. Taking less damage from a tive. There should still be some punch when youre dodging is more condition to make it interestingoth- reasonable than taking less damage erwise, it may just be a cheap way from any kind of attack at all. to avoid escalating Skill costs. But it should be something that a character Ignore a Minor Penalty is going to use often. So, to give a When a situation gives you a -1d Haggle example, a narrow circum- Penalty or a Difficulty of 3 or less, its stance would be when haggling with nice to have a Discipline to ignore Ob-lobs while a broad circumstance thatnot only because it provides a would be when haggling from the fairly balanced increase in success, sellers position. but it does so by making the rules simpler. Get a +1 Width Bonus Not just for timing, but for anything Make an Opponents Roll Time- governed by Width. Of course, if Sensitive Width doesnt matter much, the Dis- Usually, argument and debate arent cipline wont matter much. that pressing, so someone with a Height advantage can go to town. Decrease Difficulty by 2-3 in Broad This is particularly distressing when Circumstances theyre therefore able to gobble out A broad circumstance should be your 3x sets with pimply little pairs. about half the time. You can have it If you can make the debate a pres- be a flat -2 Difficulty (for Skills that sure-cooker, now he needs to meet almost always face Difficulty, like triples with triples. Sorcery) or a -3 Difficulty for those where its less critical. Alternates Evaluate a Rival Companys Quality would be Decrease Difficulty by It can break the feel of the fiction to a Stat or by a Skill, but for those just blurt out numbersThey got you might want to narrow the situa- Might 3!so a better way to handle tions in which the Discipline applies, these sorts of evaluations is through because its not hard to get a Stat or comparison. Looking over their Skill above 3. troops, your own start to look dis- tinctly scrawny and clumsy. You Reduce Damage in Narrow Circum- think their finances are roughly stances equivalent to your own. Their The narrower the circumstances, the peasants are poxy and ignorant, greater the reduction can be with- compared to the bright-eyed and out it causing envy and resentment well-groomed employees of your among other players. A Discipline enterprise. Keep the numbers and that reduces damage from any kind Quality names out of it. 87 Matters of Law

88 Chapter 3: Constructing Esoteric Disciplines Perceive Relevant Hidden Knowledge can only use Charm to parry an at- About a Character tack from someone who, in other As with finding information about circumstances, might have found you Company Qualities, its better to kind of cute.) compare than to rattle off dry names and numbers: Comparing Skill levels Ignore a Prerequisite For a Roll is always a fairly fun and useful A classic example would be a Healing ability. Alternately, there are often Discipline that lets you Heal some- Passions to suss out. Just make sure one whos been out all night carous- its relevant to the Skill. Being able ing and rolling shopkeepers instead to find someones Craving by using of resting like a good boy. Another carefully calculated Jests to see what would be haggling unimpaired with he laughs at is plausible with some someone when you dont share a selling. Learning someones Duty by language. Or Counterspelling a spell making a Climb roll? Be serious. that doesnt target you. Three Point Effects Substitute One Skill For Another, For One Narrow Use Enable a Skill to Do Something It This is for the narrowest of narrow Couldnt Before circumstances. You can use Haggle Normally, Haggle cant directly influ- instead of Intimidate, but only when ence a Company Quality. Enabling dealing with members of your same it to do so in limited circumstances Truil tribe. You can use Tactics in the could be a good third tier Discipline. place of Run, but only in a huge and Its not a good idea to let a Skill confusing battle with hundreds of trample too much on the purview of a warriors clashing on each side. Oth- different Skillmaking a Dodge that erwise, you once again run the risk of does damage is all right, but making making a Skill obsolete very cheaply. it work just as well as Fight makes the Fight Skill obsolete, and no one wants Ignore All Difficulty in Narrow Cir- that, right? cumstances The more important that Difficulty is Use a Different and Implausible Stat to the Skill, the narrower the circum- Using Coordination instead of Body stances should be. There are rarely to Parry makes senseso much Difficulties to Skills like Student of sense that Im sure someone, some- Apiary History so a Discipline re- where has already had a tedious lated to that Skill could easily remove argument with his GM about why all Difficulties in almost any situation. it should be the default Parry Stat. Sorcery, on the other hand, faces Dif- Thats the kind of Stat substitution ficulty (in the form of Intensity) all that merits a first tier Discipline. Us- the time. A Sorcery Discipline that ing Charm to parry would be a third ignored Difficulty should only kick rank Discipline, and then only if some in when things are dire (only when tissue of explanation can be found to youve taken killing damage to your cover up the naked ridiculousness of head) or highly awkward (only it. For real mismatches, a narrowing when youre being supported by a situation may be warranted. (You number of Salckian Thaumurgeon 88 Matters of Law

89 Chapter 3: Constructing Esoteric Disciplines followers equal to the spells Inten- or a factor unrelated to either. Before sity). you apply this as a damage bonus to something, remember that this could Combine Skills in Narrow Circum- be as high as +6. stances Be careful with this one, because Add a Point to a Quality, With Ef- the possibilities for abuse get fort, Once a Month pretty horrible if you dont watch One person can make a difference, out. But essentially, instead of roll- but its not easy, even with Disci- ing Charm+Fascinate to get on the plines. It should take time and effort, priests good side, you get to roll in addition to a success at a dedicated Charm+Fascinate+Jest. You can see roll. Whereas the Morale Attack two why the narrow circumstances are effects up should be entirely free, this needed, Im sure: A character who shouldnt. If, for instance, I have a could do that all the time would be Jest path that lets me increase Ter- an unstoppable, mirth-spewing social ritory (by raising the spirits of the juggernaut, leaving the crushed and workers with brilliantly timely jokes), chortling husks of GMCs in its wake. my characters going to have to spend So put on a limit like Only when some time spreading those jokes speaking to someone of the same so- around before he gets his roll, and if cial background. Another thing: Try the roll fails, tough luck for me this to keep the Skills related somehow. month. Combining Tactics and Intimidation when youre trying to frighten an en- Prevent a Quality From Tiring in emy force makes sense. Combining Narrow Circumstances Tactics and Vigor is more of a stretch. Normally, every roll that involves a Quality lowers it by a point. Prevent- Produce a Morale Attack at Stat ing that drop is a potent effect, so Level either reserve it for exacting situ- Use this, of course, only for Skills and ations (Might does not ever drop in situations where a display of talent from defending in wide-open plains might conceivably scare someone when the attackers pool isnt more into dropping their sword and bolt- than three greater than my own) or ing. Moreover, its good to keep this have it work only once a month for a as an entirely free Morale Attack that particular application (Might does spontaneously arises from a success- not tire after my first attack of the ful attempt at something else, some- month.) thing unpenalized. There are plenty of ways to get low-level Morale At- tacks by devoting a roll to them. This Four Point Effects should be a freebie, since its likely to only work on small numbers of weak Height Automatically Jumps to 10 opponents. This is easy to remember, doesnt have the baggage of squishing and Receive an Outcome Bonus Equal to its powerful. If, of course, its for a a Stat Skill where Height matters. Probably This can be a bonus to Width, Height 89 Matters of Law

90 Chapter 3: Constructing Esoteric Disciplines a bit risky to put on a Martial Tech- tion, and hard to justify in almost any nique though. situation. Double a Baseline Ignore All Difficulty in Broad Cir- All the advice about improving a cumstances baseline element by a lesser amount This is a good one for Difficulty- applies here. You could set it up, plagued Skills, and by the fourth tier thus, that someones base climbing the player should be getting some speed is 10 feet per round for each pretty serious bang for the buck. Its point of Width rolled on Climb. (Us- particularly nice that it simplifies ing this on a fighting Skill is going to things. throw the combat system badly out of whack, even more so than many of Impose a Difficulty on Someone the entries in this article.) This is a mechanic to use with a little bit of caution. The concerns are (1) Substitute Height for Width that it can serve to pointlessly slow This is particularly potent when Wide down the game by forcing multiple results are highly desirable, as with re-rolls by GMCs (or rival characters), the Healing or Vigor Skills. Its not (2) it can potentially rob people of ac- universally great (since your chances tions they ought to be able to at least of getting an x1 set are as good as attempt and (3) it can make charac- your chances at x5) but probably best ters who ought to be competent at a to reserve for Skills where routinely Skill into laughingstocks. So this is getting sets that have Width of x5- best used for Dynamic Contests (see 10 arent going to be ridiculous. Or REIGN, page 14) where theres al- where massively Wide sets arent ready an element of competition and going to suck all the challenge out of this is just tilting the odds. Though, a situation. if a Dynamic Contest already has Dif- ficulties, it may be best not to use this Broad Skill Substitution effectnot because its unbalancing, Just like substituting a Skill in narrow but just because adjusting Difficulties circumstances, the considerations upwards and downwards on the fly here are (1) not making it ridiculous can be annoying. Be careful using it and (2) not making that other Skill ut- with Static Contests for all the rea- terly obsolete. It could work well for sons listed above. Parry and Dodge, which are similar in effect but differ in detailletting Produce a Morale Attack Equal to the someone use Dodge to protect an- Sets Height other person isnt going to unbalance This is much like the previous Morale the game. Similarly, letting someone Attack effect. It should be some- use Eerie instead of Direction (for thing thats added on as frosting whatever reason) probably wont atop another result, not as a primary get too weird because theyre both outcome of the roll. Its nice because Sense Skills and rarely used to have a theres the chance of getting MA 10, drastic effect on other characters. But but thats rare enough to keep the ef- letting someone use Jest for Athletics fect closer to balance. would be a very peculiar substitu- 90 Matters of Law

91 Chapter 3: Constructing Esoteric Disciplines Add a Temporary +1 Bonus to a halve the damage from it. This is a Quality. good one to have just as a flat, non- Unlike the Morale Attack above, rolled ability, as long as the source of this should requireat the very injury is narrow enough that its not leasta dedicated roll that cant be de-facto invulnerability. Good exam- re-attempted. Alternately, you can ples would be temperature extremes allow the Discipline to give the bonus (losing a point of Body half as often), for only some circumstancesOnly or taking two points less damage when temporarily boosting Influ- from magic. Bad examples would ence or Only when Territory is be taking no damage from edged being applied to improve something weapons (too broad and too much of permanently for example. a reduction) or taking two points less damage from punches (too narrow Add Gobble Dice and not enough of a reduction). Look Giving a free x10 Gobble Die that can for the middle ground, and adjust for be used at any time is a wonderful your own games setting and tone. fillip for any Skill where you might Good luck. normally have to choose between defending or acting aggressively. Its Remove All Damage from One Source not overpowering in the face of a 3x+ As with the reduced damage above, set, but even those can be blunted negated damage has some param- nicely, and it can clear out a pair. eters you can fool with. Does the ability have to be rolled? If it has to Receive an Outcome Bonus Equal to be rolled (and therefore requires an a Stat action) it can probably work just fine Typically this means adding the with a damage source as broad as amount of some relevant Stat to ei- unarmed attacks. If it doesnt have ther the Width or the Height of a set. to be rolled, keep it extremely nar- It may be wise to limit the maximum rowno damage from magical fire Width to 5 and the maximum Height would be good, but no damage from to 10, depending on the circumstanc- any kind of fire is much too broad. es in which the Skill gets used Its not only implausible, its open to abuse. Five Point Effects Unlimited Squishing Very High Improvement to Baseline This is more powerful on abilities Ability where timing or Width matters, By now youve got a sense of this, because it allows that 2x10 to turn right? More than doubling some- into an 11x1. Its not bad with abili- thing thats standard, like letting ties where Height is most important, someone accurately throw a light because really wide sets arent that object fifty feet, is pushing the limits common. Be particularly careful with of what humans can reasonably ac- this around abilities that allow for complish. But thats what five-point automatic improvements of Height, effects are all about. like Advantage: Beauty. Granted, there are few times when Graces or Drastically Reduce Damage From a Fascinate are going to rely heavily on Moderately Broad Source Width, but it could happen. Pick something fairly specific and 91 Matters of Law

92 Chapter 3: Constructing Esoteric Disciplines Provides Benefit on a Fail as he refuses to move, his Stealth is The best Skills or circumstances for too good to even permit you to roll this effect are the on/off Static Contest it. It can also be nice when someone Skills where the character either gets tries to knock a character off his horse it done or doesnt. With this effect, and the player gets to say, Nyah even when the set fails to materialize, nyah, my incredible Discipline keeps theres some sort of consolation prize, me in the saddle automatically. which could be something completely unrelated to the situation at hand. Give a Permanent +1 Increase to a For instance, a path based on the Stu- Quality, One Time Per Company dent of Mathematics Skill might offer This is another one that has to be some kind of insight every time the handled with caution to prevent character fails at Athleticsmaybe an degenerate combinations from trans- XP that can only be spent on Stu- gressing the spirit of its limitations dent of Mathematics. Alternately, through a mangled interpretation of if a character is trying to Dodge and the letter of the rules. One could, for still gets hit, this could permit a small example, improve a Companys Qual- reduction in damage. That sort of ity with this ability, then improve thing. another Company, then combine them and form a third Company and Change a Relevant Other Skill Die to improve that. If all that maneuvering a Master Die, One Time and combining and improving makes What this lets a character do is ap- sense within the fiction of the game ply the Discipline Skill to improve and is providing lots of interesting an action with a related Skill. So, for story for other players, then its prob- example, a Scrutinize Discipline with ably just fine. But if its just fiddling this effect might let someone search to get an unearned advantage, thats for a great hiding place and then get not cool. Its a subjective judgment the MD to Stealth when using it. Or for the GM, though. an Intimidate Discipline might let you scare people by proxy, building Use an Excess Set for Another Skill up a distant boogeyman into a men- There are a couple ways to apply this ace that must be stoppedgiving you one. If, for example, you want it to the bonus to Inspire when you call be part of a Fascinate path, you could for a crusade to eliminate the menace. set it up so that any time you roll two As you can see from these examples, sets with Fascinate, you can apply the other Skill to be improved, and the other one to Jest or Graces or Lie the circumstances of improvement, (or any of the above). Or you could should be clearly defined. have some sort of bedside manner Discipline that lets you apply extra Shut Down an Opponents Course of Healing sets to Fascinate for free. Action Either way, it gives those extra sets Keep this narrow, because it can be something to do, other than soak up a bit of a drag on the progress of the Gobble Dice and the penalties of get- game when one character has broad ting punched. powers to just deny, deny, deny. That said, it can accelerate the game Substitute One Quality For Another when this just cuts to the chase. No, in Defined Circumstances youre not going to find him as long This is a good one to require a suc- cessful roll to activate, at least, if not time-consuming arrangement. Using 92 Matters of Law

93 Chapter 3: Constructing Esoteric Disciplines Might instead of Treasure can be a which is a behavior I want to encour- tremendous advantage, and if it can age. It also eases the ego-bruise that be done any time a character feels can arise from using your power to like it, theres little point in gaining make the other guy succeed and get Treasure at all. (What kind of crazy the glory. game would it be if the organized social groups didnt want wealth?) Reduces Width By 1 for Timing (-1) Best, then, to limit it to once a month Slowing an effect down is a good way or to only very particular uses. (For to flaw down an effect, but only as invasions, you can roll Might+Might long as timing already matters. instead of Might+Treasure.) Inflicts a -1 Penalty to Height (-1) Restraining Factors or Height isnt quite as narrow and volatile a quality as Width, so losing a Flaws point of it is unlikely to have a radical The discussion of individual effects effect on a set. Be sure to clarify what already has a lot of discussion of happens with those x1 sets, though limits that are likely to be germane are they ruined or does this penalty for a particular effect. Some of those have a minimum of 1? Both work, are repeated here so, naturally, if its but pick one early. supposed to already be involved with a Fifth Tier effect, its presence ought Automatic One Point Squish to Raise not lower its level. Use common Height (-2) sense. Ill repeat that my method This one cuts both ways, because for making Esoteric Disciplines was its intended to be utterly involun- extremely intuitive, so I cant put it tary. That means if you get a 2x5, it in a tidy framework. That said, here becomes a failure, transforming into they are. a 1x6. Apply with care to keep the overall effect from actually being a Makes a Previous Tier in the Path penalty and not a benefit. Obsolete (-1) If the third tier in a path adds +4d Makes Exactly Two Previous Tiers to your Direction pool in the same Obsolete (-2) circumstances that the first tier As with the -1 flaw, this is a more ex- Discipline offers +2d, then there is treme example of stacking. If the fifth no incentive to use the first tier ever tier in that Direction path offers a +6d again. Some Discipline paths are like bonus, theres no reason to use either that: They stack up, combining to get of the earlier, weaker Disciplines. bigger and better along their narrow focus. Other paths spread, expand- Inflicts a -1 Penalty to Width (-2) ing the Skill in a number of different In addition to the timing penalty, this directions. If your path stacks, it can runs the risk of just plain out killing be a little more powerful because its a set unless you put on a minimum not providing as much variety. Width of 2, which I recommend. Youre Helping Someone Else With a Inflicts a Point of Shock Damage (-2) Roll (-1) The biggest caution with this is to I give this a price break because it keep it plausible. A Jest Discipline offers players incentives for making that lets you get the laughs through other players succeed and look cool, genuinely painful pratfalls makes 93 Matters of Law

94 Chapter 3: Constructing Esoteric Disciplines sense, in a twisted sort of way, but its Random Paths a little hard to imagine a reasonable way to have the use of Sight yielding injury. Its usually simplest to have You saw this coming, right? The the damage go to a random location, factors for each level are numbered, but to fulfill the demands of reason- below. Roll 5d10 and youve got the ableness it may have to be limited to skeleton of an Esoteric Discipline. a particular location. By my math, that makes a hundred thousand possible paths for each Skill, Makes More Than Two Previous without using restraining flaws. That Tiers Obsolete (-3) should be enough to keep power- The pinnacle of stacked effects. Re- gamers occupied for a while. But the ally, the goal here is to not only make rolls only give you an outline. Filling this Discipline worth the points it in requires creativity, but with all you pay to get it, but also to make it the possible permutations, all I can worth discarding at least three other do is vaguely wave my hands and say Disciplines. fit the effect to the Skill, and if you cant find an obvious fit, re-roll or Combative Effect Is Timed Last (-3) pick something. Its a big price break, but going later than the mook with the 2x1 set is a big flaw for Skills that are at all rel- evant to fighting. Difficulty Is Increased by 3 (-3) Just be careful with this one for Skills that already face regular Difficul- ties. Having some Difficulties exceed 10 is all right if you want to make it impossible to do certain things with the Discipline. The bigger concern is of having a bunch of Difficulties to calculate every time the Discipline gets used. Inflicts a Point of Killing Damage (-3) Just as with Shock damage, handle this carefully. Something that can both kill a character and make him look silly is something to approach with caution. 94 Matters of Law

95 Chapter 3: Constructing Esoteric Disciplines One Point Effects 9 Add a Point to a Quality, With Effort, Once a Month Roll Effect 10 Prevent a Quality From Tiring in Narrow 1 Ignore One Die of Multiple-Action Penalty Circumstances 2 Add a +2d Bonus in Narrow Circumstances 3 Squish a Set By One Four Point Effects 4 Time an Effect as if It Had +1W 5 Add a +1d Bonus to Another Skill Roll Effect 6 Substitute a Close Stat 1 Height Automatically Jumps to 10 7 Reduce Difficulty by 2-3 Points in Narrow 2 Double a Baseline Circumstances 3 Substitute Height for Width 8 Reduce Penalties From Failure 4 Broad Skill Substitution 9 Add a +1H Bonus, Maximum of x10 5 Ignore All Difficulty in Broad 10 Reduce the Difficulty of a Related Roll Circumstances 6 Impose a Difficulty on Someone Two Point Effects 7 Produce a Morale Attack Equal to the Roll Effect Sets Height 1 Ignore More Than One Die of Multiple 8 Add a Temporary +1 Bonus to a Quality. Action Penalty 9 Add Gobble Dice 2 Improve a Baseline Trait by 20-50% 10 Receive an Outcome Bonus Equal to a 3 Get a +2d Bonus in Broad Circumstances Stat 4 Get a +1 Width Bonus 5 Decrease Difficulty by 2-3 in Broad Five Point Effects Circumstances 6 Reduce Damage in Narrow Circumstances Roll Effect 7 Ignore a Minor Penalty 1 Very High Improvement to Baseline 8 Make an Opponents Roll Time-Sensitive Ability 9 Evaluate a Rival Companys Quality 2 Drastically Reduce Damage From a Moderately Broad Source 10 Perceive Relevant Hidden Knowledge About a Character 3 Remove All Damage From One Source 4 Unlimited Squishing 5 Provides Benefit on a Fail Three Point Effects 6 Change a Relevant Other Skill Die to a Roll Effect Master Die, One Time 1 Enable a Skill to Do Something New 7 Shut Down an Opponents Course of 2 Use a Different and Implausible Stat Action 3 Ignore a Prerequisite for a Roll 8 Give a Permanent +1 Increase to a Quality, One Time Per Company 4 Substitute One Skill for Another, for One Narrow Use 9 Use an Excess Set for Another Skill 5 Ignore All Difficulty in Narrow 10 Substitute One Quality for Another in Circumstances Defined Circumstances 6 Combine Skills in Narrow Circumstances 7 Produce a Morale Attack at Stat Level 8 Receive an Outcome Bonus Equal to a Stat 95 Matters of Law

96 Chapter 3: Constructing Esoteric Disciplines An Example: the race begins, the race marshal at Kiqwani determines the color for that Dirty Racing years official stamp by random selec- tion (to preclude cheating), stamps all I felt like the Ride Skill didnt have the skins, and then sets the racers off enough glamor, so I tossed the dice from the southernmost gate. and got 1,10,1,5,4 for an esoteric rid- ing discipline. Lets see what that The first stage of the race, then, is yields. either through the city of Kiqwani or (more commonly) around it. To Tier 1Ignore one die of penalty for win, a racer must arrive at Punga on a multiple action the same horse, with the marks of the other six cities, and be the first Tier 2Perceive relevant knowledge (and only) to take the Punga mark. about another character Any route the rider wants to take is permitted, as long as she starts in Tier 3Add a new ability to the Skill Kiqwani and ends in Punga. Tier 4Ignore all Difficulty in broad Some choose to charge along the circumstances seashore or even through the swamp to get from Kiqwani to Upunzi, Tier 5Unlimited Squish while others loop up through Sude- vuadding about a third again the Whats a situation where a rider distance as the straight route, but wants to be able to do many differ- traveling that distance on the road. A ent things? A battle, obviously, but similar choice comes at distant Kinin- lets look for something less obvious. guvu: Take the indirect (but safely How about a race? Conflicts make paved) path, possibly right into the for good stories. But buying five teeth of the riders coming after you? tiers worth of Disciplines just for a Or set off directly across the desert? short little sprint seems unlikely, so Winners have chosen many different lets posit a badass race. courses (though in the entire history of the race, only one rider has won (This is something that happens with taking the swamp). me a lot, as it happens: I start with some mechanics and wind up devel- Betting is heavy in all cities. Many of oping an aspect of the setting where the riders are nobles, or priestesses, those mechanics can shine to best who use the race to call out and snub advantage.) rivals. Winners are idolized, the lambskin with the Punga mark can be Every year, the seven-city tour starts sold for huge profits, and the winning in Kiqwani. Anyone who can scrape horse for even more. Even the losers together the entry fee (and its not lambskins have value, and the more cheap) can enter, receiving an offi- marks the rider got, the more she can cial lambskin stamped with govern- get for the evidence of her race. ing seals of the seven cities. When 96 Matters of Law

97 Chapter 3: Constructing Esoteric Disciplines For make no mistake, not every rider limited play compared to some oth- completes the course. Fights between ers, so its fine to just banish all Dif- riders and steeds, while officially dis- ficulty with a four-point Discipline). couraged, are common. Professional gamblers in all cities find it a good Mark of a Champion (5 points): The investment to enter spoilersracers player can squish any Ride roll to who arent expected to win, but who any degree desired. are expected to take a cheap shot at another racers hamstring. Racers die from falls, from the weapons of desert raiders, from exhaustion and thirst. But every year, eager horse- women from every city put up their carefully saved money, hoping to en- ter and winor just to have bragging rights for the rest of their lives. To win this, what Disciplines are desirable? Fending Off The Jackals (1 point): The rider can combine Ride and Parry without penalty. Smelling the Losers Sweat (2 points): With a successful Sense+Ride roll, the character can evaluate another rider, as long as she sees her handle a horse or sit on one. If the roll succeeds, she knows whether the other riders ability is lesser than, greater than, or equivalent to her own. Its Only the Ground (3 points): Any time the character takes damage from a horizontal impact (that is, some- thing like being thrown off a fast- moving vehicle) the character can make a Ride roll. If she gets a set, she can reduce the number of Area dam- age dice done by either the Width or Height of the set. It wont help if she falls out of a tree, but there arent that many trees in the desert anyhow. Relentless Ride (4 points): The char- acter can ignore any Difficulty to a Ride roll. (I figure the Ride Skill gets 97 Matters of Law

98 Chapter 4: Die, Men! (Squad Level Combat) Starting The more of the finicky calculating you can do before the clash starts, the less of it you have to do on the fly, so Ive tried to front-load as much of the organization as possible. You Will Need... Dice. Lots and lots of dice, actually. At least 15d10 just for rolling, plus more dice if you want to use them for groups of units. If you dont have tons of dice, you can use counters on the map, but Id rather fumble around resetting a d6 from six to four n REIGN there are two levels I of combat: Face to face personal stabbing, and vast, abstract colli- than trying to pick two counters out of a hex, especially if your hexes are small. sions of nations and cultures. The second are strongly influenced by Map Tools. You need a map on the first, sometimes. But there has which to plan out the battle. You can been demand for a middle grade buy hex paper, you can make your in all this, a way to resolve the own easily enough, online resources tactical level where maneuver and are available with little searching. morale matter more than a single Me, I like to repurpose the sturdy warriors skill, but where its still cardboard hexes from my Settlers of Catan game, with a sheet of plexiglass not an entire country at risk. Die, on top to keep them from shifting Men! is meant to fill that gap. around. Die, Men! was described by one Alternately, you can do it on a square playtester as a minis game for grid. That works just fine as well. gamers who hate minis. It does Its a little clunky going diagonal, but have a lot in common with tradi- some people prefer it, and its easier. tional wargames (you can even If youre using Die, Men! as a com- use a hex grid, if you like) but panion to a roleplaying game, the Ive tried to make it as simple and map probably comes from your GMs quick as I could without sacrific- fervid brain. If you just want to wargame a little and bash your neigh- ing the essential nitty gritty of bor, there are instructions for col- making the right decisions. Thats lectively generating a map by laying what command is all about, right? tiles under The Map, on page 100. That and looking good in armor. 98 Matters of Law

99 Chapter 4: Die, Men! (Squad Level Combat) Die, Men! was conceived with REIGN in mind, so there are references to people using Strategy and Tactics. If youre adapting this to other ORE games, other command abilities can What is a Unit? be substituted. The basic element of these rules is the unit, representing a soldier or group Defining the Scale of soldiers. You need to track units, you lose units to enemy action, the number of units you have in a given place indicates Just how big a battle is this? The how effective you can be there. A unit rules scale, so that you can represent could represent ten soldiers or a hundred, a brawl of twenty on twenty with but units are always the same for all the same map, supplies and rolls as players in a battle. If your units are fifty an engagement of thousands. That troops, his units are fifty troops too. twenty on twenty fight could be part You can track units on the map with of a larger engagement, with the ter- counters, or track multiple units on a rain thats meaningful on the small single die by adjusting the top face to scale (this patch of trees, that nar- show how many units are there. row stream through the field) being subsumed into one huge open hex at the army level. It doesnt change the rules. Just decide how many soldiers a unit represents and the rest of the scale builds from there. units of 2, Im going to have the 15d maximum pool for a long time. If its This means that if I want to run a 6 units of 20, then I roll a pool of 6d battle of 120 men against 150 enemies, and things are much more random. I can choose to have 6 units of 20 men each, or 60 units of 2 men each, or any Given how much of a difference scale combination on the scale. I just have makes, in a roleplaying framework to make sure that my opponent is on it might make sense to let the winner the same step! If my units are 20 and of a Strategy roll off pick the scale, his are 5, the system is going to col- then let the other general adjust it up lapse dramatically. or down one step. In my 120 vs. 150 example, I might want to set it at ten As a general rule, larger scales take men to a unit, so I start with a 12d less time to resolve. With fewer dice, pool vs. his 15d. Thats not so random you have a lot less handling time sort- as a 6d pool, but still doesnt give ing your sets. However, if you get him as crushing of an advantage. He too grainy, your pool doesnt yield might then adjust it down so that I many sets and you wind up needing have a 6d pool and he has 7d. Or he lots more rounds. Then again, since might switch it upwards, giving both each round is shorter, it may all come of us 15d pools, but with mine less out in the wash. Most important of durable. all, the smaller the pools, the bigger the influence of luck. If I go with 60 99 Matters of Law

100 Chapter 4: Die, Men! (Squad Level Combat) Soldiers per Unit Hex Size Command Interference Command Lag Each Round Lasts 1 15 feet Tactics, Difficulty 0 0 5 minutes 2 15 feet Tactics, Difficulty 3 0 5 minutes 5 30 feet Tactics, Difficulty 5 1 10 minutes 10 60 feet Tactics, Difficulty 5 / 10 minutes Strategy, Difficulty 0 1 20 60 feet Strategy, Difficulty 3 1 15 minutes 50 150 feet Strategy, Difficulty 5 2 30 minutes 100 200 feet Strategy, Difficulty 7 3 1 hour The Map If your players are just throwing a battle together, I recommend having individual hexes made up (or, like I For the simplest form of the game, said, borrowed from another game). there are only three types of terrain: Divide them up between players Open, Rough, and Impassible. If you and take turns putting them down. want to spice things up, finer gradua- You can have one player put down tions (with rules) are available under all the mountains and another put the heading Terrain on page 105. down all the fields, or you can just grab random handfuls. This can set Open terrain doesnt change the rules up a game-before-the-game where at all. Its open, flat, easy to march you build terrain with plans in mind. and fight and die on. Impassible ter- Thats cool. rain is just what it says: No one can move units into it. This is for cliffs, volcanoes, deep water and the like. Setting Up (If you want to represent fortresses with the simple rules, Impassible hexes where some units start does If this is an RPG scenario, the GM nicely in a pinch.) sets up the enemy units, and possibly yours as well. Or, if your characters That leaves Rough terrain. You cant knew this fight was coming, you may enter Rough during the Free Move- get to decide where your units are, ment phase at the end of combat (ex- within reason. If its a pickup war, cept for Cavalry units, if youre using just take turns picking a hex and put- them). This means you have to spend ting as many units as you want in it. a set to move into or out of it. 100 Matters of Law

101 Chapter 4: Die, Men! (Squad Level Combat) In Battle can pick Defend or Move. The Move order cannot go directly away from the goal. (If youre Deploying north, As with the standard ORE, you your troops wont go south.) You declare, roll and resolve. However, cant Attack while Deploying. since youre dealing with great mobs of personnel, Declaring is necessarily Seize vague. With Seize, youre the aggressor. Youre trying to engage an enemy Each leader declares a general force or occupy a particular location. strategy for their whole army. These As with Deploy, you choose a general are written down and shown simul- goal (the main force of their caval- taneously. Then each player rolls, ry, the city gate the center of the producing sets. During the resolve battlefield south). Your troops can phase, they spend sets to have certain Move, but as with Deploying, they hexes take certain actions but the cant move directly away from the actions they can choose are limited by goal. They can Attack any adjacent the strategy picked during Declare. square. They cannot, however, move If you declared a Retreat, you cant away from the goal in order to make have a hex Attack, even if your oppo- an opportunistic assault. In Seize nent reveals a weakness. At the very mode, you cannot Defend. end of resolve phase, theres a Free Movement phase, where each group Hold of units can move into one open, un- When you Declare a Hold, youre threatened hex. trying to keep what you have. Your troops can Defend, obviously. They Declare can also Attack. Their Move options are severely curtailed, however: They There are four options: Deploy, Seize, can only move into a hex that already Hold and Retreat. You pick one of contains some of these four for your whole army, and your troops. it restricts the choices you have when assigning sets to actual actions. Usu- Retreat ally, the strategy you pick constrains You know what a where your units can move. Dur- Retreat is. The ar- ing the Free Movement phase, those mys withdrawing restrictions no longer apply. from enemy troops. When you Retreat, Deploy your troops cannot When you declare a Deploy strategy, Attack. They can your units arent actively seeking Move, but they can- conflict with the enemytheyre not move directly trying to get into desired positions. at an enemy unit. If When you Deploy, choose a general theyre surrounded, direction (north, to high ground, they can Defend, towards the enemy troops). When but only then. you spend sets for troop actions, you 101 Matters of Law

102 Chapter 4: Die, Men! (Squad Level Combat) Roll smaller one. If you get a very wide set like that, you can use it as-is, or When all the generals have picked you can break it into smaller sets. If I strategies, they roll the dice. roll a 5x10, I can either keep it or turn Rolling dice produces sets, and you it into a 2x10 and a 3x10. spend sets to attack, defend, and The timing of the sets is just like in all move around in threatened hexes. the other ORE games. The more dice you roll, the more sets youre likely to get, so the obvious Resolve question is, How many dice do you roll? Now we get to the meat of it. Your army has a single pool and gets a You roll 1d10 per unit, but only up string of sets. You spend those sets to a maximum of 15d. (Trust me, on hexes full of your units, and those you dont really want to roll and sort units then pursue your interests. more than that.) You can get some You can spend your sets on three pretty impressive sets this way4x different tactics: Attack, Defend and and 5x sets are much more likely Move. to turn up in a 15d pool than in a Encirclement Encirclement occurs when your opponent has to defend more than one facet of his hex from your forces. If youre in two hexes that adjoin his, hes encircled. If your forces are in three hexes, hes considerably encir- cled. If you get all six hexes around his unit, theyre completely surrounded and in bad, bad shape. Encirclement is a powerful tactical advantage, and it functions like a weapon in hand-to-hand ORE combat: It adds points to your Width for the purposes of determining how many units snuff it. (Not for timing!) For each facet your forces occupy, you do an extra unit of damage. When youve only got one face to his hex, you do Width damage. Two faces is W+1. If you surround him on six sides, every attack set from each of those six hexes does W+5 damage. However, your forces damage still cannot exceed the number of units in the hex. Example: Fifteen reserve units of the Royal Army have gotten cut off while trying to back up a failing flank. The Dukes Insurgents occupy three adjacent hexes between them and the main force. One of the Dukes hexes has five units and the other two have three apiece. When the Duke spends a 2x9 set ordering the five unit hex to attack, it kills four Royal units: Width (two) plus the number of extra faces from encirclement (two). However, when the hexes with three units are assigned attack sets, theres no way for their damage to do exceed three units. If they had four or more units, theyd get the full benefit, but as it is the most damage that the total of eleven units can do is eleven. Though to put that in perspective, its not a bad yield from six points of Width. 102 Matters of Law

103 Chapter 4: Die, Men! (Squad Level Combat) Command Interference Theres a column for Command Interference on the scale chart. Thats primarily a matter for Die, Men! as a roleplaying adjunct. If your characters are in the battle, their characters are in a particular hex. They may want to give orders that are different from those issued by the general or commander. Command Interfer- ence indicates what a character has to roll in order to get the units in their hex to obey. Heres the nifty bit: Successful orders from PCs ignore the Declared strategy. If your commander put your army in Hold but you see a vulnerability, make your Tactics or Strategy roll. If it succeeds, you can take one of the sets the general rolled and turn it into an Attack. You may get chewed out for it later. Then again, considering what an unexpected Attack might do during a Retreat, you could wind up with a medal. It may seem a little odd that its a Knowledge based roll, rather than Command, to order troops about in the field. But to get people to follow, orders have to be issued in the language they expect, employing logic they understand. Furthermore, knowing who to tell to get the message out is crucial. Simply yelling for people to do things doesnt work if you dont seem to know what youre doing. If you want to factor in the force of personality, you can allow Command+Inspire (or Command+Intimidate, if thats your method) to reduce the Difficulties of those Tactics or Strategy rolls. For each point of Width in the Command based roll, the Difficulty goes down by one. You can do this as a multiple action, or you can set it up one turn by commanding the attention of the troops before giving them their new strategy or tactic. Attack Position can give bonuses. See the You tell your troops in one hex to boxed text on Encirclement for de- attack an adjoining hex. (You cant At- tails. Short version: each extra facing tack an empty hex, only Move into it.) your enemy has to defend gives you If you get a set past any defense hes +1 damage. mounted, you knock a die out of one enemy set. (The enemy commander Some types of troops do extra dam- picks which.) age. Archers give a +1 bonus to troops in their hex and adjoining spaces, the More critically, your troops also elimi- presence of Player Characters gives nate a number of enemy units equal to a +1 bonus, and Cavalry troops do the Width of the set assigned. Several Width+1 damage. factors can increase the number of units removed. All these bonuses work the same way. They take out more troops than the Terrain can give bonuses. Hills and Width, but dont actually change the Mountains both give +1 damage when Width. theyre the origin of an attack. 103 Matters of Law

104 Chapter 4: Die, Men! (Squad Level Combat) Example: Im Seizing, my opponent is When units are eliminated, the Holding. I roll and get a 2x8, while he defender chooses which in a hex are gets a 3x8. As it happens, Im pretty buff: gone. (For example, if a hex has both Im attacking with Cavalry units on two Cavalry and Infantry troops, hes faces, so my damage is at Width+2 with probably going to have the Infantry each squad (+1 for being Cavalry, +1 for take the damage.) encirclement). But because his 3x8 set is timed faster, he can use a Gobble Die to Once a hex is emptied of enemies, its wreck my 2x8. I do no damage. an open space like any other. Attack- ers dont automatically move into the Next round, Im still Seizing, hes still hex. If they want to occupy it, they Holding, neither of us has moved. This can do so with a Move action or pos- time, I get a 4x10 and a 3x9 while he gets sibly during Free Movement. a 4x10 as well. His four tens become Gobble Dice and when I attack with my 4x10, he can cancel three of the dice in my Defend set, wrecking it. When I assign my 3x9, If you tell a group to defend, the set he uses his last Gobble Die to reduce it to a you assign it turns into Gobble Dice 2x9. It still gets through, though. Doing to apply against incoming attacks. Width+2 damage, I clear out four of his units. Move With any set, you can move all the Damage is limited, however! The units in one hex into any adjacent hex number of units in a square or hex that doesnt already have enemies serves as a cap to the amount of dam- in it. Its a nice use for sets with low age it can do. If I have two units in a Width and/or Height, if they dont get square, it doesnt matter if theyre Cav- ruined by attacks. alry attacking a completely encircled foe and I assigned a 4x10 result. They If their initial hex and the hex theyre kill two enemy units, thats it. entering are unthreatenedthat is, there are no enemy units in an ad- jacent hexthey can complete the move order even without an assigned set, during Free Movement. (But only then!) Moving some units from a hex and leaving some behind is fine. Free Movement This is a little addendum to the Resolve phase, after all the sets have been spent. Each squad can move into an adjacent space, as long as that space meets two qualifications. First it has to be Open terrain. Second, it 104 Matters of Law

105 Chapter 4: Die, Men! (Squad Level Combat) has to be unthreatened (that is, there Terrain are no enemies adjacent to it). Heck, for Cavalry troops it just has to be un- Three basic types of terrain are nice, threatened. Its one space per group but why stop there? There are no of units, however. If you want to changes to Open, Rough and Impas- split up a squad, sending some north sible, but there are more to be had. and some south, thats fine as long as the spaces are available. Hill When you assign an Attack or De- Free Movement really is free. Moves fense to a unit on a Hill, it gets an taken at this time arent constrained advantage against enemy units, as by the strategy chosen during the De- long as those units arent (1) fliers, (2) clare phase. So if you were in a full also on a Hill or (3) on a Mountain. Retreat and could only move away The advantages against all other ter- from enemies, during Free Movement rains are as follows: Attacks do +1 you could go back towards them, as damage. Gobble Dice from Defense long as you were going into an un- all get an extra point of Height, up threatened, Open space. to 10. This does not change timing, since they dont get the extra Height until theyre assigned to Defend, and Complications they cant be assigned to Defend be- fore their spot in the timing queue. As is, youve got a simple, functional midget wargame. Position yields Mountain advantage through encirclement, Mountains get an advantage against a dynamic balance exists between enemies as long as they arent (1) fli- clumping units (which can carry big- ers or (2) on an adjoining Mountain. ger sets and last longer) and spread- The advantage is the same as for a ing them out (where theyre vulner- Hill, plus that hex gets a free Height able, but can encircle) and youve got 10 Gobble Die added to any Gobble a few kinds of terrain to spice things Dice produced by Defense. up. But if you keep using this, or are already an experienced wargamer, Example: Joe has units on a mountain you may want things spicier still. and has Declared a Hold. Shannon has Thus, I offer a list of complications. units in an adjacent hex and has De- Use any of them, use all, use none, its clared a Seize. When they roll, Shannon all fine. But if you decide to kick in gets a 3x1, a 2x8 and a 2x3, while Joe these complications, understand that gets a 2x8. Shannon goes first, and her it must, inevitably, make the process 3x1 wipes out three units before Joe has a more well, complicated. Its going chance to respond. When Joe applies his to take longer, its going to demand 2x8 to Defense, he gets two Gobble 9 Dice more attention and effort. If your (because each gets extra Height) and one group likes that, grand. Just be aware Gobble 10 Die. This is easily enough to that not everyone does and that its spoil her 2x8 and 2x3. okay to leave some tools on the shelf, and often a good idea. 105 Matters of Law

106 Chapter 4: Die, Men! (Squad Level Combat) River Die is added to the Gobble Dice of the You cant move into or out of a River Defense set. This works just like the hex during Free Movement. free Gobble Die for Mountains. Castle Command Lag Sketch out the castle walls. Theyre Without Command Lag, your troops Impassible. Towers are treated like know, immediately, what you want Mountains. them to do and then they do it. This is not, strictly speaking, realistic. To Palisade, Drawbridge or Portcullis better mimic the confusion of the These are Impassible until they (1) battlefield, you can implement Com- take a hit from a Siege Engine or (2) mand Lag. are opened by the castles owner. (Palisades cant be opened, naturally.) Look at the scale chart way back at Then theyre Open. Once theyve the beginning. The Command Lag been hit by a Siege Engine, theyre column lists how many turns in ad- gone. vance you have to declare strategies. (Best to write them down.) So, if you have Command Lag 1, on the first round of the battle, you have to declare two strategies for your army. The first is applied during the first round. Then on the second round, you choose to Seize, Hold, Deploy or Retreat for the third round while the second-round actions you announced in the first round get implemented. When you get up to Command Lag 3, you have to think three moves ahead and are likely go- ing to wind up giving orders to dead troops and launching attacks on units that arent there. Unit Type If you dont want to fuss with dif- ferent unit types, just give a special In the basic rules, a group of mounted counter to one group of units. Thats knights in heavy armor, trained from your battering ram. If they can get the first blossom of manhood to kill that to the obstacle and apply an At- without mercy, is treated the same as tack set, its down. a group of naked savages using their ancestors thigh bones as weapons. Forest To many, that just aint right. So When a Defense is declared for a unit there are some options for modeling in a Forest, a free Height 10 Gobble troops with special training or equip- ment. 106 Matters of Law

107 Chapter 4: Die, Men! (Squad Level Combat) Cavalry Player Characters Cavalry attacks do +1 damage. If a If you dont want to play through the set is spent to move Cavalry, they can blow-by-blow, give a +1 unit damage go a number of hexes equal to the bonus to sets for hexes that have a PC Width of the set. During Free Move- in it. Multiple PCs means multiple ment, they treat Rough terrain as bonuses. Open. Siege Engines Defensive Bloc Siege Engines can launch Attacks A Defensive Bloc is a group of sol- on enemies two hexes distant. They diers with really heavy armor, tower cannot launch them against enemies shields, or some other protective who are only one hex away. How- advantage. Hexes containing a De- ever, any hex adjacent to them or two fensive Bloc get a free Gobble 10 Die hexes away is considered threatened. every turn, which they can use at any Furthermore, the number of units time. doesnt act as a cap on damage. If you assign an unblocked 2x8 to a Fliers single Siege Engine on a hill, it wipes Flying units ignore all the negative out three units. effects of terrain. Moving siege equipment isnt easy. Archers It cant move at all unless its accom- panied by units of a different type. A hex that has archers in it gives a +1 (Essentially, the siege engine unit rep- Width bonus to all attacks made by resents a big hulking thing and some normal troops from their hex, or from guys who know how to aim and load any adjoining hexes. However, the it. It doesnt have an entourage of the total Width bonuses cant exceed the people or animals needed to move it number of Archer units. around.) If it has an escort unit, they have to move together. Siege engines By spending an Attack set, an Archer cant move during Free Movement. unit can remove one enemy unit any- where within a two hex radius. They Threat Rating cannot make normal Attacks (the kind that do Width damage), howev- If you want to use the Threat ratings er. This means that one enemy unit from REIGN for the troops, its pretty damage is an absolute. Encirclement easy to implement: Sets lower than and terrain dont increase it. the Threat rating of the target fail. Chariots If a set is spent to move Chariots, they can go a number of hexes equal to the Width of the set. They cant enter Forest, Hill or Mountain hexes at all during a battle. Chariots can Attack normally (doing Width in damage). 107 Matters of Law

108 Chapter 5: Fluid Combat system youre using and (perhaps as important) why youre using it. The Fluid system is simpler than the specific details of Chapter Six, while giving a little more tacti- cal traction than relying only on Chapter Five. Its major alteration is that you have more leeway to change your action after the dice hit the table. In both the core sys- tems, you have to declare exactly what youre doing before you roll. With Fluid, you still declare who youre hitting and what youre hit- ting with, but once youve sorted your sets you decide between doing more damage or trading off damage for a variety of other desirable effects. The Phases of Fluid Combat As with the combat systems youre used to in REIGN, there are three phasesDeclare, Roll and Resolve. They change a bit, but you can still recognize a strong family resem- REIGN already has the trust- blance. based basic combat system (de- scribed on page 201), and the Declare specific options in the Advanced You declare which skill youre using, chapter. But where the first one if youre making multiple actions, emphasizes cooperative story- what youre striking withso far, just like the other two systems. However, crafting by the players and the you can be very vague with your GM, and the second works more attacks. Im hitting the third guard as a framework for creating pre- with my sword is perfectly accept- dictable and vaguely-plausible able. You dont need to decide how fights, theres also a third path. youre hitting him until it comes time Just make sure you and your gam- to resolve. ing group all understand which 108 Matters of Law

109 Chapter 5: Fluid Combat Roll The hit does damage only. Charac- This is just the same. You roll your ters no longer lose a die from a set pool and sort your sets. automatically when struck. Resolve Thats really important, so Im going to repeat it in bold for readers who Heres where things change the most. are just skimming. Timing is no differentWidest sets still go first, and High sets still go Characters do not automatically lose before low ones. Parrying, Dodging, a die from a set when struck. Gobble Diceall the same old thing. Whats new is how damage is resolved. If you want to ruin someones shot or blind him, trip him, aim for a When you hit, you can choose to vulnerable spot or somethingyou make it just a simple, ordinary, white- can achieve that effect by trading in bread hit. You strike, you do damage damage. Different effects have dif- of a type and amount appropriate for ferent damage costs, as listed on the your weapon and Width, located on menu on the next two pages. the body part indicated by Height. 109 Matters of Law

110 Chapter 5: Fluid Combat Effect Cost Shaken: Target loses a die from a set. 1S or 1K Rattled: Spoil a set from a group of Unworthy Opponents. You can only use this if you attacked the group, but you can use it more than once with a single strike. 1S or 1K Reckless Attack: Time your first strike next round as if it was 1 Wider 1S or 1K Wound Up: Does an extra 2S but is timed as if Width was one less. This effect cannot be applied more than once per set. 1S or 1K Opportunistic: Redirect your attack from one individual to a different one. (The attacks Height and Width remain unchanged.) 1S or 1K Severed: Limb struck comes completely off 1K or 3S (but only if the limb is already full of Killing damage) Pulled Punch: Change Killing damage to Shock 1K for all. Thus, if I hit for 4 Killing, I can spend one Killing point to turn the other three into Shock. If I hit for 2 Killing, I can spend one to turn the other into Shock. Disarm: Target drops his weapon, shield or other object 1S or 1K to the gripping limb. 3S or 3K to any other location Redirected: Raise or lower your hit location by 1 1S or 1K for each point of Height changed. If Im doing 5K of damage to location 5, I can change that to 3K to location 7 Ghastly: Produce a Morale Attack after killing someone 1S or 1K per point of Morale Attack (so for 3S you get a Morale Attack 3) Crushing Blow: Change a point of Shock damage to Killing 2S each. You can turn three points of Shock damage into one point of Killing Intimidating: Produce a Morale Attack regardless of the attacks outcome 2S or 2K per point of Morale Attack (so for 6S you get a Morale Attack 3) Blinded: Target is blind for Width rounds 2S or 2K at location 10 only 110 Matters of Law

111 Chapter 5: Fluid Combat Effect Cost Tripped: Target loses a die from all his sets. This cannot be used on an 2S or 3K, or 1 of either at a leg location entire group of unworthy opponents, even though they share their group of sets. Trip one mook, take a die from one set. Shove: Target moves about five steps in a direction you choose 2S or 3K Gripped: Target cant change location and has to take 3S to the gripped 3S or 4K. Reduce by 1 if attacker is limb in order to escape empty handed or if the target is downed. Reduce by 2 if both. Downed: Target is Downed, of course 3S or 4K. Reduce by 1 if youre empty handed, or if he was tripped or shoved this round or last round. If its both, reduce the cost by 2. Entangled: Target cant move from his current location, or attack, All, with a minimum of 4S or 5K. This until he beats the person who established the entanglement minimum drops by 1 if the attacker is in an opposed Body+Fight or Coordination+Wrestling roll. empty-handed or if the target is downed. If both, the minimum drops by 2. Clobbered: Target takes 1S to each limb 5S or 4K Armor Damage: Target permanently loses 1AR at that location 5S or 4K Armor Avoidance: Damage from this blow ignores all armor at location 4S or 6K Its important to remember with Its equally important to remember this system that Armor only soaks that each attack is just one attack. up damage: It doesnt reduce it, and Even if you get a 5x5 with your mas- it does not reduce the Width of the sive battleaxe (so, 7K and 5S) you attackers roll. If youre fighting cant decide to hit the bad guy for 7K a heavily armored opponent, you and then spend 2S to redirect 3S to may not be able to get through his a pair of unworthy opponents. You armor with 3K damage, but you still have to apply all that damage to one have 3K damage to buy effects. His hit on one person. (The Rattled armor wont protect him from get- effect that lets you ruin multiple sets ting shoved, and then next round its for a group of mooks is an important easier to knock him down. exception. Hey, theyre jittery.) 111 Matters of Law

112 Chapter 5: Fluid Combat Examples With 3K aimed at Dawns armored torso, Cygnet spends 1K to redirect to Dawns vulnerable head. 2K to the Now that youve seen the price list, melon. Ouch. heres what the system looks like in action. With 3K to Cygnets head, she spends a point to redirect downto Cygnets A Simple Example unarmored and injured torso. She does 2K there. Cygnet and Dawn are fighting over a man, and its gone well beyond Headachy Dawn plays it cooler next hair-pulling and name calling. Both round, rolling her full Parry pool women have Fight pools of 8d, Parry with the ED at 10. Being a hair more pools of 5+ED, and are armed with sensible, Cygnet realizes Dawn isnt longswords that do Width+1K. Cyg- striking and makes a full attack. net has a helmet that gives AR3 to her head. Dawn has on leathers that Cygnet rolls 1,3,4,7,7,9,9,9. With a 2x7 give AR1 to everywhere but her head. and 3x9 to play with, she grins. Cygnet has the higher Sense Stat. Dawn sets her ED to 10, rolls 1,1,1,3,9 The first round, they each go for a full and swears. A 3x1 is quick, but attack. Cygnet rolls 1,1,2,3,5,6,7,9a unlikely to protect anything but her lousy roll for 8d, yielding only a leather-clad leg. 2x1. Dawn does rather better with 1,1,2,2,7,7,7,10. Dawn chooses only Cygnet opts to use the 3x9, giving her to do damage4K to Cygnets un- another 4K aimed at location 9. Once armored torso. But since the Fluid again, she redirects to 10, doing 3K system doesnt automatically wreck there. She contemplates leaving it as sets, Dawn has left Cygnet with 3K is and enjoying a tidy, efficient fatality. damage to spend, either on Dawns But while shes angry, shes not quite lightly-armored leg (location 1) or on wiling to face murder charges and other effects. 2K to the leg is okay, Dawns family. Besides, she thinks but Cygnet decides on the spur of the killing her romantic rival might send moment to disarm Dawn instead. the wrong signal to the man in ques- tion. So she spends 1K to turn the Next round, Cygnet declares that remaining 3K to Shock. Two of those shes making another full attack, while Shock stack in a box to become a point Dawn says shes going to pick up her of Killing, but it leaves Dawn barely sword and attack with it. This times alive and unconscious. any set she uses as if it was one level narrower. Cygnet rolls 2,2,3,4,8,8,9,9. With a 2x8 and 2x9 to choose from, shes happy. Dawn rolls 2,3,4,7,7,8,10,10. That 2x10 would be a lot sweeter without the tim- ing penalty for picking her sword up. 112 Matters of Law

113 Chapter 5: Fluid Combat A Complicated Example Cygnet rolls 2,2,4,5,9,10,10,10. Dawn rolls 2,3,4,4,4,5,8,10. You should have killed me when you had the chance, Cygnet! Zwiche rolls 2,2,6 and turns his MD I wont make that mistake again, into a 2 in order to climb fifteen feet Dawn! up the wall. Nobody loves a grudge match, and The retainers roll 1,1,1,1,2,3,4,4,5,5,5,6 yet, they keep on coming. Cygnet has ,8,9,10. gotten over her romantic rivalry with Dawn. (Turned out the guy was lousy So, the order of action is as follows. in bed. Who knew?) Dawn, however, Cygnet, with 4K at location 10 to dis- cant quite forgive and forget. Shes tribute. rounded up fifteen of her familys retainers, given them swords (to raise Retainers, with a 3x5 basic hit. them to Threat 2) and then made a chilling and hysterical speech about Dawn, with a 4K at location 4 to fool the dishonor that has befallen their around with. entire way of life at Cygnets hands (to increase that Threat to 3). Dawn, Zwiche with his fifteen feet of climb- on the other hand, has taken up with ing. a nice Truilish mercenary named Zwiche, who has sharpened teeth, Then the retainers with a 2x4, 2x1 and one of those spooky moaning Truil 2x1. hornbows, a Bow pool of 8d, Fight 6d, and 4+MD in Dodge. Dawn got Cygnet has 4K to apply to one mooks a helmet this time (AR3 for location head, which is serious overkill. So 10) but stuck to leathers because you she spends it down. She uses three of cant clank down the middle of town her points of Killing damage on the in full metal without attracting notice. Rattled effect, removing dice from At least, not yet. Cygnet, amusingly three of the retainers sets. Dawn con- enough, took a page from Dawns siders letting two ruin the 3x5, putting book and got some armor for the another to the 2x4, and letting the leg rest of her body, so the two women hammers cripple her enemy, but she have exactly the same AR at the same thinks that Cygnets going to kill one locations. Zwiche, on the other hand, of the followers with her remaining is wearing nothing but a light cape, point of damage (and shes right) so sandals and a loincloth because its so she throws out the 2x4 and the x1 sets. damn hot in the sunlit lands. Sure enough, Cygnet spends her re- maining point of Killing damage on a On the first round, Cygnet goes on retainer, removing him and knocking the attack against the charging retain- a die out of that 3x5 set. Shes done an ers, Dawn hopes to get her licks in admirable job of protecting herself. while Cygnets distracted, and Zwiche decides to scamper up to the top of a Dawn, however, has 4K to Cygnets nearby building to get a good sniper hand. She chooses to spend a point perch. (Did I mention that Zwiche has to disarm (since its a bargain at 1K 3+MD in Climb, too?) 113 Matters of Law

114 Chapter 5: Fluid Combat for the location) and let the rest go 2x5 hits her arm. She now has only through. Cygnets AR1 reduces the one undamaged box in that arm. See- remaining damage to 2, but she has ing that her followers are going for the dropped her sword. leg as well, Dawn just goes for dam- age, and they have no other option. Zwiche is now five feet from the roof. Cygnet has now taken 4K to that leg The slowed down retainers hit Cygnet as well. with a 2x5, for 3K to her other arm. After the AR1 reduction, she has two Next round, however, Zwiche is on points of Killing damage there, too. the roof and makes a multiple attack one at the mooks, one at Dawn. Cyg- Next round, a bare-handed Cygnet net is ducking and covering, Dawn is decides to parry with her leathered hacking and slashingshe actually forearms, setting her ED at 10. Dawn decides on making two attacksand is slicing right back. The followers the followers are following. follow. Zwiche has to keep climb- inghes not in a position to hit yet. The followers 14d pool yields 2x10, He asks if he can draw once hes at the 3x7, 2x6, 2x5 and 3x1. Ouch. top. The GM allows it. Cygnets ED is at 10 and she gets a Cygnet rolls 1,6,7,9,10. With her ED, brother for it, so she has two gobble she has a pair of tens to Gobble with. dice set at 10. Her backup pair is a 2x1. Dawn rolls 1,1,3,5,7,8,9,10. Zwiche gets the two pair he needs, a Zwiche rolls 1,4,5 and turns his MD 2x7 and a 2x5. into a 5. Angry Dawn gets a 2x7, a 2x6 and a The followers roll 2x3. So in order 1,1,3,5,5,6,7,7,7,8,8,9,9,10 The followers 3x7 and their 3x1. So events go like this. Cygnets 2x10 defense and the follow- Followers, with 3x7. ers 2x10 hit Cygnet with 2x10. Then comes Dawn with a 2x7 and Zwiche with the same. Followers with 2x9, 2x8 and 2x5. Dawn and the followers with a 2x6 Dawn with 2x1. apiece. Followers with 2x1. Zwiche and the followers with 2x5s. So, before anyone can stop them, the The followers 3x7 is plain ol damage, followers do 3K to Cygnets torso, three to Cygnets chest. Then their after her AR is subtracted. With her 3x1 hits her leg, filling it with Killing two Gobble Dice she wards off the damage and bleeding two more into next two attacks to her chest, but that her torso. 114 Matters of Law

115 Chapter 5: Fluid Combat On Cygnets turn, she actually ignores Fluid system lets you design your the head hit, since her noggins un- own (within parameters) just as you hurt and shes got a helmet that soaks can design your combat move (within all the damage. She uses her 10s to parameters). ruin Dawns attacks. If shes going to down, shes going to die frustrating Every Martial Path has to have a Dawn. focus. In Advanced Combat, all these techniques are focused on a particular Seeing that Dawns stymied, Zwiche weapon. With Fluid, a path can focus uses the 3K from his 2x7 on the fol- either on a weapon or on a particular lowers. Its still one attack, so he kills effect. If you want to build a Martial one with 1K and automatically ruins Path based on the Wound Up maneu- an attack. He spends another to spoil ver, you can do that and have it work their last attack, and his last point on for equally well for swords, sticks Recklessness to get his next action and chains. faster. (If youre wondering how one arrow ruins two attacks, picture an Martial Paths can have any number of angry domestic whos about to land a techniques, but characters cant learn blow when suddenly her good friend any second level technique without gets shot right next to her. Think she learning all the first level techniques. might flinch?) That leaves no more They cant learn a fifth level tech- damage to Cygnet and a 2x5 to Dawn, nique without all the techniques at 3K to Dawns hand. With one point, lower levels. Furthermore, characters he disarms her, while the other does still cant know more than fifteen 2K to the limb with his armor-ignoring Martial Techniques. arrow. Other than that, its just a matter of Will Dawn retreat? Shes been blood- buying off yet another chart. ied and is unarmed, while her rival has indisputably learned a lesson, what with the broken leg and wheez- ing lungs. Plus there are those two downed henchmen to explain to her parents (are they dead, maimed or merely cowering?), and an archer up top that she cant readily attack. On the other hand, shes never going to get a better chance to finish off Cygnet, and in for a penny... Fluid Martial Techniques The Advanced Combat system has precisely defined Martial Paths. The 115 Matters of Law

116 Chapter 5: Fluid Combat Benefit Level Chosen weapon gives the benefits of open hands for getting the Downed, Entangled or Gripped effects 1 One particular effect costs 1S or 1K less 1 One particular effect (or combination) costs 2S or 2K less 2 One particular effect (or combination) costs 3S or 3K less 3 One particular effect (or combination) costs 4S or 4K less 4 One particular effect (or combination) costs 5S or 5K less 5 One particular weapon does 1K more damage* 1 One particular weapon does 2K more damage* 2 One particular weapon does 1S and 2K more damage* 3 One particular weapon does 2S and 2K more damage* 4 One particular weapon does 2S and 3K more damage* 5 One particular effect (or combination) costs 2S or 2K less with one particular weapon 1 One particular effect (or combination) costs 3S or 3K less with one particular weapon 2 One particular effect (or combination) costs 5S or 4K less with one particular weapon 3 One particular effect (or combination) costs 8S or 5K less with one particular weapon 4 One particular effect (or combination) costs 10S or 6K less with one particular weapon 5 Offset the multiple action penalty for one use of one particular Skill 1 Offset the multiple action penalty for an unlimited number of uses of one particular Skill 3 Time an attack as if its Width was one greater 1 Time an attack as if its Width was two greater 3 Time an attack as if its Width was three greater 5 Get a free Morale Attack 2 after a kill 1 Get a free Morale Attack 4 after a kill 2 Get a free Morale Attack 6 after a kill 3 Get a free Morale Attack 8 after a kill 4 Get a free Morale Attack 10 after a kill 5 *determine beforehand if this bonus is applied before or after effects are paid for. 116 Matters of Law

117 Chapter 5: Fluid Combat A Example Path: Flying Explosive Lunge (3 Points): When you pay to use the Wound Up effect, Serpents Coil you not only ignore the restriction of timing it as if it was a point slower, The mountains near Kininguvu are it instead goes off as if its Width was home to a poisonous snake called (in one greater. the local tongue) the flying serpent. The ridiculous image of lowly belly Leg-Numbing Entangling Bite (4 crawlers worming their way through Points): When you pay to use the the air leads some travelers to dismiss Wound Up effect, you can Down and the stories, until they see one of the Clobber your opponent for 4S or 4K leg-length serpents strike upwards (instead of 8S or 8K). from a coiled position. They dont remain in flight, but their jumps can Their Every Move Presents a Target reach a mans shoulder or cover the (4 Points): When you pay to use the distance from the front of a wagon to Wound Up effect, you can alter your its back in an eyeblink. hit location by up to 4 points for free. (This works like the Redirected ef- A sect that reveres the river Nguzi fect.) as a deity studied the flying serpents and applied what they learned to Nguzis Secret (5 Points): When you defending themselves from regional use Nguzis Secret in the Declare rivals. Their fighting style teaches phase, you get the benefit of Tight- that all weapons are largely the same, ening Coils. After your dice hit the and a warrior who masters timing table, you can choose to use any of can take control of a fight as easily the other levels of Flying Serpents with a spear as with a dagger. There- Coil on your result. fore, they pay particular attention to fighting in an unpredictable, staccato rhythm that confuses opponents and allows the Nguzi worshipper to get past his guard. Attacks with the Flying Serpents Coil can only be made in conjunction with the Wound Up effect. Tightening Coils (1 Point): Any time you announce that youre using Tightening Coils during the Declare phase you can add the Wound Up ef- fect to one attack that round, for free. Unpredicted Flight (2 Points): When you pay to use the Wound Up effect, your target is automatically Shaken, and you may choose to make the strike Opportunistic for free. 117 Matters of Law

118 Chapter 6: Martial Techniques Maemeck War-Pick Mining for Flesh (2 points): The same postures used to chip through rock to get ore can be used to punch through The Maemeck Warrior class often armor and reach the fighter within. trains and operates in its homelands Mining for Flesh can only be used mountains. Moving through such once per turn. If part of a multiple rugged terrain encouraged them to action, the usual penalties apply. The carry as little as possible, and the strike bypasses three points of Armor. tendency of Milondese steel to break under stress left many unwilling to The Twirl (3 points): To use the Twirl, carry swords that would fail in time the fighter holds the pick in front of of need. Instead, many adapted the him and, when it gets close to his op- picks used for mountain climbing ponent, he gives the haft a rapid twist, (which had, themselves, been adapted so that the two heads sweep around from mining tools). in a fan of steel. This spin is used to knock weapons out of the way before The war-pick has a shaft the length a strike. of a mans leg, made of steel or stout wood. Its smooth for most of the The Twirl can only be used with a length, but roughed towards the base, Feint maneuver (as described on page where theres a flared rim to give the 205 of REIGN). In addition to the best grip. The working end has a usual benefits of a Feint, the Twirl straight spike, about dagger length, prevents the target from using a Parry and a slightly curved prong opposite maneuver during the next combat it. Both are sharpened and thick, usu- round. ally triangular in cross-section to leave a wound that bleeds. Stick and Handle (4 points): Some- times your pick goes deep enough The techniques of the Maemeck pick- to get stuck. Though inconvenient if men are used with Coordination+Pick. you want to hit him again, having a weapon painfully lodged in an enemy Dangling Death (1 point): Fighting in is convenient if you want to force him the mountains, you sometimes find to move or fall over. This is doubly yourself fighting from a higher van- true if you move one hand up to the tage point than your opponent. This back of your pick-head, which is stick- is good, since your head is out of the ing out as a convenient handle. fight zone and his is in the middle If you declare an attack with Stick of it, and because its easier to strike and Handle and strike, you get a +1d down than up. Dangling Death is a bonus on your next turn if you attack technique for accelerating the pick the same opponent with any of the heavily, creating a devastating impact. following maneuvers: Pin, Restrain, When striking from above, any blow Shove, Disarm, Slam, Strangle, Trip, to locations 1 or 2 gets +6 Height. This Redirect or Submission Hold. You bonus occurs during the Roll phase, can then use your Pick skill to make so it affects timing as well as hit loca- those maneuvers. If you declare Stick tion. and Handle the turn after successfully striking someone with it (that is, when youre already getting the +1d bonus) 118 Matters of Law

119 Chapter 6: Martial Techniques and your maneuver succeeds, it gets a Mingling (3 points): The Jawless talk bonus point of Width for both timing amongst themselves (using a language and effect. of hand signals) about the philosophi- cal revelation that arises from merg- Superior From Beneath (5 points): As ing sorcery and swordplay, their own discussed above, its usually disad- blood and that of others, attack and vantageous to fight upward. Superior defense. When they refer to min- From Beneath makes the best of this gling, they mean the dissolution of bad situation by bringing the op- barriers between actions. The tech- ponent down to your level. It only nique called mingling, then, is when works on opponents above you. they can combine a Sorcery roll with Make a normal attack. If it hits, in- either an attack or a defense, at no dice stead of the damage to the indicated pool penalty. (That is, rolling only the location, it does it to location 1 or 2 lower pool and looking for two sets.) (you choose) and the attack also has the effects of both a Trip and a Slam. Unsurpassed Guardian (4 points): The Jawless can now combine Sorcery with attacks, defenses and Counterspelling. Blades for the No dice are removed from the pool when this is done, though the Jawless Empress still need to roll the smallest pool and get a set for each action. The Crimson Guard needs to be able to fight against any and all enemies of Sanguine Apotheosis (5 points): The The Empire, the envious within and highest integration of weapon and the resentful without. Fortunately, witchcraft gives all the benefits of the inner steel required to give up Unsurpassed Guardian, but the Jaw- easy eating and speaking can also be less can now use his largest pool, with directed to the refinement of sorcerous some restrictions. First off, he cant technique. assign a set to a Skill if its Width is greater than the Skills pool. Secondly, Blade for the Empress is used (despite either the Widest or Highest single set the name) with the Sorcery Skill. It rolled must be assigned to the Skill of can only be applied to the Crimson the rolled pool. Guards blood magic, but since theyre the only ones whore permitted to Example: Eria has Sorcery at 9+MD, learn these techniques, thats no great Dodge at 6d and Counterspell at only matter. 2d. She declares that shes using all three Skills, then rolls 2,4,5,6,7,9,9,9. Setting Defensive Cast (1 point): Normally, her MD to 9 she now has either a whop- one cant make Sorcery part of a mul- ping 4x9 Sorcery set, or a 2x9 Sorcery set tiple action. With Defensive Cast, the and a 2x9 set for something else. If shed guard can combine his Sorcery with gotten a pair of sevens and used her MD either Dodge or Parry. to get 3x7 and 3x9, she couldnt use the 3x7 to Counterspell, because it exceeds her Bleed the Energy (2 points): This tech- pool. However she slices it though, she nique lets the Jawless combine Sorcery has to give the Highest or Widest set to with Counterspell. Sorcery. 119 Matters of Law

120 Chapter 7: Work For Your Lives! (Storms at Sea) lessen its impact. The sailors aboard are another resource. One captain cal- lously spends their lives to preserve the hull and mast, while a more soft-heart- ed skipper gambles with the whole ship to conserve crew in the short term. Your Ship The ship is where the action takes place. Its represented by a group of hit locations, just like people in REIGN. Instead of wound boxes, boats have structure boxes. When a location runs out of structure, it becomes worthless. Any further damage to that location goes to the next location up. Thus, if your stern has been torn off (location 7) an against nature is a classic the damage goes into location 8 (the aft M dramatic conflict, and few forces in nature inspire as much hull). awe as a storm especially when Locations youre on a boat in the middle of it. The different locations on a ship fulfill Deafening thunder, bludgeoning different functions. Losing them rain and the terror of lightning are creates different problems. Some of enough to put a quiver into the stiff- them are more resilient than others so, est upper lips. Fortunately, sailors without further ado, lets examine the on a ship in a storm typically have ten places your ship can break. so much to do that theres little time to contemplate their own mortality. Location 1, the Mast The mast, or masts, hold up the sails that allow a ship to move under wind Overview power. Masts start with 3 Structure boxes. Once your mast goes out, your ship moves at a greatly reduced speed Work For Your Lives! is meant to put until a replacement can be found or all the strategy and danger of a combat made. encounter into the dangerous work of navigation. Instead of being man on Location 2, the Sails and Rigging man, though, its captain (and crew) The sails themselves, along with all the versus an uncaring force of nature wooden stays and sheets and lines that thats all the more deadly for its mind- keep them in place, are a flexible mass, lessness. but one without the resilience of solid wood. Under the stresses of a storm, The storm wreaks damage on the ship they may tear loose, shred or collapse. in various places. PCs aboard can at- They start with 3 Structure boxes. tempt to either prevent this damage, or 120 Matters of Law

121 Chapter 7: Work For Your Lives! (Storms at Sea) Location 3, the Deck Stores the blow of tons of water on its strong Shipboard space is limited, so any front, the force hits broadside. Its a lot lengthy voyage carries supplies and easier for a boat to capsize (meaning equipment lashed down on the deck. turn upside down) rolling side to side (If a ship on a short pleasure cruise gets than it is to tumble end to end. The caught in a storm, hits to this location stern has 4 Structure boxes. can either go to the Forecastle or do nothing, at the GMs discretion. Just Location 8, the Aft Hull make sure you decide and explain Belowdecks is the basement of the which beforehand.) The stores start ship. Cargo gets stored here, but more with 3 Structure boxes, and when dam- commonly its where crew and passen- aged they may come loose, go over- gers sleep, eat, and huddle for safety board, or get waterlogged to the point during storms. The floor (or hull) is all of uselessness. that keeps the water out. If it lets go, the ship is in serious danger. Luckily, Location 4, the Forecastle hulls are strong, with 5 Structure boxes The front of the ship, for us landlub- from the get-go. bers. Often, sails attach here, as do the lines holding up the mast. It starts with Location 9, the Forward Hull 4 Structure boxes. If it ruptures, the As with the aft hull, this is typically a ship loses some ability to handle waves work or storage space. Damage here from the front: Instead of breaking on may require repair on the fly, or just a the solid prow, they pour into the hold lot of bailing. Again, it has 5 Structure or onto the deck. boxes. Location 5, the Starboard Deck Location 10, the Hull Amidships The deck separates the underside of the This is the broadest part of the ship ship from the open air. This is where a and, therefore, the weakest part of the lot of running around and fixing may hull. If this loses all of its 5 Structure happen during a storm, so if the deck boxes, the ship is foundering, lost and here splits, it can be hard repairing any- can only be abandoned. Even if the thing that attaches to the boats right fore and aft hulls are compromised, a side. (Thats what starboard means ship still might limp ashore with the right when youre facing the front main hull as a sort of raft. of the ship.) It starts with 4 Structure boxes. If youre wondering how a hull could break when its protected by the decks Location 6, the Port Deck and not exposed to the wind, heres the As with the starboard deck, only on the explanation. The forces of the water on left side. the ship arent steady or unified. Its not just being pushed in one direction, Location 7, the Stern though the push to one direction may Steering takes place here, and usually be much stronger. Its undergoing its the captains station during trouble. stretching, compression and torque (Even if he doesnt handle the wheel or along with impacts and sudden chang- tiller himself, he directs the pilot and es of direction. The forces at play on a issues orders to the crew.) Damage hull in a storm have been likened to the here drastically cuts a ships maneuver- forces exerted on a ball of snot when a ability. If a ship drifts, instead of taking child rubs it between his fingers. 121 Matters of Law

122 Chapter 7: Work For Your Lives! (Storms at Sea) Its a Custom Frigate this protection is passive. A location does not take damage from the storm Not all ships are created equal. To unless the Width of the storms set represent this, you can juggle Structure meets or exceeds its number of sailors. boxes between locations and rename or However, bleed-through damage from remove locations altogether. A poled other locations ignores the presence of river barge, for example, might sim- sailors. Since sailors cant be assigned ply take all the numbers below 5 and to locations with no Structure, this remove them, adding the 13 Structure means that a lost section is a constant boxes gained thereby to the hull. For a peril. fast, top-heavy racer, remove the fore- castle and stern, putting their points Sailors stationed at a location that loses into sails, mast and rigging. all its Structure are swept overboard or crushed, but this is rare since they can Furthermore, when PCs buy a ship, a be martyred. Any time a Structure box certain degree of customization is ex- is going to fail, the captain can choose pected. This takes the form of adding to have a sailor at that location die Structure boxes where desired. Most instead. The decision to work sailors to boats, you can add 4. If you pay extra, death has to be made, and made clear, or are an Ob-lob, add 5. If its a real during the Declare phase (see below). bargain it may have fewer extra boxes, or none at all. The rules scale up pretty easily: A bigger ship has a bigger crew, but just use the Die, Men! technique of desig- nating a token as three sailors instead of one sailor. The bigger ships have more people, but more area to cover and more to do. Sure, theyre heavy and strong, but they also carry a lot of momentum and cant maneuver into waves as well as a smaller boat. It all works out. Crew Every crew member is represented by a token. When the storm begins, the cap- tain assigns them duty locations, where they stay unless ordered to move by an officer (or a PC). The more sailors at a location, the more they can keep it safe. They provide a layer of protection to the Structure, through their frenzied and professional activity. In the rules, 122 Matters of Law

123 Chapter 7: Work For Your Lives! (Storms at Sea) The Storm with an Expert: Sailor roll or a Dif- ficulty 5 check against any skill that includes heavy use of rope. The storm, for all the hell it brings, is a simple model. Before the encounter Location 2: Sails Rending begins, the GM determines just how If the sails are up, theyre in danger of big this blow is, ranging from 8d (a tearing into tatters, badly reducing the fairly brief thunderstorm) to 15d (for ships ability to move, which in turn a monsoon). Every turn, the GM rolls makes it hard to steer. Trim or drop the storms pool and sorts sets, ap- them with Expert: Sailor. Figure out plying them to the ship in the form of which lines to cut with a Scrutinize roll various disasters. and relieve the pressure. Storms have limited energy, however. Location 2-3: Lines Breaking Every turn, the storm loses a die until To relieve pressure on the ships intri- it cant get a set and goes from being cate nest of lines and stays as one starts life-threatening to merely unpleasant. to fray, bypass it with Expert: Sailor. This is central to how the GM is to run To get up to a slipped line or lash some storms, so let me repeat that in a box. loose rigging so it doesnt collapse, roll Climb (tying the knot isnt as hard as What kind of damage does the storm getting there). do? Its limited only to the GMs imagination, but some suggestions (by Location 3: Gear Breaks Loose location) are listed below. With them Some of the cargo, equipment or are actions that brave PCs can take to livestock kept on the deck has broken block the damage. loose and is not only in danger of going overboard, but of sliding wildly around Location 1: Splitting Mast and smashing into laboring sailors. The wooden support post is bending Options for dealing with this include under the strain. Unless dealt with, it holding it (Endurance), re-securing it splinters and collapses. It can be bol- (Expert: Sailor) or throwing it over- stered with either an Expert: Sailor roll board so it cant cause more problems or a Carpentry roll. (Athletics). Location 1: Breaking Stays Location 4-7: Deck and Rails Splitting The lines holding the mast upright are Anywhere on the topside, boards beginning to give. If they do, the mast could buckle in response to the storms might crash down on the deck. They torque. Loose material from the rig- can be tightened, bolstered or bypassed ging could crash down and punch a hole in the deck, or the side rails could fall apart under the impact of loose Every turn, the storm debris. These can be remedied by lash- ing the boards down (Expert: Sailor) rolls one fewer die in its doing some hurried patching (with Expert: Carpenter or the like) or simply pool. When it rolls no by clambering over the broken areas (Climb). sets, it disperses. 123 Matters of Law

124 Chapter 7: Work For Your Lives! (Storms at Sea) Location 7: Tiller Trouble In REIGN, most boats arent sophis- ticated enough to have wheel steer- ingtheyre guided by a pair of linked rudders on either side of the hull. If the Stormtongues connecting bar breaks or the tiller goes out of control, its very dangerous. This On the surface of it, Stormtongues would can be brought under control by wres- seem to be a panacea for weather distress, tling them down (Athletics or Endur- but remember that the Weather Change ance) by tying them off (Expert: Sailor) spell takes eight hours to cast. So if a Stor- by attempting an on-the-fly repair mtongue starts casting Weather Change as (Expert: Carpenter) or by using Expert: soon as a storm is sighted, its going to be Sailor to try steering only by sails (if the sixteen rounds of storm conflict before the boat has secondary sails for that). spell goes off. Since the storm is losing a die every round, by the time the spell goes off Location 8-10: Hull Leak or Rupture the storm has, by necessity, already run out Obviously, hull failure is dangerous. of steam on its own. If the ships equipped, one can man the pumps (Endurance) start bailing Frustrating! But what if the mage has more (Endurance or Athletics) try to patch time to prepare? Weather Wisdom is very it (Expert: Sailor or Carpenter) or start popular, even on ships that dont have Stor- ejecting ballast or cargo to lighten the mtongues aboard. load (Athletics). Casting Weather Change the day before the Location 8-10: Panicky Passengers storm comes is much, much more effec- Not everyone onboard is capable dur- tive. If successfully cast, the spell removes ing a crisis, so the best thing is to herd Width+2 dice from the storms initial pool. them belowdecks, safely out of the Weather Change can also be used to keep a way. But people are contrary animals, ship moving, but without knowledge that a especially when really scared. To keep storm is brewing, its just as likely to make them from doing something stupid things worse as ameliorate them. (like running up on deck to seize the longboat, or jumping in the sea to swim for it) roll an Inspire or Intimidate set. Or just knock em out. Location 8-10: Unsecured Cargo Sink or Sail This is much like Gear Gets Loose, above (at Location 3) except that in this Now that you understand the ships lo- case it doesnt bounce off the ship. It cations and the terrible, terrible things stays confined to smash against hull that can happen to them, its time to timbers and fall on people. Same rem- walk through the steps of confronting edies applyhold, lash or jettison. the storm. Actions taken to prepare for or adapt to a storm are taken in rounds (just like a fight). Unlike fights, each round is 124 Matters of Law

125 Chapter 7: Work For Your Lives! (Storms at Sea) roughly half an hourbut again, the run, hoping to stay ahead of the front, time is an abstraction. Fanatical adher- or she can prepare by tying down loose ence to a time standard isnt necessary objects, tightening the sails, reinforc- and is, in fact, a pain. ing the mast or shoring up the hull, et cetera. Beforehand For each round that she spends batten- Every problem is less likely to turn ing, she can add a temporary point of completely disastrous if you prepare Structure to one location. These take for it. Anticipating a storm and pre- damage first. paring for it can mean the difference between a little bit of sea sickness and a For each round that she runs, the severe case of watery graves. Storms pool drops by one. Spotting the Storm To Your Stations Storms are noticed with Sense+Sight. If Every sailor (or group of sailors on a the roll succeeds, the signs have been big boat) is represented by a token. detected (typically thick dark clouds The commander sends each sailor to massing, rising, then sinking back down). For every point of Width in the Sight set, the captain gets a round to prepare for the onslaught, either by fleeing the storm or bracing for it. Creativity! Those with the Weather Limb advan- The list of problems is far from exhaustive, tage can detect storms forming with as are the sub-lists of responses. Lightning just a Sense roll. If that succeeds, the could hit the mast, a crewman could go mad captain gets four rounds to prepare. and start flailing with a cutlass, cargo could However, if the GM calls for a Weather catch fire, necessary stores could be threat- Limb roll and it succeeds, it just means ened with ruin. Those arent on the list, but the weather is changing, not that its theyre all exciting complications. In the specifically turning stormy. The same vein, some smoke sculptor is going to twinge of the limb may indicate clear- use Sorcery to reinforce a hull or a mast, a ing, a temperature shift or fog. But if mighty warrior is going to suggest he should a Weather Limb goes off, for whatever be able to Fight down that broken rigging, reason, a Sight roll to detect a storm and I find myself strangely confident that gets a +1d bonus. a clever player is going to suggest a way to use Charm+Fascinate to deal with a deck If no set is rolled, the storm comes up breech. I approve. Be creative. If someone with shocking speed, or comes during comes up with an unorthodox way to apply the night, or represents an intensify- a Skill to a crisis, thats good. Ingenuity ing of a mild but non-threatening rain should be rewarded. Unless its a blatantly shower. stupid ploy to use an MD in an inappropri- ate way. Battening or Running If the captain gets a chance to prepare for the storm, she has a choice. She can 125 Matters of Law

126 Chapter 7: Work For Your Lives! (Storms at Sea) one location on the ship. Player char- hull to deck or from deck to rigging. acters get to assign themselves a bloc of The captain can reassign sailors to ad- locations: Either in the rigging (loca- jacent locationssailors from location tions 1-3), on the deck (4-7) or below 3 could go up the mast (location 1) or decks (8-10). The captain is typically at to location 5 on the deck. PCs can also location 7 but, if a PC, can roam around use their action to get sailors on deck. topside taking care of business as long Players who take these moves dont as theres someone at the helm. have to roll for them, but they arent allowed to roll for anything else. In the Storm At this point, the captain says whether Each round is broken into four seg- she wants to take any unblocked storm ments, very much like turns of combat. damage on structure, crew, or different The difference is, instead of declaring ones at different locations. actions for the storm, the GM rolls for its impact before the PCs decide Roll what to do (since their actions are a Those whove declared actions roll the response to what the weather coughs relevant pools. up). Therefore, the phases are: Crisis, Declare, Roll, Resolve. Resolve The sets the PCs rolled become Gobble Crisis Dice. They can apply those to one peril The GM rolls the storm pool, pulls out in their bloc. If a PC wants to try and all sets and describes whats happen- address two different problems, its a ing. multiple action. Declare Storm sets that get gobbled away do The PCs declare what they do in no damage. Sets whose Width is lower response to the storm. They can only than the number of sailors assigned to help locations in their bloc. (That is, the location do no damage either. But if youre down in the hold, you cant sets that arent stopped do Width in help with a problem in the rigging.) structure damage. (Sets whittled down If theres no crisis in a PCs location, without completely collapsing do their he can effectively aim for the next reduced Width in damage.) However, round, gaining a +1d bonus. If this if the captain chooses, sailors at a loca- happens twice in a row, you can get tion can die (or be horribly maimed) a +2d bonus, but it doesnt go farther protecting structure boxes on a one- than that. per-one basis. Kill two sailors, preserve two structure boxes. Note that while sailors cant be as- signed to locations with no structure When a location is empty of structure, boxes, PCs with those void locations thats bad. First off, any remaining in their bloc can still apply Gobble Dice sailors assigned to that location are when sets turn up that would damage swept overboard, crushed, or otherwise them. killed. (PCs are presumed to get to another location.) Additional hits on it Instead of rolling an action, a PC can go bleed through to the next location (so if to an adjacent bloc of locationsfrom location 4 is empty, any other x4 sets do 126 Matters of Law

127 Chapter 7: Work For Your Lives! (Storms at Sea) damage to location 5). Even if the next side into the back of the ship, and you location has ten sailors on it, a Width can see that theres something in the 2 set wipes out two structure boxes or watermaybe a log or a piece of old kills two crew. However, PCs can still shipwreck. Its going to sweep over the take action to knock dice out of damage deck and smash the hell out of it if you to empty locations. They just have to dont do something. The mast is start- describe what theyre doing, and pos- ing to splinter under the pressure of the sibly take appropriate penalties or face wind on the sails. And down below, Difficulty. you can hear a horrible moaning sound coming from the front at the timbers strain. Whatcha doin? An Example Cursing bitterly, the captain decides hes going to reorganize the sailors, The Merrie Mayde is a piece of crap moving those from location 2 to 1 and freighter. It has no extra structure those from 10 to 8. Sterlings going to boxes, but its at least holding together. try and bolster location 9 by bracing It has ten crewmen and two PCs the groaning hull with timbersnot the captain and his brother Sterling. an elegant repair, but at least it could Sterlings a big strong guy, but has no relieve some of the pressure. He rolls experience sailing. He does, however, Strength+Athletics to move the brace- have a keen pair of eyes, which could boards. The captain doesnt have to help a lot as the sky darkens with the rollhis action is taken up with issuing arrival of nasty (13d) weather. commands. Sadly, Sterling rolls no pairs to spot it, Sterling rolls and gets 3x10easily so everyones working in increasing enough to wreck the storms 2x9 set. rain and misery untilBAM!a giant If only hed been on the deck instead, fork of lightning heralds a redoubled he could have saved the stern. But no storm with thrice the rain. Caught such luck. The mast is now teetering unprepared, the captain quickly tells with only one point of Structure left, Sterling to get below while he barks but its got three deck monkeys protect- orders to the sailors. Three go up in ing it. the rigging (location 2), three take the starboard deck (location 5) and four are Next round, the storms down to 12d. assigned to the widest part of the hull It turns up 3x9, 3x1, 2x8, 2x6, 2x4. (location 10). They are not ready to die Just as the crewmen swing and swarm preserving the shipyet. towards the mast, the lines supporting it start to snap! The reinforcements in The GM rolls the storms 13d. The the forward hull are holding, but just good news is, he only gets three sets. barelythe boards are warping and The bad news is, theyre 2x1 (mast), 2x9 waters starting to spray in. In the aft (forward hull) and 4x7 (stern castle). hold, a pallet of casks breaks loose, No sailors anywhere to react. The GM while on the portside deck, a big piece describes it thus. of wreckage from the stern is tangled in the railings, its starting to tip the ship. The storms upon you like a pouncing At the front, the hatch is popping open lion. A massive wave crashes broad- 127 Matters of Law

128 Chapter 7: Work For Your Lives! (Storms at Sea) and starting to slam up and down threatening to knock out the supports looks like the hinges might pop at any you wedged in. The starboard deck second, and then youll get water down buckles and groans, splitting under into the hold thats already threatening the torque of the storm. Several stays to leak attached to it give way, sending the ships spare steering oars rolling across Sterling takes stock. Location 8 has the deck. As for the mast, its base has crew, so thats not an issue, it leaves now shaken loose from its setting, leav- location nine as his problem. He starts ing the whole thing teetering precari- pumping furiously (an Endurance roll). ously. Up on the deck, the captain looks at the sailors who have crises on either side of Gritting his teeth, Sterling drops a die them and decides hes going to the port from his Athletics pool to set one of the area. He chops at the debris to break remaining dice at 10. Hes going to it up and disconnect it from the ship. leap up on a stack of supplies and cram The GM says he can use Expert: Sailor the timbers back into place by brute or Fight, whichever is better. He picks force. Thats the plan, anyhow. The his higher pool. Asked if the sailors captain goes after the steering oars, try- are willing to die for their ship yet, he ing to lash them back in position. He squints and says no. also suggests that the crew is willing to die for Structure at this point. But With a pair of ones, the captains mak- theyre more willing to live for it! ing little progress against the wreckage. With 2x9, Sterling does rather better The captain gets a pair of tens and with his bailingexactly what he smiles. Sterling gets a pair of threes needs to gobble out the 3x set and noth- and winces. The crew at location 5 is ing more. The sailors lash the casks sufficientbarelyto hastily reinforce back into place with the speed youd the deck, hammering fiercely. Simi- expect from sailors saving rum. The larly, the crew on the mast drop down crew on the mast find alternate support and move like a well-oiled machine lines with the speed youd expect from to reseat it in its socket and brace it sailors protecting the mast on which firmly. The steering oars get re-tied, theyre perched. but Sterlings mighty arms tremble and fail, leaving him partially buried under 11d for the storm. With an almost lumber as the water rises around him. intelligent fury, it seems determined to Location 9 loses two points of Struc- strike at the ships weak points. Anoth- ture. er x9 hit, this one a pair. 3x5 and 3x3, along with another threat to the mast The 10d storm roll yields only a 2x3 (2x1). and a 2x6. Theres a momentary lull in the storm and you wonder if youve The bailing gives Sterling some perhaps reached its eye. But the surges breathing room, but shifting all that are still enormous, and lines are start- timber around seems to have dislodged ing to snap all around the edge of the something in the wood supplies. deck. Also, the collapse of some beams Beams are starting to tip and come un- in the forward hull is undermining the secured, raining down from above and port deckits starting to tilt precari- 128 Matters of Law

129 Chapter 7: Work For Your Lives! (Storms at Sea) ously and come apart from the fore- of unstoppable bleed-through coming castle. towards location 4. Its doomed. The question is, can the captain keep loca- Though hes tempted to reassign some tion 5 from taking a hit too? sailors (two in a location wont stop a set, but can die a noble death to save The GM describes the damage. The the others) the captain instead rolls sails and rigging tore free from every- Expert: Sailor to shim the deck back thing but the forecastle, and as you into place and hammer in some rein- watch, they serve as a giant sea-anchor, forcement. With a pair of nines, he pulling the entire structure forward does it handily. But theres nothing for and sideways. Sterling to do except catch his breath or move, and given how beat up the With his Fight pool, the captain leaps hull is at location 9, he decides to stay up, cutlass swinging, trying to slash in place and work on his bonus die as many lines as he can to liberate the for next time. So the storms pair of decking. A pair of tens separates the threes goes off unimpeded, taking loca- forecastle, and as he leaps away from tion 3 down to a single structure box. the sundering surface, he manages to wrench the deck staircase loose, al- At 9d, its starting to become conceiv- lowing it to collapse gracefully inward able that the storm could run out of instead of ripping out any more of the steam, and indeed, only one set turns ship. Sterling, meanwhile, sits on his up. Unfortunately, that sets a 4x2. +2d bonus, gritting his teeth and wait- Though the swells are still great, they ing for that high Height hit. seem to be settling, and the sky looks even a little lighter. You see a moment It doesnt come. Instead, its a 2x3 and of hope on the crewmens faces, but it a 2x4. You must be reaching the op- quickly turns to alarm as the dissonant posite end of the eye now, because the tones of snapping lines indicate a mas- winds picking up and the waves are sive failure in the rigging. bigger and more frequent. With no til- ler and no sails, theres no way to steer, Worried, Sterling can only raise his so the wave is going to hit broadside. bonus to +2d. Turning gray, the cap- This is the sort of impact your ship is tain takes stock and prepares for a +1d just not built to take. bonus. But no one can do anything but helplessly watch as the sails and rig- Sterling wishes so badly that he could ging fall like a dying octopus, snaring get up there, that he had gotten up the deck gear and sweeping it off to the there, so he declares that his action is side. moving up to the compromised 4-7 bloc. The captain is going to try to Location 2 is now gone, and one point rig a sail on the fly and dig in one of of damage rolls over into location 3. the saved steering oars in a last ditch With no sailors there, its last box gets attempt to take it on the prow, not the checked and its empty too. ribs. He rolls Expert: Sailor. The 8d storm pool hangs on, producing He equals the storm: 2x3 and 2x4. Gob- a 2x4 and a 2x2. Since locations 2 and 3 bling out the storms 2x4 set, only two are both gone, there are a couple points 129 Matters of Law

130 Chapter 7: Work For Your Lives! (Storms at Sea) points bleed through to the undam- of backbreaking labor and the ship can aged starboard deck. Since the captain be almost good as new. With adequate made it clear that the sailors at location lumber, each crewman can restore 5 were at deaths door, the structure one Structure Box to any location that remains intact. One of them overbal- wasnt totally wrecked. The mast can ances while pushing the tiller, slips, be rebuilt on this schedule even if it and impales himself on a splintered was completely destroyed. spar from the aft deck. The other is rig- ging the sails through a haze of exhaus- Other emptied locations are another tion and fear when a rogue gust whips matter. To replace a completely a rope around his arm and pulls him junked hull section or something like a straight off the side. big section of decking, the ship needs to be beached (a task that takes a day) and The storms down to 6d, and the then each missing section takes a week players watch breathlessly as the GM to rebuild. It wont come out as good rolls 1,3,4,7,8,9! No sets! As if ap- as new, either: Each completely de- peased by sailors blood, the storm stroyed and reconstructed section starts calms, the rain drizzles, and the waves with one Structure box less than it had lose their frosty caps. You can see a before the storm. All that assumes that little blue sky ahead. at least half the crew survived. With less than half, repairs that size take a The Merrie Mayde is a mangled wreck. month apiece. It has a forlorn mast sticking up, waver- ing, but the sails are lost and the deck Once the Merrie Mayde limps to shore, has been scythed clear of important the captain takes stock. The mast has equipment and supplies. Both the fore a single point of Structure remaining. and aft structures are simply gone, The rigging and sails are gone. The while the port deck is warped and deck cargo (including extra sailcloth) buckled and the forward hull has a is also gone. So is the entire forecastle slow but steady leak. and the stern deck. But the hulls in good shapeonly two Structure hits on location 9. The port deck is two Fixing down as well. Hes got eight remain- ing crewmen to enact repairs, so they can replace the mast, shore up the hull Fixing a ship isnt as exciting as trying and re-chink the deck in just one day. to keep it from getting wrecked so a lot Thats the good news. of repair can be hand waved once the boat and crew get to land. Its just a The bad news is, its going to take two matter of days, effort and supply. weeks to fix the stem and the stern. Though of course, without sails theyre If location 3 got through undamaged, not going far anyhow. Looks like its you can assume that the crew has all time for Sterling and the captain to go the rope and sailcloth it needs to restore exploring an see if they can find any location 2 completely in one day. friendly natives with textiles. After location 2, its just a question of This shows, of course, how all this timber. If the landing spot has trees, broken ship business can fit into no problem. A few twelve-hour days your game. Toil is tiresome, almost by 130 Matters of Law

131 Chapter 7: Work For Your Lives! (Storms at Sea) definition. If cannibals dont attack or When a hull location is gone, complete- the PCs dont stumble across a demon- ly empty of Structure boxes, then the infested temple, the two weeks of ship is sinking. (When all the hull loca- repair can easily be dispatched with a tions are gone, the ship is sunk.) If one scene of the PCs talking to one another hull location is gone, the people aboard in character and then, After picking have about half an hour to get things the stitches out of all the clothing that out of the lower levels, and perhaps decency allows, you manage to make forty-five minutes to scavenge from a short sail and get to port, now three higher decks. Theyre going to want weeks later than planned. Ready for something that they can float on and some Company rolls? If getting them something they can paddle away with. to port on time is critical, then perhaps (Most ships carry longboats or life the lost sails wash up on shore, or rafts or dinghies which are, of course, theyre retroactively stored in the hold ideal.) Large sections of hull are decent (so, what got swept overboard was makeshift rafts. On the other hand, either food stores or paid-for cargo). if the hull was in large sections, rafts Dont throw a storm at your charac- probably wouldnt be needed. ters unless youre ready for them to be stranded for a while. Is it dramatic to have your whole party go down to a watery grave? In some circumstances, yes, but in most, not Sinking really. So let them rush around and make a few Scrutinize rolls to find water, food, water, oars, water, and that Also, dont throw a storm at your char- satchel of Dindavaran gold marks that acters if youre not ready for the damn the captain kept hidden somewhere. boat to sink. Let them make Athletics rolls to paddle away from the suck-zone of the sink- Locations 1-3 can be torn clean off ing ship if they cut it too close, at the ithout really imminent danger of sub- cost of capsizing and losing everything mersion. It leaves a ship at the mercy they scavenged if they cant pull free. of tides, unless it can be rowed in any Expert: Sailor or Sense+Direction can meaningful fashion, but though its provide some essential construction floating dead in the water, the opera- and guidance, too. But if the stakes of tive word is floating. the journey werent particularly high, the point of all this rolling and effort Heavy damage to locations 4-7 is man- is to improve their situation, not to ageable, with effort and patching and merely survive it. With good rolls, they substantial jettisoning. Even breaches wind up on a decent beach, a bit worse in locations 8-10 dont necessarily the wear but still roguishly attractive, spell a trip to the bottom, as long as near some fresh water and interesting each of them (8, 9 and 10) still has some natives. With bad rolls they drift, help- Structure. If you need a rule of thumb, less, flirt with the mechanics for dying count up how many points of damage of thirst, and eventually wash up in have been done, collectively to the hull some barren wasteland populated by locations. Subtract that number from flinty eyed barbarians who immediate- fifteen: Thats how many days the ship ly start arguing whether to use them as has to find shelter before it completely food or forced labor. Thus, either way, falls to pieces. the excitement and adventure continue. 131 Matters of Law

132 Matters of Enchantment Chapter 1: Blood Magic of the Crimson Guard New Advantage: Enchanted (Varies) Edged Tongue There are a lot of permanent spells that a non- Intensity: 1 spellcaster might want put upon himself. If Casting Time: Combative you want to start your character out protected by Shuddersome Touch of the Eye or Standing Duration: Height in minutes Whirlpool, buy the Enchanted Advantage. It Attunement: No costs as much as it would cost to learn the spell. Effect: A mute person who casts this Thus, Shuddersome Touch of the Eye (which is spell can place a sword or dagger to Intensity 4) is a 3 point Advantage. his mouth (or to the place his mouth should be) and, by tapping the blade, There are some exceptions to this: Advantages produce words in an unpleasant, already defined. The Conjoined Advantage from droning monotone. Larger weapons the Ruhini supplement has its costs listed, which deepen the buzzing voice. supersede this Advantage. The more obvious example, of course, is attunement. Broken and This is the only spell in the school flawless attunement still cost what they always of the Jawless that doesnt require have (1 and 5 points, respectively). blood, the only one that doesnt require attunement, and the only one that has spread outside the company of the Crimson Guard. Domain: Blood and violence Return to the Heart Method: The Crimson Guards Intensity: 1 spells are cast by waving a blood- Casting Time: Three minutes ied sword around in arcs and circles. Duration: Height in hours Attunement: Yes Associated Skill or Stat: Coordi- Effect: Spilled blood becomes animate nation and, like water running downhill, flows in a direct line towards the Society and Beliefs: The Jawless person from whom it was shed. (Not (as they are also known) are the the person who dealt the blow that elite defenders of the Empress spattered it, but the person who got herself. Theyre described on hit and bled.) It moves at a rate of page 233 of REIGN. twenty feet per round and does not stop until it is lapping at the feet of its source (or the duration expires). Required Knowledge: The Sword Skill at 4d, or 2+ED, or better. 132 Matters of Enchantment

133 Chapter 1: Blood Magic of the Crimson Guard If it hits a barrier, it rushes blindly and the guard makes his cut. The around, trying to find a way around materialization of the sword cant be or through it. counterspelled, but the strike can be blocked or parried as usual. The Blood Calls for Return Carmine Render Intensity: 2 Intensity: 2 Casting Time: Combative Casting Time: Combative Duration: Instant Duration: Width in minutes or until killed Attunement: Yes Attunement: Yes Effect: This spell affects one sword, which must have blood on it. The Effect: With a few gestures of a caster must either be holding that bloody sword, the guard summons sword, or touch it with his own a flapping, flying, animate, bloody weapon. When the spell goes into thing. It moves like an animal, effect, the caster picks one person though it lacks eyes or any features whose blood is on the sword. That beyond vague wings and sharp sword gives a +1d bonus on the next claws. (Or are they horns? Teeth per- strike against that person. (Its as if haps?) Its a Threat 4 Unworthy Op- the blood on the sword is pulling the ponent, immune to Morale Attacks, edge back towards the body from that can attack or parry. Its attacks do which it issued, showing an uncanny Width+1 Killing damage. prescience for how the victim moves.) The spell fails if the sword is cleaned before the strike is made. Multiple castings have no effect. Blood-Sent Blade Intensity: 2 Casting Time: Combative Duration: Instant Attunement: Yes Effect: This spell allows the Jawless guard to make one sword attack at any target he can see. He must be holding a bloodied blade in order to do this. When the spell takes effect, the shape of his weapon appears, outlined in blood, beside the target, 133 Matters of Enchantment

134 Chapter 1: Blood Magic of the Crimson Guard Blood Biters Effect: Instead of casting with his own blade, the enchanter makes ges- Intensity: 3 tures with his hand and enchants a sword in the hand of an enemy. (The Casting Time: Combative weapon targeted has to be a single- Duration: Instant blade weapon with an edge longer Attunement: Yes than the gripping surface. Thus it can target any sword and many knives, Effect: As the caster gestures with a but not an axe, spear or trident.) blood-covered sword, fluttering red creatures detach themselves from the There must be blood on the blade. gore and dart over to bite at one hu- After the spell takes effect, any rolls man target within a hundred paces. made to strike the enchanter with that This is an Area 6 Killing attack. weapon are at a 1d penalty. Ad- ditional castings do not incur addi- Crimson Defenders tional penalties. The swords wielder can feel the sword actively pulling Intensity: 3 against him as he tries to strike the Casting Time: Combative Crimson Guard, as if his weapon has become the limb of a living thing. Duration: Width in hours Attunement: Yes Sanguine parry Effect: By waving a bloodied sword, the caster summons (or creates Intensity: 3 there are different theories) ten small creatures. They usually look like an Casting Time: Combative animate pool of blood, about a foot Duration: Width rounds, plus the across. They can slither around on casting round. the ground at a human pace (15 feet Attunement: Yes per combat round). They cant attack, but they can leap up off the ground Effect: Like all spells of its school, and impact on weapons. Theyre Sanguine Parry is evoked with swirl- quick enough to strike arrows in ing gestures of a bloodied sword. midair. Once the spell goes into effect, the caster gains a free Gobble Die equal The ten globules act as Threat 2 fol- to the Height of the casting set. This lowers that can only Parry. Theyre die can be used to parry with the immune to Morale Attacks, but easy sword. It can be used any time after to kill. Even a single Area Shock Die the casting is complete. For a number destroys a Crimson Defender. of rounds equal to the Width of the activation set, the effect repeats dur- ing the Declare phase. This means Reluctant Blade that during those rounds, the caster gains that single Gobble Parry Die. It Intensity: 3 can be applied any time during the Casting Time: Combative round. It does not affect any other actions the caster (or someone else Duration: Until the targeted weapon who holds the sword) takes during is cleaned that round. Attunement: Yes 134 Matters of Enchantment

135 Chapter 1: Blood Magic of the Crimson Guard The Sorcerers Example: Stalker the Crimson Guard casts Gate of Carmine Renders with a 3x6 Gnawing Blood roll. The round she casts the spell, a Intensity: 3 Threat 4 flying Render appears to at- tack her foes. That creature lasts for Casting Time: Combative six minutes. The next round, while Duration: Until the next time the tar- Stalker can take any other action get rolls Sorcery or Counterspell. she wishes, another Render appears. This happens every round for four Attunement: Yes rounds total. Each one remains for Effect: This spell is completed by a se- six minutes. ries of complicated sweeping gestures with a bloodied sword. The next time the target casts a spell or makes Thirsty Sword a Counterspell roll, all the Waste Dice from that roll do Killing damage to Intensity: 5 the target. (This wont work on a Casting Time: Combative Counterspell that was trying to pre- vent The Sorcerers Gnawing Blood Duration: Width rounds, plus casting from happening in the first place.) round Multiple castings do not have ad- Attunement: Yes ditional effect. If the target makes a Effect: This spell is cast both with and Sorcery or Counterspell roll in which upon the enchanters bloodied sword. all the dice turn up in sets, the spell The next time his sword does harm, it goes off harmlessly. If the target fails does an extra point of Killing damage the roll, the spell waits until a success. to the indicated location. After it hits, The damage feels like hundreds of the bonus damage rises by a point tiny mouths chewing on the victims every round until the spell wears off. veins from the inside. Example: Stalker casts Thirsty Sword, getting a 2x5. The next round, she swings Gate of Carmine but misses. The round after that, she Renders hits with a 2x7. Her sword does an extra point of Killing damage and Intensity: 5 awakens, moaning and slobbering Casting Time: Combative be fed. If she hits the round after Duration: Minutes equal Height that, it does +2 damage. If it hits the round after that, the bonus is Attunement: Yes +3. Then the spell wears off. If the Effect: This spell works like Carmine sword is activated with a 5x roll, it Render, except that in addition to can get up to a +6 damage bonus on summoning one Render the round its last round. the spell goes off, it repeats a number of rounds equal to the Width of the Multiple castings have no additional casting roll. effect. 135 Matters of Enchantment

136 Chapter 1: Blood Magic of the Crimson Guard Blood Biter Infestation tion, where a huge blossom of them seems to burst out from the skin, but Intensity: 6 the process of enchantment is slow enough that the polluted blood has Casting Time: Combative time to circulate anywhere in the Duration: Instant body before the worms begin their Attunement: Yes feast. Effect: This is similar to the spell Blood Biters, but instead of instantly Blood and Bone for targeting one person with an Area 6 the Empress Killing attack, it can target a number of people equal to the Height of the Intensity: 9 casting roll. (This automatically pro- duces a Morale 3 Attack, as well.) Casting Time: Nine Hours Like most spells of this school, a Duration: Permanent bloody sword must be waved about Attunement: No to properly sculpt the flow of occult Effect: This is the permanent attun- energy. ement spell for the Crimson Guard, and it can be cast on another person Call Forth the Blood as well as upon oneself. However, to cast it on someone else, they must Worms willingly acquiesce to the process, which culminates with the removal of Intensity: 6 the lower mandible. It hurts and its Casting Time: Combative horrible. Duration: Instant If the spell succeeds, not only is the Attunement: Yes proud new guardsman inducted Effect: The caster makes a series of into the ranks of the guard, but the particularly vicious sweeping ges- removed bone becomes a powerful tures with an ensanguined blade, and talisman. Should the bone be delib- ends by vehemently pointing at one erately broken, the guard dies. These person within a hundred paces. That jawbones can only be broken by a person takes an Area 8 Killing attack, deliberate attempt (though purpose- and the Waste Dice from the Sorcery fully doing anything that one knows roll do Shock damage. The Waste would cause the bone to break counts Dice are applied last. as deliberate). Furthermore, if the Guardsman dies from some other The spell operates by transforming cause (possibly even old age) the jaw- part of the targets blood into small, bone breaks itself. hungry, eel-like worms. They instinc- tively chew their way to the surface This artifact is stored in the tightly and crawl out, turning back into shed protected Hall of Bones, into which blood immediately thereafter. Its only the Empress herself is permitted. quite gruesome. Typically theres one central locus for the infesta- 136 Matters of Enchantment

137 Chapter 1: Blood Magic of the Crimson Guard Flawless Jawless Attunement (5 point Advantage) The mere process of going through the agonizing attunement rite leaves the wouldbe Crimson Guard with the Gruesome Flaw, along with the headaches of being effectively mute much of the time. Theres also the small matter of leaving his life, literally, in the Empress hands. But beyond the ability to cast the powerful spells of his chosen system, he gains an instinctive command over blood as wellhis own as well as others. The round after someone has taken Killing damage, the Jawless can command the shed blood to return to its proper place. This requires a successful Vigor roll for the Jawless to work the power on himself, or a Heal roll to perform it on another. If the roll succeeds, one point of Killing damage is turned into Shock. This can also be used to relieve the bruising and pooling of Shock damage, in which case the roll removes a point of Shock. This ability can only be used the round after the damage was taken. However, the Jawless can instantly use it on themselves to change damage that would normally kill or knock them out. Imperfect Jawless Attunement (1 point Advantage) He who fails to attune perfectly is still hostage to she who holds his jawbone, but without the instinctive blood command of his more perfectly aligned brethren. Needless to say hes still Gruesome, but he can cast Jawless spells. 137 Matters of Enchantment

138 Chapter 2: Bodymasters the bottleneck between The Empire and the bulk of Heluso. One play to break Dindavara involved passing through northern Uldholm, enter- ing the Truil Waste, and finding a pass through the mountains. It was hoped that a smaller force could take the Dindavarans by surprise and stab them in the back of their poorly defended provinces. This Army of the West made its stand in a place the Truils had called The Valley of Cursed Bones or Uilu Kethbeck Fjarn. The valley was a fertile pocket in the middle of the mountains, with two tight passes to the east and west. Breaking through from the west was harder than antici- pated, and the Dindavarans were able to fortify the eastern pass before the surprise attack could be pressed. But the eastern pass was just as defen- sible from the valley, and it became another stalemate. The Dindavarans Domain: Flesh and perfection. couldnt afford the commitment of retaking the valley, and the Army of Method: The Bodymasters achieve the West wasnt big enough to threat- their effects by physically manipulat- en them outside Fjarn (as the highly ing bodies, blood and bones. defensible land came to be known). Associated Skill or Stat: Knowledge Then the war started to turn against the Empire. The Uldish trade guilds Society and Beliefs: The Bodymas- got themselves organized and began ters are a secret conspiracy descended pressing the invaders out. The Army from the most widely despised sect of the West was commanded to with- of enchanters, threatening the great- draw and help pacify Uldholm. est nation either continent has ever known. Their humble beginnings are At that point, Army of the Wests entangled with the small nation of commander considered his options. Fjarn, which lies along the mountains He could expose himself to the Din- to the west of Dindavara. davarans as he withdrew in order to enter a highly uncertain conflict During the great Imperial War, Uld- against the Ulds after marching holm was invaded and the Bloodcut- through the Waste in winter or he ters wiped out its royal line. Dinda- could tell the most powerful woman vara, meanwhile, entrenched behind in the world No. mountains and resistedthe cork in 138 Matters of Enchantment

139 Chapter 2: Bodymasters He chose no, judging (correctly, as The Empire, but as the generations it turned out) that The Empire had have passed, their intentions have much bigger problems than one of- softened. ficers revolt. In fact, he just stopped replying to Imperial communications After all, Empresses are known for and let the valley of Fjarn be forgotten assembling seraglios of the beauti- in the chaos of war. He changed his ful, and even those who fail to catch title from general to king, and made a the Empress eye might get recruited tentative peace with the Dindavarans to entertain the Jawless. Thus, the and Uldish until the Bloodcutter quickest route into the palace, and rebellion. The king of Fjarn had a few possibly right up to the throne, is Bloodcutter advisors, but he rejected along the gilded path of outrageous them in the face of Uldish pressure. loveliness. They fled to the Wastes. Required Knowledge: Heal 3+ In the Wastes, a group of Truils adopted them and taught them Truil systems of bodyworking. Combining Minor Energy that with their own blood magic prac- Realignmnent tices, they turned away from destruc- tion (well partially) and towards a Intensity: 2 pursuit of human perfection. Casting Time: Four minutes No ones quite sure what the group Duration: Instant that became the Bodymasters were Attunement: No doing in the Waste for a few genera- Effect: By handling, massaging and tions. probing a person, the Bodymaster can reallocate a number of Shock damage No ones quite sure what (if any) con- points equal to the Width of the roll. nection the Bodymasters still retain to That is, the Bodymaster can move the Truils. them from one hit location to another location of her choice. In fact, no ones quite sure whether the Bodymasters even exist. A few investigators have run across puz- Contagious Grasp zling evidence, and some oracles have seen disturbing things in their Intensity: 4 visions. But the Bodymasters have done an admirable job of keeping Casting Time: Combative themselves safe and secret. Duration: Height in minutes Attunement: Yes The Bodymasters recruit from the bright and ambitious, promising Effect: The Bodymaster touches the beauty, health, magic power and target and causes him to lose a point physical perfection in return for of Body, Coordination or Sense loyalty to the cabal. Initially, their (whichever is highest) for the dura- goal was to undermine and destroy tion of the spell. The Bodymaster can cast the spell and then wait to 139 Matters of Enchantment

140 Chapter 2: Bodymasters perform the touch, so it neednt be a Exalted Movement multiple action. The contact must be skin-on-skin, however. If the spell Intensity: 5 is cast multiple times on the same Casting Time: Eight hours target, the effects are cumulative. It cant reduce a Stat below 1. Duration: Permanent Attunement: Yes Major Energy Effect: The caster gains an additional point of Coordination. This spell Realignment can only be used once, though if its Intensity: 4 effect is broken somehow, it can be used again. It cannot be used again Casting Time: Six minutes if the Bodymaster loses a point of Duration: Instant Coordination through some agency other than the explicit removal of the Attunement: Yes Exalted Movement spell. Effect: As Minor Energy Realignment, except the Bodymaster can move Learning this spell is usually reserved Height in Shock or Killing damage. for those who have demonstrated great personal dedication to the Bodymaster cabal through organiza- Minor Energy tion, inspiration or communication. Transfer Intensity: 4 Exalted Perception Casting Time: Six minutes Intensity: 5 Duration: Instant Casting Time: Eight hours Attunement: Yes Duration: Permanent Effect: This functions like Minor Attunement: Yes Energy Realignment, except that the Bodymaster can move damage Effect: As Exalted Movement, only it around between two people (one of adds a point to the Sense Stat. Exalt- which can be himself). Thus he could ed Perception is almost never taught, remove two Shock from his own head except to those who have advanced and put it in someone elses leg. Any- the goals of the Bodymasters through one involved in this process must be guile, stealth or trickery. handled and manipulated, of course, which means they either have to be willing or fully restrained. 140 Matters of Enchantment

141 Chapter 2: Bodymasters Exalted Power Blow of Perfect Vigor Intensity: 5 Intensity: 6 Casting Time: Eight hours Casting Time: Combative Duration: Permanent Duration: Width in minutes Attunement: Yes Attunement: Yes Effect: As Exalted Movement, only it Effect: To cast this spell, the Body- adds a point to the Body Stat. Exalted master touches, shoves or strikes Power is usually only taught to those someone. It does not have to be skin- who have proven themselves by de- to-skin contact just slapping his fending their fellow Bodymasters or armor will do it, as long as some tiny their secrets through combat. bit of the force of the blow commu- nicates through to his body. While the spell is in effect, the target gains a Fearful Impact Master Die in Vigor. The enchanter cannot do this on himself, sadly. Intensity: 5 Casting Time: Combative Duration: Instant Attunement: No Effect: The caster prepares this spell, and then strikes an object or per- son. He does not have to do this as a multiple action, but it must be a bare- handed strike. In addition to any other damage from the strike roll, the spell does Width+2 Killing and Waste Killing damage, based on the roll that activated the spell. Gentle Energy Adjustment Intensity: 5 Casting Time: Seven minutes Duration: Height in hours Attunement: No Effect: By giving a very soothing and pleasant seven minute body massage, the Bodymaster can give the recipient of this spell a Master Die in Vigor for the spells duration. The caster cant use this spell on himself. 141 Matters of Enchantment

142 Chapter 2: Bodymasters Major Energy Transfer The caster can transfer a number of Killing points of damage equal to Intensity: 6 the Width of the spell roll between himself and the other person. This is Casting Time: Eight minutes typically used to heal the Bodymaster Duration: Instant and harm the other, but the opposite Attunement: Yes transfer is equally possible. Effect: As with Major Energy Realign- ment, except that it permits transfer between two persons as Minor En- Corporeal Contact ergy Transfer. Intensity: 10 Casting Time: Fourteen minutes Rinse Aside Duration: Permanent Imperfection Attunement: Yes Intensity: 6 Effect: This spell is cast by inking a document with the targets blood, Casting Time: Nine hours which must be given willingly. The Duration: Permanent text of the document does not actu- ally matter typically its a loyalty Attunement: No pledge to the Bodymasters agreeing Effect: This is the permanent attun- to submit to the punishment of the ement spell for the Bodymasters. It is Corporeal Contract should the target only taught to those who are accepted ever betray the conspiracy. into the cabal, and often only after a Corporeal Contract has been signed. If the Bodymasters decide the target There is no temporary attunement for has betrayed them (or simply that the Bodymasters. theyre better off with her dead) they can activate the spell with the blood contract. Wherever the target is, in Wicked Energy all the world, hes immediately struck Transfer with violent internal harm. The spell does Width+2 Killing damage to loca- Intensity: 6 tion 10 every round for a number of Casting Time: Combative rounds equal to Width. It ignores all armor and cannot be counterspelled. Duration: Instant Attunement: Yes Effect: This spell affects the caster and one other person, and requires the Bodymaster to make skin-to-skin contact, if only for a moment. The Bodymaster can cast this spell and then wait to touch someone, so it doesnt have to be a multiple action. 142 Matters of Enchantment

143 Chapter 2: Bodymasters Flawless Bodymaster Attunement (5 Point Advantage) An attuned Bodymaster can cast the systems spells with- out temporary attunement, but perhaps a more meaningful element of the process is the ability to produce, at will, the Bodymaster Sigil. With a minor exertion, a ridge of flesh rises from some point on the sorcerers body the forehead is a popular choice, or the sternum, or the back of the hand. (The enchanter picks the spot when he attunes.) This sigil, which looks something like a pictogram made of thick scar tissue, shows membership in the conspiracy. When the enchanter has the benefits of Exalted Perception, the pictogram gains a line underneath it. With Exalted Movement, it gets an invert- The Sigil ed semicircle over the top. When Exalted Power is in play, a dot appears to the right of the symbol. The Bodymasters are a pyramidal hier- In this fashion, the Bodymasters have a way to recognize each archy, with the Sigil serving as a badge other that is, if not foolproof, certainly very hard to counter- of rank. Someone with only the basic feit. Thats an important boon. Many, however, also find the Sigil is a Bodymaster, but is expected to perfection of form a nicer perk. defer to the wisdom of any Bodymas- ter whose Sigil has additional decora- Perfection of form is a grand way to say that the Bodymaster tionsthat is, the dot to the side, the becomes more pretty (or handsome, or impressive). Those line beneath, or the half-circle above. who have the Gruesome Flaw become normal. Those with (These additions to the scar emerge no appearance Flaw or Advantage gain the 1-point version of through the use of Exalted Movement, the Beauty advantage. Those with 1-point Beauty jump up Power and Perception spells, which to the 3-point version, those with the 3-point go to five, while are typically taught as rewards for those who began with the 5-point Advantage gain no further good work on the movements behalf.) mechanical bonus but become truly awe-inspiring. Those who gain a mark are considered The other advantage to attunement is a permanent +1 increase Exalted Bodymasters. to Body or Coordination, whichever is lower. Someone who has two additions is Perfection is fragile, however. Any time a Bodymaster takes superior those with fewer, and war- damage to a hit location, that location takes an additional rants the title Supreme Bodymaster. point of Shock that ignores armor. This does not apply to The very rare few who receive the full Area attacks. Instead, when hit by an Area attack, the Body- compliment of decorations are Per- master adds another die to it, of the appropriate type. fected Bodymasters and it is largely they who set policy for the cabalas much as anyone can set policy for a Imperfect Bodymaster Attunement far-flung secret organization whose communiqus must be rare to guaran- (1 Point Advantage) tee secrecy. The imperfectly attuned gain neither the Stat boost nor the Beauty of their more favored colleagues. They can, however, manifest the sigil at will and they do still take the extra Shock damage when hit and suffer extra from Area attacks. They also, of course, can cast Bodymaster spells that require at- tunement whenever they want. 143 Matters of Enchantment

144 Chapter 3: Maemeck Quellers This status is mitigated by their use to the military. A queller on the front lines is, if nothing else, very well paid. They are by far the wealthiest of the Undisciplined. Clean, soft hands and a warm bed can ease a lot of the sting when they must defer to a muck-covered peasant. Only women are permitted to learn the magic of quelling. If a queller should change her caste due to marriage, she is expected to cease practicing the art. This does not always occur. Sometimes, warrior males marry quellers in loveless transactions of mutual benefit. The queller leapfrogs in status and is no longer officially permitted to cast spells. But as long as she keeps it down to pro- tecting herself, her husband, and Domain: Direct interference with perhaps a few other officers who magic. look aside and keep the couple de- ployed together, no one involved Method: Quelling is directed complains. through a series of overlapping crescent runes. Required Knowledge: None Associated Skill or Stat: Knowl- edge Society and Beliefs: The Maem- eck Book of Judgment takes a very T he only people who respect us are other quellers and foreign narrow, dim and suspicious view of enchantment. Accordingly, magicians. all who practice enchantment are - Queller Proverb classified as Undisciplined in the rigorous Matriarchal structure. They are lower than the laborers who cart dung around the coun- tryside. 144 Matters of Enchantment

145 Chapter 3: Maemeck Quellers Carving No Shape the runes around the edge of a circle fifty paces across. Anyone inside the Intensity: 1 circle has AR1 against magic damage. It is possible to cast this spell over Casting Time: Combative pre-carved runes in stone or wood, Duration: Instant even if the caster did not personally Attunement: No cut them. The runes must be cut by someone who knows the spell, how- Effect: To cast this spell, the enchant- ever. ress needs four runes arranged in a square. These can be sketched in the dirt, carved in a wall, or embroidered Flawless Quelling Attunement on a glovethe form doesnt matter (5 Point Advantage) as long as theyre present. When the spell is cast, everyone within fifty To be permanently attuned, and be able to cast the spells that yards immediately succeeds at an require it at will, a character must be willing to take scars. These Eerie roll. Carving No Shape is the occupy one entire hit locationhead, arm, somewhere on the first exercise of the quellers, and is body, down the side of a leg or the like. Theyre distinctive, but equivalent to grabbing the strands not decorative to everyday tastes. They preclude the use of Iron- of occult force and yanking them bone runes, of course (since no one could be attuned to both types randomly. of magic at once). As with Ironbone runes, whether the attunement spell fails or not, the chosen hit location takes 2 Killing and 2 Shock damage. The Armor Against the rune is permanent, although the damage heals normally. The Arcane glyph cant be removed, changed or written over. If the Queller fails her roll to establish the rune, theres still a big scar on that Intensity: 2 location. The mark cannot be replaced, nor can another mark be Casting Time: Combative placed on top of it. Duration: Width in minutes In addition to having a series of crescent runes along her shoul- Attunement: No der blades, or arcing across her forehead and down her neck, Effect: By painting a simple rune of the enchantress gains some meaningful passive protection from three crescents on a persons skin magical attack. Specifically, any time shes targeted by a spell, she (herself or someone elses) the quel- can apply a Gobble Die to it, set at Height 4. This works just like ler casts this spell and grants AR1 a Gobble Die arising from Counterspelling, but it can be used at against magic damage. any time, does not need to be rolled for, and cant change Height. (If the queller does use a Counterspell and gets an x4 set, she cant add this Gobble Die to it. It simply represents the snarl of occult Lesser Circle of forces focused in her body.) Distortion While that mystic knotting provides a decent passive protection Intensity: 2 (though worthless against big spells like Lupine Curse) it is also a dead giveaway to enchanters nearby. Any time someone casts a Casting Time: Five minutes spell within a dozen paces of an attuned queller, that caster realiz- Duration: Hours equal to Height, or es that theyre in the presence of something weird, even if theyve until the runes are broken never encountered a queller before. If they have run across one, Attunement: No the vibe is distinct enough to be recognized. Therefore, once an enchanter has felt a quellers presence, he can find or detect any Effect: The queller draws or incises queller within a dozen paces simply by making an Eerie roll. 145 Matters of Enchantment

146 Chapter 3: Maemeck Quellers Greater Armor Mages Insult Against the Arcane Intensity: 4 Intensity: 4 Casting Time: Eight hours Casting Time: Combative Duration: Permanent Duration: Width in minutes Attunement: Yes Attunement: No Effect: By painting or drawing a Effect: As Armor Against the Arcane, lengthy set of runes upon the flesh of except its AR2. an enchanter, the queller can perma- nently remove the mystical effects of an attunement ritual. (Any physical effects or transformations remain, Lesser Boiling Arcane however.) Thus, the afflicted en- Recoil chanter has to use temporary attun- ement to cast the spells he was ac- Intensity: 4 customed to using. (He can now use Casting Time: Seven minutes spells of other schools, however.) It Duration: Width in days is possible to permanently re-attune, but attunement to a different school Attunement: No than the one that was de-attuned Effect: Whenever this spells target cannot be achieved. is successfully affected by a spell, he suffers an Area Killing Attack equal to the new spells Intensity. It does Quelling Edge not matter if the other spell is helpful or hurtful, cast by himself or others Intensity: 4 as long as it is successfully cast and Casting Time: Six minutes not counterspelled, it does the dam- age. The new spell still takes effect. Duration: Height in hours The Area Attack ignores physical ar- Attunement: No mor. It can target one visible creature Effect: This spell is cast by sketching within a hundred paces. a trio of crescent runes on a weapon. Example: Rino has cursed Baul with Lesser (Despite the name, the weapon Boiling Arcane Recoil. Thats not neednt be edged.) While enchanted, enough, however. Rino casts the the weapon ignores up to 4AR thats spell on Baul again. Baul fails to provided by magic. It does not pen- counterspell it and Rino gets a suc- etrate mundane armor, however. cessful set. Now Baul takes 4 dice of Area Killing damage. If Rino man- ages to cast it on Baul a third time, Baul would take 8d of damage, since each of the two Lesser Boiling Arcane Recoils would attack him as the third took effect. 146 Matters of Enchantment

147 Chapter 3: Maemeck Quellers Impenetrable Armor Greater Circle of Against the Arcane Distortion Intensity: 5 Intensity: 6 Casting Time: Slow 3 Casting Time: Nine minutes Duration: Hours equal to Width Duration: Hours equal to Height, or Attunement: Yes until the runes are broken Effect: By painting or drawing a rune Attunement: Yes of five crescents on herself, the matri- Effect: As Lesser Circle of Distortion, arch gains AR 2 against magical dam- except that it provides AR3. age. In addition, she reserves the set used to activate the spell as Gobble Dice, which she can apply at any time infinite Boiling of her choosing to a spell aimed at Arcane Recoil her. She can use these Gobble Dice in addition to any other actions she Intensity: 6 takes. This spell cannot be cast on another person. Casting Time: ten hours Duration: Forever Attunement: Yes Marked by Nullity Effect: As the Lesser version, except Intensity: 5 its permanent and ignores all armor. Casting Time: Nine hours Duration: Permanent Attunement: No Effect: This is the permanent attun- ement spell for quellers. There is no temporary attunement. Those who Imperfect Quelling Attunement want to cast those Boiling Arcane (1 Point Advantage) Recoils need to be willing to spend The good news is, an imperfect quelling attunement allows the better part of a day cutting scars one to cast all quelling spells at will. The bad news is, in addi- into themselves. (This is a very loose tion to the scars described above, it makes the attuned quel- definition of better part.) ler really unpleasant for enchanters to be around. The effect doesnt affect other quellers (luckily) but any other person with a Sorcery skill of 1 or higher, or an Eerie skill of 2 or more, finds it unpleasant to be within ten paces of the queller. (One particularly sensitive enchanter described it thus: Imag- ine having an ugly man with bad breath standing too close, licking his finger and sticking it in your ear while shouting IS THIS ANNOYING? DOES THIS BOTHER YOU? over and over.) This mostly has the effect of the Gruesome flaw. In addition, this queller can be detected just like a perfectly at- tuned one, only out to a hundred paces. 147 Matters of Enchantment

148 Chapter 3: Maemeck Quellers The Spell Snaps The Matriarchy has set up a surpris- ingly large number of negative Intensity: 6 zones along the Imperial Border. Their central fortress at Stagshead is Casting Time: Combative completely surrounded by them. It Duration: Instant should be noted that casting a spell Attunement: No into such a zone from outside it is not impaired, howeverand Stagshead Effect: This spell can target one vis- itself has clear access to magic. ible person or object within a hun- dred paces. The sorcerer sketches four crescent glyphs on some surface and waves it at the target. If success- Tomb of Enchantment fully cast, all spells functioning on Intensity: 9 that person or item instantly cease. Casting Time: Twelve minutes Duration: Width in hours Magics Martyr Attunement: Yes Intensity: 7 Effect: To cast this spell, the sorcerer sketches a series of glyphs in a circle Casting Time: Thirteen hours about three paces across around Duration: Permanent herself. When the spell begins, all Attunement: No enchantment within the circle ends and, in fact, becomes impossible. Effect: First and foremost, anyone The circle doubles in diameter every who attempts to cast this spell dies. roundso, the first round its the Even if the spell fails, the energies three paces around the caster, next involved are too great for any hu- round its six paces, and so forth. It man (or other creature, as far as is expands until its about a mile across known) to survive. The spell, which (a dozen rounds or so). involves drawing hundreds of runes, permanently snarls and entangles the While the spell is in effect, no one arcane energies in a large region in its radius can cast a spell, and all about a square mile. Forever after (if lasting effects (except the Tomb of the spell succeeds) all spells cast in Enchantment, of course) go into abey- that area are at a +6 Difficulty. This ance. When the spell ends, perma- combines with the spells Intensity, nent effects return. Spells can be cast so any spell of Intensity 5 or above is from outside the Tomb into itbut simply not possible within the field they cannot target the spell creating of distortion. Enchanters who try to the area. Note that each casting of ply their craft in such a space describe Tomb of Enchantment precludes a it in various wayslike trying to further casting of it there, so even a breathe thin air or like struggling skilled queller trying to maintain a against plaint but infinitely heavy Tomb indefinitely is never going to bonds. get out in front of the twelve minutes needed to cast it. 148 Matters of Enchantment

149 Chapter 3: Maemeck Quellers As soon as Tomb of Enchantment goes into effect, anyone in the radius with even a single point in the Eerie Skill knows things have gone per- fectly metaphysically flat. No roll is required. The feeling of arcane deadness is one that has reduced unprepared enchanters to tears and whimpering. 149 Matters of Enchantment

150 Chapter 4: Mirror Magic of the Opetkans seem to be goneeither killed or so firmly assimilated that they have no separate culture.) The past doesnt matter much to the mirror magi of today. There is a School where its taught, though even most magi themselves dont know where its located. (Under great duress, they admit that they entered it through underground reflecting pools, but that it seemed to be in the middle of a track- Domain: Reflection, image and less wood.) Anyone can apply to duplication. the School, if they can identify a mirror mage and ask admittance. Method: Mirror magicians cast (This is not easy.) The School ad- their spells by looking at the re- mits who it chooses, teaches them flections of persons or objects. what the staff think they deserve to know, and then lets them go Associated Skill or Stat: Com- about their business. Now and mand again, however, agents of the School approach alumni to make Society and Beliefs: The origins very firm requests of money, effort of mirror magic are mysterious, or advice. Usually effort, usually with multiple explanations float- in the form of dangerous espio- ing around. Some say it was a nage missions. gift from the Opetkan god of the Present, given to his priests to That is, in the end, what the show them how things might have School is: The main trunk of the been other than the way they are. feared Opetkan spy apparatus. Others say its just something else They use mundane agents as well, that the Kuklach let slip from their but everyone who goes to the fingers (alongside the authority to School understands that forever rule and the respect of the mili- after, be they priest or warrior or tary). Theres even a story that it even Kuklach, their loyalties must was practiced by the peasants of a be divided between their lot in life conquered people who used it to and their duties to their teachers. trick and deceive their conquerors. (If thats the case, those people Required Knowledge: None 150 Matters of Enchantment

151 Chapter 4: Mirror Magic of the Opetkans Grifters Gold Intensity: 1 Casting Time: Five hours Duration: Width in hours Attunement: No Effect: This spell targets one small objectsomething that the caster can lift one-handed without any sort of Body rolland duplicates it. The spell requires a reflecting surface, against which the object must be Imagoes touched to complete the enchant- ment. While the temporary object Many spells in this school create temporary lasts, it cannot be distinguished from creatures called imagoes which resemble the original, except that the copy is the caster or some person that the caster has reversed from left to right as oriented seen reflected in a mirror. Unless otherwise when touched to the mirror. (Thus, noted in a spell description, imagoes share if you duplicated a crown that was some common traits. First off, theyre physi- missing a gem on the left side, the cal reversals of the person they duplicate. duplicate would be missing that gem If you have a scar on your left hand and a on the right side.) Enchanted objects mole on your right cheek, your imago has perform the same enchantments. a scar on his right and a mole on his left. Something like a featureless gold bar Secondly, imagoes tend to be fragile. If cannot be distinguished from the they take even a single point of Shock or original gold bar. The exception is Killing damage, they shatter into a small that all duplicated items are percep- pile of glass fragments that blows away tible as enchanted if examined with a within a day. Thirdly, imagoes do not age, simple Eerie success. But if you du- they cannot learn new Skills, improve their plicate a featureless enchanted item, Stats, or gain Esoteric Disciplines and Martial there may be no way to tell which Techniques. If theyre the intelligent type of is real. Until the spell wears off, of imago, they can remember events that hap- course. pened to them after being created, howev- er. Any attempt to transform an imago into In The Empire and the Heluso Con- another shape wears off after about 2-20 federacy, knowing this spell is pun- minutes. Unless otherwise noted, imagoes ishable by public blinding. have one point in every Stat and one point in every Skill their original possessed. Most imagoes cannot cast spells. They do not cast shadows or reflections, either. 151 Matters of Enchantment

152 Chapter 4: Mirror Magic of the Opetkans Reflective Guardian the verbal commands of the caster. They can be targeted with Morale Intensity: 2 Attacks but their Threat cannot be im- proved beyond 3 if theyre equipped. Casting Time: Four minutes If they show up with Threat 2 and the Duration: Ten hours caster has weapons to give them, they Attunement: No can rise to Threat 3, but never higher. Effect: To cast this spell, the enchant- er needs to be able to see himself or Glass Diplomat someone else in a reflecting surface a mirror, a calm pool of water or the Intensity: 4 like. Casting the spell creates an Casting Time: Nine hours imago that duplicates the originals Sense Stat and all its Sense Skills. It Duration: Until target dies possesses a Master Die in the origi- Attunement: No nals native language, but is devoid of any creativity or initiative. It cant Effect: This spell requires a circular attack, dodge, parry, or accomplish pool of quicksilver at least ten feet any tasks more complicated than across and a half-inch deep. (This reciting a message, washing dishes costs at least Wealth 5 to procure, if or building a fire. (If the reflected its available at all.) At the end of the source didnt know how to build a spell, the mercury coalesces into an fire, the imago couldnt even do that.) imago of the caster. However, Reflective Guardians are created at the peak of alertness and The imago has all the casters Knowl- they never get tired or bored, making edge, Sense, Charm and Command them superb sentries. Typically, the Stats and Skills, but has absolutely no caster creates one (or several) and sets fear of death. It possesses one wound them to work guarding a perimeter box, and one point each in Body and while he rests inside it. Coordination. It doesnt age and, while it can learn facts and remember new information, it cant improve Skills or Stats, nor learn Esoteric Dis- Martial Mirror ciplines or Martial Techniques. It can be enchanted, just as the caster can. Intensity: 3 Its personality is that of its creator. It Casting Time: Slow 4 can cast spells like its creator, but has Duration: Height in minutes no reflection of its own and cannot in any way create imagoes of itself. Attunement: No Effect: Up to twenty people that the Typically, Glass Diplomats are sent caster can see reflected on the last into situations where spying or nego- round of casting are duplicated as tiating are desirable, but risky. Note Unworthy Opponents. They have that there is no innate supernatural Threat 2, or 3 if they were equipped communication between caster and when they were copied. They are Diplomat. If you create one and send speechless and quite stupid, but obey it off to talk tough to the Truils, you 152 Matters of Enchantment

153 Chapter 4: Mirror Magic of the Opetkans have no way of knowing if it succeed- its original is, but given its personal ed or failed or was destroyed en route knowledge it can often figure it out. until word reaches you through some The nemesis is under no compulsion other means. to obey or respect the magician who created it and, given the typically bad Glass Diplomats cease to exist upon relations between the caster and any the creators death, with one very person he wishes to create an expen- important exception. If a Glass Dip- sive assassin for, the nemesis may lomat succeeds in killing its creator well attempt to kill the enchanter (or arranging her death) the Diplomat but only if hes confident he can get becomes permanent. It still cant away with it and that it wont impede learn or age, it doesnt gain a reflec- his quest to kill his original. tion, but it can then continue its exis- tence until destroyed. Whether any With the death of the original, the given Diplomat tries to exercise this nemesis shatters. option depends entirely (of course) on its casters personality. But all Glass Diplomats instinctively know Captivating Mirror they can become the real one in this Intensity: 6 fashion. Casting Time: Eleven hours Duration: Permanent Attunement: No Nemesis Effect: To cast this spell the enchanter Intensity: 5 needs to possess a flawless oval mirror, at least six feet tall and three Casting Time: Combative feet wide. It must be made of glass, Duration: Instant crystal, silver, gold or polished hema- tite. Such an item costs Wealth 5 in Attunement: No a large and cosmopolitan city, more Effect: To cast this spell, one needs a elsewhere. Captivating Mirror (see below). The caster looks at an image in the mirror When the mirror has been enchanted, (either one from the past or one that anyone who stands before it and is occurring right at that moment) speaks a certain phrase (set during and the mirror shatters as an imago the mirrors enchantment) can see the of one reflected person emerges. This last ten reflections that passed before imago has all the Stats, Skills, wound the mirror. Essentially, its like the boxes, knowledge, Disciplines and mirror has eyes and can show what Techniques of the person reflected. someone could have seen if standing (Any enchanted items, however, are where the mirror is. The viewer can duplicated as mundane copies.) The silently watch what was done, skip- nemesis imago is obsessed with the ping ahead or going back as desired. drive to kill its original. Unlike most (Still images are not possible, how- imagoes, it can cast spells if its origi- ever.) Its a popular spell with spies nal knows them. It needs to sleep and voyeurs. and eat like a normal person, and it has no arcane intuition for where 153 Matters of Enchantment

154 Chapter 4: Mirror Magic of the Opetkans The Stolen Image Intensity: 8 S ecrets, treachery, manipulation by the basest of ploys as Minister of Information, these were my tools, but none more than deception. I Casting Time: Combative Duration: Permanent, until mirror is broken Attunement: No Effect: Casting this spell requires a small silver mirror framed with black pearls. (This will set someone back Wealth 4 in a well-traveled seaside city, potentially much higher in areas have been asked how it was that far from deep waterif black pearls are available at any price.) I was never meaningfully misled, To cast it, the enchanter has to look at deceived or used. I dont know. the targets reflection in the mirror. If the spell is successful, the reflection Perhaps I was and just never found remains trapped therethe target no longer casts any reflection until the out. But unlike most who were spell ends with the breaking of the mirror. made into others puppets, I know The caged reflection knows every- I never believed myself more clever thing that the target knows at the time the spell is cast, and must truth- than those around me. fully answer any question asked by someone touching the mirror. It can - From The Secret lie by omission if it wishes, but must tell only the truth and nothing but. Journals of a Man It should be noted that a Stolen Image provides powerful protection against who Wasnt other mirror magics (such as Nem- esis) and many mirror magi cast this on themselves for just that reason. Keeping the mirror close or well pro- tected is always a concern, of course. 154 Matters of Enchantment

155 155 Matters of Enchantment

156 Chapter 5: Ussient Fire Mimicky tumn. While the Ussient tribes use it as all civilized people do, (that is, for light, warmth, cook- ing and the death of enemies) they take much greater care with it. Living on vertical surfaces, the upward spread of a fire can encompass an Ussient settlement with greater speed than it could consume a more traditional, hori- zontal village. Domain: The qualities of flame, Because it does not require at- such as heat, light, destructive tunement, fire mimicrys lesser transformation and contagion. spells are fairly well-known and widespread, but the spells of Method: Fire mimics shape wood greater Intensity are often held or flesh into animal patterns that as proprietary knowledge by one channel magic into a desired con- tree or another -- or even of Shade figuration. Lodges or Sisterhoods within a trees population. Most of these Associated Skill or Stat: Knowl- cabals are conservative about to edge. The patterns do not only their culture to the point of being need to be shaped correctly, they reactionary. Their ideology may must be understood correctly. be entirely parochial, or it may Furthermore, most of the spells translate to a wider Ussient loyalty require an appropriately shaped against outside assault. Some of object to hold the power. When these cliques traveled far to de- made of wood, these fetishes are fend Briess against the Ironbones. constructed with Expert: Car- Others closer-by watched with penter. When the power is to be detached and studied unconcern. moved through a human body, the shapes are scars raised with Expert: Cicatrization. Society and Beliefs: In the giant trees of the Ussient forest, fire is dangerous, particularly in au- 156 Matters of Enchantment

157 Chapter 5: Ussient Fire Mimicky Light from Shadow This Little Hearth Intensity: 1 Intensity: 1 Casting Time: Slow 2 Casting Time: Five minutes Duration: Width Hours Duration: Width in hours Attunement: No Attunement: No Effect: This common spell is cast Effect: This spell requires a talisman upon a talisman made from a forked in the shape of a squirrel. Further- branch, carved into the shape of a more, to cast the spell the talisman diving sundarter bird. When the has to be treated like an unlit fire in spell succeeds, the branch emits a the process of ignition, that is, the fairly bright light, about equivalent to caster must put tinder on it and strike an oil lamp or a torch. Casters whose sparks into it, and then blow on it Sorcery Skill is two or higher can and keep it shielded from wind and choose a color for the flame, as can water. When successfully cast, the any caster with Eerie or Counterspell spell produces the warmth and glow at four or greater. of a small cook fire, and while it can roast meat and boil water, it will not ignite flammables. Winter Brand Intensity: 1 Naked in Winter Casting Time: Three minutes Duration: Height in hours Intensity: 2 Attunement: No Casting Time: Five minutes Effect: The focus for the Winter Brand Duration: Width in days is a carved cat-shaped charm roughly Attunement: No the size of a small dinner plate. Effect: With a successful Expert: Cica- When enchanted, it begins to pro- trization roll, the caster (or someone duce a penetrating warmth that, if else who knows the spell) can put a not moved, gradually spreads out mouse-shaped talisman scar on him- about five feet from it. The cat slowly self or someone else. As with Iron- crumbles into ash as the enchantment bone runes, this occupies a single hit runs its course, but while it can cre- location, cant be written over by ate a comforting warmth, at no point other scars, and requires two points does it get hot enough to boil water of Killing and two points of Shock or even ignite a dry autumn leaf. damage when first applied. If the location carrying the scar is ever filled with Killing damage, the scar stops working permanently and cannot be fixed. But barring that circumstance, its like all talismans, and once estab- lished it can be used over and over. The spell can only be cast, however, 157 Matters of Enchantment

158 Chapter 5: Ussient Fire Mimicky by the person scarred, and it only af- Scalding Club fects himself. Intensity: 2 When in effect, the character feels Casting Time: Seven hours warm and suffers no ill effects from cold, no matter how bitter and in- Duration: Forever tense. Attunement: No Effect: The scalding club is the signa- ture weapon of the Urutu trees broth- erhood of enchantment, the Nameless Arisen. They are extremely proprie- Talsimans and Charms tary of both the clubs and the the spell that creates them, but more so of the latter. Someone who steals a scalding Many Ussient spells require carved club will be chased to the ends of the wooden implements, known as talis- Ussient Forest. Someone who manag- mans, before they can be cast. Talis- es to run off with the secret of making mans must be prepared with a successful them would be pursued to the ends of Coordination+Carpentry roll. Once created, the world. however, it can be used over and over again without requiring another Carpentry roll. All scalding clubs are in the stylized However, no matter how skilled a wood- shape of a rearing horse. Once carved worker is, he cannot make a talisman for a and enchanted, does an extra point spell he does not know. (All talismans have of Killing damage with each strike. It minor differences, to account for variances must be prepared as a talisman be- in wood grain and exact shape.) fore it can be ensorcelled. While they Casters can use one anothers talismans, are typically light clubs, a few of the however. If Drien knows Light From Shad- Nameless Arisen prefer the reach and ow and successfully carves a forked stick impact of larger weapons. talisman for it, Huisse can cast Light From Shadow on that stick instead of carving one The damage is caused to flesh only, of her own. and takes the form of singeing, puck- ering and cooking. It cannot start a Some spells, rather than using talismans, fire but can sting with just a touch. use charms. Charms require a preparatory Theyre typically kept in leather Carpentry roll just like Talismans, the carver sheathes to prevent accidental injury. needs to understand the spell and other people can use the charm once its made. The difference is that charms cannot be used more than once. Even if they are not physically destroyed by the spell, they are unsuitable for re-enchantment. 158 Matters of Enchantment

159 Chapter 5: Ussient Fire Mimicky The Shape of Light To Ash and Smoke Intensity: 2 Intensity: 3 Casting Time: Six hours Casting Time: Seven minutes Duration: Forever Duration: Width in days Attunement: No Attunement: No Effect: This is much like the spell Light Effect: This spell makes use of a From Shadow, except for casting time charm, usually a weapon. The carved and duration. The talisman takes the design is an embossed triangular bird form of a coiled serpent: Some casters symbol, so it can be put on nearly any wear them like crowns at night. Once surface. Arrows are the most common it is created, it cannot be dimmed ex- choice, though leaden sling pellets, cept by damaging the frame. Anyone blocks on the end of flails and even who knows the spell can, however, the knuckles of mailed fists have also use it to change the color of the light been enchanted to great effect. The from the talisman. first time the weapon strikes after enchantment, its Waste Dice do Killing damage, ignoring armor, as the carved Flames Appetite rune releases a magic charge that courses through flesh, causing erup- Intensity: 3 tions of black lesions on the target as his flesh turns to smoke and ash. Casting Time: Five minutes Duration: Height in hours Attunement: No Crawling Light Effect: This spell allows the caster to selectively destroy unmoving Intensity: 4 combustible matter, in quantities up Casting Time: Combative to her own body weight. She must touch the object to be altered, and it Duration: See Below disintegrates into ash, smoke, or both Attunement: No at about the rate of one pound per Effect: This spell is based upon a round. Mostly useless in a fight, the carved charm in the shape of an insect. spell can dissolve ropes, remove barri- Smashing the charm against the ground ers (as long as they arent metal) or cut or some other nearby surface is part through a branch upon which some- of the casting attempt, so the charm is one stands. destroyed whether the spell succeeds or fails. If it succeeds, a heatless light More inventive uses of Flames Appe- spreads out over about ten square feet tite include producing gouts of smoke of surface. It radiates out from the on demand or destroying evidence. broken charm, illuminating everything The most common use is shaping solid it touches. (Human beings lit up wood through precise dissolving with can attempt Counterspell rolls to shake no tools required. the light off of themselves.) 159 Matters of Enchantment

160 Chapter 5: Ussient Fire Mimicky The caster can douse the light whenever Once the scars are graven, membership she chooses, or change its color with is complete, and some of the Lodges any successful Knowledge+Sorcery most famed members had no magical roll. Otherwise, it begins to randomly powers in their mangled limbs. But spread. those who cast the spell correctly gain a horrifying ability. If they kick some- Every round, the spell rolls a pool, ini- one with their limb, hard enough to do tially equal to the casters Sorcery pool. damage after any armor reduction, the If the glows roll fails to produce a set, location damaged loses a wound box it goes out. If it gets a set of Height 3 or forever and manifests a thick web of less, it spreads Width square feet in a scars as well. random direction and its pool doesnt change. If it gets a set of Height 4 or more, it spreads Height square feet in Bears Rampage a random direction and rolls another die in its pool on the next turn. If it gets Intensity: 5 multiple sets, it can use them all. How- Casting Time: Ten hours ever, its pool can never exceed ten dice, and no matter how big the glow grows, Duration: Instant it fades out after an hour. Attunement: No Effect: This spell is cast on a bear-charm roughly the size of a fist. Once enchant- Scarfoots Kick ed, the caster can release its deadly enchantment any time she chooses. Intensity: 4 When the opts to release the spell, it Casting Time: Seven hours begins producing Area 5 Killing attacks. Duration: Forever The diameter of the attacks effect is equal to five feet times the activation Attunement: No sets Height. It repeats its effect for a Effect: The Scarfoot Lodge are known number of rounds equal to the Width of for their fierce loyalty to one another the activation roll. and to their home tree, and when one considers the tribulations undergone Example: Master enchantress Kiennis creates a to join their number, their attitude is Bears Rampage charm with a MD- no surprise. To join Scarfoot Lodge, powered 3x6 set. When she activates one must master this spell and at least it, everyone within 30 feet of the cube attempt it. takes an Area 5 Killing attack. The cube produces a total of four such To cast the spell, the enchanter attacks before disintegrating -- one at wreathes one of his own feet in an the base, and another three because it elaborate pattern of scars (requiring a was made with a 3x roll. successful Expert: Cicatrization roll). The scar is in the form of the Ussient Those damaged by a Bears Rampage carnivorous monkey, the chunk-biter. have random pieces of their flesh erupt The damage is not merely cosmetic: as smoke, leaving deep, pitted holes in That limb permanently loses one their skin. If you squint and use your wound box, giving most Scarfoots their imagination, they look like tooth marks. traditional limp. 160 Matters of Enchantment

161 Chapter 5: Ussient Fire Mimicky Uncanny Crawl Burning Dart Intensity: 5 Intensity: 6 Casting Time: Combative Casting Time: Combative Duration: Width in minutes Duration: Instant Attunement: No Attunement: No Effect: This spell is a closely kept secret Effect: This charm-based spell once of Those Who Change the Secret Light, again ensorcels a weapon (which may a mystic sect whose membership is pri- provide a sad commentary on the vate, mysterious, and prone to meddle priorities of the Ussient peoples). In in the politics of other tribes. Though this case, its a dart-tip or arrowhead they most often interfere to the benefit in the shape of a predatory fish native of their home tree, their arrogance is to Ussient rivers, the worm-dart. The legendary and they often steal, black- projectile can be made beforehand, but mail, spy and betray in pursuit of what once the spell is cast on it, it must be they consider the most just and ethical fired immediately. Otherwise, it simply outcome. Unusually for most Ussient disintegrates. But if it strikes an enemy residents, even the protective lodges, within three rounds of being enchanted, Those Who Change the Secret Light are its magic burrows deep into the target, known to be active outside the bound- in a slow and excruciating fashion. aries of the forest. When it hits, the arrow or spearhead As the name portends, Uncanny Crawl does an extra point of Killing dam- is odd to behold and difficult even to age. It then does one additional point describe. The caster changes form. She of Killing damage to that location for a ceases to be an object occupying space number of rounds equal to the Height and becomes something like a moving of the casting set. This damage can- shadow on a wall. Just as a fire, when not be counterspelled, and it happens lit, can crawl and move from surface at the beginning of the round. With to surface, so can the enchanter. She a successful Healing roll, the tip can moves at a running pace over, along be pulled out, however. This treat- or underneath barriers. She can flow ment requires the target to remove any through cracks and small holes or travel armor over the affected limb and then along a length of thread that wouldnt do nothing on the round in which the support the weight of a bird. healer tries to get it out. If the healer succeeds, the tip stops damaging the Moreover, while in this altered state, original target, but does a point of the enchanter cannot be harmed by Killing damage to each of the healers weapons or injured by any enchant- hands. ment that would not quench a fire. The only real barrier to her travel is that she These are often used for hunting big cannot cross liquids. game, especially when one is armed with a hornbow that can get through The charm for this spell is shaped like (say) a grizzlys tough flesh and mat- a beetle and is carved at smaller than ted fur. life size. 161 Matters of Enchantment

162 One-Roll Tools Chapter 1: One-Roll Truils n Dindavara, social mobility very differently from a respected I is so rare that its bizarre. In Uldholm, its a key cultural tenet, elder or a hunter and scout. The Truil custom of fostering children but one more commonly believed- between different groups to build in than experienced. In the Truil trust adds yet another dimension Wastes, there are people on top to the complexity. But among and people on bottom, leaders them all, fine grades of title are and followers, but the distance scorned. between them is far less than it is in more civilized lands. There are no high queens and princes liv- Background ing in ivory palaces at the apex. 2x1 Blue Face: +1 BODY, +3 Vigor, +1 By the same token, there are no Endurance, +1 Athletics helpless beggars at the nadir. A 3x1 +2 Run, +2 Expert: Throw, +1 Fight grown Truil who cant take care of himself doesnt last long, unless 4x1 +2 Athletics, Upgrade Fight die to ED, +2 some capable person (or family) is Parry pulling his weight in addition to 5x1 Upgrade Parry die to ED, +2 Expert: their own. Throw, +2 Endurance 2x2 Night Hunter: +1 COORDINATION, The lowliest Truil has the right to +3+ED Stealth speak up and be heard, even if his 3x2 +ED Dodge, +2 Fight, +1 Sight foolishness or weakness ensure that his words wont carry much 4x2 +2 Student: Wilderness, +2 Climb, First level of a Stealth path weight. The mightiest leader of the strongest clan in the most 5x2 Second and third levels of Stealth path powerful tribe still has to dig his 2x3 Mountain Rider: + 3 Ride, +2 Expert: own toilet. Animal Trainer, +5 Animal Companion 3x3 +2 Parry, +2 Fight, First level of a Mounted But while social class is narrower Combat path in the Wastes than elsewhere, 4x3 +1 SENSE there are important divisions and distinctions. Clan, family and 5x3 Second and third level of Mounted Combat tribe are all central identities, path sources of succor and rivalry in 2x4 Archer: +1 BODY, +3 Bow, +2 Item equal measure. Too, while most 3x4 +1 COORDINATION Truils practice a variety of skills 4x4 +ED Bow, +1 Stealth, +1 Sight, +1 Listen or trades, there is nevertheless specialization due to preference 5x4 Change Bow ED to MD or talent. A Heartsinger behaves 2x5 Front Fighter: +1 COORDINATION, +2 Axe, +2 Dodge, First level of an Axe path 162 One-Roll Tools

163 Chapter 1: One-Roll Truils 3x5 +ED Axe, +1 Dodge, Second level of Axe Events path 4x5 Upgrade Axe ED to MD 1 Had a Child that Did Not Survive. Since that tragedy, every other pain 5x5 +1 Dodge, First level of a Dodge path, Third seems to pale in comparison. How level of Axe path did it happen? Who was the other 2x6 Elder or Elders Aide: +1 KNOWLEDGE, parent, and what was his (or her) +3 Lore, +2 Languages fate? Leather Hard 3x6 +2 Graces, +1 Lore, +2 Haggle 2 Oathbreaker. Truil culture doesnt have a lot of respect for those who 4x6 +2 Languages, +1 Lore, +1 Haggle, +1 use guile and subterfuge. That Student:_______ means, of course, that many of them 5x6 +1 Heal, +1 Language, +1 Expert:_______, arent accustomed to skepticism. +1 Sorcery, +1 Spells What promise did you break? You 2x7 Healer: +1 KNOWLEDGE, +4 Heal, First feel bad about that? Did you get level of a Heal path caught? +3 Lie, +2 Stealth 3x7 Second and third levels of Heal path 3 Exiled for a Year in the Darkness. What was your crime? Have you 4x7 +1 Heal, Fourth level of Heal path been accepted back? How did you 5x7 Fifth level of Heal path survive on your own? +1 Stealth, +2 2x8 Priest or Priestess: +1 SENSE, +1+ED Student: Wilderness, +2 Animal Com- Sorcery, +2 Spells panion 3x8 +1 Sorcery, +1 Lore, +3 Spells 4 Killed a Dindavaran Noble. Pre- sumably everyone admires you for 4x8 +1 Sorcery, +1 Eerie, +3 Spells this feat. How did it come about? +2 5x8 +1 Sorcery, +1 Eerie, +1 Counterspell, +2 Axe, +3 Item Spells 5 Learned Foreign Swordplay. Who 2x9 Heartsinger: +1 COMMAND, +2 Inspire, taught you fancy fencing, and why? +2 Perform, +1 Intimidate +3+ED Sword 3x9 +2 Graces, +1 Language, +2 Fascinate 6 Forbidden Love. Just what was forbidden about it? Was she an out- 4x9 +2 Haggle, +1 Inspire, +1 Perform, +1 lander? Married? In an enemy clan? Beauty Was it ever resolved, or is she still out 5x9 +1 Fascinate, +1 Language, +2 Jest, +1 there pining? +3 in one Language, +2 Student:_______ Lie 2x10 Leader: +1 CHARM, +3 Tactics, +2 7 Mother Was Ill for a Long Time. Followers You tended to her, of course. It was 3x10 +ED Tactics, First level of a Tactics path, +1 your duty. You practiced some Followers, +1 Wealth entertainment to pass the time, and you paid close attention to what the 4x10 +1 Graces, +1 Fascinate, +1 Intimidate, +1 healer was doing. Did she recover? Followers, +1 Wealth +3 Heal, +2 Perform 5x10 Second level of Tactics path, +1 Item, +1 8 Secret Blasphemer. Which infidel Followers, +1 Wealth faith? How were you exposed to it? What are they going to do to you if 163 One-Roll Tools

164 Chapter 1: One-Roll Truils they find out? Or were you discov- ent tribesman. His tightly-knit family ered already? Do you still believe or was strained by his mothers illness, have you renounced your heresy? +2 but he did everything he could to Sorcery, +3 Spells try to restore her health. When that 9 Firebrand. You can pull a pretty failed, he did what he could to dis- good speech out of your mouth, tract her from her pain. which is why youve been punched there a few times by people who dis- The loveliness of his voice was hard agreed but couldnt quite construct a to miss, and he was taught the arts of logical counter-argument. What are performing to entertain, and speak- your beliefs, and why are you so pas- ing to fire the will of warriors for sionate about them? +4 Inspire, Hard combat. As a Heartsinger, he was Headed respected and liked. He married a woman named Rull, had a son, and 10 Traveled to Strange Lands. was happy until the Uldish settlers Theres good stuff out there. Howd arrived. you get yours? +1 Followers, +2 Wealth, +2 Item Inspired by his tales of greatness, his tribe attacked the interlopers, seizing Example their grain and burning their homes. It was a great success and it brought The UPC from my first published his tribe much honor. novel is 99379 10090 9, which works out to 1, 3, 7, 5x9, 3x10 Then, by night, the Stormtongues 5x9 Heartsinger: +1 COMMAND, came. Kromtoch isnt sure how many +3 Inspire, +3 Perform, +1 Intimi- there were. They swept down from date above, lightning pouring from their mouths, igniting the Truils tents just +2 Graces, +2 Language, +3 Fasci- as the Truils had burned the settlers nate +2 Haggle, +1 Beauty, +2 Jest, cabins. His son died that night. +1 Student:_______ Pausing only to sing the reversal of 3x10 Leader: +1 CHARM, +3+ED his childs name into its dead form, Tactics, +3 Followers, First level of a Kromtoch fled into the forest. He Tactics path, +1 Wealth stayed there for a year, mad with 1 Had a Child that Did Not Sur- grief, until Rull found him. The tribe vive: Leather Hard needed him, she said. The settlers were back and the chief was dead. 3 Exiled for a Year in the Dark- When he returned, he spoke to the ness:+1 Stealth, +2 Student: Wil- people and he shocked them. He derness, +2 Animal Companion counseled negotiation with the 7 Mother Was Ill for a Long Time: intruders. Not acquiescence, but understanding and pursuit of some +3 Heal, +2 Perform way to share the land. Otherwise, the path to the future would be paved Kromtoch has always been a respect- with dead sons. ful child, a dutiful son and an obedi- 164 One-Roll Tools

165 Chapter 1: One-Roll Truils Half the tribe called him a coward and departed, obeying the previous chiefs angry young daughter. The rest have followed him since. Krom- toch has walked the razors edge with his small band, speaking to the foreigners when its possible but still showing force when the Ulds become aggressive or arrogant. So far, its worked. But theres a new garrison commander in the region, a sorceress. By chance, Kromtoch has learned she was one who flew over his family that fateful night. BODY 2 COORDINATION 2 SENSE 2 Stealth 1 KNOWLEDGE 2 COMMAND 3 CHARM 3 Language: Uldish 1 Inspire 3 Graces 2 Language: Dind. 1 Perform 5 Fascinate 3 Student: Construction 1 Intimidate 1 Jest 2 Tactics 3+ED Haggle 2 Student: Wilderness 2 Heal 3 Followers 3: He has fifteen Threat 2 adults who accept his guidance. There are assorted children, elders and others in the tribe who cant fight, but these fifteen are the ones who get things done. Wealth 1 Tactics Discipline: Basic Mobility Beauty 1 Leather Hard Animal Companion 2: A brown bear he rescued as a cub. Its Threat 4 and does Killing damage. 165 One-Roll Tools

166 Chapter 2: One-Roll Ulds the unskilled, or people who are just good at jobs that have no Guild to represent them. Furthermore, social mobility cuts both ways. For every scrappy, hardworking kid saving pennies and climbing the ladder, theres a tired middle-aged Guildsman who did something unpopular with his fellows, sliding down towards poverty. Background he characters from Uldholm T can come from a broad variety of backgrounds. Since the ejec- 2x1 Medic: +1 KNOWLEDGE, +1 Vigor, +3 Heal, +1 Lore tion of the Empire and the social 3x1 Apothecary: Upgrade one Heal revolution of the Guilds, people die to ED, +1 Lore, +1 Eerie, +1 of quality are now those who are Sorcery, +1 Spells qualified. Theres a degree of 4x1 Physician: +1 Inspire, +1 social mobility thats simply not Fascinate, +1 Athletics, +1 Ride, +1 present in Dindavara or most of the Counterspell Empire. True, peasants in those 5x1 Master Healer: Upgrade Heal ED nations can attain great influence, to MD especially if theyre willing to make 2x2 Busker: +1 CHARM, +1+ED fortunes doing things the gentility Perform, +1 Fascinate, +1 Language consider beneath them. But break- 3x2 Musician: +1 Graces, +1 Lie, First ing through to the upper crust is two levels of a Perform path nearly impossible in those mon- archies. In Uldholm, its not only 4x2 Player: +1 Language, +1 Beauty, possible for a beggar to join the Third Perform path level Ruling Council, just about anyone 5x2 Bard: Upgrade Perform ED to could tell you how it would be MD done. 2x3 Guard: +1 BODY, +1 Fight, +3 Parry, +1 Intimidate Thats not to say there isnt an 3x3 Bodyguard: +2 Heal, +1 Sight, +1 underclass. Oh, there is, and given Sword, First level of a Parry path the governing myth of ability, 4x3 Personal Protector: +1 Sword, +1 theres not much pity for the poor, 166 One-Roll Tools

167 Chapter 2: One-Roll Ulds Expert: Throw, +1 Athletics, Second Parry, +2 Counterspell level of Parry path 3x8 Enforcer: +1 Fight, +1 Dodge, +2 5x3 Expert Defender: Upgrade a Intimidate, +1 Athletics Parry die to an ED, +1 Sword, +2 4x8 Mercenary: +1 SENSE Expert: Throw, +1 Athletics 5x8 Hardened Sell-Sword: +ED 2x4 Haggler: +1 COMMAND, +3 Fight, +2 Vigor, +1 Tactics Haggle, +1 Plead, +1 Followers 2x9 Trainee Sword-Bait: +1 3x4 Bargainer: +1 Inspire, +1 COORDINATION, +2 Tactics, +1 Intimidate, +1 Lie, +1 Language, +1 Dodge, +1 Spear Wealth 3x9 Soldier: +ED Dodge, +2 Vigor, 4x4 Merchant: First two levels of a First level of a Dodge path Haggle path, First level of a Plead path, +1 Followers 4x9 Veteran: +ED Spear, First two levels of a Spear path 5x4 Entrepreneur: +2 Plead, +2 Possession, +1 Wealth 5x9 Squad Commander: +1+ED Tactics, +1 Inspire, First level of a 2x5 Lookout: +1 SENSE, +1 Sight, +2 Tactics path Listen, +1 Direction, +1 Bow 2x10 Cultivator Functionary: 3x5 Scout: +1 Endurance, +1 Bow, +1 +1 COMMAND, +1 Student: Run, Upgrade Sight die to ED, +1 Agriculture, +2 Inspire, +2 Fascinate Stealth 3x10 Agricultural Politician: +1 Ride, 4x5 Trailblazer: +1 Direction, +1 +1 Followers, +1 Wealth, +1 Patron, +1 Listen, +1 Eerie, +2 Counterspell Status 5x5 Explorer: Upgrade Sight ED to 4x10 Among the Guild Elite: +1 MD Possession, +1 Followers, +1 Wealth, +1 2x6 Gossip: +1 CHARM, +3 Stealth, Patron, +1 Status +2 Lie 5x10 Power Monger: +1 Lie, +1 3x6 Rumormonger: +2 Run, +2 Followers, +1 Wealth, +1 Patron, +1 Dodge, +1 Listen Status 4x6 Character Assassin: +ED Stealth, +2 Climb, +1 Lie Events 5x6 Spy: Upgrade Stealth ED to MD 1 Lengthy Illness. You were sick a 2x7 Flame Dance Apprentice: +1 long time, having long conversations COORDINATION, +2 Perform, +2 with someone who was trying to re- Sorcery, +1 Spells store you. What was the illness? The 3x7 Expert Sorcerer: +ED Sorcery, +3 treatment? What symptoms did you Spells have? Were there books you read, 4x7 Moves in Fiery Glory: Flame which made a particular impression? Dance Full Attunement Or is your lore a set of stories from a wise elder?: +2 Heal, +3 Lore 5x7 Master Enchanter: Upgrade Sorcery ED to MD 2 Ridiculously Fair. No way around it, youre a stunner. How many have 2x8 Thug: +1 BODY, +2 Fight, +1 been wracked by longing for you? 167 One-Roll Tools

168 Chapter 2: One-Roll Ulds Lots. Probably a few you dont know sults and flung crockery. If you were about. Were you always radiant, or lucky. When it got bad, the whole lot did was it some sudden transforma- of you might wind up rolling out into tion?: +5 Beauty the street, punching and biting: +3 3 Studied with a Master. Were you Fight, +1 Expert: Throw, +1 Dodge training to be a soldier or a merce- 9 Dancer Mother, Poacher Father. nary, is the art you learned passed Was your mother a Flame Dancer, or down from father to son, or did you just a mundane performer? As for meet a sword master some other your game-grabbing pappy, was he way?: +2+ED Sword, First level of a poor, dishonest, or slumming?: +1 Sword path COORDINATION 4 Raided an Ancient Temple. Pre- 10 Privileged Upbringing. Youve sumably there was an encrypted map, always had servants, poor cousins traps, deadly riddles, treachery on the and younger schoolchildren nearby part of your companions, and at least to boss around. Youre used to pre- one attack by a mass of pestilential senting your opinions forcefully: +1 vermin. Whose temple was it? Are COMMAND you sure their cult is wiped out?: +2 Climb, +3 Possession 5 Incident in the Woods. Strange Example things happen out there, you know: +2 Counterspell, 3 points of Animal The local blood centers number Companion(s) is 18007864483, so that turns into 6 Political Imbroglio. Someones 1,3,4,4,7,7,8,8,8,10,10 and the charac- reputation got tarnished, or some- ter has the following fate. bodys perks got stepped on, or 2x4 Haggler: +1 COMMAND, +3 someones corruption was inconve- Haggle, +1 Plead, +1 Followers niently outed. What was your role? Were you the crusader for truth, or 2x7 Flame Dance Apprentice: +1 a co-defendant who managed to get COORDINATION, +2 Perform, +2 off with a slap on the wrist? Was it a Sorcery, +1 Spells guild matter, something between two 3x8 Enforcer: +1 BODY, +3 Fight, +1 guilds, a city or family or national Parry, +2 Counterspell, +1 Dodge, +2 matter? All of the above?: +2 Lie, +3 Intimidate, +1 Athletics Stealth 2x10 Cultivator Functionary: +1 7 Stormtongue Dropout. You had COMMAND, +1 Student: Agricul- potential, and you picked up a few ture, +2 Inspire, +2 Fascinate tricks here and there, but you just 1 Lengthy Illness: +2 Heal, +3 Lore couldnt go the distance. Why did you fail?: +1 Eerie, +1 Counterspell, +1 3 Studied with a Master: +2+ED Sorcery, +2 Spells Sword, First level of a Sword path 8 Violent Childhood. Unfortunately, a lot of your dinners started with Lets start with the somewhat stodg- glares and ended with shouted in- ier elements experience as a mer- chant and with the powerful Cultiva- 168 One-Roll Tools

169 Chapter 2: One-Roll Ulds tors Guild. I picture this character unable to flee the field with the rest as a woman (for whatever reason), of her friends. It took her hours to and Wilf seems a good name. Wilfs pull herself off the battlefield on bro- mother is in the Merchants Guild ken legs, and by the time she did her and her father is a Cultivator. Her wounds were so filthy that infection parents married for political conve- was inevitable. nience. They are polite and distant, but they live in different cities and Lucky for her, she was rescued by a only visit each other once or twice traveler who was trying to find the a year. Growing up, Wilf secretly very Truils whod demolished her wished her parents were less sophisti- body. Returning from the frontier, cated and, instead, loved one another. she apprenticed herself to a master That hidden resentment soured her swordsman a Dindavaran dip- on their lives of quiet power-monger- lomat. When her parents finally ing. She wanted adventure and, to tracked her down, they were appalled their horror, tried to join a company by her connection to the foreigner, of sell-swords. They had little use for and she made it worse by falsely her, especially if taking on a vulner- intimating that her mentor was also able and unskilled girl meant risking her lover. That was a misstep: Her the wrath of her connected parents. parents united to get him squeezed out of his position and sent home in As a compromise, her parents let her disgrace. In the process, they found study to be a Flame Dancer, figuring evidence that hed only been using that the intense study would break her as an espionage asset. She told her resolve. It did, though not before them she didnt believe it (though she she picked up some tricks. When did) and said shed rather be a traitor she quit, however, she didnt run than surrender her love. home. She ran away, this time talk- ing up her abilities to gain a place She was shocked when they dis- in a poorer mercenary force. Being owned her. flung in way over her head, she had to learn fast, and she did right up to the point that a bad injury left her BODY 2 COORDINATION 2 SENSE 2 Fight 3Sorcery 2 Parry 1 Dodge 1 Athletics 1 Sword 2+ED KNOWLEDGE 2 COMMAND 3 CHARM 3 Counterspell 2 Haggle 3 Plead 1 Student (Agriculture) 1 Perform 2 Fascinate 2 Lore 3Intimidate 2 Heal 2Inspire 2 Followers 1: She decides this is a trio of Threat 3 servants theyre lightly armed but utterly loyal, having practically raised her from childhood. Sword Path 1: Pure Commencement Spells 1: Ignite and Fiery Nimbus 169 One-Roll Tools

170 REIGN Recipes But What Does One Do With It? This is the question I get, now and again, about REIGN. I love the world, someone says, or I love the mechanics, but (More often than I like theres that but.) Then the question. Or, to quote Lisa Padol Lisa Padol Asks Is there any material out on Reign covering not the world - which is gorgeous and I really love it - but covering what kinds of sessions one runs? Lisa, there is now. The Recipe Approach This article offers campaign options, broken down into digestible chunks, like items on a menu. As the chef, I think everything on theres good, but I recognize that not everyone can eat ev- erything. Theres a sense that because something came out in a supplement, its part of the rules and as a GM youre obligated to know it, never mind that your PCs are all cerebral masterminds and the rules are for down n dirty combat. Let me free you! You dont 170 REIGN Recipes

171 Imperial Harlots need to use everything, so you dont about intricately choreographed com- need to know everything. Ive got a bats, but who love to discuss, debate fairly long mini-game for storms at and persuade in-character. Its rules sea. Do you need that if seafaring isnt are undemanding and few rolls are a big piece of your game? Hell no! required. What it does need is a GM who relishes thinking on her feet and Each of the recipes offers a different reacting dramatically when the PCs focus and, while theyre all in REIGNs run roughshod over events. No one in setting, they dont all need every rule. the setting is shod more roughly than Look through em, see what appeals, these characters. and when you pick one you can focus on what you need and ignore material that might end up as dead weight. Ingredients Imperial Harlots Chapter Four of REIGN (pages 129- 161), along with the sections on the Third and Final Nations (pages 163- (Five Ministers, Twelve Months, and 175 and 229-247) and the big box on One Empire in Crisis) page 323. The premise of Imperial Harlots is pretty simple. The Empress cant do everything and doesnt want to. The real power lies with the ministers who advise her and attend to the details that make The Empire run. The PCs are those ministers. No Extra Dice? This game is played entirely at the Company level. Theres no need for In a typical REIGN game, the actions of the PCs give individual character sheets, as noth- bonus dice (or penalties) to relevant company rolls. In ings going to threaten them personal- Imperial Harlots, that doesnt happen. First off, with- ly (though it may not always look that out real character sheets, its difficult to resolve many way). Ive run it at conventions as a uncertain actions on the individual level. But more single session game, though Ive never importantly, The Empire has such swollen Qualities gotten all the way through the events already that more dice would get excessive. suggested. The dice dont hit the table that often, because the players have No such restriction lies on the rival companies, particu- to cooperate in order to accomplish larly at the beginning. The Strange Bedfellows are a anything. little bit of a deus ex machina to get events cooking. Therefore, some of their actions get significant help. Focus I originally created Imperial Harlots as a one-off to give Maximum power, applied at the high- players a gentle intro to the Company rules. I think it est of levels. This is a good one to still does that pretty well. run for players who couldnt care less 171 REIGN Recipes

172 Imperial Harlots Arc involved, the temptation to steer the game towards what you think is cool can be very strong. Resist it. You can In conventions, I assigned each of five pitch up some devils advocate argu- ministers to the players. Each of the ments if things seem boring, but in five makes final decisions for applying the end, the GMCs should go with the one Quality. They are consensus. If everyone else wants to use Might for a pre-emptive strike on Mique Nurim, Tender of the Vales. She the western front and your GMC de- controls The Empires Territory. nies it, theyre going to feel railroaded. Radiance Rosewood, Trustee of the Em- broidered Placket. Shes in charge of Act One Treasure. When the game opens (in Firstmonth), Will, Master of the Colors. Why no last there are four major issues nagging at name? Hes The Empress son. He the ministers. Most obviously, theres doesnt need one. He allocates Might. the war. Fox, Steward of Viands. Another prince, Hoping to reclaim one of its former this one is crafty and subtle. His vassal states, The Empire engineered a understanding of (and therefore, war with the Maemeck Matriarchy on power over) the nations Sovereignty its eastern border. is unmatched. The plan was to conquer them, use Chance Smithson, Imperial Minister for their mountains as a staging ground Protocol and Covert Assassinations. for an Opetkan invasion and, in the He typically leaves the last three end, get access to sea tradethe one words off his title. As youd guess, he financial element The Empire lacks. handles Influence. But the plan went badly off sched- ule when the Maemeck handed The If your group is bigger than five, you Empire defeat after stinging defeat. Its can add politicians with input and been a stalemate for years now. reduce the absolute authority of each of the original characters: Instead of having final veto power on what their Quality does, they vote along with everyone else and decide in the case of ties. If, on the other hand, you dont have five, let the players you have pick which character they want. (In con- ventions, I did this by letting them choose based solely on the characters innocuous titles.) You, the GM, can run the remaining ministers but make them wishy-washy. With GMCs that 172 REIGN Recipes

173 Imperial Harlots since its inception, but has remained culturally and racially distinct. There is now grumbling that they ought to be politically distinct as well. The Pa- The Rival Companies har feel neglected, like theyre suckling last teat behind the other four nations, The Strange Bedfellows: Might 4, Territory and unlike the other four theyre quite 4, Influence 4, Treasure 4, Sovereignty 5 forward about saying so. Pahar Insurgents: Might 1, Territory 1, Influ- ence 3, Treasure 3, Sovereignty 4 The first act (which can take a single session, or a couple sessions, or only Maemeck Matriarchy: Might 4, Territory 4, a couple hours, depending on your Influence 3, Treasure 3, Sovereignty 4 group) mainly consists of establishing Doves Knights: Might 2, Territory 1, Influ- these problems, discussing solutions, ence 3, Treasure 3, Sovereignty 2 and prioritizing resources. Thats the first month. Dindavara: Might 5, Territory 5, Influence 3, Treasure 4, Sovereignty 4 Unbeknownst to the PCs, theres a Uldholm: Might 4, Territory 5, Influence 5, cancer growing in the very bosom of Treasure 5, Sovereignty 3 The Empire. A conspiracy against the Pahar: Might 3, Territory 3, Influence 3, Trea- Empress life is poised to strike. It has sure 3, Sovereignty 2 no name in the game, but for conve- nience, I call it the Strange Bedfel- lows. Its a short term company that dissolves as soon as the Empress is attacked. It is composed of Maem- eck spies, Pahar zealots, and Doves Far away, on the other side of The Em- Knights. pire, Dindavara stirs. A new ruler has united its squabbling provinces and Doves Knights are a group of spoiled there is much fear that they are soon to and ruthless nobles who have en- strike out in conquest. These fears are deared themselves the heiress to the well-grounded. throne, Princess Dove. Tired of wait- ing for her mother to die so they can All these military threats and prob- be the powers behind the throne, they lems are a drain on the treasury, of decide to give nature a hand by help- course. Furthermore, while The Em- ing assassins into the palace. Does pire has always been rich with graft, it Dove know what actions are being is now showing signs of actually rot- taken on her behalf? Ive always left ting from it. The Empire has money, that ambiguous. but the layers of bureaucracy and the depth of malignant self interest keep In any event, they bide their time in The Empire from using anything but a Firstmonth. So do the Maemecks. fraction of its resources. Theyre just gathering their strength and waiting for The Empire to con- The final issue arises from within. The vulse with a succession crisis. Pahar nation has been in The Empire 173 REIGN Recipes

174 Imperial Harlots Firstmonth Act Two Strange Bedfellows hide if The Empire is conducting counter-espionage If the Empress is killed (which has sweeps: 8d vs. Influence+Sovereignty. been set up to be very, very, very Successful sets become Gobble Dice. likely) the entire Empire suffers a -1 Then they prepare for their strike, Sovereignty penalty as the shocking rolling 8+MD (or 6+MD if they news spreads that the Crimson Guard had to hide from spyhunters) vs. failed, that the Empress is no more Influence+Territory. If they fail out- and (rumor has it) the new Empress right, theyve revealed themselves. If had a hand in it. they succeed, they get a +1d bonus when they try their assassination next The PCs have a free hand for their ac- month. tions, for a little while. After that, their Maemecks build their army: 8d, Dif- enemies swing back into action. ficulty 4 Threemonth Plantingmonth Dove (probably) takes the throne. The Strange Bedfellows resist dispersal, rival Companies can react to the PCs if The Empire is aware of them decisions or attempt to grow their own and tries it. In this they roll 8d vs. strength, as the GM thinks apt. Might+Sovereignty, with the Bed- fellows set gobbling. Then they Fourmonth try to kill the Empress, rolling any- where between 9d (if they made This is about how long it takes for con- their roll last month and strike from firmation of the assassination to reach complete surprise) and 6d (if they the Maemeck border. They counter- blew it the month previous and attack The Empire, hoping to strike had to run around hiding from while theyre in disarray. The Empire this month). Whatever Maemeck attack: 7-8d vs. they roll, its against The Empires Might+Territory. Might+Sovereignty. Its the players choice whether The Empire tries to Angermonth prevent the killing, or catch the con- spirators when theyre actually inside The last of the Dindavaran Oathbound the palace. (This determines whether dies. The Ulds are panicking. The their Might+Sovereignty contest Dindavaran ambassador obliquely against the assassins is Gobble Dice or discusses an alliance with The Empire a simple dynamic contest.) Regard- against the Ulds. The Uldish ambas- less of how the mission plays out, sador indicates that the Dindavarans the Strange Bedfellows try to escape approached them with an offer of a afterwards with two fewer dice (so, similar alliance against The Empire. 7-4d). If they get away, they dissolve back into their individual Compa- None of the rivals have scripted ac- niesDoves Knights, the Maemeck tions, but behave as the GM sees fit. Matriarchy and the Pahar Insurgency. 174 REIGN Recipes

175 Stop, Thief! (Fraud Pays Better) Fruitingmonth two months (Winterlock and Dying- Did the PCs find out who was really month). My notes for the last month responsible for the assassination (or of the year say that unless things are attempt)? If they did not, a consensus different, the Maemecks fortify and emerges from beneath. Certain secu- the Dindavarans invade. But the odds rity officers take it upon themselves are, things are very different. to frame the Dindavarans, and this becomes the accepted public version of events. No scripted actions, since Stop, Thief! (Fraud much depends on how the PCs react- ed to the Strange Bedfellows. Pays Better) Harvestmonth From the height of Imperial deca- If the Dindavarans were successfully dence, we plunge to the depths of framed by anyone other than the PCs, Uldish scumbaggery. The PCs are all The Empire has -1 Sovereignty for the unguilded criminals in a major Uld- month. Otherwise, all Companies act ish city, trying to stay one step ahead freely. of their victims, the soldiers, and any guilds theyve defrauded. This one Fallingmonth plays out without any Company ac- Have the PCs destroyed the Pahar tion whatsoever. It could be a good Insurgency yet? If they havent, it suc- introduction to the setting and system ceeds and the Nation of Pahar secedes. without worrying about the sweeping This reduces The Empires Sovereign- details, or it could be a break between ty and Influence by one each, perma- world-beater games. Alternately, by nently. (Even if they quash the rebel- the end, the PCs could have cobbled lion, theres going to be a large drain together a Company of their own, set- on the goodwill needed for good intel ting them up for a sequel campaign. and stability.) Focus Chillingmonth Unless persuaded that theres no need, the Dindavarans start massing troops The center of this is trickery, mistrust in Danifa, on the Imperial border. and the delicate question of honor among thieves. Maybe the PCs form a Dindavara defends: 10d tight group who only trust each other. Maybe the machinations between different PCs become the focus of the Act Three game. It works either way, but both At this stage, theres not much point in options work best if you know which providing a script. The PCs actions it is early. If you dont determine it against one or all enemies has pre- before the game starts, keep an eye out sumably thrown two continents into to see which way its tending. turmoil. (By this point in playtests, the PCs had often destroyed at least one country.) Let events take any course that seems reasonable for the next 175 REIGN Recipes

176 Stop, Thief! (Fraud Pays Better) Ingredients always) and the Guild of Miners and Gemcutters. The Bankers and Soldiers are both poorly represented, since the Familiarize yourself with the First pulls of the jungle frontier in one di- Nation chapter in REIGN, on pages rection and the capital city in the other 61-73. You also need the pursuit and tend to seem more fruitful places for evasion rules (starting on page 66). those guilds to ply their trades. This The simplified combat rules from means that the city has a relative pau- page 201 in REIGN are also recom- city of armed officials, coupled with a mended, and Ill tell you why. If lot of loose wealth moving around. It the mechanics focus on hiding and is an ideal climate for crime. escaping, thats what the players do. Typically, a REIGN combat is almost The PCs are criminals, a gang with a mini-game of its own, with various no Followers allowed and no starting maneuvers and tactics coming into Wealth above 2. Burglary, blackmail play. In this scenario, the mini-game and smuggling are their stock in trade, that gets the attention is the cat and and business is fine. But theyd like mouse element of running. This can it to be better. If they have Patrons or be a pretty big shift, so make sure to Social Status, it probably comes from get your players on board. connections to the Guild of Traffick- ers, who are reliable buyers for goods that fell off a cart (or, more likely, off Arc someones bedside table and into a PCs purse). If nothing else, a few The city of Lumcrof is a crossroads in cunning Traffickers recognize that act- a fertile valley. Its on a main thor- ing as fences makes them less likely to oughfare between the capital at Ulf- be hijacked. nacht and the Heluso Confederacy. Its also the gateway to the largest Act One settlements near the Lightless Jun- For the first session, you need to gle. All these factors mean that a establish the PCs identities, how they lot of valuable goods are mov- know and interact with one another, ing through Lumcrofgold and their plans to steal the Sulderholm and foreign treasures from the Diamond from the local governor. Confederacy, finely wrought Uldish statuary and jewelry Governor Bittenrecht is a fat, lazy re- heading to the Confeder- gional boss who used to belong to the acy, plus rare plants and Guild of Weavers and Woodcarvers. animals poached from He got his position through compro- the jungle heading all mise. (No one in the Farmers or the over the nation. Miners was adamantly against him, though none were enthusiastically in The powers that be favor, either.) He has lined his own in Lumcrof are pockets extensively at the publics the Cultivators expense, but neither group is willing Guild (as to take a stand against him for fear of putting a rival in his place. Theyd 176 REIGN Recipes

177 Stop, Thief! (Fraud Pays Better) rather deal with corrupt but neutral phasis on chase and pursuit. Give the than cope with someone who hates Governor a skilled majordomo whose them and is, probably, just as greedy follower guards use bulk tactics, and and unethical. maybe a canny and perceptive sagea Javert for their Valjeans. Some things His daughter is getting married and, to consider during the heist are as part of her dowry, Bittenrecht has purchased the Sulderholm Diamond, If theres a fight, work on subdu- which is roughly the size of a spar- ing the character instead of killing, rows egg and horrifically valuable. and try to communicate that kill- Formerly kept in a fiendishly well- ing guards is going to invite severe guarded private estate, it is now just reprisals. sitting somewhere in Bittenrechts Be prepared for characters to get house. Sure, he hired mercenary captured, which means be pre- guards and has soldiers patrolling the pared to have other PCs go to the streets, but the plain fact is, that dia- rescue. The Governor doesnt mond isnt going to be more exposed exactly have an oubliette in his any time soon. Set up the house as house, so most likely any captives you want, but keep in mind the em- are getting tied up in the attic with Would You Like Omniscience With That? The game ought to kick off with all the PCs trying to steal the big diamond and either getting in one an- others way or cooperating on the fly. The question is, how to arrange this so that it maximizes fun? The answer differsgreatlyfrom group to group. Some groups prefer open gaming where they know what the other characters are doing at all times. They like the story and may cheerfully participate in their own characters humiliation if it makes a good scene. If youve got a group like that, you can pretty much present it as the starting conditions of the game that, Each of you is, separately or as part of a team with other PCs, trying to steal a diamond from the governor. Whats your plan? Other players prefer for surprises to their characters to also be surprising to the player. They feel that the game is cheapened when there arent one-on-one private GM consults and secret notes passing across the table. The farthest extreme in that direction is to separately inform each player about the diamond as if the knowledge is unique to their character, so that its really awkward when they all try to grab it simultane- ously. Im not going to say only one method works, because both work. Like carnivores and herbivores, some gam- ers just digest material differently. I do suggest that a single method is more likely to work well for your group, that you figure out which one you want, and that you communicate the choice clearly to all players. That way youre giving them the diet they want and they know whats on the menu. 177 REIGN Recipes

178 Stop, Thief! (Fraud Pays Better) a few household servants keeping Act Two watch. Motivate the characters to work The diamond maguffin gets the group together, if they arent already. Be together with a bang. But regard- as contrived as you want. Really! less of whether they get it or not, the Stack the events to force them second act can find them. The second into each others arms if neces- maguffin is a treasure map. sary. A first session forgives a lot more railroading than a later one. If they got the diamond, they find a Whatever you do is likely to be guy who can handle some fraction of less rigid than Youre all drinking its value. His names Jold and hes in a tavern when a guy with a map from the Sages and Enchanters Guild. comes up Rather than gold, however, he offers tools in trade: One-use magic charms Maybe one of the thieves runs into with fairly powerful spells (Intensity the daughter and they fall in love 4-6, cast by Experts or Masters) or at first sight. Hey, it could hap- perpetual magic items with Intensity pen. Running around the house and cut- ting capers can be a fine session one. Once theyre all out of the house, the main question becomes: Did they get the jewel? If they got it, then the next adventure is fencing it and splitting up the take. Some possibilities with this include: And Love True Love Other thieves trying to re-steal it. Finding a fence who can handle If youve got a PC ensnared with love at action this heavy. first sight with the intended bride you can branch off into all kinds of cool territory. Evading the governors guards nd Her intended is a swine, hes exploring thief-takers. avenues of premarital infidelity and, as it Dealing with a trickster who happens, is an excellent swordsman with claims to have the jewel, planning at least an MD in Dodge. PCs may come up to bilk the Governor out of its with fake identities with which to woo her, ransom. but her daddy isnt going to be impressed Alternately, they may escape without long term without a serious outlay of cash. the payout. Are they going to try for Where to get the money? How to go legit? it again, against increased security? Oh, if only there was some kind of hidden Are there other criminals who are temple to legally ransack upset that the PCs angered the Gov- ernor, maybe upset enough to be out for blood? The answers to those can nicely fill out a second session. 178 REIGN Recipes

179 Stop, Thief! (Fraud Pays Better) 1-2 spells on them. Hes got a little bit him, dissuade his followers, get there of gold to go with it, but he sweetens first or lead the natives to his camp the deal: He has the map to a hidden instead of theirs? (How do you say temple. The Sulderholm diamond why dont you two fight in Jungle was just one of the treasures that was Mutant?) looted from it decades ago, and to the best of his knowledge, no one has Act Three been back since. As part of the deal, hes willing to give them the map. As with the transition from Acts One to Two, theres a fork in the road: If they didnt get the diamond, set up Either they succeeded in looting the some pressure. The Governor wants temple of some or all of its jewel- to know who violated his home and encrusted goodies, or they came back hes putting on pressure in every empty handed. direction. Lumcrof is suddenly a very uncomfortable place for them to be. Empty-handed is clearly a bummer Motivate them to take a vacation, and option. By this point, its quite pos- when theyre motivated, have Jold sible that events have built up suf- show up with his map, looking for ficient momentum and there are plots some bold folks to accompany him on enough for them to pursue. Maybe an expedition. they found other valuable things in the forest (glowing birds fetch a good Of course, the temple is deep in the price on the open market, and poisons Lightless Jungle, so after sneaking out and drugs made from jungle plants of town, the PCs are going to wind up command even more coin on the in pitch black thick foliage, dealing black). Maybe they stumbled across a with mutant enchanters who recog- secret Imperial forward camp, prepar- nize them as the hated lightbear- ing to invade. (But who would believe ers. If Jolds with them, hes mostly the word of thieves?) Maybe they a loadhe has a spell or two, but rescued a tribesman or two, and now hes not attuned and is more geared have weird mutant sidekicks. (Or, towards helping them forward with if a PC snuffs it in the temple, those information, rather than fricasseeing mutant sidekicks can become PCs. I enemies. Make it clear that the PCs bet you know exactly which of your are outnumbered and outgunned, so players would really dig being the its going to be more exciting run and last survivor of a proud warrior tribe, hide action until they reach the heav- dont you?) ily trapped temple, where Jold at- tempts to betray them and either steal But if none of those appeal, theres a the loot himself or convince a PC or tidy plot branch that can bring things two to rip off the others. nicely full circle. Turns out, while the PCs were in the bush, the bride got On the other hand, if Jold just sold kidnapped! The Governor and the jerky them the map and didnt go with fianc are equal parts desperate and them, he has (of course) made his own clueless, but with their underworld copy and is mounting a counter-expe- contacts, the PCs can find out which dition. Can the PCs track and chase crime lord has imprisoned her at his stronghold in the barren hills. It 179 REIGN Recipes

180 Youre On My-yi-yi Ocean would be a tough job for the Governor Focus to assault the place, but since hes un- likely to take the word of the PCs, the best course is probably just to rescue Theres no abstract, profound phi- her themselves and rely on her fathers losophy behind this one, unless its, gratitude to erase past indiscretions. Yo ho ho, Im awesome! This is a (Jerky fianc may or may not pursue straightforward game of thrilling na- them in order to steal their thunder val encounters, crafty battles, robbery and/or get tricked into fighting the Big on the high seas, and smugly looking Bad to the death while the PCs make down on those who work for a living. off with the girl and any valuables Essentially, its the Beastie Boys song they see lying around.) Rhymin an Stealin in fantasy RPG format. If the PCs did loot the temple, they can return, buy themselves plush fake identities and start a Company. If the Ingredients temple was a sufficient climax, you can close the arc and (if you want) For this, you need Die, Men! from page start a new one where they use their 98, Work For Your Lives! from page 120, newfound resources to muscle in on the Company rules from Chapter 4 in the Lumcrof underworld. Or you REIGN, most of Supplement 4 and a could run any of the stuff from the good chunk of Supplement 5. Thats failed temple raid, only adding (1) a lot of cultural material to digest, the advantage that theyre now filthy so if your players are new to REIGN rich and (2) the disadvantage that a you may want to find a way to break powerful tribe of jungle weirdos is it to them gradually. Leaving out all so enraged by the desecration that the other supplements, keeping their theyve followed the PCs into the light access to foreign magic minimal and in order to get bloody revenge and considering the simplified combat reclaim their treasures. from page 201 in the main rule book are all ideas to consider as well. Your on My-yi-yi Ocean Arc (Rum, Nostoviol and the Lash) The Nguzi delta is hot, moist, full of insects, thick with crocodiles and The PCs are an Ob-lob family with a snakes and plants that look almost like decent sized fleet, and their basic role carrots except they make you violently is scourge of the seas. Operating ill if you eat them. Nonetheless, com- from a base in the Ruhini Delta, they pared to the barren dirt of the desert, take ships, terrorize smaller settle- it offers some serious advantages. ments, do black-bag mercenary work Especially if youre a well-armed and for all three of the delta cities (who insular group of Ob-lob pirates. First hate them, but hate one another more), off, its fertile enough that you can drink rum and engage in the copious garden with minimal effort. sexual hijinks for which Ob-lob sailors are justly famed. 180 REIGN Recipes

181 Youre On My-yi-yi Ocean Secondly, its contested ground, with occupy storage space, but so would three powerful cities constantly vying his food. It looks like a cakewalk and for more of that prime growing land. the PCs are just about to dive into it. Okay, thats something of a backhand- Except, when they get close, the ship ed advantage, since armed troops of spins and comes in to ram, and theres all three cities periodically try to find a man at the front, spreading his the Ob-lob base and wipe it out. But wings and shouting lightning. (Hes a the Ob-lobs are definitely lower on the stormtongue, as described in REIGN.) hit list than the armed troops of other cities, so its not impossible to play The whole thing was a setup. The them against each other. ship is just a ship, though more re- inforced than a normal merchant Thirdly, it offers access to the sea, spe- craft. It has several sorcerers aboard cifically to the well-trafficked Upunzi (of whatever type tickles your fancy) sea lanes (and the less-active ones and a cargo of sea-trained Upunzine to Kiqwani). A fast Ob-lob ship can soldiers. Their mission is to lure in overtake a laden merchantman and, pirates, kill as many as possible and with no need to carry the food and hopefully sink one or more ships. water stores for a month-long journey, The game starts with the lure sinking disgorge more fighters than any ocean in firmly: With the winged wizard merchant can carry. aboard, their captain knows almost to the second when the wind is going So the Ob-lob pirate life is pretty good. to die out completely. His plan is to Sneak into one of the big cities every isolate one ship, overwhelm it, and now and then to find out about ex- then try to chase down the others by pected arrivals or departures, buy any having all of his troops drop spears supplies you need, take them back to and grab oars. the settlement, seize a freighter, use the money to buy more ships and sup- Are the PCs up to a fair fight? The plies simple. military bait ship has as many soldiers on it as the Ob-lob fleet has pirates. If Simple until it all goes to hell. the Ob-lobs are on one big ship, its a dead even match. If theyre divided Act One between several ships, the one that got closest is going to have a pretty tough Once the characters have developed defensive fight on its hands while the their Company and characters, start others get nearer. Obviously, this can them with the ocean wind in their be a big set-piece fight if the PCs want faces, and a fat Upunzi merchant one. If they try to run, its not easy: ship on the horizon, steadily grow- Its going to be pulling oars until the ing fatter. Their quarry is on the way wind picks up again, and that winged to Muhulc, and the gossip is that the freak can fly overhead and rain light- captains greedy. That means the ning on them. Then theres the likeli- ships over-laden and slow, stacked hood that someone realizes the trap with mid-grade incense and Ruhini may not be fully sprung yet: If the spices. Probably lightly guarded too, city predicted their pursuit, its likely since every defender would not only they planned for the pirates to flee as 181 REIGN Recipes

182 Youre On My-yi-yi Ocean well. Reinforcements could be on the Abject Defeat. Ships sunk. Men way, cutting off the route back to the killed. PCs captured. No pretty way swamps. Its a compromised position, to put it, the trap got em good. But for sure. the measure of a hero is not what he does when he wins, but how he comes All in all, there are several ways this back from an old-fashioned ass- can play out. whuppin. Imprisoned in the hold of one of the ships, there are still options. Total Victory. The PCs are geniuses Theyre rich pirates: Surely at least with hot dice and they manage to one of the soldiers guarding them is overcome the soldiers, neutralize the susceptible to bribery. Or they could spellcasters and take the ship. They escape, or overpower a guard, or wait now have a fairly decent new boat for until the ship was caught in a storm their troubles, not to mention some and escape during the panic. Depend- serious bragging rights. But what to ing on their inclinations, they could do with the officers and soldiers (as- even scuttle the ship themselves and suming it wasnt a total massacre)? escape as it was headed towards the Walking the plank is pretty harsh, bottom. especially given the threat of a haunt- ing. Setting them adrift or marooning Act Two them might be more attractive, though will their mercy create some lingering A good way to set up the second goodwill? Or is it perceived as humili- phase of the arc is to rewind to the ation, spurring the liberated officers PCs departure from their swamp to dedicate themselves to bringing the base, as they set out to chase their pirates low? Up to you. Just surprise treacherous prize. About a week after them. they sail off, an Upunzine squad at- tacks the settlement. This is straight- Close Victory or Draw. Losses are up Company action, unmodified and heavy, but the PCs prevail, either driv- (surprisingly) fairly even. Originally, ing off or escaping from their attack- the Upunzis planned to send a huge ers. Do they head home and risk be- force to disperse the Ob-lobs, but then ing followed? Set ashore on the barren there were rumblings of interest from coastline, hoping to scratch out some the north. They also worried that an sustenance or find someone to rob be- overwhelming force would lose the fore reinforcements can arrive? Or do element of surprise, while a smaller they push on to a farther city outside group of elite fighters might resolve Ruhini influence, without the supplies the attack before the defenders realize to get there safely or with certainty? whats happening. That plan might have worked just fine too, if it wasnt Loss. They lost one or more ships, for the vagaries of swamp fever and many men, and have been put to constrictor attack. So the settlement flight, bloodied and broken. The same gets no bonus dice from PC actions, concerns apply as with a draw, only but they dont suffer any penalties or now they have the additional concern have to confront a superior foe, either. that the ship that chased them off is probably still pursuing them. The conflict in the swamp determines what happens when the PCs return 182 REIGN Recipes

183 Youre On My-yi-yi Ocean either in triumph with the captured Possibly the PCs, if theyve got an or- Upunzine ship, or in despair, hav- acle on board who can tell them of the ing lost everything and escaped, or simultaneous attacks. Forewarned, something in between. The progress they might not even head back, taking of the arc depends on the combined to the water indefinitely, offering their outcomes. service to Kiqwani against Upunzi, or even becoming legitimate merchants Victory on Land and at Sea: Hah! Ob- until they can find a way to get back at lobs triumphant! They wont bring the city that cost them their families. Upunzi to its knees, but they certainly get some breathing room and raised Doubled Defeat: Well hell. At this credibility. Bonuses are certainly point, your game is in serious danger in order if they choose to (1) launch of a trip to bummer-town. The solu- reprisals against Upunzi shipping tion is to offer hope. Emphasize the directly, (2) change things up by mak- assets that remain: Not everyone could ing raids on the citys swamp settle- get killed or captured in the swamp ments or (3) negotiate with Kiqwani or raid, just like its unlikely that every Sudevu for a joint assault. ship and every sailor was destroyed in the ambush. After wrecking the settle- Settlement Wins, Sailors Lose: The ment, its plausible that some Ob-lobs PCs have seen ships lost or dam- died, but more either ran off into the aged, but their land holdings are wilderness, surrendered, or got in- intact. How are they going to rebuild jured and captured. Same thing with the fleet? Or are they going to strike the boats and sailors: Capture is more off in an entirely different direction, likely than massacre, especially with claiming more settlement space from the hope of prizing the secrets out of the swamp or raiding the road traffic an Ob-lob vessel. So in the case of a along the deltas landward edges? Are doubled defeat, remind the players of they going to fortify the settlement, or these facts, suggest that theyve been abandon it now that the Upunzines in tighter spots before and started know exactly where it is? Its quite their pirating careers with less than likely, by the by, that any land-based they have now, and then ask them victory leaves the PCs holding a what theyre going to do. number of Upunzi soldiers hostage. What do they intend to do with them? No matter whether they administered Release them into the swamp to die or a resounding beat-down or received live on their own? Try to turn them one, its clear that Upunzi has thrown against their civic masters? Fill them down the gauntlet. The PCs have the with false information and permit opportunity to slink away and look for them to escape? Risk ghostly wrath riper opportunities in Heluso if they and possibly their reputation by bury- want. Is that what they want? If it is, ing them in a mass grave? youre on your own to set that up but you may want to keep needling them Triumph on the Waves, Tragedy in about the defeat in Upunzi, especially the Swamp: How about that, the Ob- if they give the city months to expand lobs won on the boats and lost on the their command of the seas. Just as ground. Who could have foreseen it? deer overpopulate their environ- 183 REIGN Recipes

184 Youre On My-yi-yi Ocean ment without wolves to trim back the shrinks. The prison is heavily forti- herds, so go the fleets of Upunzi (both fied, but its isolated and has relatively mercantile and military) without the few guards: Once a rescue force was PCs to keep them humble. Some steps inside, they wouldnt need to worry they may want to take against the city much about a timely chariot deploy- include ment, even if the alert was given right away. The march to work is when the Free the Prisoners: If they lost the prisoners are freshest, and there arent settlement battle, the captives from nearly as many guards (a few chariots that raid are toiling at a forced-labor come out as escorts though), but its farm, clearing jungle swamp back, through a nice flat stretch of land. An shoring up farmland, digging irriga- ambush would be hard to stage with- tion ditches and just generally being out really fast vehicles or an agonizing unpiratical. Simply staging a jailbreak night spent lying in wait in the icy is pretty hard, and getting somewhere desert. And, of course, its when the safe without careful planning before- guards are most alert for trouble. The hand is very hard. But if the prisoners shipyards are right by the water, so are waiting for a sign, and the PCs a daring rescuer might sail in at high soften up or suborn the guards, and speed, torch the place, and get the hell if there are vehicles waiting to whisk out with the rescued Ob-lobs in tow. the escaped Ob-lobs to safety (Im Getting the ship there past the fast thinking friendly ships laying off the ramming rowboats of Upunzi and the coast, waiting to be rowed to after a citys own defenses is a real challenge, pursuit through the deadly swamp, but on the plus side, the rescued pris- or wind schooners ready for a hard oners all know exactly how to make run to Sudevu really, anything that a ship go real fast, and theyre highly justifies a cool pursuit, thats what Im motivated to not get their eyeballs thinking) then its a lot more manage- eaten. The final option is to try and able. GMs choice whether this is run get them when theyre marching back as a Company action or just handled to jail, but that has the same problems on the personal scale. Incidentally, as getting them in the morning, except if you want to put some pressure on, that darkness is coming (good!) but spread the rumor that the guards the prisoners are exhausted and un- measured many of the prisoners for able to move fast (very bad). eyepatches. Lobby the Ob-lobs for Aid: The Ob- Liberate the Sailors: This is both lob families are pretty hostile towards more urgent and more difficult. Any any PCs who let the Upunzis capture captured sailors are likely to get the an Ob-lob ship, and the more intact choice between a judicial blinding and the ship is, the more angry they are. work in the shipyards, with attendant The despoiling of the delta village is pressure to reveal Ob-lob secrets of regarded with more sympathy, but ship design. The shipyards are on the Ob-lob philosophy is pretty clear that water (of course) but the prisoners if you take the bait, youre to blame are kept in a fortified jail outside the when the trap falls on you. Are there city. Each day, theyre marched in as favors to call in? People to persuade the sun swells, and marched back as it or, perhaps, trick? Maybe they could 184 REIGN Recipes

185 Youre On My-yi-yi Ocean do a few little deniable, illegal favors land and strike hard instead of wal- for the law-abiding Ob-lobs of lowing across the ocean for a month. Kiqwani, Southport or Upunzi itself, Repeat, with the occasional break for and in return get the use of a ship liquor and nostoviol. (which they would, of course, have to steal) for a time, returning it when If the PCs had an easy time of the they get some craft of their own back. ambush and fought off the swamp assault, they may jump directly to Make a Deal with Kiqwani: The increased raiding. If thats the case, pirates never preyed on the city of they may get approached by reprep- Kiqwani for the very simple reason resentatives from Ob-lob families who that theres a lot less shipping going are concerned about the Elders anger. through it. Kiqwani would like to There may even be a few assassina- change that. (Um, the shipping bit, tions attempts or some spying. Those not the preying bit.) They distrust the Elders can spy real good when some- Ob-lobs, but not so much that theyre things on their mind. But whether unwilling to work with them against it takes them a long time to get back Upunzi, especially since the push to piracy, or whether they jump to it against the Ob-lobs in the swamp right away, thats the presumption was only part of a large campaign of that sets up the third act. aggression in the delta. Ironically, the stronger the Ob-lobs original posi- Act One tion, the less trusting Kiqwani is. If the pirates won both engagements, the After some successful raids, let the Kiqwani consider them too dangerous PCs get wind that Upunzi wasnt the to let close to the city. If, on the other only city building up naval strength: hand, the PCs Company got smacked Zhaolu, a Wu-hra seaport notoriously around hard, the Kiqwanis think they intolerant of Ob-lobs (to the extent can take advantage of it in its weak- of greeting any pale-skinned travel- ness. Certainly they might gamble a ers with fire and curiously-curved few unmarked ships if they were per- swords) has been building boats that suaded those ships would be used to sound suspiciously like troop trans- make life hell for the Elders. Kiqwani ports. Given their already-impressive wants to stop Upunzi from building array of fast-moving close range attack a powerful navy, and it wants to steal ships (the kind of thing you really Upunzis dominant trade position. If need when youre a seaport that hates the PCs burn down Upunzis docks Ob-lobs) it suddenly looks like they and prey heavily on merchants going could sail down the coast, unload there, while giving Kiqwani a pass, the troops near Upunzi, or Kiqwani and southern city is likely to regard a few mount a reasonable siege during the light merchant ships (easily converted cold (well less hot) season. With sea to coastal raiders) a small price to pay. power and clear lanes they could keep their troops supplied. If they landed Disrupt Shipping: In times of trouble, in the delta they might even live off go with what you know. Hit ships. the land, though thats not an uncom- Take booty. Refit stolen boats so plicated idea. As part of the Zhaolu theyre optimized to move fast, hug plan, those fast-assault ships might 185 REIGN Recipes

186 Youre On My-yi-yi Ocean start ranging farther from home, muti and escape with their vengeance further harassing Ob-lob ships. After (maybe). They can sell their knowl- all, nothing messes up a good naval edge to Kiqwani, get substantial sorcer- engagement like some pervy white ous backup and (just maybe) collapse pirates trying to crash the party. the whole damn tower, killing most or even all of the Elders. They can even After this development, the PCs are get into Nimutis presence and extort approached by an agent of the Elders. concessions out of him in return for (For a fun twist, it could be someone his life and information about the El- theyve been working alongside for der who sold him out. With the threat a whilebut if you go that route, be of Zhaolu shadowing the city, Nimuti prepared for them to kill him out of may be willing to forgive, forget and hand.) This particular spy works for even reward the despised pirates, an Elder named Kushuitl (though rather than face a Wu-hra siege. both spy and Elder do everything in their power to keep the PCs from ever However they want to play it, they get hearing that name), and Kushuitl is to watch Upunzi and know they wrote decidedly not the Elder who planned its destiny. If theyre watching from and executed the ambush and swamp atop a mountain of stolen valuables, assault. That was Nimuti, a name the thats even better. PCs also wont get, until theyve given meaningful indications that theyre willing to at least hear an Elder out in good faith. (Not killing the spy is only a start.) Kushuitl hates Nimuti. If the PCs triumphed handily against Nimutis early attacks, Kushuitl despises his fellow Elder for clumsiness, ineptness, and for still being trusted with im- portant defense decisions after those screwups. If Nimuti clobbered the PCs, Kushuitl envies Nimutis trium- phalism and increased prestige. If its been mostly a draw, Kushuitl both envies and despises his rival. Kushuitl is willing to let the PCs into the highly reinforced Elders Tower, providing them with directions to Nimutis offices and chambers. All they have to do is take their piratical vengeance and keep Kushuitls name out of it. From here, there are hardly any inherently bad moves for the PCs to make. They can go in, assassinate Ni- 186 REIGN Recipes

187 Youre On My-yi-yi Ocean 187 REIGN Recipes

188 The Ministers: Fox The Ministers The following pages have descriptions of the ministers for Imperial Harlots but no pictures. You can get these descriptions with pictures at but I didnt feel right about using those images in a book sold for profit. Title: Steward of Viands, Domestic make it as great as it once was, and Overlord and Prince Imperial this is the dilemma. You are a man of Name: Fox peace, but you live in a nation built on blood. You know as well as anyone Domain: Sovereignty (3) the malaise that grips the nation: Bore- dom, the mask for shame, which is fed by the shrinking map of conquered Personal History: The others call her countries. States that were once your Empress. Youve always just called minor vassals now compete on nearly her Mother. You are her youngest equal terms, throughout the known son, her baby, you have never lacked world. Imperial citizens feel as if their for anything in your life. Other than nation is in its senescence, and the in- her elite guards, who are bound to terminable battles with the Maemecks serve through repulsive enchantment, seem to prove this true. This shame you are one of three men who are per- leads to despair, which feeds corrup- mitted to bear weapons in the Palace. tion and decadence. Of those three, you are the only one who does not exercise that option. Should your nation cocoon itself, lick its wounds and try to grow once more Will, her oldest, broods and mutters, from the richest and broadest firma- stewing in a fine broth of his own re- ment in the world? Thats the Pahar sentment. Chance, the spymaster, isnt peoples advice. Or should you re- fooling anyone with his stale charade of claim the lands of the Maemecks, and incompetence at least, hes not fool- push through to the sea, and infuse ing you but may still be wise enough to your nation with a new purpose and know it. Mique, the Pahar, has the du- the hope of new greatness? ties closest to your own, but while she tends to bodies and land, you cultivate Is the hope of your country built on the Imperial spirit and tend to your blood? Thats the question that keeps civilizations history. As for Radiance, you awake at night. the banker, you have little in common. Youve never needed to count costs, and she does little else. It is your duty to make the Empire as strong as it can be. It is your dream to 188 REIGN Recipes

189 The Ministers: Fox What You Can Do worked together fairly well, though you wish shed get behind the war effort not just to quiet With Might, you can quell internal dissent, Will, but because victory in this matter is essen- pursue bandits and police your citizens. tial. With Territory, you can increase Might. The Issues With Treasure, you can increase your Influ- ence Dindavara: What everyone forgets is that the Dindavarans have fought the Empire and lost. With Influence, you can uncover internal The new Hai Riyan is no fool, unlike the squab- enemies. bling warlords who kept the nation embroiled in The other Counselors civil war for decades. No Dindavaran army has fought an outside military for decades. Surely its Mique Nurim: She is the only other person crossed the Great Leaders mind that they may on the council who can cook anything. Will, have forgotten how to fight dishonorable barbar- Radiance even Chance, none of them ians. could make soup. But you can, and she Pahar: The Pahar have been in the Empire since can. You know this about her and she its inception, but have never been Imperial. They doesnt know it about you. She is a practical just dont want to admit that theres a price they woman and an intelligent one. Intelligent have to pay for their fiercely-maintained identity. enough to understand what defeating the They want to have their language and customs Maemecks could mean for the Empire. and prayers and be treated as if theyre no differ- Practical enough that she wont show her ent from the nations that assimilated into one cul- opinions before her countrymen. ture (more or less). Unfortunately, no one seems Prince Will: Your older brother who, despite to want to tell them its impossible. So maybe being one of mothers closest advisors, still building a couple monuments to great Pahars in doesnt feel close to her. Youve tried to ex- history will calm them down. plain to him how high he sits in her esteem, The Maemeck Matriarchy: If the Empire loses this but he wont hear it, any more than he hears war, people will believe that everything they it about you. Its sad. But its his own damn fear about themselves is true. They will believe fault. they are a nation in decline. They will believe the Chance Smithson: The foolish fop noble- shadow of former greatness is so dark and long man ruse didnt fool anyone, so hes fallen that they cannot emerge. They will give up, more back on grim former spy, but you suspect than they have already given up. that underneath that is the truth political The Fiscal Crisis: The issue is not money. You gadfly whose debts mounted to the point know the Empire has money because youve that he had to start betraying his friends been in the treasure vaults and seen it piled up, for money. Well, perhaps now that hes a tidy columns and stacks of coin, gold bars, gems well-funded intelligence operator, he can be neatly sorted by size and clarity. The issue is that trusted. Probably not, though. the people think Imperial ministers are wasting Radiance Rosewood: Once you showed up their money, or stealing it, or using it for their unannounced at her house, and when you own purposes. Thats all true, of course: No one were shown into her chamber she was would want to be a minister without the reward stark naked. Surprisingly, her utter lack of of power, and money is a versatile power indeed. self-consciousness quenched any eroticism So what is necessary is to demonstrate Imperial as thoroughly as a thunderstorm would effectiveness, Imperial action, so that they ignore put out a campfire. Since that time, youve the inevitable waste. 189 REIGN Recipes

190 The Ministers: Chance Smithson Title: Imperial Minister for Protocol With the death of the old spymaster and Covert Assassinations you have ascended to the highest level of control. Short of the Em- Name: Chance Smithson press herself, no one has greater Domain: Influence (5) authority over the Empires network of agents, assassins and thieves. It is a rare week when you do not sign Personal History: When you were a death warrant, and you know that young and handsome you studied those women and men still die by languages and music and traveled your hand, even if you hold a pen widely as a bard, charming all, of- instead of a strangling cord. fending few, appearing political to none. You went by the name Merry Your whole life has been spent Wellmet. standing in the shadows cast by the glory of Empire. Your lot has always You killed eleven people as Merry been to lie, murder and betray in the Wellmet. Four of them saw your name of Imperial destiny and a high- face before dying. Two you killed er law. Though you walk the sunlit wrongfully, due to mistaken identity. gardens of the Palace and discuss Sometimes you still have sleepless your plans with open frankness, you nights over those two. know that in time all your works In time your usefulness to the Em- will be forgotten, conveniently, pire merited you a promotion, and beside your name. But what of that? you became a diplomat. Your name You have power, and riches, and a then was Wane, Lord of Thunder place of honor in the worlds great- River. You got fat and lost hair and est nation. What need have you for reinvented yourself as a fuddled glory? fool, easily misled, prone to ill-timed misunderstandings. In this fashion What You Can Do you crafted a major political incident between the Maemecks and the na- With Sovereignty, you can uncover tion of Opetka, scuttling their chances internal enemies. of alliance and reopening antago- With Might you can perform covert nisms between the Maemecks and operations in other countries. the Empire. It was assumed that the With Territory, you can root out great Imperial army would crush the foreign spies. Maemecks, claim their lands, and be well on their way to restoring mari- With Treasure, you can gather infor- time trade for the Empire. mation from foreign lands. Its not your fault the army wasnt up The Other Counselors to the task. The border wars continue to this day. Thousands have died, Mique Nurim: A capable administra- though you tell yourself it is not by tor, if somewhat blind to the failings your hand. Not even by your will: of her own Pahar people. She is an You but carried out your Empress excellent organizer and operator commands, and capably. 190 REIGN Recipes

191 The Ministers: Chance Smithson of predictable things, which makes mighty weapon for any nation cun- her a good compliment to you (who ning enough to turn them against its work best with unpredictable things). enemy. Sadly, they have no border She hates you. with the Maemecks. Prince Will: All his life he has needed Pahar: This situation is far worse but to ask commandingly and his than anyone realizes, not even desires were made so. Now he has Mique. The people there are poised asked the Maemecks to surrender on the edge of insurrection. Fortu- and they have refused him. Now, he nately, the troops massing for the is tired and cranky. If he wanted to Maemeck wars are close by if the kill you, he probably could, even if need should arise. No one wants to you were both unarmed (which he turn the Empires troops on its own wouldnt be). But if you wanted to citizens, though if it has to happen, kill him, hed never see you coming. the Pahar are the group that could be Prince Fox: This one just might see suppressed with the fewest reper- you coming, even though, of all of cussions. them, he has the least understanding The Maemeck Matriarchy: Theyre of your true nature. He is a charming wise to all the tricks that the current and pleasant and generally benevo- Empress has the stomach to permit, lent human being. Thats dangerous. and its not worth your head to do While Mique and Radiance engage anything crueler or more extreme. the Empress mind, her son Fox has Even if it worked, the results might her heart. That makes this unarmed only steel their already-considerable Prince far more deadly than his mar- resolve to fight. After a point, tial older brother. unconventional warfare has dimin- Radiance Rosewood: Appallingly dif- ishing returns. Your spy network ficult to fool, except in affairs of the there is as good as its reasonable to heart. Youve had to screen out the expect, and the news doesnt seem to most odious and dangerous gold- change much. diggers two even needed to be dealt The Fiscal Crisis: The people com- with permanently. She has no idea plain that money is being wasted youve done this. If she knew, she when what they really mean is, the might despise you. Or it might make money is not being spent to bet- you her confidante. Youre not sure, ter them personally. Its the way of because she can also be appallingly things. difficult to predict. The Issues Dindavara: They will make war. The question is not when: They will go to war the day they can honorably do so. The question is, where? The People of the Sword would be a 191 REIGN Recipes

192 The Ministers: Miqwe Nurim Title: Tender of the Vales, and Terri- named leader by the people you led. torial Secretary The rest of them have no idea how Name: Miqwe Nurim you once a commoner can have such a fine instinct for governing the Domain: Territory (6) land. What You Can Do Personal History: Youre not like the others. You are Pahar. With Might, you can defend the They sit and scheme and pray to no realm against military invasion. gods beyond temporal power and na- With Treasure, you can increase ked ambition. You have a faith they Sovereignty. ignore, a tongue they cant speak With Sovereignty, you can increase (except for Smithson, sneaky bastard Might. youve never found yet a language he didnt know) and a culture differ- With Influence, you can root out ent from the rest of them. foreign spies Its not an alien culture. Pahar has The Other Counselors been in the Empire since its incep- tion, save for its brief period of Prince Will: A good-looking man, just insurrection. It is the only nation of coming into the fullness of matu- the five core countries that has ever rity. For a warrior, he seems oddly rebelled. Similarly, it is the only one dismissive of war, though given the that gives its people a voice, lets them fortunes of the eastern campaign, contribute in those areas they know that may indicate some surpris- best, lets them build as best they ing common sense. Still, you find know how. it hard to trust someone who, at a The rest of them are Lords, or Bar- relatively young age, is commanding onesses, or holders of other titles. one of the worlds most formidable Pahar had a royal family too, until armies and who still feels his am- the rebellion. After the uprising was bitions are thwarted. quelled, the Empress was merciful to Prince Fox: The nice one. Despite be- the representatives. She thought the ing a man, and the son of one of the real threat was the kings. She let the least maternal women youve ever quaint Pahar customs of election and known, he still seems to have some- participation continue. thing motherly about him. You are the fruit of those customs. Chance Smithson: So sneaky he could The Royalty tell this joke: How can probably untie a pretzel with his you tell a Pahar leader from any tongue. Youre glad hes on your other nations leader? In Pahar, the side, though youre distressingly cer- leaders are polite to the rude people tain there are people just as bad, or they govern. Everywhere else, its worse, arrayed against the Empire. the other way around. Nevertheless, Smithsons the one you have nightmares about. Of everyone on the council, youre the only woman who has ever been 192 REIGN Recipes

193 The Ministers: Miqwe Nurim Radiance Rosewood: Other than the about the Maemecks. Empress, shes the only other woman The Maemeck Matriarchy: If Radi- on the counsel, so you two have a ance would just spend what needs bond, despite disagreements on the to be spent, instead of trying to run issues. Her opinions about Pahar are a bargain war, the Empire could a barrier, certainly. Plus, you fear her win or, if not win, at least make loneliness may cloud her judgment. enough gains that they could walk But every time you feel that way, she away with pride and be ready for seems to produce some example of the Dindavaran invasion on the a vision so clear that its harsh and other side of the country. If the unyielding. It sits oddly with her oc- Dindavarans attack, the Maemecks casional wistfulness. have no incentive to make peace or keep it if they feel the fights been The Issues fair. If they think its a stalemate Dindavara: At the end of the last war, now, they might invade from the east they swore to respect the current bor- while the Dindavarans approach ders, as will our children and our from the west. Far better to settle childrens children. Theres wide- them now, make them grateful for spread debate among them whether any peace they can get, or ruin their that implies, and so on until the end army while The Empire still has of time or whether it ends when the the chance. final grandchild of the last noble who The Fiscal Crisis: The finances of the fought passes away. Theyre down Empire are a tangled thicket, which to one such grandson, the last of the is better than being a barren field. Oathbound and many feel theyll Radiance has her head on straight start invading when he dies. Hes about getting them under control, pretty old, theyre pretty tough, so but you think she could root out cor- the Empire needs to be ready. ruption and properly fund the war. Pahar: Your people arent happy and In fact, you think people would be none of the others understand why. less likely to steal if they felt there You do: Theyre unhappy because was an emergency and were moti- they dont think the Empire cares vated by patriotism or, if not pa- about their opinions. (The Lords triotism, by the fear of punishment. would say that being listened to has After all, treason has much harsher spoiled them.) Your appointment to consequences than mere corruption. the privy council has mollified them somewhat youve no illusions about your use to the Empress as a token but youre trying to make the percep- tion a reality by communicating their weariness with the Maemeck war and their dismay with the widespread financial corruption and mismanage- ment. This isnt easy because you think the majority is actually wrong 193 REIGN Recipes

194 The Ministers: Radiance Rosewood Title: Trustee of the Embroidered ugly realities, but its the only thing Placket, Imperial Purser capable of wrangling the Empires Name: Radiance Rosewood finances into order. Domain: Treasure (4) That is, if they dont get wasted on an interminable border war. Or en- tangled with some Princes dreams Personal History: It was a mess, a of glory and grandeur. Or simply horrible mess, and you were the only embezzled. one with the clarity to see it and the courage to call it what it was. Now What You Can Do youre in charge of the mess. With Influence, you can gather infor- You fantasize about being a simple mation from foreign lands. country girl, because your fondest With Sovereignty, you can increase memories are of life on your fam- your Influence. ilys wooded estate back home in Deerwood. Your more realistic side With Might, you can attack other realizes that being a peasant means nations. hard work and uncertainty and filth With Territory, you can increase and no pretty things. But that same Sovereignty. realism shows you that governing the funds of an empire means deal- The Other Counselors ing with contradictory demands and unreasonable expectations, it means Mique Nurim: Shes nice enough, late nights and blame and suspicion for a Pahar. But shes fallen under and never being away from pretty the Princes spell and believes, like things. The dresses are nice, but back them, that the Maemeck war is es- home you can go naked without it sential. Youre becoming increasing- being a scandal. No one tries that in ly certain that it cant even be won. the Palace. Prince Will: Handsome, intelligent It doesnt help at all that youre and utterly exasperating. If hed unmarried, and not once in the three been born to a different mother, he years youve been Imperial Purser could have been quite a man. As it have you met a man (or woman) who is, hes quite an ass. Though every didnt have an awful lot to gain by now and then, after a bottle of wine being your friend. Theres an unde- or two, you find yourself thinking niable appeal to resigning the office that he still might grow up, if the and letting it be someone elses prob- right woman could get him to love lem, but your practical side whispers her and stop him from resenting his that youd never get suitors of the Imperial mother. Fortunately, you caliber you currently enjoy, if you always sober up. werent sitting at the doorway of the Prince Fox: Sweet, gentle, surprising- worlds greatest treasury. ly modest, unsurprisingly useless. Besides, without you, the mess Chance Smithson: He needs you, so would only get worse. Your innate youre absolutely safe from him. pragmatism may show you a lot of 194 REIGN Recipes

195 The Ministers: Radiance Rosewood Only the people he needs have that The Fiscal Crisis: The single greatest protection. You dont think hes per- threat to the Empire today. With fectly remorseless, but he doesnt let regulated fiscal discipline, sweeping regret prevent him from doing what improvements could be made for he thinks is warranted. Is there any all the Imperial nations, not just the practical difference between a man Pahar. That would, in turn, give the with no conscience, and a man who strength needed to repulse any theo- just doesnt let his conscience stop retical Dindavaran attack, let alone him? the kind of counterstrike the Maem- ecks could raise. But no one wants The Issues to take the harsh measures necessary to put the house in order. No one Dindavara: The Empire has built wants to curb the excesses of spoiled fortresses along the western bor- noblemen like Chance, Fox and Will. der for generations. If youre not prepared now, its hopeless to try to prepare further at least, not by simply throwing money at the army. Building up the core strengths of the nation is the answer. Those strengths are the land, the loyalty of the people, and (lets be honest) its ability to cor- rupt self-interested smaller states into doing its dirty work. Pahar: Theyre whiny snobs, but that doesnt mean theyre wrong when they say the Empire has neglected their interests. The Empire has neglected the growth interests of all its citizens its just the Pahar are the only ones with politicians who can make gains by pointing out this inconvenient fact. The Maemeck Matriarchy: Speaking of simply throwing money away at the army Youve made sure the troops have food and carts and sharpening stones for their spears. Trying to pin any failures on you is simply the usual politics of blame. Gold doesnt make troops braver or leaders smarter. All it does in the uncertain circumstances of war is find ways to mysteriously vanish. 195 REIGN Recipes

196 The Ministers: Will Title: Master of the Colors, Wielder been sufficient to break their lines. of the Silver Stick, General of All You have the troops and the sorcerers Armies and Prince Imperial but you cant change the mountains. Name: Will It sounds straightforward until youre trying to dig entrenched Maemecks Domain: Might (5) out of a hilltop emplacement, with their enchanters sucking out all the magic for miles around while the Personal History: You are the oldest biauchris scream overhead, dropping son of the Empress and were it not for bricks and shit on troops who cant the curse, you would be heir to the fire back Empire. But the Maemecks, bad as they are, Thats how you think of your mas- are at least contained. The real threat culinity: a curse. Only a woman can is in the west. The Dindavarans, the wear the Imperial crown, so its not People of the Sword. They claim the even a question of gaining the Em- only thing stronger than their steel is press favor or removing those on the their honor, but even steel gives way rungs between you and the top of the after decades. Thats how long their ladder. Youre out of the running, no honor has kept them cooped up, two real contender. generations training and idolizing the It gets worse. Not only is your poten- Hundredslayer and fuming over the tial for power limited, its threatened. shame of losing Danifa to the Empire. With four younger sisters youre look- For a while, the spies and provoca- ing at a future of diminishing prestige. teurs kept the chiefs at each others Theyre too young to run things, but throats but now they have unified as they age theyll want opportuni- leadership. Now theyve stopped ties to prove their fitness to rule. The fighting each other and its only a oldest, Dove, has been practicing a matter of time until they look for great deal with the bow and you think someone else to battle. Only a matter she has designs on your position. You of time before their promise of peace remember the first time she gave you expires. a toothless smile when you handed You fear the Empire is the only nation her a toy, and now youre considering that would be an honorable challenge sending her to the front, to the east. to them. If youve got a war going on Shed love to go, and you could easily two fronts, it might not even be that. send her into something too thick, something no fourteen-year-old pal- What You Can Do ace brat could handle. Get her killed and keep your prerogatives safe, but With Territory, you can defend the could you do that to your own sister? realm against military invasion. Moreover, wouldnt losing her be With Treasure, you can attack other your failure as well? nations. Youre sick of your sisters and the With Sovereignty, you can quell Empress but most of all youre sick internal dissent, pursue bandits and of war. You inherited a stale, bogged police your citizens. down border war against the Maem- With Influence you can perform co- ecks and nothing youve tried has vert operations in other countries. 196 REIGN Recipes

197 The Ministers: Will The Other Counselors The Issues Mique Nurim: A staid and generally Dindavara: Its not a question of uninteresting bureaucrat, save that whether theyll come. Its a ques- shes Pahar and actually seems to be- tion of when, and how bad it will be. lieve in their religious claptrap. This Even if they decide to strike the Ulds surprises you because its clear that first, or the Confederacy, that just shes smart: She understands the Din- gives them one less enemy at their davaran threat better than your own back when they turn on the Empire. brother. Unfortunately, her solution Pahar: The Pahar whine, as theyve is to beat the Maemecks first, than the always whined. Youre glad theyre Dindavarans. But at least its better whining, because that means they than trying to beat them at the same have the luxury of being pains in the time. neck. When the situation gets bad, Prince Fox: Your younger brother is an theyll come through, like theyve al- impractical, starry-eyed, simpering ways come through. Youve worked sycophant. Naturally, hes the Em- with Pahar sorcerers, and the time to press favorite son. Hes not incom- worry is not when theyre afraid or petent, in that the things he wants to crabby or sniveling, its when theyre accomplish, he can generally arrange. quietly intent or are trying to raise Its just that his goals tend to come to your spirits. nothing, or at least, nothing meaning- The Maemeck Matriarchy: Its a hot ful. stove. Keep touching the stove and Chance Smithson: A good man, a patri- you keep getting burned. Let this one ot whos sacrificed a lot for his coun- go, let them keep the border theyve try. Sometimes you think his battles, held for years, and get the troops fought in the dark with dagger and to the west. Whats the big reward, blackmail, have left him more scarred anyway? Access to the sea? Then we and horrified than your own. have to try to build a navy in the face Radiance Rosewood: High-strung and of Ob-lob opposition, while the Din- stubborn, you think she may be the davarans beat down the back door. only woman in the world including The Fiscal Crisis: What crisis? The your mother who could compre- Empire has too much money to read- hend and tame the Empires finances. ily track? Thats ridiculous. When For all that, shes been an anchor things get low, you can invent or around the war effort, always finding conquer or discover more. Thats the a higher priority. Shes constantly way its always been done. Money surrounded by a cloud of suitors, in the bank isnt helping anyone, each trying to sway her financial clout especially when soldiers in the field their way. She drives you crazy, but need it. the men around her make you sick. It would serve her right if you tried to seduce her in order to change her mind about war funding. Honestly, that doesnt sound like such an oner- ous task 197 REIGN Recipes

198 Maps ne of the most frequent criti- play in REIGN can work just fine O cisms of REIGNs setting has been I just dont get the geogra- without that particular piece of fantasy. So, to help out people phy! People dislike the people- who like the setting and the poli- shaped continents that defy any tics but not the physics, Ive de- sane grasp of physics. signed an alternative map which I designed the world that way illustrates the known world as because the idea fascinated me, more typical continents. but the actual core substance of (If you want to print these out, go online to and you can get large, full color files.) 198 Maps

199 Maps 199 Maps

200 Quick Reference Chase References 200 Quick Reference

201 Combat Reference Combat Rundown Pin - Take -1d if trying to pin someone while standing, otherwise both go Declare - Describe what your character tries. Highest Sense declares last, GMCs down and are motionless. To escape he has to beat your Body score as declare before PCs. a Difficulty to his roll. Roll - Roll the appropriate pool, with any penalties for maneuver or the like. Restrain - Called shot to arm or leg. Gives Gobble Dice against restrained target. Resolve - Widest set goes first, Height breaks ties. Shove - Tripping or slamming opponents get +1d. With a set, move him 5, Getting Hurt cost him a die, and get +1d next turn to trip or slam. Hits do Width damage, plus any bonuses from weapons. When hit, lose a die Stand - Removes Downed, -1d penalty to other actions. from any of your sets (your choice). Tackle - Tripping or slamming opponents get +1d. Roll with -1d penalty. With a set, it does normal damage and both you and opponent are In Bad Shape downed. Blind - Diff 4 to close action, -2d to ranged action Threaten - Before combat, roll Intimidate to produce Morale Attack equal to Dazed - (Torso full of Shock) -1d to all actions Width. Down - On ground, -1d to all actions. Wait - Can choose to time any successful action later. Unconscious - (Head full of Shock) No actions for at least a half hour unless Advanced Maneuvers revived with Healing roll. Charge - Multi-act with Ride or Run. Run gives +1d if youre Tripped. Not Getting Hurt 2x Ride set = +1S Dodge and Parry sets turn into Gobble Dice. In a fight, Gobblers cant be used 3x set = +2S, +1K against attacks that are timed quicker. 4x set = +3S, +2K. Any single Gobble Die can counteract any single opponents die that is its own Disarm - Called shot to arm. Unarmored, multi act with Dodge or take 1K to Height or lower. an arm. Sets reduced to one die have no effect. Gobble Dice from a single set can coun- 2x Weapon flies H feet away teract dice from multiple other sets. 3x As above, 1S to his hand Unworthy Opponents 4x 2S to hand, you hold weapon or its at your feet. Declare - You dont need to declare their actions. Disfiguring Strike - Called shot to head with killing weapon. Gives Gruesome Problem or Roll - Roll 1d per follower, maximum 15d. 2x Reduce Beauty 1 step Resolve - When each set comes up, use it as a defense or attack. Sets of 4x+ must be broken down to 2x or 3x sets. No maneuvers. Theyre out of the fight 3x Reduce Beauty 2 steps when hit by a set with Width or Height over their Threat. When hit, they 4x Gives Gruesome Problem lose a set. Morale Attacks remove followers = to their rating if they exceed Display Kill - Take -1d penalty, must land killing strike. Threat. 2x Morale Att. = W or H Basic Moves 3x Morale Att. = W+Command or H Attack - If you get a set past defenses, it does damage. 4x Morale Att. = W+Command+Intimidate or H Dodge - Either produces Gobble Dice or gets you to cover. Only protects you. Knockout - Called shot to head Parry - Produces Gobble Dice. Can protect others. Need an object to block with 2x Weapon does only S or arms get hurt. 3x Weapon does only S+1 Move - 15 feet/round no roll, success with Run adds Width x5. 4x Weapon does only S+3, cant become K. Aim - Each round spent preparing adds +1d to a later pool or offsets a -1d pen- Slam - Diff 3, similar weight alty, max +2d or offsetting -2d. 2x Down, 1S to loc.s 3 & 5 Called Shot - Drop a die from your pool, set another die to the result you want, 3x Down, 1S to all but loc. 10 roll. 4x Down, 1S to all, WS to indicated location Multiple Actions - For each extra action, drop a die from the lowest pool in- Strangle - Called shot to head, no penalty if hes pinned. volved. Each action needs a set. 2x 2S to head, auto 2x10 next turn if strangles unbroken by Dodge, Simple Maneuvers Parry or Attack. Display - Only on the first round of combat. Gives +1d or offsets -1d penalty to 3x 3S to head, auto 3S next turn if not dislodged this turn. next attack on a witness. 4x W+1S to head, auto 4S next turn if not dislodged this turn. Draw - Any action taken with a weapon the round its drawn is timed 1 Width Trip - Called shot to 1 or 2, no penalty. Wont work if hes Down. +1 bonus if slower. he Shoves, Tackles or Charges on foot. Feint - Opponent loses a die from a set and you get +1d or offset -1d penalty next 2x No damage, he loses a die and has a -1d penalty next turn. attack. Cant be dodged or parried. Max of +2d or offsetting -2d penalty. 3x As 2x, plus hes down 4x As 3x, plus 1S to each arm. 201 Quick Reference

202 Die, Men! Reference Unit Size Hex Size Comm. Interfr. Com. Lag Round Lasts 1 15 ft. Tactics, Diff. 0 05 mins 2 15 ft. Tactics, Diff. 3 05 mins 5 30 ft. Tactics, Diff. 5 110 mins 10 60 ft. Tactics, Diff. 5 / 110 mins Strategy, Diff. 0 20 60 ft. Strategy, Diff. 3 115 mins 50 150 ft. Strategy, Diff. 5 230 mins 100 200 ft. Strategy, Diff. 7 31 hour Unit Types Archers: Give +1 Width to friendly Attack sets within one space. Total bonus cant exceed number of Ar- chers. Cant Attack normally, but can spend an Attack set to destroy 1 unit in a 2 space radius. Cavalry: +1 dmg. Can travel Width of Move set. During Free Movement, can enter Rough terrain. Chariots: Can travel Width of Move set. Cant enter Forest, Hill or Mountain terrain. Defenders: Free x10 Gobble Die, usable any time. Fliers: Ignore negative effects of terrain. Infantry: No rule changes. Siege Engines: Can Attack 2 spaces away, but not 1 space away. Attack damage is not limited by number of troops. Cant move during Free Movement, cant move unless another unit of a different type moves with it. Steps of Conflict 1. Declare - pick a strategy, reveal simultaneously. Deploy - Name a goal. Troops can Defend or Move, though not away from the goal. Cant Attack. Seize - Name a goal. Troops can Attack any adjacent area. Can Move, though not away from goal. Cant Defend. Hold - Troops can Defend and Attack. Can only Move into a space that already contains your troops. Retreat - Troops can Move, but not directly at any enemy. Cant Attack. Can Defend if surrounded. 2. Roll - d10s equal to Units, maximum 15. 3. Resolve - Widest sets go first, Height breaks ties. Each set can be spent on one tactic. Damage from troops in a space cant exceed the number of units in that space. Defend - Your dice become Gobble Dice, canceling dice in sets Attacking your troops. If an Attack is re- duced to 1x, it does nothing. Attack - If your set gets past Defense, you knock one die out an enemy set (defender picks). You destroy Width units (defender picks which). For each extra facing, +1 dmg. Attacks from Hills & Mtns., +1 dmg. Some troops do extra damage. Move - Spend a set to move all or some of the units in one space into an empty or friendly adjoining space. 3a. Free Movement - Each squad can move into an adjoining Open and unthreatened space. 202 Quick Reference

203 Unconventional Warfare Reference 203 Quick Reference

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