Player Characters


Cog 11 is the gnome rogue I am playing in my new 13th Age campaign, the Eroding Empire.

Cog 11 (“Cog”) is a cold-hearted, selfish and anti-social wretch. Orphaned (or abandoned) on the edge of the Wild Wood when he was very small, Cog grew up as a wildling, a member of a small group of children who roam wild in the woods. No one knows why, but the Wild Wood seems to attract such hapless children, and they are somehow able to survive on its fringes. They wander the forest in small bands, eating what they can find and sleeping where they will. They often sneak into outlying towns and villages, stealing anything that is not nailed down and generally getting into trouble. Usually multi-racial and multi-national, these bands evolve their own language from the mix of whatever is in their group. They are rumoured to sometimes steal civilized children to join their gang, but this is unlikely. Some are rumoured to be cannibalistic, but this is also likely a lie. Certainly they live hard, desperate lives and very few become old enough to leave their group behind for better days: most fall prey to the vicious beasts of the forest, or are abducted by the vicious beasts of the human world.

Cog 11 was treated well when he was a child by a wood elf resident of a temple complex on the outskirts of the Wild Wood, and subsequently met this wood elf, Lithvar, again, joining his adventuring group. This early memory of being well-treated made Cog 11 (foolishly) over-inclined to trust priests. When he was still a child, but one of the oldest members of his wildling band, he was offered shelter and succour by a priest from a mysterious organization called the Watch. Trusting this priest too much, he left the wildling band to become a Disciple of the Watch. He spent the rest of his childhood in the Watch.

The Watch is a vile and sick cult that believes the world is empty of gods, and runs as a machine of clockwork, its mechanisms hidden from the eyes of mortals. The Disciples of the Watch believe that free will prevents humans from understanding the full glory of the machine, and aims to destroy free will in all mortals, cast down false idols, and restore the machine of the universe to perfection. They believe that humans can be programmed, and that only a very small and elite number of humans should have any free will – these people would then guide the machine and “operate” all other humans. They have a monastery in an obscure place near the Wild Wood, and abduct sentient creatures of all race to conduct “reprogramming” experiments. Disciples of the Watch do not have names, only functions and numbers: this is the basis of Cog’s name.  For 5 years Cog 11 was a devoted Disciple of the Watch, but he slowly uncovered their darker secrets, lost faith, and fled. Usually people who attempt to leave the Watch are treated as defective parts, captured and subject to hideous reprogramming before being discarded, but Cog 11 was able to escape from the Watch – he is probably the only person ever to do this.

Lost and alone, Cog 11 joined a mercenary company called the Black Company, which is famous for its cruelty and deceptions. He worked as a scout and spy, learning to fight and all the tools of spycraft. He was with the Black Company for several years before abandoning it on a whim to join Lithvar’s group.

Cog 11 lost all his faith in humanity while he was a Disciple of the Watch. Although he has shaken off the Watch’s teachings about the evil of magic and the non-existence of other Gods, he cannot relinquish the idea that mortals are mere machines without souls, capable of being reprogrammed and to be viewed only in terms of their usefulness. He takes joy only in his work as a scout, and in killing living things. Although he could perhaps be mistaken for handsome, this complete absence of empathy coupled with his rough manner and lack of social graces makes him almost completely unlovable and without charm. He has no sense of humour and his language skills are one-dimensional and functional, the consequence of growing up as a wildling. The only kindness he has ever experienced was a few precious weeks with Lithvar when he was a child; he has never experienced the bond between family members except when he watched people grieve over relatives he had killed; he has never experienced a woman who was not forced or paid; and his only experience of comradeship has been in battle with paid killers. He is thoroughly isolated from the normal emotional life of ordinary mortals.

Cog 11 wears worn and cheap black leather armour, is festooned with wicked-looking knives, and carries a small shortbow. He has few possessions, and no distinguishing features. He is lean, thin and wiry, with no facial hair, very pale blue eyes completely lacking in humanity, and blond hair. But for his height and the clear signs of sociopathy, he is non-descript.

Some 13th age details are below.

One unique thing

Cog 11 is the only person ever to escape from the Watch alive, and he knows all their secrets

Icon relationships

The archmage (Negative, 1): The archmage is implacably opposed to the Watch, and anyone who was ever a member of the organization is a potential enemy of this icon. However, the Watch is a tiny and largely irrelevant organization, so a negative relationship with the archmage is unlikely to be strong

The High Druid (Conflicted, 1): Although the Wild Wood seems to somehow support wildling bands, the denizens of the wood also prey on them, and the High Druid does not seem to approve of them. Those who grew up in wildling bands see the High Druid as a kind of intolerant, capricious and violent father: loving, but not to be trusted and perhaps not fully aware of its own mind on the matter of their continued existence.

The Dwarf King (Negative, 1): The Dwarf King has a tenuous relationship with the Watch, though no one really understands why or how close they are. Escaping from the Watch with its secrets would not have endeared Cog 11 to the Dwarf King, though again the inconsequential nature of the Watch precludes any negative relationship with its patrons from being very strong.

Backgrounds

Burglar (5): years of sneaking around breaking into settlements in the Wild Woods has made Cog 11 excellent at breaking and entering buildings, and the Watch further honed these skills to its own purposes

Wildling (5): years of staying alive in the wilderness has taught Cog 11 how to survive in the wild, how to sneak and climb and a little bit about how to identify and avoid animals.

Black Company (3): Cog 11 never got involved in old-fashioned ground combat, but his time in the Black Company taught him how the military works, and his role as a scout and spy meant he often was involved in formulating attack plans – he thus has a good military sense

The Watch (2): Cog 11 was taught about machinery by the Watch, so he understands how even quite complex mechanisms work, is able to make basic clockwork machinery, and so on. This time also gave him a corrupted understanding of theology and humanity, though, so it might serve as a penalty on his attempts to understand how human interaction works …

In stillness a silent weight
Pausing as the minutes each evaporate

A desire to leave a scar
To raise a voice from within the dark

Decaying, cascading, existence falls apart
Around me, within me
So I must leave my mark

This is a sacrifice
To prove that I was here
This is a sacrifice
To prove I was at all
And when my voice ceases to be
Will the echo still ring loudly?
And when there’s nothing left of me
Will my memory still go on?

A flicker, transitory state
An echo of an instance that burns a way

A moment, a shard of time
A solitary thread that threatens to unwind

Decaying, cascading, existence falls apart
Around me, within me
So I must leave my mark

(Bragg’s last lament, recorded sometime near the end)

Carlass grunts. The battle has moved and left her, shattered and useless, in its wake. She struggles to raise her head, blinking away tears and fresh blood. The demon that broke her is now facing Captain Breaker, its slender waxen form incongruous against the great dark bulk of the Ogrun. But Breaker is already done, his heavy armour smashed where the demon’s lance tore through it, his arm and chest slicked with thick red blood, now congealing on his hands in amongst the soot that he had used for disguise. The fiend is silent and swift but careful, moving with infernal grace as it prepares to deliver the killing blow, and Breaker has a desperate, hunted look on his face: he knows he is done for, that he cannot run and he cannot win. Just behind this butcher’s tableau the Fire Monk, Shara-jin, stands amongst a pile of murdered Ogrun, her whip dangling uselessly in one hand, looking shocked and confused as if she still has not caught up with the pace of the battle. The anti-magic manacles on her wrist glow with power, and it is clear that she desperately wants to invoke Menoth’s grace, but even Menoth has abandoned them in this dark hole. Shara-jin, too, is covered in blood, listing on one twisted leg and breathing heavily with the pain of her wounds. Near Shara-jin are scattered the remains of their employer, Katrina; her upper body lies on the pile of slaughtered Ogrun, staring slack-jawed at the ceiling, and shreds of the rest of her decorate the charnel pile, some still twitching. Behind them the mysterious Rhulic dwarf, Anya, charges in to attack the demon. A whirling dervish of tightly-contained murder, she runs lightly across the Ogrun bodies, sword in hand, preparing to strike the demon to its flanks as it focuses on Breaker. On the far side of the battle field Alyvia is crouched over her gun, desperately reloading. Her anti-magic manacles also glow, as forgetting their presence she briefly thinks to invoke some deadly charm, only to feel the first sting of their potent restraint. The gun-mage is now just a pistolleer. And no pistolleer will mark this beast. Alyvia’s face is streaked with livid tracks of some vicious whip, one arm moving delicately with pain. She will not last once Breaker is done. None of them will.

Carlass’s face sinks back to the dusty floor, and she swoons briefly. But her anger resurges, and she struggles back to the hellish reality. Her flesh briefly responds to the ever-familiar spark of rage, tries to knit itself together, to regenerate, but it is done. Every one of her kind knows of this moment, when their special regenerative powers hit their limit. Days of starvation, exhaustion, running and hiding, the constant batterings, have worn out even her prodigious powers of regeneration. When first a Trollkin is wounded, the skin heals itself in an instant, eagerly and without asking; push it too soon within a day, and it will respond sluggishly but willing enough; when need calls a third time, the body will drag itself back from any indignity, though the effort is a screaming horror; but after that, well, that is enough for any life. Carlass’s body is done. She tries to raise herself on one arm but finds it shattered – when she does not know, she thought the demon just pierced her chest with one clean strike but now as she feels the knitting fail and tries to take stock she realizes that she has been ravaged: it gutted her from navel to sternum, her arm is smashed on its whole length, and blood is pouring from one leg that cannot move at her will but seems to twitch with a pointless energy all of its own. When did this even happen? It was a moment, a blink, a shard of time, and her whole life was wrenched from her.

Still, wounds that would send a human straight to Urcaen do not carry the same weight for one of her kind. There is yet time. There is always time, is there not, to suffer a little more? It is the curse of her kind. She rolls a little, shifts and grits her teeth against the waves of pain that come rolling in over the broken reefs of arm and ribs. Under here somewhere … yes … there … an arm that still works. She drags it out in tortured shifts and starts that feel as if they take an eternity, and pushes herself upward, blinking back tears of agony, half onto her knee.

Carlass grunts. What had seemed like an eternity was just a few heartbeats. Alyvia has loaded her gun and is about to fire, Breaker is still alive, and Anya the Rhulic dwarf lies sprawled on the pile of Ogrun, blood spreading across her robes from a deep blow in her side, a stunned expression on her face. The demon stands over her for a moment and then flicks back across the battlefield to Breaker, moving with lightning speed and purpose, crossing the space in a blur so fast and otherworldly that it would make a human sick. Breaker is ready, pitiful little scimitar in hand, but he still has that expression – he has seen Anya go down, and he knows his time has come.

It is now or never. Carlass wants to make one last booming call, but her breath is coming weak and in stuttering gasps, drowning in the blood that fills her chest and bubbles from her nose and mouth, and anyway she cannot see clearly enough through the blood and broken bone to make a mark for her voice. Her rebellious mortal flesh will not even respond enough to heal her voice, her most precious of gifts. She cannot call; but a fell-caller is not just a booming voice to shatter stone and bone. A fell-caller is also the keeper of her people, guardian of the secrets of Dhunia. Now is the time to call upon them. She pushes herself up a little more, so that she can be seen above the pile of Ogrun corpses, and coughs a great gout of blood over her chest. Sucking in a pained breath, she raises her voice in a thin, keening wail, and calls forth in her orator’s voice:

You, demon, hoy! Hear me! I, Carlass of the Scharde Kriel, I am your last mark. I curse you. I curse you with the wrath of Dhunia! With this blood and flesh of Dhunia’s I bring down upon you her rage and her vengeance! Know that I was your last mark, and that with my death you invoked the curse of all of earth’s children. You will never see the surface, and you will never know the sun, for you are doomed by Dhunia!

And then she collapses. She does not know if the demon even heard her, though she thought she saw it twitch a sideways glance at her. The Fire Monk heard her, she knows, she saw the dawning horror in her eyes. As death’s dark tendrils reach up to her, Carlass whispers

Avenge me, Fire Monk

and then her voice, too, is beyond use. All her flesh has given in. Now she wishes Hrif were here, but he is far gone and lost. She cannot call on their special bond, because these manacles bind her magic from use. Even if she could call him, he is far from helping her now. She is alone. She has failed her new Kriel just as she failed her last Kriel; and just as she was not there to see how her last Kriel ended, so too she will not know how it is for this strange patch-work Kriel she had so recently made her own. She has failed again. Nothing is left of her tribe or her flesh … will even her wrath endure?

Poem note: Bragg’s last lament is actually the song Document by Assemblage 23, with one tiny change

I have two session reports to write, which will give the context to this little story.

Magic License: Rie 518967301

Magic License: Rie 518967301

On Sunday I played in a short Shadowrun (5th Edition) adventure, which is likely to become a campaign. I think Shadowrun is a brilliant idea, and I can’t play it without playing some kind of magic-user: the idea of playing a wizard or a shaman skipping through the shadows of a corporate dystopia is too cool to pass up for something mundane like a gun-toting maniac, so I have to do it. For this adventure I decided to make a character reminiscent of my Feng Shui shrine maiden, who I played three years ago in London and who was a huge amount of fun to play. This time I made a Gothic Lolita mage called Rie of the Fallen.

Rie is a classic Gothic Lolita girl, who happens to be a magician. She has no appreciable physical strength, robustness or skills, and as much as possible she avoids any form of exertion or physical activity. All she does is cast spells. She maintains an extremely high class and expensive lifestyle, in order to afford a wide range of expensive clothes and cosmetics, and when asked she will assure you that this is why she is a shadow-runner. She has basically no skills except magic, hiding and looking good. She’s short, a little bit chubby, a little bit haughty and suffers from the negative quality Distinctive Style, which means she can’t hide in a crowd (I wonder why?) Her magic is a mix of attack spells, investigative magic, and support magic – she is not the kind of mage who expects to be ‘running on her own, but as part of a team.

Rie is from the Shamanic tradition, though her particular tradition does not so much ally with its spirits as worship them. She is a follower of the Nephilim, the Watchers Out of Time, angels who fell from heaven after a war with god and who are popular in such diverse cultural traditions as the works of John Dee (16th century British mystic), the Angel Sanctuary manga, and gothic bands like Garden of Delight or Fields of the Nephilim. In fact she has a mentor spirit, Alexiel, who is one of the minor Nephilim.

Mentoring in an Angelic Fashion

Mentoring in an Angelic Fashion

Rie is also an active member of the Gothic Lolita scene, which in 2070 has become a little more active and shamanic than it is now – a scene like that will get very magical once magic becomes real. In the present, Gothic Lolita events often involve fashion shows and also people selling their own home-made fashion items – there is a big amateur fashion scene. Rie makes hairpieces and lockets for this scene, but uses her alchemy and artificing skills to imbue them with minor magics that might be useful. She also has contacts in this scene, and in the media and entertainment world generally, as well as some knowledge of corporate etiquette connected with this world.

As an example of Rie’s general character and style, we did a brief shadowrun on Sunday, just doing a delivery run from Denver to the UCAS. This was nothing unusual, just a couple of border crossings and a fight with two rival gangs who “ambushed” us in a traffic jam. When our Face had failed to get the two bands to fight each other, Rie realized that the fight was on, so she tapped the man in the car next to her (giving him combat sense), told him to prepare for battle, and started it herself with a manaball. She spent the entire fight sitting primly in the back of the Face’s Ford Americar, directing spells at one gang using her make-up mirror and not bothering to duck or panic. When the gang finally shot the car to shit she simply stepped out on the far side before it could catch fire.

When that battle was over and the last ganger had surrendered, Rie walked over to him, squatted down in that classic Japanese girl way, and pulled a pair of containment manacles from her pristine little bag. Lacy, of course.

Rie’s basic Shadowrun stats are set out below.


Attributes

Body 2 Agility 4
Reaction 3 Strength 1
Willpower 5 Logic 2
Intuition 6 Charisma 3
Edge 3 Magic 6
Essence 6

Skills

ACTING 1 CONJURING 1
  Con 2   Summoning 5
  Performance 5 Spellcasting 6
INFLUENCE 1
  Etiquette 4 Counter-spelling 3
ENCHANTING 1 Artisan 5
  Alchemy 4 Assensing 3
  Artificing 3 Drive 4
STEALTH 1 Perception 2
  Sneaking 4
  Disguise 4

Qualities

  • Bilingual (English and Japanese)
  • Focussed Concentration 3
  • Mentor Spirit
  • Quick Healer
  • Distinctive Style (negative)

Spells

  • Lightning Bolt
  • Manaball
  • Analyze magic
  • Detect Magic
  • Clairaudience
  • Clairvoyance
  • Combat sense
  • Heal
  • Armor
  • Trid Phantasm

Rie owns a Honda Spirit, a wide selection of fake SINs, a Gold Docwagon subscription for one year, and various other stuff. Some of her outfits are armored with mesh-weave, and her cosmetics are very high class; it’s possible that with the next job she will be investing in some flash- and fire-proof cosmetics. She uses a traditional clam-shell mobile phone for communication, always carries a bag with her and usually has an extra bag or two that look like they contain shopping (but probably actually contain adventuring gear). Her magic is a fairly innate and antinomial thing (she doesn’t study) and she isn’t that bright, really, but she has a canny sense of what is going on and doesn’t usually miss things, even if she appears to be paying no attention. She is not pretty or sexy, but her careful attention to style means that she always draws attention. She is the very model of a modern-day wizard, walking around completely out of place and time but acting as if it is of no importance whatsoever that the whole world has noticed her difference; and far more dangerous than her weak and timid manner would imply. She also keeps her own counsel: no one will ever know what she really wants or believes.

The perfect companion on a run, she probably is not.

Hey guys, have you heard the one about the Jawa, the Ewok and the Jedi?

Using the idea of random character generation for WFRP from the previous post, I came up with this idea for a character created randomly for the Star Wars universe, using the WFRP 3 template. This character is a Tusken Guide,  a specialist role for an elite minority of sand people. Every aspect of this character class was generated randomly.

Background

The sand people know the desert and its ways with an intimacy to match the intricate knowledge of an Imperial Courtier, but when it comes to interacting with those who share their world they are as naive and helpless as babies. Prone to respond savagely to that which they do not understand, the Tusken long ago realized the need for a kind of diplomatic caste amongst their tribes. These diplomats are not dispatched to the towns and cities of Tatooine to negotiate treaties and settlements with governments; rather, they visit the markets and bars of Tatooine’s smaller settlements in order to carry out the more basic tasks of trade and news-gathering. Tasks that are basic to the social fabric of other societies are so alien to the wild and savage Tusken that they have developed an elite caste of non-raiders to discharge them. Like bards of ancient legend, they move amongst the towns and cities of the desert world gathering news, selling desert products and buying the kinds of products the Tusken need to make their desert lives easier – firearms, vehicles and very basic droids.

The similarity between Tusken Guides and the bards of interstellar legend are only superficial, however, for though they can interact with non-Tusken, Guides have little empathy with them, and in place of the easy charm of the bards of old they maintain a rigid discipline, the better to prevent their natural scorn for the trappings of civilized life from showing itself. They are neither educated nor naturally suited to the sophistication of Tatooine’s human or Jawa societies; rather, they restrain their natural temper while in the company of such people, and do their best to mimic their ways. This barely-restrained scorn for the softness of non-Tusken often manifests itself in ways that cause the Guide trouble, and of course like all Tusken the Guide must be able to defend itself and act decisively in any physical situation; for this reason the Guide remains a formidable fighter and an imposing physical presence, at least while not amongst its tribemates.

Career Details

Career Attributes: Strength, Willpower

Career Skills: Athletics, Coordination, Weapon Skill, Discipline, Charm

Talent Slots: Focus x2

Career Talent: Dilettante (once per session can use any skill as if it were trained, or employ an advanced skill as if it had been acquired)

Force User: No. Tusken have antibodies to mitachloreans[1], so no Tusken can use the Force.

Notes

I rolled up a character class that has a kind of jack-of-all trades talent but a strong physical/combat focus, and one career skill – charm – that really doesn’t fit the career abilities. Had I rolled a different career talent the two Focus slots would have suggested some kind of monk or ascetic character, but the dilettante doesn’t fit with that. What kind of character is a combat-focussed jack-of-all-trades? A pirate, some kind of bounty hunter, or perhaps a representative of a savage race. Had I rolled up Agility instead of Strength I would have chosen, perhaps, to make this PC a Jawa trader.

Of course the description here doesn’t have to represent a class at all, but could just be a unique character. Then instead of representing this as a caste of Tusken, I could turn it into a famous Tusken outsider, that has taken it upon itself to act as a social bridge between the tribes and the humans on Tatooine. The jack-of-all-trades element could even mean that the Tusken PC is to be found off-world when the adventure starts.

From this point character development would begin, with the assignment of ability scores, etc. I would be treating Fellowship as a dump stat, so even though the PC has charm skill they remain pretty poor at charming people. I wouldn’t be loading up on social or support action cards either…

fn1: haha, mitachloreans…


I know it’s heretical to consider Warhammer without the career system, but if one were to go about adapting the WFRP3 system for other styles of play this could be a very easy way to change it. Systems without character classes can be made, and I think in some settings character class is less important than in others. In my Compromise and Conceit campaign world I deliberately eschewed classes, preferring my players to have ideas about what kind of character they wanted to be and what special powers they had. Rolemaster was designed with very fine gradations of character class and extreme diversity of development, so characters of the same class might not resemble each other at all. Also, modern settings don’t necessarily suit character classes very well.

Dropping character classes from WFRP3 would be easy, because all the careers are designed the same way. They are composed of 4 elements:

  • Two career attributes (usually one physical and one mental)
  • Five career skills
  • One career talent
  • An advance scheme

In the case of the magic-using classes, the career talent is magic. So we can change this to make the system free of character classes as follows:

  • The player chooses two career attributes for their character
  • The player chooses five career skills. If the PC is going to be a magic-user, this five skills has to include at least one of the two magic-using advanced skills (channel power and spellcraft for arcane magic, or curry favour and invocation for divine magic)
  • Choose one starting talent in negotiation with the GM, that suits your character vision; for a magic-using PC, you get no career talent (because you have magic)
  • Choose a starting stance (2 spaces in either direction, or 1 space/3 spaces)

Then, instead of having an advance scheme that matches the career system of WFRP, we have an advance scheme that matches the rank system. So in one rank you can spend 6 career advances and the 4 universal advances. The advance scheme is the same for all PCs (e.g. 2 action cards, 1 talent, 1 fortune, 1 wound, 1 stance, 2 skills). Or maybe players can choose a style for their PC, either attribute-heavy (e.g. 2 action cards, 2 talents, 2 fortune, 2 wound, 1 stance, 1 skill) or action-heavy (e.g. 3 action cards, 1 talent, 1 fortune, 1 wound, 1 stance, 2 skills). They then have to stick with this forever more; maybe also every rank they gain some bonus special ability related to their PC vision, e.g. a unique action or a unique talent. This enables PCs to play, for example, Indiana Jones exactly as they envisage him.

You could even use this system for completely random character generation – randomly assign every player first to a magic or a non-magic type, then randomly assign them attributes, skills and talents and get them to imagine their character from there. That could be fun for a one shot, maybe in the star wars universe or a slightly cthulhu-tinged Indiana Jones-style world.

カラスの顔が怖い

シュゼットは普通の夢を見るのが嫌い?

一緒に不死壊滅を楽しみましょう!

やっぱり、若子は花が大好きですよね

A few weeks ago I played in a Double Cross 3 session, and wrote up a few reports on it. This post constitutes the final report on that session, in which I describe my experience of the Lois and Titus rules and how they affect gameplay.

Lois and Titus

When you roll up a character in Double Cross 3, you are also required to generate a set of Lois‘s. Lois’s are people you know, connected to you through your life path, who help to keep you connected to the real world of ordinary human life. They can be colleagues, school-friends, family members, or people who helped you in your earlier life. When you develop these relationships you have to roll up a negative and positive trait for them, which will be things like “envy” and “charity” or “rivarly” and “love,” and you then choose one of these traits to define your relationship to the Lois when you start the game. Lois’s don’t have to be present in your life during play – they can be memories, distant figures, or the legacy of dead people.

Ideally, as you adventure in a rich world of secrets and superheroes, you gain more Lois’s. Your Lois’s have three direct effects on the game-play:

  • They give you allies and contacts you can call upon. These people aren’t henchmen, but people tied intimately to your lives who will aid you when you need help
  • They give the GM (and the players) adventure hooks. Just as they will come to you when you need their help, so they also will come to you when they need your help, which gives the GM a lot of opportunities to start or interfere with adventures
  • They save you from corruption. As you adventure, your use of your virus-related powers increases your level of corruption, which draws you ever closer to losing your humanity and becoming a germ. At the end of every session you get to roll 1d10 for every Lois you have, and subtract this from your corruption total. The lower your corruption the weaker your powers, but the higher your corruption the greater the risk of permanently sliding into darkness and ruin

This type of relationship could actually be introduced to Warhammer, come to think of it…

But there is another aspect to the Lois’s which makes them particularly potent. Their kindness (or their memory) can be abused, at which point they become Titus, so-named after the Shakespearean character of that name. A Titus is a lover spurned, a friend whose kindness was abused one time too many, a family member with a grudge… they pursue you to the end, wrathful as only someone once-loved can be. A Lois can become a Titus through your own stupidity, or through the game-mechanics device of sublimating a Lois.

Sublimation

When you sublimate a Lois you get rid of them from your life altogether, passing them from Titus through to gone. In the process of doing this you gain one of a series of in game benefits – adding 10 dice to a single roll, or healing a certain number of hit points, and so on. The in-game benefits that derive from this are quite significant in some cases – 10 dice is a phenomenal bonus – and well worth tossing your grandmother in front of a bus for. I think you can also do this with Lois’s who have become Tituses through the story (rather than a deliberate choice by the player). I’m not sure what the downside of burning a Titus is, besides that you have lost a story hook – this seems to be a way to get a vengeful ex-lover out of your life, which is only a good thing, right?

I haven’t read the section in the rulebook about this yet (I’ve been very busy) and we didn’t get around to seeing the benefits or disadvantages of a Titus in the game I played. So I’m not sure why one would allow the process of deLoisification to stop at merely producing a Titus, but I’m sure there’s a good reason.

The big downside of burning a Lois, of course, is that you then lose the ability to call on them for corruption amelioration, which will make your adventuring life a lot shorter than it would otherwise be (not that your Titus will care).

Game example

In my game, I sublimated my mother and the memory of an old, long-dead client of the Robot-driving business he worked for. I sublimated both of these Lois’s in order to regain 1d10 Hps each time (hey! what can I say? I sell my loyalties cheaply). My relationship with my mother was characterised by hostility, due to anger at her tolerating my Father’s secret membership of the False Hearts; my relationship with the memory of my dead ex-client was ishi, the will of the dead, some long-carried-over request or obligation to his memory.

So how did I burn these Lois’s to get a healing surge? The first was my Mother, whose memory I discarded like an oily rag after the minions of the False Hearts struck me down in an alley. I imagined this as my character realising he had been ambushed and outdone by the False Hearts, and as he struggled to retain his consciousness, recognising that all his life he had been thwarted and ruined by that hateful organisation first manipulated and preyed upon by his father in pursuit of a secret goal, then pursued through the dangerous underworld of Tokyo when he worked in the mecha business – perhaps even to the death of his client – and now to be hounded to death? All this was too much! And then I imagined that his mother called him on his cellphone, just as his last breaths were ebbing away, and that call (of course it has a special ringtone) penetrated the fog of impending unconsciousness – here was all his anger at the False Hearts crystallized in the form of the woman who he had always felt had betrayed him and who would not relent from constantly trying to get him to forgive her. Why should he forgive anyone for the harms done to him? I imagined him surging back to life, anger at his mother charging through him in the form of his viral payload, generating a healing surge at the same time as it destroyed his cellphone in a vicious series of sparks and lightning bolts. Just as every anime character has to surge to wakefulness with a scream at least once [1], so Kintaro regained consciousness surrounded by clouds of electric rage, blasting his phone and symbolically eliminating his mother from his life.

The next was his client. This time Kintaro had been knocked down by the False Hearts leader, his life’s blood ebbing away in some shitty Tokyo Snack. Again, as he felt his defeat looming, he remembered all the failures and defeats thrust upon him by this sinister organisation and raged against them. This time I imagined Kintaro had given up on his hopes of a normal life, and realised he had to fully embrace the powers he had inherited, rather than pretending he could continue to live like a normal person. He would have to cast aside his past life and devote himself to destroying the organisation that had so plagued him. So thinking, he cast aside his last contact with the ordinary world – his last Lois from outside of UGN – and all the long-overdue obligations it had shackled him with. Surging back from that fading state, again imbued with electrical power, he screamed his rage at the world that had wronged him, and reentered the fight…

Conclusion

Lois’s offer excellent game hooks, dramatic opportunities and mechanical advantages. They also offer an excellent narrative technique for justifying (and stunting) healing surges, recovery from corruption, and other phenomena that might otherwise just seem like in-game fixes. I think they could be repackaged in some way as an excellent addition to Warhammer as a mechanism for helping draw PCs back from insanity or corruption. They are another example of the differences between Japanese RPGs and Western RPGs, and an interesting example of incorporation of a dramatic element into the game through the rule system.

fn1: I’m reminded of when only one company distributed anime in Australia – was it madman entertainment? – and their adverts always involved a screaming guy, and someone else yelling “what’s going on in here?!!!”


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