Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The House of Kain, Part 1

I wanted to show that not all houses descend from the most ancient of bloodlines.  Sometimes, a businessman marries into a family, or conquered nobility fold themselves into the aristocracy, or a warlord gains legitimacy by joining the the aristocracy.  House Kain is one such example.

I drew my primary inspiration from both Clan Mitsurugi from my own Cherry Blossom Rain and the Metabarons.  Clan Mitsurugi controlled the main access point between two rivals, and protected it ferociously.  I wanted the same for the Alliance: a reason as to why the Empire hadn't just crushed the Alliance already, and thus Caliban and its ancient orbital fortress.  The Empire might defeat them, but it would cost them a great deal and give the rest of the Alliance a chance to respond.  It might bypass it, but the other routes are less practical and more likely to create a scattered fleet more easily defeated.  With the Empire facing wars on all fronts, they can afford to leave the Alliance for now until they have the firepower to overwhelm Caliban and its defenders.

I was introduced to the Metabarons when someone commented that my Psi-Wars reminded him of Jodorowsky.  I haven't had a chance to read the Incal, generally considered his most iconic comic, but I did manage to land a copy of the Metabarons, which suits the aristocracy of Psi-Wars better.

This combined into a ridiculously masculine, over-the-top house of warriors which make for an excellent contrast with the more elegant nobility. They offer an opportunity for a player to play a knight who disdains the elegance of the other families, or who struggles to restore the Alliance to its fighting roots, or creates delightful scandals when a member of the House tries to marry someone from another family.

I wanted a name that didn't sound like a Maradon name (thus a single syllable), but that fit nicely with the names I had come up with for the family members, thus Kain.

The House of Kain

Cadet Branches: None

The House of Kain is not a House of Maradon origin. The exact lineage of Lothar Kain, the founder of the House, remains lost in the mysteries of time, but his opponents have thrown accusations like “Bastard” and “Pirate” at him. Lothar Kain ruled Caliban and its ancient, alien orbital fortress with sufficient firepower to stop any armada dead in its tracks, and controlled the easiest hyperspace route from the galactic core to the Maradonian arm of the Galaxy. Should Alexus wish to pass, he needed to either defeat Lothar Kain’s fortress, or pay a hefty toll. Instead, Alexus dueled the robber baron to a standstill, and then offered a position as a general at his right hand. He said he refused to kill so great a warrior as Lothar, and promised Lothar far greater riches at his side, than as his enemy.

And so, Lothar’s lineage rose to the aristocracy of the Alexian Empire. They proved a tough house to tame, however. They followed their own philosophies, barely paying even lip service to the Oracular Order. While the Order managed to improve their genetics somewhat, the members of the House of Kain loved whom they loved, and made a sport of seducing the most desirable of Maradonian women away from the “weak” men of the Maradonian aristocracy (according to a popular Kain legend, Lothar seduced Sissi Sabine's daughter, Jaina Sabine, and she bore him a son, explaining why some Kains have white hair to this day; an unlikely tale, but Sabine blood certainly flows through the veins of some of the House of Kain).

When the rest of the Empire slowly descended into debauchery, the ruthless initiation rituals of the House of Kain kept their warriors strong. Upon reaching the age of maturity, a member of the House of Kain must first venture into the wilds of Caliban and face the wild beasts alone with nothing but their wits. After this, they must endure mutilation at the hands of their parents without crying out. If they succeed, their ruined body part is replaced with cybernetics and they’re welcomed into the house. Thus, when the rest of the Houses turned to delicate dueling, the Knights of Kain kept the ancient traditions of Maradonian knighthood alive, and wear the heavy armor and wield the heavy force swords of their ancestors to this day.

Because Caliban stands on the border between the galactic core and the Maradon Arm, Caliban stands at the border between the Empire and the Alliance. Thus far, their ferocious warrior, considerable fleet and powerful fortress, have kept the Empire at bay. Bypassing Caliban requires more treacherous routes, and attacking Caliban (a convenient choke point for the rest of the Alliance to rally around) has proven too costly for now. The House of Kain argues that the Alliance has not yet fallen to the Empire entirely due to their efforts, and they might be right!

Members of the House of Kain typically have olive or bronze skin, with thick, straight black hair (though hair color varies, and quite a few have white hair), thick lips, hawkish noses and stony features. Even their women tend to be handsome, rather than beautiful. They typically tower over other nobility, and wear magnificently beautiful cybernetics.

The House of Kain has no psionic legacy. They can be psionic, but they produce no more psions than the general population.

Kain Titles

The House of Kain has only one title: the Archbaron of Caliban. The House of Kain originally held the title of Baron, but its many accomplishments and its place so close to the Alexian emperor more than justified a greater title. However, their ignoble origins made the idea repugnant to conservatives within the aristocracy, and so the Senate compromised, offering them the unique title of Archbaron, which is offers an imputed status of +3. By tradition, the title of Archbaron of Caliban may only be passed from father to son, or by the right of a duel. Should only daughters remain, as far as the rest of Kain is concerned, the title dies with the last Archbaron.

All other members of the House of Kain are knights.

The House of Kain legitimately claims the title of Imperial Knight (now Knight Protector), given their long service as body guards of the Alexian Emperor, and the Blademaster of the Destructive Form is usually a member of the House of Kain.

Notable members of the House of Kain

The current Archbaron of the House of Kain is Kento Kain, an ancient knight and a veteran of a century’s worth of war. So many wars have left the indomitable warrior a scarred creature, more machine than man, and he wears extensive external life support built into his armor, which he must always wear. He has only one child, the beautiful and dangerous Asura Kain, who refuses to marry any man who does not prove himself her equal on the field of battle. As such, when his temper gets the best of him, the Archbaron challenges other members of his house to a duel to the death. Should they kill him, they can claim the title of Archbaron, but so far, he has struck down all who have faced him.

Politically, Kento Kain could not care less about whether or not the Alliance reconciles with the Empire. He will rule Caliban no matter what, and the Empire can strip it from his cold, dead hands (which may come sooner than later!). However, Kento sees the elitists as fops who create privilege for themselves because they’re afraid to face the harsh realities of life that the common people face every day. He doesn’t really support lifting the common people up, as Nova Sabine does, but he does support measures to dismantle aristocratic privilege, and this tends to make him a natural ally for Nova Sabine (it helps that the old man is a little sweet on her).

Kusari Kain, the Hound of Alexus, served as the archbaron during the fall of the Alexian Empire, and he represents the pinnacle of honor and devotion for the House of Kain. When the Mad Emperor raged, Kusari Kain calmed him. When the Knights of Communion struck the mad Emperor down, Kusari Kain hunted them down and his armada scattered the assassin’s followers to the far reaches of the Galactic rim. When Shio Daijin usurped the throne, he turned that armada around and deposed him. His force sword cleaved Shio Daijin’s head from his shoulders. When he held the capital of the Empire in his power, he then turned and left to return to Caliban, allowing the Houses to squabble. The Aristocracy will forever remember his restraint, even if the respect they offer is grudging at best.

The famous founder of the House of Kain, the Bastard Baron, Lothar Kain, remains an enigmatic and controversial figure. As his epithet suggests, he certainly was not of noble birth, and he may well have been a warlord or mercenary that conquered Caliban and infiltrated its alien battle station and successfully tamed it. He had built a small interstellar kingdom, with Caliban as its capital, and he earned few allies with his brutal tactics. Nonetheless, he showed peerless bravery when he faced Alexus and earned a place at his side. According to the lore of the house, he had a prodigious number of children of his own, fathered with illegitimate lovers (despite his bloodthirsty reputation, the House of Kain insist that all of his children were born from love, and the fact that he acknowledged every one of his bastards is offered as proof of this), and that beneath his rough exterior beat the heart of a romantic.

The Eugenic Legacy of Kain

Kain Eugenic Power-Up 50 points

Advantages: Kain Bloodline [1]; Spend up to 49 points on the following packages:

Might of Kain [25]

Invincibility of Kain [24]

The Might of Kain 25

Attributes: ST +2 [20]

Secondary Characteristics: HP +2 [4]

Advantages: Bloodline Purity 1 [1]

Feature: Ignore rules for Unsupported ST; ST may be increased to 25.

Characters with the Might of Kain who take any cybernetics (or bio-mods) with the Unsupported ST limitation must pay off that limitation; their bodies are sturdy enough and durable enough to take modifications, even local ones, that improve their ST up to 25.

The Invincibility of Kain 24

Attributes: HT +1 [10]

Advantages: Bloodline Purity 1 [1], High Pain Threshold [10], Resistance to Cybernetic Hazards +3 [3]

Resistance to Cybernetic Hazards improves HT on any complications that might arise from integrating cybernetics into the body, and to any affects that might harm cybernetics (explicitly adding to any HT rolls made for resisting surge effects or ergokinetic effects that might shut down or control cybernetics).

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