Thursday, November 9, 2017

Dome Sefelina: The Cult of the Beautiful Fool

Sefelina Midra, rei indra mei fet imasevaiku
Sefelina Midra, free me from slavery
--Prayer to Sefelina Midra

Domen Sefelina is among the oldest of Annifem Lithe cults, and predates the Anala system. They followed a lurid, tempting trickster goddess, Sefelina Midra, the untameable dancer. At the heart of their temple, the Nachiva Sefelina dances beneath her idol to the beat of drums and the piping of flutes and the scent of intoxicating incense, while the high priestess channeles Her divine will and deliveres commands and miracles to Her faithful. Her commands and miracles liberated the downtrodden, the poor and the slave, giving them a home and a purpose, and the dispossessed flocked to her temples to give Her offerings and to enter her service.

The Nachiva Sefelina, the preistesses of Sefelina Midra, offer their services to any who bring the temple offerings. The services include many forms of amusement, including feasts, intimacy and intoxicants of all kinds. This earned them their moniker of Sacred Whores; this suggests that they offer vice for a price, but this is not the case. They offer vice to liberate others. They know that all Ranathim want to indulge in their passions, and the Nachiva Selfelina assist them.

They indulge in vice and they obey the commands of their high priestess for a purpose. Domen Sefelina preaches a theology of liberation. Those who seek freedom from morality, law or slavery can always find a haven in the temples of Domen Sefelina. This proved troublesome with the rise of the Ranathim Empire, and so the Divine Emperor of the Ranathim inducted them into his House and symbolically married the high priestess of the temple, forging a union between the Domen Sefelina and the Imperial Cult, so that the dominion of the Empire was the dominion of the Domen Selfelina. This helped to tamp down their tendency to undermine authority.

This arrangement collapsed with the fall of the Ranathim Empire. As the rapacious races of the Galaxy began to take the Ranathim as slaves, the popularity of Domen Sefelina exploded across the space occupied by the Ranathim population. At first, slaves who escaped would make their way to the temples, seeking sanctuary, but soon the Sefelina Midra, the Goddess of the Domen, made her will known: “Free the slaves.” The Domen Sefelina has, in the modern galaxy, integrated with many criminal organizations, offering whores and drugs in return for the service of smugglers and assassins, so that they can work to free slaves and undermine any authority throughout space where they have influence. They have gained a reputation for the witches of the criminal world, and the last hope of the desperate.

Stereotyically, Nachivana Sefelina are beautiful, immodestly dressed female Ranathim. In reality, they include male members, and many less attractive Nachiva serve the Domen, they just tend not to be its face. The center of the Dovem Sefelina are its temples, festooned with the imagery and symbolism of Sefelina Midra, the Beautiful Fool, and at its heart is a great idol of Sefelina Midra in all her lascivious beauty. Resting on a dias, at her feet, is the high preistess of the Domen Sefelina, who speaks for Sefelina Midra.



The Laws of Sefelina Midra

Like most Nadomen, Domen Sefelina has vows that the chiva can take to gain access to Learned Prayers. Those who take a Communion Oath perk generally take the Destiny (Suffer oppression); Mitigator, stay true to the Laws of Sefelina Midra -65%) disadvantage as their “divine wrath” disadvantage. This tends to manifest as constant come-uppance for whatever sin they indulge in.

Sefelina Midra also commands her followers to bare their bodies, and thus most nachiva sefelina dress at least somewhat provocatively, but this is no more than a quirk.


  • Vow (Never submit to an authority outside of the cult) [-10]
  • Vow (Never refuse a request for aid from a slave) [-10]
  • Vow (Never reject an opportunity to indulge in your vice) [-15]

The Superstitions of Sefelina Midra

Sefelina Midra is, in many ways, the goddess of luck, and a body of gambling superstition has grown up around her. Those who seek luck often make promises to Sefelina Midra or pray to her under their breath when making a high stake gamble. Simply doing this is a quirk, but those who sincerely believe it will work have Delusion (“Praying to Sefelina Midra will make me lucky”) [-5]; naturally, for priests and priestesses of Sefelina Midra, who can legitimately call on Her for luck, this delusion does not apply.

The favor or kiss of a beautiful woman brings good luck, especially at gambling. By the same token, the anger of beautiful women brings bad luck. Tip your waitress well! This tends to manifest as Delusion (“The anger of a beautiful woman will curse me!”) [-5].

Never make a deal or trust a deal made during Livan Indra. Either no good will come of the deal, or one may have accidentally made a deal with Sefelina Midra in disguise, and will find that he is bound to her and risks her divine wrath if he violates the deal. This tends to manifest as a quirk Superstition (“Never make a deal during Livan Indra) [-1]

Few things invoke the wrath of Sefelina Midra like slavery! While this never prevented slavery from becoming wide-spread throughout the Ranathim empire, those who suffer bouts of ill-fortune may come to believe that they suffer under the wrath of Sefelina Midra and the only way they can release themselves is to never own a slave, and try to free any slave they find. Such characters have Delusion (“I’ll be cursed if I don’t help slaves!”) [-5] or [-10] if they become obsessed with freeing all slaves.

The Mask of Sefelina Midra

Sefelina Midra is the goddess of freedom. Not the “freedom” of heroic patriots dying for their country, but the freedom of running away from home, the freedom of eating whatever you want without gaining weight or throwing up in the morning, the freedom of dancing the night away, free of the judging eyes of others. Sefelina Midra frees slaves from bondage, captives from prison, and guilty from judgment. In the grace of Sefelina Midra, everything is possible.

Only women may wear the mask of Sefelina Midra, and she must be beautiful of body. Traditionally, those who wear the mask of Sefelina Midra wear: a bustier or corset and a long loin cloth; a series of veils over their body; or high fashion that still shows as much skin as possible. She prefers cloth made of silk and satin. They also wear chains at their feet, hands or dangling from their neck by a collar, but all chains have been broken and to touch a chain of a priestess of Sefelina Midra is profane! The scent of Sefelina Midra is cheap perfume, wine, and incense (especially hallucinatory incense).

The mask and idol of Sefelina Midra are crafted of brass, leather or carved wood. They showcase the beautiful curves of the goddess, and her face has full lips in a curved, wicked smile (painted a deep red or orange) and exaggerated lashes leaving the eye-sockets of the mask like rays. Those who wish to show their devotion to Sefelina Midra tend to paint their lips a bright color, dress immodestly, or wear broken chains on their person.

The Star of Sefelina Midra

Vaija, when seen from the Ranathim homeworld of Styx (Ranagant) seems a bright and lurid orange star; when it rose to its highest peak, the Ranathim would celebrate Livan Indra. The prime world of Vaija, Sarai, is a dry, tropical world covered in deserts, savanna, and astonishingly fertile valleys. After the death of Ranagant, Sarai became the defacto “home” for most modern Ranathim; it houses Seret Alta, the great temple to Sefelina Midra, the largest still-standing Annifem Lithe temple.

Ceremonies of Sefelina Midra

Livan Indra

Once per Ranathim year, when Vaija would stand highest in the sky, the Ranathim traditionally celebrate Livan Indra, or “Festival,” during which the passionate Ranathim could let off some steam and indulge. During Livan Indra, the Ranathim ceremonially abandon all laws (in practice, of course, the powers that be carefully keep revelers from going too far). They raised up new ceremonial leaders (typically the chivaga of the local Domen Sefelina temple) who would “reign” over the festivities, casting judgment over those who did not party hard enough, and sentencing them to additional merriment. For that week, none showed u to work, cities temporarily changed their name, celebrants donned wild costumes, and Ranathim society descended into drunken revelry for a week. And, of course, what happened during Livan Indra stayed in Livan Indra. Livan Indra allowed the passionate Ranathim race to let off their steam.

Today, Livan Indra remains a popular festival, with aliens happily joining in the revelry, but it tends to center on local Ranathim communities, and mostly where the Ranathim are strongest and safest. The slaver empire of the Dark Arm like to make a mockery of Livan Indra, bringing all their best dancers and gladiators out for a week of games in “honor” of Livan Indra.

The Severing

The Severing, or the Lunaura, is a special ceremony performed by the cult high priestess (the Domen Sefelina Chivaga), in a place of sacred to Sefelina Midra, to a supplicant who begs it of her. Beg, she must, as the high priestess stands over her, imperiously. The ceremony is similar to an oath-taking, except the high priestess demands to know who the supplicant is, why she wants to be freed, and why she thinks she is worthy. The high priestess then demands a sacrifice (spilled blood is the traditional offering) and if it is accepted, the high priestess declares the supplicant free.

If the miracle works, the supplicant is absolutely free. Her duties, vows and oaths just vanish. Those who seek to capture her or enslave her suddenly find themselves stymied at every turn. Treat the miracle as an invocation of Dark Communion by the high priestess, using all the normal modifiers, but use the supplicants reaction modifiers, including her worthiness from her bonds. A neutral reaction is sufficient, and provides a justification for buying off any Vow or Duty disadvantage, and some Social Stigma disadvantages. What may be bought off is up to the GM’s discretion, but generally the power of Dark Communion is far reaching; the exact manifestation of the power tends to look a great deal like uses of the Serendipity advantage (the guilty is found innocent on a last-minute technicality; the slave’s owner suddenly dies and their will explicitly frees her, etc). At the GM’s discretion, the player may replace these disadvantages, point for point, with other disadvantages appropriate to Domen Sefelina as Sefelina Midra makes her mark on the freed character. Any optional disadvantage below might be appropriate.

Note that the severing of marriage vows is a controversial aspect of the Severing. During the height of the Ranathim empire, the high priestess of Domen Sefelina would ritually marry the Ranathim Emperor, and for the most traditional cults, the marriage vow is the only vow that the Severing cannot undo, that marriage is sacred to Sefelina Midra. Some more modern cults see marriage as just another form of enslavement, a way of keeping someone from sleeping with whomever she wants, and they see the Severing as a way to gain total freedom. Follower of the two brands of Domen Sefelina can and have come to blows over this point.

Domen Sefelina as Esoteric Style 5 points

Domen Sefelina focuses on wild, ecstatic ritual invocations of their dark goddess of trickery and freedom. The wild dancing and consumption of intoxicants creates a deep trance, which most practitioners use for greater connection to Communion or psionic power. Beyond these basic skills, most practitioners and cults learn at least some of the optional skills, depending on their preferred vice; those who run gambling dens learn Gambling, those who run brothels learn Sex Appeal and Erotic Art, etc.

The miracles of Sefelina Midra tend to improve the beauty, luck or persuasiveness of the practitioner. Most practitioners take oaths and then use them to gain access to a signature miracle, most commonly Dark Confidence, Endless Appetite, and Sense Passion. Those who achieve Archetype (Beautiful Fool) describe themselves as “haunted by Sefelina Midra,” with her life slowly coming into the grip of her dark goddess. Finally, some manage to achieve Dark Communion; These typically become the Chivaga or high priestess of their local cult. Those who learn to channel Sefelina Midra often practice fortune telling by examining random events (most commonly cards, but the roll of dice or the random results of a gambling machine all work as well). In such cases Fortune Telling can act as a complimentary roll to interpreting the visions of Sefelina Midra.

Many join the cult to escape the bonds of slavery, but many also do so to gain access to the glamorous lifestyle lived by the nachiva, priests and priestesses, of Domen Sefelina. Those who join claim to improve in beauty and appearance! This is included as an optional advantage if the GM decides this is possible. The Domen claims that Sefelina Midra manipulates luck itself, and some practitioners, especially those who make Oaths to Sefelina Midra, or who become her Archetypes, claim to have unlocked a psionic power unique to Domen Sefelina: Probability Alteration.

Required Skills: Dancing, Meditation, Religious Ritual (Annifem Lithe), Theology (Annifem Lithe)

Additional Psionic Skills: Curse, Drain IQ

Techniques: Deep Trance (Meditation), Delayed Effect (Curse), Far Drain (Drain IQ), Remove Curse (Curse), Revenge of the Curse (Curse),

Secret Technique: Drain Luck (Curse)

Signature Miracles: Dark Beauty, Endless Appetite, Interesting Times, Kiss of Rapture, Lay on Hands, Primordial Expertise (Allure, Party Animal), Lesser Avatar of the Beautiful Fool; Greater Avatar of the Beautiful Fool.

Secret Miracle: Voice of God

Perks: Body Discipline (Dance), Communion Oath, Ecstatic Psi, Pleasurable Theft, Poison Charm, Psychic Adaption (Curse to Psychic Vampirism), Psychic Symbolism (Beautiful Fool, Psychic Vampirism or Probability Alteration), Signature Miracle (any Domen Sefelina Signature Miracle), Symbolism Mastery (Beautiful Fool), Secret Miracle (Voice of God), Secret Technique (Drain Luck).

Optional Traits: HT

Optional Advantages: Allure, Appearance (Attractive, Beautiful, Very Beautiful), Archetype (Beautiful Fool), Fashion Sense, Dark Communion, Higher Purpose (Free Slaves, Party), Party Animal, Probability Alteration Talent.

Optional Disadvantages: Addiction (Any), Delusion (Any superstition), Destiny (Suffer Oppression; Mitigator, stay true to the Laws of Sefelina Midra -65%), Gluttony, Lecherousness, Obsession (Free specific slave, Free all slaves), Vow (The Law of Sefelina Midra).

Optional Skills: Connoisseur (Alcohol, Drugs, Fashion), Fortune Telling (Cartomancy),Erotic Art, Gambling, Pharmacy (Any), Savoir-Fare (High Society, Mafia), Sex Appeal, Streetwise

New Traits

Perks

Body Discipline: LTC1 16.

Ecstatic Psi: Psionic Powers 19.

Communion Oath: Provided the character has an appropriate disadvantage that is mitigated by following an oath, the character may purchase Learned Prayers directly, at full price, with an additional limitation based on an appropriate vow.

Pleasurable Theft: Psionic Powers page 51.

Poisonous Charm: Psionic Powers page 51.

Psychic Symbolism: You may add the symbol bonuses and penalties from a specific Path to the skill rolls of a specific power.

Signature Miracle: Gain +1 to Communion Reaction rolls when calling on one specific Specified Miracle (Leveled, to a maximum of +4)

Symbolism Mastery: You may invoke 4 symbols for +4 to reaction rolls for your path, or +2 to a miracle outside of your path.

Miracles

Voice of God

Learned Prerequisite: Divine Favor 5, Legendary Reputation +1

Learned Prayer Cost: 4

This miracle places the practitioner in a trance, during which time the divinity of her associated path communicates through her. The divinity may answer questions put to it, and is free to say what it wishes, and may even lie, but the GM can relay any information known to the divinity (or to Communion) through the vessel of the character. Most Divine Mask cults teach this prayer only to high level priests and priestesses.

Statistics: Channeling (Divine, Path -15%, Cosmic, No Die Roll Required +100%) [19]

Techniques

Deep Trance

Hard

Default: Meditation-4;

Prerequisite: Meditation; May not exceed Meditation.

The character meditates deeply for one hour and enters a trance. This trance either offers the same bonuses as Autohypnosis or +1 to all Psi skills plus an additional bonus equal to 1/3 of his margin of success, to a maximum of +5. He gains +4 for sensory deprivation, +2 for the Body Discipline perk, and may use Religious Ritual as a complementary roll.

Revenge of the Curse

Hard

Default: Curse-8;

Prerequisite: Curse; May not exceed Curse.

See Pyramid #3/97 “Strange Powers” page 9.

Drain Luck

Hard

Default: Curse-12;

Prerequisite: Curse; May not exceed Curse.

Rather than curse the target, the character steals some of the target’s luck. This requires physical contact, skin-to-skin, and lasts as long as a curse would at the same level. However, the character loses one level of luck (from Ridiculous to Extreme, or from Extreme to Lucky, from Lucky to no Luck, and from no Luck to Unluckiness), while the character gains a level of Luck for the duration.

Skills

Dance

The sacred ecstasy dance of Vaija, or the seflum vair, is a sensuous, slow and strenuous dance. The lithe dancer must slowly undulate while exerting and relaxing all of her muscles in ripples up and down her body. The dance is beautiful, and those who know it may use Dance in place of Sex-Appeal to people of the right gender who witness it. Furthermore, by the nature of the dance, dancers may use HT in place of DX, though to do so is exhausting (double all fatigue expenditures). The dance may be used as a Body Discipline to go into a trance, and is the dance most often used when honoring Sefelina Midra.

Sefelka Midran 4 points

The practioners of Domen Sefelina aren’t stupid. They know what happens when you get drunkards at a gambling table surrounded by beautiful women. They know they need some means of self-defense. Originally, Domen Sefelina enjoyed the sanction of the Imperial Cult and the power of the state, and thus had extravagant temple guards. In the post-Imperial era, Domen Sefelina had to learn to defend themselves, and they faced two problems. First, they needed to gently persuade overly aggressive supplicants to behave themselves. Second, as slavery became a greater and greater concern, Domen Sefelina needed a way to hide their combat practice from the watchful eyes of slave-lords.

Selfeka Midran hides its combat techniques behind the graceful steps of dance and seduction. Its practitioners tease close to their opponent, distract him with their beauty, and then turn his own strength against him. They use precise grips to weaken foes and then a wink and a kiss to weaken their will. They learn to fight from a variety of positions, so that they don’t even need to stand to defeat their opponent. Masters of the art move with impossible grace, can seem to throw an opponent with a gentle brush of their hand, and and seem to see without seeing, and always look flawless, no matter how impractical her outfit.

Skills: Judo, Dance, Sex-Appeal

Techniques: Acrobatic Stand, Arm Lock, Breakfall, Combat Art (Judo), Disarming (Judo), Evasion, Feint (Dancing or Sex-Appeal), Fingerlock, Ground-Fighting (Judo), Low-Fighting (Judo), Trip, Sweep (Judo)

Cinematic Skills: Blind Fighting, Immovable Stance, Light Walk, Mental Strength, Push, Sensitive

Cinematic Techniques: Fighting While Seated (Judo), Roll with Blow, Timed Defense (Judo or Dodge)

Perks: Dancing Feint, Flourish, High-Heeled Heroine, Sartorial Integrity, Sexy Feint, Sexy Pose, Skill Adaption (Acrobatic Stand defaults to Judo), Technique Mastery (Judo Throw)

Optional Advantages: Fashion Sense, Perfect Balance

Optional Skills: Breath Control, Escape, Karate, Theology (Annifem Lithe), Savoir-Faire (Dojo, High Society, Mafia)

Signature Moves

Glide Close: Step into close combat and lightly touch opponent. Make a Sensitivity roll. Success grants +1 to all further close combat roles, as well as Push, Immovable Stance and Blind Fighting rolls, and make a Sex-Appeal (Feint) roll. On a success, apply margin of victory as a defensive feint. Defend normally. Setup: You begin combat one step from opponent.

Brush Past: While in close combat, make an All-Out Defense (Parry) and Step through your Opponent’s hex. Make an Evasion roll (-5 for passing a standing foe). Success puts you behind your target, but also with your back facing him, and still in close combat with him, if you wish. Defend (+2!) with Timed Defense. Setup: You are already in close combat with your opponent.

Delicate Grasp: After opponent attacks, defend with a riposte penalty (at least -2). On your turn, if your defense was successful, make a Combat-Art (-3) Finger-Lock (-3) roll (Judo-6). Opponent defends at Riposte penalty (-2) Success grapples a finger and grants a +1 reaction modifier. Setup: After you are attacked while in close combat.

Gentle Disarming: After opponent attacks, defend with a riposte penalty (at least -2). On your turn, if your defense was successful, take a step and make a Combat Art (-3) Disarm (-2) roll (Judo-5). Opponent defends at -2. If successful, roll a contest of ST- or DX-based Disarm vs your opponent's ST- or DX-based Retain Weapon. Success disarms your opponent. You may defend normally. Setup: You were attacked at reach one with a weapon.

Reward the Defeated: After successfully throwing or defeating an opponent, make a Sex-Appeal or Combat-Art roll. Success creates a +1 reaction roll or intimidates your opponents. This takes a full turn to perform. Setup: You threw or defeated an opponent.

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