Friday, September 20, 2019

The Mithanna, the Ranathim Peerage

Ranathim Female
Drawn by Kriz Villacis, owned by Daniel Dover
This continues the discussion of the Lithian Aristocracy of the Umbral Rim, this time with an explicit focus on the ancient remnant aristocracy from the ancient, bygone Ranathim Tyranny, and their oath-bound nobles who linger on, thanks to their unique bond with Dark Communion.  This also presents new character options, similar to the Maradonian Nobility, but much cut down on detail and complexity, with a unique set of disadvantages that will ensure their gameplay is never particularly boring.

For additional context, see the Ranathim race here, and the worlds of the Umbral Rim here.

For all Fellow Travelers ($3+ patrons), the Rare Psionic Powers preview has been updated to include a rough draft of Animal Telepathy.

The Mithanna, the Ranathim Peerage

Ozamathim ralek ti”
“Ozamanthim commands it” -Mithanna saying

When Ozamanthim ruled the Tyranny, he bound the most powerful land- and slave-owners of a world to him via a powerful oath. He offered them a chance to join him in his ambitions: they would swear an oath to him, and he would use the power of that oath to ensure their financial and political success. As long as they remained loyal to him, their power was assured. Most agreed and, in so doing, cemented their bloodlines and their worlds to his Tyranny, and also unknowingly ensured their wealth and success across time. This became known as the Mithna Ralekum, the Mithna Edict.

The Edict worked. Millennia after the fall of the Tyranny, these Ranathim bloodlines continue to reap the benefits of their oaths. Despite the political maneuvering of their opponents, members of these families manage to come out on top, over and over again, favored by luck and good fortune. However, as time progresses, they remain bond to the strictures of their oaths, even as the rest of the world moves on, which means they’re often forced to engage in strange behaviors to honor century’s dead laws that retain a real, metaphysical weight for them.

Today, the Mithanna, or the Peerage, the closest thing the Ranathim still have to an aristocracy, remain a powerful and conservative force within the Umbral Rim. Pinned by their oaths to the laws of a long dead tyrant, they use their power and influence to shape law and society to make it easier for they and their kin to remain true to their ancient oaths. Their long interbreeding has forged bloodlines of more-Ranathim-than-Ranathim scions with unique psychic potency and strange new powers. The rest of the Umbral Rim eyes them with suspicion and speaks of them quietly: the ways of the Mithanna are strange and seemingly mercurial, and those who face them in the wrong way can end up defeated by occult powers he doesn’t understand. However, those who have studied the Mithanna for a long time have learned to use the framework of their laws against them, to force them into alliances, or to rip them apart by forcing them to violate their oaths.

The Mithna Edict

To understand the Mithanna, one must understand the Mithna Edict. These oaths bound the Mithanna to Ozamanthim in one of the first well-published examples of “Oath Communion” in the Umbral Rim. The Mithna Edict carries on through the bloodline, one of the earliest known examples of “Generic Communion.” Traditionally, the Mithanna ceremonially induct a scion of their bloodline and have him or her repeat the vows of their ancestor, but bastard offspring or lost offshoots of the family have been found having never taken the oaths and yet bear the full consequences of their broken oaths upon them.

Those who follow remain true to their Mithna Edict have access to a superior form of luck that benefits them whenever they seek to advance themselves politically or economically, or whenever they engage in the protection of their domain, or defense of their honor. Overtime, it has bled into other Communion powers, granting them limited miracles woven into the very fabric of their DNA. Those who violate these oaths find themselves cursed by the rage of Dark Communion.

The only means the Mithanna have found to escape their oaths have been to either forsake Dark Communion entirely for True Communion, or to join the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant thus become Tyrants themselves. In both cases, the characters must buy off their Curse and lose their oath magics (including the Mithna Edict).

The Mithna Edict itself consists of several specific oaths. Taken together, they are Code of Honor (Mithna Edict) [-15]. The oaths include the following commands:

  • Obey the commands of Ozamanthim.

  • Never betray or harm the Mystical Tyrant, his servants or his descendants.

  • Honor and protect your assigned domain.

  • Honor your oaths.

  • Submit only to the Tyrant.

The deeper implications of the Mithna Edicts tend to require substantial knowledge and study, and Dark Communion itself ultimately arbitrates what is and what is not a violation of these oaths, and its verdicts often seem arbitrary, though those who have studied Law (Tyrannic) have a pretty good grasp of what is and what isn’t a violation.

Too many widespread violations of the Mithna oaths can be infections. Members of the Mithna in good “legal” standing can still find the curse of violating the Edict weighing upon them not because of what they did, but because of what the rest of their house has down. Too many violations can create a cascade effect, where curses begin to proliferate until the house as a whole is unable to maintain their oaths as a whole and the whole structure implodes dramatically. Over the millennia since the fall of the Ozamanthim Tyranny, many clans have fallen in this way, and only a handful remain today.

Obey the commands of Ozamanthim.”

This law specifically refers to Ozamanthim and causes the greatest headache to the Mithanna. It means that the Mithanna must rigidly follow the unchanging laws of a long dead tyrant. Characters may roll Law (Tyrannic) to know if their actions would violate the law and result in the loss of their power. The Mithanna need only follow these laws to the letter, not to the spirit. In practice, the GM can (and should) enforce strange and arbitrary behaviors on the Mithanna at least once per session (or hit them with a -3 during a scene, if invoking the Ham Clause, representing the difficulty of following an action while also fulfilling some arbitrary occult law.

Never betray or harm the Mystical Tyrant, his servants or his descendants.”

Ozamanthim intended for the Mithanna to obey and protect his lineage. In practice, though, the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant have effectively hijacked the Ozamanthim legacy. The Mithanna cannot directly oppose the actions of a Cultist of the Mystical Tyrant or their direct servants. This means the Mithanna cannot directly oppose Emperor Valorian either, much to their chagrin, but the penumbra of his influence only extends to his Imperial Knights and similarly “in the know” servants that answer directly to the Emperor, rather than his soldiers, warships, diplomats and etc.

The Mithanna only need obey the heirs of the Ozamanthim legacy if their edicts are lawful and legitimate in the eyes of Dark Communion. This requires either the restoration of a descendant of Ozamanthim upon the proper throne (most suspect this will only "take" if the new Tyrant sits on the throne of the now destroyed Stygia, making this impossible, but some quietly hope that the new Tyrant on Sarai will be “good enough”), but the GM might allow followers of the Path of the Mystical Tyrant to command a member of the Mithanna as a Minor Blessing miracle, or create a lasting “legal precedent” with a Miraculous Power miracle.

Honor and protect your assigned domain.”

Each Mithna, or “Clan,” was given a single world to rule, a specific estate as their own, and an aspect of the Tyrannic government to control and watch over. The Mithna may not explicitly betray these things, nor abandon them. A member of a Mithna may leave their world, to be sure, but if their world falls into a state of excessive disrepair, or all members of the Mithna were to depart, they break their oath. Furthermore, if a Mithna is given guardianship over, for example, the farmlands of the Tyranny, they could not actively destroy those farmlands.

In practice, though, this oath tends to benefit the Mithanna. They may directly invoke their Edict powers to guard and protect their domain, or for any action at all (as long as it does not directly violate their oaths) while on their domain world.

Honor your oaths.”

If a member of the Mithanna gives his word, the Edict compels him to honor it. If he violates his word, he violates the Edict, and the Edict retaliates. Thus, people know they can trust the word of the Mithanna. However in practice this only applies to the letter, not the spirit, of a promise. As a result, many Mithanna learn to carefully avoid absolutes, to couch their promises in language that gives them room to maneuver, or time-boxe the promise. They’ve also learned to not make promises for the whole of their Mithna, or that might extend extremely far in time, forcing their descendants to honor an ancient grudge or promise. This does not always succeed, however, and some of the odder Mithanna behavior comes from ancient, ill-conceived promises.

Submit to none but the Tyrant.”

Second only to their prime oath, this oath causes the Mithanna no end of headaches, and often proves the one great weakness their enemies prey upon. The specifics vary, but in principle, the Mithanna may “submit” to Ozamanthim, his heirs (which means the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant), a designated proxy (which generally means the legitimate leadership of the Mithna, for few other designated presentatives of Ozamanthim’s authority remain), but not to anyone else, including Imperial soldiers, slavers, Templars, or various powers that have risen and fallen since.

“Submit” in this context includes declarations of fealty or allegiance, but it also means accepting insult or “dishonor” from others. This means that even a conquered member of the Mithanna cannot surrender without violating their edict. This also means that to insult a member of the Mithanna means instant and terrible reprisal unless one is their direct superior within the Mithna’s organization or a member of the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant.

If so insulted, the Mithanna can wipe the dishonor with the immediate apology of the insulter, or their death. This cultivates a dueling culture among the Mithanna, but this creates its own problem, because willful surrender or allowing someone to slay a beloved kinsman itself is a form of submission that violates the Mithna edict. This means that an insult, even an unintentional one, can lead to a bloody feud that lasts generations until the origins of the feud have been forgotten and those engaging in the feud know that they kill one another only to satisfy the broken logic of the Mithna Edict.

Those with a deep understanding of how the Mithanna work tend to carefully approach the matter of submission, especially during conquest or after a duel. Clever victors have learned to approach the practically defeated Mithanna with flowery words and proposals of alliance, rather than submission, creating a fiction of the Mithanna as partner, rather than conquered subject. This usually allows the Mithanna to submit in practice, if not in name. This can be handled with an appropriate Savoir-Faire and Diplomacy roll.

The truly defeated or, worse, enslaved, become unable to access the powers of their Mithna Edict. Some Slavers take a great deal of pride in making slaves of the Mithanna, not only to humiliate one of the haughty and powerful, but to watch in amusement as the curse levied on them by Dark Communion plays out. Ironically, it often acts to prevent any form of escape or restoration of glory without heroic, outside intervention, which can mean that once so enslaved, the slave needs little oversight, as Dark Communion will keep him or her enslaved as punishment for their failure.

Mithna Titles and Names.

The Mithna tend to use traditional titles, as opposed to the newer titles of the rest of the Umbral Rim. The standard title for a member of a Mithna in good standing is Thamara (“Master”, sometimes translated as “Baron”) and is worth +1 status, though some prefer the title of Satemo (“Knight”), also worth a +1 to Status. More powerful members of the Mithna use the the title Thamet (“Lord,” sometimes translated as “Count”), and is worth +2 to +3 Status. The ultimate rulers of a Mithna use the title Shef Thamet (“High Lord,” sometimes translated as “Duke.”), always worth a +3 in Status. If the Mithna also rules over a world directly, such as the case for Mithna Adivasta, they take on the title Mierastra (literally “King” though usually translated as “Prince” in this context); this is always worth +4 in status.

Member of a Mithna prefer to be referred to by their title, their given name and then their Mithna name, such as “Thamet Shan Galiantim.” Outsiders often mistakenly refer to a member of a Mithna with the title “Mithna,” and most members of a Mithna will tolerate this.

Mithna Dueling

When members of a Mithna is insulted by another member of a Mithna, they must attempt to remove this stain of dishonor or violate their edict. Dark Communion accepts the killing of the other as sufficient recompense to immediately remove the stain of dishonor, but this can lead to cycles of reprisals, so the Mithanna have created a ceremonial form of dueling using neurolance batons or glaives. The point of such a duel is to inflict sufficient pain on the opponent to force him to submit, at which point a flowery set of apology or proclamations are exchanged between the opponents to ensure that sufficient honor is retained between both participants that the Edict is not broken.

The duel continues until one side calls out for relief; roll Will penalized by the pain the character is suffering to resist calling out for relief after every strike of the lash (with a +3 if the character has High Pain Threshold). The defeated party must make an apology; this requires a Savoir-Faire roll (penalized by cultural familiarity if the character is unfamiliar with Lithian culture). On a failure, the character has violated their Mithna Edict and suffer appropriately. If neither character will relent, or the defeated character refuses to apologize, then the duel is to the death, or the refusing character is slain out of hand.

Most Mithanna estates have a “dueling room,” pit set into the ground in a highly ceremonial, ritualistic ground. Most such dueling pits have surprise traps, such as razors or spikes set in the floor or walls, a shifting ground, or neuro-lash armed walls. These help keep the fight interesting for the audience, and ensures that the duelists spill enough blood and suffer enough to satisfy Dark Communion.

Treat this as a variation of Neuroblade Dueling.

Playing as one of the Mithna

All members of a Mithna must choose the Mithna to which they belong, and take the following traits: Mithna (Mithna Name) [1], Classic Look (Pure Ranathim) [1], Mithna Edict [12]. They may additionally choose from additional traits associated with their Mithna

The Mithna (Mithna Name) grants the character access to the Mithna Edict trait, and additional Mithna traits, depending on the bloodline they selected. It also grants access, after character creation, to specific psionic abilities, as noted in the Mithna. Finally, it grants them the equivalent of path regalia symbol with a single Dark Communion Path and a Broken Communion path, but at the cost of an anti-symbol for the path of the Mystical Tyrant, preventing them from using its powers effectively.

The Classic Look (Pure Ranathim) perk grants them one increased level of appearance for anyone who specifically likes Ranathim features. It represents the tendency for members of a Mithna to appear “more Ranathim than Ranathim.”

Finally, they gain the Mithna Edict metatrait:

Mithna Edict

12 points

Once per hour, the character may elect to reroll any roll twice more and take the best roll, provided the roll pertains to the character’s wealth, prestige and social power or to the protection of their domain or to preserve their honor or they’re on their homeworld (as defined by their Mithna’s domain). It might help him win a duel, avoid a scandal by slipping out of a bedroom unseen, with any Wealth rolls, or to impress another lord, but wouldn’t help him heal a fallen comrade or fix his repulsor-bike. It will never help him violate his oath. Once per game session, the character can, instead of rerolling, dictate the result of his roll as per super-luck; this exhausts all further uses of rerolls for the rest of the session.

This power is the result of an ancient, ancestral oath sworn to Ozamanthim. If the character should ever willfully or accidentally violate their oath, they lose their power. In addition, while he is in violation of his oath, he is Cursed.

Traits: Super Luck (Aspect, improve power, wealth and glory -20%; Dark Communion -10%; Nuisance Effect, once per game session rather than once per day -20%; Oath -15%) [35] + Luck (Aspect, improve power, wealth and glory -20%; Dark Communion -10%; Oath -15%) as alternate ability [2] + Cursed (Mitigator, Oath, -65%) [-25].

Violating and Honoring the Mithna Edict

All Mithna must honor their oath to Ozamanthim, even though he has been dead for centuries, or they suffer the wrath of Dark Communion. This means that failure to correctly navigate through a legal morass of a millennia dead tyrant can result in a character suffering a dread curse. However, the Mithanna aren’t without protection. All members of a Mithna have the core principles and ideas of the Edict drilled into their memory from birth, and thus know at least the basic violations profoundly well.

Furthermore, those born to a Mithna bloodline have an inherited psionic sense of the “shape” of the Edict like a pressure in their mind that informs them of their impending doom. If the character takes an action that would violate his oath, he may roll IQ. On a critical failure, nothing happens; on a failure, he gains an ominous sense of forboding that something he’s going to do will threaten his oath; on a success, he learns what specific action that he is undertaking will violate his edict (though not necessarily the reasons why), and on a critical success, he knows what action he was planning would violate his oath and why, and perhaps a hint as to what he should do instead. Only if he goes ahead and violates his oath anyway does this results in the immediate termination of their powers, and requires at least a minor quest to restore, and suffers the Cursed trait.

Characters who take Law (Tyrannic) can use this roll in place of the IQ roll above, and can roll the skill to understand the deeper context of what law they risk violating and its finer nuance, so they might learn a way around it.

The GM can also allow the Mithanna’s player to roll IQ if a unique opportunity to honor their domain or oaths arises, something where the Mithna Edict would assist them or that might help them regain their lost edict, should they have violated their oaths.

GMing the Mithna Edict

The Mithna Edict offers an opportunity for the GM to inject some weirdness into his campaign. The Mithna are aristocrats “out of time,” bind to the ancient ghosts of a long dead empire through unbreakable oaths. This helps convey the arbitrary “foreignness” of the Umbral Rim, as even its rulers tend to follow laws and commands that they don’t understand and barely remember. This presents a few pitfalls for GM and player.

First, coming up with a set of arbitrary rules with which to constrain your players requires constant creative energy on the part of the GM. An easier way to handle it might be to use the Ham Clause: once a session, the GM simply declares that the current circumstances binds and limits the actions of the character in such a way that they can still function, but at a -3 to all rolls for the remainder of the scene because they must observe certain niceties. The player can waive the penalty at any time, but doing so violates the Edict and immediately cancels their powers and inflicts the curse upon them.

Alternatively, the GM can create specific arbitrary edicts that will explicitly constrain the actions of the PC. The best such constraints present interesting obstacles or unique options to the PC, rather than arbitrarily kicking them out of the campaign. The best of such constraints simulate Duty, Dread, Compulsive Behaviors, Disciplines of Faith (Ritualism) and small scale Vows. Unless you wish to introduce long-standing constraints, consider limiting them in time and location: a particular constraint only happens currently, or while on this specific, backwater world, and during the rest of the adventure, the PC will face different obstacles. This means the player gets to look forward to unique limitations that change over the course of the adventure, depending on the context in which they are in.

Be careful to avoid arbitrarily punishing the player. Ozamanthim or his heirs may have issued a long forgotten edict that a member of the Mithna could just stumble over by accident without realizing their error and thus the GM could legitimately spring “You broke your oath!” upon the player. This is technically possible, but most players will not enjoy it. Realize, instead, that the Mithna have been encountering these problems for centuries and have cataloged all of them rigorously and taught their children how to avoid them. A member of a Mithna should always have a sense of what they can and cannot do, and so if they come to a place, or reach a point in time, where they’re under the constraints of a specific and known edict, the GM should inform them. If they come under the constraints of an unknown edict, they should always get a chance to roll IQ to avoid violating the edict; they may not know why the edict’s constraint exists or what its purpose originally was, and this can serve as the impetus for an interesting investigation into the ancient past, but they should never have their powers arbitrarily stripped from them unless they were not raised as a member of the Mithna. 

 The long lost scions of these ancient clans often don’t know anything about the Mithna Edict. If a player chooses to play as a Ranathim with a Secret Advantage and the GM selects the Mithna Edict as their secret advantage, they should feel free to pile the cursed traits on, until the player realizes what’s going on (ideally when they encounter another Mithna who explains it all to them), as this represents the central clue to the mystery of their secret advantage.

Examples of Ozamanthim’s Laws

If you're looking for inspiration for examples of the sort of problems the Mithanna face, consider one of the following:

Sanctuary: Ozamanthim declared a specific and celebrated temple on this world to be a haven from violence. He held a great parley here, and declared that the ban on violence remained “forever after.” Today, the temple is a ruin, or has been co-opted for some other purpose, but within the confines of the original boundaries of the temple, the Mithanna may not engage in violence against any other character. This might be a well-known local fact (Area Knowledge) or an interesting historical curiosity (History), and if there is a strong local Mithna presence, people might use it as a way to escape their wrath.

The Forbidden Spice: A spice (or drug or alcohol) native to this world was forbidden by Ozamanthim: none may possess it, nor taste of it. In the subsequent millennia, this prohibition fell away, but the Mithanna remain bound by it. To touch it or to taste of it violates their oath. The spice has become relatively wide-spread across the planet, and some have even learned that the Mithna dislike it, and use it as a weapon against them. The Mithna can also restore their Edict by enforcing the law of Ozamanthim and slaying those he finds in possession of the spice, including those that may have used it against him in the first place. The danger this spice poses to Mithna may be well-known locally.

The Festival of Silence: Ozamanthin declared a day of mourning that recurs once every so many years. The ancient cycle has been forgotten, but he commanded all Mithanna to honor the day of the mourning. The Mithanna must perform some act to remember the fallen (place a coin or an offering on an appropriate grave site, or light a candle, etc), and must remain silent and unspeaking for the whole day. The GM can introduce some variations, depending on who the honored person was (or if this is even remembered, though for such a declaration, it must have been someone important, such as the death of a beloved member of the royal family, or a day honoring the fallen of the Monolith Wars). The specific acts forbidden can vary too, such as requiring a fast from sunup to sundown.

The Seal of Ozamanthim: Ozamanthim created a specific set of seals, physical constructions of extraordinarily durable material that are difficult to forge. The bearer had the right to command one of the Mithna in the name of Ozamanthim, though usually only in a specific way. Typically, the messenger bearing the seal could summon the Mithna to the throne of Ozamanthim, rally them for war, or demand that they execute the judgment of Ozamanthim (typically the execution of the condemned). These seals still exist and Dark Communion still enforces these edicts. If a character bearing a genuine seal of Ozamanthim uses the right forms (which requires a Savoir-Faire (High Society) roll, apply a familiarity penalty if the character is unfamiliar with the ancient rituals of the original Tyrannic courts; the Mithna are always familiar with this!) they may request a specific favor from the Mithna. Treat this as a one-time Duty. If the roll fails, or the character makes what Dark Communion deems to be an unreasonable request (a request that Ozamanthim never would have made), not only is the Mithna not obligated to fulfill the request, but they may invoke the Mithna Edict when dispatching the imposter. Some con-artists use Forgery to create a false seal; it is always a violation of the Mithna Edict to accept the commands of the bearer of a forged seal. The Mithna can roll Connoisseur (Relics) or Archaeology to inspect the seal, and they can, as always, roll IQ to sense the impending violation of the Mithna Edict.

Obey the Forms: The Mithna were often obligated to observe very specific forms when undertaking formal actions, such as attending court or engaging in a duel. A non-Mithna can invoke these forms, such as introducing a social event under the auspices of an ancient courtly ritual, or challenge the Mithna to a formal duel; what matters here is that the Mithna is suddenly bound and constrained by rules and formalities that his opponents aren’t (the Mithna themselves can and often do invoke these forms too, but then all involved are equally bound). This requires a Savoir-Faire (High Society) roll with the normal familiarity penalties; if successful this gives the Mithna a -3 to all rolls for the scene that his opponents can exploit. Depending on the context (and always in the case of a duel), if the Mithna is forced to observe the forms and everyone else isn’t, then he can invoke his Mithna edict to “win,” so while he may be hampered by the formality of his actions, luck and chance begin to play in his favor.

Forbidden Secrets: Ozamanthim declared a certain, specific set of knowledge to be secret, for “National Security” or to protect the “Dignity of the Tyrannic Dynasty.” When the Mithna encounters this knowledge, they may freely learn it and give that knowledge to others bound by the Mithna Edict, they may even act on it, but they may not divulge it to anyone outside of the Mithna Edict, nor may they act in a way that would reveal it to everyone. This compulsion only prevents the Mithna from actively revealing the secret, it does not punish the Mithna if someone learns the secret on their own. The nature of these secrets are such that most Mithna don’t know they’re guarded until they learn the secret (unless told explicitly so by another Mithna who also knows the secret). Here, the IQ roll is key to being aware that what they’re about to say will violate the edict.

Star-Crossed Lovers: Ozamanthim cared a great deal about maintaining the integrity of his line and to prevent pretenders or politically powerful marital unions from arising. While he never arranged marriages after the fashion of the Akashic Order, he did forbid particular unions, and he tended to do so in sweeping, generational terms. Most of the minor nobles and lineages have forgotten their aristocratic origins but sometimes, a member of a Mithna will fall in love with another Ranathim, only to discover that he is forbidden from a romantic entanglement with them. Dark Communion regards explicit marriage, romantic consummation, or even a kiss as a clear violation, and even frowns upon excessive touching. There are some ways around this law, but they tend to be most unsavory, and create tense, romantic complications that often lead to horrifically tragic love affairs. Many Mithna suggest arranged marriages, or avoiding love at all costs.

The Right of Dominion: Not every demand of the Edict is a great burden for the Mithna to bear. Ozamanthim gave unto his Mithna certain monopolies, the exclusive right to trade or own a particular substance or parcel of land. Most Mithna still retain that land or those monopolies, but sometimes they encounter forgotten examples of them, such as lost and ancient Tyrannic ships that technically fall under their command, or conquered worlds that had originally been given to them. When a Mithna encounters such a thing, they may roll IQ to detect their unique relationship with it, and may invoke the Mithna Edict in all rolls to reclaim their property or to defeat those who would stand in their way.

The Condemned Man: The punishment for treachery in the Tyranny was not just death, but the death of a bloodline: you and your kin and your descendants all suffered under the condemnation of the Tyrant. Many Ranathim thought this metaphorical, but the Mithna know better. Sometimes, they encounter a lost descendant of a secret branch of one of these condemned bloodlines. They’re not obligated to destroy them, but they may roll IQ to detect their condemned status, they may invoke the Mithna Edict to kill them, and those who have violated their oaths have their oaths restored if they slay the condemned. Some forward-thinking Mithna like to collect these condemned and keep them in dungeons; if one of their number violates their oaths, they can bring out the condemned and allow the oath breaker to restore their honor by slaying the condemned.

Other Mithna-Related Traits

Characters with the Mithna Edict may use Law (Tyrannic) to have knowledge about the Laws of the Tyranny. Characters may roll against it to learn if an expected course of action would violate the Edict, or what specific adjustments to an action would allow them to undertake a specific action without violating a law, or how they might go about restoring their Edict. Characters may also roll History (Tyrannic) to know the historical context of a specific edict.

Dreams of the Edict [1]: When you sleep, sometimes Dark Communion speaks to you, and shows you visions of the Will of the Edict. These may warn against certain actions, but more often show unique opportunities to honor their domain.  Treat this as Visions (Aspected, Dreams) [1].

Legal Immunity (Mithna) [5]: Some Mithna, such as House Khalli, have a special relationship with the Empire. They have dispensation to ignore the laws of the Valorian Empire (which extends sufficiently far throughout space that you may ignore most laws in the Galaxy, but not within the Alliance or the Cybernetic Union), but you are still subject to the direct commands of Emperor Ren Valorian, and to the laws of the Mithna Edict.

Mithna Contract Lawyer [1]: The Mithna must keep their promises, but need only stick to the letter of their promises. The GM should never punish a player for a poorly worded promise if he’s taken this perk, but should instead assume that the character is far more clever at their wording than the player. Furthermore, characters with this trait may replace Fast-Talk with Law (Tyrannic) for rolls that would trick another character into believing that the Mithna promised something other than what they actually promised.

Serendipity: The player can always use one use of generic Serendipity to manipulate the Edict. They can either expend it to create an exception or to lessen the difficulty of overcoming a specific constraint of the Edict, or to request a beneficial event in regards to the Edict (such as encountering a Condemned Man or something associated with their Right of Dominion). All members of a Mithna may also purchase a unique form of Serendipity:

Serendipity (Mithna Edict -35%) [10]: This variation of Serendipity has the same constraints as the Mithna Edict: it only works so long as the character is true to their oaths, and only works to benefit their wealth, power, ambition or the honoring of their domain. Rather than improve their roll, it can create beneficial circumstances. It can also be used as generic Serendipity (see above) when it comes to fortunate coincidences surrounding the Mithna Edict itself.

Will of the Edict [1]: When rolling IQ when in danger of violating the Mithna edict, treat all success levels as one level higher (Critical failure gives an ominous sense of foreboding, success gives the specifics of what the violation will be) while critical success informs the character of the best route they can take to avoid the specific constraint, or even turn it to their advantage.

Code of Honor (Mithna Edict) [-15]: Members of a Mithna aren’t required to take this code of honor, but many do. Those without should try to live up to the spirit of the Edict, and attempting to find some clever way to undermine or circumvent their limitations violates their Code of Honor.

Enemy (Rival Mithna lineage, 6 or less) [-5]: The character’s family or lineage within larger Mithna has managed to accumulate blood rivalry with another lineage. This can only be resolved with a long series of highly formal duels, but often regrettably breaks down into outright violence. On a 6 or less, the character either finds himself confronted with a member of this lineage or finds that he risks violating his Mithna Edict if he does not soon seek out a member of this lineage to defeat in a duel or kill. Blood rivals like this often seek to undermine the other politically and economically as well as face on the dueling floor. As a bonus, any time the character has violated their Mithna Edict, the death or defeat of a member of the rival bloodline is sufficient to immediately restore their Mithna Edict.

The Mithna Bloodlines

In addition to the Mithna Edict, members of a Mithna have access to additional Dark Communion miracles powered by the same oath as their Mithna Edict: characters may optionally purchase these abilities, but lose them if they violate their oaths until such time as they restore their oaths.

Furthermore, all Mithna have a domain assigned to them by the Tyrant. They may use their Mithna Edict power to improve any aspect of honoring or protecting their domain, but they mustn’t knowingly violate or harm their domain.

Finally, all Mithna have some latent psionics in their bloodline. This allows them to buy a single ability after character creation from the right psionic power, but not the talent! That said, characters of these bloodlines often have the talent for their particular psionic power.

Mithna Adivasta

Domain: Moros; the gaunt and all necrocrafting technology.

Hereditary Estate: Witha ga Hiten

Path Symbolism: The Rebellious Beast (Dark Communion) and Death (Broken Communion)

Additional Oath Magic:

  • Thanatologist (Dark Communion -10%; Mithna Edict -15%) [4/level]

  • Unstoppable (Mithna Edict -10%) [16]

  • Dark Glory (Mithna Edict -10%) [40]

Latent Adivasta Psionic Abilities: Concealing Shadow (Pyramid #3/99 p. 11) [1]; Corspe Sense (Pyramid #3/99 p. 5) 1-4 [26 to 63], Corpse Whisperer (Pyramid #3/99 p. 11) [1]; Necrocontrol 1-3 (Pyramid #3/99 p. 6) [30 to 50], Necrocraft 1-10 [2/level]; Shadow Control 1-3 [11/level]; Shadowplay (Pyramid #3/99 p. 11) [1]

Additional Traits: Controllable Disadvantage (Callous) [1]; Good with Gaunts [1]; Obscure True Name [1]; Quick Gadgeteer (Necrocraft only, -80%) [10]; Resist Disease +3 or +8 [3 or 5], Technological Secret (Synthetic Flesh) [1]

Additional Skills: Area Knowledge (Moros or The Shroud constellation) both (E) IQ+1 [2]; Connoisseur (Necrocrated Technology) (A) IQ [2]; Expert Skill (Thanatology) (H) IQ-1 [2]; Surgery (H) IQ-1 [2]; Weird Science (VH) IQ-2 [2]

Additional Disadvantages: Callous [-5]; Curious [-5*]; Odious Personal Habit (Morbid Humor) [-5]

Moros has long been a beacon of both hope and fear to the denizens of the Umbral Rim. When Ozamanthim’s forces first came to Moros, they found it already inhabited by the Ranathim Death Cult, and by legions of miserable, sickly slaves. The owners of those slaves happily took the Mithna Oaths on and become Mithna Adivasta.

Today, Mithna Adivasta has the dubious honor of remaining the only truly sovereign Mithna. As nobody else wants to deal with the horrifying plague-world, they happily retain control over it. They balance the competing interests of Domen Lashafra, the Ranathim Death Cult, and Domen Venalina, the cult of Sin-Eaters, while also managing a swelling population of the sick and desperate, and their own growing population of Gaunts.

For their part, the denizens of Moros fear their overlords, who all reside in a sprawling industrial complex located in the polar regions of the world. Known as Witha ga Hiten, literally “the House of Pain,” this complex contains the largest concentration of ancient necrocrafting technology in the Galaxy, rivaling the capabilities of the semi-legendary Tarvagant. In truth, most of that technology has collapsed into disrepair, but members of the house do what they can to maintain the technology, and they have more resources to build or repair any of the ancient necrocrafted technologies of the Ranathim tyranny, which often requires experimentation with fairly fresh cadavers, pliable Gaunts, or even living, screaming slaves. Indeed, their long exposure to the technology has granted them an affinity with the dead, and many have gained access to lesser Necrokinesis abilities.

When one encounters a scion of Mithna Adivasta away from Moros, they generally either represent their clan’s interest to other parties, or they seek to guard or protect (or command) a local Gaunt population, or they seek to salvage technology that will help them repair their lost technologies and restore Witha ga Hiten to its former glory.

The scions of Mithna Adivasta tend to be impressively tall, with dark, silken hair and snow-white skin. Their pale irises contrast with the blacks of their eyes, and seem to have a numinous glow about them. Their claws, horns and sometimes even teeth gleam with a glossy blackness.

Mithna Galantim

Domain: Hekatomb; the hunting grounds, parks and beasts of the Tyranny.

Hereditary Estate: Saurunadi Zakon

Path Symbolism: The Devourer (Dark Communion) and the Other (Broken Communion)

Additional Oath Magic:

  • Stalker (Dark Communion -10%; Mithna Edict -15%) [4/level]

  • Terrain Adaption (Dark Communion 10%; Mithna Edict -15%) [4]

  • Hunter’s Eyes (Mithna Edict -15%) [4]

Latent Psionic Abilities: Animal Empathy 1-4 [1 to 8]; Beast Link 1-3 [17/level]; Call of the Wild [1]; Controllable (Frightens Animals) [1]; Good with (Animal) [1]; Pet [1]; Rider Within 1-4 [8 to 26].

Additional Traits: Brave [1]; Fearlessness or Unfazeable [2/level or 15]; Penetrating Voice [1], Replace Striker (Horns; Crushing; Weak -50%, Limited Arc, Straight Ahead -40%) [1] with Striker (Horns; Crushing) [5] for +4 points

Additional Skills: Animal Handling (Ranathim Clade, Hekatomb, or Xeno-Fera) all (A) IQ [2], Area Knowledge (Hekatomb, the Corvus Constellation, or the Morass) (E) IQ+1 [2], Survival (Any) (A) Per [2].

Additional Disadvantages: Bloodlust [-10*], Easy to Read [-10], Loner [-5*]

Mithna Galantim ruled Hekatomb before its conquest by Ozamanthim, and they ruled it after. They agreed to preserve the land as a proving ground for the Tyrant and his kin, and a means of punishing traitors. They also spread out throughout the Tyranny, lending their mastery of beasts and primal, untamed land to those who would conquer wild new worlds, and brought their wild monstrosities with them for the wars against the Monolith.

Today, Mithna Galantim remains on Hekatomb, where they have reached an accord with the Slavers to retain their autonomy and their right to hunt those who try to despoil the savage beauty of the world, and in return they provide sport and spectacle for the Slaver gladiatorial rings. Their seat of power and ceremony remains in their crumbling, ancestral castle-complex, Saurunadi Zakon, the Hunting Grounds, which resides in the heart of the darkest jungle on Hekatomb, its aging spires barely visible above the canopy of trees. To reach it requires not just finding one’s way past the jungles, but also defeating the many beasts that the Galantim have bound to their estate.

The scions of Mithna Galantim range farther afield than most other Mithna. One can expect to find one of their kinsman in the wilds of nearly any world, from the savannas of Sarai to oceans of Samsara to, most excitingly for members of the Mithna, the wilds of the Morass in the Sylvan Spiral. The Mithna has a tradition of affording honor and respect to those who manage to prove themselves in new, untamed worlds, and return to tell the tale.

The scions of Mithna Galantim have coarse, rugged features: their hair falls in thick manes, their eyes shine a wolfish gold, their teeth seem longer and more feral than other Ranathim, and their horns bulkier and thicker.

Mithna Khalli

Domain: Samsara; the subject races of the Ranathim tyranny (who must be both made to know their place, and who must be kept safe from bigotry or invasion).

Hereditary Estate: Jetuni Zakon

Path Symbolism: The Beautiful Fool (Dark Communion) and Madness (Broken Communion)

Additional Oath Magic:

  • Tough Guy (Dark Communion -10%; Mithna Edict -10%) [4/level]

  • Dark Charisma (Mithna Edict -10%) [11]

  • Sense Passion ( Mithna Edict -10%) [45]

Latent Psionic Abilities: Aspect 1-4 [4/level]; Auric Squint (Pyramid #3/69, p6) [1]; Emotion Control 1-4 [10 to 30]; Instill Terror 1-4 [18 to 27]; Intimidation Factor (PP 63) [1], Mind-Clouding 1-5 [6/level]; Presence (Pyramid #3/69, p7) [1]

Additional Traits: Improve Racial Appearance (Attractive) to Appearance (Beautiful) [8] or Very Beautiful [12]; Cultural Adaptability [10], Extreme Sexual Dimorphism [1]; Language (Galactic Common; Any) [varies]; Language Talent [10]; Legal Immunity (Mithna) [5];

Additional Skills: Area Knowledge (Samsara or the Hydrus Constellation) both (E) IQ+1 [2]; Merchant (A) IQ [2]; Savoir-Faire (Mafia) (E) IQ+1 [2]; Streetwise (A) IQ [2], Swimming (E) DX+1 [2]

Additional Disadvantages: Addiction (any) [Varies]; Greed [-15*]; Xenophilia [-10*]

Rare for a Mithna, Mithna Khalli were native to Styx, rather than to its current domain of Samsara. They agreed to serve as Ozamanthim’s secret police. When Ozamanthim “liberated” the Hydrus constellation from the Eldoth, they migrated their holdings from the Ranathim homeworld to their new estate on the crossroads of the Umbral Rim. There, they watched over the subjugated population, handled and protected the inquisitors of the Tyranny and personally ferreted out conspiracies against his reign. This seems to have given Mithna Khalli some leniency in regards to their oaths, as they seem able to violate the laws of the Tyrant in the pursuit of some greater conspiracy.

Today, they exploit their stranglehold on the lines of trade in and out of the Umbral Rim. They have a hand in nearly all criminal transactions and smuggling operations on Samsara. This often brings them into conflict with the Templars of the Dark Vigil and the as-of-yet uncorrupted elements of the Empire that technically rules the world. The latter often fail to understand why the Empire gives these specific Ranathim special dispensation on their world, but most people suspect a secret alliance between the Emperor and the Khalli, as his closest advisors and agents often command members of the clan during their operations on the world.

They exert their influence and control from Jetuni Zakon, literally “the Floating Castle,” a great, city-sized barge that slowly wends its way around the oceans of Samsara. Jetuni Zakon brims with casinos, cantinas, brothels and slaves; by the Emperor’s dispensation, Jetuni Zakon falls outside of normal imperial law, which means that slavery is legal within the confines of the city-barge, and thus those who want to get a safe taste of what the deeper Umbral Rim looks like often explore the estate of Mithna Khalli, though many an imperial may be shocked to find that Mithna Khalli uses its special dispensation to ensare and keep human slaves on their estate, and that there’s nothing the imperial can do about it.

Despite their ease at integrating with alien populations, the scions of Mithna Khalli leave Samsara rarely and cautiously. Their natural and bounteous beauty makes them popular targets for slavers, and if they should fall to slavery, their Edict dooms them to an eternity of dishonor and misery. When they do, however, they often do so to secure resources for their great, floating city-barge (especially slaves from the Slavers), to discuss the “alliance” between Mithna Khalli and the Valorian Empire, or to negotiate with other Mithna.

The scions of Mithna Khalli tend to be extremely “gendered,” their females tend to be extremely busty and curvy, and their males tend to be broad-shouldered and well-endowed, both moreso than most Ranathim. This sometimes leads humans to mistake them for slaves or courtesans, which can earn the swift death of the unfortunate human. They tend to have either deeply crimson skin and white, silken hair, or paler skin and crimson, silken hair. Their eyes tend to be vividly colorful, and their claws, fangs and horns less pronounced.

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