Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Wiki Showcase: the Path of the Bound Princess

The second of the original three paths I created for True Communion, the Bound Princess drew inspiration primarily from the Captive Maiden of "the Magic of Stories" from Pyramid #3/13, and, of course, Princess Leia as the Captive Maiden of the original Star Wars.   You can see the revised and updated path here.

Obviously, the "bound" nature of the Bound Princess is the "captive" part of the Captive Maiden, but I wanted to expand the idea.  A "princess" in the classic sense is not a woman who gets to go on adventures and swagger around doing whatever she wants: she is tightly constrained by her position and by what it means.  Those who marry her stand to inherent a kingdom and create a long lasting legacy.   She seems to have power, but she is surrounded by duty, and her power is most often in her presence and what it promises.  Thus, the "princess" in this path is not just literally bound by the chains of captivity, she is bound by her word and duty to her people.

I chose Andromeda as an image for her.  She's the ur-princess, the first incarnation I can think of of a princess that has any association with a dragon, but unlike the more common tellings where the Dragon takes the Princess, in this version, the Princess is offered up as a sacrifice to the Dragon (the Bound Princess follows this version of the story).  The king in this story has offended the Cosmic Powers of the universe, and must offer up his daughter, and thus his ability to form a stable legacy and his beloved child, up to a monstrous creation of Chaos to stabilize the natural order of the world.  Interestingly, the name "Andromeda" means "the Ruler of Men" which is an interesting title for a Greek Woman to have, let me tell you.  I don't really have a sense as to whether Andromeda went willingly to her doom, but she was chained to a rock which suggests otherwise; in the variation of the Bound Princess, the chains that bind our princess to her sacrifice are the chains of duty.  When Perseus rescues her, he naturally marries her, and this sets up a legacy claimed by "future" kings of Greece meaning that, once again, the Bound Princess is the mother of kings.

I've gone back to other fairy tales and myths for other elements, especially stories like "Frau Holle". In many fairytales, you have the girl who just naturally does what she's supposed to do.  She is naturally kind and giving to, say, animals who turn out to be shapeshifted gods or cursed princes.  She might see apples that need to be plucked and harvests them thanklessly and leaves them for the farmer.  She might sew a coat for a hungry beggar, only to find he's a secret king.  In all cases, the virtue comes not from a desire for a reward, but the natural goodness of the girl and, in return for her goodness, she is rewarded (usually elevated to the role of princess or possibly queen).  These stories obviously seek to encourage virtuous behavior from children ("Do your chores and, you never know, you might marry a king!"), but there's a sort of implicit story here: we should seek our rules from those who display common virtue.  As such, the Bound Princess is one of the few "open ruler" paths of True Communion.

The real power of the Bound Princess comes not in what she does, but what her presence means.  She inhabits a supporting role typically held by Clerics in D&D, making her probably the most "priest-like" of the Paths. She can offer others bonuses and she can heal others, and she can get people to like her and trust her.  She does not typically excel at the sort of tasks most adventurers want to undertake, though I gave her the option of doing so with her Primordial Avatar, because if you've got the power of a God, you might as well kick some butt.  This can make her troublesome for people who want a more active role, but not every player wants that, and she's intended for the sort of player who likes to sit in the background and help others enter the limelight.

I chose a feminine gender to depict the Bound Princess because we tend to picture "the Captive Maiden," unconscious and innocent virtue, and a supportive, comforting presence with femininity.  But such a role can just as easily be male.  The "dutiful son" who sacrifices his ambitions for the legacy of his family and offers quiet words of wise encouragement to his children also qualifies, and many mythological "sacrificial" or "dying" gods are often male.  The ultimate themes of the Bound Princess are self-sacrifice and how virtue can uplift those around you, which in turn can reward you, and that can apply to either gender.

You can see the revised and updated path here

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