Tuesday, August 15, 2017

House Sabine, Part 2

People will want to play as members of a house, so naturally, we need to make some modifications to the Aristocratic Background lens to allow them to do so.

As you may have noticed, these posts are much more specific than most of the previous posts of Iteration 6, with names, planets and cultures.  Aristocracy is "bound to the land," you cannot discuss a house without discussing its lands, its culture, the people who serve it, and offering up generic examples aren't enough (in fact, that's what I've done these past two weeks!).  You need to see concrete examples, so I've done that here.

In a sense, a house is like a world in that they have their own culture, though I would argue their culture should have no more than 1-3 distancing mechanism: they're not an alien culture, just a distinct one.  One element I wanted to show for House Sabine, that I expect will be repeated in other houses, is a culture of a distinct, hidden language, like the sign language of House Atreides in Dune, or the "Fan Languages" of the real world.

Tools of House Sabine

Sabine Background Options:

Add the following traits to Aristocratic background:

Traits: Immunity (To a single Persephone poison) [1], The Sabine Caress [1], Special Rapport (Twin) [5]

Skills: Gesture (E) IQ+1 [2], Poison (H) IQ-1 [2]

Optional Disadvantages: Addiction (Dreaming Nymph) [-10]

The Sabine Caress

Like many houses, House Sabine has a “secret” form of communication that allows its members to speak to one another with minimum interference. Given that some members of house Sabine, including the famous founder, Sissi Sabine, the preferred means of secret communication is house Sabine. Members of house Sabine will touch (or kiss) one another upon meeting, generally on the face, the hand or the upper arm, which most outside observers will take as mere affection between family members. The precise placement of the kiss, the duration of the kiss, and the presence and duration of repetition can convey meaning. This meaning is no more than what the Gesture skill could convey, typically things like “I am in danger” or “Trust nothing of what I say” or “You are in a safe place” or “the next name I speak will be the traitor.” Communicating with the Sabine Caress requires the Sabine Caress perk (representing a highly specific language fluency), and use of the Gesture skill.

The Poison-Blossoms of Persephone

The Sabine homeworld of Persephone contains many beautiful but deadly flowers, called the Poison-Blossoms of Persephone. While not all members of House Sabine are born on Persephone, or even visit it, many have gardens of poison blossoms and learn how to identify and use them at a young age. The House uses these poison blossoms in their heraldric imagery and even weaves its wedding bouquets out of them. While other houses might not know the particulars of specific poison blossoms, they certainly know of them, and know what they symbolize for the house: the members of House Sabine have a dangerous sort of beauty.

Dreaming Nymph: Also called the enlightening poison, this flower grows near the caves of Persephone, and its people associate it with the “devils of Persephone.” It has six black and violet petals, pointed in a star pattern, and has a light, aquatic, lemony scent. After taking a dose, it provides +2 to all ESP rolls for the next hour and grants the user Visions (Overwhelming); after the first ten minutes, and every ten minutes thereafter for the next hour (6 cycles), the user must roll HT-2 or suffer 1d fatigue damage. After losing ½ FP to the poison the user begins Hallucinating (B429). Dreaming Nymph can be counteracted with an anti-toxin kit or with purge. Dreaming Nymph is addictive. $50/dose.

Fool’s Bane: Also called the laughing poison, this flower has a bell-like blossom with a red “checkered” pattern, and smells of sweet, cloying honey. The nectar of the Fool’s Bane blossom can provide an excellent sweetener (if harvested very carefully), but all parts of the plant itself are poisonous. The laughing poison, which can be used as digestive or follow-up agent, has a 1 hour onset and can be resisted with an HT roll and inflicts 1d fatigue damage every hour for up to 8 hours (8 cycles). When the victim has lost 1/3 FP to the poison, he is Tipsy (B428), and when he’s lost 2/3rd FP to the poison, he becomes Drunk (B428). This is not alcohol, though many mistake it for such. Sabine youths will sometimes use it as a prank, though the laughing poison can kill. More adult, and dangerous, members of House Sabine use it to make someone look foolish. Fools Bane can be counteracted by anti-toxin kits and purge. $10/dose.

Golden Whin: Also called the chaining poison, Golden Whin comes in an enormous, and carefully cultivated, variety. Most breeds of Golden Whin come in collections of white flowers with speckles or lines of glittering gold, or yellow-gold flowers mottled white; most Golden Whin have a coconut-like scent. The blossom itself isn’t poisonous, only the root, and the blossom’s nectar contains the natural antidote to its own toxins. The toxins of the Golden Whin, which may be a blood agent, digestive agent or a follow-up agent, poison very slowly and painfully. It has an onset of 15 minutes, can be resisted with an HT-2 roll, and inflicts 1d toxic damage every three hours for 8 cycles (one day). After onset, the victim suffers Moderate Pain (B428), after losing ½ HP this increases to Severe Pain (B428) and after losing all HP this increases to Terrible Pain (B428). The poison reacts badly to most antitoxins and to purge unless one knows the exact breed of Golden Whin, and the Sabines have intentionally bred hundreds of variants of Golden Whin: unless the exactly right anti-venom (or the nectar of the blossom) is used, anti-toxin kits and purge increase the HT penalty by -1, to a maximum of -4. Thus, wicked-minded Sabines use the chaining poison as a form of blackmail, explaining the victim’s plight and informing him that they, alone, have the cure; they make their demand and then leave him in his pain until he agrees or dies. $20/dose.

Sabine Relics

The Veil of Sissi

Associated Communion: True Communion (The Bound Princess)

Statistics: Destiny +2, Visions (Aspected “My Destiny”; Overwhelming), Legendary Reputation (Bound Princess) +1

Cost: $100,000

Sissi Sabine, founder of the House Sabine, wore this black veil of lace over her eyes when she married Alexus, and to his funeral. The veil has been passed down from princess to princess, always to the eldest daughter of the current Duchess, as a reminder of her duties to the house.

The veil itself is a small strip of responsive buzzcloth small enough to fit into one’s pocket (SM-6); worn over the eyes, it both obscures the vision of the wearer (-1 to vision rolls) and obscures the face of the wearer; it is a fashion original, both to the fine intricacy of its design and the authenticity of such an ancient and prestigious artifact.

When worn over the eyes of someone with no particular destiny, the cloth remains inert, though beautiful. If worn over the eyes of someone with Destiny, the Veil will, at random moments, show the wearer overwhelming visions of that destiny (Mentally Stunning her), and what she needs to do next to fulfill it. It also strengthens her Destiny, granting her +2 Destiny, which may take her above Destiny 3!

Vervain, The Lost Force Sword of Vance Sabine

Associated Communion: True Communion (The Bound Princess)

Statistics: Higher Purpose (Rescuing Princesses), Sacrificial Parry

Cost: $75,000

Vance Sabine wore this beautifully crafted force sword when he acted as his twin sister’s bodyguard, and he died bearing it, and has been passed down to the eldest male heir of the House ever since, until its bearer died defending his sisters from an Imperial purge. It has a gold-chased, ivory handle and generated a violet blade. Those who wield the blade gain a higher purpose bonus when attempting to rescue or aid any princess, and may always make a parry to defend another nearby. Otherwise, it works like a Foundry Force Sword (dealing 8d+4 burning damage)

The Sabine Signet

Associated Communion: True Communion (The Bound Princess)

Statistics: Aspect 3

Cost: $60,000

When Valria Sabine brought the whole of the Federation together, she wore the Sabine Signet ring. While she was not the first to do so, the unmistakable imprint of her ring in the wax of the Federation agreement, the founding document that the Alliance holds so dear, has forever associated her with it. Those who bear the ring gain Aspect 3 (PP 61)

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