I've trying to make this an easy-to-understand boiling down of Nobilis concepts and rules, so that people can get a handle on the world and a start on making their characters. I'll start with the world and its concepts, and then do a section on rules, at least those which are significant to making a character, which is most of them, quite frankly. The section on the world duplicates a lot of the information that was in Nathaniel's post explaning the game, but I'd recommend at least skimming it anyway, as I tried to make it less confusing. Questions are welcome. And I apologize for any typos, it's late.
So, to begin:
1) Player Characters
The PCs in this game are Nobles, beings which are responsible for / represent / embody / are one aspect of the nature of existence. This might be an object and class of objects, quality, idea, philosophy, theoretical construct, social movement . . . pretty much anything that could be used as the subject clause of a sentence. So, this aspect can be juist about anything in the conceptual lexicon : Fire, Salinity, Calendar Days, Weirdness, Punk, Missing Socks, BDSM, Phlogiston, Straight Lines, Objects Moving At High Speeds, or Telecommunications would all be valid ideas for Nobles : and of course there are thousands and thousands of others. Opening a dictionary to a random page usually results in a few good ideas. Nobles who represent concepts which do not actually exist in the real world, or which are more abstract, are by no means less powerful than those who represent more "present" concepts. (Nobles who represent *extremely* narrow and specific concepts - like, say, Lipton Instant Noodles - are less intrinsically powerful, although they receive some minor benefits as a result in practical game terms. More on that later, when we get to character handicaps in character creation.) Nobles have many powers directly relating to their Domain, and also numerous others which are largely unrelated to it.
Nobles are themselves servants / aspects / avatars / pieces of even more powerful, complex, fairly incomprehensible beings called Imperators (again, more on them later.) Every Noble is bound to a single Imperator. A group of Nobles bound to the same Imperator are a "family" of Nobles. The PCs will play one such family. Although they are "bound" to their Imperator, and in some senses are to greater or lesser degree no more than aspects of the Imperator's personality, they are not automatons - they retain free will for all practical purposes, and are treated as such. A Noble can decide to betray its Imperator if it wants to - although this is usually a seriously Bad Idea, since they will be severely punished, and quite possibly instantly annihilated.
Nobles are made, not born. They are created when an Imperator imbues someone or something else with a piece of Its own soul. Most Nobles were at one time human. A few were originally animals or mythological beings in their own right, and a very few were originally something even weirder, like a computer program or an anime character. Nobles retain some of their original soul and personality after the transformation, which is one of the reasons they are so valuable to the Imperators. But they are far more powerful than any human could ever be. People get made into Nobles in any of a variety of ways. Some happen to be in the neighborhood when an Imperator pinches off a part of the world to make a its magical kingdom ("Chancel") and are chosen from among the inhabitants for unknown reasons. Some accidentally wander into such a chancel later. Some simply attract the notice of the higher beings somehow (by being particularly smart, or beautiful, or skillful, or evil, or whatever), and are deemed worthy of being Ennobled. Some happened to be near where a Noble died, and got stuck with their aspect because the dying Noble gave it to them. Some (exceedingly rarely) killed a Noble and took their power, and for whatever reason the Imperator decided this was fine. A few simply got caught in some kind of bizarre magical accident which resulted in a piece of an Imperator's soul getting thrust into theirs with neither of them particularly wanting it, and the Imperator just decided to live with it. There are many ways.
Many Nobles look human. Many look like creatures of legend or mythology. Some are superintelligent shades of the color blue or whatever. In general, they'll be in human form when on earth, but it's player's choice what they really look like. Often, but not always, rather than walk directly on Earth, Nobles inhabit the bodies of Anchors : (usually) human servants who have been made aware of the true nature of things. (More on Anchors later.)
Nobles are charged with three main duties : defend the aspects of reality related to yourself and your Imperator (which includes those aspects related to your fellow PCs), guard and govern the Imperator's chancel and its inhabitants, and (when it does not interfere with those two duties) help in the general defense of earth. Nobles also generally have specific goals related to their Domains and their allegiances, which often conflict with the goals of other Nobles . . . but (need I say it?) more on that later.
Nobles cannot use their magic to *directly* affect other Nobles : if you are the Lord of Hair, you cannot cause another Noble's hair to grow, although you could do so with your own. This is because Nobles : and the things of which they are composed : are not part of any Domains (one name for the aspects of existence controlled by Nobles.) Nobles who are artists' are not part of the Domain of Artists. Nobles' bladders are not part of the Domain of Bladders. Etc. Nobles can be affected indirectly by the magic of other Nobles : you could strangle another Noble with living ropes of hair you cause to materialize out of the air. Nobles do have natural resistance even to this, however, and you would need to break through this natural magic resistance first. Both of these statements are also true of Noble magic used on Imperators, and Noble magic used on Excrucians (the primary enemies of the Imperators and Nobles : but . . . more on them later.) With rare exceptions, *any* other beings *anywhere* can be affected both directly and indirectly by Noble magic, with no need to break through any resistance.
There are seven major types of Imperators : Angels (allied to heaven), Fallen Angels (allied to hell), Light Lords (dedicated to the preservation of humanity : not the same as heaven), Dark Lords (dedicated to encouraging humanity to self-destruct : not the same as hell), Wild Lords (dedicated to freedom), True Gods (who generally have an individual code of some kind), and Aaron's Serpents (the children and allies of the World Ash).
An individual Imperator is, on average, about as powerful as an entire family of Nobles : in other words : if the player characters needed for some reason to take on an Imperator in direct combat (which can happen, albeit rarely), if they all attacked at once it would probably be a toss-up which one would win, unless the Imperator was a particularly weak or a particularly powerful one.
Most Imperator magic works just like Noble magic : and therefore can only affect Nobles indirectly. There are a couple of exceptions to this : 1) With great expenditure of energy, Imperators can use magic which affects Nobles directly. Nobles can simply never do that. 2) Your *own* Imperator can simply withdraw the piece of its soul from you at any time if it gets pissed off at you, which would effectively kill you. Both of these events are extremely rare, since the first is hard to do and there are generally easier ways, and the second is sort of like cutting off your own hand. And Nobles very seldom attack their own Imperator since, well, it's almost certainly a death sentence, if nothing else. But it has happened.
3) The Excrucians
Imperators and their Nobles are fighting a war against beings called Excrucians, whose goal is to erase the Universe. Already, they have removed many aspects of the Universe, but no one remembers what they were, because once they're gone, they never were at all. Excrucians are incredibly powerful beings, but it's only very seldom that an entire Excrucian gets into the world : the Imperators spend much of their time preventing that, and fighting the war on that level. More often, a "shard" or fragment of an Excrucian gets through to Earth. Generally, it's up to the Nobles to deal with that.
Excrucians fight in a variety of ways : often, they foment discord among the Nobles and Imperators, for they are subtle creatures. Also, they use a kind of sympathetic magic to erase aspects of the universe : they take a situation on earth, degrade it in certain ways, and finally when it is destroyed in Microcosm it is also destroyed in the Macrocosm. Wars and disasters on earth are not infrequently the results of Excrucians degrading such a situation, although they are just as often the work of Nobles or humans themselves.
Fighting Excrucians directly is often extremely difficult : even their shards are extremely powerful, their magics can affect Nobles *directly*, and they are often armed with Abhorrent Weapons of great power. (Furthermore, if they are fought on Earth, the expenditure of magic often drives many innocent humans insane, which is against Imperator law. And . . . more on that later.) However, Excrucians like to avoid fighting Nobles directly for much the same reasons : Nobles are pretty damn tough in their own right. So, more often, the war consists of the two sides trying to counter each other's moves : Nobles figuring out what the Excrucian's plan is and attempting to halt the plan rather than attack the Excrucian outright, and Excrucians trying to stop, misdirect, or deter them. Of course, sometimes direct assault is just necessary : but when most of your foes are immortal, that may have repercussions later on . . .
There is another important way that Excrucians and Nobles can hurt each other, but since Nobles can do it to other Nobles as well, I'll reserve that for the discussion on the Nobilis Society.
4) The Nobilis World
The world of Nobilis can is divided into several different places :
A) The Spirit World : this is where the Imperators keep the bulk of their personalities, fighting the Excrucians in their own way and in general doing whatever it is that Imperators do. Nobles seldom go there, so it's not that important to the game, really.
B) The Chancels : These are the private kingdoms of the Imperators. The Nobles' Chancel is their home, and they are charged with its governance and defense, since the Imperator is generally busy with other matters. Chancels are connected to the Earth, but often by strange pathways. A Chancel can be anything : a fairy-tale kingdom, and undersea grotto, a bizarre world of living computer programs, Detroit, whatever. The players will design their own Chancel (they will also, incidentally, design their own Imperator) in the process of character creation. The Chancel plays an important part of the game, as the characters will spend a good deal of their time there and *must* deal with any problems that arise in it. A Chancel is made the same way as a Noble : an Imperator imbues it with a piece of Its soul : so it is critically important to defend it against attacks both subtle and direct.
C) Earth : Earth is two worlds simultaneously; Prosaic reality, which is pretty much the world outside your window, and Mythic Reality, where *everything* is alive and can be argued with, elementals roam and mythical beasts abound, time works in fairy-tale manner rather than clock manner, and roads are as likely to lead to the Sun's Palace or to Heaven as to Cleveland. These two worlds are actually the same and do not contradict each other : affecting one will affect the other. Killing a hamadryad in mythic reality will cut down a tree in prosaic reality, and vice versa. Humans, with their little minds, can only see prosaic reality, and generally go mad if they see mythic reality. Nobles, with their dual minds, can see either one but not both at once. Imperators presumably see reality as it truly is.
In mythic reality, the earth is a flat disc which hangs in the branches of the world ash, with heaven at the top of the tree and hell at the bottom, and other worlds hanging in other branches.
D) The Realms Beyond : The lands beyond the Weirding Wall which surrounds the World Ash. This is where the Excrucians come from, and where some of the Wild Lord Imperators are also said to originate (although no one knows for sure, perhaps not even them.) Very little is known about these lands, since few have come back alive from them and no one has returned sane.
5) Nobilis Laws
The War against the Excrucians is run by the Imperator Lord Entropy, which makes him the de facto ruler of Nobilis society. Beyond the Nobles' basic duties : and the general injunction to serve your Imperator before the War, and the War before yourself - he has laid down five laws : here they are, with some notes:
I. Thou Shalt Not Love Another.
This law is broken by pretty much everyone and is largely impossible to enforce, since the thoughts and feelings of Nobles are generally unreadable to all but the most incredibly powerful and seldom-used of magics. Nobles retain many human feelings, and fall in love as uncontrollably as humans do : with humans, with other Nobles, with Imperators (angels, even fallen ones, are incredibly beautiful . . . ), and even with other, stranger beings. (In fact, in the game mechanics, loving a human or two is certainly convenient and very nearly necessary for certain important things.) Most Nobles have quietly decided that the best way to follow this one is to try to keep things quiet and claim it was just for the sex if it ever comes to court, which it almost never does.
II. Thou Shalt Harm None Who Has Done No Harm
This one, on the other hand, is taken incredibly seriously by the powers that be. It applies not only to Nobles and Imperators, but to humans AND TO EXCRUCIANS. Driving human bystanders insane with miraculous magic counts as harming them, according to all court precedent. Arguments that no one anywhere has actually done no harm, etc., have been thrown out as sophistry : if you have no proof, or at least reason, to believe they've done harm, you are violating the law. Punishments can be severe, so take care you know what's up before attacking, be subtle with your magics on earth, at least if anyone is watching, and if things get out of hand, try to fix things.
III. Treat No Beast As Your Lord
Beast includes humans. This one is also taken seriously, but in a different way. Nobles are expected to mete out severe justice when they are insulted, ordered about, or dissed by "lesser beings" (and yes, apparently insults qualify as "harm" under the second law.) While punishment for the crime of not punishing such hubris is rare, enough unanswered insults from lessers can make you a pariah in Noble society. Certainly it gets in the way of making allies. This rule can be hard on Nobles who are basically nice people. Bastards usually don't have a problem with it.
IV. Protect No Power From the Justice of the Code
I.e., don't harbor any criminals. This one is taken fairly seriously, but if you can get away with at least convincingly claiming you didn't know you were harboring a criminal, you can generally get off without punishment.
V. Aiding the Cammora is No Crime
The Cammora are the human agents of the Nobles and Imperators on earth (they are different from Anchors, who are magically bound servants. The Cammora are hired help.) Taking an action to benefit the Cammora is usually not considered a crime, even if it pushes the boundary on some of the other laws.
7) Nobilis Society
All of the Nobilis band together to fight the Excrucians and defend reality, in general. Beyond that, different Nobles and Imperators are devoted to different causes and fight, intrigue, and squabble amongst each other as much as in any society. Nobles and Imperators often have their own goals and enemies related to their powers and their pasts, and there are also large groups with differing : often opposing - goals. Every player character Noble must be allied to some code, although it can be unique. It does *not* have to be the same group as your Imperator. Imperators are subtle and complex beings, and it is entirely possible : in fact, likely : that an Angel would have as a trusted and rewarded servant / aspect of their personality a being that was utterly devoted to serving the cause of Hell. But while this may not cause problems between Nobles and their own Imperators, it can certainly cause problems between Nobles and *other* Imperators who might not agree with your own Imperator that a servant of Hell is just the thing Heaven needs . . . or with other Nobles, *including* the other Nobles serving your own Imperator (although you might want to stay on at least somewhat decent terms with them, ideally, since you're going to be defending each others' backs). . . or with other beings or various types . . .
The five major groups are :
i) Heaven : Beauty is the highest principle. Justice is a form of beauty. Lesser beings should respect their betters.
ii) Hell : Corruption is the highest principle. Suffering is a form of corruption. Power justifies itself.
iii) The Light : Humanity must live, and live forever. What must be done ought to be done cleanly. Humans must be protected (particularly from themselves.)
iv) The Dark : Humans should destroy themselves (individually.) Humanity should destroy itself (except for a few toys). Ugliness to human eyes shows that one is worthy. (Note that the Darks' goal is quite different from the Excrucians' goal : if humanity is destroyed by outside forces, the Dark loses.)
v) The Wild : Freedom is the highest principle. Sanity and mundanity are prisons. Give in kind with a gift received.
As with Excrucians, it is often difficult and unrewarding for Nobles to attack each other directly. However, there are ways to indirectly attack them which both weaken your opponent and grant you benefits. Every time you destroy, debase, or turn against them something which they love and want to protect, they lose some power and you gain some. (This can be done against Excrucians as well, and can be done by Excrucians against Nobles.) This means that information about others is often a key part of the game, and subtlety. (There are game mechanics which deal with this.)
Nobles often sometimes duel using illusions ("Ghost Miracles") to resolve a dispute. Generally, they're over when one side is hideously embarrassed somehow, or acknowledges that had the magic been real, they would have been defeated.
8) Mortal Allies
As has been mentioned several times, working magic in the real world is problematic if anyone sees you do it (you can do anything you like in Chancels.) Since much of the War is fought on Earth, that can make things difficult. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways around that, involving mortal allies.
Anchors, as has been mentioned before, are (usually) humans bound to you. They must be humans you either loved or hated before they became Anchors. They retain their free will, but you can kill them instantly simply be making them cease to be Anchors.
Anchors are incredibly valuable. Nobles can inhabit their bodies and work magics through them. They therefore allow Nobles to be several places at once. And perhaps more important, magics worked Anchors are very difficult to trace back to the Nobles who did it : in other words, it still drives other humans nuts, but it probably can't be pinned on you.
Anchors you loved are more likely to serve you willingly, but are vulnerable to attack for this very reason (see above) if your enemies figure out who your Anchors are. Anchors you hated are not vulnerable to this attack, but are likely to try to think of subtle ways to betray you when you're not directly controlling them : although they will still share your allegiances to your Imperator, Chancel, Affiliation (i.e., Light, Dark, Hell, etc.), and Domain, since they contain a piece of your soul. But they'll hate *you*.
Anchors, like Nobles, are intrinsically resistant to magic : because, like their Nobles, they are not part of any Domain and therefore cannot be directly affected by Domain magics. (Quite frankly, anchors are to Nobles as Nobles are to Imperators, in many ways.) Anchors also attract the attention of Fate : the concentration of magic in them tends to cause strange things to happen in their vicinity.
Another way to get things done on Earth is the Camorra. This is a society, hundreds of years old, which serves the Nobilis in the war : for a price. After centuries of bargaining with powerful beings, they are powerful themselves and extremely corrupt. And they've learned how to drive a hard bargain. They can act as more conventional human agents for intrepid Nobles, and they often have minor magics of their own.
Well, enough of that. On to character design!
CHARACTER CREATION AND RELATED MECHANICS
First, figure out what you want your Domain to be (the aspect of reality you represent.) This is probably the most important aspect of character creation. I advise you to pick something you'd have fun playing. Since there are millions of choices, I recommend you give yourself a time limit and pick the best one you come up with within that period, or you could be at it for weeks.
Next figure out who you were before you became a Noble. How did you become a Noble? How do you feel about it?
All right, now for the nitty gritty :
You have 25 character creation points to spend. (Note that this is only the first part of character creation : there are other aspects you'll need to work on later which don't involve character creation points.) Character creation points can be spent on any or all of three things:
Attributes Permanent Attribute Miracle Points, and Gifts
Attributes cost 3 character creation points for every point of attribute, to a maximum of five in any given attribute. There are four Attributes : Aspect, Domain, Realm, and Spirit. Before points are added, they start at zero.
Permanent miracle points cost 1 character creation point per point. There is no maximum limit. There are four Permanent miracle point pools, each associated with a specific attribute. Before points are added, they start at five.
Gifts vary in point cost depending on the Gift. More on that later. You don't have any gifts until you buy some.
So, to begin with, your character is: Aspect: 0 Aspect Miracle Points: 5 Domain: 0 Domain Miracle Points: 5 Realm: 0 Realm Miracle Points: 5 Spirit: 0 Spirit Miracle Points: 5
ASPECT represents the degree to which your body itself is imbued with power. Characters with high attribute can perform physical and mental wonders. DOMAIN represents your control over the part of creation you embody. Domain level also determines your rank in Noble society. Characters with high Domain can work incredible magics within their particular bailiwick. REALM represents your degree of control overthe Chancel you rule. Realm level also determines your rank in the hierarchy which runs your Chancel. (Later, in "group" character creation, characters with higher realm will also have more influence in determining the nature of the group's Chancel.) Characters with high Realm can do practically anything, as long as it is within the Chancel where the characters live. SPIRIT represents the degree to which the power of your Imperator fills your soul. (Later, in "group" character creation, characters with higher spirit will also have more influence in determining the nature of the group's Imperator.) Characters with high Spirit get a variety of advantages, including high resistance even to indirect magics, a greater number of Anchors, and a facility with Nobilis ritual magics. MIRACLE POINTS are magical energies which can beexpended to perform magical feats beyond the natural abilities represented by your attributes. The can be refreshed, in several ways to be discussed later, up to whatever their permanent total is (rather like the Blood Pool from Vampire, say.) GIFTS are innate magical abilities not covered by the above.
A bit more detail about what attribute level roughly mean, before getting into actual mechanics: Aspect
How Aspect Works; Mechanics
Aspect, and its associated miracle points, govern physical and mental feats, extrapolated to impossible extremes. As a general rule of thumb, they must be extrapolations and not out and out changes : e.g., a human can read a book, so aspect can be used to read a book in five minutes, or at a higher level to read and memorize a book just by flipping through the pages. But a human can't read a book without opening it, or read a read a book which contains information it didn't have before you started reading it, so aspect cannot be used to do those things at all : that's no longer an impossibly difficult physical or mental feat, it's entirely magical, and that is covered by other attributes. (At the very highest level, though, the feats are impossible enough that the distinctions can become somewhat moot : with enough expenditure of power, you might be able to, say, weigh the book in your hand, figure out how much ink was used based on the weight in relation to the number of pages, come up with the most likely combination of letters used, determine probabilistically the words they are mostly likely to have formed, and, similarly, the order the words are most likely to be in, and read the book that way. Although since at a much lower level you could simply read the stupid thing in a couple of seconds, that seems kind of pointless. But you get my drift, I hope.)
Anyway. Humans can jump, so aspect covers jumping over a wall. Humans can compose, so aspect covers writing great tunes. Humans can't make fire without tools, so that cannot be done at any level of aspect. It can't be used to read minds, but can be used to read body language to an incredibly fine degree. You can use it to make a painting of beauty so great that those who see it will desire to tear their eyes out rather than look on any lesser beauty, but you can't use it to make a painting you can walk through to another world. Etc.
These feats are performed by doing Aspect "miracles", which are categorized in levels ranging from zero to nine. Any Noble can perform a miracle of a level equal to or lower than their Aspect Attribute with no additional expenditure of magic. If they wish to perform a miracle at a higher level, they have to spend enough Aspect miracle points to make up the difference, to a maximum of four : e.g., someone with an Aspect of 4 wishing to do a level 6 miracle would have to spend two Aspect miracle points. Someone with an Aspect of 3 could not do a level 8 miracle, since it requires more than 4 Aspect miracle points.
Aspect miracles are categorized as follows:
How Domain Works; Mechanics
The mechanics of Domains are similar to those of Aspect; there are miracles, ranging in power form zero to nine, you can do any at or below your attribute automatically, otherwise you make up the difference by spending Domain miracle points, up to a maximum of four.
Domain covers your control over the concept you embody. Unlike Aspect, these are non-physical magics, and therefore not restricted to physicality by their nature.
Incidentally, it is possible to buy a secondary Domain attribute, at three points per attribute point, if, say, you wanted to be "Night and Nocturnal Animals" (and you could even buy a tertiary one, if you like), but I don't advise it for a starting character, as it spreads the points a little thin. Talk to me if you really want to do this.
Domain Miracles are ranked as follows:
How Realm Works : Mechanics
Realm works almost the exact same way Domain does, with one major difference. Instead of merely controlling one aspect of creation, you can do it to *all* of them : as long as they are within your Chancel. Any aspect of the Chancel, including inhabitants, geographical features, and visitors can be affected . . . although bear in mind that Noble, Imperator, and Excrucian "visitors" cannot be *directly* affected.
The scale of Realm miracles is exactly the same as the scale of Domain miracles:
How Spirit Works : Mechanics
Spirit works differently from the other Attributes. Instead of allowing you to perform specific miracles, each point in Spirit provides a host of individually minor but collectively important advantages.
You can have a number of Anchors equal to your Spirit plus one.
Spirit miracle points can be expended instead in place of (but not in combination with) other kinds of miracle points if you are working through an Anchor. (Yes, that does mean your reserve of Miracle points for a given attribute can be effectively doubled by working through an Anchor. There are, however, some drawbacks as well : more on that later.)
Your level of Spirit is also the level of your Auctoritas : the degree of magical protection you have even from indirect magics. Your Auctoritas surrounds your body to a distance of about three feet. Those attacking you must expend miracle points equal to or greater than your Spirit : in *addition* to any they spend to cast the magic itself : for the magic to have any effect within that sphere. The additional miracle points do not count towards the four point maximum. This also protects you from even the effects of magic which is insufficient to pierce it : if they throw a truck at you using an Aspect Miracle without spending enough to overcome your Spirit, the truck will just bounce off. Or miss. Or whatever. Of course, this applies whenever you attack someone with an Auctoritas, as well . . . and note that some forms of magic make it kind of moot. If they summon ten miles of impenetrable night to cloud your vision, even if they don't overcome your Auctoritas, well, you'll be able to see just fine as far as three feet in front of you, but . . . and once again, this applies to magic you cast on others, as well. Auctoritas effects also apply to Divination magics : they must be overcome to get information about a Noble.
The higher your Spirit, the more benefits you can reap from the magical rituals of the Nobilis. For example, when you drain miracle points from an enemy by destroying something they love, the maximum number of miracle points you can reap from it is your Spirit level.
Additional Notes and Reminders on Miracle Points
All Domain miracles, with the exception of divination, cost an additional miracle point if they are performed at a great distance. Performing them through Anchors does not incur this penalty. Any miracle worked through an Anchor must be reasonably local to the Anchor, however.
Miracle points can be refreshed in three ways: when your characters flaws impede them (more on that later), when you slay, degrade, or turn something or someone loved by a Noble, Imperator, or Excrucian, and at the beginning of any new game "chapter" (in our game, they will be completely refreshed after the month pause.)
There is an additional miracle point cost of (5-Spirit Level) for Aspect miracles performed through an Anchor. It is possible to shift miracle points from one pool to another, using a ritual. However, you have to spend some miracle points to do it. The amount you have to spend is lower the higher your Spirit is.
Remember that the maximum amount you can spend to increase the miracle level for an attribute is four. In addition to this, you can spend as many additional as you like to break through a beings Auctoritas, if you deem it necesaary.
At any time, a Noble can spend eight of a single type of miracle points, if it has them available, to issue a "word of command". This is a powerful, raw magic which damages the Noble casting it greatly : but which is likely to do a heck of a lot more to whatever it was aimed at. It is not necessarily for destruction, but can be used for any of the seven magics : divination, creation, destruction, change, preservation, gating (travel), or control. (Gating and control, incidentally, are not included outright in the Miracle systems, although certain other kinds of miracles can mimic them. It is possible to obtain gating and control powers as gifts.)
(Finally.) Gifts are any magical abilities not covered by the attributes and miracle point pools which you might want your character to have. Gifts can be related to your Domain, or Realm, or completely unrelated to them at all (you can take a maximum of two gifts directly related to your Domain.) They can be just about anything. The book has a system for figuring out their point cost, but it's kind of long to put here. If you want, e-mail me what you want and I'll tell you the cost (decent one- or two-point gifts are entirely creatable, by the way.) I'll give some of the common samples listed in the book and their associated costs, to give you a feel for it:
Immutable : 1 point. You grow hungry or tired, but can survive indefinitely without food, water, sleep, or even air. You age slowly, but you will not die of natural causes.
Eternal : 3 points. Immutability plus. You won't age. Hunger, thirst, and strain are optional for you.
Durant : 1 point. You are difficult to injure and heal quickly.
Sacrosanct : 8-23 points. You are warded against all but the most puissant of weapons, you will heal any wound in a day if you live that long, and anyone who injures, imprisons, or degrades you is cursed to a degree determined by the number of points spent on this Gift.
Immortal : 6 points. You can only die in four ways : if your Imperator is slain, if you are struck with certain extremely rare Excrucian weapons, *possibly* if you commit suicide, or possibly if something completely unexpected comes from beyond the known Realms with unknown powers. You are both Eternal and Durant, as well.
Glorious : 2 points. Your physical appearance, in some ways, stirs strong emotion in all mortals and (to a lesser extent) Powers. The emotion could be lust, fear, respect, a desire to cause you no harm, etc.
Fire-breathing : 1 point. Popular with characters who are dragons in their true forms.
Flight : 1 point. Handy for winged characters. Unnecessary for winged characters with an Aspect of 5, who get it automatically.
Remove Poison : 1 point. Nifty for Unicorn characters. For an additional point, it also removes disease and demonic influences.
Petrify with a look : 1 point. A must for cockatrices, gorgons, basilisks, etc. Does not affect Nobles, Anchors, Excrucians, or Imperators.
Shapeshifting : 1 point for one or two shapes. 2 points for comprehensive shapeshifting ability. Very chic for dragons, vampires, werewolves, etc.
Venomed bite or acidic spittle : 1 point. Good for a variety of beasties.
Worldwalker : 2 points. The ability to walk into and out of any Chancels automatically, without having to find the hidden, secret, or guarded paths.
Gatemaker : 3 points. Not only can you walk in and out of Chancels at will, you can make gates through which others can come as well.
Elemental : 2 points. You are so close to your estate that you can replace your body with a construct of your domain, and turn yourself into living lava or telephones or bacteria or angular momentum or whatever your domain happens to be.
The Sovereign's Gift : 3 points. Regardless of your Domain level, you need only spend one miracle point to command the simpler motions of your Estate. (Make water part or sunbeams avoid you or clouds cover the sky or whatever your estate happens to be.)
Constant Domain : 5-44 points. Your estate will serve you even without your explicit command, acting in your best interest and protecting you. The points spent determine how many ways it can do this : i.e., what magics it can employ.
Devoted Populace : 3 points. The inhabitants of your Realm love you. No matter what. It's magic.
Unblemished Guise : 1-5 points. You can disguise yourself as a human, more or less impenetrably, depending on the points spent.
The next step : Bonds
All right! Now that you've bought Attributes, permanent miracle points, and gifts, you're done with character creation points! I'm on page seventeen and we're in the home stretch, which isn't bad considering I'm condensing a 206 page book.
You have twenty points which you must divide among bonds, things which are important to your character. This can be people, objects, a goal or mission, a place, etc. Any Anchor you love must have at least one point spent on them. The degree of points you spend on bonds determines the degree of their importance to you. Five points means they're pretty important to you. Twenty points means it's the only thing in the world that really matters to you.
This is an important game mechanic. If your bonds are destroyed, degraded, or turned against you by another Power, you will have miracle points drained from you : usually temporary ones, but possibly even a permanent one if the bond is strong enough : in the same way that you can drain miracle points from Excrucians and other powers through their bonds. The amount that is drained from you is proportionate to the amount you have invested in it (although not on a one-for-one basis, by any means.)
It is more important to the game to use your bonds to make an interesting character than to simply try to find ones which are impossible to attack.
The last step for now is picking handicaps (flaws) for your character. Handicaps cost no points and give no points, at least in character creation, and can be arbitrarily created at any time even during the course of the game, long after character creation is done. They're a little harder to get rid of. There are two kinds of Handicaps: First, they can be permanent limits on your powers of Aspect, Domain, Realm, or Spirit. This kind of handicap provides the character with extra miracle points whenever their pool fully refreshes (i.e., at the beginning of a chapter.) These are not extra permanent points : you only get them when your pool refreshes. This is the only way in game to exceed your permanent miracle point level.
The second kind of handicaps are general restrictions, not related to a specific attribute. Whenever these actually impede a player during play, they get spent miracle points back (player's choice of which pool they go to.) You cannot exceed your permanent miracle point pool level, of course. If your restrictions never impede you, no problem : you just don't get any miracle points back for it.
All player characters MUST take the restriction Affiliation. Your affiliation must be to Hell, Heaven, the Light, the Dark, or the Wild. High service to the appropriate code refreshes 1 miracle point. Disservice to it costs you one. Characters should decide on a general mission related to both the affiliation and their specific domain (for example, Sharpening, in service to the Dark, might decide his mission is to make humans get as many objects razor sharp and dangerous as they possibly can; it would gain an MP when it notably advanced this goal.)
Other sample handicaps might be :
Aspect: Disabled in some way (blind, lame, psychotic.) 1-2 extra Miracle points whenever they completely refresh at the beginning of a chapter.
Domain: Small Estate (This is the advantage people who are the Lipton Instant Noodle Goddess get.) 1 point per Domain level.
Realm: Hated (The inhabitants hate your guts, and try to kill you every chance they get.) 1 point per Realm level.
Spirit: Uninspiring (You should be impressive, but you're not.) 1 point if your Spirit is greater than 2.
Any specific attribute: Focus. (One or more levels of an Attribute is invested in an exterior focus : a physical object of some kind. If you don't have the object, you can't use them, and whoever gets their hands on it can.) 1 miracle point per 3 points of attribute invested. Round miracle points up. The extra miracle points also move with the focus.
Sample Restrictions :
Cannot lie. 1 MP refreshes when a lie would have been very useful.
Cannot enter a house uninvited. 1 MP (depending on circumstances)
Cannot cross running water. 1 MP (depending on circumstances)
Can be summoned and can't leave an unbroken pentagram. 2 MP paid whenever it comes up. (I love this one.)
Cannot kill. 1 MP (depending on circumstances)
Cannot use modern technology. 1 MP, but it comes up often.
Must feed of human blood or no reflection. 1 MP when it gives you away.
Repulsed by the Creator's name. 1 MP.
Hated (or loved too well) by animals. 1 MP when they're a threat, or when they give you away.
Hunted by Lord Entropy. 3 MP paid when the boom falls. But really : this is a bad idea.
Bound to friendship with anyone they share a smoke with and cannot resist and offered smoke. 1-3 MP depending on who or what they end up bound in friendship to . . .
And so on.
And that's it for now! Woof. The next step in the process is group determined : the group gets to design the PCs Chancel, and their Imperator.