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Character Creation 15: Nobilis

Dark Knight is fantastic. Not that I needed to tell anyone.

The Game: Nobilis
The Publisher: Hogshead
Degree of Familiarity: I've run a couple of abortive online games, but never played in person.
Books Required: I'm working from the Great White Book.

Nobilis is what happens when Neil Gaiman in full Sandman mode goes on an absinthe bender with Clive Barker, with flowers, all in the mind of R. Sean Borgstrom. Characters are Nobles, once mere mortals but now uplifted with the shard of a God and command over one of the Estate that make up reality. It's incredible fun, but it's a real shift in perspective from other RPGs.

Before running through the steps of character, I really should come up with some details of the character, most notably his Estate. I feel like playing the kind of character that really embodies the wonderful insanity of the game, and so I'm going to make the power of Memory. I want a character with an expansive wardrobe of elaborate black, someone who has seen everything at least twice.

Ironically, nobody knows quite when Serverus Blackhold first became the Power of Memory. He's certainly been around for long enough, making sure that someone witnessed every major event in history. It's been a while since he last took a direct hand, though he's not above making a few changes to make the history books more... interesting and so events stick in people's memories. Needless to say, he's got quite the love-hate relationship with the Marchessa of History—they spent over a millennium happily married, though they've been rather estranged for the past four hundred years, all over an incident that didn't turn out well for either of them. Since then, they've rediscovered some of the passion, but things remain rocky0.

1. Purchase Attributes
I start with 0 points in each of the four Attributes, and each point costs 3 of the 25 starting character points. I know I want a lot of power over Memory, and so take four points of Domain. Without effort, that means Serverus can locate memorable events, preserve, and even create memories without any significant effort. It also makes him a Duke. I'd rather have been a Marquis, simply because I prefer the title, but these things happen. I take a point of Aspect, allowing him to catch arrows and run through a forest without effort. The base level isn't bad at all, but the single point pushes "peak human" events into the routine, making the Power of Memory rather more memorable. Finally, I take a point of Spirit—Serverus isn't a passive Noble, and he's got a level of protection from miraculous assault. I don't bother raising Realm, simply because he spends too long in the many worlds to have formed a connection with the Imperator who created him. So far, I've spent 18 points on 6 Attribute dots.

2. Purchase Secondary Domain
I'm fine with just the one domain. A couple might go well with Memory, but it doesn't really fit the character to spread his power too wide.

3. Purchase Extra Miracle Points
Every character starts with 5 Miracle Points in each Attribute. Spending Miracle Points increases the Attribute for one single miraculous action, and management of those resources is the whole point of the mechanics. All I really need are five of each—five Domain Miracle Points is enough to perform a Major Change of Memory and alter whole facets of the world from the memories of everyone in Creation.

4. Purchase Gifts
Gifts are special powers that extend beyond the standard set of miracles. Perusing the list in the corebook, Eternal jumps out at me. As the embodiment of Memory, Serverus won't age a day for as long as anyone is capable of remembering. It costs 3 points.

I also want something a bit more unique. As the Duke of Memory, Serverus can strike anyone and remove them from the memory of the world for a time—he quite literally punches them into the next week, if not beyond. Unfortunately, his power to blank the world's memory doesn't work on other Noble cretures. Because it directly alters the flow of time for a target it's a Domain Gift, and as such is a Major Destruction of Time, no penetration, requiring a Simple miracle to activate whenever he strikes someone, affecting one person at a time (the person struck), Limited to only shifting the target into the future up to one month at a time. Needless to say, it's not the most common Gift. It sets me back four points in total.

5. Choose Handicaps
I've got to choose an Affiliation. Looking through the codes, the Code of the Wild looks most appealing. Other Limits and Restrictions give back Miracle Points. A restriction on capability grants MPs at the start of each session, while a restriction on action grants MPs when it actively hinders the character. I ponder a vulnerability to the Estate of History, but that can come later (probably after yet another argument). Instead, I take the Restriction: Obsessed by Making Moments Memorable. Every time Serverus gets the chance to make things make narrative sense (and thus naturally the sort of thing that people remember), he has to take it. Finally, I take the Virtue of Pride. Virtues place definite limits on the character's behaviour, and "Pride" says it all: He's the Maven of Memory, and nobody's better.

6. Choose Bonds and Anchors
20 points to divide amongst things that matter. A bit of thought produces:

5 points: The Sanctity of Memory
4 points: His success at making events have a natural narrative flow
4 points: The Duchess of History, no matter how she feels about him
3 points: His notebooks, written records of his successes
2 points: The Natural History Museum in London
1 point: Jennifer Green, an aspiring author
1 point: His Chancel, where he spends little enough time

His anchors are the aforementioned Jennifer Green, an author he fell in love with five years ago when it looked like Memory and History would never again reconcile their differences. His hatred has claimed a mortal shell as well: Duncan Anderson is a scriptwriter on a popular soap opera, who only ever wanted to make stories that make people tune in week after week, never needing to remember the highs or lows. Needless to say, since earning the ire of the Duke of Memory, that's changed a fair bit.

7. Choose a Design
Periwinkle is the flower of Memory, which intertwines in Serverus' Design with the Acanthus, the flower of those who care about elegance. The flowers are set on a background of entangled vines, a symbol of the Wild.

8. Note Wound Levels
I spread 4 + Aspect Wound levels between Surface, Severe, and Deadly. That leaves me with a 2/2/1 split.

9. Note Chancel and Imperator Properties
I would, but that requires a group to create the Imperator and to create the Chancel, and so I'll not do these now.

And with that, a new Noble is defined.

Duke Serverus Blackhold, Maven of Memory

Attributes
Aspect 1
Domain 4
Realm 0
Spirit 1

Gifts and Virtues
Eternal [Major Preservation of Self (6), automatic (+1), Self only (-3), Comprehensive (-1), Common]
Blank the World's Memory [Major Destruction of Time (8), no penetration, Simple miracle (-1), One target (-2), Limited (-2), Uncommon (+1)]
Virtue: Pride

Limits and Restrictions
Affiliation: Code of the Wild
Restriction: Obsessed by Making Moments Memorable

Design
Periwinkle and Acanthus, their stems entwined, set on a field of tangled vines.

Wound Levels
2 Surface
2 Severe
2 Deadly

Anchors
Jennifer Green, novelist
Duncan Anderson, soap opera writer

Bonds
5 points: The Sanctity of Memory
4 points: His success at making events have a natural narrative flow
4 points: The Duchess of History, no matter how she feels about him
3 points: His notebooks, written records of his successes
2 points: The Natural History Museum in London
1 point: Jennifer Green, an aspiring author
1 point: His Chancel, where he spends little enough time

0: Think Dr. Cox and Jordan in Scrubs, with the hospital replaced by the past events of several hundred worlds

Comments

( 4 informants — We want information! )
neologue
Jul. 27th, 2008 04:47 am (UTC)
A good read -- I think the Dr. Cox / Jordanesque angle alone would make him an entertaining character to play alongside, and his lack of Realm and general concern for his Chancel could make for some very awkward housekeeping stories (Alzheimer's manifests among the Chancel's most esteemed elders, putting centuries of history, legend, and song at risk. Excrucians seeking the world's unmaking? Wayward Powers of the Wild simply sifting the soil of history in the hopes of a more vibrant present, unfettered by memory and tradition? The opening salvos of war by an Imperator of Hell, seeking to slowly trap the memory-obsessed inhabitants of the Chancel in their own minds?).

Wouldn't Blank the World's Memory be a Domain miracle, though? Page 86 does say that "Aspect cannot change history," which this does in relative miniature. (Unless, of course, the attack actually struck the mind of the world with such unspeakable physical force so as to dislodge the memory of the target. ...which would be cool, but I imagine there would be significant collateral damage to such an impact.)


The prospect of getting a Nobilis group together pretty much anywhere feels fairly grim -- perhaps the rerelease and new supplements will restore or generate interest?
digitalraven
Jul. 27th, 2008 10:52 am (UTC)
Probably a Domain miracle now I think about it more. On the one hand, it's not retroactive so it's not changing history—the target just vanishes and reappears some time in the future, but on the other... yeah, now, the more I think about it, Domain is a better choice. Edited.
innocent_man
Jul. 27th, 2008 12:47 pm (UTC)
Wow, you make it look so simple.
digitalraven
Jul. 27th, 2008 01:25 pm (UTC)
It really is. The trick isn't in defining a character, it's in coming up with one.
( 4 informants — We want information! )

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