The name’s the thing.

One of the NPC’s in my Nobilis game has three names. Why? Because he’s supposed to be a serial rapist, and serial-anythings always have three names.
Lileks explains:

Well, we know Eric Robert Rudolph?s guilty, don?t we? He has THREE NAMES. He was Eric Rudolph for years, but now he?s Eric Robert Rudolph. Say no more. That?s why I never thought Richard Jewell did the Atlanta bombing; he would have been described as Richard Jay Jewell, or Richard Harvey Jewell. People don?t get a middle name unless they?re a famous criminal. That?s the law. Ricky Ray Rector. Lee Harvey Oswald. James Earl Ray. Sirhan Sirhan Sirhan.
The nation is run by people with four names (William Jefferson Blythe Clinton, George Herbert Walker Bush, Harry Herbert Heever Hoover, etc.) The nation is entertained by people with one name – Cher, Sting, Madonna, Eminem, Rush. The people with three names are found guilty by jury members who have two names. What of the five-namers, you ask? Those are the puppet masters, my friend. The Masonic Illuminati. Somewhere now in Bavaria, Rheingelt Quincy Etienne Xavier Chernobog is shaking hands with John Jacob Zhinkleheimer Kim Tanaka. And that handshake took six years to learn.

John Jacob Zhinkleheimer Kim Tanaka… (Makes not in NPC-names memopad). Good stuff.

Links & Resources Nobilis

What games would Nobles play?
How about this one: the HipBone Games, with many variants.
Looks like fun, and definitely something I’m going to try with Justin.



I’ve fiddled together a proper blog for the nobilis game here: chrysalis.
Those of you who keep track of the Cry Havoc game will not certain design similarties (grouping of posts by type, images to go with the groups, etc.), and certainly the “back” pages are very similar to CH at the moment, both because I haven’t the time to fiddle with them and because I really like that color scheme.
More to the point, this has allowed me to give all my great players a place to write some stuff, which is always good.


Estate thought 2, Manifestations

I’ve been trying to figure how to do things where you might be inclined to pick up a secondary Estate just to get a specific feel for the character — Frex, “J’hon Wu, the Power of Guns” might want to have doves burst into frame whenever he does an Aspect miracle of 4 or higher.
A ‘book’ example of this is Delerium of the Endless and her butterflies/fish/whatever — a more subtle example might be the sound of wings whenever Death is around.
The problem is, even spending 1 point on something like this is a heck of a lot for a special effect.


Estate thought

It’s easy, in Nobilis, to choose an Estate and then try to base everything on making them a perfect fit for that Estate (a good example might be Destiny of the Endless) or making the character’s personality the direct opposite of what would be expected (Destruction of the Endless). Alternately, if you look at something like Lord of Light as an example, you see a main character who’s influenced by the estate but has several other big things that influence his personality as well.
I personally think it’s a really good idea to figure out what kind of character you want to play first and figure out their Estate later. (A good example of this is (IMO) Death of the Endless, who approaches things the way any dedicated professional does — it’s important, and a big part of her ‘life’, but not all of it.)



Today’s oneword is also a bit of fic for Nobilis 🙂


Interlude 2: Loyalty’s Birth

Another bit of floral bordering for the Nobilis game. This one is ENTIRELY spoiler-free (at least relative to the story arc). It’s just a lame attempt to write out the enNoblement of one of the NPCs I’m using in the story. My intent was just write out an enNoblement for anyone, just for the sake of doing it, but unfortunately I picked the Power of Loyalty. What I found out is that Joshua Stark’s martini-dry demeanor does not allow for the sort poetic waxing that most of the enNoblement bits in the rulebooks have.
Oh well. It was still sort of fun.


C’est que ce?

What is “Blake’s Seven” and why are people comparing it to the premise of the Nobilis test game?


Prelude 1: Sacrifice

Again, possible spoilers for players… I’m just messing around though, so there’s not any real information.


Anchors info

For the non-Nobilis people, the premise: Nobilis have mortal servants, known as Anchors, who will work for them and can also serve as ‘hosts’ that the Nobilis can jump into, take over, and even perform miracles through — anonymously.
For my reference, there are essentially four different types of Anchors, or more accurately, Anchors each have one ability, either chosen from the list below or designed with me:
Aid Miracle: calling on the Anchor with this ability helps out with a small, predefined set of tasks or miracles. For example, a persuasive Anchor can help sway opinions, a hound-spirit can help you hunt. *
Earthly Magic: the Anchor possess some earthly magic that you don’t (most certainly not the same thing as a Miracle, basically creating magical equivilants of 20th century tech), which gives you access to it.
Influence: the Anchor has mortal influence, can obtain wealth for you, or provide useful information or assistance within the area of their speciality.
Agent: the Anchor is multitalented and can be given tasks on a session-to-session basis, such as retrieving needed tools that you don’t have time to go after or protecting an area from spies or sabotuers — in mundane RPG campaigns, anchors talented enough to be a Noble’s “agent” anchor would be the PC. Their relative effectiveness is generally a function of your Spirit. *
Your Noble can not directly control the actions of their Anchor except by performing an Aspect miracle through them (with the appropriate cost in AMPs). This means, particularly, that an Anchor is a representative, not an avatar. They can convey messages from their Noble, but do not constitute the same thing as having the Noble in attendance in a social situation.


Nobilis NPCs

A list of some of the NPC’s involved in the events surrounding the I&H Nobilis game. (Players may not want to know this, but it’s just blurbs, no stats.)
*Update*: changed and added a few NPCs, allowing me to move a few people around who are more useful to me unaffiliated with the ‘main’ Familias.


Interlude 1: Loyalty

My work computer still won’t let me install the software I need to work, so I guess I just have to keep screwing around.
So, here’s an Interlude for the Nobilis game. Should be player-safe, but if you want to remain as ignorant as your characters, do not proceed.


Just for a good weekend read

Hogshead/GoO has a PDF “example of play” available on their website — basically it’s 20 pages right out of the rule book and it’s a hell of an entertaining read.
It’s also huge. I took the document, excised the two full-page pictures from the document and chopped it down to about a third the size. Download file if you like — even if you’re not into Nobilis, the example of play is a hoot to read.


Ivy & Hyacinth; Session 1, intro 3

[This last intro log was easily the most difficult, since we didn?t do much more with ?pat? than set the stage for upcoming events… by this point our time was running out.]

A wooded copse looks down over an open expanse of grass. Faeries flit from shadow to shadow in the gloaming beneath the trees, occasionally circling the head of the creature that stands at the border of darkness and light. The creature is not human, but seems to give the impression of a humanoid form, if that form were composed of the firm but pliable substance of a mushroom, it?s skin the durable ?leather? of a puffball. It?s toes dig into the earth beneath it and flat black ?eyes? take in the world beyond the trees.
The strange shadows of a city loom all about this small patch of tamed wilderness ? the place were she stands is a temporary refuge at best.
Why the creature thinks it needs a refuge is unclear even to it, but somehow it knows.
As it ponders the how and why of that it senses a type of smoke, somehow both near at hand and very far away. It knows this smoke is called ?incense? and that knowledge brings with it something like fear.
The smell grows stronger.

Quick Summary: The Graf of Fungus
Aspect: 0
Domain (Fungus): 4
Realm: 2
Spirit: 2

Gift: Fast Reincarnation (when the Graf is killed, it?s body accelerates into decomposition as, somewhere else in the world, it?s body and spirit are reconstituted from the fungal matter at hand). 3 pts.

Limit of Spirit: Uninspiring

Restriction: The Graf can be Summoned by those who know the proper ritual. Normally, it finds such interruptions rather enjoyable, since the sort of people who would choose to summon the Sovereign Power of Fungus are often quite… interesting.

[The Graf of Fungus is played by Margie Kleerup.]

Ivy & Hyacinth, Session 1, Intro 2

A MAN SPRAWLS across a threadbare and badly sprung armchair. A light bulb socket hangs directly overhead, dangling from the ceiling on a cord and holding only the shattered remains of a blackened bulb.
There is dust on the scarred wooden floor, the single windowsill, the radiator next too it, and on the misused armchair itself ? all of which seems entirely undisturbed. The room is otherwise empty. Something in the chair is digging into the man?s back.
He is lithe and wiry, the man; lean, with short blonde hair so pale it was almost white. He wears a fine pair of slacks that quite are quite obviously part of an expensive suit, a dark, form-fitting sleeveless shirt somewhere between silk and mesh, and no jacket. A shoulder holster hangs along his left side, empty. He, unlike the room, is not covered in dust.
He raises his other hand (instinct or habit, one might say) to take a drink and discovers he still holds the neck of a whiskey bottle between his fingers. He seems less surprised by the natural inclination of his hand to cling to a bottle even in unconsciousness than he is when he notices that the bottle ends in jagged shards about halfway down.
There is something dark and tacky on the jagged edges of the bottle, and he is not injured (barring the damage the chair is doing). The room does not smell of spilt whiskey, nor does he see broken glass or blood (or footprints? how did I get here?) on the floor as he sits up and looks around.
He stands, wiping the bottle down to erase fingerprints and dropping it on the chair behind him as he looks over the room. Neither his jacket nor the presumably missing pistol are anywhere to be seen so the holster hanging at his side remains both conspicuous and useless. He slips it off, winds the straps around the holster itself and shoves it into a pants pocket where it bulges and ruins the line of his slacks, but does not draw as much attention.
His gaze moves to the bare window and the world beyond. Tenements. Projects. He is certainly not dressed to blend in but, searching his mind, he finds no particular concern about such things. His natural instincts tell him he is more than competent enough to handle the dangers of such places, though he has no idea how or why.
Of course, in searching his mind he finds precious little else in the way of information or memory, which does bother him. He is a well-dressed newborn delivered into an abandoned tenement in an unknown city. The room holds no further information for him beyond that.
Turning to the door he walks into the rest of the world, searching for himself.
Ambrose Donner, Power of Lightning
Aspect 1
Domain 4
Realm 1
Spirit 2
[Ambrose Donner, Duke of Lightning, is played by Randy Trimmer]

(Apologies for the lack of further character information ? we sat down, made characters, and played ? I?m still collecting background info, I don?t have the character bonds available, and they are being changed anyway as the player reads more character examples from everyone?s fine websites, so hopefully the character page will be up and more complete later.)


Man, somebody stop me

I made a Nobilis page (yeah, sue me, it’s what I do for games I like), mostly as a place to put up links to files and web pages that I’ve mostly be finding and refinding with Google searches.
Normally, I would not do something this friggin’ girly, but Nobilis has a HUGE amount of floral imagery and an art neuveau feel, so I just figured I’d go with it.

Diceless Nobilis

What I like, what I don’t like, how I’m fixing it.

Yep, more Nobilis posting.

Warning, this is not really fun fictional crap, but me thinking out loud about the kind of game-design stuff that I do all the time… if you don’t want to talk nuts and bolts, don’t worry about it.

I’ve run Amber extensively (duh) and I’ve run Everway a few times, and I personally think Nobilis has a huge advantage in the realm of Conflict Resolution over both systems. Sustaining Damage aside, Both Amber and Everway hit the (DnD-like) problem of everybody expecting their PCs to put forth the maximum conceivable effort for every single action, because there are no PC resources to spend or withhold (and yeah, I’m guilty of this as a player):

“You’ve just walked the Pattern, twice, when the House Manticore Chaosite ambushes you… his first swing narrowly misses beheading you, instead drawing blood on your sword-arm.”

“WHAT? My Warfare HAS to be good enough to dodge that! I bear down, putting all my effort into winning, regardless of the cost”
“Just like you did for the last five opponents?”
“Yes, just like that.”

Sure, a GM can work through the system and either use a subjective internal system for dealing with this or tack on an objective internal system, but that doesn’t address the fact that said System is absent from the basic rules… it’s not a huge failing — like I said, it’s been missing since the First of All RPGs (and even in games where penalties can be applied as you gradually get hurt, they are generally ignored, especially as the night drags into the wee hours).
What I like about Nobilis is that you’ve got your ‘normal optimum’ and those lovely little Miracle points that can be used to stage things up to a Greater Effect if you need it… you can’t really said you’ve Given It Your All in Nobilis until You’ve dropped 8 MP’s on a Word of Command whose very invocation ruptured your spleen. THAT’S effort 🙂
What I don’t like is dealing with Penetration rules and Auctoritas.
Okay, I haven’t got the larp rules yet, but based on something R. Sean mentions about how the miracle contests work in the LARP rules game and something I’m not particularly in love with in the combat examples for the Tabletop rules, I’m going to implement a house rule regarding powers/combat and how it works with Auctoritas (read Nobilis 101 if you dont’ know what the hell I’m talking about… it makes this way clearer):
Way it currently works: An attack must have ‘penetration’ defined ahead of time or it goes poof if it hits any sort of Auctoritas (basically magic godling-forcefield equal to your Spirit), or if it hits an Auctoritas higher than the Penetration you decided to use.
Player one has Aspect 4, Spirit 1.
Player two has Domain (cold) 4, Spirit 4.
Way combat works now:
1. Player 1 punches player 2 as an Aspect 4 miracle. Player1 defines no Penetration on the attack, so nothing happens. Poof. P1 either has to declare (on the next action) that the attack was Aspect 0, Penetration 4 to get a crappy effect (and he probably has to make several attacks to “get the range”: “I try penetration 1… no? how about 2? no? damn…”), or spend miracle points to keep the attack high and still penetrate. Ugh.
2. Player 2 uses a Domain Cold attack on Player 1. Domain 4, but no penetration. It goes poof. There isn’t much Auctoritas there, but it’s enough.
The Way I want it to work: Auctoritas interferes with any incoming miracle, moving it down in strength to a degree equal to it’s strength… the remaining strength of the attack or effect gets through.
How it would look with the same characters:
1. Player 1 punches Player 2 as an Aspect 4 miracle. Player 2’s Auctoritas of 4 pushes the punches strength down to an Aspect 0 miracle, which is basically a competent Mortal’s punch, and that is what connects… a bruise at best, unless P2 is already hurt, and Player1 knows he’s going to have to ‘push himself’ (spend MPs) to do serious damage.
2. Player 2 uses a Domain Cold (4) attack on Player 1 (who has Spirit 1). P1’s auctoritas pushes the Domain 4 miracle down to a 3, which isn’t enough ‘miracle’ for Lesser Creation of Cold (need level 4), so it basically becomes a illusory ghost miracle within P1’s auctoritas, and P2 knows that he needs to pump it up a bit (but not by how much — since “Ghost Miracle” is a level 1 miracle, the guy could have a Spirit anywhere from 3 to 1… if he’d had a 4, it would have negated even a Ghost Miracle.
Anyway, this means the players don’t have to worry about declaring Penetration or crunching numbers at all. Here’s what they see:
“I punch him. Aspect 4.”
“His auctoritas is strong, pushing out against every hostile move you make in his direction… you’re landing punches, but they don’t have any more oomph than a mortal brown belt.”
“Damn… okay, time to push.”

“Freeze the area: lesser creation of cold… something like a sleet storm.”

“The area is rimed in ice and several of the mooks are knocked to the ground by the slippery conditions and the incredibly painful slivers of ice blasting through the air, but the air around your main opponent contains only ghostly images of the effect… nothing real seems to be reaching him.”

Both players know they have to spend MP’s to make their actions stronger against the Auctoritas, but they don’t have to declare penetration, just overall “Oomph”. The net effect on their MP’s is EXACTLY the same, but the combats play faster, with less focus on number crunching and less unrealistic ‘range finding’.
Okay… tech-design talk off.

Diceless Nobilis

Nobilis 101

For those interested (and apparently some are), I have a “Nobilis 101” document available. It’s about 15 pages printed, but considering that it’s a solid breakdown of a 300 page book (enough to use to make characters and get a good idea of the setting), that’s not too bad.
The original html document, written by a guy named “Ry” in 1999 (when there was only the first edition book out), is here. It is still a viable document and highly recommended. All respect is due this guy. it’s a great document.
I (and ***Dave) fiddled with it because…

  • The layout was pretty basic (circa 1999 straight text) and the ‘tables’ were hard to read.
  • Some of the rules info has changed
  • In fiddling with it, we both figured out the rules much better than we had before. I love the main rulebook, but when I was about thirty pages in, I stalled, and it was reading and editing the 101 document that really made things clear to me.
Diceless Nobilis

Nobilis – Hyacinth & Ivy: Session 1, Intro 4

To the Nobilis, the symbology of flowers is strong — they are one of the oldest associative symbols, and an almost inseparable part of sympathetic magical rituals. A tiger lily doesn?t just mean strength, it is strength, whereas magnolia is the flower of Nobility.
This is a story of Hyacinth and Ivy.
This is a story of Jealousy and Friendship.
[edited transcript version of intro session]

You wake up on a psychiatrist couch.

Power of Lust
Actually, for me that makes all kinds of sense.

Taking your own measure, you note that you are dressed in your typical…?


Right. Leather. You have an ornate but serviceable knife in your left hand — both of which are coated in blood that has long-since gone tacky; in your right hand you hold a cell-phone whose screen indicates you’ve missed… ten calls. As soon as you register that, the phone starts to ring.

Answer it, sit up if I haven?t already, and look around the room.

The room is typical Freudian fare: dark read leather and mahogany, heavy drapes over the windows. The female voice on the other end of the line is speaking somewhat loudly, her voice is filled with strain. You’re not tracking the words however, as your attention is on the angel sitting in the traditional psychiatrists wing-backed chair across the shadowy room.

Angel? That?s what it is?

He?s wearing the robes you associate with angel imagery. Also, the big white wings hanging over the back of the chair is a giveaway.

What?s he… doing?

He looks quite dead: his chest has been split open and youre? fairly sure even from here that his heart is missing. The voice on the other end of the phone is repeating a name over and over, as though trying to get your attention.

Is it my name?

You’re not sure. You don’t remember your name. *Can’t* remember, actually…

Greaaat. What?s the name she?s calling me?

Macy. It doesn?t exactly sound wrong.

?Who is this??

?It?s me, obviously. There are people watching my place and all kinds of crazy shit on the news. What happened??

Is there a TV in here?

Psychiatrist?s office? There?s a radio in the corner. It just happens to be on the hourly new summary. Massive fire at a Rave in Chicago, firefight in London. Some sort of massive power grid blackout in Malaysia. [assumes caller?s voice] ?They said you were dead.?


?Everyone. Where are you??

… ?where are you??

?My place, like a said; being watched.
[long pause. player waits]
New York.?

?Right.? Where am I?

You glance out through the drapes. You?re on the second floor of a brownstone on a residential-looking street filled with dozens of other brownstones — it almost has to be New York, although you could never explain how you know that.

?I?m… close to you. I?ll call you back when I?m closer.? Hang up. Wash off the blood from the knife and my hand, wipe it down and stick it in my coat or belt or something until I can dump it. I?m leaving. Oh, but before I wash up, I cut the angel?s throat, just in case.

Other Player

It looks like I tried to kill him, but I don?t know what kills angels — I don?t even understand how he IS one — so I definitely want to make SURE, because right now there isn?t any little voice in my head that?s telling me ?It couldn?t have been me!?, so I?m going to assume it was and make sure I do it right.

… Umm… Right. Next player.

“Macy”, Baroness of Lust, scion of The Fallen, is played by Jackie


Nobilis – Hyacinth & Ivy: Session 1, Intro 1

To the Nobilis, the symbology of flowers is strong — they are one of the oldest associative symbols, and an almost inseparable part of sympathetic magical rituals. A tiger lily doesn?t just mean strength, it is strength, whereas magnolia is the flower of Nobility.
This is a story of Hyacinth and Ivy.
This is a story of Jealosy and Friendship.

The Power of Punishment lay on the cobblestones of a dirty alley. This, as her eyes slowly blinked open, was the first thing she noticed; grimy stones, bits of refuse settles against the juncture of a buildings wall and the ground.
Her cheek was pressed against the stone as well, which meant she was lying on her stomach, with her back exposed to —
She rolled over, blinking rapidly against the noontime sun that snuck through the rooftops overhead to stab at her eyes. The alleyway was dank and old, which seemed familiar, and thick with the stink of molding trash.
That seemed familiar too, although somehow for a different reason.
She sat up, resting her arms on her knees. She was wearing slacks, a jacket. Her knuckles were scraped and bruised. A taxicab drove by the mouth of the alley several dozen yards away and she realised she was in London.
She didn?t know how she knew it was London, what or where London was, or why it filled her with a certain relief, but she knew that she knew.
Forcing herself to her feet, she took stock of her surroundings.
The dead body on the ground between her and the alley?s dead end caught her attention first.
Her reaction was strange, or at least might have been; there was no fear or revulsion, only resignation, as though this were a familiar scene playing out for the hundredth time to no happy conclusion. She approached the face down body (too much like her own earlier pose for comfort) and rolled it over.
A flash. A memory. Looking over the shoulder of a London bobby, looking down on a body, lying in a very similar — the same? — alley. Blood everywhere. the poor woman’s eyes wide with terror and death and the stink of blood and offal is nearly overwhelming and —
Five… no, seven bullet entry points. Centre mass. Also, his eyes were missing. It did not look as though he?d ever had them.
In a sudden flash of memory, she remembered the scene. He was stalking towards her from the dead-end of the alley, half-smiling. She had had a pistol in her memory, and he had been wearing sun glasses.
Searching, she found the gun against the wall and shortly thereafter found a holster for it at the small of her back. The other?s sun glasses she didn?t see.
She frowned. It didn?t feel right, having used a gun. There was something…
Something… off. Wrong weapon. Not the feeling that she wouldn?t have killed someone, but the feeling that it wouldn?t have been this way.
Something was wrong, but that wasn?t quite the worst of it.
She?d been trying to remember her name since she?d first rolled over and faced the sun, and she couldn?t.
[The nobilis of Punishment is played by Dave Hill.]


The first attempt at Nobilis

As should be evident by now, there is a HELL of a lot of stuff to process just in the background for Nobilis — the book is 300 pages and maybe 10 of it is hard rules… the rest are examples and and examples and great great great fiction and more examples.
For a test game, I needed to simplify the background.
That usually means I start killing people.
The idea is simple: character generation is more than involved enough without having to frell with designing Chancels (the players job) and their Imperator (also the player’s job, and both come AFTER character creation for a number of reasons.)
So, the premise: The characters are Nobilis whose Imperator is accused of Treason against Creation and the Valde Bellum… it (the Imperator) is found guilty and destroyed.
Usually, that’s the end of it: destroying the Imperator means the Chancel breaks apart and/or returns to what it used to be as part of the Prosaic Earth and the Nobilis die from the shock of having a god’s soul ripped out of their body.
Didn’t happen. Therefore, the treasonous (and they MUST be treasonous if their Imperator was, right?) Nobilis must be hunted down and likewise destroyed. That’s the seed of the plot.
But wait, there’s more
Just because the destruction of their Boss didn’t kill them doesn’t mean there aren’t downsides: the PC’s start out the story separated from each other, away from their Chancel (just as well, as it’s currently occupied by hostile forces), and utterly Amnesiac from the psychic shock of what’s just happened.
(Cool, but also a key game-thing: since the players have amnesia, the PLAYERS don’t have to keep track of all the background stuff — they don’t even have to remember the game rules… as they slowly remember who and what they are, I can phase in their introduction to the rules and background: one player has an Aspect confrontation… another works with her Domain… another with her Gifts while a fourth is contacted by a Nobilis that wants to help them avoid the forces sent by Lord Entropy.)
When they wake up, each encounters evidence that Things Aren’t All Right, and that they’ve recently been involved in either Fight or Flight. Flashes of memory both help and hinder them at this point. One finds herself in an alleyway in London. Next to her lies the body of a dead man with no eyes, and she remembers (in a sudden flash) shooting him.
Except… she doesn’t particularly like guns, and she has a distinct feeling that there is another, better, more appropriate weapon she would have been using…
They don’t know who they are, why they can’t remember themselves, or what’s going on, but they’ve got a really bad feeling about this.
More (A sort of log of the first session) later.



Okay. I’ve finally gotten around to this post. It’s taken awhile.
As I’ve mentioned before, I recently gave into the overwhelming weight of my own curiosity and bought a copy of Nobilis: a game of sovereign powers
Anyone familiar with the game and me will most likely first ask “What the hell took you so long?” And on the face of it, there’s several good reasons to support that kind of reaction. Let’s look at them.
The book lists a sort bibliography of inspiration, but on the first or second page of the book rather than the end. That’s kind of fun, but take a look at some of the things on the list:
On a Pale Horse, The Complete Traveler in Black, Charles de Lint et al., Donaldson?s (ugh) Mordant?s Need, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, Guy Gavriel Kay, Jane Lindskold, Roger Zelazny (specifically Lord of Light, Creatures of Light and Darkness, and a few others).
There are No Dice
However, unlike Amber (with which I’m passing familiar) there is a fine and well-documented OBJECTIVE resolution (and combat, and damage) system that I find both elegant and intuitive. Comparing the two games, one potential player commented that such things ‘just seem to have been thought out better’. I heartily agree.
Players Can Play in Scenes Where Their Characters are Not Present
Something I feel worth mentioning, mostly because it’s different than in most other RPGs, and comes up a lot in the sort of Diceless, High-power games that Nobilis is built for — you don’t need to be part of a group when you can clap your hands and flatten a crowd of people, so when the GM is working with you, the other players become either a mood-breaking peanut gallery (guilty) or bored.

Given all this, it seems like the perfect fit for someone with my inclinations and background. Perfect.
As a result, I didn’t buy it for a very long time simply because my natural inclination to get it made me suspicious that I’d be horribly disappointed. Also, the 2nd edition book is 43 bucks, so that’s a downside.
Anyway, what’s the game about?
Earth is part of creation: it is (using prosaic perception) a ball of dirt floating in a vast vacuum around a ball of burning gas that provides it heat and light… it is ALSO (using mythic perception) a world-fruit that hangs on the thousand-fruitted world-tree Yggdrasil – heaven hangs above the tree and hell boils at it’s roots, and it encompasses All Knowable Things of Creation (though not exactly all things, since some are not OF Creation).
Both these existences are ‘true’ — or rather both are viable reflections of the truth.
Imperators are the Great Powers of Creation — bitterly divided, holding to the causes of Hell or Heaven, Light or Dark, Old Gods or New, Duty or Freedom.
There are seven kinds of Imperator known on Earth: Angels (servants of Beauty), Devils (or the Fallen, servants of Corruption), The Light (protectors of Humanity), The Dark (destroyers of Humanity), The Wild (the Free), True (or Old) Gods, and Aaron?s Serpents (the children of Yggdrasil, nurtured within its bark until they are strong enough to break free).
(Note: these aren’t the PC’s… we’re getting to them.)
Now, given that, you can see where you’ve got a ripe playground for conflict already, but that doesn’t cover half of it… because you’ve still got the Excrucians to deal with.
Each of the Imperators works in Creation towards its own ineffable goals. In addition to these beings there are Things From Outside Creation: The Excrucians — their stated goal is the utter annihilation of All Creation, pulling each destroyed thing into themselves where it will Live Forever In Them.
Hell and Heaven might not get along, but both sides agree that Losing Creation is a Bad Thing. The Earth is one of ~30 worlds on Yggdrasil where the Excrucian War (or Valde Bellum) is currently being actively fought.
Most Imperator/Excrucian battles are waged in the Spirit Realm, which is so hard to deal with that no space is spent on it in the book — that’s where the Imperators do their thing — the problem is that the Bad Guys also try to destroy aspects of Creation in the Material World (Mythic and/or Prosaic versions, take your pick). The Imperators don’t have the time or ability to deal with those incursions, so some create “homes” out of portions of the Material world by investing part of themselves into it, creating Secret Places… also known as Chancels, and once-Mortal Servants (who become more than mortal as a result).
Secret Places
The ritual that makes a Secret Place, a Chancel, requires a hundred nights, and a human death each night of it. Then a piece of the Imperator?s self is bound into a piece of it to give it strength.
Sovereign Powers
The Valde Bellum or Excrucian War is waged in the spirit world. With Excrucian victories there, the things of this world lose a little bit of magic and of soul. Humans caught in the creation of a Chancel and humans who spend years inside a Chancel or its vicinity make the perfect receptacles for a shard of the Imperator?s own divine essence.
These humans become the Sovereign Powers. The shard of Imperator-soul they are given burns out a piece of their own soul, and their minds are made loyal. They are given in return a gift that is sometimes full consolation: power. The typical soul-shard is a prototype for a single aspect of reality, such as Night, Doorways, or Agony, and it gives the onetime human control over that Thing. Often, these humans receive other great blessings as well. Their normal responsibilities are simple: defend the aspects of reality associated with their Imperator (Imperators have Several, and split them between servants), guard and govern the Chancel and its inhabitants, and (when it does not interfere with the above duties) help in the general defense of the Earth.
That’s the basic concept. Characters are rated as to their relative prowess, the strength of their soul, the mastery they have over their Estate, and the mastery they have over the Celestial Family’s Chancel.
The story tends to focus on personal interactions (alliances and intrigue) between the PC’s and other Nobilis from other Chancels (there are thousands of such Nobilis), the goals of their Imperator, their own personal goals for themselves, those they love, and their Estate, and the War against the Excrucians.
Next post: what do you DO with all this? (Or what did I do?)

Diceless Nobilis

Don’t know if it’s useful, but…

Nobilis auto-generator: useful as an excercise in excel tweaking, if nothing else.

Diceless Nobilis

Random geek thought

Okay, so I just picked up Nobilis a few weeks back, someone check me on this.
The Matrix is a Nobilis game
The Suits = Excrucians
Chancel = the practice contruct? Or possible Zion.
Mystic Earth = the Matrix
Prosaic Earth = starts out as the Matrix, til you take the red pill and then it’s the ‘real earth’? I’m a little shakey on the Nobilis terminology.
Neo is just the guy everyone’s been waiting for who got killer ranks in Spirit. (Everyone has good ranks in Realm and Domain, I think, since that’s just the program with the downside that none of it really works in the prosaic earth, but but the rest of it basically works.


House Rule: Called Shots

Found a good one in the Quintessential Fighter:
There are many more ways to cripple and defeat an enemy besides simply swing a weapon at him again and again. Some instead choose to aim their blows at specific body parts, not only dealing damage but hindering the enemy’s ability to keep fighting.
How it works:
You can make a variety of called shots, provided you meet the requirements listed below.
1. First, you must score a threat against your target.
2. Rather than rolling to confirm a crit, you announce “Called shot to [body part]” instead, then make the roll that would normally confirm the threat.
3. The base damage is applied normally, but if the confirmation roll succeeds, consult the chart below rather than doing normal critial damage.


  • Requirement: BAB +2 or greater
  • Effect: Victim drops held item. 1d4 damage. -4 to all checks and attack rolls using wounded arm.
  • Duration: d6 rounds

  • Requirement: BAB +2 or greater
  • Effect: 1d4 damage. Speed halved. Climb, Jump, and Swim @ -4.
  • Duration: d6 rounds

  • Requirement: BAB +2 or greater
  • Effect: Victim Staggered for d6 rounds.

  • Requirement: BAB +8 or greater
  • Effect: 1d4 damage. Stunned: Loses Dex bonus to AC, can take no actions, attackers +2 to attack victim.
  • Duration: d4 rounds.

  • Requirement: BAB +10 or greater
  • Effect: 1d6 damage. -4 to all Dex-based checks. Two such injuries = blindness.
  • Duration: d6 hours, eye loss possibly permanent (DC 15 Fort to avoid)

Called shots only work against the same sorts of targets that Critical Hits are Effective against. The effects of these can be negated early with the use of Cure spells or Healing checks. (Unless referring to permanent eye loss, which would require regeneration.
Also: There are variant rules for monks that cause similar effects in combat. They are different in that they require Stunning Attacks instead of critical hits (so are more controllable) and allow Fort Save. Also, they can be targeted against more body locations.
Use of those rules for “Pressure Point Attacks” doesn’t mean that monks cannot also use this rule when they score a threat.

Links & Resources Nobilis

Interesting stuff

As of 30th November 2002, Hogshead Publishing Ltd is leaving the adventure-gaming industry.

Please note that the company is not going bankrupt. It is refreshingly solvent. However we are bored, creatively frustrated, and increasingly despondent about the future of the specialist games industry. After our successes in 2002, particularly the mould-breaking and critically acclaimed games Nobilis and De Profundis, we think we’ve gone as far as we can, and this seems a suitable high-point on which to call it a day.

Nobilis has moved to Guardians of Order, and will be available from them with immediate effect. The English-language licence for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay has handed back to Games Workshop. SLA Industries is back under the control of Nightfall Games.

All the future products Hogshead has announced products are cancelled. The only exceptions to this are the Nobilis line, which will now appear from Guardians of Order, and the full-length Warhammer FRP adventure, Fear the Worst, by Michael Mearls, which we will be making available within a day or two as a free PDF download from our website, as a farewell-and-thank-you present to all our players and fans.

Shame — I’d hoped to check them out when I went through London in February.
Very interesting that Nobilis went to GoO, since McKinnon was/is heavily involved in another diceless game for a long time. Sorta makes sense. Nobilis fans should be encouraged.


Captain Oblivious

I’m taking a ‘regular campaign’ hiatus for the month of November so I can do other stuff-that-is-not-gaming. Interesting conversation today.
Player: So are you dropping [game] permanently or starting it back up after November?
Me: I’m starting it back up for sure.
Player: Oh. [pause] I don’t think you should.
Sometimes I become glaringly aware that I have no idea what’s going on around me in terms of my friends and acquaintances. It was (apparently) true in college (something that’s become clear to me in recent months, talking with my old college friends), and it seems as though I’m pretty well out of the loop even today.


Kick ass

I found someone to run Living Arcanis for me this weekend so I can play the module instead of GMing it.
Kethos will ride again. Yee-haw.


Yet another Living Campaign starting up

I’m so there, man.


Tick Tock

We’re coming up on a changing of the guard, I think. People’s schedules are changing, including mine, and I forsee a major alteration in my regular gaming schedule, probably within the next month.
Not sure what I think of that.