I don’t know whether it should be considered heresy to use random numbers to generate a Nobilis character lifepath or just regular treason. But what the heck, let’s do this.
For those unfamiliar with the work of Jenna Moran, the mad genius of tabletop gaming, Nobilis is a diceless game of resource allocation and semantics in which the player characters take on the role of people who have been selected to embody and protect certain concepts. Excrucians, the bad guys, want to unmake reality. Deceivers, the subject of Antithesis 1i, are head-over-heels with some fundamental layer of reality that they believe is snared up within such horrifying lies as arms, legs, clothes, cheese, earwax, life and death. (They’re a weird bunch.)
And now, I’m going to build you a Deceiver, randomly determining Keys using random.org.
Here we go!
The first Key we have here is 7. In the normal Nobilis lifepath system, that’s the star of Bethlehem flower and refers to a character who’s still dealing with one specific life-changing event. For a Deceiver, it’s the same vegetation, but it’s the Key of Burdens, bearing the name IT MARKED ME. So we have a Lie containing…I’m not sure what yet…to represent how this burden changes behaviour, and a Truth containing the bullet points “I can’t let go” and “It’s always with me” for the internal conflict part. I’ll figure out what should go in there when I work out what motivates this particular Excrucian, i.e. what the other Key does.
Next random number: 13. This, the Phoenix Posy, is the Self-Creating Key, for a character who…um…created him or herself. I guess you could make wisecracks about destruction ex nihilo here. The name of this Key is I HAVE MADE MYSELF…, with a Lie representing the context you made yourself in, and a Truth about what your causality-straining nature means to you containing “An enemy of the world” and “From nothing”.
Because it makes dramatic sense, I’m going to assume these two are linked – that the burden comes from our Deceiver’s origins. Since Deceivers tend to be heavy on the charm, I think it might be interesting to have a being who’s trying to destroy the world but who only fights in self-defence and follows the rules of war, so I put “I live by a code” in the Lie of the Star of Bethlehem, and “in post-war Geneva” for the Phoenix Posy. Having the Geneva Convention and a threat to reality itself come into existence simultaneously strikes me as an interesting contrast.
Okay. Now we get onto the actual bits and pieces.
The Foundation of a character is used to figure out their defining image. Star of Bethlehem argues for a character who is “Uncoiling, Hunting, the Storm Arising”; while this sounds decidedly Lovecraftian, it can also mean characters with big and destructive plans who still function in a largely human fashion. The Phoenix Posy inclines a character toward the “crazy head games” approach, which is less Cthulhu and more the Riddler. If I pick either of these, I put another bullet point in the Lie of the appropriate Key. If I pick the other options, “So Full Of Feelings For Them” or “Elemental and Untroubled”, I strengthen a Truth instead. Let’s go with “crazy head games”. Given the terrible things many Nobles do to support the Valde Bellum (the war for reality), I think it might be interesting to have our Deceiver’s grand plan to involve making Powers question their affiliation, so let’s go with Crazy Head Games. I stick “Question yourself” in the Lie of the Phoenix Posy.
Now for pseudo-Estate. Nobles have Estates, which grant them authority over a concept, be it “hate” or “squid” or “delay” or “individuality” or “blankets”. Deceivers have a pseudo-Estate, or pState, instead. This is not a foundational building block of reality. It’s a cheaty little exploit that allows them to behave as though something involving their own story or situation is a foundational building block of reality even though it’s not. This comes in two parts.
First, the moral quality. Phoenix Posy argues for “a pretty truth”, while the Star of Bethlehem wants a “despicable construction”. I think we should go with the first one, so I strengthen the Lie of the thirteenth Key. I think for a bit and conclude that the best wording for this point is “trapped in my own plan”; the code our Deceiver lives by was originally put on just to carry out a plan, but then it kind of stuck.
Part two – the actual nature of it. This is always good for a headache. Basically, the options here are “how people react to you”, “things you’ve done”, “stuff you have” (Phoenix Posy) and “stuff you say” (Star of Bethlehem). Let’s pick that last one – a descriptive pState.
I have decided that our pState is “the moral criticism of [name]”. Later on, in a step that I’m not going to carry out because frankly this is going to be ridiculously long as it is, we (okay, “I”) would come up with traits of these moral criticisms and figure out ways to weaponise them. This does, however, help me fill in a bullet point under the Lie of “It Marked Me” with “I expect you to live by one too”. What we have here is a Deceiver who’s an inch from giving you a speech about how disappointed he is when you burn down a city or something.
Okay. Next up: breakthrough. This is the emotion that drives our Deceiver. Looking at the alternatives, I’m going to go with Choice, which strengthens the Lie of the phoenix posy. The bullet point I add is “Called by Noble sins”; I figure a Power was a jerk to their Anchor or someone else who knows about the Nobles, and their rage at this treatment and hatred linked to our Deceiver here, who entered the world as a punishing force.
Moving on. Looking at the four categories of big plan, I decide that what I’ve already determined works best with “Make A Pointed Argument”, even though both Keys recommend building something. So I strengthen a Truth; I add “righteous fury” to the Truth of the Phoenix Posy. There’s also a backup plan section; both of the Keys point at “despair”, i.e. Plan Don’t Have A Plan, but frankly that’s boring so I go with “Stage 2” – if Nobles don’t listen, our Deceiver tricks them into doing horrible things to make them listen. I strengthen the Truth of the star of Bethlehem with “surprisingly ruthless”.
Next up, three contacts. I pick “Hate Friend” (star of Bethlehem, Lie, “I have contempt for my allies”); “Information Brokers” (star of Bethlehem, Truth, “I don’t mind others being underhanded on my behalf”), and “People Whose Lives I’ve Touched” (phoenix posy, Truth, “guide others on a ‘better path’ that leads to the Not”). I then skip Territories because this is already huge and cut straight to Justification, going with the phoenix posy section, I’m here to break the world…”if I have to, I guess?” Our Deceiver doesn’t mind destroying the world, but he’s mainly here to call out Nobles when they’re jerks. So I add “here for justice, not eschatology” to the phoenix posy, and fumble around in lists of medieval names to come up with our Deceiver’s name.
The final lifepath:
Star of Bethlehem, Key of Burdens
IT MARKED ME…
- I live by a code
- I expect you to live by one too
- I have contempt for my allies
- I can’t let go
- It’s always with me
- Surprisingly ruthless
- I don’t mind others being underhanded on my behalf
Pseudo-Estate: the Moral Criticism of Helinand Ebrulf
Phoenix Posy, the Self-Creating Key
I HAVE MADE MYSELF…
- In post-war Geneva
- Question yourself
- Trapped in my own plan
- Called by Noble sins
- Here for justice, not eschatology
- An enemy of the world
- From nothing
- Righteous fury
- Guide others on a “better path” that leads to the Not
Foundation: All about the crazy head games
pState: A pretty truth, descriptive
Plan: Make a pointed argument
Backup Plan: Stage 2
Contacts: hatefriend, information brokers, people whose lives I’ve touched
Justification: …if I have to, I guess?