Fading Suns and Flaming Heresies
Alien Upbringing (2 pts): Due to some odd series of events, the character was raised by members of another race. It’s almost unheard of for humans to care for a Ur-Ukar child or a Vorox to take care of a human infant, but it has happened. A character with this Benefice begins with knowledge of that species’ language (the Speak skill) instead of his own. Anyone with a prejudice against non-human races (which includes almost every person in the Known Worlds) will tend to have a special distrust for the character.
Heir (3 pts): The character is next in line for some position of importance. When her parents die, she might become duchess of the al-Malik, inherit a Charioteer spaceship or lead the Vorox, but she has no idea when this will happen. It may never occur or it may be next week — it’s all up to the gamemaster. Note that characters who want to be heirs to a noble still need to have the Nobility Benefice (below).
Secrets (1-5 pts): This Benefice is one of the most wideranging in the game. The secret the character knows can range from blackmail on a minor noble to the location of a forgotten planet. Gamemasters should work closely with players to ensure their secrets fit into the game he wants to run. What follows are guidelines on how to handle this since only the gamemaster knows what secrets most influence her campaign.
1 = Blackmail on a minor noble (A Hazat chickened out of a duel)
2 = Discovered a secret coven of psychics
3 = Know the members of the Imperial Eye on your homeworld
4 = Found a cache of Second Republic goods
5 = Location of a forgotten planet (Gamemasters should only allow this kind of secret if they want the characters togo there)
Well-Traveled (3 or 5 pts): The character has been around a bit, and has heard a bit more. The character has the equivalent of Folk Lore 1 for every major planet in his travel radius.
3 = A Royal House’s fiefs
5 = The Known Worlds
Ally (1-11 pts): The character has a close relationship with someone in a position of power, and that person will go out of his way to help her. The cost of this Benefice is two points less than it would cost the player to buy that same level of status for her character. Thus if the character wants a Duke of House Hawkwood to be his ally, it will cost 11 points, compared to the 13 it would cost the player to have that title. Note that many allies may not have a title, but this should give the gamemaster an idea of how to rank them.
Contact (1 pt): The character has an acquaintance who helps him out in little ways. The contact might provide information, sell good weapons or just be willing to give him a place to stay when he needs it. Players should come up with basic information about the contact, and the gamemaster can flesh her out as he desires.
Family Ties (3 pts): Blood can be thicker than wine, and a character with this Benefice can draw on some exceptionally loyal allies of similar status to himself. Of course, this cuts both ways — if someone kills your father, you will have to hunt him down to the farthest planet.
Gossip Network (1-4 pts): The character has a series of informants who keep her up to date on certain areas of information. These may be cackling old nobles who let her know which lords have committed breaches of etiquette, merchants who will let her know who is buying what, or farmers who will be more than glad to tell her who has gone through their area recently. Their information may not be as good as a contact’s, but they are everywhere. Still, the bigger it is, the less reliable the information. The cost varies by size of the network.
1 = City or community
2 = Planetwide
3 = An entire Royal House’s holdings
4 = The Known Worlds
Protection (3 pts): Someone (or group of people) is looking out for the character. The character may well owe his protector something in return, but it is always helpful to be a Charioteer with the backing of the local Hawkwoods, even if he does have to fly them wherever they want to go.
Retinue (1-4 pts): If good help is hard to find, then good, loyal help is really going to cost you. You may have any number of servants your wealth can afford, but the really devoted ones cost points.
1 = Unskilled labor (butler, handmaiden)
2 = Noncombat specialist (cook, chauffeur)
3 = Combat able or multitalented (bodyguard, seneschal)
+1 = Fanatically loyal
Jumpkey (2 pts): Usually only Charioteers or high-ranking members of the noble houses and Church have these, since the Charioteers consider it somewhat of a crime for others to carry them. Nonetheless, black market trade in jumpkeys is popular, regardless of the risk of being thrown out of an airlock by a Charioteer protecting his guild’s monopoly.
Each key holds coordinates for a jumproute between two planets: the departure planet and the destination planet; the key works both ways (coming and going) between these worlds.
Passage contracts (2-10 pts): Thanks to some preexisting arrangement with one of the guilds, the character does not have to worry about booking passage on starships. Of course, the accommodations may not always be the best, and the ship may make a number of stops along the way, but it is a (mostly) sure thing.
2 = Tramp freighter (You ride with the cargo)
4 = Transport (Share a room with nine other passengers)
6 = Stateroom (Made for two, has been known to hold eight or more)
8 = Luxury liner (The best)
10 = Ship is at your command (Whatever you want)
Refuge (2-10 pts): The character has some place he can go where he feels safe. It might be a noble’s castle, a hidden monastery, a guild safe house or just a cave he outfitted himself. Whatever the case, it is almost always open to him — unless someone destroys it first. The following costs are only guidelines. Gamemasters should make the player pay for extra protection, comfort or whatever.
2 = Small farm
4 = Guild safe house
6 = Monastery
8 = Castle
10 = Military base
Artifacts and Relics
Advisor (5 pts): The character has a hand-held think machine with an artificial intelligence that can advise him on a number of matters. It is a bit crude, however, and may become more annoying than helpful at times. For more details, see Think Machines in the Rulebook.
Flux Sword (11 pts): An energy sword, using a more advanced variation on blaster and energy shield tech. While these are still occasionally produced by ingenious weaponsmiths, they are rare.
Mist Sword (13 pts): A flux sword that can be psychically attuned to its wielder — making this a very rare and sought-after artifact by psychic covens.
Neural Disrupter (10 pts): A deadly and banned weapon that harms a victim’s brain cells.
Psi Cloak (10 pts): Advanced 2nd Republic tech that provides its wearer defense against psychic attacks and neural disrupters.
Wireblade (12 pts): A monomolecular blade that can easily slice through ceramsteel — or clumsy wielders. These swords are extremely rare and can no longer be made.
Adept Robes (20 pts): The famed armor of the Brother Battle order. A ceramsteel suit powered by fusion; the ultimate in battlefield protection, and thus very expensive. Only Brother Battle characters can begin gameplay with Adept Robes, representing an inheritance from one’s master.
Article of Faith (1 pt per +1 bonus): An item that aids a theurge in a particular rite (such as a thorn which adds +3 to an Avestite’s Sting of Conscience roll). These come in all shapes and sizes, and not always necessarily obvious to their task.
Saint’s Lore (2 pts per rite + 1 per level of the rite): A miraculous item esteemed by all the faithful. A finger bone of Saint Rasmussen might have Avert Evil (Level Three) and Devotion (Level One); the cost would be 8.
Vestments (1 pt): The character has some properly blessed Church equipment — robes, rosaries, miters or others. For more information on vestments, see the Theurgy, in the Rulebook. These items cannot be bought with money, but must be earned through service to the Church.
Wyrd Tabernacle (2 pts per 1 Wyrd): A holy vessel of spiritual energy. This can take many forms, from a font or a book to a staff or shroud.
Through well-earned wages, inheritance, treasure seeking or wise saving, the character begins the game with a goodly sum of firebirds. She may carry it on her person or keep it in a local bank or with trusted friends; regardless, she can access it freely. This money may be spent to equip the character before gameplay. However, unlike Assets, below, this money is all the character has to her name — once it has been spent, it is gone.
1 = 100 firebirds
2 = 300 firebirds
3 = 600 firebirds
5 = 1000 firebirds
7 = 2000 firebirds
9 = 3000 firebirds
11 = 4000 firebirds
Some characters are lucky enough to have real wealth — not just savings or wages, but land rulership or control of a business. These type of assets provide characters with regular income and are usually tied to a character’s rank and station in life. The character does not actually own the business — his house or guild does — but through birthright, luck or hard work, she has gained control over it and thus reaps its benefits (and suffers its responsibilities). She cannot sell the business, but may abdicate her position or temporarily place someone else in charge; during this time, she does not gain the income associated with that asset.
Each form of asset listed below includes a firebird value: how much the asset brings the character in yearly income after paying expenses, barring no disasters or dramatic changes in circumstance for good or ill. When beginning gameplay, a character has access to one-tenth (10%) of his yearly income; he may use this to purchase beginning equipment.
3 = Good (3000 income/ 300 starting cash)
5 = Well-off (5000 income/ 500 starting cash)
7 = Wealthy (10,000 income/ 1000 starting cash)
9 = Rich (15,000 income/ 1500 starting cash)
11 = Filthy Rich (20,000 income/ 2,000 starting cash)
These assets may come in the form of Fiefdoms, businesses, loans, blackmail earnings or any other financial transactions.
Cohort Badge (3 pts): The character is an Imperial Cohort, an aide de camp to one of the Emperor’s Questing Knights. Such status is only granted to members of the Church or Merchant League (characters must also have at least the 3 pt Commissioned or Ordained Benefice). While the knight is allowed the Imperial Charter (see below), his aides also need legal and monetary powers with which to perform their duties. Cohorts gain a small stipend of 100 firebirds per year and free transport on any Imperial Navy ship (a 4 pt Passage Contract). In addition, they can cross feudal boundaries free of taxation and are allowed free counsel in case of legal prosecution.
However, they must uphold a code of behavior and duty. They can never operate against Imperial interests, and they can be called upon at any time to undergo any number of missions for the order or the Emperor (a 3 pt Oath of Fealty).
Note that, while Cohorts are given an emblem to wear, the “badge” is an oath of duty, not a mere symbol. Once a Cohort “turns in his badge,” he is no longer bound by its code, but likewise does not receive its benefits.
Commission (3-13 pts): The character is a member of a guild within the Merchant League and can learn guild skills at the base cost. The higher his degree, the more power (and responsibilities) he has. The degrees are almost always the same for men and women.
Coven (2 pts): The character is a member of a psychic coven, such as the Favyana or the Invisible Path (see the Rulebook). While participation in coven leadership issues is open only to psychics, non-psychics may also join; they must pledge service (usually as spies or informants in the civilian sector) in return for occasional psychic aid from a coven member. While membership allows psychics the ability to meet with other psychics and petition them for training or aid, it also obligates them to perform missions for the coven. Since membership in a coven is illegal in the eyes of the Church and punishable by imprisonment and even death, these missions can get characters into a lot of trouble.
Householder (1 pt): The character is employed or in some way closely associated with a noble house, merchant guild or Church sect. He might be a minor guardsman, a groundskeeper, cook or masseuse. However, he holds no rank in the organization he works for, but he does gain occasional benefits (the local bartender is careful not to cheat the Decados gate guards).
Imperial Charter (4 pts): Only granted to Questing Knights (who must also have at least the 3 pt Nobility Benefice), this is one of the most powerful knightly order charters. It allows each knight a stipend of 300 firebirds per year and free transport on any Imperial Navy ship (a 4 pt Passage Contract). In addition, knights may inspect public Church or League records (though not private cathedral or guild records). They can cross feudal boundaries free of taxation and are immune from prosecution (all charges are brought before the order’s council instead of the ruling body bringing the charge, whether it be noble or Church).
However, they must uphold a code of behavior and duty. They can never operate against Imperial interests, and they can be called upon at any time to undergo any number of missions for the order or the Emperor (a 3 pt Oath of Fealty). Once a knight leaves the order, she is no longer bound by the charter, but likewise does not receive its benefits.
Nobility (3-13 pts): The character is a member of a noble house. While both royal and minor houses use most of the same titles, a baronet for a minor house generally has less responsibilities and less power than one in a royal house.
Note that not only does a character have to buy at least five points of this Benefice to be considered landed, but he must also buy the Riches Benefice in order to get any money from it. If a character wants to be in line to lead a royal house, he must buy both the Duke level of Nobility and the Heir Benefice. The landed titles are the often the same for both men and women (Knight Hillary al-Malik), but the higher ranks often use a gender distinction.
3 = Knight
5 = Baronet
7 = Baron
9 = Earl/Marquis
11 = Count
13 = Duke
Ordained (3-13 pts): The character is an ordained minister of the Universal Church, protector of souls and bringer of light. Men and women have the same titles for the same duties.
|13 =||Archbishop||Grand Master||Presbuteros|
In addition, there are different duties within the Church each with their own titles. Priests who act as ambassadors to a planet, house or guild are called “legates.” Those renowned for theology (and who have been approved by the
Patriarch as official theologians) are called “hierophants.”
A keeper of Church records holds the post of “chartophylax.”
A deputy to the patriarch is called “syneculla”. These duty titles are in addition to the rank titles.
Professional Contract (1-10 pts): This Benefice represents a contract or agreement a character has with a guild in order to learn guild-specific skills. Each point of this Benefice represents how many levels of a guild skill he may buy. One contract might only teach the basics (1-3), while another may be an invite to learn all the secrets (up to 10!).
This is usually the only way someone will learn guild skills without joining the League.