Saturday, September 24, 2016

Game Prep: Squiggles

OK, I'm running three games in the next three days (counting today) and then another one next Monday and aAAAAHAHAhahahahaAAHAAH I need to do some prep.

Got my game face on.
Anyway. Running Headspace today, Night's Black Agents tomorrow, Feng Shui Monday and finishing up Iron Edda next week. Plus I have a bunch of writing to do on Monsters, since the Kickstarter is launching on 10/4 (I don't need to have the book written by then, which is good, because that's not going to happen, but I want more of it written), and eventually I might get the outstanding drafts of the Beast books I'm working on and be able to redline.

Oh, and I need to bash out enough of Np that I can take it to Metatopia.

Today, however, is game prep day.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Character Creation: Iron Edda

Call me crazy, but I like making sure I've made characters for games I'm running.

The Game: Iron Edda: War of Metal and Bone
The Publisher: Exploding Rogue
Degree of Familiarity: A goodly amount. It's Fate Core/Accelerated, which I know pretty well, and I've run a session.
Books Required: Just the one to make characters, though having Fate Core to hand is helpful.

So! You can see the game I'm running here, so I'm not gonna summarize the game. The issue that I run into, as is often true in this project, is that the game would like it if I had a group, but I don't. No matter, the book includes several sample settings, which is nice, so I will pick one. I like "A Tale of Blood and Darkness" by +Lillian Cohen-Moore, so I'll assume that my hypothetical GM is gonna run that. When the Group Aspect comes up in chargen, I'll instead do an Aspect about how I fit into this situation.

In brief: The community of Selah is having a celebration for spring, but there are weird shadow-spirits that killed the Jarl's son recently. There's a very cool murder-mystery vibe going on.

Ooh, so, what do I want to play? When I played this game with +Tracy at Origins, I played a Seer and used a bunch of raven-based magic, which was cool. I kinda want to play a Bonebonded, though, a hero who's been bonded to the bones of a slain giant. I also want my character to have heard rumors of the shadow-spirits. I'll tie that in to my giant somehow, I think.

OK, so as is often true of Fate games, I must start with a High Concept. Grim-Faced Bonebonded Warrior about covers it, I think. This guy may have had humor at some point, but he lost it when he took up the bones. He's dour, never smiles, and he's old but sturdy. He might even be older than he looks, and be kept healthy by his giant.

Now I need a Trouble Aspect. I kind of don't want his dour demeanor to be the problem here; that's just kind of how he is. But I think we can relate it; I want him to be marked by Hel somehow. I'll call this Aspect Hel's Gaze Follows Me; the specter of death is always over his shoulder, and doesn't fear it, but it makes him fatalistic and untrusting.

Next I would do a Clan Aspect, but if you're Bonebonded you give up your Clan. I think this guy was Sparrow Clan before, real chatty and gregarious, and then the bones came.

My giant is called Runa the Riverbane. Years ago she blocked the Gjoll River, and fell in battle to Odin. Her bones lay at the bottom of the river until my character dove in to retrieve them, and rose up Bonebonded. Problem is, I think maybe Odin took offense. My Aspect here is This Bond Cost Me My Soul (this may or may not be true, but my character thinks it is, and Runa is strangely silent on the matter). I think that Runa is largely pretty helpful, for a giant. She's just glad to be off the riverbed.

Next I get a Sacred Item Aspect. I kinda like the idea that Odin killed Runa with Gungnir (his spear; no mention of a magic helmet), but Runa was tough enough to do some damage. When my character dove into the river, he came up with a splinter from Gungnir as well. I'll take Splinter of Gungir as my Aspect here.

Finally, the Group Aspect is going to relate to why I'm coming to Selah. I want to say he's heard rumors of the shadow-spirits, maybe even from Runa. Yeah, I'll take Runa Recognizes the Shadows as my Aspect here; she's clear enough that they're bad news, but she's either choosing not to tell me everything or can't for some reason.

Neat! Now stunts & skills & shit. I'll start by making my Bonebonded. This costs me two refresh, and I have to use one of my three stunts on my giant. I get six Approaches: Forceful, Clever, Quick, Careful, Flashy, and one more to make up. I think Runa's Approach is going to be Immoveable. She's damned hard to hard or even move once she plants herself.

I'll put Immoveable at Good, Careful and Forceful at Fair, Clever and Flashy at Average, and Quick at Mediocre.

While I'm here, may as well do the stunt. I think I'll call it Force of the Raging River. Because Runa remembers the force of the river, she can Forcefully Attack at +2 when standing in a river.

Right, now I get two more stunts for me, not my giant. I'll take one stunt called Visions of Death. I can creep people out by talking about how they're going to die (I can't necessarily tell, though I think it'd be cool if my visions came true more often than not). +2 to Attack with Provoke if I talk about the target's death. And then I think Runa's unrelenting influence bleeds over. I get +2 to Overcome with Physique if I'm Overcoming natural phenomena (pushing through wind, snow, raging river, etc).

And now, Skills! I'll take Physique as my Great, Fight and Will as my Good, Provoke, Athletics, and Notice as my Fair, and Lore, Sail, Empathy, and Stealth as my Average.

I think that's it, actually. All I need's a name. We'll call him Einar Vatnsson. He looks like he's in his 50s (but is probably older). Muscular, built like a wall, long beard, long braids, all grey. His arms is blackened and rusted in places, but it works. He prefers big, heavy, weapons like maces (or, when in bone-form, rocks).

Chariot: The Rain of Fish

Yesterday, I ran Chariot in preparation to write a review (if you're gonna review RPGs, you should play or run them first, IMO). It was a lot of fun, and I definitely had the right group. I'm bummed that +Travis couldn't make it because I think he'd have really gotten into it, but that's the way the bear eats you sometimes, or whatever the saying is.

Anydangway, you can read up on the game at that link I shared, and see chargen in action here. So let's meet the characters:

  • Megan played Nonix, an Atlantean minor bureaucratic functionary. She's Fated to be the Fool, and went through the whole game never really know she was Fated at all. 
  • Sarah played Narayan, a Tlavatli priestess who shipped out with a crew going out to find food (pickings have been slim in the Five Islands of late) and got blown in to Keriophis by storms. She's also Fated to be the Healer, and could stave off the effects of starvation, but it comes back.
  • John played Kosh, a Rmoahal escaped slave and mystic. He's hiding out in the slums of Keriophis, among his people, performing magical feats for money and out of the kindness of his heart. He's Fated to be the Lover, meaning he can see not only the pain of his people but the casual indifference of those who victimize them. 
  • Amanda played Lyra, a Lemurian nomad who traveled with her tribe...until she was Fated to be the Trickster. Now no one trusts her, and she wanders alone. 
We start in the coastal city of Keriophis. Lyra is heading for a small community of Lemurians living near the water (we affectionately called it "Little Lemuria") looking for Tae, her mentor, who for unstated reasons also left the wilds and now lives in the city. She finds Tae and talks with her about how she's cast out, now, because no one can trust what she says. They look up and see a larger sky-chariot and a few smaller ones zipping over Little Lemuria and into the slums. "They're going to rout slaves," says Tae. "Happens often. They recapture them and give them back to their owners, or take them out to sea, attached stones to their collars, and toss them in if their former owners don't want them back."

Meanwhile, Narayan's ship is putting in to the Keriophis harbor. A sky-chariot swoops in and asks their business, and Narayan responds that they've been damaged in the storm and separated from their fellows, and new to restock and repair. The soldier gives them permission and they move toward the dock. Someone notifies Nonix, whose job it is to make sure that ships arriving have their paperwork in order. 

Kosh, meanwhile, is hiding among his people when the sky-chariots arrive. They start rounding up Rmoahals, so we make this a Conflict. Kosh and Lyra (who follows the sky-chariots, uncomfortable with this whole "drown people" thing) want to keep the Rmoahals free, while I want to have the Atlanteans recapture them. 

Kosh runs, waving his arms, making himself a distraction, trying to lead the soldiers away. One of them, an Atlantean named Kwt, is an acquaintance of Kosh - Kosh used magic to heal Kwt's son once. Kwt chases him, fully intending on letting him escape. 

Meanwhile, Lyra calls the Rmoahals to her, and hides him (she's the Trickster, and if she wants something hidden, it's hidden). Unfortunately, the slavemaster (hovering on a person sky-chariot, with prosthetic eyes that zoom in like telescopes) shouts to the Rmoahals that if they don't give themselves up, they'll start bombing the buildings, where the old and infirm are probably hiding. This works; the Rmoahals push away from Lyra and surrender. Kosh escapes because Kwt doesn't chase him.

Lyra slumps to the ground, despondent at having failed, and Kosh, sending what she's feeling moves to comfort her.

At the docks, the ship arrives, and Nonix interrogates Narayan about their intentions. This becomes a Conflict as well (Nonix wants Narayan to fill out the forms and follow the rules, while Narayan just wants to go on shore without all this hassle), but it's quick because Narayan's player slaps down the Hanged Man and wins. Nonix is flustered and a little dazzled by Narayan (she's a Tlavatli priestess, so she's pretty fancy), and finally decides it's quicker if she does the paperwork herself.

Narayan, who isn't even the captain, goes into the city looking for people who might need healing. She comes across Lyra and Kosh, and recognizes them as Fated. She soothes Lyra, and listens to their story of what happened.

Nonix, meanwhile, realized that Narayan took her pen with her, and she wants it back (this is the kind of ridiculous thing that gets the Fool into trouble). She finds Narayan and the others as they've decided to go get something to eat. Nonix, a little intimidated (she's out of her element and with a Rmoahal and a Lemurian), goes along at Narayan's invitation. 

They find the Lemurian equivalent of a restaurant (I was figuring lots of shellfish that you can just crack open and eat, since we're by the sea). The characters talk a bit, and the others laugh at Nonix a bit for not knowing how the shellfish work (she's used to cooked food), but Kosh can relate to her, whether he wants to or not (he's the Lover, he relates to everyone). As they're eating, they hear rain - the storm has finally reached Keriophis. Lyra realized the rain is heavy - those aren't raindrops, they're large objects hitting the ground. Hail?

No. The characters finish eating and go outside and discover that marine animals are falling to the ground. Kosh, never quite knowing where his next meal will come from, picks one up, and the fish immediately pops its scales and slices his hands to ribbons. He drops it into his sack, and Narayan bandages his hands, healing him. 

They decide to get further inland, and Nonix, feeling perhaps a little caught up in all this, says they can go to her home. The Atlanteans ignore Kosh (thanks to Lyra), and they wind up in her apartment, overlooking the city. 

The rain of fish is moving further inland, but there's worse than that. The rain of fish is accompanied by torrential normal-rain. As the characters watch, a sky-chariot hums overhead. Nonix recognizes it. It's full of slaves. They'll take them to the levee and force them to shore it up; many of them will drown in the process, but the city will be saved. Nonix relates this, and the others decide that this isn't fucking acceptable. 

Nonix tries to explain that if the levees aren't shored up, the waters might flood into the city, killing many more people than the slaves that would die. Kosh argues with her, saying that maybe that's true, but that's no reason to force people in bondage to kill themselves in the process (it's a Conflict, and both Lyra and Narayan aid Kosh). In the end, Nonix agrees (Kosh plays the Lovers and wins), and the characters head down to the levees to help. 

They arrive as a line of Rmoahal slaves are working to fix the levee, but the flood-waters are already rising. We made it a Conflict; Kosh and Lyra working to free the slaves, with Nonix attempting to get the levees strengthened and Narayan just trying to make sure no one dies. I used the world (the storm) as a supporting character, and also the slave master. 

Lyra runs down the line, trying to open the slaves chains, but a slave of Kosh's acquaintance, Soqi, who has become throughly assimilated, yells for help. The slave-drivers pull Lyra back, and, angry, she calls down magic, opening all the clasps on the slaves' collars. 

Nonix finds Yima, her ex (but still friendly), and explains that they needed a large amount of stone to brace the levee. They start moving it in by crane, but one of the guide-ropes snapes. Narayan sees her captain, Leonadis, and he and the crew start helping with the crane (if the city floods, the Tlavatlis aren't going anywhere). 

Kosh throws a rock at a slave-driver, Ctusk, whom he's had run-ins with before, trying to distract him and free the slaves. When the collars open, though, the slave-drivers rush in and attack Lyra, and the slaves attack them, everything devolving into a brawl. Nonix, meanwhile, uses her own magic and just creates a bunch of stone on the levee to brace it. Narayan, simultaneously, uses magic to push back the flood waters, and the storm starts to recede. 

The slave-drivers beat Lyra, but then she hides, and the brawl just continues. The slaves are recaptured and put back into bondage, but the levee is secure. Kosh disappears into the city, as does Lyra. Nonix goes back to her job. Narayan and the crew of the ship steal an Atlantean vessel and head for home in the confusion (what the heck, it's already full of fish, and the Five Islands need food). 

I really enjoy this game, though I have some concerns about the Conflict system that I'll get into in the review. Basically, large-scale conflict seem almost completely impossible for the players to win (but it may have been the hand I was dealt, too). 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Iron Edda: The Bees Are to Blame

Monday was Iron Edda. I think I'm going to have to start instituting "phone breaks" for folks, so they can get their social media fix. These two things are only tangentially related.

We begin our story in Byheim. Aegir is by his still, perfecting a new mead. Helga and Rune are walking the perimeter of the holdfast. Ragnar is praying by the guardian stone, and Solvi is outside the holdfast, near the Snake Hall, where the Snake Clan folks are quarantined. As she approaches, she sees enemy horsemen emerge - the Snake Clan is attacking. Solvi summons up her magic and makes the land in front of them swampy, to slow them down.

Helga notices, too, and summons up her bones; Rune follows. Aegir intercepts Ragnar and, realizing what Solvi did, gives Ragnar a draught that lets him walk on swamp-terrain more easily. He drinks it, and then charges, climbing onto Helga's bone-giant head. She tries to flick him off, but he dodges.

Rune leaps into the fray and slams the ground, stunning the Snake Clans. The Snakes attack, but don't manage to hurt anyone (lots of boosts getting through around, but not much stress). Aegir arrives and conks one on the head with his drinking horn, and Helga tries to intimidate them into giving up. Between Rune attacking with his staff, and then Ragnar landing in the middle of them with his magic hammer, some are unhorsed and some just flee. Rune, in the midst of this, notes that some of them are carrying curved weapons that they must have bought from the Jgol traders.

Ragnar picks one up and demands to know what's going on. The Snake responds by showing his boils, and saying that the Jarl isn't doing anything to help. Ragnar looks worried; he might have caught the plague. He goes with Solvi and Aegir to Solvi's hovel so she can make a poultice for him to stave off infection.

Meanwhile, Rune goes off to the Jgol, and Helga, entranced by his sexy swagger, follows. They talk to the Jgol traders some, and learn that the Snake Clan bought the heart of a Dwarven Mech along with their weapons. Helga buys an immense Dwarven weapon from them (on IOU), but just then, the giant in Rune's head starts screaming. It can hear a terrible, high-pitched noise...and it's coming from the Snake Hall.

Up at the hovel, Solvi tosses some henbane into the fire and gives herself a bit of a hallucination. She sees the bees swarming the Snake Clan, and realizes that the plague isn't caused by a disease, it's a reaction to bee stings. Now, everybody gets bee stings in Byheim, but the bees have been getting more aggressive lately, so maybe it's a particular hive near the Snake Hall?

Rune calls up bones, and so does Helga. They smash their way into the Snake Hall, and see up the Dwarven Heart. Helga picks it up and stabs it with her new weapon, which causes both the weapon and the heart to explode and blows her bones away. She falls, but Rune deftly catches her.

In the distance, the characters hear thunder and see lightning. The Dwarves have heard the heart, and they have responded. They are only a few days out.

They go back into the village, and the villagers argue over how to use the guardian stone and what to do. Ragnar decides that he will quest for the Rune-Bag, and try and best Odin's Wolves. We'll see if he can manage that next time.

Movie #372: Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War is the third Captain America movie, and as such stars Chris Evans and Sebastien Stan. However, it's also basically another Avengers movie, and as such also stars Robert Downey, Jr., Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, and then adds in Tom Holland, William Hurt, Daniel Bruhl, and Chadwick Boseman.

Set some time after Avengers: Age of Ulton, the Avengers, led by Cap (Evans) is doing Avengers stuff. In Lagos, Nigeria, they confront Crossbones (Frank Grillo), who winds up trying to blow himself and Cap up with a suicide vest. Scarlet Witch (Olsen) tries to redirect the explosion, but it hits a building, killing a bunch of people.

Meanwhile, Tony Stark (Downey, Jr.) is reliving some old hurtful moments and trying to buy his way out of his guilt for the Ultron incident. He winds up coming face to face with that guilt, and then Secretary of State and former Hulk-chasing-guy General Ross (Hurt) decides that the Avengers are kinda running amok with no real supervision. The Sokovia Accords, then, propose that they're answer to the UN, which will tell them what they can and can't get involved with. It also involves "registration" of enhanced people, although that doesn't get as much screen time as it does in Agents of SHIELD (where it's more relevant).

Tony is all for it; Cap is not, and the team is likewise split. Cap has to zip off to London to attend Peggy Carter's funeral, and while there he reconnects with Sharon Carter (Emily Van Camp), former SHIELD agent and, as it turns out, Peggy's niece.

Now, I want to make an aside here. Cap and Sharon wind up kissing later in the movie, and I've seen some folks deride that choice as creepy, I guess because of Cap's age or that he was once romantically linked with her aunt? Watching it again, I think that in context there's nothing remotely creepy about it. Sharon and Steve didn't meet until Sharon was a grown woman, and they met in a context that had nothing to do with Peggy. Steve and Peggy had a close relationship, but he got frozen before they had anything that could legitimately be described as a romantic relationship, and by the time she died, he'd had a few years to get to know her - but she was an old woman who had actually lived through the ensuing decades and Steve, despite being technically over 100, is still actually a young man. So, in context, we have a young man striking up a relationship with a woman that he met who turned out to be related to a woman he was once involved with, after she died, and with mutual attraction. I think it's fine, people (and this from the crowd that will happily "ship" random characters as the whim strikes them).

Whew, sorry. Anyway, it looks for a moment like Steve might retire from being Cap, but then Zemo (Bruhl) blows up the UN, killing King T'Chaka (John Kani) and framing the Winter Soldier (Stan) for it. This, of course, winds up making his son T'Challa (Boseman) hella pissed at Bucky, Bucky gets captured, and Zemo lures the Avengers toward Bucky's old Hydra base in Russia. A big brawl ensues as Stark tries to recapture Bucky (and Steve); Stark even recruits a young Spider-Man (Holland) to even the odds. But in the end, only Cap and Bucky make it to the base (with Stark following after he figures out what's really going on), and it turns out this was all a plot by Zemo to show Stark that Bucky killed Stark's parents, and thus fragment the Avengers.

So, the Captain America movies have consistently been the best of the MCU, and Civil War continues that. It's such a busy movie, but unlike Age of Ultron, which languishes under too much Whedon, this not only keeps everything nicely balanced, gives all the supporting characters a bit of cool screen time, and raises the stakes without killing any major character (alas poor Quicksilver), but it manages to retroactively improve both Age of Ultron and Iron Man III by putting some of their events into context and showing the fallout. When I heard that the Russo brothers were in charge of the next Avengers movie, I breathed a sigh of relief - they can handle the massive cast, clearly.

The performances here are good. I kind of wish that Crossbones hadn't died, because it'd be nice to have some villains that hang around, but Zemo lives, so maybe he can show up again someday. Boseman is amazing as Black Panther, and I'm very much looking forward to his movie now. I'm hopeful that some of the other MCU directors remember the Russo's attention to detail and what has come before; especially Peyton Reed when he does Ant-Man & the Wasp. I want to see Scott Lang (Rudd) at least dealing with being an international fugitive during the first act of that movie.

My grade: A
Rewatch value: High

Next Up: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Games Notes: Viking, Ho!

Tomorrow I'm running Iron Edda. I should, therefore, figure out what the heck I'm gonna do to these poor folks. I have two sessions to bring out something to resolve.

Ride on, Norse Riders!
You can find the characters and the setup back here.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Character Creation: Chariot

Well, today was supposed to involve running this game, but I was feeling rather under the weather, so that didn't happen, and then there was drama the likes of which just makes you do a double-take (no, I'm not elaborating publicly), and so now I'm going to make a character instead and run it next week. So.

The Game: Chariot
The Publisher: Room 207 Press
Degree of Familiarity: None; I've read it.
Books Required: Just the one.

So, Chariot is based on stories of Atlantis, which I've never read. But really, the game is about altruism - you're playing characters who are effectively indestructible, so the stakes are never "or else your character dies." Misspent Youth does this, too, and I like it, for a couple of reasons.

For one thing (and you might find this massively hypocritical because of curse the darkness, but hear me out) character death is never that big a threat anyway. Players who enjoy the moment of drama that the death of a character causes will enjoy it regardless, and players who get uncomfortable when their character dies will get uncomfortable. The threat in a game isn't "we could die" unless there's been a lot of investment in a character and in the game itself, 'cause otherwise you just make a new character and carry on.

But in Chariot, you're playing one of a handful of people who are Fated to die in the Catastrophe - like, the "Atlantis sinks beneath the waves" kind of thing. Until that happens, you don't die. The game does advise playing through that point, but it would take at least a few sessions to do right and I'm just gonna run a one-shot. In any case, though, it looks fascinating and I'm hoping that my lack of familiarity with the subject matter doesn't make me miss too much.

Anyway, making a character is pretty straightforward. Just requires a Tarot deck (oh, right, the game uses Tarot as the resolution mechanic and is therefore my catnip).

I first pick a Culture. I can be Lemurian, Muvian, Atlantean, Rmoahal, or Tlavatli. Of those, I like Muvians and the Tlavatlis the most. I think we'll go with Muvian, just because their approach to love and sex appeals (basically, obviously you have sex with your friends, there's no such thing as exclusivity, and when children happen everyone raises them). I add 3 points to Will for being a Muvian.

Now I pick Social Station. I kind of want to be a Noble. This game asks players to examine privilege and attitudes toward entrenched bias and acceptance of societal evil in a collapsing society, and I think it'd be interesting to play someone who has benefited greatly from Things Being How They Are, and in the face of knowing that it's all gonna end...what? Muvian Nobles were officers in the military and know how to use sky-chariots, which is awesome. I can see my character looking down upon armies clashing and directing troop movements, but just seeing dots. I add 2 to People, 2 to Will, and 2 to Machines.

Next I pick a Fate. This tells me which of the 20 Fated Witnesses I am, my special power (all the Fated are superlative in some way) and how I'll eventually die. I'll pick this randomly, but that means I have to pull the Major Arcana from the deck (less the Emperor, Empress, Tower, and Death). Just a moment. OK, I draw the World, which means I'm the Lover (and means that if I draw the Lovers or the World in a conflict, I automatically win).

The Lover is all about understanding people, spiritual joining, empathy. I die when I meet my true soulmate, and then we join into a Rebis and pass into the collective unconscious forever. That sounds nice. My Boon is that I can sway people's hearts, which in game terms means I can swap Relationships around. I can change friends to enemies and so forth. It's an interesting direction for this character, actually. Kinda like it. I get to add 3 to Hands, People, and Psychic.

Now I do Suits; Cups, Pentacles, Wands, and Swords, just like you'd expect. I get 20 points to divide between them (minimum 2, max 10). Let's see. If we figured that this game is starting off when my character is still a soldier or an officer, which I like, then Wands (violence and conflict) should be high. But as the Lover, I feel like Cups (fixing things, feelings) should be decent, too. I'll put 7 into Wands, 4 into Pentacles, 5 into Cups, and 4 into Swords.

Attributes, then. There are 9 of these. I start off with +5 in Will, +5 in People, +2 in Machines, +3 in Hands, and +3 in Psychic. And then I get 3 more points to put anywhere. Hmm. Well, I feel like I should be better physically, so I'll put them into Body.

I know magic, too, since I have points in Psychic. Magic is divided into 10 Techniques, but I can only take two of them (Vril and Qlippoth) if I know all the others, which I won't (I only get three since I have Psychic 3). Hmm. Well, because of how magic works, I want to pick Techniques that resonate with Suits I have good scores in, so that's Wands and Cups again. My four choices there are Harnessing (moving, controlling, contain elements); Withering (hurting living things); Nurturing (healing living things) or Unleashing (BOOM!).

I'll take Harnessing, Unleashing, and Nurturing. He doesn't have Withering because hurting people directly isn't his thing. Military action is all about making people dead, not killing people.

Finally, Relationships. This is neat: You've got 16 Relationship slots, and during the game, if you've got an open slot, when the GM introduces an NPC you can say "he's my Knight of Cups" or whatever and establish a preexisting relationship. I, as the Lover, can shuffle them around more than most characters, but I still start with three open Relationships. I have Page of Cups, Knight of Wands, and Knight of Pentacles open (which are a younger friend, a contemporary comrade, and a contemporary rival).

Neat! So now I just need a name. There's a handy list, and I like "Aumec."

So: Aumec is descended from a famous Muvian general named Myne. He was given his first command fairly young, and befriended the troops, inspiring (manipulating?) loyalty. His campaigns have been successful, large because his troops feel like they know him. His own cohort, as far as the love/sex/friendship thing that Muvians have going on, though, is with other officers. He's not opposed to fraternizing with the rank and file, but he needs to be able to send them to their deaths.

But now he's caught a glimpse of the future, and the future, for everyone, is death, fear, and pain. And he's not going to be riding the chariot when that happens, he'll be down among the troops, naked and bleeding, just like everyone else. And the thing he can't figure out is why that doesn't scare him, but rather, feels right.

That's me done, then!