Nobilis is a role-playing game created by R. Sean Borgstrom in which the player characters are "Sovereign Powers" called Nobilis; each Nobilis is the personification of an abstract concept or class of things such as time, death, cars or communication. Unlike most roleplaying games, Nobilis does not use dice or other random elements to determine the outcome of characters' actions, but instead uses a Karma-based system for task resolution.


Nobilis draws on many sources, including Christianity and Norse mythology, but adds numerous unique details to its setting. Though the everyday world in the game appears much like our own, it is actually only the Prosaic Earth, a lie that the world told to itself in a desperate attempt to explain suffering, and a rationalized delusion which conceals the true reality that would plunge most mortals into madness: the Mythic Earth, an animistic world where everything has its own sentient spirit. In the Mythic, the earth is really flat, and hangs somewhere among the vast boughs of the "world-tree," Yggdrasil. Countless worlds dot the branches of this world-tree, but at the top is Heaven, which is inaccessible to all but the angels (only one human soul in a billion is not turned away) and is the source of all beauty. Beneath the earth, in the roots of Yggdrasil, is Hell, the source of all corruption. Around Yggdrasil, except above heaven (where it is open to the stars), is a mystical impenetrable curtain of blue flames known as the Weirding Wall.

Every class of objects and every concept is represented by a being of god-like power known as an Imperator. Each Imperator may govern from one to several of these Estates, and has effectively limitless control over them. The Imperators are engaged in a deadly struggle with the Excrucians, terrible beings from outside the Weirding Wall who wish to destroy reality; this struggle is known as the Valde Bellum. This war keeps Imperators busy in the Spirit World, so in order to maintain their affairs on Earth and in the other worlds they invest a shard of their soul in a human (or occasionally another animal or object), creating a Nobilis. Each Nobilis represents one of the Imperator's Estates; the group of Nobilis this forms, known as a Familia Caelestis, is typically loyal, both to each other and their Imperator.

The Imperator Lord Entropy oversees the actions of the Nobilis and enforces the Code Fidelitatis, the five laws he has established for them, in his Locust Court. The most notable and notorious of these, and the one most often broken, is the Windflower Law which states that no Noble is allowed to love another being. Ironically, Nobilis can turn other humans into Anchors, whose every action they can control, but in order to do this they must first love or hate the person.

To protect their physical forms from the ravages of the Valde Bellum, Imperators take a part of reality and partition it off into a self-contained, unique world which can take any form. This world, called a Chancel, both houses their physical bodies and is a spiritual reflection of it. Much like in the myth of the Fisher King, if the Imperator suffers, so does their Chancel.

Flowers have great significance to the Nobilis and their Imperators; earthly flowers are reflections of their heavenly counterparts and each has a meaning. For example, the gamemaster is known as the Hollyhock God because, in the world of Nobilis, hollyhocks represent vanity and ambition. This is because, according to the in-game story, the angels used flowers as a tool to control and direct the brunt of their powers when they created Reality. Each Nobilis and Imperator has a flower that represents them, and flowers are often used in their magical rites.



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