Nobilis Game 1

This page looks at the first Nobilis story to be played out, with me, Simon as GM - in Nobilis terms I am the Hollyhock God. I've put together a whole bunch of ideas, much of it summarised under pages for The Imperator and The Chancel, but much more kept secret. For the sake of simplicity (Nobilis looks daunting enough) I've set the main story in and around Chester. Our protagonists are:

Session 1 - GM's perspective:

We still had a few odds and ends to tie up, so to get into the game as soon as possible I tried to get the characters to introduce themselves to each other, and work out their roles in The Chancel. To be honest I'd not got much further in terms of creating a story than working up the background for the players and creating a whole bunch of NPCs for them to interact with. So from this point on I had to improvise a fair bit around the penciled in ideas. Once the scene of the Chancel had been set, and the characters took to certain aspects of their role, The Power of Evolution decided she'd got questions to ask of The Imperator. As if in response a door opened in her library of records to invite her into The Imperator's room. Simultaneously doors opened in the temple where 'Faith' was meditating, and at the 'base' of the waterfall, near where the three were.

Once they'd all stepped into the pitch black chamber, The Imperator appeared, his pale mask hovering in the dark, someone suggesting out-of-character not entirely unlike The Wizard of Oz. After Evolution had addressed The imperator with her questions, he/she/it queried them all about how their Estates were in the world, then asked about The Chancel and The Chancelfolk. Underdog conversed all this time through his thoughts, despite The Imperator's replies and questions remaining voiced. Finally The Imperator asked directly if the Powers knew anything of the Chancelfolk figure known as Eddie, who was now absent from The Chancel.

The Powers were assigned the task of retrieving Eddie from the real world. Stepping through a doorway into modern day Chester, next to the famous Eastgate Clock, Felines immediately picked up a trail, invoking both the memories of neighbourhood cats and his uncanny sense of smell. Pain followed, at a slower pace (he walks with a cane). Faith and Evolution meanwhile detoured to a nearby bookshop, where Faith bought a book containing the works of M.C. Escher. Underdog meanwhile turned into a raven and tried to get a birds eye view of the city.

Felines followed the trail, which met up with the scent of a Power and mingled with it, all the way to the Queen's Hotel, opposite Chester Station. He set a cat on guard, and sent others to fetch his fellow Powers, whilst he investigated further, the trail leading into a lift and down to the basement, where it seemed to end. Outside Underdog bothered the cat on guard, then gave it a nod 'hello'.

Once everyone had arrived, Underdog posed as a stuffed raven upon Faith's shoulder, to the surprise of some of the staff (who could've sworn they'd seen the bird flapping around outside). The two of them went upstairs, prompted by Faith's idea to pick a name at random out of the guest book. This led them to the room of Frankie Benjamin, a relatively minor stand-up comic. Underdog turned into a mouce, then a spider and ascertained that the comedian was in his room, and asleep, but discovered little else.

Meanwhile Evolution detected a magical portal within 30ft of the lift, whilst Felines guessed it might be the mirrored pannel at the back of it. After Felines fetched the others, Evolution opened a gateway into… another lift. Stepping through, the Powers once more split up. Evolution, Pain and Felines stepped into 'the basement' an earthy tunnel leading off into the darkness, whilst Faith and Underdog went up to check the ground floor foyer, full of people that seemed more caricature than normal humans do, as well as people wandering around with animal heads! They quickly returned to their friends back in the basement. Neither of them had tracked down where the scent went from the lift.

The Powers headed along the passage to a door, where there was a faint but constant 'snapping' noise on the other side… …fnapp! …fnapp! …fnapp!

The session ended there.

I've been checking over a few ideas I've had since, especially how I can reign in some of the more dramatic characters and allow some of the more subtle ones a chance to get a piece of the action. I've discovered Felines shouldn't have been able to detect the trail of another Power so easily, unless that Power was performing miracles at the time. So I've decided he was. I've also had a bit more time to review motivations and abilities of the NPCs involved, so I should be able to get things going pretty quickly next time…

Session 2 - GM's perspective:

We left off at the player characters at the end of a tunnel, hearing a 'fnapping' noise on the other side of a door. Knocking on the door gets a "Come in" response. The Nobles do so, find themselves looking into a small room, with blank white walls and a single light hanging over a table where an old white bearded man sits, wearing robes of white and red, laying out cards one at a time (fnapp! fnapp! fnapp!) on the table in front of him. The old man invites the Nobles to sit down whilst he continues laying cards. "Patience?" the Power of Pain guesses from the layout, but then the old man turns the page, and reveals the top most cards of each stack, which are in fact Tarot cards. The Fool, the Nine of Swords, the Star, the Moon and the Earth cover the first column to fifth respectively, each having one extra card hidden behind it from left to right. Asking each Noble to select 'their' card (and the appropriate pile), Underdog selects The Fool. Evolution selects the Earth. Pain selects the Nine of Swords. Faith takes The Moon and Felines takes The star, these two piles left unclaimed.

The old man askes them what they read into the cards, and they each attempt to give some sort of answer, some reading a lot more into the images than others. As they draw to an end of their conclusions, or failure to reach one, the old man takes back the cards, to murmers of the cards being pretty much rubbish or fanciful ideas. The old man laughs, explaining that the cards are exactly what they are - randomly selected pictures into which people can project their own meanings. In reading their own cards they have told him something about himself. Underdog counters that he hasn't, that his choice of card didn't reflect anything of his personality (Andy points out this is the first time Underdog has actually spoken in-game). The old man suggests then that he should perhaps not have shown his hand so soon, having kept it hid so well up til then, suggesting that he might well be a Fool on some level after all.

There is a little banter on names, where most of the Nobles give their human titles, and the old man explains that his Estate has already come up in conversation, mentioned by Pain. 'Formalities' over, the old man explains they need to return the way they came and into the Hotel proper. He explains that it is a Mr T that has caught up with Eddie, unfortunately before he had the chance…

The players return to the lift, and take it to the floor where, on the other side of the mirror, Faith and Underdog had found the room of the sleeping comedian. As soon as the lift doors open, it is apparent that the floor is crawling with kids running around and playing games. Pain asks a passing kids whether he's seen Eddie, but the response isn't the most helpful. They wander to the appropriate room, where they find a young boy sitting alone on a bed, bouncing up and down. Evolution tries to be friendly and question him about Eddie, but he seems to be stubbornly rude, refusing to give a positive answer ro anything. Faith checks out a calender, which shows Queens Hotels from around the world, and Pain looks out the window, to see the hotel surrounded by a garden, at its base, and thick forest beyond the edge of the garden, as far as the eye can see…

Having got no answers from the kid, the Underdog decides to turn into a dog and track down Eddie's scent. Investigations eventually lead to the roof, where a gateway shimmers a glowing sky-blue, and the smell of salt water whafts through. Stepping through, one at a time, the Nobles find the gateway on a small rock connected, by stepping stones, to a jungly island, a lone look-out spotted by the quick witted Nobles before he sees them.

The Underdog prepares to sneak across to the island, but Felines bounds into the jungle, catching the guy and pinning him to the ground. As he tells the man that he's quite welcome to scream until his throat goes raw, Pain and Evolution go to join him, and they discover a little more about the 'Mr T' character (he wears a top hat and a coat bulging with knick-knacks) as well as a person they call 'The Smoking Man' and the explaination that 'The Captain' takes visitors to from the island and to the giant stone head in the centre of the Chancel. Meanwhile Faith and Underdog instead follow the beach around the jungle. Until, that is, the look-out's friends begin to turn up, obviously a bunch of pirates intent on killing the Nobles.

Pistol fire sends Evolution and Pain diving for cover, whilst Felines jumps aside, grabs a bullet from thin air, then rushes over to knock the pirates senseless one at a time. Simultaneously, Underdog changes shape again, flying over the fight, then turning and flying as an eagle towards the small town visible on the far side of the island. Meanwhile Faith walks straight for the fight and then in the direction of where reinforcements are running. Catching a pirate off-guard, he orders him to take them to their town. Other pirates are unable to meet his gaze whilst they attempt to fire upon him, clipping his guide on the shoulder, but not killing him. Evolution toughens her skin to a carapace just in case.

Once everyone reaches the pirate town, where the Captain's ship is due to return, they order their captive to row out to meet it. He is granted a ghost miracle that helps him overcome his pain, and soon the ship is in sight. Underdog decides to slip away into the sea as a fish, where he investigates the ship (it's not quite wooden, not quite shell). Meanwhile, Felines decides to jump up onto the ship, guised as a pirate. The Captain however, recognises him for a Noble, and addresses him as such, inviting the others on board. Unfortunately, in jumping from the small boat, Felines has upset it slightly, and Pain has been tipped into the water, as has the pirate, although Underdog prevents him escaping.

Pain and evolution join Felines as guests of The Captain, as it returns to the island to restock and refuel. Meanwhile, Faith orders his pirate captive to keep rowing for the stone head, giving him the faith to do so. Furthermore, Henry's character has swum to the ginat stone head at the centre of the Chancel, looking much like a giant stone Buddha that is just visible above the ocean. Assuming the shape of a bat, he flies into the head, and begins to explore…

Faith is the next to arrive, but after much time (I've decided that Underdog has learnt little during this time). And a while after that, The Captain and hius guests arrive at the head. His guest have been the perfect guests, choosing not to leave the comfort of the Captain's room to explore the ship, and simply conversing with him, to ask what they know about Mr T ("The Power of Necessity"), the Smoking Man (who only ever takes the trip to the island, not the journey to the head) and Eddie ("there was a fellow called Edward with them, yes!"). They arrive sson after Faith (presumably The Captain has powers over the ship that defy the rowing speed of the pirate and the swimming of the Underdog, although time seems to pass strangely here - the Underdog has only tracked down Faith in the dark nasal region when The Captain's ship arrives.

The Captain lays down a plank from his boat to allow the Nobles access to the giant head via the right ear. This takes them to a door, which in turn takes them to a staircase, which leads to a domed cavern in the middle of the head, where they are quickly joined by Faith and the Underdog. Exploring further towards the back of the head they find stairs leading up and down. Having not discovered anything of interest upstairs when flying through the head as a bat, the Underdog suggests going further down. The stairs lead to a corridor where heading towards the back of the head leads to a t-junction, turning towards the front leads to a door. This door leads into a second domed room, presummably beneath the other one, but here there is a large circular machine, what appears to be a large turbine opr engine, around which are set up maybe 50 pods in which people are lying, cryogenically preserved, comatose, something… they all appear to be in contemporary dress…

It is here we leave it for the grand finale, a climatic battle which I've got loosely planned…

What can I say about this session? One - that I'm finding it a little difficult with the mainly free-form nature of the rules - plus with it being written as it is, it's hard to pin down details, such as what sort of protection the Spirit trait offers, or whether mortal weapons can harm Nobles. This leads to tissue two - can anything pose a threat to the characters? I've created two Chancels through which the characters have been exploring, and they've bumped into two Powers and a Chancel Warden so far, but in each of these cases it's been as a non-combatant - more of a plot device. Two other Powers have been mentioned, and I've got a handful that haven't been mentioned at all yet to whom the stone head is home, and who are due to be the main adversaries in the final scene. The thirs issue is that Felines has got Aspect 4, which gives him the ability to do or think things many times better than a human - so I've got a character logically deducing amazing things, jumping vast distances, all at a bit of cost to the adventure and the involvement of other players, and yet it's all perfectly legal by character creation rules.

All in all I'm not familiar enough with the rules or the setting to do it on the fly as I'd like. Nor do I really have the time to sit down and write adventures. Gah!

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