Thursday, 8 November 2012

Player Characters

One of the few flaws of the Tekumel: Empire of the Petal Throne system is that character creation can be somewhat complicated for those not familiar with the system. This is especially the case if whoever is attempting to create a character is also unfamiliar with the setting as well.

This being the case with my players, I decided it would be simpler to get a rough idea of what kind of character they felt like playing (fighter, social type, etc) and then create the characters for them. Here, I give the backgrounds for the four PCs that I created for the campaign.

Although Tsodlan hiMarada was born into the prestigious White Stone Clan, that has always seemed to be the limit of his fortune in life. His birth was into a very minor and impoverished branch of the Clan, with no real wealth or influence to draw on. His appearance- broad-shouldered and with features best described as homely- was often mocked in childhood, where others would comment his mother must have lay down with some field-hand.

When he reached adulthood, it was agreed by both the Clan-elders and Tsodlan himself that the best course for him was to enter the Legions and bring glory to the Clan through faithful service. Alas, with his low lineage the inducements the Legion officers were offered on his behalf were less than impressive, and he found the best he could achieve was enlistment in the Legion of Lord Kurukaa in nearby Urmish. Whilst listed amongst the prestigious Heavy Infantry Legions which form the backbone of the Tsolyani Imperial armies, the Legion of Lord Kurukaa had long since gained a reputation as little better than a town garrison- poorly trained, corrupt and incompetent.

During his service with the Legion of Lord Kurukaa this began to change- but even that was no source of good fortune for Tsodlan hiMarada. The new Kerdu in command of the Legion, Giriga hiBeshmylu, was a member of the Red Mountain Clan and a devout worshipper of the war god Vimuhla the Flame, and determined to spread Vimuhla's worship in the Legion. Worshipping the wrong deity, lacking connections to the Red Clans of the West who were once again taking an interest in the Legion, and with no money for inducements, Tsodlan found himself still a lowly Tirrikamu after more than two decades of service.

Well into his forties with his vigor starting to fade and no prospect of promotion, Tsodlan finally decided that war was a young man's game and he was no longer young. He resigned from the Legion, returning to the rural Clan-house that was still his official home despite having spent most of his life in Urmish. Waiting for him there were the two wives his Clan had arranged marriages to, and those children he'd fathered on them in his infrequent stays there.

Both of them he'd married in his teens. The first was from a higher-status lineage inside the White Stone Clan, and had been promised to his lineage as part of a long-standing dynastic agreement- she's never been happy about marrying (as she sees it) beneath herself, and Tsodlan is the main focus of this ire. The second wife was promised him to cement a deal with the lower-status Green Kirtle Clan, she had ambitions to improve her lot and was bitterly disappointed to discover that despite his White Stone lineage, marriage to Tsodlan had done nothing of the sort for her. Both wives despise each other, and their long-running feud is one of the mainstays of life in the Clanhouse.

After six months back with his wives, Tsodlan hiMarada has begun to think that perhaps he's not that old after all, and is starting to look for any excuse to travel away from the Clanhouse for a very extended period of time. 

Kemuel hiMriyu was born into the White Stone Clan, in a rural Clan-house in the north-west of the Urudai province. Far from the main centres of White Stone power, the Clan-house had been established to oversee several concessions and holdings that the Clan had acquired in the area as a result of supporting the Red Clans of the west in the Bey Su political arena. The holdings in question were considerable enough that the White Stone Clan decided to build a Clan-house to manage them, instead of sub-contracting the work to some local Clan.

Opportunities have always been lacking for those born to the Clan-house- the Clan holdings are distant, so locally positions of influence are given to other Clans, whilst back toward the East the rest of the Clan gives preference to their own neighbours, not these distant cousins. The area is seen as a backwater in Clan affairs, and those resident in the Clan-house tend to live quiet lives of no consequence- something which Kemuel has never truly accepted.

All his short life, Kemuel has been a handful- some might say a bane- for the Clanhouse. Always impatient, outspoken, impulsive, this ill-disciplined brat has always refused to simply settle down and work at becoming a dutiful and productive Clan member. The Clan wished for him to learn to be a scribe, so that he could enter the Bureaucracy and establish a career there, but he refused to pay proper attention to these studies. Once puberty struck, he was far more attentive to certain aspects of the Theology of Dlamelish and Bednalljan accounts of the life of Queen Nayiri of the Silken Thighs, though never for the correct reasons.

Then, at the age of 13, he was taken to the Temple of Dlamelish at Urmish to experience manhood with the priestesses- and upon examining him, the High Priestess of the Temple declared that he had a truly potent Pedhetl. One that, unchannelled and uncontrolled, was causing the impulsiveness, restlessness and lechery that seemed to define him.

One that, if he was taught to harness it correctly, could make him one of the most potent Magicians of his generation.

Now his path in life seemed clear. Such a potentially mighty resource was of great value to the Clan, and certainly would elevate the status of the Clan-house that he came from. Letters were sent out, and more than a year of negotiations took place as correspondance travelled back and forth. Finally, it was decided (after much political bargaining) that he would be sent all the way to Sokatis, where the Clan controlled the Temple of Dlamelish, to join the Temple and learn the secrets of Sorcery.

Naturally, the discovery of his special status did nothing to change Kemuel's ways. Indeed, they simply added pride and arrogance to his list of faults. Sighing to themselves, the Elders of the Clan-house decided to leave the breaking of his precociousness to the Temple in Sokatis, and deemed themselves well-rid of him in exchange for more advantageous postings or marriages for other, more deserving, sons and daughters of the Clan-house.

The now 15-year-old Kemuel is now looking forward to the great adventure of crossing a great length of the Empire, during which he'll doubtless win great glory facing whatever threats will beset them and prove himself the true leader of the band. No matter what the babysitters the decrepit Elders have seen fit to saddle him with might think...

Gachaya hiKiriyayu hails from Bey Su- glorious Bey Su, the Soul of the World, the beating heart of the Empire. Born to one of the the most prestigious lineages of White Stone Clan, he lived a life of privilege and comfort. He grew up amidst the intrigue and pageantry of the greatest of cities, and learned well the ways of the court. His life seemed certain to be a noble and glorious one- but the seeds of his own downfall he laid himself.

Never content with less than the best, Gachaya found he needed more funds than the Clan would allot to him. He had sharp eyes and ears, and a true talent for intrigue- and soon, he learned the arts of blackmail. He would ferret out the secrets of others at his social level, build enough proof, and then quietly advise his target of what he had learned, and the price for his silence. Soon he had all he could wish for, but the game he played was always a dangerous one, and in the hotbed of intrigue that is Bey Su, there were many just as talented as he and far more experienced.

Growing overconfident in his early successes, Gachaya attempted to blackmail a member of the Vriddi Clan. Rather than submit to Gachaya's demands, the Vriddi called his bluff, publicly denying the accusations before Gachaya could even make them and calling his evidence forgeries. Of less exalted status than the Vriddi, the White Stone was forced to pay a not inconsiderable Shamtla to the Vriddi.

Following this, Gachaya hiKiriyayu found himself posted indefinitely to the most isolated rural holding the Clan could find. Thinking over and over on his mistakes, lacking anything better to do in his exile to the barbaric hinterlands, he now knows what it was that he did wrong. He knows what he should have done instead- and how he'll succeed when he finally gets the chance to start again. When he finally gets free of this bucolic hovel and back to civilisation.

After three years, he was beginning to think he was to live here forever. But then the most annoying brat in the Clan-house was declared to be a Great Mage, destined to wield the greatest of sorcerous power. Honestly, he feels that the local High Priestess of Dlamelish just doesn't know enough about real magic to see what a mistake she's made, but he doesn't care. Having spent the last year first convincing the Clan-house Elders he can help and then advising them on how to negotiate for the brat's placement, Gachaya is now finally going to escape this Hma-stinking prison.

Because no matter what he might have done before, he's politically knowledgeable and- more importantly- of a high enough lineage to tell the brat to shut up and behave to his face. Both things that the Elders deemed important in someone sent to accompany him to Sokatis.

Sirukel hiMriyu was always gregarious and quick-witted. Born in a rural White Stone Clanhouse, he grew up keen but restless, and by the time he reached adulthood he knew the life of a Bureaucrat or Priest wasn't for him. Never particularly strong and with an aversion to physical danger that led to him being taunted as a child, the Legions were never considered by Sirukel or his Clan-Elders. But the life of a travelling merchant, accompanying the Clan's caravans as they went West into Mu'ugalavya and beyond? That was the life he chose, and he thrived in it.

Whilst not comfortable with physical confrontation, he proved to have no problems with the other hardships of travel. He learned languages quickly, and people soon began to say that he could carry sand to Milumanaya and convince someone to buy it at a profit. He always had an eye for the main chance, keen to prove himself as something other than the failure his Clan-cousins in more Warlike or Scholarly careers had said he'd be. And for one so young, he's certainly gained a great deal of respect within his Clanhouse for the wealth he's always brought back.

On one trip, he brought back more than just wealth- somehow (Sirukel isn't too clear on how the strange barbarian code works here himself), when he bluffed a force of Mu'ugalavyani soldiers into not attacking the caravan, he saved the life of a young N'luss boy who had apparently been who they were looking for. The son of a chieftain who'd been taken as a hostage, the boy had been sneaking back home accompanied by a single loyal warrior. When the warrior reached his tribe, he declared himself in Sirukel's debt- and the N'luss has been following him ever since.

M'vekku might be as big as a Tsi'il, as hairy as a Hmellu and smell worse than both put together, but he's a truly dangerous warrior. More importantly, he speaks little Tsolyani and Sirukel is fairly fluent in N'lussa, so taken with his lack of knowledge of Tsolyani ways he doesn't seem to grasp how dangerous or illegal some of the things he's asked to do are.

The most dangerous thing Sirukel has had him do to date was only a month ago. Whilst on the way back from his last trading expedition, Sirukel stumbled on a broken-wheeled Chlen-cart hidden just off the Sakbe road- and the Sarku Temple guards who'd hidden it there. Clearly, they didn't want anyone to find the cart before the next one came, leading him to suspect something less than legal might be inside it. When M'vekku came looking for him, Sirukel panicked and told the N'luss to kill the guards, who he was fearful were considering silencing him.

Searching the cart, Sirukel found strange implements, scrolls and components clearly of sorcerous purpose. Taking what seemed most valuable and portable, he told M'vekku to sneak back and set fire to the cart and bodies when they left the area. Now he has a small fortune in Kaitars he can't explain to the Clan, and several items he doesn't know the function of that he could sell for more. Arriving home, he hears of a Clan-cousin being sent to Sokatis, of all places. The other side of the Empire sounds good right now- he can sell the items there, and then claim the money he comes back with is from some venture in Sokatis- it's not like they talk to the Clan-house there on a regular basis, after all.

And in the event that the Temple of Sarku is somehow looking for him, the trail will go cold before he's home. But really, there's no chance the Temple could have any idea where the items are, is there?

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant bios ... and an inspiring approach to creating PCs for players. Lots for them to think about right from the get-go.
    - alx