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Merits and Flaws
Here is a non-exhaustive list of merits and flaws, to which you may apply your 25 development points. If you feel there are other merits or flaws your character should possess, please speak to a GM.
Merits in basic attributes provide a basic statistical overview of your characters. All characters are assumed to be average in all abilities, unless they spend points to improve-in other words, average cost is 0 development points. Basic abilities work on a scale of:
Good, Excellent and Superb are achievable human limits, while Legendary attributes are superhuman and subject to restrictions. First, you may have no more than one Legendary basic attribute. Also, any Legendary attributes require some explanation in your character sheet as to how you became so skilled. Please also note that 'Legendary' does not, despite the descriptions, guarantee that you are well-known, only that you are capable of doing things that remarkably.
Your physique and physical good looks.
Your power and might.
Your reactions, reflexes, accuracy and balance.
Your resistance to pain and your endurance
Your ability to think, reason, learn, understand, retain and recall information.
Your charisma and persuasive powers to beguile those around you
Basic flaws are attributes that will hamper your character. Flaws give you points depending on the level of the flaw you take:
Generally flaws will only return a maximum of 3 points, as any worse a flaw would seriously hamper normal player activity. If you would like a Legendary -5dp flaw, please consult a GM with a clear description of what the flaw is and how it will affect your character.
Note also that these flaws must be roleplayed: the GMs reserve the right to take points away from you if you fail to act suitably feeble, clumsy, and especially tactless.
Your general bad looks (note: NOT including physical deformities - see 'Quirk' flaws)
Your weakness in mind and soul, including cowardice, or pusillanimity
Your physical lack of balance, skill, precision, and slow reflexes
Your weakness in body, lack of endurance
Your social ineptitude, ability to unintentionally insult others
Your inability to think, reason, learn retain and recall information
Social merits and flaws describe advantages or disadvantages that your character may have within the relatively rigid class structure of Shalazar. They can describe your rank in political and religious circles, or within the Visible and Invisible Universities, or they can allow for wealth and influence within the city of Shalazar.
Please note that certain of these merits may be required as part of your character background. For instance, if you wish to be a trader in a great family, a Family Status merit will be required, as will Wealth Merits for traders or moneylenders. The final social merits required will be agreed with your GMs.
Wealth (1 to 5 dp)
This merit represents your general wealth-how much money, land, and equipment you will be allowed to possess. This wealth is your personal wealth, not associated with you membership in a family or other occupation. PCs wanting more than Aristocrat-level wealth should take rank in a Great Family. While the Wealth merit will be somewhat fluid, and can mean different things for different people (a sorcerer may require his solitary tower, while a Steward may be more suited to a small palace), wealth is as always the great form of fungible power: you may not be able to do anything with it, but you can purchase those who can…
Family membership (0 dp)
Other skills notwithstanding, social status is conferred by belonging to a family. Family attachments can bring you honour, contacts, social privileges, and access. However, your family status also requires you to uphold the standing of the house. Those who bring opprobrium upon their name can be kicked out of a Great House, or even a smaller one. Unless a character takes the No Family merit below, all characters are assumed to belong to a Great Family, although they may have no family Rank. Being part of a Family is a considerable responsibility, and characters must uphold the name and honour of their ancestry.
No Family (1 dp):
You have no family-perhaps you were an orphan, the son or daughter of a concubine, or for some other reason have grown up without a family name. While there is no one to help you, you have no elderly aunts to boss you around. You may take no more than 3 points in any Influence, however, and may not have any political rank at court. Please note that all characters inShalazar: Gathering of Storms are presumed to have sufficient social standing to attend Court functions--anyone taking this merit should have either the Speaks with the Voice merit or the Presumed Authority flaw.
Great Family Rank (1 to 3 points)
You have a certain standing within your Great Family. Characters with this merit will control sections of their Great Family's businesses and empires, and will be closely affected by the waxing (and waning) of their family's fortunes. This merit is almost a precondition for serious political rank. Note that PCs with greater rank within a Great Family will be able to expect loyalty from others within the Family (including other PCs): if given an order by a superior in a Great Family, you will be expected to obey (or suffer the wrath of your kin). Similarly, those of greater rank will be expected to protect and guide their more 'junior' family members.
Religious rank (1 to 5 points)
The Shaliqar faith is one of self-sacrifice and vigilance, but it is also one of the certain paths to power for second-daughters, the thoroughly devout, and men who want influence and are willing to put up with the entry requirements-becoming a eunuch. (Please note no man may take more than 1 point in this merit.)
Political rank (2 to 5 points)
This merit covers general positions that one may have outside the Military, the Academies, the Temples-these are the political appointments primarily associated with the Calipha's court. With the dissolution of many Great Families, there are a large number of Court Nobles who do not belong to any of the current Great families. Like Great Family Rank, Political Rank provides you with a number of free points in Influence equivalent to your ranking.
The Great Families influence almost every aspect of the daily lives of Shalazar, from the delivery of grain to market to expeditions to find lost treasures. Little of consequence occurs within their territory, or rather, if they don't know about it, it probably isn't of consequence. Having a Great Family supporting you in an action makes that action more visible, but also far more likely to succeed: manpower or equipment that is needed is more easily available, funding can be secured more quickly, and that little scrap of information that means the difference between success or failure may find its way to your ears.
In Shalazar, this effect is represented by the Influence merit. Each turn, you may assign points of influence to your turnsheet actions to aid in their success: this represents calling in minor favours, making requests, and in general calling upon friends to help you. Note that influence will not make an impossible plan work, but it will determine how easy or difficult it is to achieve degrees of success.
Points in influence are gained in two ways. First, you get an equal amount of influence in your own family to you levels of Rank. These free influence points must be allocated to your Great Family. (Similarly, you get an equivalent number of points to your Political Rank in Court Influence.)
Influence can also be bought separately from rank, either within your own Great Family or within another. This costs one point for every level of Influence in your great family, or two points for every level outside it. However, you may never have more than three points in influence in any one family other than your own (for which the maximum is five). For the purposes of influence, the Calipha's Court is considered a great family.
The effects of influence are strongly affected by the Standing of the family involved: families with greater standing are more effective supporters, while those whose standing is waning will normally be more concerned with internal problems.
Influence cannot be used to do something you would not otherwise be able to do: if you do not have magical skills, it will not make you better at casting spells. Similarly, if you are trying to perform some act of treachery or secrecy, influence will be of limited effect. When it comes to actions that require organisation, planning, or palm-greasing, however, Influence will often be a deciding factor.
Flaw: Untrusted/Untrained (1-5 pt. flaw)
Characters who have Influence tied to their Great Family Rank can reduce their effective influence through the Untrusted or Untrained flaws. This means that their Great Family outwardly gives them respect and follows their orders, but that others within the family are looked to for leadership. An example of this would be a particularly young an untried Emira, or a Chamberlain to the Grand Vizier who is known to be dishonest or feeble-minded.
Speaks with the Voice (1-3dp)
While you do not have significant authority in and of yourself, you are the representative of a powerful personage: perhaps an uncle too decrepit to represent himself; an old and malevolent dragon; or a wizard dwelling deep in the desert who needs someone to tend to his mundane affairs. This merit will allow you to participate in court life, and unless you state otherwise, you will be assumed to be on good terms with your patron.
Presumed Authority (-2dp)
You are in some way an imposter: you claim to represent someone who doesn't exist, you claim to have a title which is not rightfully yours, or you pretend to have power and ability that you lack. This is enough to open social doors for you, and allow you to be accepted in the company of the Great Families--but if you are ever found out, you will be ridiculed and quite possibly attacked by those whom you have made feel like fools.
Order of Kal'Nayak Rank
The Order of Kal'Nayak is a powerful and politically independant organisation, devoted to finding and destroying demons. Its members must be very devout men, and are generally scholars or warriors.
Academic rank (1 to 3 points)
Members of the Visible College receive training in the various sciences and alchemical arts, and have access to the secrets within them. The College, being mainly a male domain, is jealous of its political prerogatives and plays a considerable part in the rivalries between the Great Families. Many men become students at the college as it provides an accepted place in society for unmarried men.
Alchemist's Guild rank (1 to 3 points)
The Alchemist's guild is the foremost and only organisation of Alchemists in the Caliphate. It has an effective monopoly on the production of alchemical goods, and controls the Honorable Company of Messagers, and the Transport Cartel.
Honorable Messager (1dp)
You are a sworn member of the Honorable Company of Messagers. You are a trusted carrier of important messages, and can get access to a carpet that will carry you alone to any city in the Caliphate. You must pay annual dues to the Guild of Alchemists.
Allies and servants (1 to 5 points)
You have a number of skilled allies or servants, depending on the points spent. These allies will be loyal, although not mindlessly so. They can either be servants belonging to yourself (or your wife or family), or boon friends and companions. As a rule of thumb, for every one point spent in this merit, your ally will have 2 development points. However, they also have their own needs and desires: PCs attempting to use this merit to gain extra development points will be stomped on mercilessly.
Favour (2 or more dp)
Someone powerful owes you a favour. Think of who it might be. Note that this will not be the kind of favour that they will die for, but grudgingly or otherwise they'll intercede on your behalf at some point in the future.
Favours of this level are generally backed by Oaths, taken before a Priestess, or in important cases, in the Great Temple themselves. The clergy, who will testify before the Council of Elders if an oath is broken, records them. The punishment for this is generally severe, up to and including the enslavement of the debtor.
You are someone whose words are listened to. What you say is often picked up on by the gossip networks of the city, and spread. Additionally you have your own ear to the ground, and are often the first to pick up on other people's tales.
As a merit, this allows you to write articles for the news, within reason--some stories are so incredible that, even in Shalazar, no one will believe them. However, this news is gossip, not dogma, and the GMs reserve the right to present the story in the news after it has been 'altered' by the passing of many lips. As a flaw, gossipmonger works in much the same way--however, the player will be required to write one short (50 word) article for the news every turn for each point taken, and they must be about events with some grain of truth to them. After all, few perpetual liars ever get by as gossipmongers for long. Also remember that your gossip might be traced back to you, so mentioning specific and powerful people can be a dangerous (and lucrative) game.
If you take this as a flaw, please link an equivalent number of merits to it: if you should skip writing your gossip on time, these merits will disappear.
Fame (2 dp)
You are well-known for something. Even if you aren't necessarily the best at it, most people believe you are. Of course, if you can't back it up, your fall may be as meteoric as your rise….
Far-Traveller (2 dp)
You have been far from the city of Shalazar, perhaps as a sailor or pirate, or a member of a Caravan. (This is a common merit for the Jerezad.) You know a good deal about the ways of getting from place to place, and a number of things about foreign lands. For more detailed information, a the Lore merit will be required.
Characters without wealth are assumed to have enough money to secure food and housing. You, on the other hand, cannot be certain where your next meal will come from, are charitably described as 'of no fixed abode', and (if you are of the Shaliqar faith) are the object of charity and derision. Don't take this flaw if you want to buy anything.
Outcast (-2 if shunned/-5 if banished)
Your character is regarded as a pariah, beyond the bounds of polite discourse. Perhaps you masqueraded as a woman and have been castrated in punishment; maybe you work in a 'dirty' profession, such as an executioner. In any event, for -2 points you will be looked upon as the lowest of the low-even slaves will consider you contemptible. For -5 points, you have actually been banished from the lands of Shalazar, or would be executed if you were discovered. (Necromancers and Demonologists must have this flaw.) Note that the Disguised merit will be almost de rigueur if you are to show up at meetings.
Social stigma (-2 if unknown, -4 if known)
Something in your past is socially awkward, and you have tried to hide it, although you may have failed. Perhaps you were a female courtesan who was kicked out when your master took a wife; perhaps you were a petty criminal; or perhaps you have been branded for your almost heretical views. Whatever, anyone with good social standing will shun you if they know about your past.
Yildun (0dp, +1 pt. to Court Influence)
You belong to the Great Family of the Yildun, well-known for their devotion to Shaliq, though some would say zealotry. You are watched by them, and judged to a higher standard. If you fail this standard, you may be sent packing from the House, disgraced, dishonoured-and you will almost certainly not make it out unscathed. It is said that within the cities they control (and even, on occasion, within their palaces in Shalazar itself, although the Calipha frowns upon this) outcasts have their eyes or their hands or their tongue taken from them before being expelled. This family looks down upon physical excess, romantic indulgences, social deviancy, heterodox ideologies, and almost anything enjoyable.
The Yildun have recently become quite influential at Court, however, and gain one free point of influence.
Beholden or Oath (-2 to -5)
You owe someone favours-and that someone is powerful enough to make sure you come through on them. The punishments for failing to pay these debts are severe, as described under the Favour merit above.
Magical merits are divided by the type of magic practiced by the PC. Click here from information on types of magic.
Sorcery relies on the learning of spells for the power they grant. Spells are measured on the following scale:
Any character can purchase two cantrips for 1dp. Alternatively they may purchase a rank in sorcery, as follows:
Each rank allows a PC to take up to 5 spell points worth of sorcerous spells, and permits learning of spells of that level or lower. It is additionally necessary to learn Arcane Lore to 1 rank lower to be able to learn spells of a given rank.
We are not providing a table of spells, though some examples will be available. Discuss with a GM what areas of magic you wish to have studied, and we will provide you with your spells.
Invisible College Member (3dp)
You are an alumnus of the Invisible College, and entitled to bear the heptagonal medallion thereof. You must be a full magus (Level 3) to qualify for this honour. Members of the institution are relied upon to be free from the taints of necromancy and demonology. They also have access to the laboratories and libraries of the college, to aid them in their researches.
Social Stigma: Known Mage (-1)
This flaw must be taken by any character who is known to be a magus. It will cause him to be treated with suspicion, especially by strict priestesses.
Magical Laboratory (2dp)
You own a laboratory suitable for magical research. This may be at your private residence if you possess such, or any other suitable location. Its existance and location are known, and people may check up on your researches.
Secret Laboratory (4dp)
You possess a laboratory, but you have managed to conceal it from the world. In it you may work as you see fit, without to much worry about prying eyes.
Mystic Library (2dp)
You possess or have access to a library of tomes suitable for assisting you in magical research. This merit costs only 1dp for members of the Bookwala who wish to use the old Ashkenz library in Amarat.
2. Calling upon the Djinn
Commanding the Djinn
Characters can purchase any number of points worth of Djinn that they have under their command. The command can be by means of an artifact of power, like a magic ring, or by knowing the secret rites that summon and command a djinn.
Befriending the Djinn
Alternatively, for half the cost of the above, the character can be acquainted with the Djinn, and have some means of getting its attention. Other merits, such as Charm and Genie Lore, and considerable roleplaying will be required to persuade it to do things for you.
3. Alchemy and Other Forms of Mystic Artifice
Characters can purchase ranks in the various schools of alchemy as follows:
The principle kinds of alchemy taught in Shalazar are as follows:
A character's rank in a given form of alchemy determines how complex an alchemical ritual he is able to perform, and also acts as a Lore in the field.
4. Astrology and Other Divinatory Arts
Characters can purchase ranks in Astrology as follows:
Other forms of divination work similarly, although the titles are different. Common forms of Divination, and the kind of predictions in which that form specialises, include;
A character's rank in a given Divinatory art determines the general accuracy of their predictions, but even the greatest of mortal diviners is fallible.
True Prophet (1 dp)
True prophesy comes from Shaliq and cannot be commanded. A character may also take the True Prophet merit, which means that they have at some point been the recipient of a true prophesy.
Characters can purchase ranks as Necromancers as follows:
Each rank allows you to take five levels worth of necromantic spells, and permits learning of spells of that level or lower. It is additionally necessary to learn Arcane Lore to 1 rank lower to be able to learn spells of a given rank. Note that the casting of many necromantic spells, especially those of major, greater and legendary power, is punishable by burning at the stake, and hence all necromancers (2+ ranks) are obliged to take the Outcast Flaw at -5 points. Grave-robbers can take the Outcast flaw at -2 points.
Characters can spend points on their degree of contact with their patron demon as follows:
Discuss with a GM the nature of the demon you wish to serve. All Demonologists (2+ ranks) are obliged to take the Outcast flaw, and most should strongly consider taking the Oath flaw to represent the unholy pact they have entered into. (In this case, however, the Oath is obviously not witnessed in the Great Temple.)
7. Primitive Magics
If you are interested in being a magic-wielder from the lands outside the Caliphate, talk to a GM. The main varients of outland magic are:
Lore merits represent of knowledge, ranging from 1 dp for minor study to 5 dp for world authority.
An example Lore merit would be Punt Lore (knowledge of the Jungles of Punt):
Examples of lores are below but if there is an area of knowledge in which you would like to specialise, come and talk to us and we will consider it. (Numbers in parentheses represent the highest number a PC may start out with in the first game.)
Your character can have military-based stats in up to three different areas. These are Personal Heroism, Ownership of an Army, and Tactical Skill. Characters are assumed to have no fighting or military based ability unless they spend points on it. The points are allocated on a scale of 1 dp to 5dp, 5 dp being the highest level. Military flaws have a limit of -3 dp. If anyone would like a serious military flaw of above this level, please consult a GM.
1. Personal Heroism
This stat indicates your character's individual abilities as a fighter. It includes basic armed and unarmed fighting: however, if you would like to specify a fighting style or weapon, please consult a GM. This may affect the outcome of fights and duels in the game e.g. a character who specialises in Scimitar combat will best a non-specialist in a duel.
2. Ownership of an Army
This stat determines the size of your army. Again, if you would like your army to specialise in a particular fighting style or weapon, please consult a GM. The flaws of this stat come in the form of the loyalty and skill of your troops.
3. Tactical Skill
This stat determines your skills as a military commander, both in tactics and in commanding your troops. (Note: be VERY wary of asking for a huge, yet mutinous army, and then expecting a high tactical score to overcome your troops' flaws: this will almost certainly not lead to success) Flaws in this stat relate to your battle record and reputation as a commander, but do not imply that you have any idea how bad you actually are.
It is possible that some characters may have a leaning towards the less than legal and so may have been involved in one or more of the following careers for some portion of their lives. Each career can be bought for one point per level, up to a maximum of five levels. Note that any given character may have a combination of these careers: for instance, a spy might be a superlative Con-Man (at level four) and a decent Burglar (at level 2). If there are other careers you think might fit in this category, please contact a GM. An example of skill levels for the career of Burglary would be:
The following merits and flaws represent things your characters may not know about or understand at the beginning of the game, but may become relevant as play progresses. Each of them are relevant to plots or actors in the game, although they may not be relevant to a specific character, even if they are chosen. In essence, they're pot-luck, and if you like that sort of thing, go for it.
Blessed Blood (1 dp)
Your blood is somehow blessed. This may or may not help you, but certainly does not mean you must be of good moral character.
Accursed Blood (-3 dp)
Your blood is cursed-this will have some ramifications for your character of which you may or may not be aware. Again, it has no effect on your morality, but please check with a GM before taking this flaw as it may affect your other decisions.
Fate (1 to 3 points)
You were born under a particularly auspicious star. While this merit will cost you between one and three points, you will gain approximately three times the value of this merit in additional merits or other 'good things' at some point during the game (supposing you survive). It will not act as a 'get out of jail free' card, but is certain to bring some sort of luck or added ability. The GMs promise that this will be relevant to a plot, although given the large uncertainty involved in any roleplaying game, do not guarantee that you will uncover how it is related. Caveat emptor.
Dark Fate (-3 points)
Something dark is likely to happen to you during the game. The masochists among you can take this flaw, but be prepared: the GMs will create an element of background of which you will almost certainly be unaware, and from that point on, the clock is ticking. Your fate will hunt you like a nemesis, and you may not find out how until it is too late. You may manage to avoid your fate, but we will certainly not tell you what it is, and it will be unpleasant when you find it.
Pot Luck Mysterious Quirk (0 points)
If you take this merit, the GMs may or may not assign some random bit of strangeness to your PC. Not an extra leg, but something odd that your character does not know about. It might be good (a long lost rich uncle) or bad (an uncanny fated link to a necromancer)--you don't know.
True Prophecy (1 to 5dp) or (-1 to -5dp)
A true prophecy has been made about your fate. It WILL come true. However, while you can suggest the basic nature of the prophecy, the precise wording is up to the GM's and their interpretation of it is final.
Eunuch (-1, only for males)
You have been castrated, and have a high, whiny voice.
Disguised (3 dp)
For some reason, you don't want others to know who you really are. This merit allows you to start the game without the burden of your true identity.
Cursed (-2 to -4 dp)
You're cursed, either for something you did or because someone was angry with your family. Perhaps the curse can be removed, but you don't know how-and it will be very expensive…
True Love (1 dp (PC-chosen love)/-1 dp (GM-chosen love))
You have a true love, who may or may not love you in return. This makes you vulnerable to the Lost Love flaw, below. If you take this as a flaw, the GMs will choose the object of your affections.
Lost Love (-2 dp)
You have a lost or doomed love: perhaps he or she is dead, or perhaps they are married or otherwise beyond your grasp. In any event, you have an overriding hatred for whoever took them from you, and if that person ever finds out, they will hunt you down if only for their own self-preservation…
Sanctuary (3 dp)
You have a place of power, or a stronghold. It isn't impregnable, but your average thief cannot break into it, it is warded against Djinn, and a small army could sit some time at its doors. Particular cunning or an awful lot of force might breach your defenses-but short of that, you're safe while you're there.
PCs are assumed to have the normal items which are part of their character concept, modified by their Wealth and Family Rank merits. However, you may also choose to spend points on 'widgets'-magical items which are unique and have particular character. Feel free to come up with ideas of your own, so long as they are approved by the GM team. Some examples of widgets that will already exist in the game are given below:
1 dp widgets:
2 dp widgets:
3 dp widgets:
4 dp widgets:
5 dp widgets: