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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.

Basic attributes and flaws

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 = 1dp
  • Excellent = 2dp
  • Superb = 3dp
  • Legendary = 5dp

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.

Beauty

Your physique and physical good looks.

  • Good: Better looking than average.
  • Excellent: Your family display you with pride. You are handsome/beautiful, with an athletic build and well proportioned limbs.
  • Superb: People jostle to be seen with you, and fights break out between your many suitors. You are extremely handsome.
  • Legendary: Your face causes road-accidents. People halt in the street in awe of your beauty. 50 years from now your beauty will be remembered.

Strength

Your power and might.

  • Good: Pretty strong.
  • Excellent: You have an above average build, and can lift relatively heavy objects
  • Superb: Your muscles are impressive and can lift great lengths of timber, stone and metal with relative ease. Few men would consider challenging you.
  • Legendary: Your muscles are very impressive. You can bend thick bronze bars with your bare hands: normal men do not have the courage to stand up to you.

Agility

Your reactions, reflexes, accuracy and balance.

  • Good: Quick reactions.
  • Excellent: You have above average reflexes, and quite good balance.
  • Superb: You have the natural abilities of a tight-rope walker, and your reflexes are extremely quick.
  • Legendary: The precision and accuracy of your movement is beyond measure - you have lightning reflexes, and that is no exaggeration.

Toughness

Your resistance to pain and your endurance

  • Good: You don't stop for scratches.
  • Excellent: You can stand minor injuries relatively easily. Your endurance is above average.
  • Superb: You could take a relatively serious injury without too much bother. It takes a lot to slow you down once you get going.
  • Legendary: Major injuries are bearable. Once you get going people cannot stop you without some serious weaponry or magic.

Intelligence

Your ability to think, reason, learn, understand, retain and recall information.

  • Good: Fairly smart.
  • Excellent: You can solve puzzles, and reason your way around most situations. You have a good memory.
  • Superb: Your reasoning is quick, and consistent, and your memory is impressive. There is no situation you could not think your way out of eventually.
  • Legendary: Your intellect ranks among those of even the most learned of scholars. You can remember vast amounts of information and your reasoning and puzzle-solving abilities are a wonder to behold.

Charm

Your charisma and persuasive powers to beguile those around you

  • Good: You make friends easily.
  • Excellent: You can persuade some people most of the time, and most people some of the time. You are quite persuasive, and people enjoy your company.
  • Superb: You are extremely charismatic and persuasive, and can get most people to do roughly what you want them to.
  • Legendary: You can get anyone to do anything, within reason. You ooze charisma and people fight to be in your company. You are prized in social gatherings.

Basic Flaws

Basic flaws are attributes that will hamper your character. Flaws give you points depending on the level of the flaw you take:

  • Bad flaw = -1dp
  • Terrible Flaw = -2 dp
  • Horrific Flaw = -3dp

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.

Ugliness

Your general bad looks (note: NOT including physical deformities - see 'Quirk' flaws)

  • Bad: You are shouted at in the street. You will never be valued for anything other than your personality
  • Terrible: Dogs bark at you as you pass. People can barely stand to look at you. You are barred from some restaurants on account of putting people off their food.
  • Horrific: Small children cry when they see you in the street. People cannot look at you, and prefer to run away. Mirrors crack in your presence.

Feebleness

Your weakness in mind and soul, including cowardice, or pusillanimity

  • Bad: You are very bad at making decisions. Your first instinct is to run away, but you do not always have to obey, although you are quite useless once frightened.
  • Terrible: You will runaway at the first sign of danger. You can barely make up your mind about anything. You will grovel and plead for your life at the slightest taunting.
  • Horrific: If someone greets you in the street you will either bolt for safety, or collapse in a shaking heap on the ground in the foetal position. You cannot make decisions for yourself.

Clumsiness

Your physical lack of balance, skill, precision, and slow reflexes

  • Bad: You're quite clumsy. You will fall over any slight changes in ground level, and seem to aim for breakable objects.
  • Terrible: Any physical activity requiring more skill than slow walking will be a problem. About 10 seconds after you have been hit in the head, you may duck.
  • Horrific: You REALLY should not go near anything sharp, blunt, round, square, heavy, light, rough, smooth, breakable, tough… etc. just stay still, and don't breathe.

Fragility

Your weakness in body, lack of endurance

  • Bad: You are quite weak. You cannot pick up anything even remotely heavy and have very poor stamina.
  • Terrible: Your endurance is pathetic by anyone's standards. You can barely lift anything beyond the weight of your own body to move.
  • Horrific: Shaking hands with someone will quite probably break at least three bones in your hand. You are tremendously weak and fragile, and have truly dire endurance.

Tactlessness

Your social ineptitude, ability to unintentionally insult others

  • Bad: You are careless with information. You really only talk in between switching over which foot is in your mouth.
  • Terrible: Chances are, if you talk to someone you will end up being hit/starting a fight.
  • Horrific: You talked to someone once… it started a war.

Stupidity

Your inability to think, reason, learn retain and recall information

  • Bad: You have a bad memory. You find tricky puzzles impossible to think around.
  • Terrible: Your memory is appalling. You can barely reason, and cannot attempt even the simplest of puzzles.
  • Horrific: You can barely grasp the most simplest of concepts. You cannot think for too long a period at a time. You cannot reason, and information simply will not stay in your head.

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Social merits and flaws

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…

  • Shopkeeper (1dp): You have sufficient wealth to own a small store or shop which sells unremarkable goods. It provides a good livelihood, and if necessary, you might use it as collateral with the Zaniah…
  • Trader (3 dp): You are a caravan-trader, or sponsor their journeys. You may own or sell goods of great value, and likely have a nice house or villa (bordering on a palace). Most material things will be within your reach, and you can purchase a number (up to 20) of unremarkable slaves (though not Allies or Servants-see below).
  • Aristocrat (5 dp): You have great wealth tied to your name personally. (Note that while men may not own land, they may own portable property-if so, you own a great deal.) You may purchase almost any item not of legendary value, and even one of that magnitude if you give up some of your wealth. You have hundreds of slaves, a palace, mansion, or tower of your own, and are known for your opulence.

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.

  • No Rank (0dp): You are either quite young, or have made no official name for yourself within the family. You are not one of the house servants, but you are not regarded much more highly.
  • Aspirate (1dp): You have control of one of your family's smaller branches, either as the head (or main husband) of a small branch of the family, or as a skilled child poised to take the reins of control later on.
  • Ambitious (2dp): Your family branch is gaining in power and prestige, and your authority likewise.
  • Established (3dp): You have excelled in your family's area of specialty, and have great respect within the family. You control a significant portion of a major branch.
  • Named (4dp): You are one of the great names within the family, possibly a daughter, sister, or elderly aunt of a present Emira. You are involved in the power struggles between (and within) the families of Shalazar. This is the highest rank available to a male character.
  • Revered (5dp): Within a Great Family, you are an Emira. This rank is not available to male characters.

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.)

  • Monk/Initiate (1 dp): You have begun your studies, or are a monk who possibly works as a legal clerk
  • Priestess (3 dp): You are a Priestess of Shaliq, responsible for the religious training and education of the people
  • Elder (5 dp): You are a member of the Council of Elders-if you can convince the other seven members of the Council to act in concert, only the Calipha can contradict you on theological matters.

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.

  • Royal functionary (2 dp): You have a minor place in the Calipha's Court, probably dependent upon your other skills. For instance, you might be the Royal Astrologer if you had suitable magical talent. You will have some of the considerable wealth and power of the palace at your disposal-good if you don't want to be a member of a great family.
  • Royal advisor (3 dp): You have some influence within the Court, possibly with the Calipha's ear. Possible concepts would include one of the Chamberlains to the Grand Vizier; the Calipha's old nurse or Chambermaid; or the Royal Treasurer.
  • Royalty/Steward (5 dp): You are a member of the Calipha's family, although almost certainly not in line for the throne. Or you can be a Steward, one of the women (or men) who control an outlying city in the name of a Great Family. If you are a man, you may be the Grand Vizier of the Calipha. Unless you pick the relevant merits, you will not have direct control of the City's army (it will be commanded by a general), but you will have the authority to call it forth and the responsibility to report to your Emira. The Stewards listed in the Lands of the Caliphate section are just a guideline-if you select the rank of Steward, we will replace that NPC with your character.

Influence (see below)

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.

Example:

Abdul al Jerezad is a well-respected member of his Great Family, with four points in rank. This gives him four free points in Influence. He then decides to spend one more development point in Influence, for five points within the Jerezad. (He is both high-ranking, and liked by all manners of Jerezad officials.) He also spends four development points to improve his contacts with the Hadar, giving him two levels of influence in that family.

In his turnsheet, Abdul decides to send a caravan into the lands of the horse barbarians. This caravan is quite important to him, so he exerts all his Influence with both the Jerezad and the Hadar. As a result, besides what he achieves on his own, the caravan is given the official support of the Jerezad, friendly 'uncles' loan him the use of their camels, and the Hadar send along a small contingent of bodyguards. Similarly, behind the scenes various dignitaries inform members of other houses that this caravan is a particularly important concern, and that they would be wise to avoid meddling with it...

As a result of the success of the caravan, the Standing of the Jerezad (and to a lesser degree the Hadar) improves: when next Abdul exerts his Influence, it will be even more effective. However if later events reduce the Standing of either great family, his Influence will have less consequence in the future.

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.

  • Aspirant (1dp): You are associated with the Order, and are known to some of its members as a loyal and righteous man.
  • Soldier (2dp): You have been to Asalah, and sworn your oath of loyalty to the Order. You are entitled to judge and punish those who serve demons in the name of the Calipha.
  • Captain (3dp): You are a commander in the Order, with a band of loyal soldiers under your command.

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.

  • Initiate (1 dp): You are a member of a College, with all the rank and majesty that comes with it.
  • Professor (3 dp): You have access to most of the libraries of the College, and are invited to a number of public events. You bear some of the responsibility for the upkeep and political standing of your university.

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.

  • Initiate (1 dp): You are a member of the Guild. This grants you some access to the resourses of the college, but in return you may be expected to work on college projects.
  • Head of a College (3 dp): You are the head of a College devoted to one of the schools of Alchemy. You must be a Master(Level 4) in your school.
  • Guildmaster (5dp): You are the Head of the Guild of Alchemists. You must be a Master in two schools of Alchemy.

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.

Gossipmonger (2dp merit or -1 to 3dp flaw, see below)

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.

Poverty (-2)

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.

  • Minor debt (-2 dp): You owe some money at a specific time, or a period of service no greater than a week. For this flaw, the amount of money must be a significant portion of your wealth.
  • Major debt (-3 dp): You may owe a debt requiring a period of service of a week or more, but no more than one month.
  • Debt of Honour (-5 dp): There is someone who may require you to lay down their life for them. Until they owe you a debt of a similar magnitude, you may not stand against them or contradict them, and if they request it, you must lay down your life for theirs.

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Magical merits and flaws

Magical merits are divided by the type of magic practiced by the PC. Click here from information on types of magic.

1. Sorcery

Sorcery relies on the learning of spells for the power they grant. Spells are measured on the following scale:

  1. Cantrips
  2. Minor Spells
  3. Major Spells
  4. Great Spells
  5. Legendary Spells

Any character can purchase two cantrips for 1dp. Alternatively they may purchase a rank in sorcery, as follows:

  1. Apprentice 2dp
  2. Sorceror 4dp
  3. Magus 6dp
  4. Master Mage 8dp
  5. Archmage 10dp

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.

  1. Sprite 2dp
  2. Petty Djinn 4dp
  3. Lesser Djinn 6dp
  4. Djinn 8dp
  5. Potent Djinn 10dp
  6. Legendary Djinn 20+dp

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:

  1. Assistant 1dp
  2. Technician 2dp
  3. Alchemist 3dp
  4. Master Alchemist 4dp
  5. Grand-Master Alchemist 5dp

The principle kinds of alchemy taught in Shalazar are as follows:

  • Alchemy: Potions, powders, oils, salves etc.
  • Ignifice: Flames: explosions and fireworks.
  • Mage-smithing: Armor and weapons.
  • Cloudweaving: Magical cloth, especially flying carpets.
  • Mechanomancy: Clockwork and mechanisms.

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:

  1. Stargazer 1dp
  2. Learned Stargazer 2dp
  3. Astrologer 3dp
  4. Master Astrologer 4dp
  5. Seer 5dp

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;

  • Astrology: Nativities, Horoscopes, Auspicious times.
  • Augury: Predicting the weather, Determining routes.
  • [more will be forthcoming]

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.

5. Necromany

Characters can purchase ranks as Necromancers as follows:

  1. Grave-robber 2dp
  2. Necromancer 4dp
  3. Master Necromancer 6dp
  4. Necromantic Adept 8dp
  5. Lord of the Dead 10dp

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.

6. Demonology

Characters can spend points on their degree of contact with their patron demon as follows:

  1. Accidental or Minor Contact 2dp
  2. Occasional Rituals 4dp
  3. Regular Worship 6dp
  4. Priestess 8dp
  5. High Priestess 10dp

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:

  • Shamanism of the Horse Nomads
  • Idol Worship of the Tribes of Punt
  • Ancestor Worship of the Empire of Jade

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Lore merits

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):

  • Level 1 - decent knowledge of one tribe, many legends and rumours about others, a rough idea of local geography
  • Level 2 - decent knowledge of 2 tribes, an idea of the customs of half a dozen others, many legends and rumours, a rough idea of regional geography
  • Level 3 - detailed knowledge of one tribe, decent knowledge of 3 others, a good idea as to the customs of a dozen others, a good knowledge of regional geography
  • Level 4 - detailed knowledge of 3 tribes, decent knowledge of 6 others, enough experience and knowledge to make a push at extrapolating the customs and mores of many more, detailed knowledge of regional geography and a basic idea of the geography of almost all the Puntish jungles
  • Level 5 - world authority on the denizens of Punt in all their tribes, expert on customs and social mores, complete knowledge of the geography of Punt, in so far as it is known etc.

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.)

  • Necromantic
  • Sorcery
  • Demonology (3, unless involved in demonology)
  • Geniis
  • Cosmology (3)
  • Law
  • Lores of the Hinterlands:
    • Horse Barbarians (3)
    • Empire of Jade (5)
    • Punt (3)
  • History of Shalazar
  • Legends [These are Legends, and may have anything from a grain to a chunk of truth. This is the only way to know anything about pre-Diaspora history]
  • Dragons
  • Beasts
  • Theology
  • Thieves
  • Trade

Military merits and flaws

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.

Merits

  • Competent (1dp): You can pick up a weapon and defend yourself relatively well. Any opponent with too much of a physical advantage over you will defeat you. No specialist knowledge or skills.
  • Very Good (2 dp): You are very handy with most weapons. You can best multiple opponents, though only if they are of a slightly lower standard than you.
  • Excellent (3 dp): You can fight extremely well, and defeat multiple opponents of skills matching your own.
  • Superb (5 dp): You are a master of most weapons and fighting styles. You can best multiple opponents of virtually any skill level.

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.

Merits:

  • Small Army (1 dp): 500 men
  • Medium Army (2 dp): 1500 men
  • Large Army (3 dp): 5000 men
  • Huge Army (5 dp): 10,000 men

Modifying Merits/Flaws:

  • Superior Equipment (+1 dp): Your armies are equipped with the best armour, weapons, and horses money can buy, with the exception of the Calipha's superior troops. Your clothing is also more comfortable.
  • Poor Equipment (-1 dp): Your army is poorly equipped. The clothing is often uncomfortable, there aren't enough weapons to go around, and your horses are probably old and worn out. Morale may become a problem--even the most loyal troops will find it hard to stand working with the equipment you give them.
  • Laziness(-1 dp): Your troops are not inclined to obey your orders with any sense of urgency, or even promptness - they do obey you, but only eventually.
  • Incompetence (-2 dp): Your troops obey you, but are lazy and unskilled. They may get themselves lost if sent on long missions, or will forget to pack rations, won't sharpen their weapons before a fight etc.
  • Mutinous = (-3 dp): Your troops are not inclined to obey your orders, and prefer to shirk off from duties, or desert if they feel particularly anarchic.
  • Secret Army (double cost of army): This stat provides you with an army that is unknown to anyone except you and anyone you have decided to inform about it.
    The cost of a secret army is double the points of a normal one: So a small army (500 men) costs 2 points rather than 1 point, a medium army (1500 men) costs 4 points rather than 2, a large army (5000 men) costs 6 points, and a huge army (10,000 men) costs 10 points.

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.

Merits:

  • Competent (1 dp): With a sound army, and a fair playing field, you will come off the better in almost any conflict.
  • Very Good (2 dp): With a not quite complete army, you will win almost any fight against a non-specialised opposing force of at most one and a half times the size of your force.
  • Excellent (3 dp): Your army can best one twice its size, and with limited weaponry. You have a knack for finding the best tactical route to success.
  • Tactical Genius = 5 dp: With a small band of soldiers you could take on a tremendous army and stand a very good chance.

Flaws:

  • Incompetent (-1 dp): Your force's manoeuvres look more like a barn dance than any kind of military exercise. If you do win a conflict, you will sustain huge losses.
  • Useless (-2 dp): Even with an army five times the size of your opponent's, you will lose any conflict.
  • Pathetic (-3 dp): Rumour has it you once directed your army off a cliff… there are witnesses.

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Larcenous merits and flaws

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:

  • Level 1 - you can climb a rough hewn wall, and break into houses with little or no security, and sneak about a little noisily - but expect to get caught unless you're very careful or very lucky, pick your targets carefully
  • Level 2 - you can climb a higher, smoother wall, and break into houses with moderate security, but leave traces. Your sneaking about is getting better
  • Level 3 - you can climb most ordinary walls without effort, break into houses with moderate security and vanish like a… well, like a thief into the night. Your sneaking about is virtually noiseless
  • Level 4 - you can climb walls that are high and smooth, break into vaults and other secured areas with a high degree of success, and sneak into and out of guardrooms without trouble
  • Level 5 - you are a legend among your peers; climbing sheer glassy walls hold no fears for you, security is a child's plaything in your hands, you appear and disappear like smoke in the wind

Careers include:

  • Burglar - skills include climb walls, lock picking and stealth
  • Pickpocket/cutpurse - skills include stealth, pick pocketing and hiding. Also possibly some ability in disguise
  • Bandit - skills include stealth, hiding and the ability to lie, sometimes specialised, for example, into threats, bragging, seduction etc. Many bandits are reasonably good at fighting as well, and may wish to purchase military skills
  • Embezzler - plausibility specialised in appearing trustworthy and normal, lying and fraud. Also some disguise
  • Forger - the ability to fake documents or artefacts, some skill in both but probably with a specialism. Also the ability to tell if something else if forged, or genuine. Also reasonably good at lying, and possibly fraud as well.
  • Con-man - plausibility is the stock-in-trade and many contacts both legal and illegal, probably not one knowing your real name. Skills would include lying, disguise and and some ability in either forgery or fraud
  • Beggar - not strictly illegal but with many shady contacts, and skills including pickpocket, lying, and hide
  • Fence - not strictly illegal either but having many contacts on both sides of the law. Skills include fraud, lying and forgery, particularly specialised in spotting fakes
  • Moneylender - now illegal, this skill covers both the legitimate skills of lending money, and the illicit skills of concealling such transactions. This skill is of limited use if you have no money to lend, although you may still set up deals for others.

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Mysterious merits and flaws

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.

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Other merits and flaws

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.

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Widgets (and accursed items)

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:

  • a flying carpet capable of traveling to any city-state in a day

2 dp widgets:

  • a flying carpet capable of traveling to any foreign country in a day

3 dp widgets:

  • a flying carpet capable of traveling to any named location by dawn, provided it is launched at dusk, and whose navigation is at the sole discretion of the carpet, not the rider. Probably has a bound Djinn, and hence a personality
  • Brass Head of Asimir: This head can talk, and does, at length. While it possess great knowledge and insight, its merit is compromised by its habit of quoting poor and vulgar poetry, and the fact that much of its insight is into the skills of theft and treachery.

4 dp widgets:

  • Ring of Djinni Binding: This plain gold band has a great power, for if a Djinn places it upon his hand of his own will then he will be bound to do the owner of the ring 3 boons.

5 dp widgets:

  • The Blade of Life and Death: The blade born by Waleed al'Din, a weapon capable of sensing the presense of those who knew or contemplated impious magics, and of striking through their protections and sending them to their eternal rest.

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