The Culture of the White City

This section aims to clarify certain points of the culture of the White City. If you want to get a better feel for the setting, or to find out anything about specific traditions, then this is the place to look. It also has game mechanical clarifications where necessary.

Duels & Duelling Customs

There is a strong tradition of duelling amongst the nobility of the White City and the Port of Glass, while further out there is often a tradition of single combat amongst champions. One may issue a challenge only to an opponent of similar station. Challenges are usually to first blood, to submission or to the death, depending on the severity of the slight and the cause for the duel. To refuse a duel is cause for a severe loss of face. To appoint a champion is likewise cause for loss of face. In the case of a duel to the death appointing a champion is considered only a minor transgression - the culture of the White City is rather mercenary and people respect a survival instinct, even if only grudgingly. Duels in the White City are strictly sword and main-gauche affairs, anything else just isn't cricket. Duels in the Port of Glass are rather less constrained, often involving enchanted swords or Glass magic.

[In game mechanical terms somebody is “of similar station” to you if they have a number of levels of the Noble class within one of your own level. For example, a third level Noble could issue a challenge to a second, third or fourth level Noble, but challenging a first level Noble would be beneath them and challenging a fifth level Noble would be too impertinent to consider. A Noble who refuses a duel, or one who appoints a champion in a duel other than a duel to the death, loses a level of Noble immediately. If they only had one level of Noble to start with they may risk being cast out of their Family. One who appoints a champion in a duel to the death must clear their name of cowardice before they may gain another level of Noble.]

Duelling and the Duellist Skill

In a formal duel the Duellist skill comes into its own a little too much, one Disarm can end the entire thing in seconds. Since this is the case, remember that the following rule applies to Disarms in all circumstances, and is particularly important in duels: When a Disarm is called, the target my call a Disarm or a Parry to cancel the Disarm.

In the Hands of the Gods

Duels are, in part, a sacred affair. They are considered a means of settling disputes justly. The Powers sometimes take an interest. The Powers will generally take an interest in a duel if the following conditions are met:

  • It is appropriate for the Power. This is by far the most important factor. Usually this means that the cause has to be just, but there are exceptions (for example the Rattle-Prince takes great delight in unfair duels), furthermore it has to be appropriate to the Power being invoked. The Old Powers don't give a damn about petty points of etiquette but are big on blood vengeance. The Princes of the Breath are big on avenging slights. The Burned Lords generally don't concern themselves with such things, but the Lord of the Tower of Heroes or the Lord of the Faithful may be persuaded to intervene. Dream Powers (if they exist) are unconcerned with such matters and the same goes for the Light (Ordained Priests of the Light may consider duelling to be a sacred thing, but the Light itself rarely intervenes in physical matters). The Bound Ones are utterly ineffectual and the Vitriarchs are usually too mad to focus on duels.
  • Something gets the Power's attention. The simplest way to arrange this is to find a Priest with the Blessing Rite, but it can also happen if the cause is particularly important to the Power involved.
  • If the Powers do intervene, it will usually be subtle. An extra Dodge, an extra Body hit per location or an extra level of damage is the kind of thing to expect.

Funeral Customs

Nearly all funerals in the White City (and indeed the rest of the world) are cremations. If someone is cremated, their body is free to go to the Burned Realm along with their spirit and things are a lot more comfortable for them. Otherwise they're stuck being incorporeal forever. Any priest is capable of performing the Last Rites, but in the White City they tend to be carried out by a priest of the Temple of Ashes whenever possible.

Note that the Burned Lords are very much the Lords of the Dead and not of death itself. They don't kill people, they occasionally get annoyed if people die at the wrong times but they very rarely actually kill anybody. There are a number of Powers associated with death, most of them either Princes of the Breath (for quiet deaths) or Old Powers (for noisy, violent deaths). Not all Powers associated with death are malevolent, like most of the Powers they simply are - the one big exception is the Rattle Prince, the trickster-god of death and treachery who is by all accounts a bit of a bastard. The Prince of Miasmas, for example, spreads disease but is not considered to be evil per se. The Lord of the Blood-Fury stalks the most heated of battlefields and incites violent passions, but his cult is not illegal. The gods associated with death are Powers like any others, to be treated with respect and caution.

Creation Myths

Unusually, the world of the White City has no creation myths as such. None of the gods that are still followed have any real associations with such things. The Old Powers are just there, as are the Princes of the Breath. The Burned Lords do not create or destroy, they just watch. The Vitriarchs have never made anything and probably shouldn't even be here. It's possible that the powers of Dream, if they exist at all, had something to do with it.

gm/culture.txt · Last modified: 2011/01/10 23:24 by joew
Except where otherwise noted, content on this wiki is licensed under the following license:CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported