Friday, March 4, 2011

Sky-Carver Archetypal Image and the Ma'ar continued

Tessiria Aderino -- a Sky-Carver Courtier

Tessiria is thin and tall, looking slender at best, if not emaciated. Her eyes have no irises, instead being a solid light blue, and her long hair, waving in an unseen breeze, is stark white. She is in her mid-40s. Her skin is pale and tinged with a light blue, with white, cloud-shaped markings appearing across her skin. She is dressed in a long, flowing Renaissance dress, perhaps inspired by Lucrezia Borgia’s dress in the attached picture. She should look sexy, supercilious, and terrifyingly cruel.

This is the only archetypal character we had Amy Clark draw that is an actual character in the playtesters' campaign. Specifically, this "Tessiria Aderino" is a Sky-Carver aristocrat collaborating with the Niontians to aid their invasion of the City of Lives, and is the primary antagonist of the campaign. The playtesters have only encountered her once -- and even then, only one character saw her personally (calmly torturing a servant who had failed her), but her fingers are in everything they see and touch, and are constantly acting to take down her numerous powers.






Excellent work, Amy! Tessiria is ethereal, cruel, beautiful, and looks like she's floating despite being unable to see anything below her waist. Also, an excellent adaptation and interpretation of Lucrezia Borgia's dress in her famous portrait.

I can't really say negative, or even "constructive criticism" on this (besides the eternal "I wish it were in color," but that seems less necessary for this drawing than some others), so let's take a look at how the Sky-Carvers will change now that the Sons of Light are being removed from the game:

Very, very little. Mostly, the change will mean that they have fewer adversaries on the aristocratic battlefield, mostly fighting among themselves (and, to a lesser extent, the Leovites and Prometheans, but both of those bloodlines are less concerned with status than the Sky-Carvers and ex-Sons of Light). The only other change is that I'm removing the artistic temperament that formerly was a secondary part of the Sky-Carver personality, leaving Prometheans as the only artists -- because otherwise they step on each other's toes, archetypally speaking.

Let's take a look at the Ma'ar. We'll ARTT this out.

Archetype: First off, let's cover the fact that the Ma'ar and the Shertasi are designed to be, in the words of, "Always Chaotic Evil." They are antagonists, first and foremost. The City of Lives is the hero of this campaign world, as it were. It may not be perfect, but a central thesis of the campaign world is that the City is the best of all possible Realms. Thus, the Shertasi Empire, the Niontians of the Lesser Chthonic Worlds, and Ma'ar Commonwealth are all antagonistic -- they may not be at war with the City itself, but their goals are almost certainly opposite to the PCs'. So while we want to create a realistic, full-featured society here, it's important to remember that it should be largely abhorrent.

Real-Life Inspiration: The Ma'ar are pack felines: how do we reconcile these two ideas? Well, let's start by listing out some attributes associates with dogs and wolves on one hand, and cats big and small on the other.

  • Carnivores
  • Hunters
  • Pack mentality, complex hierarchy
  • Strong
  • Good sense of smell, hearing, decent sight. 
  • Mate for life, have "heat". 
  • Must be dominant to mate. 
  • Carnivores
  • Hunters
  • Independent
  • Agile
  • Good hearing, sight, decent smell.
  • Have "heat", do not keep sexual partners.
  • Must be dominant to mate
Interesting. Really, they're much more similar than dissimilar. Let's see how we can put some of the differences together. Pack animals stay together, form a bond of trust. Cats are solitary, disliking and challenging other felines that invade their territory. Mix them, and we have a pack system, functioning in packs and families even more than humans do -- if you see a lone Ma'ara [the singular form of the name], there are at least two more nearby. However, it's based not on trust, but merely need. Status is of terrible importance -- but none will sit quietly and keep their status static, instead constantly fighting for dominance in a series of ritualized challenges.

Ritualized combat and dueling would play a large role in Ma'ar society, methinks - Every Ma'ar adult must own a very specially-designed, very expensive, very elaborate robe that is specifically meant for dueling and only dueling. They must always have this with them, prepared for a duel. In a duel, they will go through a very elaborate set-up, very ritualized, very formal, then let loose the savage beast within. They do not stop for a moment until one is dead. Then the winner must buy a replacement robe for the rags that he has just destroyed in his fight or he will have lost all the honor he just gained.

Okay, again we've run out of room. Next time, we'll examine the Promethean archetypal image, and look at the Ma'ar Theme and Twist. See you then!