Friday, February 8, 2013
Cast of Players
The Ogre ~ Uncommon
An Ogre is dimly aware of the Game--just enough to know who the Kings are. Ogres want to serve Kings as directly and loudly as possible. An Ogre takes pride in brazen strength and brutality. Finding reality in the savage, an Ogre craves intense forms of bases: extreme exercise, gluttony of low quality foods, mechanical gamesmanship, or group posturing.
An Ogre's glory is being in the right place at the right time, dying heroically, or receiving great gladiatorial rewards. Ogres are not intelligent enough to ascend to Kingship, so extreme prowess or chance may lead them to temporary posts that they cannot fulfill, after which they may humbly revert to retirement. Kings often shelter older Ogres better than Serfs, as an example to younger Ogres of the rewards of service.
An Ogre's downfall is expendability. Ogres who overplay their own hand may fail to realize how many other Ogres are available, and find their best offer significantly too high. Once they have overplayed, they find that their strength is useless to Kings. In anger, fallen Ogres often turn their strength against King's Ogres, and are easily outnumbered and overpowered. Powerful failed Ogres may become Reavers, or if hope is sufficient, Waifs.
The King ~ Rare
A King is well aware of the Game. Kings carefully manage royal images to offer an outlet for Ogre strength, Serf misery, Necromancer madness, and the amusement of Fools and Jesters. In many ways, they can be said to control the entire Game. Thoroughly sated in lesser things, Kings search always for exotic experience.
A King's glory is to remain a King. By employing a horde of Confidants whose power relies independently on the King, the King may easily ensure that no talents of confidence are turned against the King. A King wishing to risk greater glory may partner with other Kings to amass more power and influence at the expense of lone Kings, or weaker groups. As long as all Kings agree to cheerfully withdraw when the results of a confrontation are evident, the risk of preparations and maneuverings is reduced for all.
A King's downfall is overestimation of the King's own power, or empathy. Affection for a potential mate, concern for a Serf's misery, or fear of a Necromancer's creations can affect the King's ability to present a royal image. Other Kings will then immediately turn upon the failed King for threatening the institution of Kingship. A King who overestimates that King's own power may try to overpower another King prematurely, or fail to yield immediately when disfavored. That King will then be turned upon by other Kings for threatening the institution of Kingship.
The Serf ~ Common
A Serf is unaware of the Game. Serfs believe in the natural order of things, and accept their lot with misery and small amounts of hope. In a world they see as a self-contradictory mix of inherent superiority and random luck, Serfs are always confused, easily angered, and easily calmed. Serfs are drawn to expressions of randomness: games of chance, physical self-risks, and tales of abrupt fame.
A Serf's glory is to pass through epiphany or muse, and become infected with thought or beauty, offering an extremely low possibility of becoming any of the other types of Players.
A Serf's downfall is to remain a Serf. The extremely rare "randomly successful" Serf will swiftly spoil success through grandiose behavior.
The Necromancer ~ Uncommon
A Necromancer is unaware of the Game, longing only to use the resources of Kings to explore the deepest pits of dark magic. Necromancers throw themselves at the bases of thrones for permission to study. They develop clever toys and vulgar monsters, and delight in having permission to turn their creations loose on the weak. They may staunchly support one or more Kings against others, but will use their power in the service of all Kings, finding such meaning in the power itself that they consider themselves the greatest beings in existence, and their creations the greatest work.
A Necromancer's glory is to develop a monster of such horror, or a trinket of such commonplace utility, that all other Necromancers are forced to take note. To be enshrined within the ancient parchments after the names of great Necromancers of previous ages: that is the immortality and the joy the Necromancer seeks.
A Necromancer's downfall is empathy. Dwelling too long on the ultimate uses to which one's creations are put does not lead to power. Cunning Necromancers must separate themselves from the results of their work, ascribing it "beyond them," and being dazzled by thrones. Those who do not--those who question whether it is right to build a monster--will be shifted to trinket production. Those who question trinkets also will be cast out as Serfs. For their questioning, they will be stricken from the necromantic records as a heretic who stands against knowledge.
The Fool ~ Common
A Fool is only dimly aware of the Game. The glimpse causes madness, to which the Fool responds by enthusiastic participation in many aspects of life. The Fool loves many of the Fool's superiors, and cheers loudly for most grand events. With good nature, the Fool boos one grand event as not being as worthy as other grand events, and boos one King as being not worthy as another King.
A Fool's glory is to be acknowledged, directly or indirectly, by a King, or to be directly acknowledged by a high-ranking Necromancer or Jester. Wrapped in a dream of madness, the Fool lives vicariously through illusory champions, and finds, always, a constant, dull glory in their successes.
A Fool's downfall is to too enthusiastically cheer for a trend that has suddenly gone out of style. The unlucky Fool will then, naively, cling to the dream of the past--an outdated vision of Kings that only Fools ever truly believed in--and be vilified by all, including other Fools. The Fool will carry old standards to the grave, until then enduring as a fossil of the past, loathed by newer Fools.
The Jester ~ Uncommon
A Jester is aware of the Game. Understanding the nuances of sorrow and despair, Jesters use wit and drama to mock other Players wherever the opportunity may arise. Jesters ultimately serve Kings, even while mocking them publicly with extreme vigor. Ultimately, Jesters find pleasure in shaming, embittering, and defeating those they laugh with, and at. Jesters may break the hopes of Waifs, Fools, Serfs, and even Fallen Angels and Reavers. A Jester's rhetorical skill is at its best when it recounts the simple, obvious difficulties of the other Players, and translates them into grim failure. A Jester shines in history when remembered for mockeries delivered so powerfully that they can be leveled against other Kings and Fools in different times.
Jesters rise to glory when Kings recognize blather so skillful that it can be used to calm the world to the tune of mockery alone. Like contests of the strongest Ogres, contests of the wittiest Jesters entrance Players into a somnatic representation of their roles, ensuring Kingly harmony. Kings reward mighty Jesters, ensuring the tallest platforms and most colorful banners for those who speak of emptiness. The great Jesters' task is to maintain the Game by so disparaging the Board and its Players that the Game seems inevitable.
A Jester's downfall is, like an Ogre's, expendability. When a Jester fails to remember that many other Jesters are able to speak cleverly about nothing, the Jester may overplay a hand, and fail to be distinguished. A successful Jester must, therefore, be a simultaneous mix of false, braying-loud modesty, and genuine, braying-loud arrogance. If an intelligent Jester fails to be distinguished, the refuge of bitter, sardonic contempt always beckons: the Jester may retreat, heroically, to the role of barroom crank or office prankster.
The Confidant ~ Rare
A Confidant is fully aware of the Game, to a level that transcends the knowledge of Kings and Jesters. The Confidant can appear as any Player, even to the extent of that Confidant's inner life. Confidants often employ their skill as the finest of Jesters.
The Confidant finds glory in the Game itself. As long as the Game continues, the Confidant is happy. Anything that threatens the Game, including powerful Reavers or caring Kings, must be destroyed.
A failed Confidant brings about its own downfall. An empathetic shift in a Confidant's thoughts can lead to visions of a world without the Game. The failed Confidant may, rarely, become a Reaver or Fallen Angel, but is more likely to expunge itself from the Game quietly, in a way that will not go noticed or risk hurting the Game. A failed Confidant's death is often not a failure, but a gift to other Confidants, and to the Game itself.
The Waif ~ Rare
The Waif is aware of the world beyond the Game. Glimpsing beauty, the Waif is tormented by the hideous nature of the Game, and strives to free other Players from its grip. The Waif may turn to art, true charity, or self-immolation.
A Waif's greatest downfall is to fall under the sway of Kings, Jesters, or Confidants, and be drawn away from vision and back into the Game. Recognizing the danger that a Waif poses, Kings and others who love the Game strive to quiet the Waif, cleverly and indirectly, by channeling the Waif's efforts into acceptable aspects of the Game. The Waif who depicts glorious scenes within bleak fortresses may be trying to steal a window out, or may be acting under the direction of a King, Jester, or Confidant, and creating a crippled fantasy that leads only back to the Game. A Waif may also fall victim to simple Rogues, but at only a slightly greater rate than other Players.
With long neglect, a Waif may see its vision turned to the service of representing only Fools' errands and Kings' banners, recreating Game-worlds, using technique at the command of Kings, and coming to believe, like a Necromancer of art, that rewarded technique alone is the highest form. This fallen Waif no longer seeks expression, or discriminates in the use of its technique, but becomes a sword in the hands of Kings, willfully blind or even bored by the uses of its own creations.
A Waif's glory is to spread its vision, widening a beam of light into the murk of the Game, and die hoping that the opening grows wider with time--or merely to escape therein, alone, and hope that others come after.
The Rogue ~ Common
Rogues feel aware of the Game, but only at the lowest of levels. Utterly-self interested, but largely powerless in a social sense, Rogues are Kings without power or Confidants without knowledge: they pillage, seduce, and deceive, though only at a small scale. They are constantly useful to Kings, but always replaceable.
A Rogue's downfall is the casual punishment of crime, or the social perception, and condemnation, of crime. Lacking an understanding of the power of Kings, Rogues can easily overreach: once a Rogue has attained a little power, the Rogue may confuse that power with a King's power, and assume that it will serve as well. The Rogue then loses. Similarly, once a Rogue has gained a little intelligence, the Rogue may confuse that intelligence with a Confidant's intelligence, and assume that it will serve the Rogue as well as the Confidant--a bigger score will then fail, bringing downfall.
A Rogue's rare glory is to seduce a foolish King, and become elevated to Kingship and a venerated retirement. A less rare, but still uncommon, Rogue's glory is to pitch loyalty behind a King, and be elevated as a trusted protector, able to enjoy the table scraps of kingship.
The Wretch ~ Uncommon
A Wretch is downfall. Lacking the power of a Reaver, the outlets of a Waif, or the sight of a Fallen Angel, the Wretch is left with impotent anger at the Game, bitter insults for almost all its Players, and at best, a sad plea to a dream, scarcely glimpsed, of something else. The Wretch is a Fool without Foolish enjoyments, and a Serf without naïveté. The Wretch cannot believe in Kings, and has a violent difficulty imagining other Games.
The Wretch's downfall is to remain a Wretch; in its misery, the Wretch proves, to simple Serfs and foolish Fools, the truth of a King's words. The Wretch's rare glory is to rediscover beauty and become a Waif.
The Fallen Angel ~ Rare
A Fallen Angel breaks a different set of rules, entering the Game to help the Game's other Players. Naïve and wise, the Fallen Angel searches for other Players to whom to reveal the Game. The Fallen Angel loves and hates the Game.
The Fallen Angel's downfall is belief in the self-evidence of beauty and truth. A Fallen Angel may trust that other Players will be swayed by beauty, and be crushed when this idea fails. This may cause a loss of belief in beauty and truth, and transformation into a Wretch or a Reaver. Avoiding that downfall, a Fallen Angel may yet become caught in the minutiae of the Game, believing that shining light upon the inner workings of the Game will make obvious the self-evident nature of the Game's cruelty and horror, and cause all Players except Kings to cancel the Game. This quest may lead the Fallen Angel to become absorbed with exposing the intrinsic details of the Game, and transmogrify thereby the Fallen Angel into a creature of the Game: a Confidant, if sight is kept, or a skilled Rogue or miserable Wretch, if sight is lost. Within the Game, self-contradictory pieces of the Game seem obvious to the Fallen Angel, and an unwary Fallen Angel can have its spirit broken by other Players' acceptance of impossible tautologies.
Because of the nature of their conflicting desires, Fallen Angels and Confidants are often able to recognize one another's type, and instinctively understand their natural opposition over the continuation of the Game. The Confidant sees in the Fallen Angel the greatest risk to the Game, while the Fallen Angel sees in the Confidant the Game's greatest supporter--greater in that, even, than the Kings. The Fallen Angel and the Confidant play a minigame within the Game, the Fallen Angel striving to make Players see the Confidant as a Confidant, and the Confidant striving to make the Fallen Angel appear a cheap Rogue, a dreamy Waif, or a cunning Confidant.
A Fallen Angel's glory is the start of a new Game.
The Reaver ~ Rare
The Reaver understands, and hates, the Game and all its Players. Beset by a desire for revenge against the Game that has hurt it so, the Reaver seeks the destruction of all Players in any way possible. A Reaver is more often created by the suffering of one close to it, rather than the direct wounding of the Reaver's own body. Reavers carefully conceal their motives, or create false motives, in order to keep the Game going in the event of their failure, for they understand that if they fail, their greatest hope for the destruction of the Game and its Players comes in future Reavers being able to strike unexpectedly.
A Reaver's downfall is destruction by a great union of Players seeking to preserve the Game, after which Kings and Confidants will guide almost all other Players in hatred of the Reaver, painting the Reaver as an aberration, beyond any rational explanation. The most rare, powerful Reavers may see downfall through subtle, purposeful self-destruction, if a glimmer of interest in other Players remains in them. The failed Reaver may become a Waif, a Fallen Angel, or a Wretch.
A Reaver's glory is the end of all Games.