So what three things would you tell a new player in Highguard? What’s cool in the brief, what parts of the background don’t get the spotlight they deserve and what tips would you give a new player on how to be Highborn.
Your cowl is important. It lets you express seriousness, murderous intent, or just that you do not wish to be disturbed.
Know your faith. The virtues are vital to your life and knowing what they are and mean is fundamental to the nation. But the doctrines underpin those beliefs. Many a highborn player has been caught out by not knowing the doctrines.
Wash your hands. Most tents will have a bowl and towel or similar. Ground yourself in that action, show the importance of the custom but also respect to your host. Don’t get caught out with dirty hands
1) We lead by example
A big thing about Highguard is that we take a genuine stab at being a “shining example” to the rest of the Empire. It’s not a cynical political move as some onlookers will claim, so put any cynicism to one side and ride that Paladin train. Not to say that it’s easy, but as long as you’re trying to be the best Imperial Citizen and followers of the way you can that’s cool. Also we might judge people for their failings privately but don’t “tut” about other’s lack of virtue, “The Virtuous inspire others to greatness; they do not demean them.” and all that :).
2) Faith is important
As a nation we invented to The Way so your average Highborn will know a bit more about the faith than people in other nations. You don’t need to memorise the wiki, but it’s good to have some favourite Paragons and Exemplars you can talk about and also some particular heresies or theological disputes you can bust out to fill conversations at parties .
3) We’re not unthinkingly prejudiced
Our attitudes to the Lineaged and Other Species are much more hard line than other nations, but we’re not fanatics. It’s good to base your IC prejudices in things like the tendency of the lineaged towards madness and extreme behavior influenced by their “taint”. The knowledge that the eternals and heralds are not on “our side”. And the fact that Orcs don’t react the same way to things like Liao and other elements of the Imperial Faith calls into question whether they can be truly a part of it.
You will get people taking issue with you on this and claiming “Highborn are all racist” so it’s good to be able to argue calmly for your point of view. It infuriates people when you’re not a cardboard cutout fanatic .
You’ll be providing part of the game that Lineage and Orcs have signed up to, so don’t worry about offending people OOC. People enjoy having something to play off.
We started the Empire and are its virtuous guardians. We are obsessed with the soul, labyrinth and death in all forms- although we hate undead. DONT TRUST ETERNALS!! jus’ sayin’…
Don’t be afraid to approach the open flap of a chapter tent or a seat around a firepit: the uniform nature of chapter clothing can seem isolationist but in reality there is a strong bond between all highborn. (We reserve the right to be a bit more stand-offish to the rest of the Empire but we rub along just fine really.)
1) Faith is not a popularity contest
As a member of the nation you will probably have been raised to believe that virtue is vital to the achievement of human destiny, and in a personal way your own souls journey. Following that path is not easy and might force you to make unpopular decisions or say unpopular things. Citizens of Highguard are often able to do this because of that certainty of faith which is sometimes perceived as arrogance by other nations. You know better of course.
2) Traditional beliefs and customs are important
Some people would say your view of the world is dogmatic. You would say that it got the Empire this far, so why change it and risk accidentally making things worse rather than better. You see, it isn’t about the facts or whether the story is true, but whether what the story teaches will achieve more good than the unvarnished truth. And by good, we of course mean virtue.
3) Every chapter may feel like an island, but you are one nation
Highguard has one of the most distinctive looks on the field and allows each chapter to stand out very clearly from one another. That’s great as it will quickly let you get a sense of who everyone is. The bad thing is it might also encourage you to feel like an island in the nation. Do not let that put you off approaching people from other chapters. I played a Draughir in the nation for three years, not the easiest of choices as there was a huge amount of distrust, but I overcame it by talking to people as often as I could. Highguard players, in my experience, are incredibly welcoming and friendly. Don’t let the islands of red, black, blue or green discourage you from going out and making friends. More often than not, they will welcome you if they can.
Have a hood of some kind. Hood up for official business or when something particularly serious is occurring. ESPECIALLY important if you have some kind of official position - where hood down = speaking personally as an individual - hood up = speaking as that position. But also applies to every Highborn. hood up = a Highborn Citizen vs hood down = a specific individual.
Being Virtuous does not equal being “good” in terms of real world morality. You don’t need to be an expert on The Way but try to know what the 7 virtues ARE and at a high level what they mean.
If you are not a priest then have a priest (or several) that you can refer questions too. Highborn are religious - so you should Care about religious things, even if you are not an expert on them.
Highguard is more than content to band together when it needs to. They are like the parent that is happy to let their children make their own mistakes until things look like they are going to go too far and they need to wade in and sort out the issues of the Empire.
People treat Highguard as being very sombre. A lot of our beliefs and culture is based on the memory of the dead. Remembering those who have passed through symbols of names written and spoken, bells and windchimes. We are a very spiritual nation and these things help us with our connection to those who have passed.
Have at least one idea/goal you are trying to achieve. This of course can change and evolve in play but when you first start out it is good to have something you are aiming for. Be firm in your belief that your ideas on Virtue/Lineage/etc. is the “correct” way to view things.
1) Know your history - we have always striven to be better
Highguard’s millenia old drive has been to be pure and perfect. From the shadowed and dying land they fled from to the shores of Sanctuary, led by Atun and Atuman, to the blackened remains of corrupt Pharos and the shining city-on-a-hill that is Bastion, Highguard have shown the commitment to turn away from the wrong path and instead better themselves; the flip side is that they also know the painful price it inevitably takes them to do so.
2) Understand why the Empire is important
The Way of Virtue is for ALL of humanity - not just Highguard or even the Empire. The First Empress realised that humans reincarnate across the full spectrum of humanity and so the only way to guarantee the best chance, across a multitude of lives, of gaining Liberation from the Labyrinth of Ages was to create the best platform to teach and encourage Virtue and then expand, by conquest or example, that platform to cover as much of the world as possible. The Empire is that platform. Only once the the darkest jungle of Jarm, the furthermost isle of Asavea or the deepest Skouran hold is touched by the Way of Virtue in its proper form can it be said that the ‘Imperial project’ is done.
This view makes Highguard very different from the rest of the Empire - the other nations often see it practically in terms of what benefits them or the Empire in isolation to the rest of humanity. Plus, there is a common unspoken belief that the Way of Virtue is simply an add-on to the rest of the Imperial structure, rather than its fundamental purpose.
3) You are responsible for your own soul
There is a saying “Every Highborn is part priest and part soldier” and whilst non priest Highborn are encouraged to speak to their priests about virtue regularly and openly, every highborn knows that ultimately they alone are responsible for their own soul - not only in this life but in every previous and subsequent life as well. This drives highborn to their excellence, explains why they have chapters (and the freedom to choose which one to join) and gives them their confidence. It can lead to the belief that, since being highborn gives a soul the best chance at gaining virtue, they’d better bloody well do something this time round!