Help me make a Dawnish character!


#21

You are helpful as always- I’ll go with the details not filled in! Maybe T has taken an oath, not to speak of the house until he has passed his test of mettle.


#22

Hi everyone

We just had a big brainstorming session on how Una’s story would work if Tris was in the army for 2 years, and we’ve realized we don’t know enough about the lives of peasants or men/women in the empire - specifically the Dawn.

Why doesn’t everyone become a knight? Is it just that the lives of knights aren’t better than the lives of peasants (if not why not- surely the status alone is brilliant)? or is it that peasants are playing it safe by avoiding war/death in general? or have little confidence/ambition? What percentage of peasants become Knights errant? what percentage pass their tests? what happens to those that don’t?

What are families like? Is childhood mortality/death in childbirth high?- thus are families often large and extended? or due to magic are these rates low, and thus families smaller? are arranged marriages a thing? would we expect parents to veto a marriage? would we expect the bride to veto a marriage?

What are the literacy rates like? Is it odd that Una can read? Where/how do people learn to read?

What are inheritance laws like?- would we expect a family to want to pass down a farm, for example to an eldest child to avoid splitting it? Would we expect them to have generational feuds with other nearby farmers, or want to merge farms through marriage?

How do people customarily care for elderly parents?

Is there any kind of serfdom?
In the Dawn, in general are men better fighters than women?

I realize that when people design a fantasy world they don’t all start by deciding child mortality rates or how inheritance law works. So I am very happy to hear guestimates - or just how you as a player think these things might work.

This insn’t because we want to write something that’s all about child mortality and inheritance laws either, but we’d like to write something that sort of bridges the gap between the everyday experience of Una as a Dawnish peasant, and Arthurian romance. Even if her life isn’t going to be impacted by the kinds of sorrows that inspired poems like we are seven or the pearl (and it probably wont)- if child mortality rates are similar to those in the middle ages it will be impacted by the fact that her parents will have made profound sacrifices to create a family that could endure the hardships of peasantry - and would expect her to as well.


#23

While i cant answer all of these (not dawnish), some of these are very important to know for the setting and i have read the Wiki more than i care to admit. Keep in mind that while the world of Empire is by no means pristien (War, violence, drugs, prostitution, insanity, ect) in other areas it is idealized

Mostly no. While it matchmaking is fine (“it would really help both our families if there was a marriage”), the idea of marrying someone you hate against your will is both laughable and illegal in the setting. For more info specific to dawn see this section on Marriage in Dawn

While i cant answer all of these (not dawnish), some of these are very important to know for the setting and i have read the Wiki more than i care to admit. Keep in mind that while the world of Empire is by no means pristien (War, violence, drugs, prostitution, insanity, ect) in other areas it is idealized. A lot of your questions can be answered here, but I’ll try to hit alot of these more in depth and individually.

Mostly no. While it matchmaking is fine (“it would really help both our families if there was a marriage”), the idea of marrying someone you hate against your will is both laughable and illegal in the setting. For more info specific to dawn see this section on Marriage in Dawn

Literacy is almost universal in The Empire. In fact literacy, numeracy and theology are requirements to citizen tests that all children must take to become legal adults. (You can thank those mysterious mountain wizards for that last bit :stuck_out_tongue: )

The Empire is meritocratic. So, while you may inherit property from a dead relative, you will do so because you are the best person for the job. For example, the Lazy and unWise firstborn son probably wont inherit over his young and Prosperous sister.

this differs across cultures. In some nations the elderly are expected to walk into a magic blizzard so they can die “fighting” it. In others the old are revered for Wisdom/knowledge. If i were to guess with Dawn I would put them in the mindset of either impressed that you haven’t gotten yourself killed young looking for glory despite your best efforts or annoyed that you haven’t gotten yourself killed young looking for glory “you must not have been ‘looking’ hard enough”. Again though, not Dawnish.

Slavery is Illegal in The Empire (now). You could MAYBE (notice the big maybe) do indentured servitude, but there has to be a clear, set and reasonable path to getting out of it. If the debt is set specifically to keep someone indentured forever then that would be unProsperous and therefore not legally binding (heck you may be able to counter sue and get a fine out of them)

The entire world of Empire is gender-blind. No one is considered a better or worse anything based on gender. The only possible exception MAYBE (notice the big maybe) if a woman is pregnant, but thats less of the fact they are a woman and more of the fact their center of gravity is off.

This is a guess, but while it wouldn’t be zero it would be less than medieval times. I know there is a spring ritual specifically for protecting a baby and mother through gestation and birth and there are healing magics, but these are generally rare and expensive


#24

Wow! that’s so helpful! I think because I’m new, I still just don’t have the depth of knowledge of reading the wiki to be able to come out with all the stuff you did!

One of the things I’m really liking about Empire so far (before gonig to an event) is how non-grimdark it is. I loved 40k and other Games Workshop things, but I hated how all of their fluff seemed to turn up the awfulness of everything to 11 (if in the grim darkness of the 41st millenium there was only war, it would have to be a brief war, because once people on every side run out of food they’ll all have to give up soldiering for farming).

Having recently watched Game of Thrones and played Bethsada video games - I assumed that the whole Fantasy genre had been enveloped by grimdarkness - so the idea of an imaginary egalitarian meritocracy is nothing short of breathtaking. Its like discovering George Macdonald, if the only fairy tales you know are Andersons.

Digression over.

This makes writing Una a little harder - because our first thoughts about why she might not have caught up with T earlier, were all about the country politics that naturally proceed from parents trying to keep a farm in the family.

Still its interesting. I’m sure the GF will be intrigued by writting a female character who isn’t in some way defined by pushing back against mysogeny!

As an aside I wonder if the settings non-grimdarkness comes from the fact that whilst reading something from that genre, or playing a videogame, or tabletop game can be fun- embodying it is less fun than embodying a character who is roughly good, and treated roughly fair by society.


#25

To become a soldier, you could enlist in one of the four Dawnish armies, or in the personal military retinue of a great house (Military Units of player characters. To become a Knight-Errant, you have to be seeking or working on a Test of Mettle from an Earl (or equivalent). These are all high-risk/high-reward choices. The armies of Dawn have marched the length and breadth of the Empire, and faced off against horrible foes in dreadful conditions. They have taken high casualties, and while their generals do NOT subscribe to the [high casulties=glory] philosphy, the army life is exciting but probably short. Similar for the military units. As for the Knight-errant… many die. It’s a harsh meritocratic sorting process. Those who pass are strong, fast, intelligent and lucky. There are non-combative tests, and some Knights-errant spend their lives trying to complete them.

As for why more don’t try… Dawn has a pretty good appreciation of it’s hierachy. The peasants and farmers know that they are feeding a great and proud nation. They know that the armies that march for them rely on their labour. The artisans know that what they do, they do because of farmers who feed them, miners who labour for their materials, and nobles who commission and value their works. And all yeoman know that when there are hard decisions to be made, when lives are in the balance and at risk, that their nobles will be on the front line, tackling whatever it is head-on. The yeomanry are trusted to labour to support the nobles, the nobles are trusted to hold off a thousand horrific fates with their lives if necessary.

When armies of savages roll over the border, when hideous beasts prey on the land, when strange and terrible things are trying to kill you, it’s the knights and nobles who are expected to stand there and deal with it. And they do. And often, they die in the process. It’s a life of priviledge and excitement, but not one of safety or easy survival.

As mentioned, it’s meritocratic re inheritance. There’s likely few generational feuds, but a certain amount of proud rivalry.

Welcome to the abstraction layer… things that haven’t been defined because they aren’t important to the game. In my case, it’s things like the speed of nations warships and trading vessels, the world map, and suchlike. I doubt that child mortality rates are amazingly high, given the pretty good medical and educational status of the Empire. But it still has plagues, magical curses, and all manner of horrible things lurking in the shadows.

Mortality rates will not be those of the middle ages. A good bit better, if not at the modern level. A yeoman family will likely be on the larger size (4 children+) but as mentioned, by the time it comes to who inherits the farm, if one or two have chosen other careers, it’s a matter of pride and not one of expecting all to labour. Ambition is a thing, and the songs of the minstrels and troubadours will ever remind the citizens of the possibilities and stories of those who dared to rise to glory… even if the local noble is not recruiting…

Empire is not grimdark from the inside. It’s certainly closer to Mercedes Lackey than Joe Abercrombie, let alone Warhammer. What it can be is horrific from the outside. Many foriegn nations in-game view the Empire as an aggressive confederation of power-hungry zealots, intent on converting the world to their religeon by fire and sword, and exterminating all those who dare to stand against them, while consorting with inhuman powers, engaging in piracy and dread magical curses, and deploying a huge array of nasty military tools against all who oppose them (and they aren’t wrong…). A long-running joke is that the Empire is in fact that Evil Empire of many a pulp fantasy. But of course we believe ourselves to be the Good Guys. Of course…

(sorry, rambling, head full of fluff from recently finishing an event)


#26

Yes, the “Hans, are we the bad guys?” Sketch from Miller and Webb does get quoted from time to time!


#27

Firstly I might refer you to the background page:
Background Guide since it answers many of your questions concisely

So a few thoughts on this:

The PC’s are the Heroes of the Empire
Even a new player starting out is in setting terms a hero, a great figure of the Empire, average citizens don’t come to Anvil. Your average below abstraction level yeofolk probably doesn’t have 8 experience points, or indeed some of the hardskills that make taking tests easy.

You leave your family behind
To become a noble of Dawn is to gain a new family, you may come back to your home village, but the interactions will never be what you left. Your parents might talk about how proud they are, but warmth will be replaced with deference, and while they might ask for stories of your life they won’t understand it. You are pretty much saying farewell to all your friends family etc. Which is a pretty big deal.

Access to Nobles
Compared to general life Anvil is really really easy to ask for a test, you have around 27 Earls all in a field with very little of their staff. Normally Earls to get to an Earl you probably have to get through a few layers of Castle staff, the Seneschal etc.

General Life in the Empire isn’t that Bad
Nobles almost certainly do live better lives than the average yeofolk, but thinking more of the Victorian idealistic idea of what it was like to be a medieval peasant than any of the real gritty stuff. Magic can help compensate for a poor harvest, the medicine is far better than it should be.

What happens to those that don’t
So it is perfectly possible for a knight errant to be one for most of their life, and most tests are designed so you can’t fail them (although you might not ever pass them.) A knight errant could always approach another house for a test, particularly if it was harsh or unfair.
But if a knight errant did abandon their quest, honestly they probably just slip back into a yeofolk role, and possibly spend the rest of their life being bothered about young children asking about what it’s like being a knight errant. (A cynical failed KE in a village could also put people off asking for a test.)


#28

There are some grim bits, but they’re sort of optional… and PD made a deliberate design choice so that character death tends to be reasonably rare, and meaningful when it does happen, so that good stories get a chance to happen.

Also… it’s not totally egalitarian and meritocratic, but the important point here is that the prejudices are all based on IC characteristics, and never on OOC ones. That way, players don’t get treated differently for who they are, only for the characters they’ve chosen to play.

Characters in the gameworld (even barbarians) don’t care about what sex someone is, but there are prejudices based on lineage, species (orc/human), nationality etc… so you can choose to play the game on hard mode by playing a briar character in the Marches, or an Imperial Orc. Conversely, you can make other people’s game (and your own) more interesting by playing a character with strong feelings about such things.


#29

To compare it to some current published authors, Empire is being written by Brandon Sanderson, not Joe Abercrombie :slight_smile:


#30

Depends on if you’re hanging around in Zenith or Mornwald


#31

Thanks everyone!

We’ve made a draft of a big rewrite- but its still lacking a lot; i.e. by trying to write a romance and not including any details of battles - and just the social intrigues of how T and U have come to be apart it feels to me as if its drifting towards Jane Austen Territory.

So I have a few more questions!

What were the four armies fighting? and where? If Tristram was with one of them,and a yoeman what acts of heroism is he likely to have conducted?

Also if he’s just returned from one of them should I make a costume with the armies colours rather than just knight Errant colours? (also I’ll be looking to receive a test of mettle at the event - so i am not sure if he would qualify at the start!) Also the wiki gives some of the colours - for each army but not all - so are their fuller descriptions of their heraldry anywhere?


#32

Honestly if you can tell a Jane Austen style tale that fits the Empire setting that seems like an achievement

This season: All 4 armies are in Semmerholm, probably fighting Druj
Last season: All 4 armies were in Semmerholm definately fighting Druj
(Both of these battles had one other Imperial army in and between 9,000-12,000 knights from the summer realm)
Two seasons ago: The Golden Sun (and more summer knights) fight undead in Wierwater, the rest of the Dawnish armies are marching back to fight in Dawn
Three Seasons ago: Golden Sun fight undead in Weirwater, Eastern Sky fighting Grendel in Spiral, Gryphons Pride and Hounds of Glory recovering Jotun held lands in the Mourn

So not official but seen in play, there was a player event around the Dawnish armies over a year ago, where the Golden sun wore blue and yellow tabbards and the Gryphon’s Pride light and dark blue tabards.
Honestly knight errant kit is probably the better choice, in terms of long term use, since you can probably get a test your first event (and typically I’d describe someone who is looking for a test of mettle as a knight errant as well.)
If you would like to borrow an incredibly flimsy tabbard for the Golden Sun or Gryphon’s Pride, I have the ones left over from the player event.


#33

Would it be possible to see pictures of those tabards? I’m curious about what they look like.


#34

I’d love to borrow a tabard if possible!

:slight_smile:


#35

There you go.

@Alethiadoxy If you can remind me closer to the event


#36

I absolutely shall!


#37

I was looking at your suggested skills again:

Weapon Master or Shield use {2pts}
Fortictude x1 {1pt}
Hero Points {2pts}
Extra Hero Point {1pt)
Unstoppable {2pts}

When unstopable restores you to 3 hp, is that 3 subject to modifiers ? i.e. for someone wearing heavy armour does it become 7? If it’s not, in game would it be sensible to use unstoppable just to run away from the people who have nearly killed you? (I’m not sure T would do this- but i imagine him dying very quickly with 3hp and a a big group of barbarians attacking him)

It looks like i have some friends now willing to come as T’s friends from the army. Is it sensible (fluff and mechanics wise) for us as a group of Yeomen to start a banner? (adding U when she meets T)

What are the naming conventions for Dawnish houses? Is there a list of houses somewhere - even if they don’t all have the same naming conventions- I am sure that the GF and I could come up with one that fits in.

If we formed a Yeoman banner - could we then rename it as the house if T/U ever pass the test of metal?


#38

If people are interested I wrote the first few words for the character bio - there are a few easter egg references to this forum. Its probably too word heavy to be something that I’ll had into PD (to fit things beneath wordcounts do people generally just put things in bulletpoints?).

Una.pdf (92.7 KB)


#39

When unstopable restores you to 3 hp, is that 3 subject to modifiers ? i.e. for someone wearing heavy armour does it become 7? If it’s not, in game would it be sensible to use unstoppable just to run away from the people who have nearly killed you? (I’m not sure T would do this- but i imagine him dying very quickly with 3hp and a a big group of barbarians attacking him)

To answer your first question Unstoppable returns you to 3 hits total (unless you have certain specific items) if you use it when you hit zero HP. It’s worth remembering that you can also use it before you hit zero as a simple 3 hp heal , so if at a quiet point in the battle you found yourself on 2 hp you could spend 5 seconds appropriately roleplaying and heal yourself to 5 hp.

To answer your second question, unless there’s a serious mismatch of skill levels then everyone dies when a group attacks them. Empire combat in that sense is quite realistic, numbers are a significant factor.

If you’ve been reduced to zero once already, it’s fair to say that the fight isn’t going to well for you. Unstoppable gets you back on your feet and at that point you can decide to fight on or leg it depending on how you fancy your chances.


#40

There is a list of current notable player Dawnish houses here