The nation briefs seem very restrictive? How much wiggle room is there?


#1

Hi, I’m new to LARP and was hoping to come to E4.

I’m trying to decide on a nation and I really like Brass Coast, but the wiki brief seems very restrictive. It seems that all Freeborn(?) have to be completely honest and for lack of a better word “Good”.

In general, all of the nation briefs seem to describe heroes and people who are entirely “Good”. Seemingly leaving little room for any sort of individual variance.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to run around stabbing people. But I certainly at some point want to do some scheming, and perhaps engage in some low level villainry. This however seems completely at odds with the brief.

Is it bad RP to be a scheme and lie as a freeborn?

Sorry if this is a bit of a wierd question. It’s just that everything on the nation wiki seems so prescriptively idealistic and heroic, whereas the stories that I’ve heard from players online seem so much more dynamic and morally grey.


#2

So the Briefs are somewhat restrictive, enforced IC by the egregore bond reinforcing the cultural traditions and taboos of the nation. They are designed primarily to make things dramatic and less than straight forward.

That said there’s nothing innately good required in the Brass Coast brief, yes they speak the truth for fear a lie may shatter their soul but that doesn’t stop them being able to scheme, provide half truths, misdirections, misleading interpretations and other such obfuscations on their true intentions and actions.


#3

The Empire does believe itself to be good (our neighbours may disagree!). We have the Way and our beliefs keeping us together, and while we all interpret things differently we do, at heart, believe in Virtue and in the righteousness of our actions.

The Freeborn in particular do adhere to honesty, but one of the things you’ll note is that they aspire to Honesty, and not everyone can achieve it 100% of the time. But they do all try.

The Vyig criminal element do exist but you will be stamped out ASAP in play if you get found out.

Varushka, with it’s bargains and secrets, can be a little more morally ambiguous.
The League trades favours and can be seen as more manipulative.
Navarr and the Highborn Unconquered are very practical when it comes to warfare; they aren’t big heroes in plate, they are skirmishers that get the job done.

What kind of character do you want to play? What appeals to you? We may be able to find you something.


#4

@Ricohard, while the Freeborn can do those things it does go against the spirit of Honesty. The obfuscation is part of the lie, and lying through half truth or misleading is as bad as directly lying… but no Freeborn is perfect and they sometimes fail to live up to being Honest. :slight_smile:


#5

So what the briefs do is paint the values as that culture in a positive light, most of the cultural briefs are meant to generate conflict (and make the game harder). What values the Empire aspires to and what is good are hugely different. The morality over literal horrific warcrimes, is IC very controversial.

While the Freeborn have a huge commitment to Honesty and a abhorrence of slavery. They also literally will stick a price on anything, happily and openly take bribes, their marriages have contractual get out clauses. (That being said I still think they result in one of the more moral nations in game.)

Have you read the specific Honesty page, because that might have some context that would help.

Still if lying is central to the character you want to play, I’d advise against freeborn, sticking to the briefs improves the game, and there are definitely nations that don’t have those prohibitions.


#6

also, you can be truthful and mean. tell that person their an idiot to their face. sell an item to someone and tell them that you just scrammed them.

the list goes on but I’m guessing you get the point. in the end, its how you want to run it. if everyone was the same the game would be so bland and so what if yu lie. all lies have some form of truth to them.


#7

I know some totally evil bastard people from the Brass Coast. They’re just honest about being totally evil bastard people.


#8

Thanks for all the replies. I’m not particularly fixated on lying or being an evil, it’s just that I don’t want my nation choice to prevent me from having fun, whatever form it may come in.

The Honesty page was a good read. It does seem honesty is too integral a part of the brief for me to just toss it.

I’ll have a closer look at the other nations to try decide on another. I really liked the other parts of the brief though :frowning: and their clothing in particular. It’s not that often you see non-european costumes in LARP.

Thanks again! You were all alot of help.

Being an evil brass bastard sounds awfully tempting though…


#9

You can be honest and horrid. If you’re doing awful/illegal things the way to stay on-brief is to not get directly asked what you’re up to.


#10

One of my very favourite brass coast groups were the Honradez sisters. After a couple of events of play, everything exploded dramatically - because someone finally asked them what virtue they were dedicated to and discovered the answer was Vengeance. It was an absolutely wonderful story arc, enabled by the Brass Coast dedication to honesty.

The best way to play Empire is to pick something to do that lines up with the nation as closely as possible. When you’re pushing in the same direction that your nation brief pushes, there’s loads of support available from your egregores and other members of the nation.


#11

I think there is two key issues to think about here: Firstly what are you defining as “good” and “evil”? Useful to remember that IC and OC definitions of morality are very very different. Shades of grey are the very fun bits here.

Murdering an entire “unvirtuous” race IC is arguably a very valid opinion to have for example.

Secondly worth thinking about what elements you want to play on the shady side. Running a gambling racket, doing dodgy deals etc to me would be totally brass coast – “go see Honest Joe” is an implied reference that everyone knows Joe isn’t in fact looking out for your interests. (Unrelated note would love to see some brass coast cultists to Siakha).

If you want to play darker then it’s worth looking for the briefs that explicitly cover it. Playing a dark cultist who uses seriously bloody/cruel magic is 100% valid for a Varushkan, just as using poisoned blades and night ambushes are all on brief for Navarr.


#12

The Empire has an army whose speciality is literally crucifying their opponents and unleashing trained dogs to maul the fallen wounded - I don’t think we’re too “good” for whatever you have in mind. There are plenty of other flavours of abhorrent horror available as well, just shop around.

It’s true that the BC are one of the ‘nicer’ nations, I would say, compared to the Varushka or Navarr - but they certainly have their share of questionable characters too (and definitely their share of murderers, in my experience) As others have said, playing a character that is broadly in keeping with your nation will make your game easier and potentially better, but I’m sure an horrific BC villain is entirely possible.


#13

The empire is far from being “Good”. It may represent order, but not goodness. This applies to the Freeborn as well (I am one).

I know at least of one Freeborn which, I suspect, has killed fellow freeborn and lied to get their schemes in motion (Can’t say names, sorry :D). However, towards the public, you should look like a truly honest fellow. I believe that is a lovely and difficult role to play.

Regarding being heroic… well, true, we are the Heroes of the Empire. We represent the best of the best, people above average in our areas. In battle we face hordes and hordes of enemies, being just a few hundreds of people. But we are not heroes in the “paladin” sense, at least not most of us. In the last battle I played, in the Spring Equinox in Scree, I saw many times FReeborn smashing a fallen enemy’s head while yelling “DIE, DIE, DIE YOU B…ARD…”.

So, in the end, I believe it depends on the character you are playing. I do encourage you to play a lying bastard as a Brass Coaster, but just make sure we don’t realize in time :slight_smile:


#14

I seriously recommend that you re-read the League brief, especially the Mountebank archetype.

Mountebanks are a combination of confidence trickster and streetwise magician found in The League. Part con-artist, part street entertainer, mountebanks are street-mages with a (sometimes ill-deserved) reputation as thieves and scoundrels. Mountebanks rely on their wits, often engaging in complex scams and long-term cons against the richest and most powerful members of society.

And, within the Brass Coast, a corsair is explicitly just a pirate who leaves imperial vessels alone.

The Freeborn detest piracy, but they regard privateering as a perfectly legitimate form of warfare - and a highly profitable one at that. By focusing their attacks against the ships (and occasionally coastal settlements) of nations the Imperial Senate has declared barbarians, they not only avoid censure but gain the approval of the Empire.

Privateering is so common that the wiki entry states…

A fleet may attack barbarian vessels passing through waters near the Empire or the Bay of Catazar.

You are free to roleplay the details of this attack as you wish, as it does not have an impact on the ongoing campaign.

Sink a few ships, it doesn’t even register on the Empire’s scale…


#15

“The best way to lie, is to only lie once”
A. Person

Be honest, Right until you need not be. Also the “Good” vibe you are getting from the freeborn is the very anti slavery ethos. You can be cruel, be nasty, but don’t lie about it. Very much be a brutal pirate that strings grendal up from the rigging for the gulls to feast on. Hell, sometimes working the restrictions of the nation make the character so much more fun. It could also get lines of “They are a monster, but they are our monster”


#16

One good option for the Brass Coast was “I cannot answer that question for I have a contract preventing me speaking of that or " I don’t like the tone of that question. I will only answer if you pay me 500T” Honest straightforward evasion.
(have a super dodgy group contact. Leave it lying around. Consult frequently)

…not that I know anyone who has played a dodgy Brass Coaster…


#17

There is the world of difference from “Honest” and “nice”. You could be an honest to goodness hero who wants to do good for the Empire and be honest about it. Or you could be a self serving piece of shit who corners the market on a product then extorts the whole Empire for money while laughing in the faces of those that scream at you about Loyalty.

The briefs are restrictive, because it’s a closed world, and that’s intentional. They are to be aspire to, you don’t have to perfect, but you shouldn’t reject them, you’ll have a lot more fun in you embrace them and wring every opportunity out of them you can.


#18

A group of Freeborn from the Brass Coast once cursed a Marcher senator, because the Marcher said “Screw Kahraman (a Brass Coast territory), we should make sure we defend the Mournwold (a Marcher territory)”. The Freeborn did so very openly and honestly.

When the Marchers came to complain, they told the Marchers that they would cut them to the ground (and then heal them up once they’d dragged them beyond the camp boundary) if they didn’t leave.

Honest doesn’t mean nice, or good.

But striving to be Honest, to not tell the truth, is a key thing that’s very important for the Freeborn. You can make contracts (with HIGH break clauses) to not say something, and you can refuse to answer questions. But it hurts the Freeborn to lie.

Of course, there are lots of other nations to pick from, that do include liars!


#19

The people of the Brass Coast are brazen in whatever they do.
I don’t think I’d play a dishonest one.

As others have said, each of the nation briefs gives plenty of scope for characters who

  • feel very strongly about something (the brief gives ideas for the something), and
  • are determined to pursue that goal, and
  • are prepared to be “nasty” (in some sense or other) in working to achieve it. That could mean being ruthless or sneaky or cruel or all sorts of other things…

As for being idealistic, just remember that many of the most monstrous figures from real-world history have been idealistic, sacrificing anything for the ideal because the ends justify the means. In Empire, such an ideal might be the Human Destiny. It might be the need (as perceived in Highguard) to promulgate not the true version of events but the version that teaches the best religious lesson. It might be something born of Marcher stubbornness, or… well, just read the briefs while considering things from a different and more cynical angle.

As mentioned above though, if you’re wanting to play a schemer or trickster specifically, then the League is a obvious option to consider. As it says on the central League page on the Wiki,

“The long con is as much an art form here as the politics of high office; in the coffee-houses that never close, the cant covers both.”

There’s also this:

“It is known unofficially as the Masquerade of the Red Dancer. Daring acts of sabotage and infiltration are commited under heavy masks, and it is said the greatest long cons have reached their climax on this night.”

The Archetypes page says,

“Mountebanks are street magicians whose tricks may be sleight of hand or genuine magic, many of whom skirt the edges of the law playing short-cons and rigging street games.”