The Ritualist (and following discussions)

I was thinking of writing some stuff for the field in the form of a few short stories, around 1000 words long each that can be fitted onto a double sided piece of paper and sold for 2 rings a’piece. I was just wondering what you thought of the storyline, as these short works would follow the events taking place in a small Zenith Spire trying to survive in the Druj occupation. So the idea is that there is a chap living in this Spire who is the son of a Senator, and prepped to be the best magician that ever magicked. However, unfortunately, this son is fairly useless. Not just at magic but in general. The only thing this son seems able to do right is play rude songs on the lute and put on a good show. But then along comes the Druj invasion; the Senator is off in Anvil and the Spire needs leadership as it is quickly subdued. Fortunately, the Spire also happens to be one of the greatest untapped mana sites in the region and so the Druj decide to let the villagers live so they can deliver the mana crystals to the Druj, which they need to perform something suspicious. In charge of this military operation the high-up herbalists in the Druj decide to test out one of their most talented ritualises, a young orc woman who would have high hopes for rising through the Druj ranks if she wasn’t so unfortunately nice. But anyways. When these two main characters meet, they realise that an arrangement would be rather handy. The Urizeni failed magician could put on the show and dance that naturally comes with any ritual while the orc ritualist would actually do the head-in-book formulaic ritual casting. By working together in this way, the two make the Spire one of the most productive in the territory, and become quite good friends in the process. In amongst the various things they do (like using the summer realm to make toast) the tensions between the different cultures slowly becomes more apparent. With the highbourne getting ready to invade from the west, the peaceful stability amongst the chaos developed in this Spire threatens to collapse.

I mean stories are stories and don’t let me stop you from writing what you will but a few points:

-All the Urizeni senators for the last few years are all PC’s and apart from a few deaths are all still around anvil, (mostly, some have ceased attending but not I think for Zenith in particular). None have children old enough to be close to citizenship and all come from major spires. So if this is to be the recent Druj occupation you’re going to find people looking at this sideways.

-Arbiter-ship (the role in charge of an Urizeni Spire would pass to likely the next best Ritualist, or potentially in this situation deference might be made to the Lead Sentinel. Bloodlines are not important to the Urizeni (even compared to elsewhere in the empire, i.e. The Brass Coast or the Marches)

-Urizeni parents can get as monomaniacal as parents anywhere else, more so at times because arete and the pursuit of Excellence but ‘prepped to be the best magician’ is a little hyperbolic. Not to mention an Urizeni feels that inner push to self improvement and as such the ‘dissolute musician’ really doesn’t fit as an Urizeni character, if he’s going to be a musician he’ll find himself wanting to do it with great skill and focus.

-The Druj aren’t really the sort to just install a governor and move on, they’re much more haul the survivors away as slaves, salt the earth and burn the books (especially important if you’re setting this in an Urizeni Spire. You might have better luck setting this tale in a Marcher village that swore to be Thralls under the Jotun Yoke, where you can play on the fact that the Jotun look down on magic as being weak and so a Jotun warrior secretly using magic fits a lot better than with the Druj, for whom all tools are useful to induce fear.

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Ok, thanks for the advice

For the record since the death of empress Britta there have been four Senators for Zenith:
Hector of Spire of the Celestial Cascade- Emigrated to Dawn and then Died
Cato of Echostorm (now Storm’s End)- Still attends Anvil
Tanwyn Ankarien- Transfered to being Senator for Spiral and then Died
Edmundo of Damakan’s Forge- Still attends Anvil

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The Jotun don’t look down on magic as weak. They have substantial amounts of Summer magic, and one of their elite units uses a lot of battle magicians. They use thrall ritual teams a lot because those don’t need to be armed, and Jotun consider being a warrior to be the highest calling.

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To be clear, this is intended to be in-universe fiction, right? As in, a story that your character made up? If that’s the case innaccuracies about political figures (how often is the President in a movie either a fictional character or just not named) or foreign powers (how often to writers make wild assumptions without doing the research) make for a fun detail for other characters to quibble about.

When it rubs up against knowledge your character should definitely have is worth being careful about though.

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Yeah, it’s in-game fiction. The hardest part is writing a story from the perspective of a character written from the perspective of another character

How about I keep it in Urizen, however this time a madeup human Spire has been taken captive by the Druj and are now being forced to work as slaves to help the Druj gather and use mana crystals. The old ways of this Urizeni society are breaking down, reduced to some kind of primitive monarchy, resulting in the people turning to an otherwise totally unequipped (yet charismatic) son of a senator.

Again, stories are stories but as feedback:

-No urizeni Spire has been in Druj hands for more than a couple of years. If it has to be Urizeni you might be better off for such long term occupation with the the Grendel in Spiral.

-The Egregore bond will stop people going towards Monarchy when they consider themselves Urizeni, Indeed even prior to the egregore and joining the Empire Urizen was never a monarchical culture.

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The accuracy is very true. But then if theu says it happened a long time ago/makes it clear that it’s a made up tale. Perhaps passed down by people/written a while ago then I think the slight inaccurcies to modern day are fine.
As long as its clear its a work of fiction then you have an artistic licence of sorts.

I disagree with IbisCappelli here a bit - if it’s intended as in-game fiction then the inaccuracies also need to be the sorts of things people might believe IC, which is why it’s still a good idea to pass the story ideas by other people OC first. :slight_smile:

@Greenwood, my suggestion would be: what do you want this story to mainly be about? It looks like what you’re going for, filing off any of the Empire-specific things, is:

  • young person living in an area under occupation
  • said young person has family with high expectations of them, but they don’t want to follow those, and like music and drama better
  • another young person, this time a member of the occupying forces, is in charge of a delegation there and recruits the first young person
  • they get on really well
    (There’s not an ending to this yet, which I can understand - endings are tricky!)

If you want to find something that’ll work well as IC short fiction, how about putting the occupying forces part aside and just going with “young person has family with high expectations of them, they don’t want to follow those, their talents come in useful in other ways”?

For example, you could start off with a young Leaguer who enjoys being a mountebank far more than the idea of going into their family’s more staid theatre company, or their guild; their escapades get them into more than they bargained for, and damn it I’ve ended up half-reworking Assassin’s Creed 2.

(In my defence that’s probably feasible as well, it just won’t end up with a fist-fight with the pope because the Empire has no pope.)

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A fist-fight with the Cardinal of the Way?

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I was planning for a part-mockery of the stiff minded ideals of the Urizen folk, and the slow coming of age of both the characters from the nation and, perhaps, the nation itself, when faced with a brutally practical and war-hardened barbarian enemy. At the same time, it also focuses on the innocence of the young and how the world tends to wear this away. The ultimate point of the fiction would be in dismissing the whole concept of a Net of Heavens, instead suggesting that the world and circumstance are not defined and shaped by the actions and thoughts of the people in it, but rather the other way around. The characters come to realise this over time and become more relatable as a result, learning to slowly give up their sometimes stiff, idealised culture for a more rough and emotional personality that ultimately allows them to develop further as both individuals and a society.

I believe this is explicitly against the Way of Virtue, which states that human actions should shape the world. I’m trying to find the direct reference on the wiki, but think it might be lumped under the false virtue of Hope.
https://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/Malign_spiritual_presences#Hope

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It could be interpreted as such, but this thinking isn’t suggesting that there are greater forces at work in the world. It’s simply suggesting that the world is a complicated place that doesn’t always work in a way that corresponds to how humans want it to. The whole philosophy of Urizen is that things have a place to which they should and will naturally fall, however the invasion contradicts this, throwing everything out of order. The characters in the fiction are forced to adapt to this greater understanding. Part of it is also that there are no “forces of good and evil”, there are just people going about their lives for better or for worse. Ultimately though, while people can influence events, the world existed long before people did. The only arena where sentient action truly matters is amongst other sentients, because only they can appreciate what has happened unlike the otherwise unliving universe.

Ah but the Urizeni don’t believe ‘things have a place to which they should and will naturally fall’. They believe that things are connected, that getting the right person to the right place at the right time is the way to cause large scale change, that if you can’t influence a thing directly you can influence it at range. There is nothing ‘natural’ about where a thing ends up, if there were there wouldn’t be a entire archetype, the Illuminate, whose job it is to make sure the right person is in the right place of the net.

There’s nothing ‘natural’ about the net (that’s more the Navarr great dance and even that isn’t quite) its shaped and altered by understanding it, by human abition and human Arete.

And while mockery is all well and good Urizeni ideals are really no more Stiff than any other nation.

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I think this story would hit problems in the fact that the version of Urizen beliefs you’re trying to critique isn’t actually accurate to the attitudes of Urizen, either as written in the background or as evidenced by the current player base.

It would make most characters view it at best as a poor parody written by someone who had never visited Urizen, and in a potentially worst case scenario as a deliberate insult to the nation. ( Of course if that’s the effect you’re aiming for then go for it. :wink: )

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Ah, sorry, I see what you mean (why are all these nations so utopian?). Oh well, I think there may still be room to manoeuvre there though. What about this interpretation instead; although Urizen is a wise nation that understands the world and its limits, it only understands it in theory. For years the wizards have been living peacefully up in their defendable spires, casting rituals from afar and stargazing, while refining their intellectual utopia. By contrast, the other nations are more influenced by practicality, taking on more emotionally orientated cultures than in Urizen, aspiring to ideals like freedom and success rather than wisdom. So, perhaps you could argue that in order for the scholars of Urizen to truly have a better understanding of the world, they need to live beyond their mountains and experience the true, broiling nature of life as the rest of the Empire has.

That still doesn’t really sound like Urizen, they’ve been pretty proactive in matters of Empire.

Ah, ok. Thanks for the input btw all.