Mere Sapnon Ki Rani: Conflict System

See the original MSkR post for the introduction to this game. This system remains incomplete; another option for the failed klesha transfers is to have them act as simple success, but generate collateral suffering as well. I have strong doubts about the klesha transfers that reduce total threat weight.


Insert conflict trigger and outside-SIS resolution here

To begin you need to define each character's goals. Characters may continue participating in a conflict as long as they are able; prior to being disabled, they may surrender. The last character remaining in a conflict achieves his goal.

A conflict consists of a series of successive turns. In each turn, the character of highest-ranking Caste acts first; among characters of the same Caste, compare their talent score in that Caste, and proceed in order of decreasing talent.

What You Can Do

During a turn, you may take one of the following actions:


You use one of your skills to injure another character. Roll a number of dice equal to the relevant skill (with some dice mechanic that rewards high talent); said dice mechanic generates three outcomes: failure (infrequent), injury (frequent) and severe injury (frequent).

Injury inflicts a one-die penalty on the victim's use of the skill you attacked with. Severe injury has two possible effects on the victim; it can either reveal a Vel, one of the overhanging dooms that threatens a character engaging in confrontation, or it may increase the klesha of that Vel. See The Elephants of Four Quarters for more details on the Vel.

Failure sets you off-balance. When none of your Vels are visible, this isn't actually an issue; you just didn't get to do something interesting this turn. However, if the appropriate Vel is visible, then it becomes exposed. See See The Elephants of Four Quarters for more details on what exposure means.


You tell a sympathetic listener of your troubles. Your family will always listen to your troubles; you may also invite player characters to listen, but they may decline. For each listener, you transform one die of injury into a sympathy die; all the injuries you transform in this manner must be against skills associated with a single Caste. You choose a character to accuse, and then give each listener one of the newly created sympathy dice. The possessor of a sympathy die may spend it to roll an extra die in in an attack against the accused.

The possessor of a sympathy die may also spend it when the accused makes an attack; for each sympathy die spent, reduce the accused's attack pool by one.

The Elephants of Four Quarters

Each character exposes himself to four dooms when he engages in conflict; these are the Vels. When Vels begin to appear, you are able to perform several new actions during your turn in a conflict.

There are four Vels, each corresponding to a Caste. A Vel is first revealed when a character takes a severe injury to a skill in a Caste; further severe injuries in that Caste increment that Vel, while injuries to other Castes concern themselves with their corresponding Vels. When a Vel is revealed, the character inflicting the injury specifies the doom that will visit itself upon the victim, should that Vel fall. Its initial klesha is 1.

Klesha, weight, describes how threatening a Vel is. A Vel with low klesha is one that is light; it isn't putting a great deal of stress on the strings of destiny, and it's not likely to fall. As klesha increases, so does the danger of the Vel's falling. (Some inversion of the dice mechanic makes it such that any attack tempts the Vel at the same time.)

Exposure of a Vel indicates that a character's enemies have observed a temporary gap in his defences. When a Vel is exposed, it makes it drastically easier insert dice mechanic here to inflict simple and severe injuries on the character, within that Caste's field of influence.


A ?? is a tactical adjustment you may make when your opponent is under two or more Vels; the object is to lure him into shifting position. Roll an Air-skill (any Brahmana skill, Archery, Smithy, or Horse); on success, transfer klesha equal to your appropriate Talent (relative to the skill rolled) from one Vel to another of that opponent's Vels. On failure, you suffer one points' worth of the same adjustment; on severe success, the target's klesha increases by the appropriate amount, but the source's reduces by half that amount.


A ?? is a tactical adjustment you may make with your own threats when you are under three or four Vels. The object is to move closer or farther from a particular threat. Roll a Fire-skill (any Kshatriya skill, Prayer, Ornament, or Speech); on success, you may do one of two things. Either transfer one point from a source Vel to all your other Vels, or transfer one point from all your other Vels to a target Vel. On failure, either the target increases by the appropriate amount, but only one other Vel is decreased; or else all the other Vels are incremented, but the source is only decremented by one. On severe success, increment the target by one but reduce all the others, or else decrease the source by the appropriate amount but only increase one other.


A ?? is a tactical adjustment you may make when you are under two or more Vels; the object is to move into a more advantageous position yourself. Roll a Water-skill (any Shudra skill, Scripture, Battle, or Mystery); on success, transfer (some number of klesha) from one Vel to another of your Vels. On failure, you suffer one points' worth of the opposite adjustment; on severe success, the target's klesha increases by the appropriate amount, but the source's reduces by half that amount.


A ?? is a tactical adjustment you may make when two of your opponents are under Vels; the object is to shift the position of two characters relative to yourself. Roll an Earth-skill (any Vaishya skill, Celebration, Kingship, or Theft); results are as (Air adjustment) but with transfer magnitudes for successes reduced by half.

Vel: Tamil, spear. Klesha: Skt., weight.


The Scarlet Lark: Linguistic Appendix

The following are detailed parses and translations for all the prior Scarlet Lark posts; further translations will be provided as footnotes to new posts.

Feneng 1

rest comfortably<INE>
place where one rests comfortably; refuge

She Who Runs
run away, flee-3s-PRS.PROGRELshe[NOM.s]
she that flees; she that runs away

síli-rV yinyí-sj=míháthaí-én

Feneng 2

rest comfortably-3.sbeauty-ESS.s=in

Feneng 3

measure-NEG-able to undergo-3.sbrotherhood-GEN.sdagger[NOM.s]

Tarag Thán
Lit. "embrace flame"; archaic. Traditionally read as "Embraced by Flame" or "The Embracing Fire". Alludes to the fire curse of Ulmemr Yár, which surrounds the central islands of the city.

Kévezem Pillar-of-Sky
Keen-Eye Pillar-of-Sky

Red Cliff
redshoulder; cliff

The People of the Dragon

Léhes Lizb Lit. "Flesh mountain."

Feneng 4

Hararo Páisí
flowers have an opinion; opinion becomes flowers

Flowing Serpent
Flowing Serpent; archaic. Modern form, kédeniakwe yár.

Hospitable Spear

Tangled Root of Heroism
Hujhul Kún'dh-mí Harástechhó
Lit. "Tangled by/among the heroism of root"; archaic or poetic. Root is likely an allusion to ancestors.

pái chweng
"Black flower", refers to the black petals of holy saffron. Chweng is a foreign borrowing from the language of sorcerors. The borrowing is also the source of the non-standard word order.

The Temples of Palau-of-the-Iron-Hand

Yetyem Lédh
hand<EARTH>black; dark
Lit. "Black Hand"; the EARTH infix indicates that the hand is not fleshly, but made of some unliving material; a roundabout way of saying "iron hand".

Míkhi Nén'dh
Lit. "Vapour Spindle".

Phalai Pí
floor; platform; earthtide; flowing water
Lit. "Tide Floor".

O mists, that you would clear!
Overdeclination rules! Lit. "O clouds, I wish it were that you were clear!"

mistake-rip to pieces-3.s

The way of cutting fingers
move violently-finger
Lit. "fingers moving violently". Often misinterpreted as "stiff fingers" from káá-ládh.


MSKR: Invulnerability and दुःख

Note: The conflict mechanic for MSKR strongly resembles EUCS.

Skills have different levels of vulnerability. The standard skill is mortal; it recieves injury normally. Heroic and divine skills are unusual: a heroic skill downgrades severe injuries to standard injuries, and a divine skill never suffers standard injuries. This doesn't actually make life easier for them; heroism deflects the reduced damage to the hero's family, while gods deflect their injuries onto the world. This is known as dukkha, suffering.

Invulnerability is the strongest defence; an invulnerable skill never suffers damage, but instead, the invulnerable character's player chooses another of the character's skills to deflect each injury to. It does not cause others to suffer dukkha.


The Temples of Palau-of-the-Iron-Hand

It's my birthday (Ed.: This was originally posted Aug.24), so I get an aside. I think it's really dumb to dislike game rules. I don't care who you are; if you don't like games because they have rules, and they're good rules, you're a dumbass, and I cannot take you seriously.

Yetyem Lédh once stole the sword of Rakaui. It did not go well for him. It was hardly a century, or what passed for one in the time before the gods had won their Names, before the sword in its indignation sliced off his hand. He thought to repay the weapon for its insolence by melting it down and forging of it an iron hand, for which he has become named, but the weapon's soul fled before he could complete his revenge.

Yetyem Lédh, frustrated, began to build temples, each one a studied insult against another god, a spell to subvert and poison the other's power. Of these, the most famously beautiful are Míkhi Nén'dh, the Vapour Spindle at the mouth of the sacred River, and Phalai Pí, Tide Floor, the moving temple that was said to be hung from the ankles of the moon.

Míkhi Nén'dh

She murmured, nédhhiul, methne kirikkíssne lésesen, O mists, that you would clear! Obediently, the plumes of cloud folded themselves, closed their wings, and when finally settled, the black-beaked crane dipped its head in greeting.

Feneng was not prepared for this. After some time, she recovered her composure with some embarrassment and bent to stroke the bird's strong, cold back. She had been shocked; Míkhi Nén'dh's reputation did not do the temple much justice. At the top of its single tower, more mistcranes wheeled around a dance floor, each carrying a lantern that shone with strangely steady purple light. Eight bridges reached out to the land on either side of the River's gorge. Below the bridges, the temple narrowed to a point, like the root of a tree. The uttermost base of the temple, where it leaned on the stone River-shores, was no thicker than a man's femur. It ended in a tiny fist. It was much more imposing than Red Cliff, whose golden stucco walls were beginning to feel like home.

"This is the great monstrosity that so offends the principalities of ocean and sky?" Feneng asked the crane this, not expecting a response.

This contributed to Feneng's surprise when the bird gestured at some obscure architectural detail with a foot, and turned its head to the side, to get a better look. She took this to be an answer, as the bird's legs were not, as one would normally expect, the legs of a bird, but rather appeared to be scaled, webbed, plated imitations designed by some overeager crab. Seen in full face, the bird's eyes were iridescent but unintelligent, unmoving, glassy, and ultimately fishlike. When it opened its beak to cry, Feneng caught a glimpse of gill slits, and recoiled in horror and disgust at its branching, feathery tongue.

Phalai Pí

I went to Phalai Pí once, said Resmeváracje, when the rains had not favoured my family's lands I still had the hope that Our Lord The Maimed could corrupt the natural course of things to serve us better.

It is the tallest thing I have yet seen, so tall that its peak is wrapped in clouds even though the lower levels are flooded at high tide. It's woven of fish bones and silver wire, so from a distance it is as though a geyser or a great wave struck the shore and instantly froze. She paused. Things eat it. Everywhere you go, you can hear them, crunching at its foundations. You can see them moving, though the gaps in the latticed floors. Their great hall's sacred icons are all gnawed at the edges.

She shut her eyes and shook her head as though to clear it of the unpleasant memory, and went on...

Their priest demanded that I defeat an acolyte in single combat efore they would hear my plea. I was young, not yet having taken up the scarlet, and so I did not have káaládh, the way of cutting fingers. They gave us each a white dagger, made of milky glass or perhaps fish ivory. It was hard to tell because no sooner was the dagger in my hand than the acolyte flung himself at me.

He was not a good fighter. I gutted him before his hood could fall, which turned out to be for the best because if it had, I could not have killed him. He was my eldest sister's eldest son.

She-Rips-Error-to-Pieces is my name. Phalai Pí does not belong on these shores; by this name I have sworn to remove it.


That Infernal Clicking

A Horrific Addon for Many Games

What You Need

  • A soundtrack with insect noises
  • Mood music
  • A sound-mixer such that you can play both at once and adjust their volume independently
  • A game system

Your Choice of Game System Should...

  • Have a frequently-used mechanic that generates random numbers, preferably one that doesn't get used with drastically increased frequency in some identifiable circumstance
  • Facilitate the use of many distinct characters for each player
  • Only permit a single player to frame scenes ever (this is a strong version of old-skool GM responsibilities)
  • Give players Something Useful To Do when their characters are not immediately present.

Setting Up TIC

This game is, like, the opposite of what I usually do when I design; it relies very heavily on information-hiding. You need one player who Knows It All; in like D&D you should assign this role to the DM.

All the other players should make harems of characters, like three or four each. You want a whole ton of these. Don't get overly attached to them, but make them strongly distinct to the naked eye.

The knowitall chooses a secret number. How he chooses this secret number will vary from mechanic to mechanic, but generally you want something you can spot easily and will happen no less frequently than one roll in 10; for a d20 game of TIC, I'd use the ones digit of the die as my secret number range.

Set the volume on your mood music to like 50%, and that of your insect noises to like 5%. Then turn down your overall volume until you can just barely talk over the music comfortably without raising your voices.

The imagined locale your game is set in must be a place where earshot and line-of-sight are restricted, like in a swamp at night, or an old and poorly-maintained mansion, or whatever. Use the restrictions of sense and space to set mood.

Playing TIC

This is, like, a survival horror thing, of the kind where you never get to see the monsters.

With that in mind:

The knowitall frames every scene. It's his sole responsibility to determine when and how characters appear and depart from stage.

Whenever the dice generate the secret number, the character the roll was made for is Eaten By The Clicking. The knowitall makes a note to himself about this, and does not announce it to the players. However, from this point onward, that character does not reappear onscreen. When the scene ends, knock up the Clicking like 5%. Consider increasing it slowly over the course of several seconds so it's not sudden and perceptible.

The first roll made by anyone after someone is Eaten sets the new secret number. That second roll doesn't actually trigger Eating, if the new secret number is the same as the old.

Multiple characters can be Eaten in the same scene. Raise the Clicking once for each eaten character.

Don't Eat a player's last character.

There's one way that players may control sceneframing: They may Go Looking For a character. This is a whatever kinda roll in the system you're using. "Success" indicates that, if the target was alive, the next time the searchers appear on screen they have the target in tow. If the target was Eaten, then the searchers have attracted the Clicking's attention, and they are Eaten the next time the secret number comes up, in the place of the character that triggered it.


A rare success on Going Looking can bring an Eaten character back, but the searcher still attracts the attention of the Clicking.

You Creep

Well, yeah. The idea here is to set up an uncertain, aurally uncomfortable situation, and have a completely uncontrollable condition that puts all the characters in very real but imperceptible danger. Particularly, if you're managing your volume right, the slowly escalating background noise will force everyone to talk subtly more loudly, which should stress them out noticeably.

I don't know whether I'd actually play this.


Feneng 4

The world had lost all shape and meaning. It was a seamless blur of green, and red Feneng lay crumpled at its centre. Here at the southern extreme of Kvei-tzu Mu, the pines sweated sugary resin, and the moss of the sea drank it greedily, turning the tree trunks into columns of jade. Their highest branches filigreed the sky with viridian. Evil gasses of the swamp tinted the mist of daybreak with the colour of bile.

It was here, in this country that broke painters with despair, that the monastery at Red Cliff was wont to celebrate Hararo Páisí, the Flowers Have An Opinion rite.

Feneng liked to chew on things while she was thinking; now she chewed on a branch of wild coriander as she discussed her plans with a sympathetic wisteria. "This is ridiculous. How am I to find a flower in this forsaken place? Nothing blooms here; what god is there to awaken the buds, to tend them as their petals unfurl? None with that subtlety would venture into these wilds." She glared at her favorite dagger, forged of fine Zuqùntsìn damask bronze. "Someone must have made a law." It was filmed with a mocking layer of verdigris. "Verdigris."

The wisteria rustled and dropped a wilted leaf onto Feneng's shoulder, comfortingly.

"This is ridiculous," Feneng snapped. "Here I am, talking to a vine, crazy as a second son riding South to subjugate the Shchang and cover himself in glory..." She paused. "...cover myself... in glory. I'm going to make Dagger very sorry we became friends. Wisteria, bear witness!" Then she clapped her hands and leapt to the top of the tallest tree she could see.

"VILE! ACCURSED! EXILED! SPAWN OF KVEI-TZU MU! UNFIT TO OFFEND A CAMEL!" A pause for breath. "I am Seeks-Refuge-in-Beauty, Feneng (so they tell me)! I am (if my sources are correct) the Heir Embraced by Fire! The Flowing Serpent coils on my brow and I carry the sword of Veamándhi! I DEFY YOU! I MOCK YOU! I—" A decided rustling below. Feneng took a deep, steadying breath, tightened her sash, and dropped back to ground.

There was a some deer there. That was the only reasonable way to describe it. It was not so much several deer as it was a mass of deer-ness. Liquid brown eyes stared in every direction, under a thicket of antlers. It moved almost silently on many hooves.

The some deer was not very good at acting like some deer, Feneng thought. Deer do not have so many teeth, probably, and even if they do, it's impossible that they would be so imposing. They were sufficiently long and adequately sharp.

It seemed to agree, because it rippled and changed, making a loud groan much like the sound of a butcher sawing through a particularly thick bone. It began to put Feneng in mind of the exotic deep-sea fish the naturalists were so fond of displaying, all gaping eyes and gaping jaws full of tangled, translucent teeth. It was then that she attacked it. When it began to react, it was too late; its many-jointed limbs were already entangled in trailing sleeves of crimson, and before it could bite at her its mouths began to fill with gelatinous gore, as Feneng's dagger bespattered the two with the liquor of the monster's eyes. It was a short and ugly fight. Mercifully, the monster's blood smelled of foxgloves and wine.

Feneng found long grass, and began the long process of making a trophy of the monster's teeth. When her tooth crown was complete, there were more teeth, so she made bracelets. There were more teeth, so she made anklets. There were more teeth, so she made armbands. There were more teeth, and now she swore and vowed vengeance and curses upon Red Cliff, her ancestors, the god responsible for devising the first teeth, and so on, until she had strung all the remaining teeth on a line, and this she slung over her shoulder twice as a sash.

This figure, barefoot, every limb encircled by fangs, robes stiff as armor with unholy blood, with a monster's heart in one hand and a gory dagger in the other, walked for three days and nights without pause, until she arrived at the gates of Red Cliff.

"I have arrived!" said she. "Summon Immaculate-Dagger-of-Brotherhood, Hospitable Spear, and Tangled-Root-of-Heroism." The gatekeeper was not accustomed to this rite. He fled without pausing to discover who this apparition was, and shortly the three chiefest warrior-priests appeared, hands upturned and sleeves untied as if for battle.

"Lovely Refuge, you have returned to us!" was Master Dagger's response. He ran to embrace her, stopped short, and gestured vaguely. "You look like you have been cleaning the tombs. Meet us at the water, below the Endless Stair."

Feneng nodded, although inwardly she groaned. The Tedious Stair was not known for being an enjoyable or brief walk.

As he walked down the hall, Dagger mused. Foxglove, the heart-stopping herb?

By the time she arrived, the warrior trinity had changed their battle robes for white practice robes, which minimal garments consisted of little other than kilts and long sleeves that began at the elbow. They were arrayed around the ablution font, and each held an urn. Without pausing for pleasantries, they began the purification rite which concluded all major ordeals. The youngest, Hospitable Spear, intoned, "You who are dead to the world of goodness, be revived, by degree of earth—" he brought the smallest urn to Feneng's lips and she tasted rich, dark wine—

"—and sky—" continued Immaculate-Dagger-of-Brotherhood, and Feneng tasted honey made from jasmine.

"—and sea," concluded Tangled-Root-of-Heroism, giving Feneng a drink of salt water.

"Life repays the suffering of birth!" they shouted in unison, and three sleeves lashed out. Feneng found herself sinking to the bottom of the ablution font. It was rather cold.

She thrashed back up to the surface and heaved out of the water, gasping. "Oh for Ban's sake are you going to do that every time?" She coughed and shivered.

Spear was considered to be somewhat tactless. This popular opinion was not without its roots in truth! The young priest had risen in the ranks so quickly for his martial force, not his talents in diplomacy. At the moment he was diplomatically concealing a loud snicker with his hand.

"Actually, it's supposed to be a surprise," Tangled explained, distractedly. "Next time, one of us will have to interrupt another during some earlier bit of the ritual." He had already begun climbing the stair—not the Endless Stair—that led to the temple gardens. He stopped when Dagger threw a pebble at him. "What?"

"Look… pái chweng."

Feneng looked around in confusion. "What?"

"Congratulations, little queen." Tangled acted like this kind of thing happened every day. "That is a good omen indeed; now no one can question your prowess, mettle, or vision."

"Master Tangled, please, what are you talking about?"

"Look at your crown, Feneng."

She lifted the wreath from her hair, and gasped. The needlelike teeth had grown into graceful stems; at the tip of each bloomed a little flower, with tiny black petals and long, elegant stamens. It was a wreath of red saffron, the most sacred of spices, a prophetic drug, and the finest red dye known to living man. She looked down at her hands, her sash. Every tooth had blossomed thus.


Exalted Unified Conflict System

In kinda-cheatsheet form; to be expanded outside of posting schedule...

Step 1: Declare Intent

Each player declares his character's goal, and the way in which he proposes to accomplish them.

Based on these methods, the ST chooses an Ability; this is the Ability the whole conflict will use. We'll call it the Focus. He chooses three Attributes, for Accuracy, Force, and Defence. For a shorthand, you might just want to use Dex/Str/Sta, Man/Cha/App, and Wit/Int/Per, but remember that this is a shorthand and not a full accounting of options. The Attribute set will not change throughout the conflict, but the Focus may shift repeatedly.

What You Do In A Turn

Conflicts proceed in "turns"; these are abstract time units whose lengths are defined at runtime.

Each turn, roll initiative (method TBD) and proceed with the characters in initiative order.

Each turn, you have one mobility action and one standard action. A standard action is a full dice action, which may be split or delayed as per the rules in Exalted. Similarly, it may include defensive actions. Mobility actions are slightly different; using a mobility action, you may only move "one turn's movement", or reFocus. You can perform mobility tasks with a standard action as well, but, unless you have an exotic source of multiple actions, reFocusing twice in a turn is not more useful than doing it once.


The most common action you will take is an attack. The dice pool for this is Focus+Accuracy. Add the successes of this roll to Force to determine the "raw damage" of the attack. Subtract the defender's Focus; supernatural creatures add their Defence to this. The damage can't be reduced below the attacker's Essence. Roll the resulting dice pool at a difficulty of the defender's Essence; upon success, the defender suffers an injury.

Defensive Actions

You can take a defensive action to reduce the successes of an attack roll before damage is calculated. Each Exalted Caste is associated with a defensive Ability. You defend against attacks with the defensive Ability of the same Caste of your heritage; make a roll of this ability plus Accuracy and subtract the successes from attack successes. In addition, Dodge may always be used when a Dawn Ability is the Focus or when the goal defended against involves physical harm.

Attribute-based Exalted may use Defence alone, except when Dodge is applicable. Gods under the Sustainers rules may defend with specific abilities when the Focus falls under a Sphere; then they use the other Ability as defence.

  • Defences for Solars & Abyssals: Melee, Resistance, Lore, Larceny, Socialise
  • Defences for Sidereals: Endurance, Performance, Brawl, Stealth, Athletics
  • Defences for Dragon-Blooded: Linguistics, Awareness, Presence, Bureaucracy, Archery


As your mobility action, you may reFocus, which means that you shift the conflict's Focus to another Ability in the same Caste, based on your own heritage. Obviously, Attribute-based Exalted cannot reFocus, nor can mortals; spirits may reFocus a conflict to another Ability that shares a Sphere with the current Focus.


An injury reduces your score in the Focus by 1; when you have 0 in the Focus Ability, then you must either reFocus on your next action, or suffer the consequences of defeat.


The People of the Dragon

Far to the west lies Léhes Lizb, the Mountain of Flesh. It is a dragon; perhaps he is sleeping, perhaps he is dead. For fear of waking him, we dare not speak his name.

Long ago, a hero went to the mountain and returned with a burden: a bundle of dragonmeat. He cooked it over a fire of hazel and blackwand, and served it to his people. As they carved the meat, there was a wonder, for the patterns of fat and sinew wrote the secrets of immortality therein. This is the power of the dragon: they endure. They cannot be killed by injury. They do not die of old age. Their flesh does not rot. Cut from their veins, their blood does not cool; it remains hot and golden.

Dining on the dragon changed the hero's people. They stopped aging. They stopped dying.

They began to go mad.

The eldest of the people of the dragon retreated from the world; being turned into unchanging immortals shocked them, not at all pleasantly. They took poison to fall into endless slumber, or closed the gates of their silver towers, never to be reopened; one famously tanned his flesh into leather and alloyed his bones with steel to make a quiver of spears for his heirs. His blood still flows in the fountains of his rooftop garden.

The second generation were no longer human. Their eyes were silver and violet and blue, like flowers or coins; their voices like battle drums. They became warlords, each the equal of the others, and all were thus forgotten.

The People of the Phoenix

Every phoenix is different.

A Shchang, passing through our city in pursuit of a stolen horse, once told me that the king of Kúddhim keeps a flagon of phoenix's blood, a shining alloy of honey and fire, hidden in his treasure vault. Whenever someone of the royal line dies, his heir takes the throne. Then, the late king's heart is washed with the immortal blood and planted in the royal tomb. In nine nights, a copper raven claws its way from the earth, who speaks with the king's voice and knows his dead mind. Thus they have preserved their wisdom unbroken since the dawn of the world, so they say.

The Zuqùndhoth pass down a tale of the Blue Bird of the East, who leads ships away from deadly reefs. It exacts a harsh price; the captain of every such ship becomes day-blind, only able to see when the face of the sun is hidden.

There is a legend among the Marunddhaùn of another Shchang hero, Chvie-Jen Four Winds Sing, who was first famed for her mad thirst for godblood. When she came upon white Krii, the night phoenix, she was enlightened, and became a great force of mercy; now the place where the slaying took place is covered by trailing golden jasmine, and white birds-of-paradise make their nests there; they can be found nowhere else.


Torchbearer Cheat Sheet

Thursday ends when I go to bed.



You assign your character five Traits, and then choose a Conflict from among those offered to you; its Importance is 7.


Make approximately n+2 Torches. A Torch requires a meaning, symbology, and representation. Pass 'em out.


First time round, introduce each character and their Conflict.

Afterwards, rotate through characters as you please, running them until you roll a Trial. Then immediately move on.

In A Scene

Narrate freely until someone contests something you're doing, or it is an obvious component of your Ordeal. See Vincent's List entry for objection procedure, I'm too tired to look it up. When you express a Trait, earn a drop of Fuel.

When you're contested, tag somebody to narrate for your resistance; if it's an owned character then its owner narrates. Check for Allies. At this point anyone may focus the Trial, see below. Else, continue. Each other player may offer a Torch to one of you. If you accept, they outline the Torch's relevance in the conflict and the recipient narrates it formally. Roll your side's Traits + Torches against your Ordeal's. Your opponent assigns you a new Trait if you lose; you expend a Trait, losing it, and drop the Importance of the Obstacle, and the next one containing it for each 2 excess margin, by 1.

Caring About It: You can spend X Fuel before rolling a Trial to multiply dice contribution from Torches by X.

Allies: You can spend X Fuel, X = some other person's Ordeal's Importance, to nest that Ordeal into the one you're in right now; you get involved in his story for its duration, and you both add your Traits together to roll against it.

Focus: Spend X Fuel to turn a Trial into an Ordeal X. This can only occur once per scene; several players may share the cost.


Feneng 3

As the martial arts lesson wound down, Immeasurable-Dagger-of-Brotherhood gestured Feneng over to his side, mopping sweat from his face. "You learn quickly. Welcome to the class."

Feneng finished tying up the sparring mat she was holding and shrugged. "Thank you. I did grow up in Tarag Thán, Master Dagger. We are warriors as well as courtiers."

Immeasurable-Dagger-of-Brotherhood nodded. "Will you join us in the baths?" Feneng looked a bit surprised. "We are priests, you recall."

"Ah, naturally. It would be unseemly to attend the evening prayer reeking of sweat."

"Just so."

Master Dagger's expression suddenly became very serious. Feneng noted that she and the instructor were the only two remaining in the steaming bath; the remainder of the students, acolytes, had scattered to perform their various household duties. "Finds-Comfort-in-Law does not want you here, Refuge."

"What, why?"

"You don't see it in her face? If your family does not take the throne, her line stands to inherit, via Prince Kévezem of Pillar-of-Sky."

Feneng nodded. "The abbess tells me that he is a wicked man." They had only recently reviewed the complex succession traditions of the holy city. "I had thought her eyes were a funny colour."

"He does not like Red Cliff; she is concerned. But he is better than many."

"You say that as though many are also better than him."

"I would not be lying if I said that, either. There are salamanders in that family." When Feneng raised an eyebrow, he yelped, "What? You obviously have a little of the golden blood yourself."

New Posting Schedule

From now onwards, I'm adopting a twice-weekly posting schedule for Raven Swallows the Sun. Every Monday and Thursday, I'll post something, and once every week, I'll post some piece of game design. These weekly pieces will be on some recurring topic, and tagged as such.

Optional Saturday entries will introduce new topics.

In the event that I'm unable to post something on a mandatory posting day, as soon as the condition preventing me resolves itself, I'll post once each Saturday and twice on regular days until the backlog clears.

The current list of topics for weekly articles is as follows:

  • Mere Sapnon Ki Rani
  • Torchbearer
  • The Scarlet Lark setting for Torchbearer
  • Feneng vignettes for the Scarlet Lark
  • "Shreyas rants about games unproductively" will never be a weekly topic.