posted by RedSnapper Original SA post

How about for another system that’s never been (and will likely never be) transladed into English? Between a pretty-good-yet-flawed setting and premise, a bit of chart bloat, utterly unwieldy combat rules and complete obscurity (even in its home country of Poland) Monastyr seems like a perfect fit for the Thread.

So, what is this.. Monastyr?

Monastyr is a dark fantasy role-playing game set in a fantasy not! XVI-century Europe, surrounded by barely civilized, pagan kingdoms and hordes of devil-worshipping barbarians. So, it’s exactly as our XVI-century Europe (as seen by XVI-century Europeans) but with more wizards.

Monastyr (or monaster) is also the word for monastery in Orthodox and Greek Catholic church. That has nothing to do with the game. I mean, the game has a not! Catholic Church so there obviously are monasteries and true, you could make an analogy between the game’s Dominium (a Holy Roman Empire-sque confederation of kingdoms) and ‘a walled place of seclusion/isolation’ but the point of this overly long sentence is that the name seems tacked on like they just needed a seriously sounding, marketable word.

The game itself was published in 2004 by Wydawnictwo Portal (Portal Publishing House – currently Portal Games), with little hype and even lesser sales numbers. It still managed to squeeze out two editions (second a being basically ‘revised’ with a hard cover, better quality paper, cleaned out misprints, and a few extra illustrations of varying quality), one nationbook describing the kingdom of Nordia, and four adventure modules.

Okay, what can I do in this game?

In Monastyr you get to play as a human, middle-aged, white aristocrat, just like you always wanted. The game expects you to play a person in their fourties, one of the few remaining Men of Honor (or Women – girls do exist in this game and the Dominium’s society is surprisingly egalitarian with regards to gender) out to redeem some past mistake. Probably by killing elves. It’s by no mean the only way to play and there’s even an entire half-page dedicated to making your character a (gasp) young person but the game makes it pretty clear that it wants to be a musketeer mid-life crisis simulator.

You got me at ‘killing elves’. Do continue.

Let’s do it then. One last note before I start, though: Since Monastyr hasn’t been translated to English, all book quotes will be translated by my humble self. Just be warned.

The book itself is 260 pages of high quality paper, densely-packed and bound in hardcover and is likely one of the prettiest RPG books I’ve seen this side of Degenesis. The pictures I post throughout this review will be either scans from the revised edition or cut outs from a bit low-ish quality pdf of the first ed. I don’t really want to risk pressing the physical book onto a scanner too much – especially since it belongs to my GM…

First look at the world


The World is at war. Both here in the kingdoms that make up the Dominium and in the pagan lands of Valdor, kings and princes wage their wars. They fight for every inch of land, every road, every field, every foot of the coastline. Every winter people die in all parts of the world, every spring some ruler musters his armies for a new conflict, every summer, every autumn… All year round the air resounds with the roar of cannons, stampedes of warhorses, noise of battles.
And the caws of ravens at dusk…

The past

Nearly all fluff parts of the book – and even some of the rules – are written in-character from the perspective of a minor nobleman. “NPCs narrating their own world” method of writing is quite popular in Polish RPGs (Neuroshima, currently reviewed by Tevery Best uses a similar shtick) but I probably won’t stick to the formula outside of quotes.

The priests say that before man came to be, the world belonged to a race of powerful beings called Rodians, living in harmony with the Creator. But in time they came to the attention of jealous demons that lurked in the darkness under the world. The demons corrupted Rodians and made them turn away from the Creator and, in turn, He abandoned and left them at the demons’ mercy. Now all that’s left of the Rodians are stories and ruins – particularly of the Cathedrals they erected in a desperate attempt to return into Creator’s grace.

According to the church, humans are direct descendants and pale shadows of the fallen Rodians – although, every now and then, there comes a madman of a heretic claiming human descent from some lowly deviria (which is a blanket term covering the soulless beings, ranging from animals, through orcs and elves, to demons).

After the fall of Rodians mankind fell into thrall of demons (sometimes literally ruling over human lands as feudal overlords) until one day, in a mountainous land to the east, the Prophet was born. He was able to rediscover the faith in the Creator and, with the power of prayer (and the power of arms), liberate the first human kingdoms. Centuries later the disparate kingdoms signed The Pact, uniting mankind under the dual rule of the Pope and the Emperor creating

The Dominium

The interesting byproduct of this game's obscurity is that this writeup will likely triple the number of Monastyr-related pictures available on the internet

The Pact, originally signed by seven kings, now unifies a whole bunch of kingdoms, princedoms and fiefdoms into what is known as The Dominium. Between the Emperor in the northeastern realm of Kord and the Pope in Kartina, to the northwest, the Dominium covers most of the (unnamed) continent. Little is known of the world outside of it: the eastern and northern lands are pagan kingdoms, falling one by one before the armies of Kord, southern mountains mark the near literal end of the world – only icy wastes lie beyond. It is to the north and west where the true danger comes from. Beyond the Ocean lies Valdor – a confederation of pagans, elves, dwarves and orcs – connected to the Dominium by a narrow stripe of land. There you can still see dragons and dark wizards (there is no other kind of wizard) and what’s even worse – humans, still slaved to magic, blind to the light of Karianism (which is the name of the Dominium’s religion) and in a dire need of a liberating crusade.


Here, in the Dominium lies the cradle of progress. Here sciences flourish. Untempted by magic, we use our minds and talents to move our culture forward. In Valdor you won’t find muskets, cannons of grand cathedrals. And here you won’t find magic, the Church will protect you from monsters, demons and all else that hides beyond the sea.


Agaria has the dubious honor of serving as the Dominium’s borderland with Valdor. It’s the place where all crusades came to a standstill and is now ravaged by constant raids, counter-raids, brigands and foraging parties. We’ll have a closer look at that place when we get to character creation, as it’s one of possible starting nationalities. Several generations of constant conflict made the Agars grim and humorless folk, a predisposition which is pushed even further by having as their other neighbor…


The country founded by Templars and ruled solely by the Inquisition. In a world where devotion and religious fervor are praised, Kara manages to take it to new, terrifying heights in a constant war on heresy, spiritual corruption and bodily comforts. It is pretty much a cross between the Monastyr’s Taliban and all stereotypes about the Spanish Inquisition. It is also, like Agaria, one of the suggested starting countries so let’s not waste words on them here.

The Pope

Residing in a small land of Kartina, the Pope is the head of Dominium’s only religion and likely the most powerful man in the world. The religion itself, Karianism, is based on the teachings of the Prophet and scriptures deciphered from the walls of ancient Rodian Cathedrals. The faithful are supposed to live modest and moral lives (the definition of “modest and moral” varies depending on region and social class) and abhor magic. Those who achieve sainthood will ascend to heaven to become one with, well, The One. Others will be reborn into the next generation or (in case of the truly wicked) cast into darkness to the mercy of demons. Current Pope, Magnus V, is widely considered one of the greatest minds of the generation, keeping together the various factions of the Church, the squabbling kingdoms of the Dominium, supporting Kord’s northern expansion, waging a sea war against Valdor (and supporting the land war in Agaria), founding universities and centres of learning… And he still somehow finds the time for his personal scientific study of magnetism, because why the hell not?


It’s kind of a big deal. After overthrowing the previous great power that was Dor, Kord became the seat of the Dominium’s emperor and the most powerful of its realms. Under the rule of Wolfgang de Calanthe, Kord is the greatest centre of trade, science and art. To the northeast Kord wages constant wars of conquest, razing pagan kingdoms one after another, returning their peoples to the True Faith and adding their lands to the realm. Kord is also available as a starting nationality so we’ll obviously mention them again.

The Darkness

It is a constant part of the world. We’ve already mentioned the pagans, elves and other monstrosities that dwell outside the Dominium, but demonic forces within are still present. Dark forces hide in remote woods and underground tunnels and caves. But still worse are the forces that every day try to lure good people astray.


Have you ever had a moment of weakness? Felt fear? Considered a lie of a betrayal? You must have. You have, therefore, met the Darkness, my lord..

The Future


We are in the year 1575 and the Dominium is at the brink of the greatest war since it became united. To the west the Claw Peninsula is on fire from conflicts between the kingdoms, to the north Kord is a step from taking over Doria, whose people are preparing to take action that can only end in tragedy. Doria will disappear from the maps while just a century ago it was an unparalleled power.
In Agaria you can hear voices speaking of peace with Valdor and a joint war against Kara, suspected of deeds so cruel and monstrous that I shudder to describe them.
In the very heartland of the Dominium, the kingdom of Matra is keeping eerily silent. Should they decide to march out their armies, none of their neighbours would be able to resist.
The Dominium will flow red with blood. If not this winter then the next…

A first look at game mechanics

Pick an attribute (usually in 5-20 range) and skill (they go 1-8) and roll 3d20, deduct your skill value from one of the dice. Every roll below or equal to the attribute is a success, two successes pass the test (or three if the required skill is at zero)

Here the game helpfully informs us that any fractions you encounter during character creation / play are to be rounded up. And yes, there will be fractions..

Next episode – character creation.

Character creation

posted by RedSnapper Original SA post

Welcome to Monastyr: Part 2 - Character creation.

Before we get to picking nationality, profession and attributes, our friend, the narrator has a couple of words:


We’re amongst the last, you know that. Wherever you look you’ll see intrigue and betrayal. Every value displaced by that of coin – stronger than friendship, dignity, decency.. What was once important is now an object of mockery. Those are lousy times, times the times of merchants and politicians and, to tell the truth, I doubt that our days are to ever return.
But. Before the world forgets us for good, we’ve got unfinished business to settle.

Someone give this guy a musketeer hat and we’ll have the narrator

The Great Losers

That’s the PCs. That’s you. You used to have it all – fame, fortune, career, you name it. And you blew it. Weather you shamed yourself with cowardice, let your pride get the better of you, gambled away your family estate, or just called the cardinal a dick, your once promising future took a sudden nosedive. Now you’re in/nearing your forties, and you’ve spent the last decade or two wondering “What if?”

In Monastyr you get to play one of the last Good Men. Men (or Women) of Honor as the narrator calls them. Stubborn relics of another, more honest age. It’s a rotten age we have now – those damn kids care nothing for honor and virtue, all they think about is gold and debauchery.

From now on I’ll just use this instead of the pic

Sooner or later you’ll receive The Letter. You’ll discover, for example, that your friend has been unjustly sentenced and is awaiting execution or that your brother’s estate got taken by the Inquisition.


What will you do with that letter? Burn it? You’re not making your mistake twice. You won’t turn back when fate offers you another chance. You’ll get up and go right the wrongs of your past. (…) You have more experience than a regiment of youths, more courage and grit than all of them combined. And finally you have the will to prove to the whole lousy world that the men of honor are not all gone.
It’s a bit less grandiose the way I translated it, but you get the gist.

Character Creation, step 1 (of 10): Nationality

We begin by picking the place of our birth. We can choose between ten countries described in this chapter or choose one of the minor powers (covered in the ass end of the book). The game notes at this point that you’re supposed to play as an aristocrat and most of the national stereotypes you’ll see below pertain to aristocrats rather than commoners.

Each country comes with two +1 modifiers to your attributes (The game has 8 attributes: Brawn, Agility, Wits, Perception, Credibility, Tenacity, Composure and Faith. The game also doesn’t actually list the attributes before step 4 of character creation) and a choice between two national traits. And that’s the point where those of you reading Tevery Best’s Neuroshima writeup start to see certain.. similarities. Yeah, both games were made by the same people and it shows.

For example, we get the same mechanic that allows you to sell your traits and stats for money (and also buy stats when we get to that point. Monastyr calls this The Retouch

The Retouch posted:

The Dominium is much more than those ten countries and nations mentioned below. I assure you, you can find dozens of equally beautiful lands. To come from them is less of a splendor, those countries mean less on the Dominium’s map, and their people are less famed in history. I will reward your inconvenience. Forget about your nationality and I will give you, my Lord, 1000 Kordins and throw in documents proving you hail from any land you choose – save for the ten mentioned in this chapter.
Yes, you’ll lose the trait, but a thousand Kordins is quite a sum, is it not?
Well is it? Just how much is a 1000 Kordins? Usually we wouldn’t find out until we got to the “estates” part (which is character creation step 9), so let me just skip ahead and tell you: More than a peasant sees in a lifetime, the equivalent value of an average village… or exactly 1/6 of the regular starting money. Also there’s no mention of what happens to ability bonuses that go with nationality – let’s just assume we get 2 * +1 to whatever.

Monastyr has two sets of fighting mechanics. I’ll elaborate on them where we get there but here’s a quick primer so I don’t have to rant on them every time they become relevant:

Mechanic 1 – simplified: you and your opponent roll 3d20 (don’t show your roll to the opponent) against your fencing skill, pick and reveal one die to decide initiative (the highest one wins), the guy with the initiative attacks by revealing one of the remaining dice and the defender reveals one of his own: if the attacker’s die is a success and the defender’s a miss he scores a hit, the other way around-defender takes initiative, all other cases-the attacker missed. Not that hard – the important part is you want to roll LOW for your hit dice and high for the initiative die in the first round.

Mechanic 2 – True Clash™: roll 3d20 (this time in the open), pick your initiative die.. and now you turn over your character sheet to where you wrote down all fourteen of the Fencing Actions that you calculated at character creation – the attacker picks one of the attack actions, the defender one of the defensive ones (like parry or parry II), add the action score to the chosen roll, the HIGHER result wins the round.

Two sets of (bad at best) combat rules with success conditions that are polar opposites in the same game wouldn’t even be that bad – but all the combat-related traits, skills and abilities are written only with the True Clash™ in mind. So.. yeah.
OK, let’s get back to it

Each nation gets a half page of description in this chapter (that's where the quotes come from). Later, in the 'World' chapter we get WAY more in-depth, but that's what we get for now:


Kord nation description posted:

There is no greater honor in this world than being born Kordish.
Kord is the Dominium’s Top Dog. You can tell from how even the games currency is named after the place. Their ruler is the Emperor of the Dominium, they have the biggest country, the largest armies, the most influential diplomats, the richest tradesmen.. and they know it. Proud, persistent and fiercely loyal to their Emperor, the brave sons and daughters of Kord are widely considered a bunch of stuck-up, arrogant pricks.

+1 Tenacity, +1 Credibility

Pride– three times per game, when testing credibility, tenacity and composure (once for each attribute) you can reroll the highest dice - handy;
Charisma – advancing social ties (which is one of the things you can do with xp – more on that when the right time comes) costs 20% less – a bit less handy, provided you even want to bother yourself with the retainer mechanic. Most people don’t;


Cynasia nation description posted:

Your life is a theatre.
The renaissance Venice/ Florence, complete with fancy dresses and masquerade balls. Kord may be the powerhouse but it’s Cynasia that has the culture and learning. All new fashions come from Cynasia.. and so do new ideas, which doesn’t always fly with their next door neighbor, the Pope. Cynasian nobles are known as refined, well-educated, great diplomats - and consummate liars and backstabbers.

+1 Wits, +1 Credibility

Education – during character creation you get extra 20 points to buy additional skills (on top of 20 skill points everybody gets). You can’t use these points to raise any of those skills above 3. Yes, it’s broken as hell.
Cynasian mind – you raise your skills for 20% less xp. Yep, it’s at least as broken as the other.


Ragada nation description posted:

A Ragadan is born a murderer(…) it’s hard to be your friend
Ragadans are a people hardened by decades of bitter war against their ancestral enemies, the Ragadans. A series of civil wars, now turned into a complex network of multigenerational vendettas, made this once rich and powerful state into a hellhole, and made its folk into some of the most dangerous people in the Dominium. Ragada’s main export are Rancors – hardened mercenaries, duelists and brigands with nothing to lose. Could the neighboring powers invade and take over this shitshow? Most likely yes, but the only thing to gain from such a conquest is a damp ruin filled with pissed off Ragadans.

+1 Composure, +1 Agility

Clash – every light wound you inflict in a clash becomes a heavy wound. Works with every melee weapon, including your fists. Absolutely deadly or pretty useful, depending on how you interpret the wonky wording (the word ‘clash’ is at different points used to describe fighting at the closest distance, a turn of combat AND the fight itself). Also it has no use outside the True Clash™ advanced combat rules but that will be a recurring thing…
Ragadan distrust – people trying to influence your Ragadan PC get a -4 to all authority and Credibility tests. I don't know how that’s really useful for a player character but at least you can try to talk Ragadan NPCs out of fighting to check if they have the other one.


Agaria nation description posted:

There’s not a man in the Dominium dumb enough to try and ambush an Agar.
Agaria was the last country to join the Dominium and now serves as its western border. Beyond lies Valdor with its elves, orcs, wizards and the rest of your regular, fantasy menagerie. The crusades against the pagan lands may have stalled – small clashes and raids do happen but for now both sides content themselves with sitting on their side of the Roaring River and staring menacingly at the other shore – but Agars remain ready. Brave, humorless and loyal, they enjoy the reputation of the toughest fighters in the Dominium.

+1 Agility, +1 Perception

Experience – half of your highest fighting skill (usually rapier fencing) is the base for any other melee weapon skill.
Knowledge of magic – an equivalent of a 5 point skill when you try to discern and predict magical effects, identify magic items, and even speak the language of orcs and know their customs; should be called “knowledge of Valdor,” really.


Kara nation description posted:

Karans have no questions, no doubts, they don’t try to understand. They just believe.
All earthly power ultimately comes from The One so it was only logical to the people of Kara to delegate it to His representatives on Earth. No, not the Pope, silly – the Inquisitorial Synod. Karans aren’t known for their art, science or even imagination (unless it comes to new, interesting things you can do to one’s body in the name of protecting their soul) but they’re damn effective when fighting the forces of darkness. Just make sure your definitions of ‘darkness’ match.

+1 Faith, +1 Brawn

Aura of faith – you get a +4 to your Faith when resisting magic. Nifty when you try praying away an incoming fireball.
Passion – in combat, you get to ignore wound penalties until they sum up (down?) to -5. You feel the full effect as soon as you get to -6 or once the combat ends.


Matra nation description posted:

I’d rather cross a Ragadan then your Lady
At first glance Matra looks like any other country – tradesmen sell their wares, peasants toil the land and pay taxes to their Ladies, who in turn owe their fealty to the Queen, as did their mothers, and the mothers of their mothers before.. Yes, ladies, for this is the Smurfette faction! There is a certain disparity to the people of Matra, almost a curse – their men are, at best, mediocre. Just… average – to the point where, if you want to roll a male Matran, you don’t get to pick an ability. You do get the 1000 Kordins (like when you choose one of the minor nations) so you can go buy yourself something pretty and leave the women to handle all the adult stuff. Female Matrans (Matrons?) receive one of the finest educations in the Dominium and are widely considered as some of the most refined, strong willed and sophisticated people. The game rules handle that by making them stealthy assassins.

+1 Credibility, +1 Wits

Shadow and silence – you get a 4 point hide skill (that you can improve with xp later on). You can only use it in a city but it allows you to sneak all Proper_and_Ladylike
Assassinate – you can approach someone in a public situation and, having passed a Credibility/Bluff check, stab them with a dagger (for extra damage) or a poison needle or something. Failed check means the target got suspicious but you can still try a regular attack.


Bardania nation description posted:

Is there a better proof they never rose above a bunch of brigands?
Look at the map. The spot on the northwestern peninsula, between Nordia, Eliar and Delia is where Bardania used to be. Always the free spirited ones, Bardans eventually got so troublesome for their neighbors that they decided to remove the mountainous country from the map. Bardans responded by becoming even more free spirited and troublesome. Nobles of other lands look down on their Bardan counterparts as peasant-like brigands but no one questions their moxie.

+1 Perception, +1 Tenacity

Bardan valor – when testing courage you get to reroll one die per test.
Musketeer –reloading a firearm you takes half as much time (from the default of 10 turns for pistols and 15 for rifles)


Nordia nation description posted:

However, first and foremost, you are cursed
Nords are.. not like other humans. Some aren’t sure if Nords even ARE humans. They’re taller, less susceptible to disease, resistant to age, most technically advanced, and (as gossip goes) with a working knowledge of magical crafts. Their country is a mysterious land, where outsiders are rarely welcome, dotted with ruins of their ancient precursors. They’re pretty much the elves of the setting unless you count, you know, actual elves. It is said that the Nords’ ancestors were the first Rodian tribe to bow to demons and offend the Creator and for that they are all damned to hell from the moment of their birth. Nords tend to be fatalistic, stoic isolationists and all around a bummer to be around.

+1 Composure, +1 Faith

Regenerate – your wounds heal twice as fast as those of a regular human, leaving no scars. Critical wounds don’t permanently lower attributes.
Exorcism – you get a power to expel demons equal to a Minor Prayer (more on that when we get to magic)


Gord nation description posted:

They’ve been standing there for years and still they do not yield.
If Nords are the not!elves, Gordians are pretty much the Warhammer dwarves. Live in mountains? Check. Grumpy and humorless? Check. Their homeland is on the edge of the known world, where only their axes draw the line between the forces of Darkness and the civilized world that’s mostly forgotten about them? Check, check and check. Our narrator calls Gord the forgotten borderland and it’s a pretty fitting name. Far away from Kord’s glorious conquests, not as glamorous as the Agar front, Gord stands alone against things that come from the frozen Whispering Sea or the depths under their mountains. People of Gord care little about the rest of the Dominium with their fancy rapiers, feathered hats and etiquette.

+1 Brawn, +1 Tenacity

Unbreakable – whenever you’re wounded you automatically beat the roll to check if you pass out.
Gordian sight – you’re better at seeing in darkness. That’s it.


Doria nation description posted:

Doria is falling.
Dor was the first free human kingdom and the seat of the first Emperors. What Kord now is, Doria used to be for nearly a millenium. A stubborn relic of an age passed, Doria is a place where noble sons still aspire to be KNIGHTS rather than officers. They still wear plate armor, test their skill in jousts and charge into battle with swords and lances, rather than guns and rapiers. Then the upstart Kord introduced their glorious traditions to the wonders of massed musket fire and suddenly, the Dominium’s Emperor is a Kordian, Old Dor, their former heartland, is but a Kordian province and Doria is but a shadow of its former self wondering “How the hell did that happen?” Stubborn and noble, the Dors still cling to their Old Ways. Others tend to look at them with a mixture of pity and respect for that.

+1 Brawn, +1 Credibility

Shadow of Dor – a +3 bonus to your general knowledge skill.
Chivalric custom – as long as you behave accordingly to the Ways_of_Old_Dor™ you don’t get negative modifiers to etiquette rolls. Yay

Seriously, I’m willing to give thiss game a pass for many things but their handling of Doria and Matra is just disappointing. I mean, Matran traits aren’t exactly what I’d chose for a faction that’s supposed to be all erudites and socialites but at least they’re useful.

Keeping with the traditions of F&F, I will be making a character based on thread’s votes. So pick a country. The lucky winner will receive a full translation of its character creation page (together with the abilities’ flavor text), and later on, when we get to history and geography, a full transcript of that (which in Kord’s case is over ten pages so please go for something else, ok?)

Next time in Monastyr –professions!

Character creation: professions

posted by RedSnapper Original SA post

Welcome to Monastyr: Part 3 - Character creation: professions

Last time on Monastyr we found out about the nations of the Imperium Dominium of Man. Or at least the 10 that matter. With an overwhelming majority of two votes the Thread decided to roll a Ragadan. So, let’s take a closer look at what the character creation chapter tells us about the land of infinite vendettas:

Ages ago Ragada was the richest and strongest country on the Claw Peninsula but the civil war that broke out nearly two centuries ago turned it into a ruin. Nowadays it is a land of misery and famine, riddled with plagues and unrelenting conflict. Each year hate grows deeper into the people’s hearts. Nowadays nobody even thinks of peace or forgiveness. All that counts is destroying the enemy. Madness? Yes, it is.
Everyone who hails from these lands is mad. Mad and ruthless. A Ragadan is born a murderer. This place grows no other crops. Look to yourself, my lord, how you hold your pistol and your dagger. Then unsheathe your rapier and show me somebody from outside Ragada with such a weapon. In Agaria? Yes, perhaps there.. But their life is a constant struggle against elves and orcs.. Alongside Agars, Ragadans count as the most dangerous people in the world. If an elf was to fear someone, it would fear you, would it not? Could you handle an elf, my lord?
Two hundred years of civil war turned you all into killers. Today Ragada is infamous throughout the Dominium for her rancors – people you can hire for any task, from murder to kidnapping. Those people have no moral qualms, they forgot what a conscience is long ago. The war destroyed that nation, ripped them of their values, dignity and honor. All that’s left is hate and distrust. Ragadans are reclusive and cold. You’re not liked in the Dominium and it’s hard to wonder why, when one looks at you. There’s no warmth in you, no smile on your face and the look in your eyes brings a shiver down one’s spine.
It is hard to be your friend.

I believe those were the last words our Narrator ever spoke.

Clash – every light wound you inflict in a clash becomes a heavy wound. Works with every melee weapon, including your fists. Absolutely deadly or pretty useful, depending on how you interpret the wonky wording (the word ‘clash’ is at different points used to describe fighting at the closest distance, a turn of combat AND the fight itself). Also it has no use outside the True Clash™ advanced combat rules but that will be a recurring thing…
Ragadan distrust – people trying to influence your Ragadan PC get a -4 to all authority and Credibility tests. I don't know how that’s really useful for a player character but at least you can try to talk Ragadan NPCs out of fighting to check if they have the other one.

A handful of notes:
As we will learn in latter chapters, rapiers used in different countries have their own distinct quirks like Ragadan rapiers being shorter and wider to better facilitate fighting in city alleys and indoors. There’s no mechanical differences, thank The Maker, but it’s a nice touch.
By the way, the answer to the elf question is: no, elves are absolutely deadly in one on one combat.
And finally, after reading that country description, how hard would it be to think of a national trait to replace that with the distrust with something that’s not completely useless for a PC? A bonus against fear, some additional combat feat.. just take the last paragraph and fashion some ‘eyes of a killer’ thing that gives you an intimidation bonus! Seriously..

OK, I’ve vented, I feel better, now back to our regular programing:

Character creation, step 2/10 – Profession

We get to choose between nine professions which, like nationalities, allow us to pick between two abilities each. Each profession comes with a minimum attribute requirement – since we won’t be rolling for attributes until step 4 (which should fit in the next update) the game suggests to note that number down for later. In other news – there’s no gender requirements for any of the jobs. All Dominium armies allow for female soldiers and its (hereditary) clergy is also equal opportunity.

If none of the professions suit our taste the game encourages us to make one up, complete with a brand new ability you work out with the GM. If you can’t think of any (or just don’t like to choice you get) there’s always:

The Retouch posted:

They say stories about exemplary people, inquisitors that make a man’s blood run cold with a glance, officers that inspire with a word… people who seem like they came out of a book or a legend. Tell me that you’re an ordinary man. Still an officer, but not as brilliant as others; a soldier, but not the best in the Dominium. Renounce your ability, be a regular priest, a regular soldier, just a historian, without all those seemingly inhuman skills and I’ll reward you right away! Here’s 2000 Kordins to use as you please in the chapters to follow.

The nine professions themselves are grouped into three categories, mirroring three sons of The Prophet (pics come from the 1st ed pdf – save for the quality issues, they’re the same as in the revised):

Martial posted:

You were to become a general – that was your parents, and especially your father’s, dream. How better to bring honor to your family then with great deeds in battle? That’s what your father did, as did his father and all your ancestors. Thus you received the best education your family could provide, letters of recommendation, and finally, their advice for the road, your fathers firm handshake and your mother’s wishes of good luck.
Fate decided differently. You came close to glory and laurels but finally you fell and lost everything. Who were you when your world collapsed?


Required: Composure 12+
You were an officer in your country’s army. Maybe you still are – locked in a dead-end position and outranked by men ten years your junior. Whatever the case – your career might be dead but you’re still kicking and capable.

Command – in combat you may roll Credibility/Authority to take command of every friendly NPC whose Cred is lower than yours. Until the end of combat you, rather than GM, control their actions. You might need to repeat the roll with a -3 modifier if your NPCs start dying or visibly losing.
Watch and learn – upon entering combat you decide the initiative, instead of rolling for it. If two opposing characters have the ability, it cancels out and initiative is resolved as usual.


Required: Brawn 12+
Not everyone was born to lead. Most people in an army are just your regular grunts and so were you.

I’ll hold them off, sir! – when fighting multiple foes you get and extra die for defensive actions only.
Soldier’s lot – in combat you roll an extra d10 in addition to 3d20. You can then substitute your lowest d20 roll for the d10. It won’t likely give you a success but can lower a chance of total failure.


Required: Perception 12+
Scouts have the most ungrateful job - all inconvenience and danger and none of the glory. On the other hand, they’re the only people in an army that have something resembling freedom.

Off the beaten path – you’re not slowed down when travelling through rough terrain (forests, mountains) and your perception rolls get no penalties for haste.
One of us – you get along with commoners. Unless they’re hostile, they’ll be willing to provide you with all the useful information. When in doubt weather this should work automatically, treat it as a +5 Information Gathering skill.

Clergy posted:

As the firstborn should follow Beocjan’s path, so should the second son follow Saolom. Thus, as your brother left home, for war and an officer’s career, you turned to the clergy. There’s little glory and splendor, even less chance of medals and acclaim, but much work, toil, study and prayer.
What for?
For your brethren and for The One, of course.


Required: Faith 12+
Anointed as a priest of the Karian faith, you preach the word of the Prophet to the masses and office religious ceremonies. As a Karian priest you’ve not vowed celibacy, you can (and should) marry and have children to whom you’ll leave your church.

Reinforce faith – when rolling for faith every PC and friendly NPC can declare to rely on your attribute. You make the one roll for all of them and they pass or fail with you.
Blessing of the One – when you fail a test your life depended on you can reroll it (with the same modifiers) as a faith test. Doesn’t work in combat.


Required: Wits 12+
Numerous monastic orders are tasked with preserving knowledge. Not the least part of that is translating ancient writings of the Rodians and studying the Cathedrals they left behind. Most monks lead a very ascetic way of life as a way of staving off the demons who seem to have a particular taste in scholars.

Wisdom – Pick three academic skills (ex. Law, mathematics, medicine, philosophy etc.). Set one of them at 6, one at 4 and one at 2.
Travelling scholar – you get no penalties for fatigue, hunger or lack of sleep until they accumulate to -6.


Required: Credibility 12+
Nobody’s really thrilled to see an Inquisitor arrive to town. While decidedly less psychotic than their counterparts in other fantasy RPGs they still get the bad rep for burning people’s relatives. The Inquisitor’s choice of abilities has a peculiar good cop/ bad cop vibe:

Respect – all actions taken directly against you have a -2 penalty. Works in combat
Innocent soul – when interrogating a person with a lesser social status and smaller Credibility score you can roll your Cred against their Composure to sweet-talk them into a Bond of 4 (we’ll talk Bonds and Allies when we get to them) for as long as you need to. You can have only one such Bond

Courtier posted:

So what is the role of the third son? History tells us the fates are least kind to him. He needs to care for himself, forge his own destiny…


Required: Credibility 12+
You’re a diplomat. It’s your job to know who is who on a foreign court, to know people and to know who they know.

Even the King himself – you have no trouble getting passage to important people. Guards, courtiers and other diplomats see you’re exactly where you belong. If the GM’s in doubt the skill automatically applies to the situation and calls for a roll, you get +5 to the appropriate skill.
Net of contacts – you get extra 3000 Kordins to purchase Allies and Retainers, you’re not restricted to the maximum of 4 like other PCs, and you get to improve Bonds for 20% less xp.


Required: None
A poet, a painter or a minstrel – or any other you can think of – your best creative years are likely long passed but you can still live off past glory.

Opens all doors – similarly to the Emissary’s first ability, you can get anywhere they’d let in an artist and get +5 to your Bluff and Etiquette skills if contested.
Harmless – if you don’t actively participate in combat and call no attention to yourself by other actions, you’re left alone. Won’t save you from being captured, though.


Required: Wits 12+
You’re perfectly ordinary diplomat/ trader who never dabbles in any unsavory things. Moving along.

Bribe – you can steer a conversation into a talk of a bribe in such a way, that even if the target doesn’t take it, they won’t feel insulted or alarmed in any way. There’s no explanation how that’s supposed to work mechanically.
Invisible – With a bit of makeup and dress-up you can pretend to be anyone from a lowly servant to a foreign courtier. When your cover is put into doubt you get +5 to related Bluff check.

That’s it for the professions. Again with the abilities – some of them seem really half-assed (all three courtiers get different versions of the same ability), some of them oscillating between useless and overpowered, depending on how you interpret the combat rules.

So – What is our profession?

Character creation, step 3/10 – Memoirs

Before we wrap this post up, we’ve still got time and room left for one more step. This step is a set of questions grouped into six broad categories: Where you’re from, what do you look like, what kind of a man you are, what do you think about the Dominium, what’s your attitude towards magic and what motivates you. I’ll transcribe a part of one so you have the idea.


[b] What do you think of the Dominium?[b]
How do you see your country and nation on the Dominium’s map? Are you proud of where you were born? It’s only natural to raise a young nobleman in the spirit of patriotism and you were no exception. How do you see it after all those years of success and defeat? Should an enemy attack your homeland, would you take up arms to die defending your land? Sometimes it feels like patriotism is on the retreat in the Dominium. Nowadays wars are fought by mercenaries, tied to the land they’re defending only by the hefty sums on their contracts. Hired with the money of a banker whom the king had to ask for a loan. Today’s war is turning into a business. Does that worry you? Do you miss chivalry?
And what do you think of the war with Valdor, or of Kord’s unceasing expansion? Have you ever wondered if we really need those wars? A thousand years ago the Prophet commanded us to destroy Valdor, but, by the Creator, doesn’t the Dominium have bigger problems to handle? Are you convinced we need that war? Do you believe the Agars when they warn us of the enemy at our gates?
..and so on for over 100 questions – I’d say they’re not intended to be answered in their entirety, just serve as the jump-off point but:


…devote a couple of minutes to these questions to help yourself roleplay your character. It’s a good idea to write them down and attach to your character sheet …
Yeah, we’re not doing that, but I would definitely pester my players about it.

Next time – we get into our primary and secondary attributes.