Monday, May 9, 2011

What My Fire Path Elder Told Me: A Personal View of the Scalebound Culture

Presenting another in the series of PC-written cultural backgrounds for the upcoming Last Fleet campaign. The first can be found here, the second here, and general notes on the characters can be found here. The Scalebound are a Draconic race created by Scott. They're espcially interesting to me in that they suffer under several constraints. The Scalebound arose as a race from the souls of defeated dragons. There was a great battle in which the dying dragons infected the souls of their enemies with their Dragon soul. As a GM, I put the number of Dragons slain at 200, just to be absolutely crazy. Since the players defined that all births are twins, I assumed that each Dragonsoul split in two to become souls among the people there.

So we end up with 400 Scaleborn to start, of varying races, but predominantly human. As an assumption, Scalebound birth from these can further divide the soul by twinning. That means the absolute maximum number of Scalebound at any one time would be 800. They can't add new souls because they lack the gods. Gods having been defined in the history as the way new (not reincarnated souls) arise. It also wouldn't work because of the nature of the Dragonsouls. A consequence of that would be that a Scalebound female can't actually have children until both halves of a twin soul have pass back into the Wheel of Reincarnation, making that a difficult and highly calculated thing for them. While there were several "breeds" of Scalebound to start, since the soul doesn't determine race, eventually the predominant race would push the others out, resulting in the Scalebound being Human as their apparent base.

Now add to that the hunting by the Dragons, which have managed to kill Scalebound and free those Dragonsouls. Plus other incidents, I put the numbers at a 25% loss from that, pretty significant. So that leaves a maximum of 600 Scalebound- and I further assumed that not all of them made it through the recent events, so we'll put that loss at 33% given the cataclysm. That leaves us with 400 Scalebound or so, minus one for your Twinless nature. Plus additional losses and so on- we have the smallest race/culture in the fleet. There's also this question: if new Scalebound can't be born until both twins die, and your twin dies- who do you think has to take the lead in the next big fight?

What My Fire Path Elder Told Me: A Personal View of the Scalebound Culture

Who are you?

You are Chain Firespinner, the first Scalebound to be born with a twin not of this realm. When word of such births became known, we Elders despaired, thinking perhaps we existed in only this place, and should remain behind to guard the way so that our enemies may not follow the others to the new lands. Your birth, along with several others, has given us hope that there are others like us in new lands. It was a difficult decision, but we have decided to travel with the fleet to continue our roles as protects and dragon slayers, since dragons must exist in these new lands.

You have been assigned an important position under the Master of the Watch; it is your duty, when not called on to a hunt, to maintain watch for the fleet, and use your master of the Fire Path to signal other ships when there is a threat, or danger. You are young yet, and brash, even for our kind, and I do not feel you fully understand sacrifice yet. But I trust you will bring honor to our people in your duty. Your martial and magical skills will one day be put to the test, it is a difficult to master one path, let alone two.

Who are we?

We are the Scalebound, inheritors of the draconic essence and power in the slaying of that great enemy. We sacrifice what we were before, to become that which is necessary to defend ourselves and other people from the depredations of the dragons. We are warriors, ready to battle the most fearful of beasts, honor bound to defend one another and perform our assigned roles in the hunt. If even one of us falters in our duty, the whole hunting group will suffer death. We are the guides, and protectors of the other peoples, using the draconic essence within us to sense the weakening of the floating islands before it is too late for those that dwell upon it.

What makes us great?

Despite the grim fate of the Prison of the Scale that awaits us all, we live our lives to the fullest, with passion and enthusiasm. We advantage of the opportunities offered to us now, so that we may not waste time of regrets later, for the next hunt may be our last. We are strong warriors, whether martially, or walking the Path of Fire, and experts in working together to achieve our goals. We are skilled in crafting many things from the bodies of our great foe, especially in the use of the beast's scales to armor ourselves further against them. And when the time comes and one of our brethren is trapped in the Prison of Scale, we free them so that they may begin the cycle anew.

Where do we live?

We live aboard the great skyship the X, and several other ships that follow it. We once long ago lived on the ground, but our place was one of the first to fall away into the void and we became nomads of the skies. We now travel the skies looking for our great enemy, and other lands who fate will be changed by the sinking of their own lands.

How do we live?

We live life exuberantly, striving for success and self improvement. We do not brood upon our failures but turn our energies into improving ourselves so that we do not fail again. We are honest with ourselves and others, not hiding our joy or anger, and ask for what we need clearly and without reservation. Trust those whom you have just met, until they give you cause not to.

We are few, so it is important that your find a mate and marry as soon as possible. Love passionately. Children are rare and difficult for us, due to our nature and the draconic essence within us, so cherish them. Do not waste time with dalliances with other races, for they can produce nothing. There are many Scalebound souls waiting to rejoin us.

Fight hard, and live well, and know that when your burden becomes to great to bear, your people will release you to rejoin us again in our great battle.

What is important in my life?

The value of sacrifice, respect the sacrifices of others as well as your own peoples. Keeping your word. Performing your role to the best of your ability, and following the hunt leader's orders. Improving yourself to increase that ability so that you may serve the needs of the hunt better, and more Scalebound may survive. Protect and guide those who need protection of all races. And freeing the souls of our brethren who are trapped in the Prison of Scale.

Who rules us?

A council of elders such as I rule the clan, making the decisions to guide our peopls across the sky. I, of course, am the Elder of the Fire Path, of using the draconic essence within us...their fire, to create magic of the flames. Then there is the Elder of the Hunt, who organizes the great hunts when we find our enemy. He chooses which of our people has the honor going into battle against our foe. The Elder of the Sky guides and maintains our wandering homes, while the Elder of Scale handles the spoils of our hunts, dispersing them among our craftsmen and traders to be used for the good of the Scale bound.

Finally, there is the Elder of the Prison, the judge of those Scalebound who have absorbed too much draconic essence. He determines if a Scalebound is soon to be imprisoned within the Scale, their mind trapped now perpetually between Scalebound and Dragon, and needs to be freed and released, and reborn anew.

What makes a person great?

Loyalty and honor to your hunt mates, defending them with your life, performing you role in battle. Courage to face our face our great enemy and stand strong. Sacrifice, if necessary to save lives.

What is evil?

Dragons are evil, rapacious creatures who exist merely to destroy and plunder, they have no honor, and must be destroyed. Cowardice is evil, hunters must be able to rely on each other at work together, if one Scalebound flees, the whole hunt may be destroyed. By the same token, glory seeking is evil, a form of selfishness that also puts the hunt at risk.

What is my lot in life?

You have many difficult choices ahead of you, young Scalebound. You have chosen a difficult path for yourself in attempting to master both a martial and magical path. And, you have had a difficult path thrust upon you as well by your unprecedented birth. You are one of the hopes of our people, our guide to our peoples of this new land. Because of this, you may be called upon to make great sacrifices, which I expect you to bear.

I have seen to it that you be placed in a position with the Master of the Watch for our fleet. With your fire magics, and skill in riding the wyvern, you are well suited for watching for threats and signaling the fleet if danger should appear.

How do we deal with others?

Truthfully and honestly, until it is proven that they are not worthy of that trust. If you need something from others, state it clearly and forthrightly, waste not time on hints or innuendo.

Who are our enemies?

Our main enemy is the dragon, evil, selfish beats who we have fought since we were created. Velsha and Velshe of course, are in the vanguard of those dragons that hunt us, as we hunt them. There are those among us who want to remain behind, to prevent those two from following us to the next realm, but we Elders have forbidden it. Who knows what new dangers will face us. We will need all our strength to face the dragons of these new lands.

Who are our gods?

Since we were created after the gods gathered their races to them, we have no god to speak for us. Honor and respect all of the gods, for since we have none to speak for us, they may be apt to interfere with our duties otherwise. If at all possible, simply avoid them, and their agents. We have our tasks, and they have theirs.

What is there to do around here?

There are many things to do aboard this ship, and the other ships of the Scalebound. I have kept you too long under my wing teaching you of the Fire Path, you should go and make more friends among our people. Find a girl. Speak with the other Elders and learn their wisdom as well. Or you could fly the wyvern across to the other ships and meet with the other Watchers and their peoples. No time to waste in lounging about, now go!