More Interesting Mortality – Nobilis RPG

I’ve been writing lots of campaign notes in preparation for someday running the Nobilis RPG. It’s still hypothetical because my regular group is deep in the middle of playtesting the DM’s custom rule system at the moment. So it’s at the whim of whenever he starts feeling the DM Burnout bad enough to take a break. Hopefully in a good long while, since I just joined the Celestial Bureaucracy as a Metaphysical Attorney and the dungeon were clearing out at the moment is actually the insides of a 300 foot tall battle mech that we’re going to try to repair. Lot’s of awesome shit happening. You can read more about both the campaigns I’ve run and my thoughts on Nobilis here, it’s the first post in the series (it also has an adaptation of one of the cool things Cavegirl posted about on her blog). Wait, I just remembered that she’s declared herself the Evil High Priestess of the OSR. So make that High Priestess Cavegirl instead. Ia!

Here are some more notes, cosmology, and weird thoughts. If you’re in my gaming group you are strictly forbidden from reading this! You know who you are….


Mortals are not the focus of Nobilis. In the 2nd edition, the rule resolution system for all mortal actions was basically, “they can do stuff, but anything they do fails against anything a Nobilis does no matter what.” Third edition has a separate skill system for them, which I like. While it’s kinda pointless to run a mortal PC in a game about demi-gods, I want to at least make them more interesting as allies and minor antagonists.

Plus some players like a giant handicap and might be crazy enough to run one. Here are some of my notes about the mortal worlds and their Kings. Also see my post about Nobilis and Rex Mundi for more about them.

The Chain of Worlds

There are 776 parallel universes that hang from the trunk of the World Ash like a string of pearls. Each world has a different version of earth. The chain hangs at a bit of a slant, so the worlds on one side are closer to Hell and the worlds on the other are closer to Heaven. This influences them in no end of small to drastic ways.

  • The World Thrones: Each world has hidden somewhere deep within it a secret chamber. This chamber holds the Throne. The Throne contains the horrifically complicated mechanisms and arcane devices that operate the Polarian World Engine of that world.

    • Anti-God Field: All Throne Rooms are warded against Powers with a potent Anti-God Field, only mortals of the proper bloodline are able to enter or influence anything in the room. This isn’t a matter of overcoming Auctoritas, they simply can’t enter, period. An Imperial Miracle might partly suppress this for a few minutes but during that time, any Powers entering the field wont have access to their Estates or be able to preform miraculous actions. They will effectively be mortal and in terrible blinding pain (-1 to all Skill Contests they attempt).

  • Polarian World Engines: The World Engines were built to siphon Telluric Energy out of the earth and channel it into the Great Reality Engine hidden within the World Ash. Each earth typically generates 12 points of Telluric Energy a year (one per month on the night of the full moon). There are ways to increase this output which range from dangerous to time-consuming. Typically they require a Personal Project on the part of the World King. Harvesting global prayer energy (if you can manipulate a world religion to include the proper occult formulas) is the easiest method. Tapping into the cores of other planets is the best method but it’s only feasible in dimensions with galactic empires.

    The Sodality of Kings only understands perhaps 7% of the controls built into the Thrones. They can do any of the following:

    • Cause an unscheduled eclipse or other astronomical phenomena. This doesn’t cost any Telluric Energy, unless the phenomena is sustained for longer than a hour. After that it costs 1 point per day.

    • Change weather patterns at a very generalized global level by +/- 1% per year (global warming is a long-term experiment of theirs). This costs 1 point.

    • Open dimensional gateways between any of the Throne Rooms. This is free unless overused. If a gate is left open, it costs 1 point every week to maintain.

    • Seal their Throne Room from all dimensional travel. This costs 1 point per month.

    • Activate the Ouroborian Sea Defenses. Anyone attempting to enter the world from the outside while the defenses are hot will have to deal with about 10,000 sea serpents first. This is a tremendous drain on the energy reserves and can cause all manner of unforeseen disasters if left on too long. It costs 4 points a day.

    • Adjust the Telluric Exchange Ratio. World Engines feed earth energy into the heart of the Ash, into a vast and incomprehensible Polarian machine lodged deep within the tree. Keeping this machine fed and sleepy is the Sodality’s main concern. They would love to understand its power, but at the same time they fear it more than anything else. Each World King is required to provide 6 points of Telluric Energy a year (3 at each equinox). It costs around 3000 points to keep the Great Engine idling, but they like to play it safe. In an extreme cosmic emergency the reserve 1656 points of energy can be drawn on, but it requires a 4/5th majority vote by all of the Kings to approve. It is also possible to send energy directly from one World Engine to another if both operators agree to it.

  • Overclocking the Earth: It is possible to get to zero Telluric Energy and keep draining the planet, but it isn’t pretty. Each additional point spent is allocated to a Global Affliction that represents a natural disaster, plague, or other world shaking event. This Affliction is tied not to an individual but to the planet itself. Each rank increases the magnitude of the disaster and when five ranks are gained the next point “overdrawn” creates a new, possibly related Affliction at level one. These crises cannot and will not stop until the Telluric Energy Reserves are returned to a positive value.
  • The Sodality of Kings: The 776 Kings meet in council every thirteen years to discuss dimensional politics and plan their next experiments. The Royal Council convenes on a different world each time they meet, rotating through the chain. The Kings are the ruling body of the Sodality, but any mortal with the San Graal blood may attend as a lay member. The pure blooded among them wait and plot their designs on the Throne.They are the nobility of each court. Those with just a drop of the blood are typically the spies, enforcers, book keepers, and assassins who look after the Sodality’s concerns in the Prosaic World of human politics and government.

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