Nine Princes EnNobled uses the basic Nobilis rules. Quite a bit of what's on this website is cribbed from the "Great White Book", which is fabulous, and all of you should buy it. However, since I'm not expecting the players to have read, let alone bought the Nobilis book, I'm presenting a stripped down version of the rules here so that people can familiarise themselves with the basic mechanics. You may also want to take a look at the setting and definitions as you go.
Or, what you'll have on your character sheet.
Nobilis attributes are ranked in levels, which have an absolute meaning (as opposed to the subjective rankings of Amber attributes). Nobles can have attribute levels from 0 to 5.
- This covers most of the things that RPG attributes normally cover; strength, speed, toughness, reflexes, willpower, wits and brainpower. You use Aspect to lift a mountain or out-calculate a supercomputer.
- This is how much influence a Noble has over thier Estate.
- Realm lets a Noble do the same kind of things they do with Domain, but instead of being limited to a specific Estate, it can affect any Estate. The limitation is that Realm only works inside the Noble's Chancel; in this case, in Amber and its nearby Shadows. A high Realm makes a Noble an excellent protector for Amber, but isn't as useful in Chaos. Realm also defines the level of respect that you are accorded in Amber; a Sovereign with a 5 Realm would be treated wit hthe same authority as the King himself.
- This is a measure of the strength of the Power's mortal soul, her spiritus Dei, and how well she manages the balance of the two. Spirit is used to determine the strength of a Power's auctoritas, how many anchors she can have, and how much profieciency she has with the simple rites of the Nobilis, and also how good at "mortal magic" she is.
A Miracle is, basically, anything that's done with a character's attributes. This includes lifting mountains with Aspect Miracles, or creating dogs with Domain.
Actions in Nobilis are broken down into Miraculous and mundane; mundane actions are generally trivial, and don't need to use attributes. Mundane actions include things like walking or running in the normal human range, or firing a gun with normal human accuracy. Mundane actions can usually be counteracted or surpassed by low-level Miracles. A Noble can make a Miracluous action and a mundane one each "round" of action.
Miracle Levels and Miracle Points
All Miracles fall into 10 possible levels,from 0 to 9. A characters ability to perform a given miracle is based on his attributes; a Noble with a 2 Realm could perform a level 2 Miracle at will.
Since attributes only scale from 0-5, and Miracles scale from 0-9, there has to be a way to access higher level Miracles. The mechanic for this is Miracle Points (aka MPs). Each character starts with at least 5 MPs for each attirbute. For reasons of balance, MPs can only be spent in powers of 2 (i.e., 0, 1, 2, 4, 8). Each MP spent raises the level of Miracle performed, so if our Realm 2 Noble wanted to use a level 3 Miracle, it would cost him 1 MP. If he wanted to do a level 5 Miracle, it would cost him 4 MP, since that's the nearest power of 2.
A special note should be made about spending 8 MPs on a Miracle; this is known as a "Word of Command", and has a cost beyond the MPs spent. Words of Command leave the Power wounded and drained; in Nine Princes EnNobled, this is how Oberon repaired the Pattern, though the stress killed him.
As mentioned, all Nobles start with 5 MPs for each attribute. During character generation, characters can buy additional MPs. MPs can also be regained through Handicaps; when characters are affected by thier Handicaps, they gain extra MPs. MP totals reset at the end of a session, so in a con game setting, once you run out, that's it.
Each level of Aspect Miracle does the following:
|0||Peak Performance; the Sight||Peak Perfomance covers doing a nomral run of the mill
thing without making a single mistake; exmaples include
perfect shopping and changing clothes very well, or firing
a gun with calm precision.
The Sight is an alternate mode of vision that lets the Power see mystic things, and detect other Powers, Anchors and things with spiritus Dei.
|1||High Level Human||This covers activities within the range of high level humans; examples include catching arrows, computing cube roots in one's head, or remembering one's birth.|
|2||World Record; Guising||This level of Miracle covers just slightly exceeding
the ability of the greatest humans. Examples include
winning the Olympics, running soundlessly through a forest
with a thorn in one's foot, or rembering everything one
has ever heard.
Guising is the Nobilis equivalent of "The Shadows will lie for him". When a Power takes on a Guise, he appears to be a typical memebr of the local population, whether that's people, sharks, or mole men. He is still recognizable to those who know him. The Power does not choose the form of the Guise; he simply fits in. While the Guise does not fool the Sight, it does fool physics, so a 50' dragon can fit into a bar while Guised.
|3||Improbable||This includes things that, while physically possible, are unreasonable for humans to attempt. Examples include punching through steel, outcalculating a top of the line desktop computer, or posing for a magazine cover without needing retouching.|
|4||Very Improbable||These Miracles stretch the limits of believability even further. Examples include throwing a motorcycle or small car, running on the heads of a crowd, or outcomputing a supercomputer.|
|5||Humanly Impossible||These Miracles include things that are physically possible, just not for humans. These Miracles allow a human to approximate the feats of animals or machines. Examples include running inhumanly fast, flying, if one has wings, or catching bullets.|
|6||Universally Improbale||At this level, the laws of physics begin to bend. Examples include running at Mach 3, writing War and Peace overnight, and beating an entire army, one by one in single combat.|
|7||Impossible (local)||These Miracles are truly impossible. but only have local effects. Examples include drinking a pond, taking down a blimp with a thrown hatpin, and taking down a blimp with a thrown courthouse.|
|8||Impossible (global)||As level 7, with with greater scope. Examples include jumping from Brazil to South Africa, shooting down the sun with an arrow, or picking up a mountain.|
|9||Fabled||Anything else you can think of goes here. Examples include hiding a mountain in your shirt, intimidating all the males aged 12-20, selectively, or writing a truly irresistably catchy song.|
Domain and Realm Miracles do similar things; as outlined below. The only restriction is that Powers (and other semi-divine beings, like Anchors and Imperators) are not part of any Estate. So, the thoughts of a Power are not part of the Estate of Thoughts, a Power who happens to be a dog is not part of the Estate of Dogs. Powers can affect each other indirectly, though; the Power of Fire could still burn someone, and the Power of Dogs could send a pack of angry rottweilers after someone who pissed them off.
As an additional clarification of what can be affected by an Estate, the Nobilis book presents the canonical example of the Power of Frogs. She couldn't turn a person into a frog, because a person is not part of the Estate of Frogs. She could, however, turn a frog into a person, since the frog is well within her Estate.
|0||Estate or Realm driven Divinations||This cover one's Realm or Estate crying out in pain or terror; generally, this only occurs when something really awful is being done to it, like someone killing thousands of cats, if one is the Power of Cats. This also covers prayers made to the Power by those who know the proper rituals to do so.|
|1||Ghost Miracles||These are shadows of more powerful miracles; cantrips. They are translucent to the Sight, and even mortals can tell that they;re not quite real. Examples include filling a shelf with boring textbooks (Books), making a day seem gloomier (Storms), or making a candlelight (Fire).|
|2||Lesser Divintations||This allows a Power to find out thing about his Estate or Realm. Examples would include knowing exactly what's on tv next Thursday (TV), the name of that minor Baron (the Realm of Amber), or how long until nightfall (Night).|
|3||Lesser Preservations||These Miracles protect a thing, or a property of a thing. Examples include making Caine bullet resistant (Realm of Amber), making someone stay happy (Emotion), or making night last longer(Night).|
|4||Lesser Creations||This will create something covered by the Estae of the Miracle. Realm miracles can only create things that could otherwise exist in Amber without Miraculous intervention, while Domain Miracles are not so limited. Examples include making it rain (Storms), making a new stream (Water), or creating one or two guardsmen (Realm of Amber).|
|5||Lesser Destructions/Major Divinations||Lesser Destructions remove an aspect of the given
Estate from existence. Examples include stopping a
rainstorm (Storms), removing the lock on Flora's closet
doors (Amber), or making a book unreadable (Books).
Major Divinations cover asking one's Estate about what it may have seen; this would include checking what's going on in the Pattern room, no matter where the Power is (Amber), taking a look at everyone watching TV (TV), or finding out exactly who made a given sword, and how and when (swordS).
|6||Major Preservations/Lesser Changes||Major Preservations protect, preserve or enchance the
quality of the Estate affected on an epic scale. Examples
include sunlight so strong it burns stone (Sun), making Caine
immortal, so long as he stays in Amber (Amber), or making someone
happy forever and ever (Emotion).
Lesser Changes alter things in the given Estate. Examples include turning Flora's boyfriend in Amber City into a mermaid, makign a road go somewhere else (Roads), or making the sky rain frogs (Storms).
|7||Major Creations||This covers massive levels of creation. Examples include creating a hurricane (Storms), making a one-mile road from Kansas to Canberra (Roads), or creating a second Castle Amber in the Vale of Garnath.|
|8||Major Destructions||This covers massive destructive magics. Examples would include removing the Forest of Arden, removing a person's capacity to feel any emotion, ever (Emotion), or removing an entire written language (Books).|
|9||Major Changes||This covers any transformation of things within the influence of the Estate. Examples include giving all cats a third eye, making everyone in Amber a shapeshifter, or making all rain fall upwards, forever.|
Spirit works a bit differently. Spirit allows a Power to do a few things.
- Anchors: A Power can Anchor a mortal using the Servant's Rite, with the Anchor ingesting the Power's blood or tears. This rite is only effective on mortals who the Power either loves or hates. Powers can use miracles through thier Anchors, and spend SMPs instead of RMPs, DMPs or AMPs. Doing Aspect Miracles through an Anchor is more difficult, with an additional cost of (5 - Spirit) in either AMPs or SMPs.
- The Witch Hunt Rite: Allows a Power to track Miracles performed by others.
- Rite of the Last Trump: This allows a Power to shuffle MPs
between attributes at a cost depending on Spirit.
Spirit Cost per point 0-1 4 2-3 3 4-5 2
- Auctoritas: A mystic field surrounds a Power roughly 5 feet around thier body. For another Power to work a Miracle inside this field, they must add Penetration to thier Miracles. Penetration is simply an additional level, so a Lesser Creation (level 4) with 2 Penetration (which will overcome a Spirit of 2), will cost the same as a level 6 Miracle.
- Rite of Holy Fire: In Nine Prince EnNobled, I use a simplified version of this rule; basically, the larger the mundane threat, the easier it is to ignore it with Spirit. All Nobles are immune to mundanely wielded nuclear weapons, cruise missiles and similar large weapons of mass destruction. Similar amounts of power weilded in a Miraculous fashion are a different story.
- Mortal magic: This includes things like Sorcery, Pattern, and Logrus. A PC can know any of these they like, except Logrus. By spending an SMP, a PC can exceed the limits of magical endurance that normally holds back a human sorceror. Additionally, any Power can spend an SMP to ignore the effects of mortal magic, so a Power could walk through a Logrus shield, or resist having Pattern shift Shadow around her.
Gifts are powers not covered by a Power's attributes; examples include flying, breathing fire or immortality. Under normal circumstances, Powers don't spend MPs on thier Gifts.
Each Power has three different wound levels; Deadly, Serious and Surface. To remove a Deadly wound, it takes roughly the same amount of damage as it would to kill a normal person; so, a gunshot, a knife to the head, etc., will remove a Deadly wound. Serious wounds protect a Power a bit less, and Surface wounds can be removed by fairly trivial amounts of damage (the fists of an angry drunk, for example).
When a Power is damaged, the damage hits Deadly wounds first, then Serious, then Surface, so as long as a Power has Deadly wounds left, they don't have to worry about that angry drunk.
A Power has a number of Wounds equal to thier Aspect +3, and they are distributed among wound levels evenly, with extras going to Surface first, then Serious. So, a Power with Aspect 1 has 1 Deadly wound, 2 Serious wounds and 2 Surface wounds.
A Handicap is a general term for a drawback. Unlike most RPGs, Nobilis does not give characters bonus character points for taking Handicaps. Instead, Handicaps give Powers extra MPs, according to the type of Handicap.
Limits represent a significant drawback; they remove a part of the utility of some power that the PC has already paid points for. Examples include being dead (no body, a limit of Aspect), or having some of your power contained in an item (Focus). Limits grant the PC extra MPs that they can assign to thier attributes.
Restrictions are less of a hindrance. Examples include being summonable, being unable to cross running water, or being unable to use modern technology or magic. Restrictions only give MPs when they become inconvenient, so if a Power couldn't cross running water, if their foe fled across a river, they'd get an MP for the inconveneince.
A Virtue is both a blessing and a curse; there is some trait of the Power's personality that is so basic, so strong, that no force can countermand it. A Power with Virtue of Honest, for example, could not be forced to lie by any power or artifice. In extreme cases, where a Virtue becomes an inconvenience, the Power can gain MPs from it.