Building a Haven (PART 5)

We probably only have a few more questions to cover in order to give me enough information to write up the haven-city of Serenity as a sample location for a Reclamation Journey.  While we could sit here and answer questions all year, I do think it is important to leave certain areas vague and ambiguous so that the storyteller can inject his or her own imagination into the setting.  We just want to build a skeletal outline with a firm backbone, so to speak.  Here is another incredibly important question:

What impact do “Marked Ones” have on Serenity?

For those of you who have never played Reclamation and do not have the BETA draft, “Marked One” is a term used to describe all of the survivors of this bleak world who have manifested supernatural power as a direct or indirect result of the fallout.  This is probably a question I should have asked much earlier in the process, because I think you can determine a lot about the nature of a city in this game by their policies towards these specific groups.  And while there are five marked classes in Reclamation (Survivor, Paragon, Magi, Host, Pariah), for purposes of this discussion, we will focus mostly on the latter three.  Survivors and Paragons are most closely identified with “regular joe” survivors and would be less likely to rock the proverbial boat of Serenity.

For example, how many Hosts live in Serenity?  The Host are hybrids of man and machine; they can build incredible technological machinations, and more importantly, they all serve the Host Queen over all other allegiances.  In such a rigid caste system that we have developed for Serenity, what role do the Host play… that is… if there are many of them at all?

Serenity fears The Sickness.  Do they also then fear Pariahs?  Many Dystopians believe that the Pariahs are just one step removed from the mortis-horde, that they are all monsters in the making.  Does Serenity outcast their Pariahs or force them to hide their true natures, or does Serenity have a seemingly contradictory policy about  Pariahs?  If so, why?  

Where do the Magi come into play?  Are they mostly denizens of the lower houses leading the voodoo practices, or are they mostly citizens of the major houses working to root out the voodoo… or to understand it in order to claim the power for themselves?  


8 responses to “Building a Haven (PART 5)

  1. Perhaps Serenity has two views to Pariahs?
    The lower-caste may view them with reverence, as blessed by voodoo in some way? Like they were avatars or blessings of the different spirits. In this fashion they are respected, but reviled. Feared, but worshipped.
    In the upper echelon, Stryker (and perhaps the tops of the Major Houses) use elite cadres of Pariahs as a sort of strike force to do special tasks knowing that the lower castes and local outsiders won’t interfere out of fear and respect.

    The magi might function as a ‘sanctioned by the king’ type group. The houses or Stryker allow only authorized magi to practice and study voodoo and the great secrets, and in return they are to shut down unauthorized activity.
    The eldest magi might like this as a throwback to the days before the Cataclysm when Magi would bring and test new members into their ranks. In the case of Serenity, after they capture the unauthorized practioners they teach them secretly and see if they are capable of true Casting. Those that aren’t are put down, and those that are must swear the old Vow of Secrecy (as in the Second Order). Those that swear join the new ranks of Magi Police.

  2. Hosts are considered to a necessary evil in Serenity. Because their benefits outweight the drawbacks, they are allowed to stay in a limited amount within the city. Perhaps they are a unique caste within themselves, set apart from the major and minor houses regardless of their allegiance and watched closely by Stryker and his ilk.

    It makes sense (to me) for Pariah’s to be revered and feared, as mentioned above, by the lower houses due to their “connection” to the mortis-horde. Even so, that does not mean they will be tolerated by the major houses or Stryker himself unless they serve an important purpose. Perhaps they are in face used to control the lower houses (again, as stated above) through fear and superstition.

    As for Magi, I like the idea that they are relatively rare and true Magi are recruited by Stryker to act as his elite guards. Perhaps the entirety of Stryker’s elite force is composed entirely of Magi and when another Magi is found within the ranks of Serenity, they are given two options: 1) join the ranks of and swear allegiance to Stryker’s guard or 2) be cast out of Serenity or sacrificed in a special ritual.

  3. I personally like Worfle’s ideas on Pariahs. The dual nature of being Marked by the Fallout as pariahs would lend itself well to a cult of fear and respect in a voodoo-oriented culture. However I’m not sure if Stryker and the elites take the practice of voodoo seriously- has it been conclusively defined whether or not voodoo is actually effective or just superstition in Serenity? If the former then it would make sense for ranking Pariahs to be embraced, but if the latter they would naturally be confined to lower social status.

    Given the reliance on old-world values like separate bloodlines and voodoo magic, I would honestly suggest that Hosts should be unwelcome in Serenity. Given the nature of Stryker’s iron control, he would loathe the idea of subordinates who were loyal to the Host Queen instead of himself. Given that advanced military technology spelled the world’s doom, perhaps Stryker could play on that lingering fear to keep the Host exiled, and purge them ruthlessly should they arise?

    I confess, when it comes to the Magi, I am biased. I’ve always envisioned them as being Voodoo priests inside the walls of Serenity- each distinct region of the world lending its own flavors to characters, making Shamans, Voodoo priests, scholarly Mages and the like. Inside of Serenity I can envision Magi being voodoo priests and priestesses ensconced in all tiers of Serenity’s life. “White Voodoo” priests who practice arts like healing and protection would be welcome in the polished halls of houses Faith, Hope and Charity, while “black Voodoo” priest who used hexes, curses, and other so-called dark magic would be more popular amongst the rabble of the lower houses.

  4. Serenity is clearly building up to be a city of dichotomies and stark contrasts. I agree that it makes sense that the Pariahs would be both feared and worshiped by the denizens (lower houses) of Serenity and used by the citizens (upper houses). I agree that the Hosts would be unwelcome by Stryker, but I do think they would have a presence (if for no other reason, to allow players a chance to play the Host in this game). They would definitely be in their own caste, but I think they would constantly have to hide their true identities, almost like how the Pariah have to in other havens, which sort of flips the convention on its head. What becomes interesting then is what exactly is the agenda of these Hosts in haven.

    As for the Magi… again… dichotomy! I definitely see the citizen Magi as conscripts of Stryker, ruthless and very Inquisition-esque. One of the questions I have is whether or not the citizen Magi should practice or attempt to learn voodoo at all. On the one hand, I like the white/black voodoo contrast idea. On the other hand, I could also see these Magi condemning voodoo altogether. While it flies in the face of the traditional Magi backdrop, it could be that these Magi disciples of Stryker are so enveloped in his agenda that they have lost their true purpose. What does everyone else think?

    And on a side note, I do think there is actual truth to the voodoo… while of course there are no voodoo spells in the Reclamation guidebook, the entire premise behind the Magi would suggest that there is absolutely power in the voodoo rites. To be honest, “Voodoo” at one point had been one of the Magi “Traditions.” For purposes of time, I had to cut it. Maybe if this game takes off there will be a Voodoo supplemental guide coming in the future, lol.

    • You know it’s almost a shame that this Haven is being worked up as an inclusion in the rulebook- you could almost make an expansion out of it by itself!

      That being said I know I, and probably most of us here, would be overjoyed to help develop and playtest expansions for the game.

      • I will keep that in mind.

        And I agree… the shame of it all is that I really only have two pages or so in the guidebook to dedicate to this sample haven… and I think you really could expand it out into a truly immersive setting… complete with its own set of “Voodoo” rites and unique game rules for this particular area. It would be awesome to see enough success with the core game to justify the pursuit of those kind of expansions. One step at a time though. Heh.

  5. Given people’s thoughts on hosts, perhaps they occupy their own subsection of the city. It’s not exactly ghetto, as they have pride, but more like a Chinatown area in many US cities. When they leave the area, many of them are more covered or visually hide their host markings, to blend and get better jobs.

    Or is it more the case that they can’t even be allowed in coordinated groups. Like, they occupy some of the lower rungs and every so often Stryker calls for a ‘cleansing’ and does the old lottery/decimation act, citing the military tech like Keldon said (I really liked that bit :) ). Also, they are barred by decree from attaining true citizenry. Perhaps they are mostly seen as the best mechanics and are used to keep the towers of the Haven as dry and oiled as possible.
    As for the reasons they stay in the face of these attacks and disadvantages, only the voice of the Host knows?

    The idea of class distinction in the voodoo casting type sounded cool. What if the line between black and white voodoo is more blurred? That is, given the way Magi work, what if the lower castes had to work without guidance or as much education and have discovered ways to magic that are more the traditional voodoo dolls and chicken heads. Perhaps this led to more hexes and animism, and the traditional dark arts, but they aren’t cut off from things like healing and protection.
    “White magic” then can still have hexes or damage, but its a bit more refined, practicable in high-culture.
    That way, characters can have access to all spells, but maybe they have to try a little harder for one ‘section’ or another. They can practice it as Magi no matter the caste they come from, and there’s a clear distinction between an elite guard and unsanctioned practitioners if that’s added. Plus, there’d be a nice dichotomy if they sacrifice those they catch, like JC said. Is sacrifice ‘dark’ even though the ‘white voodoo’ casters do it? What makes it more socially acceptable (ceremony, etc.)?

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