Sunday, July 24, 2022

Open Invite: City-State RPG

I invite you to join me for a 5-round PBEM RPG in which you will play as a city-state or another large polity.

July 26 update: We have filled the roster! However, if you would like to be a put on the shortlist in case anyone drops out or if you would like for me to reach out to you in the future for gaming invites, please send me an email at

Stats and Rolls
Joining the Game


The context is a world predominantly composed of city-states with a tech-level of ~1910-1930.

The players will be a new alliance formed for mutual security against the Cynthian Empire, a thalassocratic state which subjugates coastal realms for the use of their ports. The Cynthians raid inland and use espionage to weaken stable states, so they are a threat to even deeply-inland states.

They are one of many existential threats.

The game will be five turns. You will have 3 real-time days to decide and submit your actions for each turn.

I will send out your results on the day after each turn. The game will total 20 real-time days (3+1+3+1+3+1+3+1+3+1), turn->report->turn->report.

Stats and Rolls

Your faction will have eight stats. Each turn, you can take an action using each of these stats. That is, eight concurrent actions per turn.

This is a PbtA-style system, so each action will have a chance of succeeding, a narrative effect, and a mechanical effect. The results might give you bonuses or maluses, for a certain period or permanently.

You will describe your actions in the form of directives, including your intended outcome. (“Intelligence Service: I want an operation executed to infiltrate a Crag of Songs crew. The intent is to ascertain the location of their cavern. If we can get people inside for a description or undercover op, do that, but at least one agent needs to report the location ASAP.”)
Your state organizations will execute your intent. There will be a number of characters associated with each capability. They are executors, and they may triumph, be disgraced, live, die, or transcend the cosmos, but they do not change the base probabilities (this could change if a character is involved in something very special).
You will not be punished for leaving out precautions etc; these will be seen to by your people, unless you have specific guidance. The outcomes will be determined mechanically along the axis of your intent.

You can find specific mechanics for this at the end of this section.

The eight stats are:

Expeditionary Warfare
Intelligence Service
Diplomatic Influence
Economic Power
Industrial Base
Civic Engagement
Research Capacity
Defense in Depth

Brief descriptions:
Expeditionary Warfare: Dealing kinetically with threats beyond the city wall.
Intelligence Service: Uncovering facts and taking physical actions in a surgical manner. Also serves as a passive defense against covert activity occurring in your city-state or faction’s sphere of influence.
Diplomatic Influence: Influencing foreign states, gaining their cooperation and shaping their policy without threatening them directly.
Economic Power: Influencing people and organizations through investments and disbursements, outright purchasing things, and developing your Intelligence Service, Diplomatic Influence, and Research Capacity.
Industrial Base: Developing your Expeditionary Warfare, Economic Power, Industrial Base, Civic Engagement and Defense in Depth capabilities, as well as supplying foreign efforts (e.g. supplying disaster relief to a foreign policy, or arming a foreign insurgency).
Civic Engagement: The ability to marshal the actual residents of the city to do things organically. A jack of all trades stat that can be used to enhance other stats (e.g. by encouraging militia service, free enterprise, disaster recovery, mass philanthropy, home workshops and cultivation, and participation in research bond programs)
Research Capacity: This is your ability to gain permanent situational bonuses through various forms of research. The Occult always beckons but failures in its employment are catastrophic
Defense in Depth: A passive capability that represents the difficulty of directly attacking your city-state or headquarters. A threat may encounter your Expeditionary Warfare and/or Intelligence Service first, especially if you have turned these capabilities to security.

I will physically roll for the success or failure of your actions.
The roll is 2d6 + Stat Bonus.
10+: Full success. This will execute your intent diegetically if you have the resources to reach your intended aim, and in doing so you can resolve threats, take full advantage of opportunities, and/or recieve ongoing bonuses or increases to one of your stats.
7-9: Partial success, success with collateral damage or fallout, or progress which benefits you in the short term.
6-: Dramatic failure.

City-states and factions are built with the following spread of bonuses and maluses spread between their eight stats.
+2, +2, +1, +1, 0, 0, -1, -1, and two situational +1 bonuses.
There is some variation in this among the pregenerated cities and factions, though newly-generated cities should follow this spread. If you’d like to be more specialized, let me know.


You can play as one of the city-states and factions listed in the Factions section below, or you can create your own city-state using the city-state creation tables. You can optionally create a protagonist noble house for your city-state using the nobleman generator. Player-generated city-states can be fairly dastardly but should be diplomatically-compatible with the states listed below (e.g. not adhering to a belief system that seeks the overthrow of all existing city-states and not practicing the Occult, at least at first).

        Playable Preexisting Factions
The following factions are pregenerated options for play, and their full stats and descriptions can be found below (the actual alliance will consist only of player factions)
Cape Cittacotte
The Earthheart People
The Empire of the Twin Canals
Great Loom
The Knights Tarragon
Lethemarket South Archipelago Company

        Nonplayable Preexisting Factions
The following factions may be present in the game but are either international pariahs or serve a mechanical role, and so are nonplayable (though if you are highly interested in playing Atrialia, Attar, Sarabande, Setroxia, or one of my states from the City-State Generator, let me know and we can figure it out)
Atrialia: An island dictatorship famed for the production of blacklisted narcotics and chemical weapons, which are sold on the international black market.
Attar (conceptualized by Dan Sullivan) is a prosperous and cosmopolitan city in the fens. It is noted for the production of world-famous scents. A host of bandits once occupied Attar, but were gradually transformed into its security forces. Player factions can pay 1 Economic Power to Attar in exchange for a +1 bonus to Diplomatic Influence the next turn, as they receive pheromone-laced fragrances and lessons on the human ego from a group of the city’s most prominent citizens (who managed to tame their invaders).
Bounty: A city of river slavers whose captives work their endless mines and refineries. Bounty’s ironclads travel far and wide, slaving along the rivers and coasts.
The City of Leagues: The world’s premiere Anarcho-Syndicalist city-state. They are opposed to most existing governments as they are opposed to most governments existing, and as such they continually send cadres abroad to spread international revolutionary Syndicalism and spearhead uprisings. They oppose the Cynthians and could be interesting to play, but they don’t belong in an alliance with the other city-states that are playable because they’d lose legitimacy by cooperating with them.
The Crag of Songs Killers: A hinterland society who board ships, planes and caravans as ostensible guests or hirelings, before eliminating the actual complement and delivering the cargo and/or transport vehicle to the Killers’ mysterious fastness.
The Cynthian Empire: An aristocratic society dwelling on their battleships and aircraft carriers, sending fleets to conquer coastal city-states as supply stations, drydocks, and points of excise.
Feyglade: A once-prosperous prairie state now subjugated by heartless nomads seeking their next target for unlimited conquest.
The Red Charter Companies: Raiding organizations who seize hinterland RGOs and operate them with slaves, selling the products on the black market.
Glossolalia: A sleepy island state which sends out agents to hide radioactive runestones made of lead and mercury in foreign city-states at the behest of exocosmic instigators.
The Grave of the Sorcerers: A mysterious desert island characterized by megalithic architecture. Their rusting ships go forth and their mute, sometimes four-armed crews employ inexplicable electroshock weapons on foreign ships. The sea raiders take men captives while throwing shock-paralyzed women and children into the sea.
Sarabande is a city-state (conceptualized by Ben Massey and interpreted by yours truly in this story) located in a dense forest, where they employ enslaved tribesmen in the harvesting and refining of valuable wood and beetles into fine lacquerware. The people of this city-state are suffering from a wood rot which causes their bodies to harden and eventually calcify into immobility. They are highly resistant to gunfire during this process.
Setroxia: The Fane of the Poppy (conceptualized by Dan Sullivan and interpreted by yours truly in this story).
Starling & Shrike: A mountaintop city-state known for raising its children to be mercenary detectives and financial investigators. Most playable factions can spend Economic Power to gain an additional Intelligence Service-type action from S&S each turn, or to gain a passive military Assist and Advise capability from Starling & Shrike (applied to Expeditionary Warfare or Defense in Depth).
Mechanism: Convert 2 Economic Power to a +2 Intelligence Service-type action or a +1 bonus to your Expeditionary Warfare action or passive Defense in Depth.
Certain treaty partners only have to spend 1 economic power to get the above. Treaties with S&S are annotated in the state’s Strengths section.

        Pregenerated Factions

Stat bonuses in parentheses are added to the base stat.

Note: The government of Archzenith is evil, but they can be included in this alliance due to their actions against the Cynthian Empire, which most city-states consider a greater threat.
Nature: The brutal fourfold aristocracy of Archzenith controls a gleaming city in a steaming jungle. They have recently conquered the city-state of Palmgrove with the assistance of their tribal allies, the Affidavits, and are using the POWs from this war to mine the pits beneath Archzenith, which have been found to contain seemingly unlimited precious minerals. For some reason, all artists and craftsmen in Archzenith have disappeared since the start of the mining boom.
Strengths: Start with Mandala as subject and source of miners. The allied Affidavit bandit tribe defends Archzenith’s outlying regions. The Fourfold Aristocracy controls them with Setroxian heroin.
Challenges: The mines directly beneath Archzenith are growing unstable and continuing the boom without massive underground restructuring may sink the entire city. Archzenith is the enemy of many nearby bandit tribes. They are blacklisted by Starling & Shrike and mistrusted by other city-states.
Expeditionary Warfare: +1 (lower than expected due to occupation of Palmgrove)
Intelligence Service: +1 (gentlemen of Archzenith; +1 when carrying out targeted killings)
Diplomatic Influence: -1
Economic Power: +2 (+1 when spending pure gold and silver; catastrophe on Total Failure [8.3%])
Industrial Base: +0
Civic Engagement: -1
Research Capacity: +0
Defense in Depth: +2 (jungle, tribal allies, heavy guns on city wall)
Head of State: Duke

Nature: Rich, technologically-advanced but serene city-state on a vast plain.
Strengths: Ascension is wealthy and has a bought-in population who can be relied upon to aid in almost any endeavor. Ascension Fighter Command possesses unrivaled air superiority capabilities. The city has a defensive treaty with Starling & Shrike, reducing contract costs and permitting support in warfare. 
Challenges: Ascension’s government is nonbelligerent and somewhat aloof despite being geographically vulnerable. The heartless prairie nobles of Feyglade could make a direct motorized drive on Ascension. Expeditionary Warfare: -1 (+2 when a pure ground attack air raids, as in +1 total, and +3 in air superiority engagements, as in +2 total)
Intelligence Service: 0
Diplomatic Influence: 0
Economic Power: +2
Industrial Base: +1
Civic Engagement: +2
Research Capacity: +1
Defense in Depth: -1
Head of State: President

    Cape Cittacotte
Nature: A city on a stretch of pleasant coast on the edge of a great desert. The coast has many heroöns where the people of Cape Cittacotte go to be inspired by the heroes of history.
Strengths: Cape Cittacotte has an elite army and navy whose officers double as intelligence operatives, and the city is somewhat sheltered from naval invasion by the archipelago of the Little Iguanas. 
Challenges: Cape Cittacotte is absolutely surrounded by threats. In the high desert, the Gardens of Anomie disgorge warlocks armed with weapons strange and terrible. Brigands and bandit tribes harry the coastline, and at sea the city-state faces a quadruple threat from pirates, the slavers of Bounty, the silent kidnappers from the Grave of the Sorcerers and their inexplicable electroshock weapons, and the Cynthian Empire.
A +1 bonus can be assigned to any stat, but it comes into effect on the next turn after you declare it. This is because of state promotion of a particular heroön associated with the endeavor in question.
Expeditionary Warfare: +2
Intelligence Service: +2
Diplomatic Influence: 0
Economic Power: +1
Industrial Base: 0
Civic Engagement: -1
Research Capacity: -1
Defense in Depth: +1
Head of State: Grand Secretary

Nature: A city of towers overlooking vast farmlands, Diadem is a rich, beautiful and stable city-state.
Strengths: Diadem is a functional society with a roaring economy and industrial base. It has broad opportunities for fundamental development along many axes. The city has a defensive treaty with Starling & Shrike, reducing contract costs and permitting support in warfare.
Challenges: Diadem’s striking power is limited to the Dragon Dragoons, glider troops who can deploy from Diadem’s towers to deal with threats on the nearby prairie. Furthermore, it has traditionally lacked a dedicated intelligence service, relying on intelligence-sharing agreements with allies and on reports from the city’s traders when they return from abroad.
Expeditionary Warfare: -1
Intelligence Service: -1 (+1 if it has to do with something that another player’s state or faction is connected to, or if it’s something that has to do with a neutral city-state or faction)
Diplomatic Influence: +1
Economic Power: +2
Industrial Base: +2
Civic Engagement: +1
Research Capacity: 0 
Defense in Depth: 0 (+1 when intercepting oncoming threats)
Head of State: Lord Mayor

    Earthheart People 
Nature: The Earthheart People are a Bandit Tribe living off of the plunder of foreign states and tribes on the highways and rivers.
Strengths: Decentralized clan structure means that the Earthheart People are very difficult to eradicate. Their ability to go on psychoactive spiritquests that can alter the very conditions of reality means that they have an almost unparalleled ability to adapt to threats or reverse them. They have a positive reputation with certain city-states (generally ones inaccessible for raiding).
Challenges: The Earthhearts feud continuously with other bandit tribes and are regarded as an object for extermination by a number of city-states who have suffered their depredations. Spiritquests can alter reality itself, rewriting problems out of existence or bringing aid from beyond the cosmos, but are proportionately dangerous to undertake, with Total Failures levying disastrous consequences.
Expeditionary Warfare: +1
Intelligence Service: 0
Diplomatic Influence: -1
Economic Power: -1 (+1 after winning some kind of engagement due to extensive plundering and connections to resell equipment to distant bandit tribes)
Industrial Base: 0
Civic Engagement: +1
Research Capacity: +2, but with really disastrous Total Failures (+1 when attempting to discover something existential rather than technological)
Defense in Depth: +2
Head of State: High King (elective monarchy)

    Empire of the Twin Canals
Nature: A mighty land and sea empire with 12 subject peoples, the Empire of the Twin Canals is known for constructing megalithic superstructures such as the vast inhabited stackstones in their capital city of Megakratheon and the citadels in the lands of their subjects.
Strengths: Most of the Twin Canals’ army and navy consists of degraded conscripts from their 12 subject peoples, but this manpower pool has proved nigh-inexhaustible despite continuous warfare. The Twin Canals possess a tremendous economic and industrial base given their position as an entrepôt and their vast population, and their intelligence services have been finely honed by tearing out the roots of rebellion in their subject peoples.
Challenges: The Empire of the Twin Canals is engaged in “the Thousand Wars”, border conflicts all neighboring cities and tribes. Furthermore, the Canalite people rule their subjects through state terror, which flatlines civic engagement and primes them for uprisings, particularly with the aid of International Revolutionary Syndicalism. The Empire of the Twin Canals is also a primary target for the Cynthian Empire, which salivates over the great entrepôt and the Empire’s already-subjugated population. On top of it all is a Starling & Shrike blacklisting.
Expeditionary Warfare: +1 (easily replenished; never depletes. You don’t lose any of this stat if you suffer a major loss)
Intelligence Service: +1 (+1 when attempting to root out internal sedition)
Diplomatic Influence: -1
Economic Power: +2
Industrial Base: +2
Civic Engagement: -1
Research Capacity: +0
Defense in Depth: +0
Head of State: Emperor

    Great Loom
Nature: Great Loom is an intellectually potent but unwarlike city-state sheltered in the strong arms of a mountain valley. It has a strong economy and a library that spirals and branches throughout the inside of a mountain, expanding all the time due to Great Loom’s literary and academic culture.
Strengths: Great Loom’s unrivaled research potential allows for development along any axis, and despite their starting lack of expeditionary warfare power, the city has a strong defensive position. The city has a defensive treaty with Starling & Shrike, reducing contract costs and permitting support in warfare. 
Challenges: First, Great Loom has not been directly involved in a war in over 100 years and possesses only a token security force, historically sheltered by their highland position and by friendly outlying cities such as Troutbridge, Diadem, Ascension, Feyglade, and Starling & Shrike. As such, the city possess only token security forces, but recently Feyglade has fallen to prairie nomads who are turning their hungry eyes on Great Loom. Second, Great Loom’s libraries shade into places that do not entirely fall within this world. The city’s librarians and intellectuals are beginning to get lost in these ways, and they may encounter things of an unearthly provenance there.
Expeditionary Warfare: -1
Intelligence Service: -1
Diplomatic Influence: 0
Economic Power: +1
Industrial Base: +1 (+1 when producing something associated with printing)
Civic Engagement: 0 
Research Capacity: +2 (+1 when searching for knowledge that already exists on some level) 
Defense in Depth: +2
Head of State: Councilor Presiding

Note: The government of Grimwall is evil, but they can be included in this alliance due to their actions against the Cynthian Empire, which most city-states consider a greater threat.
Nature: A warlike and aggressive industrial city-state built into the face of a sheer cliff. Grimwall has extensive tank and alpine warfare capabilities, and recently used them to destroy the city-state of Mandala 
Strengths: Mighty and variable expeditionary warfare capabilities with an extremely strong defensive position, allowing them to weather the vagaries of warfare.
Challenges: Grimwall is diplomatically and economically isolated and faces the newly-formed defensive alliance of the Free Cities of Tourmaline Gorge (which will become an offensive alliance should the Free Cities lose their internal war against Revolutionary Syndicalism). Grimwall is blacklisted by Starling & Shrike and mistrusted by other city-states.
Expeditionary Warfare: +2 (Grimwall Column: +1 when assaulting a city-state with intent to raze, though not while engaging their EW forces; Grimwall Mountaineers: +1 when fighting in rough hinterlands)
Intelligence Service: +1 
Diplomatic Influence: -1
Economic Power: 0
Industrial Base: +1
Civic Engagement: 0
Research Capacity: -1
Defense in Depth: +2
Head of State: Supreme Commander

    Knights Tarragon
Nature: A military order of knights financial operating out of a network of banks and hardened offices in city-states and empires across the continents. 
Strengths: The order’s Knights are consummate warriors and spies, and their lay personnel are drilled in defensive warfare. The financial acumen and resources of the Knights Tarragon are legend, and there are few foreign states who would not be threatened by the Knights’ abilities to offer life-changing bribes to their personnel. The order also retains battalions of mercenaries coming from various traditions of warfare and can employ air and naval mercenaries on short notice, but generally do not engage in formal warfare except with extreme debtors.
Challenges: Many other Military and Chivalric Orders are enemies of the Knights Tarragon and will duel them at the drop of a hat or actively scheme against them. Furthermore, the bank vaults of the Knights Tarragon riot with the wealth of nations and despite the knights’ fearsome reputation there are no shortage of marauders ready to accept unlimited risk and shed unlimited blood for a crack at a fraction of the orders’ wealth. This also goes for many city-states when they fall on hard times…
Expeditionary Warfare: 0 (+1 when acting against those who owe the Knights money)
Intelligence Service: +2 (+1 when acting against those who owe the Knights money)
Diplomatic Influence: +1
Economic Power: +2 (+1 when engaging in bribery, attempting to employ mercenaries, or issuing loans)
Industrial Base: -1
Civic Engagement: -1 Research Capacity: 0
Defense in Depth: +1 (vaults and banks spread across the world)
Head of State: Lord Director

    Lethemarket South Archipelago Company
Nature: A charter corporation for the cultivation and trade of rare goods in far-flung environs. While nominally chartered out of the continental city-state of Lethemarket, the Company’s administrators universally reside abroad in the Company’s extraterritorial trade fortresses while Lethemarket has been reduced to a shell front for the company, a Potemkin village maintained so as to give the Company a veneer of nationalist legitimacy.
Strengths: The Company has a standing navy and tens of thousands of mercenaries under its employ, as well as trade fortresses and vice districts that enjoy extraterritorial status in a handful of weak city-states. It also owns trading houses and liveried bazaars in stronger city-states with the permission of their governments. Their trade fleet and RGOs give them outstanding economic capabilities and a robust industrial output of raw materials.
Challenges: The possessions of the South Archipelago Company are far-flung and difficult to protect with a concentration of force; while the South Archipelago Company would be nearly impossible to eradicate over a short period, any individual holding would not be particularly difficult to sack. Furthermore, the company has something of a legitimacy problem; their presence as an economic driver is widely desired, but the Company’s assumption of extraterritoriality in a number of sovereign states and its murderous actions against various foreign corporations has made potential clients wary of it. 
Expeditionary Warfare: +2
Intelligence Service: +1
Diplomatic Influence: 0
Economic Power: +2
Industrial Base: +1 (+1 when harvesting and utilizing raw materials)
Civic Engagement: -1
Research Capacity: -1
Defense in Depth: 0 (but cannot be eliminated on a failure)
Head of State: Chairman

Nature: The riotous maritime city-state of Mandrake serves as a safe haven for the world’s exiled nobles, welcoming these men and women (and their expertise and resources) with open arms. 
Strengths: A world-class blue water naval power, the city of Mandrake benefits from an unrivaled pool of brilliant admirals, generals, aristocratic spies and gentleman scholars.
Challenges: Mandrake is one of the most violent and chaotic city-states in the world, and when shorn of common purpose the city’s nobles and their retinues tend to feud relentlessly. Mandrake lacks a robust domestic industry, given that most of the exiled nobles eschew economic activity other than robbery. Expeditionary Warfare: +2 (+1 during sea battles)
Intelligence Service: +2
Diplomatic Influence: 0
Economic Power: -1 (+1 after winning some kind of military engagement due to excellent channels for reselling plunder to foreign city-states)
Industrial Base: -1
Civic Engagement: +1
Research Capacity: +1
Defense in Depth: 0
Head of State: Grand Commodore

Nature: Saxherm is a city-state (conceptualized by Solomon VK in the city-state generator and interpreted by yours truly in this story) distributed across several adjacent hills surrounded by farmland. Saxherm’s businessmen and industrialists idolize thieves and sometimes sponsor their activities abroad, though it is understood that thieves are not to target the equities of Saxherm’s movers and shakers.
Strengths: The affectionate relationship between mogul and thief tends to make the thieves available for special actions benefitting the city.
Challenges: The affectionate relationship between mogul and thief tends to make other city-states look askance upon Saxherm. The city also does not begin with military forces capable of expeditionary warfare.
Expeditionary Warfare: -1
Intelligence Service: +2 (+1 when stealing from abroad)
Diplomatic Influence: -1
Economic Power: +1
Industrial Base: +1
Civic Engagement: +2 (+1 when it involves stealthy activities within the city-state)
Research Capacity: 0
Defense in Depth: 0
Head of State: Lord Speaker

Nature: Troutbridge is a wealthy representative democracy on a confluence of major rivers.
Strengths: Powerful economy based on shipping and consumer goods, extensive riverine and air warfare capabilities. Defensive treaty with Starling & Shrike, reducing contract costs and permitting support in warfare.
Challenges: Troutbridge has many enemies and is easily accessed by land and water, and lacks force projection beyond littoral and riverine areas. They have historically feuded with Archzenith and Grimwall, but this may be mitigated by an alliance to deal with the mutual threats of the Cynthians. Despite being a democracy, the city-state’s officer core sometimes acts unilaterally, and they tend to be popularly forgiven even when clearly in the wrong (as they “acted out of overwhelming patriotic feeling”). 
Expeditionary Warfare: +0 (+2 when fighting on the riverlands and/or coasts, and in air engagements)
Intelligence Service: +1
Diplomatic Influence: +1 
Economic Power: +2
Industrial Base: +1
Civic Engagement: +1
Research Capacity: +0
Defense in Depth: -1 (easily accessed)
Head of State: Prime Minister

Joining the Game

This game will be predominantly PVE. You can spy on the other players, but can’t act to directly hinder them.

If you cannot submit your actions in a given three-day window, your faction will by default lay low and do nothing, or you can “delegate to your ministers” and I will play the faction that turn period.

My original conception was to give priority to people who’ve posted city-states or who I’ve gamed with before, I guess we prefer known quantities, but something feels wrong about doing it that way so it will purely be by order received.

If we fill up, I’ll edit this post and note that. We’ll go forward with a minimum of 3 players.

If you are interested in playing, please reach out to me at:

Please rank-order a few factions that you’d be interested in playing, or indicate that you will create your own using the city-state generator as a base (you can characterize the results however you like). You’ll be able to ping me with questions on Discord during your 3-day turn periods.

Thank you!

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Underlying Arcs for High-Level Play

There is much of the dark divine madness. What of the light?

You have been adventuring for some time. 

        What is revealed about you?


1 You are monster-adjacent; your mother was mothic, magnetically-entrapped electricity immanentized as information in text and pictures. You gradually manifest related text and powers (ie moth wings/eyes/metabolism, you become magnetically-entrapped electricity with a mutable form (ie capable of taking human shape and huge)). Purpose of your mother’s crossbreeding with humans: gathering information/energy by consuming offspring at a ripe age, simple lust fulfilled by perverse interaction, seed of rebirth like a dragonfly’s shell

2 Actually not a human. You appear to be a human and were gestated in a human’s uterus but are technically a different species for a variety of reasons, and as a result your neurology and physical processes begin to diverge as you are exposed to extreme environmental stressors. Your humanlike form is like a tadpole for what will come.

3 You are a sage from the distant imperial past or the savant-educated future; mind rewritten for safe transport. Capable of etching energetic-manipulation engines into surfaces, like computer programs that affect realspace around them. You have many such latent etchings in the reverse-surface of your skin

4 You are some kind of immanentized spirit, entity, ghost; you may periodically become ethereal (and death-wail with grief etc), and may shade into the spirit realm to deal with ongoing magical effects a la Shadowrun hacking

5 There is an interest in your birth by an exocosmic divinity or extragalactic intelligence because you are some kind of deity projected into this world with your memory compressed for transport or safekeeping, and it is now beginning to unpack itself. You have a sort of save game power; place a savepoint in spacetime and you have 2 minutes until calcification of quantum superposition prevents you from restoring to your point without fracturing or corrupting existence at both your savepoint and the point of departure. Be warned: this can happen anyway.

6 You are meant as the interface for some kind of stone battlemech or other great project (flying submarine / air submarine, coral/kelp superstructure, a class of underworld creature waiting for you to find them) like a tager from CthulhuTech. You can find your ultimate exoskeleton where it waits beneath the earth or stands exocosmically entrapped, and in the meantime you can begin to develop physical elements that microreplicate the power you may one day assume 

7 You are an entity that was immanentized or exiled into human form by rivals or peacekeepers; this was the best they could do, as they were incapable of killing you, and you are now bleeding back into existence and are still bleeding through, giving you purchase on both existential paradigms.
As such, your sense data can be used to build a hypothetical but physical exocosmic representational space where postulates can be tried; it’s like a demiplane where things you have encountered can be generated and experimented with, people spoken to, but nothing can leave and is locked away from the timespace continuum; developments in the meta-reality are not reflected in the dreamspace until you encounter them again.
In short, elements of your experience can be brought together and they can be questioned, dissected, observed, and their interactions can be ascertained.

8 No secret; the PC can be the founder of a lineage rather than its inheritor

9 You are some kind of area-manipulation GUI for a demiurge, the way a level editor in a video game might use a character as a paintbrush for the player to work through; the meta-functionality has lapsed or is not being paid attention to, and you begin to be able to access the functions attached to you. 
Existential Abolitionism, an thought among certain entities; stop the arbitrary possession of humans, which in the case of area-manipulation GUIs renders their consciousness inert. An entity steps in and severs your ties to that demiurge, or makes it seem like you’re corrupted and unsuited for use 
This GUI takes careful focus for a PC to take control of and work through, or some take focus, others emotion, others desire, others mere intent (but intent is the marker of a highly developed connection to the underlying state); others become facts of biology with their own rules.

10 You are a registry for souls; either a kind of refugee system or a natural web that catches them. Their powers can manifest, or the PC can make the powers function so as not to steal the player’s thunder. For very social roleplayers the process can be more conversational.
Screaming soul, battle power, you can have a soul that inhabits you possess someone else as your ally (but not directly under your control). Must remain near you or perish

11 You are a blood disease with utility effects; a giving disease. Your human form is incidental and the circumstances of its acquisition are foggy to you. In the long term you are also a superweapon and existential suicide time bomb, you will unleash havoc on this existence in increasingly severe forms as the weapon charges up, even if you die; it will be disseminated from marked atoms, thus blowing you to smithereens or dissolving you in magma isn’t necessarily a great idea, as you will simply be disseminated more broadly without defusing the weapon

12 You can copy and append occult/animal systems to your own existence in an energetic format; for example, electromagnetically replicating a jumping spider’s hemolymph hydraulic system in your legs (or anywhere, really), or replicating an ant ecosystem with tiny nuclear motes and your heart as the queen (watch for spreading), or modeling the world machine as an electroetheric orrery around your heart, allowing you to plug into latent occult structures and ancient megaprojects like a universal lockpick and cardiac electrode. You cannot, however, easily remove these structures, and they may begin to interact in unexpected ways. 

13 You are descended from some kind of concept; pain, rust, entropy, eros. This does not necessarily mean that these concepts are entities with a metaphysical link between instances; chances are you are the product of xenocosmogonic manipulation, as in you were blended with the meta-traits of some phenomenon observable in this cosmos by outside forces. The effects of your phenomenological origin will begin to reify in and/or through your physical body or the dimensions of your consciousness.

14 You are a supergenius who previously had constricted oxygen flow; when this is resolved you begin to discover new mental pathways and qualify for the harry potter school in the merc contract generator through mathematical savantry (theoretical, not yet applied)

15 You are a xenostygian prince produced as part of an occult experiment or xeno/neobiological breeding program, then cast out due to prodigy/oracle that you would become a prophesized/hypothesized prophet, redeemer and destroyer. Some in your true domain would want an outsider like you to come home, others do not. You have special extended family and a forgotten alliance

16 You are a reservoir for a universal energy source, it glows like a firefly with your emotions and your blood gives power to anything

17 You are a psychic or have some other channeled warping or concentration of forces developed due to a confluence of such forces at your conception; perhaps you control this through focal attunement disruptable by distactions, or you are something like a D&D sorcerer where you can entrap and apply existential forces empirically derived in formulaic constructions which you learn and then apply (to your exhaustion, starvation, or Vancian memory-erasure so that forms must be rediscovered or reintuited)

18 You are a deity-demigod made involuntarily of the stuff of the divine, for example the fusion beams of the Burning Eye. Your true form manifests when you encounter elements of your parent’s portfolio

19 You are a fey; from a slightly alternate dimension, slightly underlying the strata you know, and your people (and their rivals) begin to speak to you and invite you and your friends onto their secret paths and into their secret courts

20 You stole your powers from an entity but lost your connection with that time or reality. You begin to make them your own, metabolizing them, and in the process you attract the attention of the entity’s rivals and lovers who treat you as if you were the entity itself

        What is the catalyst for this revelation?


1 Fusion disintegration by exocosmic pretender followed by quick reintegration due to your body’s hitherto-unknown atomic magnetism
2 Occult possession
3 Exposure to extreme mutagenic agent
4 Leukemia
5 Sacrificed, the light of your bones poured as milk into a chrysalis, twiceborn
6 Resuscitated after heart stoppage
7 Lightning strike
8 Spiritplane quest
9 Seaplane crash
10 Lost in the green realm or outer highway
11 Nervous breakdown
12 TBI
13 TMI
14 Immolation, previous body burnt away
15 Wake up gestating in chrysalis
16 Discovery of an obligation to cosmic fire
17 Devoured by animal
18 Sacrifice yourself to yourself 
19 Water filled with lungs
20 Born of your parents, born in death, born in fire, and born the fourth time, your nature then becoming clear 
21 Cathartic glossolalia after existential dysphoria
22 Eyeless hermit-sage in impossible domicile reveals the truth
23 Ground crumbles into pit of gamy black liquid
24 Lost underground, wander into a cavern that serves as an earth elemental’s brain
25 Seem to wake up in home, actually in exocosmically-handled cryptostygian intelligence blacksite, megadosed with hormonal neuroticizer and debriefed about your strange activities
26 Accidentally sealed in a brazen maiden, layer of retroparticles carrying the seed of your transformation seared into you at the atomic level
27 Blessed by a deity, struck by wide angle sanctification beam
28 Choke on something, have strangulated vision of an angel ramming a sword hilt-first down your throat and into your heart 
29 Match pattern with echoes from previous cosmos, see forms and materials that are possible given our physics but totally orthogonal to any known arrangements, see patterns that are dormant in your body but ready to spring into previous arrangements
30 Lose virginity

What adventure could be undertaken to awaken your potential?


1 Soak in the vitiating energy of an underworld energy stream pretending to be ore but is actually tendril of otherworldly force sinking into this world like the claw of a satisfied cat or something erotic

2 Ascertain whereabouts of true parentage and enact reunion in a form acceptable/recognizable to them

3 Destroy cosmic chains linking your condition to the causality of disaster; free yourself and local spacetime by disrupting prearranged plans of an only partially-ascertainable provenance

4 Find catalytic entity who can awaken full potential for a price (resources, sacrifice, conduct that is anti-human or pro-human)

5 Assassinate cosmic monitor controlling your condition on behalf of pseudointelligent forces so physically and psychologically distant that they could not perceive you without intermediation

6 Destroy self in a particular way at a particular time to as to hoodwink and slip perceivers that may be degrading, speculating on or keeping in check the material of your underlying nature

7 Must undergo extreme protracted stressor to activate relevant epigenetic triggers; intense warfare, underworld sojourn, psychogonic spirit-quest

8 Usurp cryptostygian megaproject, a nightmare immanentizer underlying a city-state (which was built as their laboratory, anyway), warping local space to the dimensions of the horrors of your consciousness and dealing with the outcomes until you can find the dream-machine lucidifier at the core operated by a kind of faceless blue-smoke djinn 

Saturday, July 2, 2022

“Fighter as Primordial Hunter” + Mercenary Generator

  Fighter as Primordial Hunter

I think the default (though unrecognized, unarticulated) gamestate of most RPG groups I’ve encountered is as a band of primordial hunters.

This is not something I impose. I think it is a natural consequence of taking a group of dudes who enjoy fictional competitive violence and placing them in a setting with lots of clear evil, and weak (or evil) rule of law, rather than being a result of the channeling of a game’s ruleset and expectations. It’s an innate social system that waits for conditions like those of an archetypal RPG group to emerge.

Is that an argument for a pure dungeon crawling campaign? Not as such, all of the most effective sessions I have run have involved *both* the destruction of beasts/knaves AND difficult party-facing value judgements within a complex moral landscape.

Politicking, investigation and human drama all absolutely have their place in the course of a long-range primordial hunt. So do patronage, exploration, diplomacy, ritual, betrayal, tending to wounds, capture and escape, and (traditionally in mediums other than TTRPGs) a successful romantic conclusion. All that might happen on that great long-range expedition. But the core of it is the destruction of a beast and the reaping of its rewards. So too the discovery of new lands and the rewards therein, and the discovery of valuable things in dark places (Obsidian? Mushrooms? Valuables on the horror of a rotting battleground?)

There is also the psychological map of the dungeon, delving into a dark and unknown place where you will evade traps and do battle to lay claim to a supernatural prize. This is a more general model than the hunt, but is perhaps a psychologization of the same process and thus dungeons appear seated within the wilderness adventure. You range the wilderness dispatching beasts and raiders, gaining in strength and treasure, and then you delve into a dungeon for the crescendo, but the wilderness exploration is also like a delve into a dungeon; the penetration of the unknown, and the attendant encounter with parts of your psyche that are less immediate at the campfire or while you’re swaddled in furs with your sweetheart (terror, murderousness, tragic grief and gore-disgust).

You also encounter numinous entities and placate or ally with them, you may solve the problems of semi-independent outlying communities and thereby win their allegiance (this should be familiar to players of Skyrim etc, sort of a fantasy/primeval Village Stability Operations but in this case probably involving tribute), and you may get into sexual escapades. It’s all there, and my observation is that the group psychology of traditional RPG players tends in the direction of a primeval hunting band, extrapolated the way humans do onto the complex circumstances they face in-game (this is obviously modulated by the expanding cultural penetration of roleplaying games).

This is true both in terms of group-dynamics and also in terms of the latent desire of the players. Like I said, politicking, investigation and human drama are all to be expected, and the GM leaves game-potency on the table if those elements are totally absent, but if too much time goes by without the opportunity for action and the attendant reward (bloody action with plunder, or cunning theft), the group tends to grow listless, and indeed, in the primeval state if the meat isn’t flowing then all that politicking and human drama loses its context. Sustenance comes first, and high-quality sustenance requires killing (or stealing).
I’m not even certain that bloodless theft (distinguished from gathering) doesn’t represent a form of hunt behavior; stealing calves, cubs and eggs from hazardous venues.

What is a dragon’s gold? An antelope’s flesh, a lion’s cub, the wisdom gained from the hunt and the benefit that you bring to the community (with its reciprocal benefits).

Some players are pathological combatants, some players are pathological thieves. They may not care about RP, they may not care about human drama, at least at first. They want to kill shit or steal everything that isn’t bolted down (generally when away from whatever they consider their domain, usually their personal thieves’ guild/inn etc).

Why? Why can’t they participate deeply in the maneuvering of human souls outside of combat? Well, if they exist in a state where you don’t see the full humanity of outgroups (easy in an RPG), then outside of pragmatic alliances their little hunt band exists to kill shit. All the beneficence they have to give to non-hunters, non-killers emerges from this fact. Once they’ve killed shit, they’ll have surplus as a result of doing so, and this can be distributed to those in need in exchange for time-consuming services [sewing, knapping, sex]. Same with the thieves. Beasts can be killed, enemies and recalcitrant would-be lordlings can be smashed, and the well-being of the human souls who matter is fed by this bountiful process. No more wrangling is necessarily required, so sayeth the spirit of this particular kind of player, and there is a logic to it. This is your Jayne Cobb, a valuable if frustrating part of the crew. Treasure from violence.

So we can understand xp for treasure (taken or spent into the economy), but what about xp for kills, another mode that is common but could be questioned against xp for treasure, something more tangible?

The secondary “xp” reward of killing something is killing something dangerous, like a bear or an enemy warrior. There may or may not be treasure, but that’s something that won’t be tearing out your throat (or your family’s throats) by the campfire, or chasing away the prey, or camping the salmon run. 

Hence a thief can steal something from someone whom the fighter could annihilate, and the treasure’s just as good as something earned through a contract (if you fence it), but the fighter generally doesn’t get xp for gutting a merchant who has no defenses but the city guard. It may be a reward to bring something home even if you stole it, but murdering someone over something trivial in a community you share is likely to invite serious consequences (most CRPGs have the city guard be dangerous as hell for most of the game, perhaps reflecting this condition of facing overwhelming force and/or deprivation as a result of intracommunal murder; IRL, vendetta, exile to avoid a vendetta, or degradation of the community that you rely on for trading and services).

So xp for kills is improving the station of you and yours through killing existential threats (with their implied treasure).

Besides all this, experience itself is a positive good if it helps you become a better spearchucka, regardless of the meat, tool or security value of a kill.

For more layers of reward, consider what underlies xp for exploration, xp for resolving adventure threads (complex problems), XP for coming home once you’ve resolved the existential that would have destroyed the community (completing adventures).

All this underlies a character type that I’ve employed before but have articulated (even to myself) for the first time here, which I call the Auxiliary and underlies the Mercenary of the generator below. This is a pure fighter who’s brought in to give raw combat power to a group consisting of another type of warrior or danger-seeker.

Good comment on the value of the primary asymmetry of the D&D adventuring party by JB here

So far I’ve done some character creation generators for characters who are usually both warriors and something else, something with a social context and noncombat applications beyond deterrence and threat.

My intent has been to flesh those characters out so you could have a party that is all one “class” but differentiates themselves based on the subdivisions within this class. But some players will not care about the things these classes do. They want to kill shit.

This post is for them. 

The fundamental assumption for the generator below is that this person is a mercenary. Violence for profit, the two hallmarks of western ideology together in one package (50 points if you know this reference) The assumption is that such characters have lived this way for much of their lives, and that those who have survived have become very good at it, to the point that they can keep up with characters who have trained for it since birth (namely all the character generator classes except most Occultists).

Like most of my generators, the product is clearly someone who has survived things that have killed or crippled many people who were just like them. The campaign will naturally not be those people’s story, but that doesn’t mean the actual PC was intrinsically more likely to have survived. Perhaps they were, perhaps they just won their die roll.

The assumption is that they have dark histories full of violence, with enemies and consequences that may still follow them. Like the fighter in LotFP, this is a socially-dislocated killer, and if he’s to truly be redeemed then that path lays ahead of him. However, he has been shorn of the darkest obligations of his past by the time gameplay starts.

This generator, combined with the childhood experience table, is the story of a mercenary’s life up to the first session.

You begin by rolling or choosing your childhood experience, then you move into your first professional experiences (military, criminal, or other forms of force), and then the path that led you out of all that and into mercenary work. Finally, you characterize your current operations.

Mercenary Generation Process

Pick or roll a formative experience from your childhood here.
Disregard the profession paths, which I didn’t end up using for this generator.

Select or RNG six Professions from the pool below. You may select any given Profession up to four times.

For each of your Professions, ctrl-f the name and roll a d4, recording the formative experience you’ve gained.

After this, RNG or choose the catalytic experience that broke you from your former pattern of life, preparing you to enter the game as an adventurer. 

Then, optionally RNG or choose how you characterize yourself.

1 Bodyguard
2 Bouncer
3 Coal & Iron Detective
4 Cop
5 Cowboy
6 Fireman
7 Freight Bull
8 Noble House Retainer
9 Prizefighter
10 Repossessor
11 Roadwarden
12 Sport Hooligan
13 Strongman
14 Tax Farmer
15 Tribe Fighter
Military Service
16 Air Grenadier
17 Arachnid
18 Order Squire
19 Poor Bloody Infantry
20 Ranger
21 Filibuster
22 Guerrilla
23 Illegalist Road Agent
24 Insurgent
25 Leagues Cadre
26 Red Charter Slaver
27 Terrorist
28 Bandit
29 Bank Robber
30 Car Thief
31 Drug Pusher
32 Gladiator
33 Hitman
34 Human Trafficker
35 Mobster
36 Mugger
37 Narcotrafficker
38 Outlaw Biker
39 Pimp
40 Pirate
41 Rustler
42 Smuggler
43 Street Racer
44 Strongarm Robber
45 Transport Hijacker

1 Bandit Tribal Adoptee
2 Castaway
3 Elopee
4 Monk
5 Mountain Man
6 Pastor
7 Patient
8 Prisoner
9 Slave

1 Bounty Hunter
2 Hotshot Mercenary
3 “Security Expert”
4 Treasure Hunter
5 Vigilante



1 You could be trusted to keep a secret. You saw your first client remove his head and luxuriously stretch a number of spined, rootlike tendrils from his empty neck; when he realized you were looking he slowly reattached his head and stared at you. You told him it wasn’t a problem as far as you were concerned, and when he realized you weren’t going to try and blackmail him he recommended you to another client who was entering a dangerous period in life (specifically a woman who was some kind of sentient bundle of ambulatory mycelia, and was forced to periodically paint herself to maintain a semblance of humanity; she later become your lover, and you have been able to maintain your reputation because she didn’t tell her husband/partner, a giant coal-eyed smoke-stag who hunted by suffocation.
There are hidden networks in this world that are aware of you; you may move in some and may again find work, though the Burning Eye help any PC who threatens to reveal them.

2 Bodyguarding is as much about logistics as shooting and diving; if you want to ensure security, you arrange their travel, lodging, transport, and advise their dining, pattern of movement and society activities. You make trips ahead of the main movement to scout locations and put your ear to the street, acting as a preemptive investigator for evidence of plots and schemes directed towards your client or signs of impending chaos that may threaten them incidentally. You learn about access to their places of lodging and business, and if need be you get into the sewers and access corridors on the sly to check for the untoward. You are the conductor of a security symphony, and as a result you preempt many of the ambushes and infiltrations that have taken the lives of so many peers and resulted in the death or captivity of so many potential clients.

3 You are basically an armed gigolo, and while you long for more you also can’t help but appreciate the lavish gifts and exquisite journeys to marvelous locales on the arms of your older, generally divorced or maritally-estranged clientele. These are powerful women and you are a master of walking the line between “forward young man” and “my champion”, so that they are neither worried by your independence nor bored by submissiveness. 
One day you are caught in full carnal knowledge of a young, beautiful housemaid in a cellar that you had thought too dank and obscure for the lady of the house. The mistress orders you from the premises and you are blacklisted from her old girls’ network, but you have retained the skills that you developed in your time as a cougherd. 

4 Actually an assassin. You killed bodyguards, usurped their documents and then worked off their reputation in the hinterlands, where telegraphic reference checkins was often all a client cared to do. Then, you murdered the client when you had their confidence, or delivered them to a third party. So far you’ve been a karma houdini and have not been enslaved, imprisoned, geased, tortured, sodomized,  murdered and resurrected into service or otherwise smitten by fate for this. Whether you are tortured by your conscience or live on like nothing happened is a matter for your inner life; no one else is aware.

1 You develop a liquor-mouth-flamer technique that you can surprise people with (suddenly lighting a match, flicking your lighter, or using lit tobacco)

2 You guard some kind of supernatural, outside-of-reality space, but are physically inundated by it as if by radiation or environmental lead; you can perceive and enter similar places, even where they are not intended/cultivated by people.

3 You fight a whole fucking crime syndicate when they trying to get in your establishment when it was already overcapacity. You end up surrounded by groaning bodies and have a bloody hand-to-hand showdown with their boss; after fighting him to a stalemate, you allow him and him alone to enter. He recommends you in the underworld for toughness and you maintain the reputation.

4 You are a studious guy for a bouncer. You travel around learning a dozen techniques and then apply them bouncing. You possess strange skills learned in isolated dojos from darkhearted shades and monochrome masters.

Coal & Iron Detective
1 You broke the Tombquarry Syndicalists singlehandedly, stealing into their shacks at night and carrying them to the prison, keeping nighttime watch over the stockade and shooting them down as they came on with dynamite, going incognito in the mines to sluice out who was really who. Now they have a hit on you, but you are welcome among the governors of Tombquarry.

2 When the mine struck gold the robbers came from across the continent. You’d never seen so much graft and bloodshed, and you developed a fearsome shortness when it came to human nature; every glowing proclamation of religion and ideology was killed by counterexample. How do you organize beyond the moment when you see things that way? What can you rest on? Tyranny, ultimate force, zero tolerance, but that was never your style, if not for any other reason. You’d rather lay the badge down than spend all your effort crushing the initiative of the vast rabble that descended upon your patrimony. You implemented a simple tax on land use rights. You rode off those who wouldn’t pay and used the excise to mitigate the damage of the affair. A widows’ fund, a lifesaving clinic, a gas detector service, an escrow agency. The bloodshed continued but the bleakness abated. After you’d established what the tax could maintain you laid down your badge and rode for the coast. You returned once you heard the gold rush and found a little island of stability. A place that didn’t need you quite as much as it once did. So you moved on.

3 You were underground with the strikers when the Battle of Conveyor Belt River kicked off. Rifle fire, pickaxes, dynamite, hell, both sides were throwing furniture by the time you got your bearings. Smoke, dust, fire, people riding around. You were the best orator among the strikers and they gathered around you where you knelt with a revolver behind a tipped-over motorcar. You had to make a decision. Time to do your duty. You’d lead them on a fruitless charge on the courthouse and hope to God your boys would recognize you, shearing off the strikers and giving you a chance to get inside. You rallied the miners and charged the courthouse. The Coal & Iron men turned and ran, straight-up routing into the dry woods as the miners stormed the courthouse with a rebel yell. They hoisted the red and black standard and then picked you up on their shoulders, carrying you around the courthouse with cries of victory as the strikers emerged from the battlefield, bloody but victorious.
Since that day you served as Logistics Foreman of the Free RGO of Conveyor Belt Canyon, biding your time as a kind of chancellor until you can get in touch with the Coal & Iron Commission. What will they do? Ask you to turn over the works? It’s not as if the place hadn’t grown on you…
One day you came into your office to find a Red Charterman in your chair with his boots up on your table, flanked by goons in SMG-concealing dusters. “Let’s discuss the price,” he said through broken, yellow teeth. You knew his terms: silver or lead.

4 You were the most corrupt motherfucker in human history. You loved it, that bag of gold falling solid on the table for mere access, mere permission, a truckful here or a key for there. You’d have sold your own daughter if you had one, you used to say. What you would not be was coerced. If someone tried to negotiate your price you’d come across the table, fists flying. If they ripped you off, you’d rip one off them. You once threw a diplomat through a closed window because he brought you a Cliffside Motors plane instead of an Ascension Aeromarine. And they better not even act like they wanted to threaten you or it was the gallows, every time.
Then one day you went to tell a government foreman from the Empire of the Twin Canals to clear his sand quarry. You’d gotten a better offer. He just laughed. 
“This is the way it works. It’s worked this way for a year. My people are here already. Do you really want to revisit the agreement? That would be most inconvenient.”
You got the subtext. Finally you were beholden to a force you couldn’t just assault or intimidate. When you asked for your usual bribe he just smiled. 
“That would be against the law. I think we’d better take this up the chain, don’t you?”
You loaded your Cliffsider with as much of your treasure as possible and flew out the next day.

1 A guy starts screaming as you arrest him. “Please! Please! Stop! Stop! No! No! You can’t! You can’t!” He repeats this over and over in an increasingly hysterical shriek as you sigh and load him into the back of the armored car. You realize too late that this is an incantation as the armored car begins warping into an electrified torus; your partner, in the front seat, holds rigidly and silently to the metal steering wheel as his body begins to smoke until he is crushed in the folding cab. You fire a single shot at the torus. The bullet goes skipping up the street as the torus expands and pours a liquid gas from its inner ring, which turns the cobblestones into an empty nighttime starlight from which ghostly pycogonids crawl. You don’t even bother to resign, you just run straight from the city gate intending never to return.

2 Your department is utterly corrupt. Nearly all of the enlisted police come from the same families as the crooks, while the commanders come from the same families as the political class. Graft is endemic, and while a decade ago it actually aided development by bypassing regulations intended to allow the council to shape conditions in the city, now it is a crippling handicap on the city-state’s ability to partner with foreign nations. You refuse to take bribes, because if you did so you feel like you wouldn’t be able to enjoy sweet food or sunshine without guilt, and are subsequently forced out of the department after threats of imprisonment for psychiatric breakdown. You use your knowledge of the department’s contacts and dealings to stick up cash handoffs between criminals and beat cops, or politicians and commanders, and anonymously donate the cash to a corruption-bypassing escrow foundation that you know to is not yet somebody’s fiefdom. Eventually you are smoked out of the city when they burn your apartment, car, office and storage unit, but you continue to make payments from abroad even as you take up other work. You are disturbed to see one of your former colleagues watching you in plainclothes one day. He slips away when you move to confront him, but it won’t be the last you see of him.

3 A maniac has stabbed his mother to death and goes running up and down the street swiping at people. You shoot him in the leg and he falls over with a scream and the knife goes skipping across the cobblestones. His upper femoral artery severed and he rolls around bleeding to death. A guy comes running over from a nearby street, sees the dying man and gets in your face, shoving you. “That’s fucked up! That’s fucked up, pig!” he screams as a crowd gathers. “Shoot me! Shoot me too, bitch!” You hand him your badge and go home.
A year later you are sitting on the Cittacotte Riviera reading a paper. You whistle when you see the record-breaking murder rate in your home city, then turn the page to the private security want-ads.

4 You are supervising a pair of junior patrolmen. They are taking in a junkie who was seen breaking into an abbatoir. “Please, no! Don’t hurt me!” he screams shrilly. The patrolmen lift him up at the shoulders and begin carrying him to the wagon. He struggles and they have trouble keeping a steady course. “Stop fighting us!” yells a patrolman. “Please, don’t hurt me! Aaaaaa!” he shrieks. “Calm down! You don’t need to struggle!” Suddenly your heart is in your throat as you realize the junkie has got his hands on one of the patrolmen’s pistols; he brings it out and shoots the patrolman sidelong through the gut, then turns and fires through the other man’s solar plexus as he leaps away. You hiss and dive behind your patrol car, sticking your head up just long enough to see the junkie coming at you firing the pistol from a limp hand as the officers scream in the background. You put your back to the car, draw your gun and prepare for the crescendo; then suddenly the car is tipping over towards you. The skinny junkie has flipped the chunk of iron on top of you, and you’re pinned against the concrete with several broken ribs and a punctured lung. The junkie scampers off into the woods.
An hour later the fire squad gets the car off you with aid of a tow truck; as you recover and look into the case, you learn that the junkie left his bag in the patrol car, and inside of it was a phial of unknown, metallic powder. You take this to a street chemist and he identifies it as lithium silphium. You take a medical discharge from the force and set out to find whoever sold the powder, and through them, the one who killed your men.

Cowboy: Horse(breaking), gun, brawl
1 Sucked into a cow while attempting to deliver a calf, gestated, become minotaur werebull capable of breaking shit / turning over cars etc with a headfirst charge.

2 You spent time as guardian of sacred calf that became a mighty bull siring whole herds; some of its fertility magic rubbed off on you and should you ever have children, your partner (or you if you are a cowgirl) will give birth to dozens of children emerging from an extradimensional space. They will have tendencies to being wild, proud, high-spirited, strong and stubborn.

3 You become such a lasso master you can detect aerial leylines in the current of the minor winds, trapping things where they are in a seam of spacetime with a well-placed lasso throw (they disappear as the lasso falls over them but you can free them with a flick of the air). Great counteroccult/counter-creature power, making you into a kind of counteroccult Lone Ranger

4 You pioneer dirt bike goatherding and are capable of riding high-suspension motorbikes over any terrain whatsoever.

1 You pioneer Arachnid firefighting, first by pulling down burning walls with steel-cabled grapnels, and then by using them to climb up and enact second or third-story rescues. You develop this even further by accessing the higher levels of burning towers by hang glider, dropping bundles of parachutes for those trapped to make hazardous but preferable-to-the-status-quo BASE jumps, or by hooking up belaying lines for the strong to slide down and the weak to go down by harness. Oftentimes as the last one down, you simply jump with your own parachute at the ready.

2 You work as a fire marshal for a mining community and encounter tragedy after tragedy in the mines as people become trapped among swirling dust after gas explosions, suffocating or dying of heat. You develop a bunker suit lined with suspendium powder which rises when sufficiently heated; deep in a smoldering mine and potentially carrying one or two people, you would strip off the buttoned-on insulation layers and use the ambient heat following an explosion or fire to activate your layer of suspendium and give you enough buoyancy to haul your charges up and out of the underworld. After saving a dozen trapped miners, this way, stripping and reattaching your insulation layers to ascend and descend, the operator of the mining combine presents you with a depleted troglodite fireaxe which will never bend, never break, never dull and is capable of shearing through most material. 

3 You serve as a damage controlman of a merchant frigate and gain a good understanding of transport machinery, the treatment of concussive wounds and hypothermia, the management of coal, oil and electrical fires, and aquatic lifesaving.

4 You befriend a spirit of flame in the sacred scroll-chamber of a burning-down temple, and beseech it for the lives of those trapped in the cellar; it agrees, but then enters your body and you have found yourself playing host to it as it periodically manifests flames around you.

Freight bull
1 Act as an inside man for a train robbery, it goes south but you make off with the valuables (gold? Something else? Bandit Tribe treasures?), now the Railroad Detectives, your old gang and the Bandit Tribe are after your hide. The good news is you’ve got a fortune stashed away.

2 You refuse to compromise with freeloaders and become an incredibly skilled boxer, to the point of calm, stationary spezzatura that others find uncanny and impressive; you don’t need to dance around, you stand simply planted and when he comes at you, you slip once and deliver an earth-shattering counterpunch. People can’t help but be a little awestruck if they witness you successfully execute this.

3 You get familiar with the networks of hobos that move between various city-states, labor sites and hideaway colonies; you take small bribes for them to ride but corral and monitor them so they don’t pilfer goods, mark up the walls, vomit or defecate on board, and you throw off those too incorrigible to play ball. You mediate (or crush) disputes and make sure they get off at the right place even when near-catatonic on heroin or liquor. You actually develop friendships with several of them and know how to move through unorthodox channels, including a few places to take refuge (or at least be hidden from the city-states) at secret hobo steadings in the wild. Generally you can acquire good information and contacts there in exchange for food, money, or depending on your character, drugs.

4 You pose as a stowaway to meet other stowaways, then when you think you’ve encountered the totality you hurl them from the freighter one by one.
One day the stowaways turn out to be Crag of Songs Killers. They murder everybody on board and, desperately swimming away in a cloud of your own blood, you decide to seek new employment.

Noble House Retainer
1 In addition to your duties with the firearm, you served as your House’s headsman and became a master at removing heads by the sword at every angle. You began with greataxes and longswords, but in time you found that acceleration was more important than mass and scaled your activities down to scimitars and smatchets until you could do it with a swipe of a sword bayonet. For some reason you were always passed over when it came time for promotions, and eventually you left the House’s service. 

2 Duke Cranharry had made love to the maiden you’d courted. He slighted your stronghouse, slapped you with a gauntlet, and for the Breaking of Winter he gave you sabaton liners.
You carried his standard during the assault on the Drakeswink family’s star fort, nevertheless. You fought, pushing a wheeled machine gun through the personal quarters of the Princess of Bridlegrove, Duke Drakeswink’s fiancée, as you battled her midnight-clad personal retainers. When Duke Cranharry was wounded by shrapnel from a hurled mortar during the assault on the Drakeswink underground citadel, you picked him up and carried him in full armor until your back gave out. Later you crawled to the apothecary’s ward and held Duke Cranharry’s hand until he expired on the chirurgeon’s table, his wounds stuffed with trembleleaf.
Duke Drakeswink walked into the ward, having broken the assault and overrun Duke Cranharry’s camp. He placed his hand on your shoulder, intoning his respect for your fidelity, and offered you service with honors in his retinue. You gave him a deep bow and asked his leave to become a knight-errant. 
You are renowned for your loyalty.

3 You were the principle innovator of the motorcataphract, dragooning from a motorcycle powerful enough to bear up an armored warrior carrying heavy weapons. Principally useful for urban warfare and strategic outflanking, you spent several years rolling into battle on a chopper with a sashimono fluttering and a semiautomatic rifle strapped across your back (though most of your downtime was spent covered in grease beneath your tortured chopper). When your lord decided to retire this form of warfare, you found you loved it more than him and took to the high road.

4 You served as a man-at-arms, commanding a tank for Count Alpana. One day you went into battle with the forces of the Midnight Morass, blasting trees into hailstorms of splinters that riddled the bodies of men in black shag laying beneath your cannons’ angle of depression.
A hellacious buzzing savaged the canopy as a giant giant flying palaeophonus passed by, spraying a melting gas from tailtip. Men donned their gas masks but collapsed slowly into featureless slurry. 
Count Alpana jumped onto your tank and you let him in. You expected him to take command but he just placed his hands on the furnace, the crew gaping at him. The tank lifted into the air, and the vitiated fire of the tank’s furnace poured through the machine gun and across the fur of the palaeophonus. The thing turned and prepared to douse the tank in melting gas. “Shoot! Shoot!” screamed the Count, and you silently stabbed your finger towards the flying horror. The gunners unleashed a salvo and blew the beast limb from limb.
Later you settled down after the rout of the hinterlanders, and, stunningly, the Count knelt before you, taking your hand.
“Forgive me,” he said.
“Your secret is safe with me, my lord.”
“Alas, more secrets than that are with you now.”
He explains that by calling upon his powers in the way that he did, he exposed you and your crew to the attention of a being whose manifestation would be a catastrophe for all those present. This will, hereafter, always be a possibility for you and your men. The concentration of this energy with his own is an unacceptable risk; thus, he pays you each a gratuity and discharges you from his service with the tank. You remain a man-at-arms, and consider taking your tank into Shipping House service.

1 You went to an Occultist and asked for hands of steel. He said he would give you hands like meteors. You said ok. Ultimately what this meant was the replacement of your bones and tissues with a form of meteoric steel energized by partial existence in a great pool of quasimagetism in another cosmos- hence, you can crush (or crush through by pinching) anything with your hands, though you can’t rip objects apart per se because your arms and back are no stronger than a fairly strong man, but you can often cut them through superior hardness and always squeeze them here and there until they come apart. Anyways, at your next fight you opened with a combo and broke the other guy’s arms to ribbons before punching his brains out all over the spectators. The house went into such a surging uproar that you decided to just leave and figure out what had happened later, and without getting into details suffice to say you seriously injured a few people pressing through the crowd. Later on, disguised by a mustache and overcoat, you read that your fingerprints had been found all over the scene of a murder-rape (as you’d been printed when a young hell-raiser), and you realized what the Occultist had done with your hands.
You paid bent coinage to a freighter captain and blew town the next day.

2 You become punch drunk and recieve an Occult infusion into your brain tissue from the firm’s underworld sawbones; you find that you can visually detect weaknesses in people’s guard during fights, but that your strikes will tend to turn out inadvertently deadly (ie aiming for the chin and crushing the windpipe, knocking people out and having them hid their heads on the concrete)

3 You are a journeyman in the world’s black market to-the-death prizefights (still unarmed) and become a master of quickly eliminating people with nothing but your bare hands. You left the circuit before fighting the other greatest champion of the enterprise, and he’s such a fanatic for the “sport” that word reaches you through the grapevine that he’s coming for you, pot or not.

4 You retire from fighting after a few years and begin managing a stable of boxers, becoming a master trainer and motivator in the process; your experience with aggressive, rough-around-the-edges prizefighters translates well to mercenaries.

1 You have livid pink stripes across for face from when a woman scratched you with her wet fingernails as you repossessed her roadster, tattooing a tiger pattern into your very flesh. This is extremely distinctive and combined with your tough-guy fearsomeness you find it easy to gain a reputation that carries.

2 You specialized in retrieving Occult powers granted to servants of entities who later decided to go incognito, employing techniques to shield themselves from the perception of their masters while utilizing their special access to or imbuement in forces beyond what their corporeal matter could normally interface with. Your job was to sneak up on the Occultist, gain his confidence, or obscure your own presence enough that you could perceive and snip, reroute, tangle, corrupt, exorcise, dissipate or otherwise neutralize their powers, ideally in a form that returned their energy to their master if that was the mechanism, but in all cases making sure they didn’t maintain possession of whatever they’d made off with. You nearly became beholden by several entities yourself and only somewhat escaped disaster by obliquely arranging balance-of-power deals between them so that you were freed from obligation, but you have retained your abilities from those days as an Occult repossessor.

3 Few and far between are the governments that possess a de facto monopoly on force in this world; noble prerogatives and extraterritoriality of some kind or another are predominating factors in the use-of-force calculus of most given city-states. Many are the cases too where shadow governments, cabals and corrupt networks of patronage seem to fall within the law but are outside the bounds of actual control. What happens when they take possession of an asset and then renege on its contract or decide that it should be shorn of joint propertyhood? This is where you come in. You are essentially a highly-skilled cat burglar and car thief, but during your time as a repossession agent you were renowned for never stealing anything except what your contract mandated and never killing anyone without first being attacked on public property. You may not follow those old rules anymore, but you are also not considered a criminal for this period in most people’s eyes which is a valuable reputation for a cat burglar.

4 A kidnapper of wayward children, you repossessed runaway scions for their potentate families. Many was the princeling who fled duty and obligation with a fat sack of gold to repose on a riviera, and this was easy and pleasant work for you. Also all-too-common were those who fell to drugs with their great wealth and access, sometimes languishing with pushers who did not claim to hold them but would let no third party remove them.
Some fell in love, and removing them could be heart-rending except where the lover had proven the brute or profiteer. Some where of gentle disposition and could not face their family’s harsh child-rearing tactics or initiations. These were difficult emotionally, but not physically.
A few tried to seduce you. You only gave in once. That case was the black mark on your record. You claimed you could not find her.
The worst (but best paying) were when the lad or lass had ended up among killers. One was kidnapped by pirates, another joined them willingly. One became a religious ascetic and served a band of fundamentalist militants as a kind of garden hermit. Another was taken by Anarcho-Syndicalists and came to share their views, participating in robberies and kidnappings of her own. That mission led you into the heart of the City of Leagues, and your survival was so much down to luck that you forswore any further such contracts- at least until you find a team that’s up to the task.
You came out of it all a master of compliance and deception. 

1 You have a sort of alliance with a giant spider; it webs areas that you mark with ochre paint and devours those whom you cast upon its great web in the crags beneath a cliff.
You know how to deal with ambush predators in general.

2 A large part of what you do is mediate problems between people in the hinterlands; the implied threat of a trip to the lockhouse is enough to get people to listen, but you generally seek a resolution agreed upon by the parties rather than referring them to the current knight-in-court, who is essentially a garnisher of plaintiffs. After the old sheriff is shot in the back visiting an old lady when her psychopathic grandson comes looking for movable property, the new sheriff decides that rather than spending time monitoring the well being of a fractious, far-flung and often ungrateful hinterland populace, the roadwardens will become a nigh-invisible presence serving only to enforce statutes and stalk outlaws; “bounty hunters, detectives, and thief takers; they’re your peers. You’re not a goddamned parson.”
For some Roadwardens, the death-before-dismount attitude is a welcome relief, but you continue spending time mediating disputes regardless, first because you know that talking with the people of your ward is the best way to quickly close in on knaves and evildoers, and second because you find that people start settling things in unpleasant ways when they haven’t seen your face for long enough. 
When the sheriff learns that you’ve been involving yourself in disputes, letting people off for minor crimes in exchange for compensating the victim while taking people to the lockhouse for mere public disturbance in other cases (if only to cool down emotionally or sleep off their liquor), he throws the book at you for acting outside the bounds of what is explicitly mandated in your charter. You are stripped of your horse and saber and trailed by deputy roadwardens as you depart the ward, but you carry with you your skills and your relationships with the people of that wild backcountry.

3 It happens sometimes that people become lost in the woods and wander for days and weeks, going up and down trails that look very little like those they are familiar with or entering trackless territories of gargantuan oaks and rivers like white light in stasis, among many other umbral-arboreal manifestation of nature divorced from proximity to anything but its own order, always subject to mutability and distortion. These places have their own dimensions and a path walked for a minute may deposit a wanderer on a far continent, and differing stars may even lead a man to places in his own history (if only as a ghost, or perhaps as what he is there- a time-dislocated doppelgänger) based on the subtext of the new constellations. Some face faunal chimeras and must defend themselves with fire-hardened spears or mushroom javelins, their rifles clogged with inexplicable lichen. Many are those who are lost in the wilderness, and who knows how many disappear in the hidden ways?
You are the walker here, perhaps the only one of your type. You can find your way into the shadowy tree-tunnels and fog-sodden saddle ridges that are the nerve endings of the green realm, and you can rescue those who become lost there, leading them back to the littoral wild in their moment of desperation. 
This skill has not been lost but you have departed the roadwardens, for an entity sought to coerce you into leading its agents into this place; whatever the green realm is, however dangerous it is to those who become lost there, you will not allow some being of the outer pit to inflame, transform or avitiate it. It would be is too vast a conduit for whatever existential poison the entity carries in its touch. Your would-be benefactor, would-be tyrant hounds you still.

4 You found it necessary to get something better than a horse to patrol your ward, given its extreme ruggedness and variance in climate. You began by taming a huge goat and using it to patrol the nearly-vertical cliffs, but, realizing that it isn’t normal to be able to tame and ride a goat, you began trying your luck with ever stranger creatures which you tracked in your territory. You caught four of them that still live. These creatures reside on your remote plateau ranch, inaccessible to passersby except by a secret cavern whose mouth you dig out with a shovel when you wish to visit. 
-A giant earthworm whose (foreskin thing) is loose enough that you can clutch onto it from the inside, shielded from friction and pressure as it burrows through the earth. 5 pax
-A sea spider with an empty egg sac usable as a pressurized air pocket. Side benefit of nurturing you like a marsupial’s pouch, you’re likely to step out feeling great and glowing with health though it won’t quickly heal wounds or fix structural damage. 4 pax
-A praying mantis capable of flying and shearing steel with its claws, looks at you like it may someday eat you. 2 pax
-A vinegarroon capable of spraying an acid that reeks at several cosmic layers, driving off entities that may have never experienced discomfort before and think that it’s an irresistible force. 6 pax

Sport Hooligan
1 You join a firm with a spartan, monastic lifestyle and a reputation for conquering in the streets, and learn the organization has an Occult core; all the street fighting is preparation for a psychojourney to the lair of their Entity in which they will be forced to fight demons with their bare hands. You leave the organization and have not decided whether to try and put a stop to their plan or to try and join them.

2 You get cornered one day and beaten for so long you were checking your watch, and thereafter decide to  learn to throw with extreme accuracy.

3 You find one night that you are immune to alcohol’s priamry deleterious effects, imparting euphoria without causing discoordination or hangovers, giving you a huge advantage in street battles and your fitness effort; later you learn you are also immune to the primary negative effects of poisons and toxins of all kinds (after you drink some screw that makes the rest of the lightning house go blind), and then later when a subordinate tries to murder you with poison (the plot discovered by a compatriot, who warns you- you feign paralysis and then laugh after the would-be killer dramatically explains his plot).

4 You prove so athletically proficient in the street wars that the actual team eventually takes you on and you spend time as a sports star.

Strongman: Gain the ability to bend bars, flip cars, briefly carry extremely heavy loads
1 During a weightlifting competition an opponent uses lithium silphium. He wins and then goes berserk among the audience, tearing people apart and eating them like an ogre. You hurl a shotput and kill him, winning fame but earning the ire of his mountain clan, where the men are also all drug-abusing powerlifters. 

2 You engage in sport hooliganism, knocking or hurling people into next week as the situation requires, until one day an opposing firm gets wise and skirmishes the fuck out of you with bricks and bottles. You laughingly realize that you’re immune to minor impacts- though not bullets, as you discover in the final engagement when a weenie you cornered pulls a .38 on you.

3 You electrify a weight set and short out the power of your gym; you go on a journey of self-discovery to the peaks of the earth and learn that you are descended from some sort of cloud giant and emit arc lightning when engaged in heroic effort.

4 You begin by chugging cream and eating multiple roast chickens for breakfast, but as your appetite increases you begin craving weirder substances, first buying wood and finding yourself capable of gnawing it down and devouring it, finally giving in to your urges by biting into an iron hinge and finding that you could chew and swallow it. Now you prefer titanium but are perfectly happy with a hunk of steel, wrapped in tinfoil if available (you have extremely healthy teeth with no fillings) and a little lead for dessert; you have your vices.

Tax Farmer
1 The citizens of your ward are recalcitrant and you become a master of the search; there is little that can be hidden from your search patterns, whether it’s rare truffles hidden in a farmer’s manure piles or bearer bonds secreted in an apparent hoarder’s sheet paper towers.

2 You see the almost-mute suffering of the commoners working their bones into blisteringly-cold earth, of miners traversing miles underground to do choking backbreaking labor, of clerks with children lean from eating charity breadcrusts. You become a kind of financial Schindler, sparing your subjects by bearing their tax through your own investments, reducing yourself to penury despite multiple successful enterprises. Eventually you suffer a lost investment and cannot make your payment; troupes of footmen are sent to bring you in and you flee the land with aid of your former “tax base”. You remain a hero among that community but a fugitive marked for death in their empire.

3 Spend your tax takings on patronage, spending time developing relationships and, yes, even friendships with a network of famous artists, musicians, thespians and philosophers. Eventually kicked out of your role, which cements your credibility as someone worth talking to in the circles these people roll with.

4 You have a kind of high/low social specialization where you’re familiar with many banks and financial persons of interest, and are welcomed by them all, but at the same time you are familiar with many grain spies, thief guild informants, bounty hunters and their various clearinghouses. 

Tribe Fighter
1 You were paid to hunt scalps in a game of mutual atrocity with the heathen under infinite galaxies rioting blue as scalps under moonlight upon tan deserts red and tan like scalps pierced by mole mountains and lovemark obsidian crumbs as imperfections sprinkled upon a pristine scalp by the crumbling of the demiurge in the nebula of heaven a brain of motes strewn upon the blank and leering cosmic cupoline scalp afire with livid veins of starfire smiling blackly upon the migrations of bloodsoaked penitents strewn lengthwise and vertic with the ruby red plata of cannibal gods in shag and dewlicked human scalps

2 You hunted the Bandit Tribes and did so in their most particular environment, the godplane. Worldroot bought at great cost or won in games with Occultists and perhaps actual devils, smoked in bonfires in closed rooms so that the soot could permeate your pores, a tinctural smog riming you with holy filth. In your lungs you carried the agent of the enemy’s transcendence and followed him to the gates of his heaven where you did battle in the forms of great mechanical spiders or clockwork sawblade jellyfish, invasions of the civilized world into a place of immanatized allegory where you did not belong. Once you entered the enemy camp after a successful netherworld raid and found them all laying cold and dew-dripped before the embers of their campfires, sacred worldroot turned to ingots of calcified maggotry by the blaspheming defeat. You know well the dark House of war and glory, though it is not your fane nor Asgard; it is an enemy territory where the suns and moons, hills, fens and Animal Lords are anathema one and all.

3 The breaking of moons in the sky; winking stars as the fusion peters, the sinking of newborn trees. These things have followed you as you destroyed the champions of the Bandit Tribes through poison and pills, machine guns from planes and inculcated immunodeficiency. Their fate tied to land and star, marks of auspicious birth or fate guided by energetic forces, you snipped them and unreeled them from whence they came, efforts brought to naught by you, the agent of chaos. In time your city-state clients overcame their foes and the contracts lapsed, but you became the object of fate, the attractor of threads cut and grasping for meaning. Now legends have shifted to you, legends of heroism and demoniasm, it is said they spoke of you and not their dislocated object. Some will seek to bolster you, some to strangle as they are pained by their disjunction, and some still channel forces Occult and divine into the substance of your very bones as they once did to slaughtered heroes laid low by your dark craft. The crescendo of forces has yet to occur, but when it comes none will predict how the confluence of multiple universes and their exocausal yet terrestrial agents will manifest when immanatized in your body in the particular matter of this singular cosmos.

4 Ticks and fleas in the hide of God; there comes a time in which the chaotic malorder of ideological Occult systems and tribal existential auto-da-fe clash at such orders that outré existences suffer collateral damage and manifest like soothing nurses or scalpel excisers at the place of cosmumbral conjoinment. Such it was with the Occult eyes and gaps brought forth by Astoragild against the People of the Manifold Gorge. Their battles were not contained to existence or psychiatric spontaneous plane immanization; they touched on and tore many flowing sources of information and novel energy for the restorative, recursive or revisionary impartations, recreating matter with previously-unthinkable and unmanifestable matter types and states from foreign cosmoses. In doing so they drained and disprofited those entities abiding abroad, bringing their intervention and scorching clean so much of what had been touched by the context. You are marked by portions of flesh ossified like bone tumors or calcified like petrified wood; useful in some cases but horrific in others, necessitating excision to prevent gangrene in some cases and tolerance in others, lest the removal of a heartstone unplug your sacred lifeblood, which as yet contains something uncaught by the exocosmic censors.

Military Service

Air Grenadier

1 Engaged in an over-the-ridge battle with some strange holdout sect of the Sounding Rock, hurling grenades back and forth. One of the outlandish pariahs hurls a bomb that lands between you and Corporal Mousehull, and when it detonates, Mousehull is shredded into flesh that bubbles and proliferates until the position has to be abandoned, while the dozens of glowing green shards that cut into your body are held in a kind of ovular mutual stasis, trapped in place by one another. The battalion surgeon makes a strange sign and goes AWOL after observing your wounds, but before he goes he whispers into your ear that you will be able to draw electricity into your body and use it to project a beam of pure fusion, or, should you be struck by lightning, resurrect the dead. This electricity will quickly be metabolized, small sources in particular; you will give no fusion from a battery, but stand atop a power plant and you may harrow a city.

2 You do a night parachute jump one night, landing in a strange black morass that seems to draw you inexorably towards it. It’s in a familiar part of the woods but you’ve never seen it before. You land in it and the mutagenic tar melts the fibrous parachute into your back, turning the lines into sinews and the canopy into a membrane. You can release the membrane (assuming it’s unimpeded) when falling, and flex it such that you can form it into a teardrop parachute for straight-down falls or a crescent for long-distance aerial traversal. You can also inflate the membrane with gas from your liver to rise quickly while underwater, venting gases from your bloodstream in the process. You manage to hide this from your regiment until one day your parachute cigarette-rolls on a jump and you are forced to cut it and deploy your flesh harness; you gather your equipment from the drop zone and depart civilization.

3 One day your mortar team loader is killed while supporting fire on a hillside village clearance; you simply haul up the mortar and advance up the slope, firing it as you move. You think of it as a matter of necessity, but the team looks on at you in awe; you find that your body is simply shaped in a way that you find it easier than the average men to fire heavy weapons while on the move.

4 You have been in some scrapes. Parachuting into the water, having to cut your way out of your cuirass, bandoliers, boots and parachute in sequence. Being on an enneaplane when it gets shot down, hauling yourself out of the wreck across burning metal and wood, going back and forth carrying out wounded Air Grenadiers until your fatigues caught fire and you yourself were pulled away. Transported on a destroyer that was hit by a torpedo, improvising a climb out of a listing ship until finally swimming through a flooded-but-not-flowing compartment, an icy sump to freedom. Truck rollovers, bunker collapses, buried alive by shellfire, hell, you even fought your way out of a detainee collection point. You have a near-supernatural ability to extricate yourself from traps, pins and scrapes of every kind.


1 Boarding action, hurled into a furnace with spirit, ship breaks up and goes to the bottom, spend time bound to it as a battlemech with coral sinews at the bottom of a deep-sea trench, do battle with antediluvian creatures there (creatures that never felt the deluge), blessed by a deity and returned to the surface in a human body

2 Climbing a sheer cliff face to infiltrate the city above when you come across a hermit’s cave dug into the rock. His mummified corpse speaks to you, asks you of conditions on earth, advises you. You lead your men to a fault line in the city wall and take a late-night session of parliament prisoner. The stir caused by this gives the encircling forces time to knock out the wall’s defenses, and this forces Copsetrove to the bargaining table. You can periodically return to this hermit to discuss matters with him, and he will give you (bonus-giving) advice on anything. You do suspect, however, that he is receiving his questions from an unknown source.

3 Part of a pilot program for using hang gliders for surprise boarding actions, one of the few survivors of the test period, can precision-land foldout hang gliders on nearly anything, also master glider-to-parachute transition.

4 Master the throwing of grapnels, lassoing of people/animals/outcropping, the surprise use of ropes and pitons to take prisoners (or strangle/strappado opponents). Accidentally hang yourself one day and find that you are, for some reason, totally immune to it.

Order Squire

1 Your knight begins channeling a divine power that knits the wounds of those around them, staunching their bleeding and setting their wounds. He is called a hero by the unit, though they do not spread the word of this prodigy. Later, in the tent, he sits you down and explains that should he push this power too far it will call a horrific creature or superimpose one into his form; he then teaches you this method.

2 You are blessed by an entity claiming to be the Burning Eye, though it flickers and leaves goop beneath the sigil. You find that when you are killed you resurrect in a vast pyre that nonetheless destroys everything and everyone around you, whether or not you want to.

3 You fight a just battle and are blessed by an entity resembling a kind of chimeric umbral gnome-lynx, allowing you to step into visible pools of light when they are surrounded by darkness. You can do this once per pool of light.

4 You inherit your knight’s depleted troglodite musculata cuirass. When you hold it over yourself, smiling because your lord was so much larger than you, it shrinks and takes on the exact dimensions of your front torso muscles. You are hesitant to don it until the eve of serious battle, and find yourself shot with an anti-tank gun. The round would have cut you in half, but instead you have your lungs crushed by pulverized ribs. The cuirass is unmarked. Naturally, the surgeons find that they cannot remove your cuirass from you by any means whatsoever, however within three months your broken ribs heal to conform to the shape of your musculata.

Poor Bloody Infantry

1 Roll on theWeird Fiction Drugs table.
2 You develop techniques for avoiding administrative oversight, such as using your own bullets. If you are serving a contract or in any position where you are issued gear or services, you will leave little evidence of acting in your employer’s name
3 You accidentally get into a battle with Occult forces while supporting allies and end up giving a live blood transfusion to their wounded general. He officially recognizes you after he recovers, referring to you as a gift from the Moon Bear, and you are gifted keys to the city which literally open every door in the city except for the vault of the Knights Tarragon.

4 You are retained as an instructor after a war and know how to ride the line between terrorizing subordinates with your seemingly-insane nature and motivating them through very occasional relenting, heaping of supplies on them, and referral to calmer allies. You have a hard-billed deerstalker cap with a long, curving razor sewn into the front rim.


1 You surround the whirling bowl of 10’ long, curving fronds. There is gore around it where Royal Foresters were blended up like uncased sausage. You lay your rifles at the ready. “Fire!” comes the order, cut short by the report of a dozen rifles. The bullets ricochet through the fronds and are distributed outwards again; BAT Mailliy takes one from jaw to ankle. A bullet crashes into your rifle and blasts broken lens glass into your face; you’re bloodied but were blinking when it hit and your eyes are saved. You rear up on your knees and hear the whirling thing traversing the squad, whirling them into rags of flesh one by one. They run and it follows them; you are left on your knees, desperately trying to clear blood from your eyes without rubbing glass into them. You manage to do it using the thumb and forefinger of a mitten that was tucked in your belt; you look around and see the green thing laying with its fronds radiating flat in a star pattern from its central axis, which is like a furred red rose. You start to back away and it tenses; then you freeze and it relaxes. You intuit that it will not let you leave. You consider blowing your brains out but find that your bolt has been knocked loose. Getting blended might be less uncomfortable than slitting your wrists, so you hesitatingly step amidst the fronds, legs shaking violently. You stand on the central flower, and pink petals snake their way up your legs. The fronds raise and close around you like a chrysalis, sealing you in darkness. The petals run their way into your eye sockets, connecting to your brain, and anthers raise to connect to you like electrodes. It partially reprograms your brain to be able to interface with plants through the mycelium web, sucking the life from sections of forest for your own health, as well as to be able to communicate with several varieties of nature spirits. You are seeded with an infant form of this creature, whose axis rests at your spine and whose fronds run down your arms and legs, and up into your neck. You gain conditional superstrength (bruising the shit out of you when you use it), and the ability to bloodily project fern-blades from your wrists (whose cuts will have to heal naturally each time you use it). This creature will grow stronger and stronger, and will someday rip itself from your flesh.

2 You patrol through a vine-sodden city of precarious blocks where the moss is a carpet and lichen tapestries. You find a statuette of a tusked squid amongst burnt-out candles of unknown fat, flanked by a pair of crossed tusks made from segmented chitin. You place the statuette in a spare grenade pouch, lash the tusks together and tuck them beneath your strap underneath your smithcloak. That night you whittle the tusks into little sabers and almost cut your finger in two when you run it along the blade of one; there is no resistance, it simply cuts. When your blood sprinkles across the statuette, it takes on color and begins to swell until it bursts upward and out, forming a great levitating squid with a pair of segmented tusks. It is jet black and has whirling, concentric beaks of the chitin material, and its tentacles are so ridged as well. As it expands the roof collapses and your companions scream from nearby tents and campfires; the squid wraps a limb around you, scoops up the sabertusks in another, and carries you to a distant hill as bullets skip off chitin or embed themselves in the squid’s cuir boulli hide. It sets you down beneath an apple tree, puts the tip of a tentacle in its whirling beak, and then slathers your wounded finger in ichor from its cut. Your wound seals, and the scar glows purple. The squid gives your face a single caress, and then shrinks down and hardens into its statuette form, the sabertusks clattering into the grass around it.

3 You range the palaces of a long-lost city-state, seeking a prince who transformed himself in ancient times and devoured his advisors so as to withstand the deprivation of a siege, and found that he consumed their wisdom and their neuroses along with their bodies. As you wander the halls you find strange thoughts flickering in your mind, worries, fears and insights fascinating, inexplicable and anachronistic. You now realize why you were this mission’s greatest advocate; you thought it was from your impulse toward pure perverse adventure-seeking, but now you see the truth- you are the prince. You lead your patrol out of the city and build a vast pyre to meditate.

4 Your patrol lays in a silent line among the trees overlooking the road. A lone truck traverses the gravel, lightless, creeping along with a ground guide waving the driver, hiding without headlights. As they cross the center of the patrol you light them up with submachinegun fire and bolt-action rounds, scrupulously avoiding firing into the covered bed of the truck. When the ground guide lays dead and the truck’s windows are smashed and bloody, your patrol advances on the truck, pulling the slaughtered driver out onto the gravel in a slouching cascade accompanied by bloodstained glass and tufts of seat padding. You surround the truckbed and then yank away the canvas covering, seeing the steel coffin within. You climb aboard, remove the coffin, and open it. A man lays within- a man resembling you down to the moles, but clad in ancient gold and silks embroidered with malevolently jagged patterns, like lava seas storming to saw the matter of continents from sun and stars. You gape and the man sticks an ivory-chased stiletto through your mouth, brain and out through the back of your skull. You are then holding the blade, and dump the dead man’s body before its weight overwhelms your atrophied muscles.
The squad kneels around you, pressing their noses and forehead against the gravel as you arise. “My research begins again,” you say as you don the skinchild’s bloody uniform.


Filibuster: You have been identified by the state you attempted to overthrow
1 You roved into Grenwlanda with a band of desperate men, seeking to install the Prince of Alauana to the latent throne. Resembling him closely, you eventually killed him and took his place. The invasion failed and most of the force was guillotined, and you have turned your mind to other interests, but the claim is there should you ever decide to claim it. 

2 Your country forced the secession of a great inhabited rock off the coast, given that it served as a monastery for a foreign creed that seemed right for politicization. Later on, the monks discovered gold in their delving and a flood of workers and supporters began flooding to the rock, creating a true community.
You flock out with a band of young men to reclaim this temple rock for the motherland. As you approach the island, your ship begins to raise up in the air and a being of vitiated kelp peels itself from the shore of the rock, dumbly beholding the levitating vessel. It is the isle’s tutelary deity, who showed gold to its worshipping monks, and it divines your purpose although it cannot perceive the bullets that you fire into its body. It fuses your entire gang into one being for convenience (your features and dimensions are the average of all the men who set forth that night; you would be quite handsome if it wasn’t for Johnson). It lays you under an assisted geas; rather than subjugating the isle to the nation, you will subjugate the nation to the isle. Until you do this, your personality will slowly fragment and blend with the personalities of the men who were fused with you; you will be less and less yourself until perhaps you are no longer conscious, or possess just a fragment of useless cognition. 

3 The Self-Defense Commission advances up the street to the Tenement of the Crystal Cataract. The entire force makes a rush through the courtyard, firing, and break into the building, shotguns and zipguns blazing. The halls are filled with screaming and desperate cries for help, and you advance floor by floor, gradually drenched in sweat and urine, your wool socks squelching with blood in your steel-toes. You begin to feel a vibration through the ceilings, and finally after several floors of leather nests carrying open fires you realize through echoing ears that it is a thunderous laughter of pure catharsis. You burst into the highest chamber and witness a vast dark space of undefined dimensions wherein is a vast man who has partly transformed himself into a crystal orb with four limbs like turquoise ceramic. The orb is patterned with scenes of bloodshed from throughout the Tenement; the man-platform raises his eyes with a mirthful lethargy from the dome and fixes them on you, the blood-soaked champion of his playpen. He tells you that you cannot destroy him but he offers to erase the worship of the Crystal Cataract from the earth if you become the vessel of his observation; you agree, and the tenement instantly collapses with the Self Defense Commission and the followers of the Crystal Cataract consumed as one. You find yourself inside his orb, looking into his glassy, burning eyes, and then he is gone and you are laid upon stones still smoking where they lay.

4 You range the hills outside of the verdant valley of Nar, doing battle with the rock-digger tribesmen to seize the ancient valleys of your ancestors’ worship, the old temples wherein is the identity your civilization lost in its industrialization. You fight alongside many young men who are redundant in the tractor-furrowed fields, and finally you break through a tribal picket and fight your way into the valley. There are vast temples cut into the walls of the valley, each a riot of pentagonal cuts that form nets and tunnels of rhombic dodecahedrons painted with saints, martyrs, animal spirits and sunshine catchers for midnight agriculture. The tribesmen line the valley walls and you are forced to take refuge in a temple, selecting a gilded hold of almost-accidental arches, so porous is the exterior with winding bands of gold and brass. You estimate you have three minutes before the entrance is surrounded, and you gather your boys together and decide to pray there in the dark antechamber of the gilded fane.
“Great gods of the ancestors, spare us from the primitives or give us the strength to overmaster them. We have come to reignite the worship of your sheltering arms; allow us to return to our people with news of this reconciliation.”
“Fool,” crackles a voice from the depths of the cavern-chapel, “Your people are castaways, not the chosen of the gods. You have stained the stones with the blood of the chosen during your invasion of this sanctuary. Not one of you shall walk free.”
“Great one! I sacrifice these other heretics, if only you will spare me!” cries Joe Crockwright and sprays down the entire formation with his submachine gun. You are not hit but fall and lay flat on the stones. A blast of plasma that sets of your back on fire blazes from the depths, vaporizing Joe Crockwright and scorches those near him into charcoal. A few moments later the tribesmen enter the cavern, moving backwards so as to not disrespect the deity with their eyesight. They feel over the bodies, stabbing the wounded in their hearts, but when they find you were not shot they stomp out the fire and carry you from the chamber.
Arcogoetogenesis skill

Guerrilla: [tertiary ability: You know a the backcountry of a particular empire or inner continental region like the back of your hand]. 
1 Food, honor, companionship, romance. A pretty damn good deal. Your mother was silent while the cadres visited, then forbade you to leave once they had departed. She watched you that night. You went the next.
They marched you for days through the hills alongside a gaggle of other village boys and girls. You reached their base camp dead on your feet after vivid days and nights of sweat, grime, chafing and freezing nights under the naked sky. The girls were sent to serve the commanders, the boys were lined up. One was crying and begging to go home. You were selected to shoot him. They told the rest of you not to leave. They knew where your mothers lived.
A year later, you descended from the mountains to perform some recruiting, as your crop had almost entirely gone to the grave.
Deception bonus

2 You went on a motor raid, springing up from the back of the truck, firing on the government checkpoint. Fifteen men shooting, half-blue woodchips jumping through the grass. Someone fell in the window, perhaps hit, perhaps not. No one could stand up to that fire. You thought.
They laid a machine gun across the motor turnstile, you didn’t even see it coming. Opened up on you through the wall of the truckbed, the air splitting and the men splitting alongside it.  Filled your eyes with sawdust and blood; you fell back through a chorus of screaming. You tried to struggle forward but were met by bodies going this way and that like animals wallowing in a grassy bower. You rubbed your eyes but it agonized them. Then came the grenades, two plinking against the bed of the truck. You lay flat and they blew in a storm of flesh, turning those around them half to mush. You’ve never been so wet, not in a rainstorm. Somehow the driver hadn’t been killed and lay on the accelerator, taking you out of the fatal zone. You later tried to clamber out of the truckbed but the perforated wood broke beneath you, and so did your arm when you hit the ground. You were the best off of the insurgents and soon decided to seek new employment.

3 You fought the invading heavy infantry in the hills, skirmishing them with carbines while they staggered about in their platemail, dropping from heat exhaustion as they bore up their automatic rifles and field guns against you. Alas, the factions could not unite, and eventually you were defeated by dint of the enemy seizing your cities and farmlands. You eventually discovered that they paid handsomely for mercenaries to mop up the insurgency, given their difficulty fighting in their native style, and you were only too happy to oblige them.

4 You finance the movement by making churchkhela, but are expelled when it is discovered you’ve been selling it to government troops too. They offer you a chance to return if you lead some troops into an ambush, but by this point you care more about the enterprise than the guerrillas and depart to find your fate filling the underbelly of the city proper.

Illegalist Road Agent: driving, gunplay, demo, psychology/charisma
1 You are well known as a criminal because your exploits were lovingly publicized by rags across the continent (for the titillation of those who have never been robbed or shot by bandits). This is despite the fact that you no longer do this and have made amends by secret payments to those who had their lives ruined by your actions; wherever you appear in public, you are assumed to be a debonair criminal on the make for his next robbery. 

2 You spread Illegalist philosophy in your band, and soon everyone believes they are making daring gestures against oppression itself whenever you rob anybody at all. When you attempt to enforce discipline on a pair of freebooters who are fighting over treasure, however, the band’s sergeant-at-arms simply opens fire on you and you are forced to run into the woods. Later you hear that they shot the treasurer when he tried to speak for you and seized his strongbox. You swear that someday you will return to the band, destroy them, and seize what was taken from the coffers. You may, of course, have to prevent them from telling your comrades the things you have done in your career.

3 Your Illegalist marauder force joins with an Anarcho-Syndicalist guerrilla faction to overthrow the magistrate of the remote colony of Conchwater. The Anarcho-Syndicalists had promised you the treasury, given that money was no longer going to be a factor in Conchwater’s new order; unfortunately, as soon as most of the force had entered the vault of Conchwater’s central bank, the Anarcho-Syndicalists seal it on them and shoot down any other Illegalist they can find. You were in the bathroom when this happened and managed to simply sprint out of the bank and down to the docks, where you stole a powerboat and sped up the coast. You swear that someday you will break the power of the Syndicalists of Conchwater, break their vault and bury your companions with full Illegalist honors. You just need to find another band of desperate men…

4 You attempt to spread Illegalism to a bandit tribe but they find it quite superfluous, nothing more than the common ritual trappings of a foreign people. You join with them and instead steep your own self in their myth and ritual. By the time you are thrown out of the tribe, you are the first practitioner of Theistic Illegalism, meaning to sin against all gods and spirits (whichever is convenient or situational) as a means of disrupting their power or demonstrating your freedom and defiance.

1 You arranged corvee labor for the insurgency, acting as an all-in-one labor recruiter, organizer, logistician and taskmaster for the unit. You learned something of the nature of carpentry, fortification, bridging, irrigation, lodging, smelting, ammunition making and gemcutting, as well as the most effective places on a structure to disrupt for demolition.

2 You served the movement by acting in traveling propaganda theaters intended for the illiterate, portraying the grotesquerie of the opposition and the noble hearts and resolve of the underground.
You became an effective (if unrefined) thespian, and are unusually good at forceful impressions of authority and heroic figures, aiding your ability to make impromptu speeches.

3 You served as a bombmaker and radiotelegraphy operator for the movement, but you used the opportunity to make experimental additions to both the blast and the signal; the ability to transmit ghostly communications (through explosions and radio waves), the ability to degrade things merely touched by the sound of your handiwork, the ability to impart actual visions in those who experience your handiwork, and the ability to use bomb blasts and radiotelegraphy as a way of suddenly or gradually transmitting yourself to other places.

4 You operated a legitimate business as an importer while serving the movement as a logistician and assassin. You became a master at bribery, and those who you could not bribe often found you returning to be their last sight. 

Leagues Cadre (demo, torture)
1 You struggle with political consistency tests during your training but excel in boxing, and are recommended for deployment to zones where charismatic leadership is more important than ideological purity. You are deployed to Gables, Knotwell and Twinmartyr, engaging in street battles with scabs and strikebreakers, attracting neutral workers to the Big Union through your courage and skill in fighting before moving on when the authorities decide to rub you out. While you are eventually decommissioned from the service when your poor understanding of Anarcho-Syndicalism leads to a schism in Meltchasm, you are welcome in Syndicalist dinner circles to include the City of Leagues where you are a celebrated raconteur.

2 The Seventeen Kings of Howling Gorge sacrifice their subjects in mechanically-assisted blood eagles to a vast fractal spider that wanders purpose-built corridors like a mobile mantle beneath the city, its networked tendrils emerging from the drains and stairwells. Their enforcers kidnap travelers from the rivers and roads; those who cannot be ransomed are sacrificed. The workforce is dragooned through pure terror; conditions are ripe here for Anarcho-Syndicalism. You fight for years, leading workers into hiding and then into battle against the dark yeomanry of the Manifold Monarchy. You score many victories and even kill several of the kings, but you are never able to consolidate your gains; either the yeomen always reinforce in numbers, or the neighborhood workforce proves too cowed to rise up, or the damned fractal spider emerges from the cracks, seemingly in coordination with its defenders. One day an uprising fails and those who joined you are cut down in the streets; you take refuge in a warehouse attic with several other Leagues cadres when the creeping black carpets of the polyspider begin snaking across the walls, ceilings and floor like an unholy lichen. You press yourselves into a corner; the infinitely recursive spider-trees permeate your friends as they scream hideously, and it is so blood-sated by the time that it reaches you that it withdraws without killing you. You suffer a nervous breakdown among the venom-puffed corpses and it is a miracle the yeomen don’t find you there.
You depart Howling Gorge on shaking legs and spend months in the wilderness before you can bring yourself to enter a confined space, at which point you return to Leagues to make your report.

3 Not everyone who participates in the City of Leagues’ system believes in the presuppositions of the enterprise. You pass the cadre course with flying colors and can make an impassioned, internally-consistent argument for Anarcho-Syndicalism far better than many of your companions who earnestly believe in the cause, both of which you secretly attribute to their mediocre intelligence. You go out into the world and periodically make conspicuous arguments to worker groups in favor of Anarcho-Syndicalism, impressing other cadre and handlers from Leagues as well as local foremen, but spend most of your time womanizing and blowing your operational fund on “bribes and gifts”, ie your own pleasure. You wake up one morning with a pair of hatted, overcoated Leagues agents standing at the foot of your bed. They tell you that you’ve been summoned to Leagues for a review of your accounts. You shoot them both through your pillow, apologize to your screaming bedmate and make your way from Periapt disguised as a Monadic priest.
You can make powerfully persuasive arguments for positions and philosophies that you do not hold to.

4 Insurgencies against city-states are dangerous; so dangerous, in fact, that if anyone knew their odds going into them, there wouldn’t be any progress. It was your job to recruit for the movement and to keep cells isolated; in part this was to prevent cells from becoming fully aware of the casualty rate. Unfortunately, you were forced to make many promises to somebody about getting them out and bringing them to Leagues to work with you before sending them to their death or capture. The city publicized those they took, but it was always assumed there were legions more waiting in the wings. There weren’t, but you only needed one cell to succeed for the movement to prosper. They could take over your function and create cells like them, and you could incubate them or move on as required.
You were, occasionally, forced by circumstance to give up a cell. Some of those you once called assets are aware of this, and some of those have been released on armistice. They would like to speak with you.
You are a master of setting up clandestine cells and networks to a particular purpose, sustaining them through ideology, argumentation and/or finance. 

Red Charter Slaver
1 You oversaw the manufacturing of jaggery; periodically slaves would fall into the hot mixture when their bamboo or plywood footbridges broke, and you just shipped it out all the same. People buying Red Charter jaggery don’t give a shit about that kind of thing. One day it was your turn; the footbridge broke and you took the plunge into the smoking sugar-gruel, searing your nerves to your bones in a moment that still makes your palms sweat to think about. The next thing you knew you were inside some kind of great sarcophagus lit by a brazier beneath a bowl you sat in; someone had bought the jaggery had melted it, and in doing it, somehow brought you back to life. You looked and saw your own flesh swimming in the brown goop, and knew you were no longer whole, despite appearances. A great beast seemingly composed only of pincers descended from the darkness like a lolling thornbulb and addressed you as “my sweet” (it seems irony is a universal cofactor of sapience). It told you that you had been purchased because your unique qualities as a succulent treat for a certain xenocosmic beast, but that this thing had shoplifted you and revitiated you because your cosmic caramelization had qualities that were of use beyond flavor. Your jaggerized physical crystallization allows you to act as a living storage device for sapioplasmic corporocognitive force-lives, so periodically you will have entities retransmitted through your body from other cosmoses, each intelligence having its own (perhaps inscrutable) personality and its own powers, which can manifest unpredictably (even uncontrollably) around you. Many of them will be fugitives, but others will be tourists, scientists and the like. As compensation to you and to the beast you were denied to, the entity who revitiated you has jaggerized the entire Red Charter jaggerworks and fed them to the xenocosmic creature, freeing you from your prior obligations. 

2 You go to a Bounty river outpost to purchase slaves from a barge that’s just come from Kadwa, and end up spending the evening gambling with the captain. You come up short and, in a haze of cognac and rakia, realize that you’ve spent your purchase fund and promised more. You go to your guns and the stiltmounted dicehouse descends into a gunlit Gehenna. You are wounded by shotgun pellets sent through the back of a davenport and dragged screaming out onto the pier, where your blood rains through the slats and into the water below like a squall. You are thrown into a Bounty prison hulk and only survive the resulting infection through sheer constitution; your ransom is refused by the Red Charter and you spend three years a slave before escaping a plantation in a sack of jasmine pearls. 
The next time you meet a Red Charter slaver you stab him in the face.

3 You are the master of resource efficiency. The Zanaxite tribal kingdom sells you all of its prisoners of war, undercutting the labor supply for their domestic industry, further spurring their flower wars against nearby tribes and city-states, further increasing your slave supply while driving down prices due to market glutting. Finally the Zanaxites turn on their own tribal confederation, bringing the whole thing down in a civil war that fills more ships than you can send upriver. Meanwhile, the Zanaxite king Zanaflexus becomes fabulously wealthy from the hefty ingots of ironbound gold you send him (perfectly valuable but labor-intensive to melt down, so he just keeps 90% of it as-is in his coffers). By the time all of the captives from the civil war are sold off, Zanaflexus tells you he has no more men to sell you and to check back in a few years; you immediately lead a Red Charter possession force and take Zanaflexus and his retainers into custody, alongside his whole household and the population of his grand fortress. You reclaim 90% of the gold you’d paid to him, and leave behind a few advisors to help the tribes of the region recover so that you can harvest them again twenty years or so down the line. Hopefully they won’t have learned from this in the meantime…

4 You grew up watching cockroaches eat your food. You froze at night with no one to turn to, beaten with whatever metal was at hand by a mother who was in turn beaten by men uninterested in disciplining you. Eventually she went away with a man who promised her work abroad, but he was back the next week sans your mother. He told you of food, furs, luxury cars, international travel, women and weapons, adventure and repose. He said not everybody from the bottom could make it, but you’d be better off than a bourgeoise if you did. The people around you behaved like animals and had no fate to speak of, no destiny; they’d be better off made to work than they were scratching food and scraps of pleasure out of the city. You could sell them as slaves and maybe they’d learn something; then they’d have food, shelter and work for someone else’s benefit, not just themselves. And you’d be rich.
You started with your friend Clint, who’d started making fun of you for the mole on your nose. You told him to come to the reservoir, and men in red stuffed him in the trunk of a car. They gave you a gold coin. You spent the gold on a feast for Sarah Gasie, then you took her to the reservoir with whispers of romance.
The years passed and you grew rich on migrant workers, gays, prostitutes, boys who you said could be your squire. You dressed well enough to be a knight, but once you had it all your conscience began torturing you. Your cakes tasted of ash, your plush apartment was hell in a disguise, your luxury car a lump of iron. You began drinking liquor compulsively, starting fights, giving potential marks too much information and scaring them away. Food and restful sleep become rare acquaintances. Finally, one day, you told the acquisition team you were retiring. You’d made your butter and you were out of the game. They stuffed you in the trunk, mink and all. Your penance had not even begun.

1 First comes the purge, setting hobos on fire, burning the offices of foreign moneylenders, fighting Syndicalists in the streets, murdering government moderates. Then comes the internal purge; the death squads are cleansed of drug abusers, homosexuals, those with foreign ancestors. Then comes the time for provocation; a foreign princess visits and you blow her limbs into nearby apartments with a car bomb. Your city-state goes to war and your whole Ultranationalist militia enlists as a force of partisan rangers harrowing the enemy’s countryside, burning their farms and razing their villages. You get the news one day that your city-state has been crushed into the skin of the earth by the surprise-arrival of a force from five city-states. They crushed your city with saturated artillery and zeppelin firebombing before razing the surviving towers and tenements with destruction battalions; it seems the enemy had hidden treaties while your city stood alone. Most of your band swears to live as bandits waging a war of revenge against the six cities, but you see the writing on the wall and slip away one night with a truck full of heavy weapons, planning to sell as much as possible on the black market before getting a one way ticket to another continent.

2 It began with a rip-roaring campaign of bank robbery and kidnapping for ransom. The wealth flowed into the coffers of the All-Union Front. Nights were spent buying crates of grenades, flamethrowers, whole artillery pieces from the emissaries of rogue states and black-market hill barons. Expensive cognac and ladies of the night flowed over the proceedings like things running out of existence, a fire-sale of all things filthy. Those were heady times.
Things got ugly when the city-state brought in foreign allies to root you out; heavy infantry in bullet-bouncing breastplates cutting your friends down in ambush. You can see them expiring with their irreversibly-unstrung bodies unresponsive to their desperate efforts except for raised heads issuing plaintive cries.
Your force takes the gloves off. The capitalists will call off their dogs or lose everything. Justice for the union or death. You kidnap their children, torturing them with acid and drills in hermetically-sealed transports, dumping their broken bodies at the gates of their manors. Their daughters are raped, cut up, defenestrated. You kill the patriarchs where you can, but most of the cowards go abroad, letting their pit bulls off the leash as they flee. The movement dwindles. The City of Leagues rescinds its support, smelling a sinking ship and a PR disaster. It was never a Syndicalist revolt, they say; there were Syndicalists early on, but they were stamped out by Illegalists. You send them a desperate telegram. You were never an Illegalist, you are a Syndicalist through and through and their cadres supported you when you had the initiative. There is steely silence.
One month it comes to a head. A riverboat full of Syndicalist volunteers from Tourmaline Gorge en route to support you from is hit by a federal fireboat, every man and woman eaten up in the conflagration. Every Syndicalist in the prison (including poets who never picked up a weapon) is loaded onto an enneaplane and dumped out over the sea. Your best cell, veterans from the oath of that first night, is cut down by gunfire inside a sleazy hotel, presumably by the woman who had offered them some relief at a bar that night; probably a labor spy for the Pigeons.
It’s over. It’s over, it’s over, it’s over. International Syndicalism was a dream. Capital is the reality. The naked movement of existential forces, immanatized in the cursed bank note.
There is only life and the bread crust. You have learned much in the course of this thing, and you will not go hungry.

3 You are psychologically burned while experimenting with giving into despair and find yourself attracted to a path of life-through-death, of revenge on all pretension in the presence of such hideous suffering. There can be no justified existence next to what you have seen as long as every ounce of human effort is not devoted to relieving it, which it never will, so you will blight human effort and turn it back on itself. You find a fraternity of likeminded outsiders, Antinatalists, though most of them are such hideous freaks you nurture a secret contempt of them that is even more powerful than for society at large. They are locked into their forms by their hatred; they could never fix their health nor their self-destructive lifestyles while being consumed with hatred, and so the scorn of those around them piles up until the violence begins. Your group carries out random drive-by shootings on children and the elderly, throwing the nature of things into clarity for all the content people of your city-state, and yet in the middle of it there is still a pang of cosmic wrongness that rises from the black depths as you see the genuine grief of those involved; it is more real and more meaningful than the tragicomedy of normal life amidst horror. You finally see the strength of the normality you’d taken for granted among the seething undercurrent of loss and downgoing that waited beneath it like a shark awaiting the failure of a vessel, the special charter of it despite its crassness when experienced from within, and resolved to shepherd it from within the flock of wolves. The gang’s safehouse was trapped, laden with many little bombs and poisoned needles; it was meant to be the tomb of any police raid to enter it. You wouldn’t let things get to that point, and when the gang gathered to plan a cafe bombing you mowed them down with a submachine gun. You collected their bombs, guns and tools in a pair of duffel bags, threw them in your car and arsonize the safehouse. You knew that you would forever be the exile of human society, ever its shaping fire, and set off for what was next.

4 You resurrect the teachings of the earliest men, that it is folly to permit women the power of speech, that a bloodline once held in bondage can never be unpossessed from slavery, that deduction beyond what is necessary for weapons is an existential crime; under the auspices of the true kings only impulse is just. The antediluvian empire that ruled your continent was the herald of the million gods, the holy gestalt, and you will bring up its ghoul to prey on the world that buried it alive. First come the godshells, crablike silicate autonama playing host to halfwitted zombie spirits degraded by time and ill-keeping in broken crystals part-preserved in magma-fired vaults. These are your first object of worship and you begin bringing people from the surface to rejoice in the temple-island of open space beneath the earth, the candlefane where imperfect celebrants give their fat to candles. Here is the place where women are made aphasic and those identified of ancient servile bloodlines are made eyeless castrati for repetitious tasks and prayers. You fill the hold with reverents until one day men rise up from the lower deep and slaughter the whole affair as they once did to the empire of old, called again to repeat the pattern of their ancestors but this time armed with the munitions of ages in perpetual war, the creeping mines and foliating gases laying your haven in the afterlife. You wander beneath the stars, perhaps a lone survivor, perhaps not, waking from a dream that added up to nothing but the echo of a long-sealed cavern.
Your stomach rumbles and you look toward the lights of the nearest city.


1 You rove the jungle, alternatingly fighting and allying with the wilderness tribes and the coastal aristocracy. In the process, you learn their art of war and customs, many of which are derived from necessity and transmissible across cultures.

2 You participated in an island rebellion, overthrowing the imperial masters and declaring indepndence. You were awarded a vast plot of land at the coronation ceremony for the new present (a questionable ceremony for a president but you were flush with victory. You went and inspected your lands and found that they were slopes in the rocky hills, covered with bramble and thorn trees.  You went to the presidential palace and the vizier told you they were lands fit for a bandit. You left the island in disgust, and the secret farm militia watched you until your boat disappeared across the horizon.

3 You fought alongside elite alpinists from Mount Charingela sent to rally highland warriors against the riverine invaders of Maroonglen. You fought for plunder and learned their tactics, carefully instructed into a living weapon that promptly went rogue, raiding Maroonglen cargo barges before turning to civilian shipping and then villagers bringing their artisanry to market. Your coup was the paychest brought to cement highland alliances with Charingela; you cut a few throats and absconded with it, and the Charingelan effort subsequently collapsed with talk of empty promises. Maroonglen laid its yoke over the region and you enjoyed a very good period robbing their tax collectors and paymasters on the unfamiliar roads.

4 Your crew grapneled onto a listing Marionpointish glider carrier airship and defenestrated the drunken crew, after which your clique defenestrated the rest of the bandits. You took to the skies and spent a summer descending on caravans, cargo trucks and luxury automobiles across the countryside, winching up your glider and haul before moving on. When your zeppelin was so laden with treasure it was barely clearing the treetops you sailed through the valleys to Bounty intending to fence the lot. Unfortunately, the leader of one of your rival bandit cliques survived beingn thrown ut of the airship (he landed on someone who had not), albeit horribly bent by his impact. As your airship hovered over the great bazaar, the bandit, now a slaver captain, stole aboard your airship and started a fire that turned into a raging conflagration consuming the entire bazaar You were out negotiating with a Bounty riverlord, but your men were all consumed in the blaze and your treasure fused into a great mass of gold and silver in the glowing ribs of the airship. This was seized by Bounty as compensation for the destruction of the bazaar and those present that day, and you were lucky to escape with your life and freedom. The bandit you betrayed still lives, and knows that you do as well.
Piloting, airship operations, land nav

Bank robber
Explosives, superacid, cryptography, shooting, climbing, metallurgy 
1 You drilled into the vault and emerged to find a thing like numerous racks of coral horns joined together at the tips, rotating inertialess in the air. It didn’t kill you; it didn’t kill any of you. You just ran. Since that day you have been pursued by the owner of the vault. Not to kill you, but as a silver-or-lead client for your services. The work is not complete, the scaffolding has not been gathered. Daniels attacked the messenger and had his bones lengthen until they pierced his flesh, and then clattered over into a useless, brain-damaged scarecrow until he died of shock. Nobody else in the gang has gotten the treatment, but the image is on your eyes whenever you close them. It’s getting intolerable. You have to do something to resolve this; either make a deal with the devil and get in with the vault-owner, or find a way to destroy him so that he can never elongate you.

2 You stole the Crown Jewels of Riverwell and fenced them to the ruling family of their arch-rival, Weepingwood. Unfortunately, Riverwell is a highly effective intelligence state (at least outside their own citadel lol) and they’ve made it clear that this goes one of two ways for you: either they kill anyone you grow to care for and destroy anything you try and build, or you steal back the jewels and make sure they fall into Riverwudlian hands. Their intelligencers have orders, however, not to eliminate you under any circumstances, or to eliminate any of your associates who may help you in the recovery except in self defense.

3 You served as a kind of Red Cell for international banks, joining bank robber crews, assisting them in penetrating vaults, and then making sure they fell into the hands of higher-level law enforcement (as in not associated with the bank, so as to allow the test to go forward at every level). This sometimes involved the murder of security guards and the kidnapping and torture of midlevel bank officials, but there were sufficient layers of obfuscation that you always escaped without having your description in the papers. 
You were contracted by the Starling & Shrike Finance Institute to assist a Syndicalist Appropriations Cell in the ultimate anti-labor spy action, robbing the S&S Finance Institute’s central vaults. You should have known they were goddamn philanthropists; you were some idle son of a bitch’s pet project and the Starlings rolled you up too at the conclusion of the mission.
You’re nothing if not a security specialist. You escaped and not even the other prisoners knew you’d gone. You wandered the rivers for weeks until slavers from Bounty took you. You escaped from them, too.
You’ve had to surface to get new work, and the Syndicalists have a suspicion that you are exactly what you used to be. Now a cadre from the City of Leagues has laid it out for you plainly: rescue your comrades from the Cell you went in with, or forever face the wrath of international revolutionary Syndicalism.
The whole thing was a trap before. You’ll never rescue them. So what do you do- shed your lucrative underworld profile and work your way up from anonymity again, or try to offer Leagues something just as good? 

4 You broke into the vault, found it empty, looked behind you and saw nothing but impenetrable blackness in what had been a lit tunnel. No companions, no escape. Then you looked back and saw a man waiting for you in the center of the vault.
A crown agent with hidden, malign powers. His organization doesn’t know about his powers. They don’t need to.
He broke your mind and extracted the whereabouts of every fence, safecracker, honeypot girl and getaway man in your whole network. One by one they went down, sentenced to dozens of years, and then disappeared from their cells.
He lets you work. Lets you make your contacts, make your money. Every few years he does it again. Harvests your associates. Crooks, killers, the worst of the worst, he tells you. You’ve tried to believe it, keep it in your blindspot, but your conscience is boiling over. And you know one day he’ll take you, too. 

Car Thief
1 Customize your prizes and serve as a getaway driver as well; selectively-placed armor, pistolproof wheels and built-in demo/burn disposal options.

2 Steal a car with an heiress in the trunk, develop a romance with her, she plays along and you get a ransom, her father passes away from stress not long after and the corporation is divided by gavelkind- she inherits part of it and carries a torch for you, her brother gets the other half and wants to kidnap you and torture what's left of the ransom out of you.

3 Rip off custom piece from international car show, sui generis, extremely fast, excellent handling, totally conspicuous no matter how you dress it up, former owners want it BACK.

4 Shoot a driver's brains out, he was an occultist and possesses the vehicle, it is supercharged by his presence and he will cooperate with your schemes as long as you advance his purposes, otherwise he will hunt you.

Drug Pusher
1 Bored and reckless, one day you got high on your own supply- roll on the Combat Camp Drug Table and extrapolate war-related material to the criminal underworld.

2 You distilled an entity into an injectable form and distributed it on the streets. It now controls the city’s junkies, whose health and use of any drugs but pseudohuasca has ceased. That was fine with you since pseudohuasca had a great bottom line and you were one of the few who could distribute it, but then one day they fusion-melted into a a kind of living sheet that climbed the Rigel tower and fell on the bazaar, assimilating everyone present, before wrapping itself around an orb of burning troglodite at the foundry and transcending the universe with it. You have since sought to perfect your method for distilling injectable entities.

3 You served as a kind of sermonizing pastor to the city’s junkies, giving them advice and comfort while selling to and injecting them

4 You were shot in a street corner dispute and clawed your way to an underworld sawbones. You were in utter agony when he laid you on the slab, so he helped himself to your own supply, injecting you with what he presumed to be morphine. It was morphine, but laced with a pseudohuasca developed from the ichor of a thousand-eyed mushroom centipede. You became addicted to morphine in the course of his treatments, but on the plus side you became able to speak to these creatures, who possess a malign wisdom. You can can smell out their nodes where others would pass them by. 

1 Pimped out as a lover for spectacularly rich and influential women; still know many of them, may still see some of them

2 Enslaved, participate in gigantic slave revolt, take over city-state and temporarily rule as janissariocracy, overthrown by nearby city-state and take your freedom in exile.

3 Learn to fight in really strange combinations; glaive-bayonet on LMG, a dozen chains hanging from your neck with a fully automatic pistol at the end of each, wingdart grenade javelins, flamethrower with two handheld projectors, submachine gun with foregrip and curving sidemounted bladed magazine, dance holding a pair of activated gas grenades (spinning in the wind in such a way as to release it onto the enemy without catching yourself)

4 Freed, spend time as dominus, maintain friendships with certain former volunteer gladiators as they go off to serve as mercenaries, advisors and investors, make contacts with gladiator traders and afficiandos from across the world (exotic fighting styles preferred), maintain correspondence with friends in many far-flung courts

Hitman: Shooting, sniping, strangling, poisoning, tampering, stabbing, destroying bodies
1 One day you’d had enough. You were waking up in the night to vomit. You thought you had no conscience but you were wrong. You had just buried it in the doings of the day. When you saw romance at the theater you thought of the couples you’d shorn. Fathers playing with children in the park, the orphans you’d made. So you reversed your targeting and began eliminating clients. You started with the ones you could identify, and then when you were contacted by prospects you knocked them off too. Sometimes you knew who’d hired you, sometimes it was just an intermediary. Unfortunately, some of the latter had connections. More than you could imagine. In fact, the list would turn your hair white. First was a royal Prince, second came the High Seneschal of a powerful Merchant House, third went the Secretary of Defense of a mighty Republic, and last died a famed fashion designer who served as an intelligencer for her city-state. The clients they represented don’t know exactly who you are, but they know what you look like and how to find you. You will discover in time what you have done, and so will those around you. 

2 You were conscripted in wartime and too good at your job. When the enemy had occupied half your city, you made yourself their terror, and the streets were slowly littered with invaders who you’d poisoned, blown up or shot in the back in your guise as a beggar, contractor or allied soldier. You were the toast of your army, the hero. After the invader withdrew, you were allowed to decommission in a ceremony of great approbation. You immediately moved abroad as biographers and historians began to look into your background. You are known internationally as a war hero; you will soon be known internationally for the innocent people you murdered before that.

3 You never killed a human being in this stage of your life, but you could be relied upon to destroy spirits and psychic manifestations when under the influence of worldroot. Thus strange men, psycholiminal intelligencers of dark or open-minded regimes, and entities themselves contacted you and paid you in coin, artifact and supernatural services to enter the godplane and arrange the destruction or rewriting of specific beings there. You’ve been paid in gold, but also by rewiring on the part of entities who can’t accomplish what you’ve been contracted to do but nevertheless have services they could render you.
Boons: (1) You can briefly calcify yourself, perhaps hiding against stone or resisting flame or cutting; this stuns you and requires a day of relaxation before you can harden yourself in this way again. (2) Pseudomaterial (ethereal/partial phase/projected) entities can be affected by your body, as you’ve been imprinted into several other cosmoses; as such, certain entities that are totally, laughingly immune to physical damage can be torn apart like tissue paper by your bare hands (though not necessarily by your weapons). (3) You are really a kind of reddish-orange fungus and can take on two meta-shapes with full agency- you have your normal human shape, but you can also spread out into a kind of mat, resembling a rug with beautiful, intricate floral scrollwork inlaid in sparkling tangerine. In this form, you can spring up over anyone who steps on you- you are a pretty effective binding, and can secrete sedative and digestive enzymes to suck them for nutrients if you so choose (be warned: this effect works in tandem, so if you want to just sedate someone you’ll partially digest them as well). You can also roll up, resembling a rolled-up rug. Your clothes and gear will be contained within, though you’ll have to don them again when you take human form and texture. You are, naturally, immune to organ/bone damage and become extremely flexible. (4) You become a hypernumerate savant with an eidetic memory; everything can be remembered with perfect clarity and you can execute any form of mathematics intuitively (though not explicitly), rendering sums and outputs as intuitions based on perceived variables (as such you could serve as a phenomenal assistant to theoretical mathematicians but would find it difficult to advance the field in a way you could render onto paper). These abilities do not constrict your regular cognition because they are a product of access to external resources, not a restructuring of your existing cognitive architecture.
Backdoors/issues - unknown until manifested: (1) An entity can see via your existence and may take an interest in your affairs, or sell access to this awareness to other entities who have a preexisting stake in whatever it is you meddle with. (2) An entity can use your presence in the godplane as the locus of a kind of existential bomb, scrambling everything around you without warning; you will not be affected, but spirits and beings who are not your targets may be annihilated, with you to blame given that you’re an interloper assassin. (3) Something about you has been corrupted or put out of sorts and you displace reality around you. Objects may spontaneously disappear (from existence), people may lose memories, books may change in content (into incomprehensibility or along a different line of argumentation, though inadequately as it’s essentially a product of autoregressive language modeling based on existing tracts and is not actually being rewritten by an agent with a perspective), and matter may change in phase (liquid/solid/gas/plasma). (4) You provide access to cats and dogs in your vicinity; they may be used as observation platform by entities, or as conduits for the powers of the entities, guided into the proximity of whatever the entities would like affected and then transformed (perhaps blossoming into a clockwork of unidentifiable molten metal, or projecting a flash from their eyes that fuses all perceptible matter into a single solid).

4 You have killed a number of children whose corpuses were existentially corrupted by an Occultist and were tearing apart the fabric of timespace in their presence. You have yet to eliminate the Occultist or the final child involved in his embodied incantation. The choice of children for this was a safety measure, and it seems to be working. You haven’t yet carried out that last killing, focusing on trying to find the Occultist and eliminate him first, even though the presence of the child is doing more damage to existence. Some part of you has been resisting completing this arc even though you’ve already taken the irreversible step; you are still allowing for something outside of it, not allowing yourself to acknowledge the damage resulting from this in the meantime.

Human Trafficker
You get what you asked for on 3 and 4 if you choose this track
1 You worked as a slaver and fell in love with a captured victim, smuggling her away from the network, she drugged you and escaped from you, your former network is now hunting you down, Smuggler Lord vows to capture you and sell you to into sex slavery

2 You turn on your network and collect 126 separate rewards, you walk free, you are known in polite society as a heartless former human trafficker who simply turned mercenary for the state, among the criminal underworld as a narc who destroyed 126 livelihoods and the nodes that depended on them, and among human trafficking victims as a savior who risked evreything to save them.

3 Your job is to inject human trafficking victims with drugs so as to make them dependent on their captors. After awhile you start sharing the needle as a kind of self-punishment/solidarity, and it's not long before you're kicked out of the organization for incompetence. You get clean for awhile until you meet one of the girls you addicted; she was freed by a john who bought out her contract, but didn't stay with him for long. You start using together again until she ODs; you swear to never touch the stuff again but it haunts you like a sugar frosting on the things you've seen every time you close your eyes.
Black Market / streetwise skill ; Preoccupation (hard drugs)

4 You work as a blood slaver, kidnapping the poor with promises of well-paying work abroad before spiriting them into remote, refrigerated shipping container-clinics where they are strapped down and harvested for blood for several months before dying of renal failure. You force-fed them, sponged them, took their slops and buried them. Eventually the operation broke up when a batch of immunocompromised blood went out and wrought havoc on hospitals across the developing world.
For awhile the sight of needles and blood affected you less than any man living; now blood makes you nauseous, needles make you dangerously light in the head, and you will not enter medical wards without being physically forced.
Minor medical skill

1 You’re still a made man, you’ve just gone undercover on behalf of the outfit. It has been a long, long time since you’ve reported in.

2 You couldn’t take their constant needling and injunctions to wait, wait, wait. Constantly reporting in, kissing hands, waiting outside of buildings. Cigarettes flicked at you.
You sold them all to the City Sheriff for the associated reward and skipped town. The Sheriff did his job. The Tribunal did not, and was turned from its purpose by silver and lead. The family was let off on a technicality that had never even been tripped. They walked free and immediately made plans for your elimination. Several federal agents became addicted to mafia gold in the process, and they will serve as the spearhead of the shafting in store for you, going abroad under official cover to bring you in or bring you down.

3 You waited next to Assassin Bug, bouncing your leg faster and faster, looking up and down the block. He lay on his back, screwing the bomb into place beneath the car. The next morning, 7:15 on the dot, Chief Prosecutor Raddon’s wife and daughter would sidle up to the car and be annihilated in a steel shockwave.
You throw your cigarette down a staircase, hands shaking.
“Bug, someone’s coming.”
He pushes himself out from beneath the car, bumping his head on the skirt. He looks up the block, still laying on his back. You stomp on his throat, once, twice, three times, then kick him across the jaw. You heap his roughly-snoring body into the driver’s seat, get down, set the timer for two minutes and run. An accident. Blew you both to kingdom come. A fresh start.
The fuse was a dud. No blast. You came back and Assassin Bug was gone.
Someday he will come for you, and you will not see the means of his attack. Mrs Raddon and Lily Raddon did not when he shot them from a clocktower. In the meantime, the bounty’s so large that others will find you before he does.

4 The final initiation was a mysterious thing that you’d guarded. It smelled like a filthy barbecue, but held in the family’s innermost library. One day there was an initiation you weren’t tasked on. You drilled a hole in a bookshelf and watched from inside the very wall. They heaped moldering books into a shining brazier and burnt them, then they scooped Mintres’ guts into the fire. He could not scream for he wore an iron mask from crown to collarbone. The smoke formed a whirlpool in the ceiling, and his internal organs were drawn in like a wad of noodles. What came down were like steel cables with sharp tips, running into his body and coiling throughout the inside of his limbs. Last came a metallic mesh that wove itself around the inner cavity of his torso, creating some kind of chamber within; the inside walls glittered with azure light before his body sealed itself from within, leaving a bloody flesh wound that the other mafiosos duly stitched while Mintres trembled.
You were gone, staggering through the grounds of adjoining manors. You vomited in a fountain and passed out in a kennel, hounds drowning your mind in a shouting cacophony. A groundskeeper came to you and you took his horse. You have been a fugitive from your criminal fraternity ever since, but gradually the urge is coming over you to destroy them.

1 You ripped off a noblewoman’s locket and found that it has supernatural storage capacity. You opened it, looked at the photo inside, shook the locket and had a perfectly preserved corpse fall out- the man in the photo. The photo in the locket was then a flat light gray plane similar to some depictions of Limbo or the precosmogonic state.
Everything comes out at once and must be carefully reinserted; you must carefully thread the item but will get it inside, such that by wriggling the locket around you could pass a grand piano into it. You should be careful when disgorging it and not too particular about whether it breaks a leg.

2 “Wait, brother! We’re both part of the same working-class struggle!”
“Do you think I work, bitch? I take!” Then you shot him. 
His words rang through your mind as you counted out his coin that night. He was an Anarcho-Syndicalist; what are you? It was true, you didn’t work, nor would you ever, at least in the sense of daily labor, so you’re not a Syndicalist. You’re not an Illegalist Anarchist even though you act like one, without the initiative of enterprise and competitive agility allowed by pools of finance you don’t think there would be much to steal and enjoy. You could say you’re a libertarian but that would be intellectually dishonest as you aren’t concerned so much about narrowing the scope of state power as evading it, and you feel that the regulation of intercorporate conduct by nation states et al mediates their non-production activities into a kind of habitable zone so that productive enterprises are more concerned with outproducing than destroying one another. Hence you are also not a republican as the existence or nonexistence of a republic is an irrelevancy to you so long as movable currency and luxury goods flow at the street level and you have access to services which are divorced from the law enforcement or social credit functions. What you are springs to mind like in an instant, “Ultracapitalist!”

3 You had a strange code of honor where you would never *force* anyone to give up what they had, but instead developed an absolutely terrifying aspect through mirror exercises and weightlifting. You would rush up to yuppies and bark a demand for cash, glowering with your hands in your pockets, and most of the time they would shakingly hand over their gold. They tended not to report you, as it was generally really realized that there had been no weapon after the fact. Being robbed with no violence and then smiled at by the cops would be too much for most of your targets. As such, you possess an extraordinary ability to intimidate, with less of the physical agility or prowess other muggers find beneficial.

4 You steal an unknown musician’s instrument, and find that it has powers of compulsion and sonic disruption but is possessed in the manner of a Stormbringer. The entity within will release the powers only with its consent; its ultimate objective is to escape its fetter, and should you free it, it promises to impart its current powers into your voice, having no further use for them.
A: Compulsion as mass drunkenness
B: Sonic blast as shaped charge
These are generally once a day but it may negotiate for exceptions.
It asks that you do not seek musical fame, because then it will never get free.
The type of instrument is up to you.
4 You push over a plate-armored knight and make off with his glittering poniard. This was where the nightmare started. The first time you drew it on somebody (an open-faced young woman in a beautiful dress and enviable pearls that would fence well to some down-on-her-luck marchessa) the poniard darted forward directly into her heart, with you still holding it. This looked to all passersby like some kind of asinine love murder, and immediately the patrol was on you with a vengeance. During your flight, a patrolman came around a corner and the tip of your poniard pointed at his body. The weapon leapt from your hand and buried itself in his heart. You escaped the city with weapon in hand but pointed zealously at the ground.
You have never once pointed it at yourself but guess that the thing has no loyalty.  

Narcotrafficker (torture, explosives)
1 You cut a guy's face off and fed him his nuts while he was still alive. You held the chain to dip a guy in acid while a doctor stood by to amputate limbs that had lost feeling. You cut open a police chief and his son's bowels in front of each other and pulled their guts out in public. Hand grenades into nightclubs, shooting journalists, making kidnapped laborers fight to the death and then killing the winners. All this for a drug lord who kidnapped and killed women at his manor and had you clean it up. What can you even say about this? When things trend towards maximum perversity, they'll reach this point, and then where does it go from there? 
One day the government sent Air Grenadiers to root out your organization. Perhaps it was at the behest of your rivals, in any case you saw the writing on the wall, and while your crew was wheelin given timeg out anti-tank guns and setting up mortars, you staged an inconspicuous motorcar that you kept sanitized for drivebys. When the block war started and the grenades flew in the city streets, you fired off your magazine, "ran back for ammo", got in the car and left a city held rapt by battle.
You're out of it for now. You watch people buying groceries, walking dogs, playing chess like nobody has ever been fed his own balls. What do you do now that you're out of that game? Part of you thinks that it's the real game, and it will always resurface and re-establish itself. Everything else is a polite fiction, a temporary equilibrium before the primeval reassertion of mastery by terror. Why stop playing that game when you'll be involved in violence anyway? You know you will. There's too much of it, and even innocence has never protected anyone against you. Can you relearn that boundary when you've broken it over and over? And if you stop, what happens when your new companions find out what you did?
About half of your crew was killed and the rest were captured. The government broke the captives on the wheel and then hung, drew and quartered them, though one disappeared between the breaking wheel and the gallows, and a few walked free on massive bribes. The government claimed them as long-term moles or hapless conscripts of the drug lord. Fig leaves. Those men sold everything they had for their freedom, and if they meet you out there doing the same job as you, they'll want to know where you were during the final battle of the syndicate.

2 You embezzled drugs from your operation for years before being discovered, stashing duffel bags full of narcotics in storage facilities all across the continent. You shot your way out of the processing facility in a storm of swirling powder, and the syndicate promptly sold your information to their allies in the narcotics bureau; you're up shit creek with a basket full of nest eggs.

3 You proved unusually dashing and charismatic for a brigand, and were made the syndicate liaison to a number of decadent royal courts/warlord cliques/Merchant Houses/Charter Companies. You have great relations with d4 of them, but were declared persona non grata with the syndicate after (impregnating/ODing/dueling/stealing from) d4 more.

4 You claim to serve as the guardian of a city-state’s outlying villages, offering them protection in exchange for forced labor in your drug factories. You are stunned when they create self-defense militias, and you have the brainwave of offering them a deal whereby they become the new core of your drug organization after you set up an opportunity for you to ambush the core membership of your syndicate. Their unscrupulous aldermen concur.
You are very good at coopting enemy groups for your own purposes.

Outlaw Biker: Customized motorcycle

1 You suffer the lingering effects of strange initiation, and when you move at great speed blood wicks from your eyes and drip-drip-drips behind behind you. Your perception slows the faster you move, but your thoughts do not; hence you can think through situations as they progress in slow motion, giving you a massive edge when driving, piloting or skydiving.

2 You are haunted by a speed demon; it possesses motorcycle when at maximum speed, perhaps out of joy, perhaps out of jealousy, you can’t say. 

3 You suffer the lingering physical effects of crash; road rash, visions, a sick attraction to having such a maximalist experiences again, and a strange propensity for surviving them. You have extensive scars from the original accident, and shards of metal and bits of concrete periodically push themselves out of the marred flesh. If you are caught in explosions, vehicular crashes, train derailments etc, you have only a 25% chance of suffering the full effect. The worse the situation, the more energized you feel afterwards, going forward with +1 to +4 to everything for the same number of days.

4 You ripped off the gang’s stash and outran them all, then you bought a designer dress for the daughter of a Charter Company executive who they didn’t know you were dating. You are item #1 on their hit list.

1 You fell in love with one of your girls, who was subsequently taken by human traffickers. They offer you a position in their organization as compensation. You are still debating whether to destroy them from the inside.

2 Run in high society, eventually run out of high society, nevertheless have blackmail on a lot of important figures who will try and have you killed but will still have to respect your ability to coerce them in the meantime

3 Pimp a giant butterfly, Crane Wife-style

4 Become an ostentatious couturier for a time until it comes out how you used to treat your girls when one of them sneaks into a runway modeling event and displays her scars in front of hundreds of society people

1 A form of piracy where you volunteer (or are intentionally impressed) into a foreign navy desperate for manpower and take over the ship at high seas, steaming it for a mothership, safe port or the straight-up high seas

2 Take a bunch of missionaries and other religious leaders hostage during their sojourn to a conference, learn to pass as a priest of nearly any religion during their period of captivity before ransom/execution.

3 Go on a plunder cruise upriver, found pirate state in the deep prairie, fight nomads until your warlord grants you a fief on the steppe, go into service in an interested foreign empire (Empire of the Twin Canals?), captured by rival state, deported to a military colony far abroad, escape, hope the state you founded survives until you can someday return to it.

4 You are a woman, serve as a pirate, everyone thinks you're a fresh-faced boy. Your crew grows powerful as you defuse conflicts and make sure there aren't lingering resentments due to unfair distribution of plunder. You have a relationship with the dashing captain who thinks he's having a forbidden homosexual love affair, as you'll only give him your ass in the dark. You leverage this into blackmail and eventually depart the ship laden with treasure in exchange for your silence. Despite this manipulation he still writes you passionate letters whenever you stay in one place for long enough. In time, you are recognized as the reason the crew functioned so well after a bloody mutiny breaks the Sarissa's power, and are welcomed as a mediator on pirate ships across the Wine.

1 You compete with an urgobiconodon that is harrowing the herds of your range of prairie. Finally you confront it, and it nearly strangles you but you shoot it in the heart and find a bull of gold in its stomach. You rub your hands, planning to melt and sell this unexpected windfall, when cattle from all the nearby ranges appear on the horizon and walk mooing to their deity. All the better.

2 You steal a sacred bull, finding yourself wrangling it across the sky during the great struggle. You will periodically see it charging across the clouds and be able to lasso it, carrying you and whatever you can rope along.

3 You become a master at shooting from horseback and, by cross-functionality, shooting from vehicles.

4 You hold a barbecue on a sacred plateau and please a spirit lingering above, gaining its blessing. Should you be killed, if your party barbecues you with sweet sauces and tinctures, you will return to life- once. They don’t have to eat you. 

1 You built the ultimate road smuggling car. Choose from:
An armored blockade runner with wheel guards
A stripped down & souped-up roadster with an armored engine compartment and reinflating tires

2 You had your body half-melted by some freakish alchemical ooze beneath a false carpet in an occultist’s forest muckworks; in compensation, she replaced your limbs with a ceramic piped with the very goo that had dissolved you. Now the stuff sloshes around your numb but warm, supple and functional limbs. You have hairline grooves in your limbs hiding invisible cabinets; inside these cabinets are piping which, if unfastened, will spray the very goo that melted you. Take care that you do not disgorge too much or you will lose function of your limb and have to visit the occultist.

3 You are transporting a worship staff from the Cretaceous period, its zigzagging metal fingers fixed in your memory despite it being locked away in the back of the truck. The lightning-shaped tendrils began reaching throughout the cab, piercing metal and glass without any disruption. They run through your body without you feeling it, but when you notice and begin to swerve you find you are locked in place by the tines. You crash and are torn forward across the lightning prongs, smashing your brains out on the dashboard, through the glass and onto the street. Your consciousness enters the worship staff and you transfer it into a policeman who picks up the staff later to examine it. You find this is a most agreeable persona for smuggling, though you go to that particular client in your guise as a cop and question him into a state of terror after informing him that his man is dead and the staff has been taken for examination. He makes no further inquiries.
You can transfer personages through the worship staff

4 You hollow out a giant squid and line it with ballasts and zippers set flush in oilskin. You string light chain ligaments and pushback-plates like reverse Jacob’s ladders through its tentacles, which connect to a sort of oar set into a plywood mechanism in its mid-body. Then, you replace its eyes with lenses. You have created an underwater smuggling vessel that can carry six people or an equivalent weight of properly-shaped cargo.

Street Racer: Cars, charisma, fighting
1 You enter a secret pelagic race to be held nonconsensually in the coral and bone-corridor kingdom of the Crysorex Chelcerates. The delivery submarine is torpedoed by a Crysorex corpseshell euryptersub but crashes through the cephalothorax of a long-dead megamalacostracan and the race begins as water cascades through the burning wreckage. You find through crashing through the Celcerates’ kingdom that they were hiding a titanic bioengineered electrojellyfish capable of electrifying the entire ocean in perpetuity; disturbed by the race, its tendrils reach out and annihilate whole Crysorex battalions. One of the Crysorex generals merges with a  placodermic-chitocrinoid megaform and does battle with the electrojellyfish as you race long its limbs. You win the race by a hazardous application of phlogiston creosote in your racecar’s troglosuspendite-entrapment engine; the car detonates but you are thrown across the finish line in the arms of a water spirit who had been blown into your car in the course of the race.
You have the ability to engender outré engine alchemy functions.

2 One day you make a road journey while utterly fatigued after 30 hours of travel; you think you are passing through a tunnel with weird overhead lighting until you realize it is the sky, and that you are heading towards some kind of festival until you realize it is the taillights of a car ahead and your eyes are crossing. You get a jolt of adrenaline after veering off the road a little and decide to sit and rest for awhile; looking around, your consciousness cleared and crystallized by the shock, you realize you have gone from deciduous forest to jungle.
When you drive while extremely fatigued, you find that you occasionally get lost and end up a very long ways away. At first you think this happens beneath the level of perception, but you find while experimenting with the edges of this power that you find yourself traveling along unmapped, walled highways and high deserts littered with arbitrary, irrationally-doored ghost towns, like some kind of high-road version of the green realm.

3 You have a customized Stilletto Superhype motorbike and are practically uncatchable in the city. You have the skill to build another should your current one be wrecked.

4 You have very high mechanical skill and a stable of souped-up cars ranging from two-man roadsters to six-seater wagons.

Strongarm Robber
1 You ripped off a locket from a noblewoman, and the voices of her ancestors have haunted you ever since. While they don’t like you, but you’re what they have for entertainment so they’re growing somewhat invested (picture the archetypal film audience- “don’t go in there! DON’T GO IN THERE!”) 

2 You robbed an undercover cop, and he was so impressed by your technique in sudden accostment that he recruited you for the force, where you continued your campaign of extortion while bringing in the occasional criminal (generally sans narcotics/jewelry).

3 One day you tried to rob a kid and he pulled out a gun and shot you six times. Laying there on the cobblestones, you are simultaneously incredulous and reminded of yourself as a sprog. You begin to work with street children, teaching them forms of crime that involve less direct violence.

4 You carjack a stickup artist after he knocks over a Shipping House manor, but when you open the trunk outside the city later you find a kidnapped heiress. She thanks you profusely for rescuing her and you develop a romance. You continue robbing in the streets and she eventually works as your gun moll. One day you are caught and her family, ever the pragmatists, employ you as a privateer, a role which you have periodically returned to ever since. 

Transport Hijacker
1 Master plane thief, traveling the world and raiding vacation homes and cabins using stolen planes to touch down, loot and take off. You are well familiar with the coastal archipelagos of the world, but there are several air patrols who are watching for your distinctive freckling.

2 You are such an alcoholic that you begin hijacking liquor trucks to stash away for your own private use. You begin to do this even on days when you cannot bring yourself to touch liquor, hijacking and stashing trucks out of sheer habit. One day you realize you’ve put dozens of them away, more than you’ll ever be able to drink, and must consider what to do with it all. 

3 You hijack a truck of absinthe but the Pursuit Squad overtakes you in a tunnel. One of them swerves into your wheel and you crash into a wall, suddenly consumed in green fire. You are bound in a single body with the Pursuit Squad members, liquidated and steamed into ghost forms before recapitulated in the melting glass and smelted into a motile thujone golem capable of running into a pool of liquid and then back into superficially human form. You stagger out of the inferno nude and are promptly arrested.
Massive driving skill bonus, personality a sui generis blend of nihilistic criminal and true-believer law enforcement; resolving this may be in the arc of your character.

4 You specialize in tanks; they’re often transported on rail, in which case you’re a train robber, or in river barges, which makes you a kind of pirate. In any case, you’ve stolen and sold tanks to a dozen rogue states, black marketeers and reverse-engineers. You know how to break them down, repair them, undo their hatches and operate their guns while frantically dashing around the inside of the tank. It’s getting in that’s the hard part; normally you don’t have too much trouble breaking out after that.


You wash up on the island and immediately resign yourself to your fate, swearing to make yourself savage as expediently as possible. You find a rotten tree rioting with white grubs and devour them, forcing down more when the first batch is vomited. You pee in a rock depression and drink it up. You build yourself a bower of leaves in the sand and lay down before the sun sets, freezing yourself into the belly of the earth in a night of agony.
Over the course of a year you work your way up the coast until you realize that it is no island but a peninsula. Eventually you find a fishing village and bring them a whole side of maggot-cleaned ruby carrion as a gift, which they hesitantly barbecue as you try to remember speech.
You are now a master wilderness scout, but have lingering habits of necessity that others may find incompatible with their sense of cleanliness or decorum.

You are a rough man but she reminded you of what is outside your murky world of toil and brutality. That was sacred to you, more truly sacred to you than anything you’d known, and it was worth abandoning your networks and your way of life to discover.
Necessity has forced you onto the high road because you cannot eat love, and you will not give your beloved a workman’s wage, but you have not forgotten the transcendent in her love for you and the higher conduct it calls you to.

You spend time deep in meditation in a monastery. Piece by piece you confront the things that you’ve seen. You try and place them in the peaceful world that you see in most times and most places, and find that you’ve been party to some of the extremes of the human experience, but that all runs along a continuum and what you have seen is not inexplicable or truly the default; a recurring fact but not some secret center to existence as far as the human experience is concerned. The center, either in the world or in you, is yet to be found.
Two paths spring from this fact, the path of renunciation and the path of the human game. You choose the latter, knowing that you will be allowed to exit sooner or later, and go to the abbey seneschal to retrieve your effects.

Mountain Man
You did what so many claim to wish to do and retreated to the highlands, hunting and trapping, fishing in the crystal streams and making your abodes from wild wood. There were some things you couldn’t practically make and traded your services as a guide and furrier for gun parts, hatchets, chemicals and the like. Eventually you grew so filled with lust that it drove you back to civilization. While you have abandoned some of your social graces, you have developed a keen sense of what is and isn’t, and you know there will be much cause to employ your wilderness skills.

Your kind of life inspires reflection; some turn to the bottle, some to the gun. You decided that you would meet it head-on, but not without a context, not without a guide. You took the orders and became ordained after a monastic apprenticeship, and went out into the world to engage in mutual reflection with those who were just like you before your revelation.
Are you redeemed for the things you once did? While you broke with that former life you have found that you’ve had enough of talk, that the conversations blend together and too often the promises of revelation and reformation come from the lips of men who would end up dead from gunfights, overdoses, executions not long after you’d spoken with them. You’ve have had enough of talk and have traded sacred text for firearm once more. The question is what you bring to the dark from that time in the light.
You are capable of opening the hearts of rough men through dialogue, at least for awhile. You are capable of moving credibly in theocratic contexts.

They said they’d never seen such a brutal disruption of flesh and bone, but that your ligaments would recover and thus so would you. Months passed with you confined in traction, tormented by scalpels, ligatures and confinement, and you were forced to reflect on the life that could have plunged you into this over and over, and worse. You think of how you avoided it and how you could in the future, but what you cannot see is a life where it is not likely. Whatever you do when you step clear of the hospital, you will be in danger and that is fate you’re willing to accept.
You spoke to the doctors and nurses, the surgeons when you could, and once you’d recovered use of your arms you asked them for their spare textbooks and reference manuals, first to understand what was going on inside of you, and then out of a fascination and a desire to prevent crippledness wherever you could when life took you into the arena once more.

You spend years in brutal imprisonment, alternating between shiv warfare in the rocky halls and months locked in cabinets with no light but from the slophole. When you emerge, you have a lust for freedom so outlandish it eclipses the mountains. You swear you will never again be taken alive, and that you will immerse yourself in every meal, day of sunlight, and beautiful face that comes before you.
You have a powerful ability to marshal bands of men and maintain their inner balance, and to fight in melee, but you have a clannish attitude and a need for basic experiences which others can find unsettling.

You’ve been more types of slave than you would have believed possible before you were taken; it seems that every time a new versatility was discovered you were sold for a higher and higher price. Plantation harvesting, mining, street cleaning, coal trimming, roadmaking, construction work, gladiatorship, chamberlainship, finally you were even a tutor. Then the city-state was sacked and were marched off to the mines again just like all the slaves, whatever their role.
It seems fate was determined to keep you on the ascendancy because the Crustrippers raided the caravan, and they told you that you were free, not interested in human cargo that day. Some among you were so broken in spirit that they just lay there; you got up and sprinted as soon as you heard the word.
You have a great variety of skills due to your time being shuffled around the international slaving enterprise.

Tribal Adoptee
You thought they were lucky they found you, until they put you through their initiation rites. A fishing net with hooks at every cross, ripped from your back. A night buried alive in carrion ground heaving with serpentine worms. Forced to walk through a gap between rocks wherein there was a network of web loaded with thousands, thousands of venomless but perfectly jagged-looking spiders. Branding, tattooing, scarification. Fistfights with master warriors to initiate you into your place in the hierarchy. But once you were in, you were in. You were a human being, everyone outside the tribe was not. That made you important. You still fought the others but you never went hungry while someone else ate.
One day the Casmathans came in the night slitting throats with obsidian blades and breaking skulls with greenstone maces. You woke and fought a running battle with a gang of them across the ridges for two days, shepherding your bullets, burnbeetles and javelins, and finally they gave up after having to bludgeon several of their number screaming on the path. You slowly returned to the tribe site, but found it devoid of men. Your tribe had scattered.
You have returned to the city-states, but you have taken with you your rock-hard attitudes and fearsome appearance but also your sense of ingroup kinship and charity.
Perhaps your tribe has reformed by now; you may someday return to their ancestral heartlands.


Bounty Hunter
Strong rule of law is found only in certain city-states. The great mass of people live under some deterrence but almost no direct observation, no enforcement until after that fact, if they’re lucky. Fugitives live out of sight, abroad or in the shadows, so there are more of them than almost anyone realizes. There are many, many unanswered bounties. Mountains of money on the table, some of it there just to keep people in exile, some of it keening for fulfillment. You will claim as much of it as you can seize with your two hands.

Hotshot Mercenary
You are a cut above the pack. Every douchebag on earth could claim to be a mercenary if they like, but if they go head to head with you they will perish or flee every time. Enough said.

“Security Expert”
Everyone with money knows that they need protection, and some even feel the necessity of “active measures”, a little clandestine striking power outside the bounds of the law. They demand professionalism, competence, continence and discretion. This is what you can offer, above the hordes of freebooters and halfwitted gangsters clamoring to fight for a nickel. Your price is its own recommendation; if they don’t like it they should make more money. There’s always a richer client.

Treasure Hunter 
This is the adventurer, pure as they come. The earth riots with treasure in unjust hands or no hands at all. This is what binds men and women of purpose. This is why you go armed for no master, why you wander the city-states as no citizen, why you smile at nobles, come and go from the tribes, and set your shoulders against the darkest criminals. You’re no spy, no pigeon, no knight. You’re the true soldier of fortune; to you there is no service. Only reward.

Maybe you’re a vigilante, maybe you just practice the second-oldest profession. The evil overlords, the syndicates and cartels, the bandits and thieves’ guilds, the robber barons and imperial potentates. God they’re rich, and so often guarded by incompetence. You’ve spent your time swimming in the murk or at the doorstep of tyranny. So often their will is carried out by shirkers, goons, layabouts who will murder but refuse to make preparations. Dark forces hold wealth rivaling banks, merchant houses, and mighty kingdoms, but there no dedicated police force or international regulatory agency will protect them. They live by the sword, they die by the sword, and their property is divvied up by the sword.
All this is to say that when you destroy them, seize whatever of their wealth you can carry off. There are few grim and dedicated men of purpose and professionalism protecting them- except at the highest level. Whether you spend your takings on ’the long war’ or at your own pleasure, you are beholden to no one.

Optional - start locations 

Ascension promenade. A colonnade a mile long. A white brick walk over water and shelter in the shade.
Clean water laps its shadow on the whitewash. 
A cobblestone street, a rise in the road. White but faded. Cool wind. Dead leaves and their shadows.
A cloudlit crisscross of lanes thrown across the hillside.
Empty awnings in the fading light. 

Sunburnt by golden facades. Livid bars ripple across featureless faces. A tower crawling with milky silver. A tooth in the soundless street.
Nascent boughs of gummy green in a haze beyond the walls. Steely stone, guns and armor, men in black.

The prairie. Fluttering eyelashes in the grooming wind. The low city of wood and stone. Stormclouds in the mountains.
A skinned corpse in the grass. Purple petals and starlight seeds. Bloodsoaked mana in the flower-field.

Art - First Run