The Prodigal Sun and the Humble Lie

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The Prodigal Sun

Career: Part-time Mechanic
Hobbies: Guitar, street races, baseball
Favorite Foods: Lasagna, red wine, chocolate cake
Blood Type: B
Animal: Monkey
Age: 21

Step 1: Introduce Yourself

Well, good evening! How’s the day been treating you? Pretty well, I hope?

I think I saw you down at the local pub last night, during music night. You roared up in a sleek, silver Mercedes, pulled out your guitar, and played a song that had people dancing on tables and cheering from the bar. And then you climbed back into your car, popped in a tape, and drove into the sky, which sort of made an impression. Someone said that you might literally be a god? But through all of that, I didn’t actually end up catching your name…

  • It’s Arikel Irinka, the Prodigal Sun, and yes, I am the son of Jade Irinka.
  • It’s Ariel Irinka, and I’m still the Prodigal Sun even though the pun doesn’t work as well.
  • Actually, I’m adopted. I’m really the child of a vast and terrible power…
    • The Headmaster of the Bleak Academy?
    • One of the Mysteries?
    • I’m totally human, it’s really embarrassing.

We’re going to go ahead with the story that you are Arikel Irinka, and that you truly are the Sun’s son. If you’re someone else – well, you’ll have to work out any differences.

Step 2: Define Your Realm

You are sort of the heir to the throne of Celestia. You’ve heard that your younger sister is meant to replace your mother and become the Sun itself, but in the meantime, someone needs to run the sky kingdom, and that’s you. It was beautiful realm, a place of cloud-fields and wind-spirits, where the Sun is always shining, the weather is always beautiful, and great tree-buildings rise through misty swamps to spread golden leaves against the sky.

These days, of course, Celestia looks a little bit different. The sun has set, casting red light across the horizon, and the stars glitter in the sky above. The weather is still calm, except when Eclipse rises and the cold winds blow from the north, and the trees have taken on autumn hues, orange and red and sometimes even brown leaves twitching on the branches and threatening to collapse roofs. The clouds grow grey beneath your feet, as though threatening rain.

Still, Celestia has certain rules, properties that support it. Right now, it has lost the tranquility that once kept it safe, but some of its rules and properties still apply. Are those rules…?

  • You must reconcile the divided and the antithetical.
  • You must keep things in good order.
  • Your emotions must have a tangible impact on the world.
  • You must have a talent for expression.
  • A terrible beauty must reside in everything, though it may hide beneath the surfaces of things.
  • You will always return to where you belong
  • … something else?

Choose three of those Properties to serve as the region properties of Celestia. As you repair your land, you’ll be filling in a few more, but those will likely be more tied to your nature.

Step 3: Face Your Shadow

But Celestia is not well. It is under assault. The dread figure known as Eclipse, born into the world from the death of your mother, lurks on the edges of the Realm. For now, it seems to be content to lurk, to put long plans into effect and to let the world wither, but when one of its plans is disrupted, or when you try to fix something that was once torn and broken, Eclipse rises to cast its shadow over the world once again.

Generally, Eclipse looks like your mother, but washed out, formed of dark shadows and grey tones, her eyes endless pits in which you can see falling stars. It can disguise itself, however, as anyone that you care about, taking on their shape to get close before revealing itself. It raises its hand, and color is washed from the world. It narrows its eye, and plants wither and die from the force of the endless night. It smiles, and you feel hope die. It is a living embodiment of the Sunset, the end of hope and light.

Or… is it something else?

  • It is an incarnation of Winter, bringing frost in its steps and halting growth, spreading Hunger with its words and shortening the day.
  • It is an incarnation of terrible Light, blazing so bright that it burns away all contrast and rational thought. It is a pitiless, righteous monster that seeks to undo the Sun’s death by burning away all traces of compassion or mercy from the world.
  • It is merely a refection of the Headmaster himself, he, who shot your mother down. It takes on no shape, it shows no sign. It merely walks as a shadow through the world, and things end.
  • … something else?

Whatever it is, the nature of Eclipse is reflected within you, because… and you don’t know this yet… Eclipse is using you as its vessel. As the eldest son, you are the inheritor of her death. You have a mystical Affliction that follows you wherever you go, and the harder you work to be the man that you think you should be, the more powerful it grows. Just another reason not to try.

Step 4: Choose Your Favorite Scenes

Now that we know what you should be doing, what are you actually doing most of the time? Are you…

  • Sitting under a tree in a park strumming your guitar?
  • Out for a drive in your silver Mercedes?
  • Trying to re-settle a wind spirit, angel, or other creature of Celestia somewhere in Fortitude?
  • Playing baseball with the Archive kids?
  • Flirting with a local lady or gentleman?
  • Making up elaborate stories of your earlier life and telling them to people?
  • Playing chess with strangers?
  • Goofing off with some younger kids?
  • Hiding from your boss?
  • Fishing in the river, with no real expectation of catching anything?
  • Taking a refreshing nap?

Pick two or three situations that you feel like you’re going to find yourself in quite a lot. When you don’t know why you’d be hanging around somewhere, just grab one of those and you’re good to go! Saves a lot of time thinking about things.

Step 5: Review Your Goals

You returned to Celestia after your mother’s death, in order to try and fix things. That… did not work. So you did what you do a lot – you ran away. You ran to Town, theoretically to find your sister and hand over the responsibility of Celestia

Quest 1: You are a cool guy – an artfully cool older brother / hipster musician / grunge mechanic / whatever. You are the sort of guy who’s so cool that he doesn’t worry about anything. Obviously, being this cool requires a ton of work and involves a lot of secretly panicking that people might be laughing at you – you’re the sort of guy who spends an hour in front of the mirror trying to get just the right ‘just fell out of bed’ look. Look for moments to be really outwardly chill and snazzy, while being secretly worried and trying way too hard.

Quest 2: You’ve come to Town, in theory, to look for your sister, but really you’re just hiding. Unfortunately, you’ve recently struck up a friendship with one of the Archive kids, and he’s having some serious family troubles. You’re going to get sucked into his home life, seeing a reflection of your own past in his struggles, and you’ll have to try and help him solve the problem that you never could.

Quest 3: You’ve also got a job – working part-time as a mechanic in Fortitude’s only auto shop. This job drives you nuts, your boss is a slave-driver, and you’re honestly kind of having fun with it. Your job is a major part of your life right now, and how you interact with it matters.

… unless you’re not working in a garage? Maybe you’re working at the harbor pub, instead? Or you became a gardener in Bluebell Park, because you didn’t know any better? Or maybe you got yourself accidentally appointed Fortitude dogcatcher?

Step 6: Who You Know

Connections are a rough yardstick of how well you understand, get along with, and deal with someone. It can also measure how well you are adapted to living in a place. You’re a newcomer in Town, and haven’t settled in yet, but you do know…

  • Jasper Irinka (2): You haven’t seen her in years, but she’s still your little sister.
  • The Rat Detective (1): You can feel her love of the stars.

If there’s another PC that you feel a connection towards, and they agree, the two of you can have a Level 1 Connection to each other.

Step 7: Review Your Powers

You are a god of freedom and the night sky, and the champion-to-be of the Sky Lands. This gives you a lot of power:

  • You have instinctive knowledge about freedom and the night sky, and can sometimes persuade things of the sky to help you out.
  • You have a dream-like ability to dodge responsibility and blame, and can pass your carefree attitude and easygoing nature to the people around you.
  • You manifest the powers of your mother’s death, the Eclipse, and you can trick magical and coincidental bonds into believing that you are Eclipse.
  • You can project a ghostly version of yourself to Town or Celestia, wherever you may be.
  • Your music can open a pathway to Celestia, or draw the properties of Celestia into the world. You can also nurture Hope within the hearts of others. In particularly potent situations, you can gradually transform people into forms that are suited to the Celestial Realm.
  • You are a god of freedom, and can slip through obstacles, locked portals, and similar challenges.
  • You are a prince of the Sun; you are treated as a ruler when in Celestia, and your miracles are particularly potent when you need them to be. You can also bring things and people from Celestia to Town, reinforcing them against the mundane world.

Step 8: Props

Before you start playing, you’re going to want to…

  • Copy or print out a character sheet, to remind you of your powers and skills.
  • Print up copies of your quests, so that you can track them.

You may also need:

  • Eight Will tokens (I recommend white poker chips!)
  • Five (or more) MP tokens, of a different colour from your other tokens. (I generally use red.)
  • To look around the table to identify the other PCs. Then practice play by:
    • Nodding and putting your faith in the Glass-Maker.
    • Saying ‘Aww’ and patting the Rat Detective on the shoulder.
    • Snapping your fingers to beckon over the Prince of Thorns to serve you.
    • Shivering in terror at the actions of the Serpent of Memory.
    • Shaking your fist at the machinations of the Humble Lie and shouting her name.
    • Giving a big thumbs-up to the Swan Child for bearing up under strain.
    • Just staring in shock and horror or disgust at the Wrongful King.

The Humble Lie

Career: Storyteller
Hobbies: Japes, Pranks, Nasty Tricks
Favorite Foods: Blueberry Tarts, sushi
Blood Type: Whatever Seems Appropriate Today
Animal: Human
Age: You’re only as old as you feel. And you generally feel like an old teenager. Say, 17? You can have a lot of fun with 17.

Step 1: You Stand Revealed

Good morning to you, whoever you might be,

You have, in truth, many names, and I’ve probably met you while you were borrowing someone else’s. That time when my grocer was feeling lazy and didn’t ring up my things right, was that you? Or when the umpire at the baseball game clearly ruled wrongly, were you playing a joke wearing his skin? I’m almost certain that you weren’t my fiancée when he slept with my brother, or the sea captain who came back to port with a twelve-foot koi in her boat, but… well. Who are you, really?

  • Iolithae Septimian, Whose Lies Turned The Seas To Salt, a very dangerous woman.
  • Septimian Iolithae, Whose Lies Turned The Seas To Salt, a very dangerous man.
  • I don’t have a name. I think that I would like one, though. Some day.

I… hope… that you are Iolithae Septimian, and will write this section under that assumption. If I am wrong, or if you wish me to be, you simply have to say so.

Step 2: Your Story

You have a long and storied history, which begins in the mists of the past and ends with you trapped forever beneath the Titov shrine, which is why it’s a bit of a puzzler that you’re walking around. You were mortal once, long ago, until you found terrible words, words that revealed the Lie that was the world, and by speaking those words you brought about an apocalypse to the sea, turning it to salt until only the lakes remained. Big Lake is thus something of an affront to you – it’s cheating, pretending to be a sea when it is clearly not one, or it would be salt.

You were trapped, in the mists of Town’s beginning, as the Titov family worked its magic and bound you deep, deep beneath their shrine, to power their magics, but as you were sealed you spoke one final lie – “I am Free”, and that lie gestated and gave birth to you once again. The bulk of you is still trapped, still in thrall to the hated Titovs…

Unless, of course, that is not who has trapped you. Was it…?

  • Lord Entropy, who sealed you in a cage of blood, and you still remain in the depths of School?
  • The Rats of Fortitude, who bound you in their caves, and your Lie gives them their sentience?
  • The Headmaster of the Bleak Academy declared you an enemy of the Outside as well as the world, and you are sealed deep within the Methodology Building in Arcadia?
  • A thoroughly ordinary boy named Chuubo, who built a wish-granting engine around you while you were taking a particularly long nap?
  • …. Someone else?

Whoever it is, you hate them. Probably. You are almost certainly not grateful to have all that power off your hands, and definitely maybe are trying to destroy them. You also have a Magical Skill based on their nature – usually this is Titov Magic, but that is obviously pretty Titov based. You might have gifted Entropy with Monster-Forging, or the rats with Divination, or Chuubo with Wishing Magic.

Step 3: Your Lies

There are two lies – two statements that you have made into truths, against the will of the world itself. One of these lies is the following:

  • I am imprisoned beneath the Titov Shrine.

(… although if you are imprisoned somewhere else, you are obviously going to have to revise that.)

The other Lie that you have spoken is usually,

  • The water of the sea is brine and salt.

A terrible truth about the universe that was once merely a lie, and which miracles find it difficult to alter. However, this doesn’t have to be what your Lie is. It was something immensely destructive, an attack upon the world itself, which nonetheless opened a new vista of possibilities and which is self-evident to people now. What is your Lie, if not the above?

  • The moon is cold and dead.
  • Water erodes even the strongest stone.
  • Animals eat one another to survive.
  • … something else?

Step 4: Your Pastimes

The world is filled with so many exciting things to do, and you want to do them all. But what are you doing, from day to day?

  • Eating fresh sushi down on the docks?
  • Pretending to be an ordinary worker doing an ordinary job?
  • Deliberately messing with someone by pretending to be several of their close friends in succession?
  • Lying on your back on the grass and watching the clouds?
  • Making up stories about passers-by, and then turning those stories true?
  • Listening to someone play music?
  • Reading pop culture magazines from Earth?
  • Secretly working to grant children’s wishes, just because?
  • Secretly working to stymie children’s wishes, also just because?
  • Street racing?
  • Just borrowing someone’s skin to see how they experience common pleasures and pains?

Pick two or three of the above, and note them down. If you ever don’t know quite what to do, these are excellent choices!

Step 5: Your Plans

You have plans – big plans, for the world. You are imminent and growing, and these plans are as follows:

Quest 1: You recognize the hidden truths and lies in the world. Whatever else you are doing, you’re always on the lookout for dramatic irony and accidental revelations, which you use to feel superior to others.

Quest 2: You love trying out other people’s shapes. You can really lose yourself in an assumed identity, spending a little too much time taking up someone else’s viewpoint and acting like them. Eventually, however, you always abandon the skin as not quite suiting you. Who knows what will happen if you ever find one that really fits…

Quest 3: You are, of course, working tirelessly to free yourself from your Enemy. Mostly tirelessly. Moderately hard, at any rate, and the fact that you are bound within your own powers and thus your release is technically kind of impossible is a minor detail that you’re still working on. For now, you continue to halfheartedly direct yourself to freedom.

Step 6: Your Connections

Even an unparalled shapeshifter whose identity is largely concealed has connections to somebody, and you’re no exception. You have the following Connections:

  • Your Enemy (2): You hate them, but you also feel like they’re family.
  • The Rat Detective (1): There is nothing you love so much as a seeker of truth.

If it seems appropriate, you and any other PC can have a Level 1 Connection to each other, as well.

Step 7: Review Your Powers

You are the Lie, the last one spoken by yourself before you were trapped, and as such you have immense capabilities:

  • You are an unparalled shapeshifter, able to perfectly replicate anyone who you kiss or brush the hair of, and able to revert from any change anyone else tries to force on you. You can also retroactively declare that you were someone else in the scene.
  • You can quickly and mystically stalk your victims, and fit perfectly into whatever situation or environment you find yourself in.
  • You can look into someone’s heart, and see whether they love and what they care for.
  • You can speak lies that become true – telling someone that a task they are attempting is impossible, telling a story about someone and force it to become true, or occasionally retroactively making yourself responsible for some grand fact about the universe.

Step 8: Props

Before you start playing, you’re going to want to…

  • Copy or print out a character sheet, to remind you of your powers and skills.
  • Print up copies of your quests, so that you can track them.

You may also need:

  • Eight Will tokens (I recommend white poker chips!)
  • Five (or more) MP tokens, of a different colour from your other tokens. (I generally use red.)
  • To look around the table to identify the other PCs. Then practice play by:
    • Nodding and putting your faith in the Glass-Maker.
    • Saying ‘Aww’ and patting the Rat Detective on the shoulder.
    • Snapping your fingers to beckon over the Prince of Thorns to serve you.
    • Shivering in terror at the actions of the Serpent of Memory.
    • Sighing and rubbing your forehead over the Prodigal Sun.
    • Giving a big thumbs-up to the Swan Child for bearing up under strain.
    • Just staring in shock and horror or disgust at the Wrongful King.

Next: The Swan Child and the Wrongful King

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