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Author Topic: Castes  (Read 7177 times)


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« on: Jan 23, 12, 09:03:44 PM »
Queens are the backbone of Blood society, and are generally valued more highly than any other caste. They are born with an inherent connection to the land and can directly influence the prosperity of it, which affords them a natural position of power. This connection to the land often leads Queens to enjoy interacting with it, via gardening or other hands-on hobbies. Queens are also inherently tied to the people around them, be they Landen or Blood. Most Queens display an instinctual urge to rule and to serve, just as they instinctively crave to be ruled by the demands of leadership and be served by the people she tends to in turn. They are often effortlessly charismatic and naturally compelling, creatures made for the purpose of drawing allies and friends to their sides. Queens alone possess the ability to inspire the Queen’s Bond among her subjects, a supernatural phenomenon that binds the Queen to a certain male for life. (More on the Queen’s Bond here.)

The Queen caste manifests while the Queen is an infant, and is the only female caste that no other Blood may train into. One must be born a Queen to have this caste.

Black Widows
Perhaps the most complex of the female castes, Black Widows are a mystery to many. This fact is helped in no small part by the Black Widows themselves, who tend to enjoy intrigue and mystery more than any other caste. As a rule, they are typically surly, aggressive, sexual and sensual creatures. They are often described as “prickly”, in that their mood can shift on a second’s notice due to some circumstance only the Black Widow perceives, much like the cat who enjoys a good petting until they suddenly… don’t and fiercely attack the hand they’d just adored seconds before. Black Widows who spend a great deal of time in the Twisted Kingdom are often tainted with an eerie, otherworldly air, as though part of them is still elsewhere despite the fact that they are in front of you in the flesh and speaking with you. Black Widows are notoriously clever, and are often feared and distrusted based on their caste alone.

The Craft of this caste is vast and varied, though Black Widows typically choose a few areas that appeal to them personally for study. They hold the ability to heal (or hinder) the mind, concoct deadly poisons, and can create complex webs that can divine visions, webs that create intricate, detailed illusions, webs that deliver or enhance other pieces of Craft, and security webs, among other things. The majority of Black Widows belong to the Coven of the Hourglass, which is a secretive group that manages Black Widow Craft and training. They often serve courts as Seers, though many choose to sell their concoctions and webs to the public.

The Black Widow caste typically manifests at puberty. Upon manifestation of this caste, the nascent Black Widow sprouts a Snake Tooth beneath the nail of the ring finger on her right hand. This tiny, retractable fang may be used to inject lethal poison into anyone foolish enough to earn the Black Widow’s ire. If not emptied this way, the Snake Tooth must be milked on a regular basis to prevent the poison it produces from crystallizing and spoiling - an extremely painful and dangerous affliction for the Black Widow. In addition, a Black Widow must ingest a small amount of the poison created by their own snaketooth each month during her moontime. This assists the Black Widow's body in creating the poison, and has no adverse effect on the Black Widow. Black Widows are famously resistant to poisons and toxins that would kill other Blood.

Jeweled Blood may train into the Black Widow caste, provided they seek the proper instruction.

Generally speaking, Priestesses are the custodians of Blood history and lore, the keepers of what has come before and the bridge between the Blood and the source of their power: the Darkness. Many Priestesses share a scholarly disposition in addition to a nature that is inherently centered around the spiritual. They preside over the Birthright and Offering Ceremonies by which the Blood receive their Jewels, and would therefore be a crucial part of Blood society even if that was their only responsibility. In most Territories, the duties of Priestesses extend well beyond those two ceremonies, and often encompass the facilitation of weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies, record keeping, communion, and ritual magic. Priestesses bear the responsibility of caring for the Dark Altars of the realms, though many from among their number find employment in courts in place of or in addition to tending altars.

The Priestess caste typically manifests near birth, though it occasionally manifests later, up to the age of three. Jeweled Blood may train into the Priestess caste, provided they seek the proper instruction.

In a world beset by violence and passion, someone has to be able to patch up the wounds and set the broken bones after the storms have passed. Healers are proof that the Darkness is not heartless, and that Mother Night does wish for her children to survive despite the volatile natures she has bestowed upon them. Healers are an interesting mix of the Blood’s stereotypical fierceness and an instinctive need to nurture and repair those around them. They are typically given to gentle dispositions compared to their peers, and are frequently both kind and sympathetic. There are exceptions, of course, but they are rare enough that Healers are almost unilaterally assumed to be altruistic. In most Territories they are escorted more frequently than the average witch, because their giving nature often leads them to risk depleting themselves to their detriment for the sake of helping others.

Healers often attach themselves to Courts for service, and those that do not often open up their own private clinic or shop. They are generally proficient in brewing tonics and Crafting herbal treatments, and individual Healers often have their own recipes and tricks. Though other Castes may learn some light healing spells, diseases and the healing of major injuries are the purview of Healers alone. 

The Healer caste typically manifests near birth, though it occasionally manifests later, up to the age of three. Jeweled Blood may train into the Healer caste, provided they seek the proper instruction.

Warlord Princes
Warlord Princes are a volatile mix of the Warlord’s incessant passion for life and work, and the Prince’s keen intellect and eye for strategy… with a little extra fire thrown in as well. They often instinctively need to serve and be near Queens, and are frequently more concerned than most for the care and treatment of the Blood women around them. By nature, Warlord Princes are possessive and protective of those for whom they care. They are also typically inherently territorial, and depend heavily upon the chains of Protocol to inform their actions when in the company of others. The Blood are a society full of passionate and violent people, and Warlord Princes are the consummate warriors and lovers even among the Blood.

Due to the volatile nature of their caste, Warlord Princes are prone to several defining flaws including cold rage (where the Warlord Prince grows angry enough that he loses all control and becomes violent and unapproachable) and ruts (more info on ruts here). Warlord Princes are the caste most frequently snared by the Queen’s Bond. Though there is no real stigma against a male that has not bonded with a Queen, a Warlord Prince without a bonded Queen to help manage his temper is seen as a more dangerous, more unpredictable creature than his bound counterpart.

The Warlord Prince caste typically manifests near birth, though it occasionally manifests later, up to the age of three. As with all male castes, this caste may not be learned via training. One must be born a Warlord Prince to hold this caste.

Held in higher esteem than their casteless brethren, yet a step below the more battle-soaked Warlord Princes, those men holding the caste of Prince occupy a unique role among the Blood. Though just as fierce and passionate as the lower castes of the Blood, Princes are the administrators of their society. They typically have more analytical minds than their brethren, though this tendency can manifest as easily in the orchestration of fighting strategy as it can in the management of organizational tasks. Structure and order typically appeal to them the way ruling appeals to Queens and battle appeals to Warlord Princes. They are often highly intelligent, with a great deal of natural acumen when it comes to politics, diplomacy, and Protocol.

Princes very frequently attach themselves to Courts, as helping to manage the orchestrated chaos of such an organization appeals to their natures. Those that do not are often drawn to establishing their own business or organization to run, or playing key roles in the success of someone else’s private business. Like Warlord Princes, Princes sometimes fall victim to ruts, though far less frequently than Warlord Princes do.

The Prince caste typically manifests near birth, though it occasionally manifests later, up to the age of three. As with all male castes, this caste may not be learned via training. One must be born a Prince to hold this caste.

Witches & Warlords
Witches and warlords are the base castes of Blood society, those Blood who receive a Jewel but do not manifest any specific higher caste. Their occupations vary greatly, but in general they make up the bulk of the "grunt work" done in Blood society. Witches and warlords are perhaps the most versatile of the castes, having access to optional caste training and the full breadth of Craft use, yet with the least strong of the caste-borne compulsions to serve a court or a Queen.  They can play nearly any role in a society, given training and inclination. It is worth noting that it is extremely rare for any Blood to instinctively understand any Craft beyond Basic Craft. The vast majority of Blood must be educated to learn anything beyond Basic Craft.
Warlords typically have inherent tendencies towards guarding and soldiering, moreso than their female counterparts. Between this and the statistical abundance of their presence, they often make up the bulk of Court Guards and soldiers in any given army.

A character is considered a witch or a warlord when they are a Blood Female or a Blood Male who receives a Jewel. Even if they go on to manifest or learn a high caste as well, they may still be referred to generally as witches and warlords.

Jewel-less Blood
Any character who is born with a connection to the Darkness is known as Blood (when spelled with a capital B, assume it's referring to the race) to differentiate them from the Landen race. Also referred to as Jewel-less Blood, Blood Males and Blood Females can learn to use a very simple version of Craft known as Basic Craft (more info on Basic Craft here and daily Blood life here). If a Blood Male or Blood Female goes on to manifest a caste and receive a Jewel, they are then known not only as Blood, but also by their castes. Colloquially, Blood Males and Blood Females are sometimes referred to as witches and warlords, though this is technically inaccurate if they never receive a Jewel. Characters who remain only Blood (without caste or Jewels) past the age of Offering (around 20) will remain only Blood for the entirety of their lives.
There are cases of mixed race characters, individuals who have less than 100% Blood in them, but not enough Landen in them to interfere with their ability to use Craft or receive Jewels. These half-breeds are generally looked on unfavorably by both races. Specifics about mixed blood levels and what that means for Jewels and castes can be found here.
While the lack of a caste means these characters will be as widely varied in their motivations and persuasions as Landen, it should be noted that the Blood race carries with it a heightened penchant for passion and violence. Think of the Blood as a slightly more feral race, though they are nonetheless still civilized in many senses of the word. Tempers run hotter, passions run deeper, grudges burn longer. The flip side is true as well: joys bring them higher, love is more consuming, and fancies are more fantastical. The Blood are very much individual tempests inside pretty packaging, a thing both beautiful and terrifying. They are each connected to the Abyss, the children of Mother Night, and this grants them a streak of something ancient and wild deep within.

A character is considered Blood if 25% or more of the blood contributing to their makeup is from Blood sources. Blood Males and Blood Females can use Basic Craft, but do not possess Jewels.

Landen are as varied in motivations and personalities as humans are in the real world. They are those characters who have zero magical ability, either because there are no relatives in their family line from the Blood race, or because those Blood relations were so far removed (4 generations back) that none of the current generation contains enough Blood influence to be discernable. Landen are just people, average citizens who try to make their way in a very strange world. Many of them are farmers or pursue other rural occupations, as the Blood tend to have the monopoly on the more cosmopolitan cities in most Territories.

How Landen are treated by the Blood can vary from Territory to Territory, but in general the Blood see them as younger, simpler cousins that are to be overseen for their own well-being. Their minds are not fortified enough to withstand the touch of the Abyss directly, so any attempt to influence their minds with Craft will result in the death of the Landen involved. (More info here.) Because they have no connection to the Darkness of their own, Landen do not project psychic scents.  Here on Blood Rites, Landen make up roughly 80% of the setting’s overall population.
A character is considered Landen if they have less than 25% Blood in their blood. A Landen character will never acquire a Jewel or use Craft.

Multi-Casted Blood
It is possible – though rare – for someone of the Blood to hold more than one Caste. These multi-casted Blood are considered extremely gifted and generally held in high esteem. Second and third castes may be naturally present at birth, or the Blood in question may choose later in life to “train into” the caste of Healer, Priestess, or Black Widow. Natural castes tend to possess an intuition and flare for their caste-specific Craft that their trained counterparts lack, but both natural and trained multi-casted Blood enjoy an increased level of influence within their social spheres. This is true to the extent that bearing multiple castes can be as much of burden as it is a boon because of the added responsibility and attention they draw down upon their bearer.

Women may have up to three castes, while men may have up to two.

Single Descents & Caste
Occasionally, a Blood will fail to receive a Jewel at their Birthright Ceremony but will go on to receive either a White, Yellow, or Tiger Eye Jewel at their Offering Ceremony later in life. In these cases, the Blood – now properly a witch or warlord – may choose to train into one of the three trainable castes. In general, the Healer caste is the most common trained caste, while the dangerous Black Widow caste is the most rarely trained.
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Perspective on Caste Population
« Reply #1 on: Mar 02, 16, 12:01:13 PM »
Perspective on Castes
In the Blood Rites universe, the vast majority of living people are Landen. Percentages vary a little from Territory to Territory, but in general only about 20% of people in any given area are Blood. Of those Blood, the large majority are casteless: Jewel-less Blood, witches, and warlords. Specific caste percentages depend heavily on the Territory as well, but out of all of the Blood, most places see a similar 80/20 split between the casteless and those who have a caste.
As you can see, Jeweled Blood who possess a caste are very much in the minority. However, the phenomenal power available to even the lightest of Jewel-bearers, along with the inherent skillsets granted by a caste, very nearly guarantee that having one or both of these benefits will mean that a person is something very special.

As players, of course, we are drawn to these Blood who possess both Jewels and caste. Who doesn't love getting inside the surly, calculating head of a Black Widow? Or figuring out a way to leash the passionate maelstrom that is a Warlord Prince? Each caste has its own challenges and benefits, and at the end of the day, they can be a ton of fun to roleplay. 

That said, we don't want to lose sight of the fact that one of the many reasons these castes are so interesting is that they are the exception instead of the rule, population-wise. The average Blood will not have Jewels, and even fewer of them will have a caste.
That isn't to say that they are not interesting! The Blood in general are fierce, resourceful, powerful, hearty, clever, and enduring. Whereas Landen are more equivalent to the humans we know in the real world, the Blood are a race unto themselves. Their passions run hotter, their hatred runs colder, and they possess deeper wells of resolve and grit than the Landen around them. There is something of the ancient Wild in every Blood soul, some deep and unspoken connection to the Abyss that the Landen will never know.
Training Into a Caste:
While this a well-established phenomenon, bear in mind that in most Territories it is not a terribly common occurrence, as the process for accomplishing it is long and involved. Consider what it would be like to be a French person who decides they want to be a German person instead. They would immerse themselves in the world of Germans, and over the course of what is likely several years spent under a mentor's guidance, they would slowly adopt the habits and cultural nuances of Germans.

They may learn the language much sooner, but to be considered a true German, there's a certain amount of time and naturalization that has to occur. What's more, nothing's ever going to change the truth of where the Frenchman was born. He will never be the absolute equal of a natural German in terms of his cultural identity. With enough time and effort, though, he can get close enough that the majority of people cannot tell him apart from his new countrymen.
When you are making a new character we would like you to consider the statistical likelihood that they might be a Jewel-less Blood, a witch, or a warlord. We are in no way going to limit or discourage the creation of casted characters. We only ask that while you're mapping out your new character, take a moment to determine whether having a caste is crucial to the story you want to tell with them. If it isn't, consider leaving them casteless.

In addition, NPCs listed on character sheets (family or other rolled NPCs) should be casteless unless there is a specific need for them to have a caste. Multi-caste characters are even more rare and noteworthy than naturally casted, Jeweled Blood. Unless there is a pressing story-based need to have a family member be a dual or triple caste, let's leave these very special castes for our player characters.
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