Sunday, March 26, 2017

Scarabae: So Says the Council...

"Slithian Vor, a marilith, is Lord Mayor; she receives council from the Courts of
Swords, Coins, Cups, and Wands. (They oversee military, economic, religious,
and magical affairs, respectively.) Vor's government has not been what you
would call even-handed; and yet, she has proved canny enough to keep the
city from descending into utter discord—which many of her predecessors
were unable to do." -The Scarabae Guide

Today we will look not at her grace, the Lord Mayor, but instead the four grand courts of Scarabae that help her run the day-to-day function.

The Court of Swords
Function: Military

This court covers the self-defense forces of Scarabae. While the city has no established constabulary to patrol the populace. It does has the following. General Melchior (Automaton, Fighter) reports directly to the Mayor and receives reports from most of the sub-branches within the Court. The court is made up of the following:

-The Scarabae coastguard protects the island from outside attack. It boasts several ships and company of marines who are trained in boarding action and deck fighting.

-The Scarabae Customs Bureau protects the city from what little contraband is proscribed by the city (namely making sure incoming foodstuffs are not plagued). This is the smallest organization within the court and most prone to corruption.

-The Republican Guard is an order assigned to protect the Capital Hall where the Lord Mayor lives. These men and women clad in their uniforms are known for their daily changing of the guard routine that attracts on-lookers.

-The Handmaids are direct agents of the Mayor. Unlike the Republican Guard the Handmaids are also known as the 'Daughters of Vor'. This is because all of the Maids are either Tiefling (quarter-fiend) or Half-fiends. Rumors abound they are truly the daughters of the many, many lovers Vor has taken and slain over the course of their relationship.

-The Fangs of Vor with conspiracy afoot from powers internal and foreign, the Fangmen are the government's first and only line of defense. They are the secret police who infiltrate and eliminate any threat to the government. While the other branches report to General Melchior, the Fangs keep their own council with the Lord Mayor.

The Court of Coins
Function: Economic

The Court of Coins covers the economic lifeline of the city. It's a combination of stock analysts and tax collectors who both make sure the coffers of the city are where they need to be and set the price of the Scarabae Market, the largest stock market in the Known World. Karsudan King (Catfolk, Rogue-Cleric of the Wheel) is the Court's representative to the mayor.

-While there maybe no standing constabulary or army in the city, that hasn't stopped Revenue Collection from getting their cut. Picaros can find plentiful and lucrative work from the Revenue Office to make a collection. The community calls these freelance legbreakers 'Taxmen' and often spit at their boots for doing collection work for what is viewed as the biggest gang in the city - the government.

-Due to low regulation and a little direct hand from the Lord Mayor, the Scarabae Market is a major fixture in company stock. Even companies and guilds that are outside the city proper list their stock on the market. Likewise the Bank of Scarabae is often used as an off-shore holding of guild and company monies to avoid paying larger taxes to their homeland.

Court of Cups
Function: Religious

The Court of Cups oversees the construction of religious houses and mediates disputes that arise within the 21 Powers and their respective alter-egos and demi-cults. A Demi-God who wishes to have their temple built within the city must go through the Court for the correct permits. Lydia Caspari (Halfling Cleric, The Sun) is the current administrator of the Court and represents a shining face in otherwise smoky, gritty council meeting with the Mayor.

-The 21 include all the Major Arcana: Fool, Magician, High Priestess, Empress, Emperor, Hierophant, Lovers, Chariot, Strength, Hermit, Wheel, Justice, Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, Devil, Tower, Star, Moon, Sun, Judgement, World.

-Certain deities, such as Ordo Gemfotter, are just cultural representatives of the 21. Each of the 21 typically have a name or two associated with them and at times have promoted individuals as demi-gods within their ranks.

-Of course, outside of the 21, are the usual rumors of older or alien beings who are agents of entropy. These temples are not recognized and often monitored as enemies by the Court of Cups. Rumor has it that the Court is investigating members of the Fangmen for being members of these doom cults.

-Religious wars have been forbidden by the Lord Mayor due to the widespread destruction that could be caused to the city. When violence is necessary to settle dispute, all of the established temples have agreed to the rite of the duel. In this case, two champions from the quarreling temples shall meet and duel to either an agreed upon state or the to the death.

The Court of Wands
Function: Magical

The Court of Wands serves several functions. They council the Lord Mayor on any magical issue that arises within or near the city. They maintain the Lexicos Spire which helps all races translate their speech into what is known as 'Trade Common' so miscommunication is not a problem. They are a beneficiary of the Libris Rex, though they do not directly control it. They also license and monitor Dream Merchants in making sure they are not selling what is known as 'Bottled Nightmare'. Balthazar Wandmaker (Elven Mage) is the Court Magister.

-The Court hires Picaros to newly formed Incarnate Zones and report what magical effects are taking place. It also monitors and caretakers to the Delphic Hole in order to keep it from either causing havoc of growing out of control. It is rumored the Wands are constantly trying to plot how to either seal, destroy, or permanently shrink the Delphic Hole while not destroying the city in the process.

-The Court has many subjects it either spies on directly or hires people to spy on. The Stockwither Witches and the Codex Diabolus are two examples of 'subjects of interest' that the Court has people look into, monitor, and at times interact with when necessary. The Wands never try to flex their muscle or put on some grand show, they don't need to, instead they try to maintain an amicable relationship with these dire powers whenever they can.

-It is rumored that the Unseen Authority will at times meet the Wandmen at various times when it needs to consult on planar activity or be consulted about trouble the Authority has encountered.


Scarabae PDF by Jack Shear

Major Arcana on Wikipedia

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Scarabae: Codes of the City

The Code of the Safe Room: Innkeepers who take money have a code to not answer any question whether or not they have a certain person staying in their room. Many times, when confront by interested parties, an innkeeper will smile and say.

"Bring forth some law, and then I'll crack open my books."

Obviously in a city that lacks any formal law, this is considered a jab in the eye of the questioner as it is an impossible task. Picaro beware! While the code frowns upon an innkeeper taking bribe money to sell out their tenant, by the code, a innkeeper does not have to sacrifice their personal safety for such measures. Some innkeepers charge extra to extend protections further, but any professional knows money can only buy so much silence.

Another rule of thumb: Never give your real name to the register, that way if the local thugs grab it and look it over they probably will not glean anything.

The Code of the Tavern Regular: In a city that lacks formal laws or police force, one might feel that Scarabae has an open season for thugs who want to rob or rough up the local innkeeper, tavern keeper, or barmaid. Thug beware! It is by the rule and custom that tavern regulars and locals will rise up and defend their local watering hole. After all, this dive let's the patron in, drink, and chat with his friend. Woe has fallen any punks who have entered a strange neighborhood to stage a robbery, only to find several blades, guns, and wands pointed at their backs.

The Arakocra Duel: ... aka 'the Peck'. Arakocra have often divided themselves by what 'class' of avian they descend on. Arakocra who take on the features of powerful falcons or other raptors are known as 'High Arakocra' while those who share features of ravens or owls are known as 'Wise Arakocra' and those who descend from large species of vultures and less predatory birds are known as 'Low Arakocra'. Such division leads to questions of honor or station, and such questions are answered by duels that are either to wound or death in Arakocra culture. Typically if it is between Arakocra of equal station, it is to wound. If it is an Arakocra and another station, it is to death.

This duel is accomplished by what is known as the 'peck'. The contest is simple. Hands and legs can be used to grapple, but the true wound comes from the pecking blow delivered. A contest of wounding requires the loss of eye, major loss of beak, or one side yields. To the death is, well, quite obvious. Arakocra are known to display the scarring and gouging of their beaks. Quite a number of the bird-men also shown battle wounds of missing or damaged eyes.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Interplanetary: Stock Aliens

Today has been a representative of a slower idea week here at the Embassy. So, as part of the tradition here at the Embassy, I take a moment to bring out some racial stats for stock alien races that are probably very cliched, but I like anyway.

Zetan (aka the Grey)

Brief: Zetans are a short, hairless race who have lost their planet at some point in the distant past and have taken to living either on massive colony saucers or on colony outposts throughout Known Space. Their flesh ranges in shades of grey or green with red or black eyes. While the enlarged cranium suggests Zetans have some sort of telepathic bond, that is only partly true. Zetans are typically known for their technological and scientific progress.


Darkvision: This race can see in total darkness up to 60 ft (or Near distance in general terms). They do not suffer penalties due to a lack of light, but in total dark they can see only in a greyscale.

Technophile: Zetans add a +1 bonus to any task that requires computer of technological interaction. This includes hacking, picking an electronic locks, running a bypass, or controlling a robot. Using a gun or turent does not count as technological interaction, but hacking a security droid is.

Jury Rig (1/day): Once per day a Zetan can run a bypass, patch over something, or technobabble their way to get some piece of equipment to work for a scene. This could include getting a broken laser to fire or jump starting a frozen ship. After the scene ends the equipment will short circuit or breakdown in some fashion.


Brief: Saurians are a militaristic race from a collection of planets within Known Space known as the Kepler Triangle. The Triangle is a number of swamp and desert planets which dictate the scale and tolerance level of Saurians (this includes black-and-orange 'Gilas' to golden frilled 'Iguanas' or the lighter green, frill-less 'Saurian'.


Low Light Vision: Saurians can see in low light conditions. They ignore penalties for shadows or dim conditions and take reduced penalties in dark condition as long as their some small speck of light.

Survivalist: This is a collection of talents, but each Saurian has some ability to adapt to their home planet. This could include the following:

-Desert Saurians gain a +1 to Test rolls to survive in heat due to their born gifts at water retention and heat resistance.

-Swamp Saurians are semi-aquatic and gain a boon to swimming and are able to hold their breather for a longer number of rounds.

-Jungle Saurians can roll twice and take the better of results when resisting disease or poison. Their blood chemistry is also toxic to non-Saurians and can manufactured into a poison.

Regeneration, Minor (1/day): Saurian are feared by adventurers and citizens of Known Space for their regenerative properties. Once per day a Saurian can roll 1d6 and apply that to lost hit points. Hit points that go above their maximum total for that level are lost.


Brief: Simioid are a hirsute humanoid that looks very much common to Terran apes in a bipedal form. They come from the Gorth region of Known Space where they often use primitive ballistics over energy weapons (-1 to attacks if a character is wearing armor). 


Low Light Vision: Saurians can see in low light conditions. They ignore penalties for shadows or dim conditions and take reduced penalties in dark condition as long as their some small speck of light.

Might Blow: Simioids are known for their strength and reinforced knuckles. They are never considered unarmed when making a melee attack.

Monkey Business (1/day): Simioids are known to enter a brief state of rage that allows them to make up to three attacks: two with their fists, one with both of their feet. These attacks be directed at one target or other targets if they are within arms reach for the initial target.