"I want you to write a song about my daughter."
Samira looked uneasily at the satrap. "Ah, what kind of song, sir?"
The satrap looked mildly irritated. "The usual kind. You know, something extolling her beauty and kindness. I want her betrothed before Calibration, and some epic ballad certainly couldn't hurt matters, right?"
Samira cringed internally; she had only met Tarineela briefly, but the girl's cruel laughter and pox-marked skin were burned into her mind. "I, um, am certainly aware that true beauty comes from within, sir. However, I must--"
The ruler cut the musician off with a dismissive wave of his hand. "No need to talk around the issue; I have eyes, you know. Tarineela is ugly. She's also lazy and mean-spirited, for what it's worth. My dear, if she were ACTUALLY beautiful and kind, I wouldn't need you to write the song, would I?"
"So you want me to... lie?" Samira asked, more than a little horrified.
"Lie, embellish, pretend. Whatever it takes. Look, I understand that your 'virtuous singer' persona grants you no small amount of innocent charm, which is big with your employers. But I'm your current employer, and it's not like I'm asking you to kill someone for me. It's a simple enough request," he added in a tone which said that it was not a request at all.
Samira looked dubious. "I'll need some time to compose the song, and I'll need to spend some time with Tarineela, so that I can get to know her better."
The satrap laughed. "Lying would be so much easier, trust me. But whatever you need."
Tarineela squinted beady eyes at Samira. "So my father is paying you to stand around and look prettier than me?"
Samira flushed in embarassment. "No, he--"
"Because if he is," Tarineela barrelled through, "he shouldn't have chosen a skinny bag of bones with horse teeth." Tarineela laughed, a shrill and disconcerting sound, as hurt registered on Samira's face. "I'm just teasing. I mean, it's obvious you're not here to look pretty. So why are you following me around like a nursemaid?"
"Well, ah, I'm supposed to write a song. About you, I mean."
"Its a pity you can't seem to construct a sentence then, Samoora."
"Yes, that's what I said. Samoora."
Sketch by the always-awesome Mnemosynis
Samira was an orphan; her parents were the sole remaining worshippers of an ancient god of creativity, whose power had dwindled as his following decreased. Bitter that the last of his worshippers had gone to their graves, Alim-Damal took their infant child under his wing and raised her to be his servant in all things. She spent most of her formative years in the highest room of a delapidated Chiaroscuran tower; age had taken its toll on the structure, and some of the lower floors had collapsed, making exploration of the upper floors impossible. What the inhabitants of the lower floors did not realize was that the rudimentary Essence elevator installed in the First Age still worked; all you had to do was press a plate on the wall, channel a small amount of Essence, and think of the floor you wished to be on. Alim always made this seem like a special sort of magic trick to Samira, and often told her that she was not special or talented enough for the mechanism to find her worthy, which was why she would forever rely on him.
Samira's earliest memories involve Alim showing her various instruments, forcing her tiny hands to find notes and rhythms she could not even fully comprehend. Vaguely, the girl remembered that her name had not always been Samira; Alim renamed her after her parents died, to a word which simply meant "entertainer." Indeed, that was all she seemed to do; when she was seven, Alim had allowed her to pick a single instrument to focus on, and she embraced the lute. Day and night, her instrument was her only companion; it got to the point where the squatters in the lower floors would hear music of unearthly beauty float down on the wind, and confided amongst themselves that their building was surely haunted.
As Samira aged, she slowly began to resent Alim's bitter critique of her talents. She had nothing to compare her work to, but felt that it must be good; certainly, she had never seen Alim pick up an instrument, or heard him sing. On long days when the small god would leave his servant at home, she would go to the plate in the wall and press it, hoping that it would find her worthy to help escape. Every day, she was disappointed. Finally, one day she decided that she would either surpass Alim's worthiness or die trying; for ten days she neither ate nor slept, sitting in the window of her tower, playing her lute until her fingers bled. Occasionally Alim would force water down her throat, threatening to push her out of the window if she did not drink. On the tenth day, Samira was weak and dizzy, the strings on her lute a sticky mess. The room filled with light, causing the glass walls to sparkle like a prism, and the sign of the Quills of Heaven burned on her forehead. Samira was unsure what this signified, but assumed that it meant she was now worthy of escape; she gathered her lute and what little seemed valuable and tried the elevator once more.
This time, it worked.
Samira is a shy young lady, completely unaware of the extent of her talent. This is not to say she suffers from low self-esteem; she knows she is special and worthy, and though it is something she rarely speaks of, it brings her great measures of pride. Since Exaltation, she has learned a little more of what it means to be a Solar, and much more of what it means to live in the world-- however, traces of her isolated upbringing still remain. She is idealistic, believing that there is beauty within everything, if only one can figure out how to communicate that beauty to the rest of the world. She also distrusts gods and spirits, and fights against the natural urge to defer to them as superiors.
Concept: Sensitive singer-songwriter
Anima: music of incredibly exquisite quality, which can be heard for miles
Thrown: 1 (+2 improvised weapons)
Presence: 3 (+2 When using music)
Craft: 2 (+2 repairing instruments)
Occult: 3 (Spirits +2)
Resources: 2 (Attractive wandering minstrel who makes a ton of money playing for important people)
Manse: 2 (Gem of the Feverish Muse, as outlined by Ikselam)
Artifact: 3 (Black Jade Collar of Dawn's Cleansing Light; orichalcum lute strings)
Masterful Performance Exercise
Harmonious Presence Meditation
Graceful Crane Stance
Sensory Acuity Prana
Keen Hearing Discipline
Excellent Emissary's Tongue
Compassion: 3 (Heart of Tears)
Essence: 3 (15/36)
(1) Unusual Appearance (red-copper irises, slight reddish glow to her dark skin in the sun, sort of like heated metal)
(1) Damaged artifact (the lute strings break when she lies)
(3) Dark Fate
(3) Legendary Dexterity
(2) Signature Style (Sense of Wonder)
XP Earned: 12
XP Spent: 0 (one charm slot unaccounted for)
Hey, I've been trying to catch you on AIM for a while, but I've failed. So, I have an extraordinarily petty request to make at the last minute. I didn't notice this character's Enchanting Feature (voice) when you asked me to look her over earlier, and when I did notice I confess to kind of wishing she didn't have it. QS has it, and I wanted it to be an interesting special Luna-gifty thing that reflected her Tell, etc -- but it becomes a lot less interesting and special when Samira has it too, especially since Samira also outshines her in every possible way both socially and performance-wise. I was wondering if you'd be willing not to take Enchanting Feature (voice), since it doesn't seem to be very intrinsic to the character, and I would like QS to have some sort of unique advantage voice-wise.
Girls, girls... you're both pretty. You can both have Enchanting Voices and have them both be unique and special. QS' can be some interesting special Luna-y thing which has to do with her totem; Samira's can be described in some other way. Besides, a one-die specialty bonus is trivial compared to the major advantages QS has over Samira -- namely, her ability to use Sorcery and transform into animals. _Ikselam
Okay, I'm getting rid of her Enchanting Feature. I'll admit to being pretty bummed about that, since Samira's whole deal is musical performance, and I did everything I could to make that reflected in her merits and specialties. Selfishly, I totally wanted her to be the best at everything when it came to musical performance in an attempt to make that her sole shtick, but I now realize that's a bit silly when there's a Nightengale-totem Lunar in the party. I've been trying to think of ways to mechanically reflect that she is only good socially in certain situations, but my ideas don't seem to work, so I suppose I'll just have to change her concept a little to go from "introverted savant" to something more of a chatty Kathy. Ikselam obviously does not have as much a visceral reaction to niche protection as we do, so he can mostly be ignored as a silly boy. ;) --dissolvegirl
The fact that your character's traits make her technically capable of something doesn't mean that you must play her as fully utilizing those capabilities. One of the first characters I made had all the Solar berserker Charms. At the end of her character sheet was a note which said she didn't have conscious control over them, and that they activated instinctively when she felt really frightened or angry. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from just saying that Samira is shy even though she has supah Presence. _Ikselam
Heh. I'm amused by your proposed houserule (the negative specialties thing); Morpheus and I have been playing with one very like it for about a year now. Great minds, right? Anyway, I hope you don't feel that this ruins your character's concept. In fact, I honestly have absolutely no problem with her concept at all. I also have no problem with her being a million miles better than QS in terms of performance; the statement about Samira outshining QS was more of an attempt to point out that I didn't mind that she did, rather than a complaint. I like Samira as an introverted savant, really, and I like her as an awesome gorgeous musician. I just didn't think that giving her Enchanting Feature (voice) was that important to her being the best at Performance (she does have FIVE Performance and SOLAR PERFORMANCE CHARMS, after all, which guarantees her an average of what, 12 successes on any relevant roll? -- hee hee, I love Solar Performance); I also got the strong impression that her Performance was more learned than natural (thus, I didn't think that it would be that weird for her not to have Enchanting Feature [voice], in fact I thought it would make sense since you don't necessarily learn something like that). The only reason I asked you to exchange the Merit was that I wanted QS to have a special, natural voice talent, it feels intrinsic to the character to me, and it doesn't feel as special and natural if Samira has the exact same thing. As I said, if you think it really messes with the character to remove it, feel free to keep it -- it just seems as though you could accomplish what you're after by giving her a Performance specialty in lute music or something like that, rather than giving her a naturally perfect voice that sounds amazing even when she's not making music.
No, it's cool. But to correct something: her enchanting feature was her singingDissolvegirl/I> voice, not just her voice. I imagine her speaking voice would be as generically pleasant as anyone's; actually, in my mind it sounds a little odd, because she probably grew up spending more time singing than speaking. But anyway, yes, it's fine. Also, Ikselam: I'll probably just neglect to roll when I think it doesn't fit Sam's character to have the benefit of her dice pools. --dissolvegirl