The Frozen City
Vice, Virtue, and Allegiances
In place of alignment each player has a set of values representative of his or her personality; A Vice, a Virtue, a Major and a Minor Allegiance. A Vice and Virtue must be selected at character creation though these may change as a character grows and there story unfolds. Allegiances do not have to be selected at character creation and may be changed anytime a character levels up.
All three parts of a character’s values should provide a character with motivations and opportunities to express who they are; as well as opportunities to earn some Exp.
Vices and Virtues
Select one of the following as a Vice (V), and one as a Virtue (V).
Heroes and martyrs fill the pages of history; facing adversity to protect their homeland and way of life. However, some take this too far, using militant means to impose their beliefs on others.
V If you take bravery as a virtue, you gain an experience point whenever you stand your ground in a risky situation when you could retreat. This applies to social situations as well as combat.
Stand your ground despite a known and significant risk to yourself. Examples: You refuse to leave the front line even as a dreadnaught approaches. You take the stand to defend yourself in court though you’re likely to be found guilty.
V If you take bravery as a vice, you gain an experience point when you use violence to solve a problem when words or finesse would be more advantageous. Use violence when an equal or easier non-violent situation is clearly available. Examples: You beat up some low-level mobsters in order to get the attention of their boss when you likely could have asked for a meeting. You lead an assault a thieves guild’s headquarters rather than finding the particular thief that stole from you.
Remaining cool under fire, and not succumbing to fear or hysteria, are greatly respected. One must rely on facts and figures, not allowing sentiment to sway one’s opinions or judgement. The danger of objectivity is a loss of humanity; focusing on the big picture risks losing sight of the people involved.
V If you take detachment as a virtue, you gain an experience point when you resolve a situation using logic and empiricism, rather than being swayed by emotion (your own or those expressed by others). Solve a problem in the most logical way independent of the emotions/wants of those involved. Examples: An investigator continues to defuses a bomb moments before it is set to explode despite his fear and want to flee. A warrior deduces and calls an enemy’s bluff rather than be provoked into a rage.
V If you take detachment as a vice, you gain an experience point when your actions on behalf of a group or ideal disadvantage an individual person (or a smaller group). Help a larger group by hurting a smaller group, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”. Examples: A sergeant leaves behind a lagging soldier, rather than risk the mission to save him. A doctor tests experimental medical technology on a handful of unsuspecting subjects hoping to cure thousands.
A lust for life is considered a hallmark of a great person. Conventional wisdom encourages people to be enthusiastic about their occupations and popular entertainment is rife with lovable rogues who display a passion for more frivolous pursuits. Enthusiasm is what drives the wheels of progress, but it also leads people to act impulsively, rather than thinking things through.
V If you take enthusiasm as a virtue, you must choose something about which you are passionate. Individual passions range from the enriching (religion, archaeology) to the base (women, speed). Whenever you put yourself at risk (physical, social, or financial) for the sake of your passion, you gain an experience point. Risk loss or personal danger to exercise/indulge your passion. Examples: An archaeology enthusiast risks removing a “cursed” idol from its pedestal. A ladies’ man seduces a woman whose husband happens to be a noble.
V If you take enthusiasm as a vice, you gain an experience point whenever you take immediate action without considering the consequences, one might often remark that you are “too” enthusiastic. Jump into an unknown situation without hesitation or knowledge of what you’re getting yourself into. Examples: Spotting a demon, the warrior immediately draws his sword and charges in without assessing the tactical situation. A scientist pushes the button labelled “Do Not Press” without a moment’s investigation as to what it might do.
Honesty (saying what you mean) and integrity (meaning what you say). Honesty also includes staying true to yourself and your origins. Thus many who adhere to this value are disdainful of those who act above or below their social class.
V If you take honesty as a virtue, you gain an experience point if you tell the truth when a lie would be more advantageous. Tell the truth or keeping your word when not doing so would let you avoid consequences/danger. Examples: An explorer shows the enemy agent her half of the map, as promised, even though she suspects she is going to be betrayed. The occult investigator tells the librarian the real reason she is researching ancient demon cults when it will only raise more suspicions.
V If you take honesty as a vice, you gain an experience point when you refuse to help or interact with a character who is dishonest or outside your own social class, even though it would be advantageous to do so. Refuse to help/associate outside your class or with a dishonest or criminal person/organization when doing so will cost you something or put you in danger. Examples: A paladin refusing to take information from a spy even though it would help his cause. A working class inventor pays his neighbourhood mechanic for information on a strange ethertech design, in preference to a renowned academic who is more likely to know and would gladly do it for free.
The glue that holds society together. Loyalty means helping your friends and family, as well as not acting against the interests of your peers. A loyal person also has respect for his superiors (whether in business, the military, or society). However, sometimes this leads to an unquestioning acceptance of authority.
V If you take loyalty as a virtue, you gain an experience point whenever you place yourself at risk to help an ally. This risk need not be physical; social and financial risks also count. Risk great personal danger or loss for the benefit of an ally. Examples: The politician lends his support to his fellow party member’s controversial bill before Parliament. The soldier runs into the open drawing gunfire away from a wounded comrades.
V If you take loyalty as a vice, you gain an experience point whenever you follow a questionable order from a superior or follow your companions into a questionable situation without debate. The order may be morally or tactically dubious, or may put you into unnecessary peril. Show unquestioning loyalty when you know the person/group you’re following is doing something highly immoral or putting you at great risk. Examples: The soldier follows orders to fire into a mob of unarmed protestors. The lieutenant volunteers to lead a suicide attack.
Personal pride in the achievements of his nation and his fellow countrymen. Patriotism provides a sense of community that transcends social class. However, it also leads many to downplay and denigrate the achievements of other nations.
V If you take patriotism as a virtue, you gain an experience point whenever you put the good of your nation/race/clan ahead of your own interests. Sacrifice or put yourself in danger for the good of your nation/people. Examples: The Etherialist give the blueprints to a newly invented weapon to her nation’s military rather than keep it for herself. The industrialist uses his business as a cover for espionage in a foreign country.
V If you take patriotism as a vice, you gain an experience point whenever you refuse to transact with a foreigner or use a foreign device, even though it would be advantageous to do so. Foreign can mean of another nation it can also mean of anther culture or race if your character considers that race/culture foreign to his own. Refuse something you need or could use because it comes from a foreign nation/person. Examples: In a skirmish, the lieutenant ignores vital intelligence from a foreign informant. The explorer heads boldly into the jungle without a native guide. A Dwarf refusing healing from an Elven healer.
The advent of the industrial age has led to new and better technologies coming out faster than ever before. Ethertech has only hastened this progress. Technology has improved many facets of life, and those who embrace this value see progress as the solution to all of society’s ills. However, in their quest for the new, many become dismissive of the value of simple tools and folk wisdom.
V If you take progress as a virtue, you gain an experience point when you use your equipment or abilities creatively to solve a problem. Use an item or ability to solve a problem in an unusual/creative way. Examples: The sergeant uses etheric light crystals and thunderstones to feign an invasion, while the real attack comes from the other side. The Alchemist rigs a clockwork to open a trapped door.
V If you take progress as a vice, you gain an experience point whenever you refuse to use an archaic device even though it is the best tool for the job. Refuse to use outdated technology when it puts you at risk or disadvantage to do so. Examples: A spy insists on taking his airship into the mountains rather than ride a donkey. A character refuses to let an herbalist apply salve to his wounds.
A true hero finishes what he starts and practices what he preaches. Tenacity is about staying the course when adversity strikes and never compromising your beliefs. A tenacious person is one who gets thing done. Some, however, are so sure of themselves that they reject other ways of thinking, becoming inflexible and intolerant.
V If you take tenacity as a virtue, you gain an experience point whenever you successfully argue your point against an unfriendly opponent or when you stick to a course action despite mounting opposition and an another path being available. Stick to your chosen course/action after it gets much harder or an easier path presents itself. Example: A rogue talks her way past a no-nonsense bouncer. The diplomat convinces ambassadors from rival countries to discuss a peace settlement.
V If you take tenacity as a vice, you gain an experience point when you stick to a preconceived notion, even though it is shown to be false (such as continuing with a plan even though new information shows it to be flawed). See your course/action through to the end after you find out it’s wrong, won’t work, or won’t get you what you want. Examples: The thief continues with a breakin even after finding out the part he needs isn’t there. The lawyer continues to prosecute someone, even though she has evidence that proves the accused is innocent.
Allegiances are an important trait of your character’s personality as they represent much of what your character believes in. You may choose one major allegiance and one minor allegiance. You may select “None” for their minor allegiance or both major and minor allegiances (being either a free spirit or a lone wolf ) or may change allegiances as you go through life. You cannot choose “None” for your major allegiance and then declare a minor allegiance, as this would suggest that your character is aligned to nothing and yet something at the same time, which is a confusing state of affairs. Also, just because your character fits into a certain category of people doesn’t mean you have to or should take that category as an allegiance, not all soldiers are loyal to the state etc.. In rare cases you can take Allegiances against a person, organization, or idea; representing your active struggle to stop it, eradicate it, or for vengeance against it.
When a character assists the subject of their Allegiance or furthers its cause at risk to themselves they gain an experience point.
Each allegiance you select can take the form of loyalty to a person, to an organisation, to a belief system, or to a nation. In general, you can discard an allegiance at any time, but may only gain a new allegiance after attaining a new level. When a character performs a deed for the betterment of one of their allegiances or takes a stand in its defence (a non trivial action) they gain an experience point. Characters gain a +2 circumstance bonus on any Charisma-based skill check when they deal with someone who shares allegiances with you. For example, a secret agent is likely to gain the bonus on a Diplomacy skill check with a government official who shares an allegiance to the same government as the agent. If your character acts in a way that is detrimental to your allegiances, the GM may choose to strip the character of that allegiance (and all its benefits).
Allegiances include, but are not limited to, the following examples.
Person or Group
This includes a leader or superior, a family, a group of linked individuals (such as a band of adventurers or a cell of secret agents), or a discrete unit within a larger organisation (such as members of the character’s squad or platoon, or individuals whose safety the character is responsible for). Selfish characters will most likely have “self ” as one of their allegiances.
This may be a company or corporation, a gathering of like-minded individuals, a fraternal brotherhood, a secret society, a branch of the armed forces, a local, state, or national government, a university, an employer, or an otherwise established authority.
This may or may not be the nation that the hero currently resides in. It may be where the individual was born or the land to which your character immigrated.
This is usually a particular faith or religion, but can also be a specific philosophy or school of thought. Belief systems could also include political beliefs or philosophical outlooks.