The Curious Pastimes (CP) game system is organised around the concept that the majority of characters are members of factions and groups. Much of the game revolves around the relationships between factions and outside events, adversaries or Non Player Characters (NPCs) and interactions between the factions themselves. Within each faction there are usually a number of smaller groups. Player characters (PCs) are encouraged to join/form groups because they provide support and identity within the campaign world. Factions and groups are managed in character (IC) and so choose their own IC laws and rules, factions are also organised out of character (OOC) and many operate events and activities outside of the main CP event season. Each faction has a Lord/Lady General (LG or 1IC), a 2IC and a 3IC, these are all CP staff members with appropriate NPCs.
The structure in each faction is formalised within the game world by differing levels of noble rank which are an expression of a PC’s social standing. This rank takes many forms from the strict hierarchies of knights to the tribal respect for elders amongst nomadic peoples. Each faction organises their rank structure individually both in terms of how it is divided and allocated and the particular roles that confer rank within that faction. As PCs serve a faction over a period of time their noble rank may increase, and with it their standing among their peers. Nobility within a faction also affords a PC an increased income, represented by the IC money (to be collected from GOD) received when they attend an event. IC rank also confers a resistance to Terror effects (see: Rules of Play).
Factions are essentially geographical in origin and so draw the majority of their members from a specific area of the known world. Each faction has its own distinct ‘personality’, to which each member is expected (to a greater or lesser degree) to conform. Some factions draw their identity from myth, legend or popular culture, whilst others have unique backgrounds. The personality of a faction is not only dependent on its history, but also on its future goals. The development of a faction is somewhat dependent upon the aims of its command team; these aims may include the development of strategic, military or commercial alliances with other factions; the acquisition and mastery of magical knowledge and power or more esoteric, religious or altruistic ends. The power of a faction is rooted in its membership; faction leaders are likely to represent the feelings and opinions of their people and to bear their wishes in mind when making decisions.
Loyalty to a faction is an important component of membership and most command teams will deal with those showing signs of disloyalty in the most abrupt manner. On the other hand, loyal service to a faction may reap its rewards for even the most junior member.
Characters that choose not to join an existing faction are collectively known as mercenaries. While a number of true mercenary groups do exist there are also some groups who feel their individual concepts do not fit within a faction so choose to exist independently and so are placed within the mercenaries ideologically and physically to camp at events. The mercenaries as a collective are not a faction and therefore do not gain any of the benefits of faction status (rank structure, a faction warchest, faction weapons). However, mercenaries do have a degree of freedom that the more rigid command structure of a faction does not always allow.
The following factions are currently recognised at Curious Pastimes:
The Algaia are the Children of the Goddess: spiritual, respectful of the land and driven with a passion to rid the world of evils that plague the good people of the factions. Many among the warhost are seen as zealots; filled with the strength of The Goddess they oppose the unnatural in whatever guise it takes, be it demon, undead or other manner of strange creature. Some take this to the extreme and dedicate every waking moment to the path of the Goddess. Known as her Swords, these powerful warrior-priests are beacons of light against the darkness who rally the faithful around them. Some are people of the forests or seas, scouts, sailors and rangers who venerate The Hunter, the noble protector that is son, father and husband to The Goddess. Those who know well the dark paths and deep shadows of the woodland, or treacherous coasts are well respected among the Algaia, for their guile and knowledge is invaluable to all. Naturally drawn to the arcane, many of the Algaia turn to magic; studying the arts in scholarly institutes across the lands. Mages, healers and shamans hone their powers to master magics and turn their power against the enemies of the free peoples. The magical forests of Lyonesse and Estragales are teeming with all manner of esoteric beings; satyrs and dryads dance within the magical woodland, their music luring wanderers from the paths; the Courts of the Fae continuously vie for power among each other in an eternal struggle, while trolls and beast creatures born of the land venerate the Goddess and Hunter in ways that may seem strange to many.
Fir Cruthen live by word and deed; whilst written documents may hold little significance, the spoken word means everything. “Honour above all else” is their law and the many gods and dark histories are all they have to fear.
Death does not concern the Fir Cruthen, believing that they will pass to the Summer Lands and await their next birth on the cycle of the world. This can make them seem bold, fearless and even reckless as they charge their enemies. This is not to say life is cheap, merely that creating a legend is always important; to be remembered in song around the fire is the greatest of honours. The Fir Cruthen are often lightly armoured, to the point that all that protects them is their painted woad; but this allows them to be an exceptionally mobile skirmishing force, even in the heaviest of combats. Comprising the lands of Erin, Caledonia, Manx and Cymria the peoples are as varied as their tartans. Family groups often travel to fight alongside each other, whilst others wander the lands and find themselves inexplicably drawn to the warhost. As long as a person honours the Gods, and does not break the laws of the land, then they will be welcomed as family and given the unmistakable hospitality of the camp. Not all are warriors, amongst the people the druids are looked to for guidance, their arts often mystical and strange, they use their revered positions to show the paths the Fir Cruthen are to tread, whilst bards of renown tell the stories of the past, sing of the legends of our time and speak with a free tongue. Some of those who travel are of the old noble houses, human and proud, who work alongside elves from the ancient and mystical forests. Beastkin from the North, knights from the border lands and even rare trolls from darker corners accompany the warhost, for they all have some traits in common; they all come to carve their legend, to honour the gods and to be a part of something more – these are the traits that make them all Fir Cruthen.
The Jhereg are a people drawn together by their shared belief in the unity of the nation and their pragmatic moral outlook.
The hostile land of Siberia is where the Jhereg make their home, from deadly marshes to vast unforgiving deserts the Jhereg people not only survive but prosper. Ever the great mix of societies, Siberia can boast of both great city-states and thriving tribal civilisations. The Jhereg Empire believes in the ‘Great Freedom,’ where no race, religion or belief is persecuted and will go to any length to protect their own, to be Jhereg is to never be alone. Powerful wizards ply their trade across the land, divining great mysteries and unlocking the workings of the arcane, or creating items of power to bolster the warhost; beast creatures come to the call of the Jhereg spirit, strength and ferocity in their hearts; standing beside proud soldiers from the many cities who come to guard the warhost; their fighting forces bolstered by potions and skilfully crafted tools of war. Clever traders collate vast wealth and expand their treasuries with strange magical items, while diplomats make peace with the nations around them who often misunderstand the Jhereg ways. Though sometimes mistrusted by others, the Jhereg are at the forefront of any fight against a threat to civilization, be it aligning with mystical forces, wielding powerful magics or cavorting with dark entities, the Jhereg will use whatever means are at their disposal to win the day.
The Lions are the royal warhost of Albion, fabled land of chivalry and valour. Righteousness, honour, law – these are the watchwords of this unyielding band of heroes as they strive to keep the light of order from guttering in the darkness of a chaotic world.
The Lions are typified by the armour-clad presence and glorious colours of their knights. Whether a brotherhood forged in battle, a religious order committed to the Gods of Law, an entitled noble seeking glory or simply a roving knight errant, far and wide the blades and blazoned shields of the Lions are cheered by their allies and feared by their foes. The warhost remains eclectic and though the knights are arguably the most famous, they are certainly not the only arrow in Albion’s quiver. The Lions honour scribes, law keepers, scouts, priests and mages too, bound by oath and as true to noble purpose as any sworn blade. Whether seeking aid or volunteering service, the greatest meeting place in the lands is acknowledged as the Round Table of the Lions. Here all are treated as equal and even the freshest face can learn and influence matters of state and war. Albion, though largely a green and fertile island nation, is nonetheless troubled. Whether one hails from the troll marshes of Anglia, the bustling cities of Essex, the political hotbeds of Oxford, the stalwart borderlands of Bernicia, Deira’s undead-ridden forests or war-plagued Cornwall, the agents of evil and destruction lurk in every shadowed corner. Only the unbending vigilance of its myriad peoples keeps the ten kingdoms free from chaos. The simple truth is that the warhost is the Albion epitome of tenacity and righteousness, summarised in the closing lines of the Lions Prayer:
“To stand against evil, wherever it is found. We are the Lions… and we shall not falter.”
The Steppe Alliance treads the line between light and dark, striving for balance, ready to step to either side in order to preserve equilibrium.
The Steppe Alliance have no true leaders, as they believe that all are equal, although they will annually elect Voices to speak with the combined will of many. The diversity of peoples within the Steppe Alliance is their strength, but it is what they have in common which brings them together; their respect of the land, their reverence towards their Ancestors and their love for the Mother. The harsh lands and array of peoples have bred a plain-speaking culture within the Steppe that their allies respect. This is represented by the Steppe Alliance Treaty; a fluid, annually renewed document of Lore displayed with pride whenever the Steppe come together.
People of action, whether they be warriors or mages, have their Voice; people of reason, whether they be scholars or diplomats, have their Voice; people of caution, whether they be entertainers or healers, have their Voice. This variety brings a colour and vibrancy that is celebrated in the Steppe. The Steppe Alliance claim ownership of no land, but instead tends the free lands to the east. These lands are as varied as their people, from vast deserts to the Great Wood, from the grassy plains of the Mongol heartland to vast mountain ranges.
Hospitable and vibrant, their variety meaning the Steppe Alliance is never a dull place to be. Their only real foe is imbalance, and they will travel any path and find any way to combat it and restore harmony wherever they are.
Teutonia is a land of efficiency where action matters. What may seem like brutality is clarity of thought and action, uncluttered by moral uncertainty. Philosophers in Teutonia are welcomed to gather in dark corners to mutter and argue about morality at their leisure.
Efficiency drives Teutonia. A common belief is that by your own hands you will change the world and bring glory to the Nation and Gods of Teutonia. Teutonians do not think it noble to die for their country, but to kill and kill again in defence of your nation is something to believe in. Religion is at the core of Teutonian life. Teutonians do not ask for gifts from their Gods; there is a solemn, devout and ingrained belief that the Gods do not serve Teutonia, Teutonia serves the Gods. How you show your devotion is unimportant; that you show it is critical.
Teutonia is a land of variety. From international ports on northern, western and southern coasts, to desolate forest stockades and mountainous outposts in the east, Teutonia is a vast and varied landscape. Teutonia is a land of old, dark ways. Necromancy flourishes and undead work for the betterment of the living; sentient undead walk amongst the living races as friends and allies within the safety of Teutonian borders. The reunification of Teutonia, following years of civil unrest and a succession of rulers, has culminated in the individual fingers of Teutonia becoming clenched into an iron fist. Skilled crafters and eloquent ambassadors look to turn the blood of their enemies into the wealth of a nation. Positioned at the heart of the allied nations, Teutonia is set as being the beating heart of the world.
The Wolves of Norsca are a vibrant society who do nothing by half measures. Whether sending enemies to death beneath an axe-blade, or singing tales of heroism around a campfire, these people, born of a harsh land make staunch allies and formidable foes.
Norsca is a land of ice, where high peaks and snowy plains lead to an existence of hardship. The people of the land are proud to live in such a harsh climate; indeed they welcome it. The capital city of Odinsheim is the home of the ruling council of all of the land, where the hearth gather to decide the rulership of the peoples. Huscarls, Carls and Jarls lead their people. Often warriors of great renown, or wielding dangerous frost-born magics, they stand firmly with those they lead, weapons in hand, screaming death into the face of their enemies. While much of Norsca is predominantly human, ogres, trolls and beast creatures from the darkest regions come to support the warhost. Driven by the promise of battle, they venerate the Aesir with as much fervour as any human born of the lands, their might adding to the destructive forces of the Wolf battle lines. Skalds, healers and brewers accompany the warhost, for their love of storytelling is matched only by their love of battle, their warriors will always need aid and celebrations are forever to be had. Few other peoples have such a fervent bond to their Gods, who often walk amongst them, guiding and instructing their lives as well as tending to their dead. Honour is not taken lightly; very much a people of their word, an oath uttered is utterly sacrosanct. Make sure of your facts if you intend to declare someone an oath-breaker in Norsca and expect to have to defend your statement with your sword. The Wolves are a welcoming people, born of a harsh land. Whether celebrating in battle, or around the warmth of a fire they are ever ready to stand for what they believe, or die with blade in hand and meet their gods.
The Mercenary camp is home to mixed groups from disparate backgrounds – warriors, scholars, spell casters, craftsmen, traders and drifters; those who have no home within the factions and those who are seeking one.
Some mercenaries work for coin while others act for honour, some for knowledge or power. Some simply travel the lands free of the ties to a nation. Each acts for their own purpose, there is no single motivation that unites the mercenaries. Mercenaries are outside the political systems of the land and are beholden to no one with all the advantages and disadvantages this brings. All have learned to survive and defend themselves away from the support and protection of the factions, each with their own friends and allies.
Any player character who is not part of a faction is automatically termed a mercenary. Outside the land’s political system and beholden to no one, a mercenary has the freedom to befriend or offend whoever they choose. There is, therefore, a great deal of scope for player interpretation, for example, a mercenary could be a land-less knight, a wandering merchant, the classic warrior for hire or almost anything else. It is important to remember that such a character does not have any of the support or protection given by a Faction and should therefore be wary of overtly hostile or antisocial behaviour. Though mercenary groups may have an internal hierarchy, they may only gain Noble Rank by suitably impressing a faction’s command team, who may grant their Faction titles as they see fit.