Nobilis Introduction

From Familia Niveum

Not familiar with Nobilis?

Those of you not familiar with this game are missing out: It's one of the most brilliantly written, well put together, numinous games out there. I will hereafter attempt to keep from ranting. Smiley

Below is the best summary I can give of the game. I warn you: it is inadequate. If this piques your interest, I highly encourage you to get your head on a copy of the book from Hogs Head Publishing. Aside from containing the (awesome) game the book is itself a beautiful artifact; it's full of great art and superbly written flavor text.

Mechanically speaking, Nobilis is a diceless system. Your abilities are described by four (point-buy) ability scores and specific concrete advantages and disadvantages (feats, if you will.) The system's a bit sketchy, though- it's less a "role playing Game" than a "Role Playing game." Here's a crash course on character creation:

Much more defining than the (near lack of a) system of Nobilis is its world and story. The player characters are of the Nobilis- minor gods, empowered by yet higher beings to fight a war of creation. This is not (usually) a war in the classic sense, but a clash of visions, ideas, and deeds.

There are five affiliations: Heaven, Hell, Light, Dark, and Wild. Heaven are the defenders and creators of beautiful things; Hell oppose them with ugliness and destruction. The Light works for the preservation and betterment of humanity; the Dark encourages it to self destruct. The Wild... Are. Note that though each has its tendencies, none of these affiliations (not even Heaven!) are "good" or "evil" in the classic sense, and that Light and Heaven or Hell and Dark may well be at odds with each other nearly as often as with their opposite numbers.

The major players in the conflict are Imperators- spiritual beings of great power, shaping Creation itself to their whims. As much as they fight amongst themselves, their greatest conflict is with a force from outside Creation itself- the Excrucians.

The Excrucians, for whatever unknowable reason, wish to unmake the world. They do not merely destroy, they unmake- leaving no record that a thing ever existed at all. It is impossible, even now at the height of the war against them (called the Valde Bellum) to know how many victories they might have won.

Because every single thing in creation is potentially a front of the Valde Bellum, the Imperators are stretched thin indeed. For that reason, they sacrifice a bit of their power by investing it into servants- the Nobilis (you!). Most of these Nobilis were once human, though some are far weirder. Into the hands of each Noble is given a single Domain, one aspect of reality over which that character rules.

The Domain can be anything, and choosing it is perhaps the most important part of making a Noble. When I say anything, I really mean anything- Radios, Trails, The Sun, Murder, Lipton Instant Noodles, Trains of Thought, Firearms, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. The Noble is expected to protect this domain from the Excrucians and promote it against Nobles of opposing domains and affiliations (the Light power of Health Care, for example, might spend much of her time thwarting the schemes the Dark power of Methamphetemines.)


That's the very rough shape of it. (Did I mention you really should get your hands on a copy of the real book?)

When creating your character, keep in mind that Nobilis is a very dramatic game. Nobles are far larger than life, rarely humorous (which is not the same as being humourless), often tragic, always philosophical. Their clashes could as easily be a contests of flower arrangement as a literally earth-shattering battle of titans.

Hope I haven't scared everybody off, and to those who are interested: welcome.

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