My tale provokes that question. Dear they durst not -- So dear the love my people bore me, -- nor set A mark so bloody an the business ; but With colours fairer painted their foul ends. In few, they hurried us aboard a bark, Bore us some leagues to the sea ; where they prepar'd A rotten carcass of a boat, not rigg'd, Nor tackle, sail, nor mast ; the very rats Instinctively have quit it : there they hoist us, To cry to the sea that roar'd to us ; to sigh To the winds, whose pity, sighing back again Did us but loving wrong.--William Shakespeare, The Tempest, I, ii
My Beloved Prophet,
I respect you now more than I have ever before. It pains my soul to tell you what I must, but I know that my heart speaks true.
Last night, a voice came to me as I slept. It was the voice of old masters, maybe even Allah Himself. He told me that it was time for me to take my ancient place. I am a marid of djinn, who has grown strong and wise under your leadership, but it is time for me to lead the djinn just as we did eons ago. That is the place of marids -- we were born to be princes and kings of the djinn.
Now, I must abandon your ways, my prophet. You are a wise man, but I have the blood of sultans. It is my place to lead, not serve under you. Today I am no longer Nadim al-Jahar, Marid Djinn Air Prophet. Today I am Nadim al-Jahar, Marid-king of the Djinn.
Today I set out into the desert with nine loyal jann followers. We shall found a new kingdom for the djinn.
I wish you luck and Godspeed in finding and collecting other djinn. I too shall look for more of my kind, but they shall serve under me. Again, thank you for your wise counsel.
GURPS Requiem is a not inherently a "dark" roleplaying setting. The characters are not monsters, or inherently evil, or people with sinister powers. However, there are some facets of Requiem that make it dark -- the insane, age-old Incubans who could probably control (or destroy) the world if it occurred to them, the strange creatures coming to life in the world, and the fact that the Majestati want to keep their true selves hidden from the modern age.
However, it is this darkness that allows the characters to shine heroically. Heroes have always emerged from difficult and dangerous situations, and the background of Requiem is about the return of heroes and heroines to our world.
GURPS Requiem is intended to take place now, in the modern world, the same one that we live in. The only difference, of course, is that magic exists for a select few. It's not an all-powerful manipulating force -- except for the seven Incubans -- and most of it could probably be explained using some sort of scientific notion ("Of course the wall fell down when the little guy punched it. See the decay and the rot in those bricks? It's a wonder the thing didn't fall down years ago!")
GURPS Requiem should not be limited to modern times. Creative GMs will find ways to insert it into any time period. Shifting the year by a decade or two would make the mood of the game very different. Imagine elves and valkyries searching the disco clubs of 1976 looking for their own kind; or perhaps in the Sixties, several of those hippies were actually sylphi pursuing peace, and that their magic worked better in the presence of young people, who were open to a wide-range of different, liberal beliefs.
There are several underlying themes in GURPS Requiem: faith, the mystery of the unknown, and community.
All of the Majestati must believe in themselves for their magic to work. The scientific and technological wonders of the 20th century has made it extraordinarily difficult for people to believe in what they cannot see. The scientific method rules out one-time events, and thus automatically refutes the existence of magic or miracles.
GMs can use faith as a good basis for a Requiem adventure. Majestati characters who find themselves in situations where using their Nexus forms and their Talents can embarrass or harm them will find their faith tested. They'll tend not to use their magical powers unless they really need to, and they'll be very careful not to be seen when they do.
Faith makes a very good adventure seed. Perhaps a young Majestati with the Nexus of a famed nonhuman has had a severe crisis. His family discovered that he believed that he was a nonhuman and could use magic. He finds himself with no friends and being chased by psychologists. He has lost great faith in his abilities and his magic, and is on the verge of becoming a Lost Child. The PCs have to rescue this Majestati from the authorities, as well as convince him that he still wants to be a Majestati. This is difficult; it will be hard enough for strangers to persuade the Majestati's family, as well as the psychologists, that he is not delusioned; it will be even more difficult to build up the Majestati's faith without endangering it further. If the GM throws in a few twists, such as the Servants of Nebuchenezzer or the ulti to make the adventure more complex, the PCs will have to rely on their brains more than their magic to be victorious.
The world of GURPS Requiem, though in many ways identical to our own world, is a land of undiscovered lands. Hundreds of lost civilizations of magical people lie buried across the world. Temples, shrines, labyrinths, and entire cities are being rebuilt by the magic of the Incubans. Though the Incubans recreate these wonders, they rarely bother to tell anyone, leaving them to be discovered by their Adepts or by Majestati. With strange new features constantly being added to the world, the land of GURPS Requiem becomes as mysterious as an unexplored continent.
A Requiem game can concentrate on the rediscovery of the Earth. With magical places, items, and creatures constantly (and randomly) being reborn into the world, brave explorers are needed to find and catalog them. Many of these places and beings will not be helpful, but instead extremely dangerous. Ancient tomes might come alive with magic; long-dead curses might plague those that enter or defile these places. Characters never know what to expect from magic, but they should always be prepared.
The final theme of Requiem is community. At the heart of the background are four races that are spread apart by distance and culture. The Majestati have no culture beyond what they make for themselves. If they don't find their own kind, they'll die, and there will be no third Requiem to bring them back. A few thousand Majestati must unite and repopulate the world and in doing so, avoid the problems of modern human culture, as well as ancient magical enemies. Every single Majestati must work for this goal; they must carefully comb humanity for other Majestati, and equally as carefully tell them who they really are. Every Innamorato lost to unfaith reduces the chances of the nonhumans making a comeback.
Before a Requiem campaign begins, the GM should decide on the scope of the game. Will the PCs be Innamorati, or will they be full-fledged Majestati? Will the PCs be of one race, or maybe only Adepts, or can they choose freely from the many character types?
Campaigns that concentrate on a single race often has more unity than campaigns which let characters choose from whatever races they want. The main advantage is that the characters will be working towards roughly the same goal, and will have the same enemies; an elven campaign, for instance, can concentrate on finding Innamorati, while an all djinni campaign can revolve around the complicated politics of the Winds.
Many players feel limited when the GM dictates the races they can choose from. It is extremely important, however, that the campaign make sense. Requiem is a complicated world, and the GM should be careful not to try to incorporate all of them elements of the gameworld into his campaign. A world with ulti, Servants of Nebuchenezzer, Fenrir wolves, lost dark elf cities, and spirits walking around will quickly become dull. Requiem is an ordinary world with subtle, magical effects happening around the PCs. It is not a vastly supernatural world with the occasional ordinary event.
This type of campaign concentrates on the darker aspects of Requiem. The game focuses on the personal struggles of the characters; in each adventure, they deal with their nonhuman selves conflicting with human culture.
Faith is extremely important in Lonely World campaigns, and GMs should challenge PCs' faiths constantly. Characters should find themselves "boxed in" by the oppressing force of humanity. Other Majestati should be played up as lonely men and women struggling to remain individuals. The Incubans become more power-hungry and the Adepts become mere tools for them.
The odds should always be against the PCs, because the the Lonely World is not kind to people who are different. But, under these difficult odds, true heroism should be possible. In a Fantasy campaign, many heroes can go out and slay a dragon. In Requiem, there are no dragons, but anything worth doing will be every bit as difficult as killing that ancient wyrm. Something as simple as illuminating a dark elf rock singer can be incredibly dangerous. What if he doesn't believe? What if he ridicules the Majestati in front of a whole concert audience? The character's faith in himself will be decimated, and he has a good chance of losing his magical heritage forever. Even if he is successful, there is no dragon's horde as a reward. Instead, he has gained an ally, one more person to help in the struggle.
And that is a reward, though the GM must make sure that it is. Rewards are not as tangible in Requiem. There are no hordes of gold, kingdoms to give away, or rare cybernetic armor. Of course, there are some barely-working magical weapons, talismans, and scrolls, but these should never be the ultimate goal of a Requiem adventure. A GM must make sure that every ally that a PC gains, as well as every enemy, every contact, every person lost in the struggle, becomes a facet in the ongoing campaign. Once the players unveil that rock star, he should affect the characters lives. Maybe he writes songs about the Majestati, songs that become popular and make him rich; he could use his money to help the Majestati. Of course, maybe his songs are thought to be too fantastic, and he tries to tell his girlfriend that he's an elf, which in turn attracts the attention of the ulti. Soon, the rock star is dead, and the ulti have the name's of the PCs... either way, this person needs to be used. The campaign should shape itself around the player's actions, good or bad. If the players make critical mistakes, and talk to the wrong people, the campaign should spiral down endlessly into a dark, inescapable abyss. If the characters make a difference, and heroically change the world, then the campaign should grow, with each adventure becoming more important, until finally the characters can look back and see that their actions truly affected the world, and they are now the leaders of a growing people.
Each adventure must affect the next, even if it's only in a subtle way. Players notice, and they will learn the importance of every one of their actions.
Requiem is, at heart, a fantasy roleplaying game world. Player characters are elves, dwarves, magicians, or even more exotic creatures. Even though they probably aren't going to be trekking through long wilderness wastes in "orc-territory," or delving their way through the dungeons of an old necromancer, or even raising an army to defeat a host of trolls, the same basic style of a fantasy game could very well be present in a Requiem adventure. These types of campaigns should focus on strange events, old tales, and powerful opponents.
Imagine the most famous of all fantasy plots converted into Requiem -- the kidnapped princess. Now she's a young valkyrja Innamorato with incredible potential. Just about to unveil her, the valkyrja characters discover that she's run away with her human boyfriend (human... ugh). To make matters worse, she's last been sighted in a small Texan town that is known to be the home of several Ulti, including the decidedly-deadly Jonas Amran, whose cold-heartedness and iron will has helped to kill dozens of elves. Luckily, a small group of Blackgold dwarves live nearby working on an oil drill, and might be convinced to help out. Once the characters find and arrive at the small town, they discover that Jonas Amran and his Ulti friends mistook the valkyrja and her boyfriend for elves. They killed the boyfriend in an "accident," and are now scouring the town and surrounding area for the girl, who has holed herself up with an ordinary family.
Many of the "stereotypes" of a fantasy game can be refreshed with a Requiem twist. Taverns are replaced with rock clubs; long journeys are common, though they may only be a road trip from Brooklyn to Picket, Mississippi.
Epic campaigns concentrate not just on single characters, but whole world events. Ancient Majestati meet in dark alleys, swords in hand, prepared to do battle as they were meant to happen. An ifrit assassin tries to destroy a Middle East peace conference, and only the magic of three jann Majestati can stop him. In epic campaigns, the fate of the world is ultimately at stake, and the characters are usually the only ones that can stop the world from succumbing to disaster.
Epic campaigns need not involve extremely powerful PCs. The characters could be Innamorati who suddenly find themselves the center of an earthshaking struggle for the world. Characters in epic campaigns are ultimately good or evil. Though the PCs can have some gray spots, the rest of the world is divided between black and white. Villains are nasty, vile and purely evil; they are never just greedy, they want ultimate power, and only the characters stand between them and the world.
Battles are sensational events, occurring on the tallest of skyscrapers, with two mortal enemies battling desperately. Villains come and go with regularity, and many of the best ones return, even from the dead! When magic occurs, it occurs spectacularly, with lightning and fire lighting up a dark New York alley.
Epic campaigns don't have to be melodramatic trite. Creative GMs will find original plot schemes to liven up any epic game. Epics don't always have happy endings either; main characters often die, brutally killed by a villain near the climax of the adventure, or dying to save their comrades. The GMs should allow emotional roleplaying, with characters become deep friends (or bitter enemies) through the dangerous trials of the adventure.
Ultimately, GURPS Requiem is about the extraordinary. Characters are exactly what we want to be: unique individuals in a homogenous world. They have special powers, secrets undreamed of, and the potential to be heroes. It is a familiar world, but one that a few determined men and women can change.
Terminat hora diem, terminat Author opus.