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Sentinels of the Multiverse» Forums » Variants

Subject: Custom Hero -- Scarlet a Glamorous SOTM Heroine rss

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Dennison Milenkaya
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Hello, Sentinels of the Multiverse fans!

My friends and I have been playing a campaign of Exalted-based RPG using the Mutants & Masterminds system for several months. During that time, I discovered Sentinels of the Multiverse. I decided that, so long as we could come up with an interesting mechanic for each personal deck, I would design a Sentinels hero for each of our characters.

Here, I present Scarlet, the first of my characters, in addition to Rhianissa and Sabra, though her deck took longer to develop than Rhianissa, Alpha, and Guntar, thus she is posted after them.

A few posts down, you shall find excerpts from her diary, in lieu of a proper bio.

But basically, she's a sorceress. She creates evocations as she attacks her foes. Her deck provides her with bits of Sorcery from which to build her spells, Moonsilver jewels to access those spell bits, and offensive maneuvers to trigger the building of those spells.

She has the potential to be undeniably powerful. She is balanced by extreme dependency on both Ongoings and Equipment, considerable set-up time, low personal health, and greater fragility as she masters aspects of her Sorcery. Scarlet has various ways to avoid being struck in combat, but she has no recovery method after taking damage.

Anyway, here she is:


Enjoy!
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Dennison Milenkaya
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Those cards are...

Scarlet
The Sexy Sorceress

HP: 24

Scarlet is a glass cannon, a blaster, you know -- a sorceress.

Wild Magic
Power: Scarlet deals 1 target 2 energy damage.

Scarlet's main power is to deal energy damage. As a dedicated damage-dealer, it is imperative that she be able to reliably dish out the hurt. Also, just about everything she does is triggered by dealing damage.

Incapacitated
* One player may play a card now.
* Select a hero. Increase the next damage dealt by that hero by 2.
* Select a damage type. Until the start of your next turn, increase all damage of that type dealt by hero targets by 1.

Two of Scarlet's incapacitated abilities assist the team with maintaining heavy damage. One is also found on Absolute Zero and Fanatic, the other on Argent Adept. Scarlet also offers the typical "play a card" option to allow the setting up of combos or dealing damage, which reflects how she'd act.

ONGOING: 11

Elemental Mastery

All of Scarlets Mastery cards allow her to convert raw energy into a more focused form. They also apply a unique upgrade for that form, whether she deals it via channeling energy damage into the new type or deals it directly with a Storm card. Since Scarlet pays little attention to defense and sorcery requires concentration, Scarlet is susceptible to villainous assailants that would take advantage of her distraction. Environmental targets tend to be territorial and circumstantial (and sometimes mindless), so they enjoy no such benefit.

Mastery of Electricity
Ongoing, Sorcery
Increase damage dealt to Scarlet by villain targets by 1.

Increase lightning damage dealt by Scarlet by 2.

Before Scarlet would deal energy damage, you may change that damage type to lightning.

This is fairly basic, for a Mastery effect, but it really helps Scarlet to reach expert potential while wearing her Earrings and can be converted into hitting an additional target (instead) using Wildfire.

Mastery of Flame
Ongoing, Sorcery
Increase damage dealt to Scarlet by villain targets by 1.

Each target dealt any fire damage from Scarlet takes 1 fire damage at the start of each turn until they are dealt non-fire damage or take no fire damage in a turn.

Before Scarlet would deal energy damage, you may change that type to fire.

Here's a new effect. It requires some tracking, but it is really simple: Put one of those "All Damage Fire" markers on the affected foes. When they take no fire damage or a different type of damage, remove the marker. The idea here is to set a target on fire and watch it burn for awhile. If Absolute Zero, Tempest, and Visionary can get away with dealing 1 damage to every non-hero at the start of their turns, then Scarlet can apply 1 damage to a non-hero target at the start of every turn. It's really just a different way of getting about the same amount of damage out there. Note that the flaming target "takes 1 fire damage" and Scarlet does not deal such damage. In this way, Scarlet is unable to apply sorcery effects at the start of each of these turns. It's more like set-it-and-forget-it. Also note that no matter how much fire damage Scarlet deals, each target affected only takes 1 damage per turn from this burn effect--it cannot be layered multiple times on a single target.

Mastery of Ice
Ongoing, Sorcery
Increase damage dealt to Scarlet by villain targets by 1.

After Scarlet deals cold damage to a target, if the target has 4 or fewer HP, destroy the target.

Before Scarlet would deal energy damage, you may change that type to cold.

Play-testers loved the thematic feel of a Shatter card that was featured in an earlier version of Scarlet's deck. Now, that shatter effect is on the Mastery card for cold damage, to ensure that it isn't applied to a type of damage that makes no sense and because Mastery of Ice needed distinguishing. This is the perfect Mastery for villains that use several minions. Notice that Voss' minions have so little HP that this is almost insignificant (although it is wonderful for bypassing damage reduction) and Akash'Bhuta's limbs have such high HP that they really need to be worked over for the shattering to finish off the targets.

A Knack for Mystic Arts

Scarlet was always meant to connote the feeling of building a spell as she cast it. For that matter, I wanted her to play out lots of cards that would trigger off each other, gathering more strength as they did. The earliest version of Scarlet was a jumbled mess. The second version did as intended, but it wasn't any fun to play; it was rather unidirectional. The final version adopted a mechanism inspired by Argent Adept.

Scarlet's Moonsilver jewelry allows her access to these various Knacks at a variety of potency levels. This means Scarlet needs both at least one item of jewelry and one knack in play to build a spell effect. The Mastery cards help her to qualify for the Knacks through the jewelry, (as well as providing an effect of their own), but the Knacks are useless on their own, similar to how Argent Adept's instruments do nothing without Melody, Rhythm, or Harmony cards (and even then, only with the right cards among those three kinds). Scarlet does not distinguish between different types of Knacks, though they are thematically tied to a damage type, there is no game effect to enforce that connection.

While Argent Adept needed a portion of a rule book to explain his Perform and Accompany effects, Scarlet, too, needs a few rules to govern hers. Novice, Adept, and Expert abilities are different from powers in that they must be activated by Moonsilver jewelry. However, they are also more versatile as they can be used multiple times per turn, if there are multiple ways of activating them in play. Scarlet always triggers their text by attempting to deal damage and all Knack effects are always all applied before any damage is dealt, as the Moonsilver Equipment always specifies "Before Scarlet would deal [] damage." If Scarlet may apply more than one of the same level of effect, each distinct level on each Knack may only be applied once until it is delivered, but it can be reused within the same turn, if triggered again.


Deep Freeze
Ongoing, Sorcery, Knack
Novice: Reduce damage dealt by any target that takes damage in this way by 1, until the start of your next turn.

Adept: Prevent the next damage that would be dealt by 1 target that takes damage in this way.

Expert: Destroy an Ongoing card.

The expert effect will destroy an Ongoing card before the damage is applied, because the spell is always built before any damage is dealt.

Electrify
Ongoing, Sorcery, Knack
Novice: Increase damage Scarlet deals by 1.

Adept: Increase the number of targets that Scarlet deals damage to by 1.

Expert: You may redirect the next damage that would be dealt by each target that takes damage in this way.

All targets are affected the same way by Knack effects, so if Scarlet uses Wild Magic with Mastery of Flame and Moonsilver Bracelets in play, she may convert her 2 energy damage to 2 fire damage, and would be allowed to apply a Novice Knack and an Adept Knack. If she has Electrify in play, Scarlet may deal 2 targets 3 fire damage each. Notice that the effect only applies when she's allowed to apply it, so there is no need to specify that the +1 damage only affects the damage-dealing effect that caused it; it does not need a shut-off time.

Innervation
Ongoing, Sorcery, Knack
Novice: After Scarlet deals damage to any target(s), 1 of those targets takes 2 melee damage.

Adept: Until the start of your next turn, increase damage of this type by 1.

Expert: Reveal the top 2 cards of a deck. Discard or replace those cards.

Note that the Novice effect does not cause Scarlet to deal the melee damage, which means that if Visionary, Pike Industries, or Bella change the damage type, Scarlet cannot re-apply new Sorcery effects. No matter how many targets take damage, only one gets the extra 2 melee damage.

The Adept effect is applied before the damage is dealt, so the current attack receives the benefit. This bonus applies to all damage of that type--even when dealt by villain or environment cards. This is especially important if Scarlet is trying to avoid taking damage of the current type via her Moonsilver Tiara.

When using the Expert effect, you cannot change the order of the cards when replacing them atop the deck. If you choose to discard them, both cards must be discarded.


Mystic Aptitude
Ongoing, Sorcery, Knack
Novice: 1 player discards any number of cards, then draws that many cards.

Adept: Up to 2 of your Equipment or Sorcery cards are indestructible, until the start of your next turn.

Expert: You may use an additional power this turn.

Scarlet needs several cards in play to maintain her high damage output and to cause other nifty effects. By making 2 non-targets indestructible, she can choose her favorite jewelry and favorite Knack, for example, so that a total wipe doesn't completely set her back to square one. Scarlet can use Mystic Aptitude's Expert effect to play multiple powers in a single turn, repeatedly, but since each power can only be used once, there's a finite number of times that'll matter, particularly since they don't all allow her to deal damage.

Wildfire
Ongoing, Sorcery, Knack
Novice: Draw a card.

Adept: Increase damage Scarlet deals by 2.

Expert: Increase the number of targets that Scarlet deals damage to by X. Reduce the damage Scarlet deals by twice X, where X = any number.

Scarlet can spread her damage around a bit more, lessening the damage dealt to each target but hitting more targets. This Adept effect can be converted into another target hit via the Expert effect, if both are applied.

Non-Sorcery

Scarlet has some other considerations beyond sorcery.

Draconic Wings
Ongoing
Scarlet is immune to melee damage.

Reduce damage dealt to Scarlet from environment cards by 1.

By flying out of reach, Scarlet cannot be harmed by melee damage. She pays little heed to defense, but she is quite able to maintain distance while performing complex magics. Similarly, she distances herself from the terrain and hovers well above automated defenses, making environment attacks less likely to strike her accurately. This is a bit of a trade-off, since she takes heavier damage from villain targets.

Luminescent Beauty x2
Ongoing, Limited
The first time Scarlet would be dealt damage by each target, each turn, the hero with the second lowest HP may redirect that damage to themself.

Hopefully a tank is on the team to prevent Scarlet from being clobbered by the bad guys. But that's a bit too much to hope for sometimes. Scarlet's deck provides her with some way to avoid the worst attacks, but not usually as well as a dedicated tank would, since the redirect goes to the second-lowest HP hero (not just hero target; the team needs to feel some penalty for keeping their heavy hitter alive). Occasionally, Scarlet is second-lowest and this doesn't help much. It is the other player's option to take the hit for her; Scarlet cannot insist that you be a gentleman.

EQUIPMENT: 10

Most of Scarlet's Equipment is her Moonsilver jewelry, which is used to apply various levels of her Knack cards when she deals damage. Originally, the jewelry was not Limited, so she has two copies of each item that can be worn in pairs, but testing both ways proved that limiting the jewelry was more balanced and allowed for a more reasonable cap to Scarlet's potential. The card count remains the same, but since her Floating Wardrobe is the most likely way that the jewelry will be accessed, the count affects very little.

Moonsilver Tiara
Equipment
Before Scarlet would deal non-melee damage, you may apply a Novice Knack.

When Scarlet deals non-melee damage, Scarlet is immune to that type of damage, until the start of your next turn.

During an earlier implementation of this card, the Tiara was among the least desirable of Scarlet's Equipment. Now, it is usually sought first, despite providing no alternate power. The Tiara's immunity means that she doesn't just seek a particular damage type for what it does for her but also for what it doesn't do for the enemy. What's fun is that she is encouraged to play as many Mastery Sorcery cards as she can in order to choose from a wider variety of damage types to become immune to, even though it means taking more damage when hit with damage types that she isn't immune to. The all-or-nothing feel really makes playing Scarlet unique.

Moonsilver Earrings x2
Equipment, Limited
Before Scarlet would deal 5 or more non-melee damage, you may apply an Expert Knack.

Before Scarlet would deal lightning damage, you may apply an Adept Knack.

Power: Play a card.

Since all Knacks are applied before damage is dealt, it is possible that one Knack provides a damage bonus which brings Scarlet within range of applying an Expert Knack, as well. It is also possible for Scarlet to deal damage and apply the Expert effect of Mystic Aptitude to use another power and, through these Earrings, play another card, which might deal more damage. However, because the power of Moonsilver Earrings can only be used once per turn, this does not provide an infinite loop -- just a long sequence of sorcery.

Moonsilver Necklace
Equipment
Before Scarlet would deal non-melee damage, you may do any of the following....

Discard 1 card to apply a Novice Knack;

Discard 2 cards to apply an Adept Knack;

Discard 3 cards to apply an Expert Knack.

This is either Scarlet's strongest or weakest jewelry, depending on her card draw. It is also one of only two ways to access Expert Knacks.

Moonsilver Bracelets x2
Equipment, Limited
Before Scarlet would deal non-melee damage, you may apply a Novice Knack.

Before Scarlet would deal fire damage, you may apply an Adept Knack.

Power: Scarlet deals 1 target 0 energy damage.

The Novice Knack is really easy to apply with this jewelry, making it a good early choice of Moonsilver, yet the power is only good when Scarlet has a lot of cards in play and able to not only activate multiple powers in a turn, but also increase the damage she deals. Otherwise, Wild Magic is definitely the better choice. Still, Scarlet can potentially do so much with a damage-dealing ability that a base of 0 damage is fair when able to use additional powers.

Update: I feel even more comfortable with a printed damage base of 0 after Sky-Scraper's release, though it has worked for a year without that assurance.


Moonsilver Anklets x2
Equipment, Limited
Before Scarlet would deal non-melee damage to the non-hero target with the highest HP, you may apply an Adept Knack.

Before Scarlet would deal cold damage, you may apply 2 Novice Knacks.

Power: Draw 2 cards.

For their power, the Anklets are a personal favorite when helping Scarlet set up. Giving up the ability to deal damage (and everything that Scarlet can do when dealing damage) is a hefty price but the 2 card draw is worth it, early on. The Anklets provide the easiest way to apply an Adept Knack. If this allows Scarlet to affect an additional target, she can still hit the most urgent bad guy and whittle away at the boss, which is usually a one-or-the-other situation. Sometimes, this is impossible, though, like when Ambuscade is cloaked or the Operative is beaten below the Chairman as Master of the Underworld.

Scarlet's Diary x2
Equipment, Limited
At the start of your turn, you may put 1 card from the top of your deck under this card. They have no effect.

When this card leaves play, put all cards under it into your hand.

Power: Destroy this card.

There was a time when Scarlet had an Equipment card that was meant to protect all her other Equipment from destruction. Now, Mystic Aptitude provides some degree of protection there and Scarlet's Diary was added for a unique method of card draw and a piece of Equipment that you want destroyed. Since there's no way to guarantee it will ever be destroyed otherwise, a power was added to destroy itself. The longer Scarlet writes in her diary is the more knowledge she gains upon reflecting on it.

ONE-SHOT: 19

A Storm of Sorcery

Scarlet's one-shots serve three basic functions and the primary function is damage-dealing. She has a Storm card that deals heavy damage, when used in conjunction with the right Mastery, her Moonsilver, and some Knacks. Each Storm specializes in a particular damage type.

Electric Storm
One-Shot
Scarlet deals 1 target 1 lightning damage, then deals 1 target 1 energy damage.

The energy damage can be changed with Mastery cards to make several combinations of damage types. Scarlet can hit the same target with both instances of damage or attack different targets. The word "then" was included to make it clear that these are separate instances of damage, so Knacks applied to the lightning damage can be re-applied to the energy (or whatever) damage.

Fire Storm
One-Shot
Scarlet deals 1 target 1 fire damage.

Increase the damage dealt in this way by 1 for each Knack card that you apply to this effect.

This attack deals 1-6 damage, depending on how many knacks are applied to it -- before considering damage bonuses from Knacks and other effects! I hope it is obvious why her Storm cards are single-copy and non-searchable.

Frost Storm
One-Shot
Scarlet deals all non-hero targets 1 cold damage each.

Okay, so it is irrelevant to be able to hit additional targets during this Storm (unless you really want to hit a hero target), but cold damage, according to the Moonsilver Anklets, applies 2 Novice Knacks, and Novice Knacks do not allow for hitting additional targets anyway. Never mind that the Anklets will also apply an Adept effect, since the highest non-hero target is also necessarily hit!

Thorn of the Rose x2
One-Shot
Scarlet deals 1 target 2 projectile damage.

Increase damage dealt to any target that takes damage in this way by 1 until the start of your next turn.

Scarlet's sorcery is tied to the five poles, life (or wood), earth, air, water, and fire. Since her conversion to SOTM meant some compromises must be made, she made more sense focusing on the more traditional elements and almost entirely dropped the notion of life and earth powers. But because the rose is her family emblem and fairly iconic to the character, Thorn of the Rose was preserved in One-Shot form. It provides her with the only method of reducing a target's defenses. It is compatible with most of her Sorcery, but the increased damage takes place of what a Mastery card would do and it won't trigger the damage-type-specific jewelry effects. It is, however, a good lead-in to an attack via a power use, and the de-buff can benefit the whole team. It is especially nice if lighting that target on fire with Mastery of Flame afterward.

Zap! x3
One-Shot
Draw a card.

Scarlet deals 1 target 1 energy damage.

By now, it should be obvious that this unassuming little card can cause so much more to happen than first meets the eye. A quick Zap! is fine if Scarlet really needs to draw something more important or if she really wants to layer on the damage (and doesn't have a Storm card handy).

Choose Your Destiny

... And here's the rest, which are mostly aimed toward allowing the player to choose how to play the deck, and not just letting everything boil down to random luck of the draw.

Channeling Ley Lines x3
One-Shot
Search your deck for a Sorcery card and put it into your hand. Shuffle your deck.

Until the end of this turn, increase damage dealt by Scarlet by 1.

You may play a card.

A lot of heroes will put their searched-for card directly in play. If that were the case, and an additional card play were also possible, the extra damage bonus would need to be dropped. As it stands, Scarlet doesn't have a way to explode a lot of cards into play at once (although she can play an additional card with the power use of her Moonsilver Earrings). Instead, Channeling Ley Lines was designed to allow Scarlet a way to increase the damage she'll deal and possibly play another copy of Channeling Ley Lines to build it up more. She can finish by putting one of the Sorcery cards into play, or she can play a Storm card to take advantage of the damage bonus while it lasts.

Floating Wardrobe x3
One-Shot
Search your deck or trash for Draconic Wings and put it into play. If you cannot, draw a card.

Search your deck for an Equipment card and put it into your hand.

Shuffle your deck. Play a card.

A bit of history: When Scarlet and her friends developed their super powers (Scarlet's being sorcery, which was unheard of for eons), they were ostracized due to fear and run out of the city. Scarlet flew back to her family estate under the cover of night and cast a levitation spell on her wardrobe, then quickly fled again, with her wardrobe drifting along, slowly behind her. Her friends questioned her sanity, since they'd all developed the ability to access extra-dimensional storage space, but Scarlet wouldn't accept being without her outfits or cramming them into some dirty portable hole. Now, her wardrobe follows above the clouds everywhere they go and she occasionally flies up to it to change outfits or jewelry, or to collect one of her precious books.

I love how much this card brings out that feature of this character. The Floating Wardrobe allows the deck to function well with only one copy of Draconic Wings and not having several copies of them keeps them feeling special. If the wings are already in play (or *gulp* in hand), a card is drawn instead. Much like with Channeling Ley Lines, the searched-for card goes into hand and then any card may be played, maintaining that the deck sets up gradually. The ability to choose the perfect combination of jewelry and Sorcery is already really strong.


Philisophical Study x3
One-Shot
Draw 3 cards.

Scarlet has obsessively read more philosophy than her philosophy professors. She even taught herself forgotten languages to read ancient, sometimes forbidden, philosophies, such as the Scrolls of Unity. This may have something to do with her great-great (don't know how many) grandfather being Sulrayunten, the avatar of fire and writer of The Disciplines of Virtue. While not truly smarter than most people, Scarlet is definitely better read and educated, far more contemplative, and therefore knowledgeable. Expressing all that on a single card doesn't do her justice, but it does give her more options for proceeding, should she draw upon her learning.

Unrestrained Possibility x2
One-Shot
Destroy all non-target, environment cards. Scarlet deals up to X targets 2 melee damage each and deals herself X melee damage, where X = the number of cards destroyed this way.

This is all that remains of Scarlet's earth powers and, even then, it is closer to her levitation powers. When Scarlet first learned that she could levitate objects with her will alone, she wanted to play around with her new-found talent. When asked what she would like to levitate first, the only reply she could've given was "Everything."

The idea of mass levitation affecting environment cards was premiered in the Visionary's deck. Scarlet's needed to be distinct. She wouldn't use it to rip someone apart, but she would pull apart the terrain and buffet her foes with it. Scarlet is also caught in this cyclone, unless she is flying well above it. Since the damage is caused by debris and not directly by Scarlet's control, she cannot apply Sorcery to this effect (sorcery is always non-melee, to demonstrate that punching, kicking, and stabbing isn't sorcery).

The ability to destroy several cards at once and deal some damage puts this on par with Tempest's Ball Lightning, but Scarlet may not be selective of which cards are destroyed and the only way for her to destroy environment targets remains dealing damage to them, which Scarlet tends to be good at.

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Dennison Milenkaya
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Made a minor tweak to Mastery of Flame. The burn damage should not be cumulative and previous wording was ambiguous. I apologize for any undue trouble.
 
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Dennison Milenkaya
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I apologize that this week's deck posting is a repeat, but I do intend to upgrade my previously posted decks with my high quality templates. So, enjoy blacker blacks, crisper edges, corrected colors, more uniform gradient fills, and precise justification.

Also, some typos were fixed and a few flavor texts were altered. Some of the Knack effects were balanced. Scarlet's Fury was dropped in favor of another copy of Philosophical Study.

You'll find, too, the card backs for the Order of the Rose and an alternate character card to use with this deck.
 
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Dennison Milenkaya
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Excerpts from the Diary
of Scarlet of House Rose Black Tear


Throughout my first fourteen years and two, I have noticed the compulsion of learnéd folk to pen their intellectual property. Some for the benefit of all, as such did the noted philosopher Sulrayunten; some to maintain record of their own musings, as brilliant minds are far more prone to be lost in thought than the weak of faculty, perhaps to not over-shadow a spark which needs time to kindle as one's own acumen out-performs itself, the way the great thinker Estnalougholbur has done; some for the express purpose to teach while reaching masses vastly beyond what one can do in a lifetime via personal appearance and extend one's influence beyond that lifetime, like so many affluent scholars that one cannot force herself to choose a primary example; and others to relate parable, which we know to be the best way of instructing the masses on matters of hygiene and passable manner, as did Ershyeng and other authors of children's books.
_______ My deliberations are no less weighty than that of Verisatona and even Koughvrang (not to boast nor name-drop; I've read their entire works and am confident of the claim) but my purpose is different than any of the lettered individuals mentioned above. I shall keep this tome as personal and secret as a diary and shall maintain it in such fashion, which shall cause no abnormal amount of concern for this is a popular trend among young ladies, but I've little interest in writing for the sake of no-one, for I'm of a mind that is adaptable to change as I learn and ponder. That is to say, there is nothing that I may conceive to take a stand on an issue that I cannot be swayed from, given ample evidence to the contrary, for it is the stubborn and unwilling to learn who steadfastly hold to an argument, once it is adopted, that refuses to acclimate. Therefore, I see no point in recording my thoughts just to review them later, for later, they may all have changed and what interests me is the dépêche mode and not the journey to my current state of mind.
_______ My purpose in writing is to warn.
_______ Mysticism is dangerous. There is more to be feared in words-on-page than what respect for the written word garners. Doubtless we've all heard tales of whatever mad mage is in vogue or of the havoc wreaked by magic gone awry. Even Ershyeng cautions the little folk about the horrors of the occult in Lividia and the Sprite (although my impression is that warning plebeians to the dangers of magic is about as useful as wheels on a ship—the purpose behind such stories must be to instill reverence for thaumaturgy and wizardry because how else would they know to do so?). Even here in Imperial Outpost One, we have the urban legend of the Brain Burner, whose mind melted, it is said, from reading a book of the occult. Everyone knows that spellcraft is dangerous but not everyone takes that lesson to heart.
_______ I, Scarlet, the third of my name, of House Rose Black Tear exemplify the quandary. I am aware of the trepidation and dread involved in the mystical arts, yet I actively pursue further exposure. Should one such as myself be drawn despite the peril, or perhaps because of it, ostensibly others must be tempted to tread this path. If I am known to be alive and well at the time this document is read, please read no further and return it to me, or, barring the chance, I implore burn this before another page is turned. If I have met my earthly end, however, let this serve as a real-world, living warning so that no detail be lost and tale of my passing shall not circulate as dismissively as that of the Brain Burner.


Year Zero less Two

Needless to say, I am born. With the exceptions of Miala and Arddante, every woman or man who lives or did ever was born of woman. I log this only for the unusual circumstance of my birth, for which the astute reader will note in the heading that my name day is claimed two months after I came from my mother. Having been born early, few among the families expected me to survive infancy. In fact, the man who was promised my mother's eldest progeny immediately planted in her another seed, lest I not endure, which is why my sister and only true sibling is but seven months younger than myself, despite having been carried to term. I was named Scarlet, in honor of The Scarlet Empress—Glory Be!—, in hope of bestowing unto me the strength of the immortal living.
_______ Fitting that I should have the blood-of-dragons in my veins. Being of House Rose Black Tear, the blood is strong in me. It is felt.
_______ Despite pessimism, I did survive; no noticeable sign of weakness or disposition to illness manifested. Aside from an age two months behind what my time on earth suggests—or two months more experienced than my name day suggests—I am, by all accounts, perfectly healthy. The fallout, it would appear from my advantaged position, is that many appointments to do with the eldest of a strong noble lineage were never directed toward me, as I was not expected to live. I am due all that my station shall bequeath, yet many such appointments have been redirected and only with time and prodding have some of them been properly set aright (albeit, many of those were at the behest of meddling relatives). I've been blessed, it would seem, with addressing most other appointments at the time of my choosing, save some important arrangements which would never be left to me in any situation either way.
_______ To these matters, I have grown with a childhood less restrained than my station would otherwise permit, lacking the pressure that burdens my peers, and feeling more confident and independent than I have any right to be. I have observed that other children with which I grew had not the sense of control over their destinies that I feel for mine, no matter how much of that remains illusion. Yet, my birthright remains intact.


Year Three and Nine

I shall allow one more tangent before proceeding to the true subject of this journal. As a young child, my sister and I invented a game that we dubbed Knights & Castles. This game started simply, as did we, but was refined over the course of four or so years to reach the final version which I shall detail at length. The purpose for this digression is to relate to the reader some manner of following my thinking. This game plays an active role in the events to come and, since I have the advantage of hindsight while I pen these words, I can also foreshadow that Knights & Castles is fundamental to Teoria Ordinance Horizon—mine own contribution to world philosophy.
_______ The game is played on a square grid of seven by seven spaces. It was designed for two players but there seems no reason to not allow more, aside from needing more beads and gemstones. Each player needs a distinct assortment of these to represent her knights and castles. Each player receives one castle on the board to start the game. Players take turns playing one tactic at a time. The five tactics allowed are...
Deploy: Place a new knight in an empty space adjacent to one of your castles.
Command: Move one of your knights as far as you please in any of the eight directions. A knight may not move beyond the edge of the board, into or through a space with a castle, into or through a space with another of your knights, or through a space with an opposing knight. If your knight moves into a space with an opposing knight, the opposing knight is removed from the board. You may not move your knight into a space with an opposing knight orthogonally adjacent to that player’s castle in this way.
Fortify: Remove one of your knights and replace it with a castle in the same space.
Siege: Move one of your knights exactly one space into a space with another knight to remove that knight. Castles are ignored during this move.
Sack: Remove a castle adjacent to at least two of your knights.
A player wins and the game ends if no opposing pieces remain on the board or when a player has a castle on each rank or each file of the board.
_______ The top of the board is called “Wood”, the left “Water”, the right “Fire”, the bottom “Earth”, and the center “Air”. In this way, the top left corner can be referred to as Wood 1, Water 1 and the space two away from the bottom edge and five from the left is called Earth 2, Fire 3. The middle rank and file are always called Air, thus the fourth space from the bottom furthest left is Water 1 Air.
_______ It is possible to allow the players to choose the space for their starting castles, but if this becomes routine, a player can be assigned one of the five Poles to place her starting castle in that portion of the board or along the middle rank or file accordingly.


Year Five and Eleven

I remember being always fascinated at the thought of living at the edge of creation. A mere two miles from my city, the world came to an end. It would be low class to fear this phenomenon; I was intrigued by it. Reader, you must understand that the end of the world does not mark a place between land and void, for the land does continue farther than the eye can see (although, I'm of the thought that nothing extends beyond what The Eye can see, and wonder if its original purpose was to study the extent of land beyond creation). One wouldn't even know the edge was there, but for the markings with which laborers have decorated the boundary.
_______ I talked to everyone that I could about the land beyond the border. A plethora of conflicting accounts were delivered. Thaumaturgists who have studied beyond the edge describe it as a place where natural law does not exist as we know it within creation. Scholars refer to it as "the wild" and insist that anything is possible beyond the Poles that hold order together. I even permitted myself to speak to dirty folk on the subject, over-come was I with a delightful blend of curiosity and wonder. Those tend to be wide-eyed and tight-lipped about the wild, which I understand is a mixture of fear and ignorance. Some of the filth are travelers or traders from the outlands, and claim to have been there or even originate there. They say that upon crossing the boundary, a man's feet might turn to spiders, his head to a mushroom, and his heart explodes with joy. Joy? If you can appreciate the distinction, the wild, it would seem, is a terrible place—not a bad place.
_______ Peasants fear it, for they cannot understand it. If that means anything to me at year five, it means that I must not fear it. The key to assuaging fear, I conclude, is to understand. I remember not being able to rationalize this so succinctly at that young age, though it is felt as strongly now as it was then. The blood-of-dragons is not a curious heritage; it does not accept fear. So in my wisdom, I rather believe that I was motivated by a need to understand for that sake as much as for satisfying my wonderment. Joy and misery, everything and nothing, anything is possible. How could one resist?
_______ A thaumaturlogical Principle holds true in a specific locality. Change the locality, and the Principle fails to maintain. This is the foundation for Teoria Paradoxum, or the Theory of Paradox. The equal and opposite phenomenon, they theorize, proves true. If one from creation goes into the wild, the order inherent in one's self extends into the wild, holding such person to the nature that ever was theirs. Thus if I, a child of creation, were to venture into the wild, being from creation would keep my heart from exploding or my eyeballs from reversing direction. This is known as Principium Legis Kaosu, or the Principle of Law into Chaos. The fear regarding the wild is that Principium Legis Kaosu has never been proven exempt to Teoria Paradoxum. Therefore, while my grasp on order should remain within the wild, there may easily be places within the wild where the Principle does not maintain. So I do understand the foundation for fear of venturing too far into the wild. Yet, I reiterate, I must not succumb.
_______ Again, I stress that I was not fussed about as one that would live to double-digit years, so never was a personal retinue established to monitor my custody. At year five, the household guard was bolstered and I was given protection—but scrutiny, it seems, is something one does not develop a need for, and so was not I sequestered to a tower cell. Some families believe this is the only action keeping their heirs safe but when no harm befalls one's lot for five years and those two extra months which I retain, one doesn't suddenly figure that lock and key must be necessary. It is due to this leniency that I would soon find myself able to slip away from the estate, escape the city, and journey alone. I would know the wild for myself.


Year Six and Three

Sensei Kamato said "We learn more from our flaws than our perfections." I took from this that when the force of another student's blow drops the katana from my hand, I'm learning more than I would if I could successfully parry. Nonetheless, I firmly believe that what has shaped my behavior was how easily my successes came, when they did. The weak-of-will are molded by their failures.
_______ Sensei is wise. I note that he did not say that we should embrace flaws for that purpose. Perfection is still something to which I may aspire.
_______ And it was easy. Eluding the household guard is no challenge for a girl that knows secrets about the estate which they do not. Slipping out of the city is no difficult task for one that is smarter than those around her. Details are not forthcoming, for that would unduly place my family at risk. All that matters is that at year six and three, I was beyond the limits of the watch and destined to cross the border which marks the edge of the world.
_______ A two mile journey passes quickly for one whose mind races with anticipation and excitement.
_______ The border is not something one would recognize were it not for the wooden posts set apart by many paces along the ridge of reality. I know now that the border markings which extend all around the world are specific to locality. Nearest the city, these high stakes exist so as to be unmistakable to citizens of One Eye who might roam this way, ignorant of their wanderings. At other places, stones may be placed along the edge; at intervals, paints or oils accomplish the deed; sometimes enormous, impenetrable walls are erected. These wooden posts are carved with images of sprites, imps, and bewildering monstrosities. None look alike and it occurs to me that many generations of wood carvers may have contributed to the collection. I only afforded them glance-in-passing, intent on what lie beyond. From this side of creation, it appears indistinct. I knew not what to expect but I did expect something wild. Somehow, this did not diminish my thrill of approach, however, because while I did not see a change in the landscape, I knew it to be there.
_______ With barely an altering of my stride, I step through the marked boundary to the outland. The air, temperature, humidity, and sounds are no more distinct than the sights. But something is different just beyond those markers. It is felt.
_______ A child of six years, after a two mile trek, does not walk much further than necessary. I did encroach upon the land beyond creation. As I walk, I recognize my pace slow as thoughts and feelings assault my mind and body. Soon, I stand still and just allow it to saturate my being.
_______ It was not fear that stopped me from going much deeper into the unknown, no. That I'm aware of. What kept my feet from traveling further—or back the way I came—was the sensation of what I did not know about this fantastic place. Here, anything is possible simply because the truths we know at home do not apply. I shall share some of my inner deliberations in attempt to relate the enlightenment.
_______ Without rules, the ground beneath mine feet might actually be liquid. But here, liquid does not act as it does at home, thus it makes for a sturdy foothold. It becomes ground only in my mind because this is the way my mind knows to categorize that which I can steadfastly tread upon. How then is it distinct from ground within creation in any manner but the possibility that it is?
_______ Does time pass the same here? There being no way of tracking the passage of time but what is relative to these trappings, one can only be certain of local time flow, if one can be certain of anything. If one were to return to creation and check with those who remained on the safe side of the border, one may obtain conflicting reports of time elapsed. But then, what changes: Time flow itself, the instruments used to measure such, or the perceptions of they who conduct such experiment?
_______ There are too many variables to track. I quickly learn why thaumaturgists have such maddening ordeals. I got a taste of what I came for and decide to head back, forever changed in my own thinking.
_______ The journey home feels empty. I was recently standing in a place of infinite possibility and rigid creation no longer holds any wonder for me. I determine to bring possibility into this realm.


Year Eight and Four

This account of the details in my endeavors would not be complete without introducing Bruni the Butcher.
_______ One day that stood out from no other in any particular mannerism by description of lighting, weather, or propensity, while we schoolchildren were enjoying a break from our studies, a horrifying wail pealed out from the stables. On and on it went. We approached with varying degrees of intractability to inspect the source of the repulsive shrieking.
_______ What we found was a boy of our age, indeed a classmate, and (to my shame) a distant cousin, removed of my house by one heritage, hacking away at the flesh of his own still-live horse, which I know from the yards as Shasta, a gentle chestnut mare. He just repeatedly pulled his wickedly large blade up and brought it down into the shanks of his horse, still restrained by bit and bridle to the stable post.
_______ I swore to never forget the haunting dissemblance between their façades: As he committed cold-hearted slaughter of the dignified equine, his eyes were calm, uncaring, even removed from the atrocity while it was in progress, flinching only to grunt as he strained to exert more force; the steed's countenance, through the agony and the shock of knowing her death was being delivered, piece by piece, pleaded piteously with her eyes at the boy who was her owner and provider for the entirety of her life, as if unable to comprehend that it was that very monster who was causing her suffering and bringing about her doom. She otherwise held as still as she could, unwilling to fight him. The only mercy he would be able to deliver unto her would be to shorten her suffering by hastening her death. But that was at the instant burned into my memory—before that, there was no conceivable reason why that brute should even have started to harm the innocent mare.
_______ When questioned later about the incident, he only shrugged, either unable or unwilling to explain his actions. As the horse was his by rights, there was deemed no crime. He just returned to the schoolroom and tried to take his place among the children as if nothing extraordinary happened. Of course he was not allowed—he was rushed away for cleaning and so that the other children could be calmed first—but he was never punished.
_______ The families' spin doctors will always make the best of the actions of the privileged. A member of an imperial family is encouraged to do something better than anyone else before she or he is disallowed to perform even horrific acts. That maleficent boy was provided livestock to dismember, as such menial chores were routine and slaughtering horses was understood to be wasteful. I was not impressed by how well he could slay pigs or cows. I did not care if he was the best at it. He was doing the work of plebeians and to ensure the proper attention was called to this fact and to prevent anyone mistaking him as a close relative, I referred to him forevermore as Bruni the Butcher. Never would I acknowledge him and if required to speak to him in classes, I would avoid looking at him and speak loudly to the room.
_______ No matter the importance of family, he was the blight, my scorn, our shame. No-one would mistake him for my friend or companion; they shall not associate us.


Year Nine and Six

I knew there to be infinite possibilities, therefore infinite truths. Within creation, there may well be one established truth or perhaps there is but one truth recognized by the Immaculate Order. We are taught this truth in school and I endeavored to be a good student, so I took heed. The Philosophy of the Immaculate Order guides us to our destined position in all things and promises nirvana upon our finding that position. Our station is below the dragons, who are themselves below the gods. Excepting such, we are above all else.
_______ But mine is blood-of-dragons. I am destined for greater than this lot. It is felt.
_______ I took it upon myself to research other possible truths that were not part of our instruction and read many philosophies, including the works of Sulrayunten, El Ashradi, and Saga Kimchi and the taboo Scrolls of Unity. No expert in the teachings of the Immaculate Order am I, my schoolwork over the next four years would be augmented by my hobby of world philosophy. Through applied logic and comparative analysis, I would give my instructors a fresh perspective of the Philosophy without merely regurgitating that which every student will. Mindful of the empire’s proclivity, I shall always concede that the Immaculate Order is the most correct, but doing so by challenging it with other philosophies makes a more convincing argument than simple pandering.
_______ Sulrayunten’s written works, The Disciplines of Virtue, detail the ten assets any person must exemplify to achieve happiness. Everyone possesses to some degree the five virtues of the mind, which one must hone and balance to find inner harmony. They are calmness, arbitration and peace;adaptability, adjusting to one’s environment; determination, resolve and accomplishment; wellness, rationality and sanity; and clarity, freedom from turmoil. The five acts that bring about serenity are growth; nourish; fusion; production; and matriculation. It is worth noticing that the five virtues of the mind and the five virtuous feats each align to the Poles that define the atlas, in the order I’ve written them here: Wood, Water, Fire, Earth, and Air.
_______ Through the Scrolls of Unity (whose many authors are not credited), ancient civilization was taught that all things are connected and metaphysically one. We see evidence in certain aspects of our lives, such as family honor. We know that our accomplishments reflect the pride of the house. Reciprocally, when a member of the house acts dishonorably, the family shares in the shame. This extends so deeply as to permeate all things, and would suggest that a valet is inseparable from a god and that a tree is one with a river or a cloud. The scrawlings state that all parts work together to one purpose at all times that no part has any chance to betray the greater mechanism. If a man were to exercise his will and act against his nature just to prove that he does not serve the higher unity, it was then always intended that he would do so and his attempt at free will only validates his destiny to serve. The Scrolls of Unity go on to introduce conduit threads, which form an intangible web connecting everything in creation. An energy referred to as “kee” flows along these conduit threads, transferring emotion, habitus, essence, and vitality. It is said, therefore, that the key to happiness is to please others and warns against harming anything for that harm is received in kind.
_______ Not only are the concepts in the Scrolls of Unity difficult to comprehend, but to add to the challenge, I had to teach myself Vasarji, the language of the original script, and may well be the only living person practiced in the dead language, for the translated effigy is exceedingly abridged and the translator was intent on demonstrating her disdain for the theme. I understand her position, though I do not share it. The Scrolls of Unity, by surface examination, defy the social caste system of the Philosophy of Immaculate Order. Erudition may prove that they are not conflicting, but the masses are not sophisticated enough to appreciate the difference. With no article of propaganda to rally around, they remain powerless and do not reject their class and to a greater degree, the class structure.
_______ I thus find myself at my first complication to proving my multiple simultaneous truths hypothesis. 
 
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Dennison Milenkaya
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More to come.
 
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Dave Empey
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I'm not qualified to comment on the powers design, but the art is very nice. (Of course, I'm not really qualified to comment on the art, either...) Can we get high-resolution copies of the original card art?
 
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Dennison Milenkaya
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I don't personally own it; the Internet does. The website from which each image was taken is cited on the corresponding card. Please take a look at the various sites, particularly DeviantArt.com. The best I can do is advertise for them.
 
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Perry Kantor
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Having printed and played with Scarlet I can tell you she is gobs of fun, but when she gets going it can be extremely difficult to keep track of which knacks get applied when.

This is particularly difficult if a knack deals a specific type of damage that procs more knacks or if it increases damage to a point where it procs another knack.

That said, if you're careful I think you can typically achieve the intended effect, and it can be quite powerful.
 
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Dennison Milenkaya
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I would rate Scarlet a 4 on the complexity scale. Probably higher, but scales lose meaning when ratings exceed the maximum. I do have some tips for making her more manageable.

Keep her Moonsilver in one row and her Knacks in another. This is similar to how you might keep Argent Adept's Instruments together and his song bits grouped by type.

When you earn a Novice Knack, put a 1 HP chip in your hand. For an Adept Knack, take a 5 HP chip. Grab a 10 HP chip when you deserve an Expert Knack.

Place those chips on the Knack cards that you'll apply to the effect. No Knack card should have more than one chip of each value by the time you're done. If you earn another Knack along the way, take a chip into your hand.

Now you should easily be able to resolve the compound effect without missing anything. Just start with the things that occur outside of the damage-dealing (like drawing a card or destroying an Ongoing card) and remove those chips from their Knacks. Then refer to your base damage and outside modifiers as you would for any character and go through the Knack cards modifying the damage according to the chips you've placed on them, skipping those without any.
 
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Dennison Milenkaya
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Individual HQ card images with 10% bleed.

Scarlet 1 front
Scarlet 1 rear
Scarlet 2 front
Scarlet 2 rear
x1 Deep Freeze
x1 Draconic Wings
x1 Electric Storm
x1 Electrify
x1 Fire Storm
x1 Frost Storm
x1 Innervation
x1 Mastery Of Electricity
x1 Mastery Of Flame
x1 Mastery Of Ice
x1 Moonsilver Necklace
x1 Moonsilver Tiara
x1 Mystic Aptitude
x1 Wildfire
x2 Luminescient Beauty
x2 Moonsilver Anklets
x2 Moonsilver Bracelets
x2 Moonsilver Earrings
x2 Scarlet's Diary
x2 Thorn Of The Rose
x2 Unrestrained Possibility
x3 Channeling Ley Lines
x3 Floating Wardrobe
x3 Philisophical Study
x3 Zap!
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