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Introduction

Page history last edited by Huitzil 10 years ago

WHAT IS PRINCESS: THE HOPEFUL?

Princess is a maho shoujo, or "magical girl" game, set in the World of Darkness. Players take up the roles of reincarnated royalty from a long-past Kingdom of goodness and light, with magical powers based on the Light of Hope. They are tasked with no less than saving the world, lifting the suffocating shroud of fear and misery that makes it a World of Darkness. It's a Game of Fighting Fear.


WHY SHOULD I CARE?

Princess is a lighter take on the World of Darkness, where the protagonists are assumed to be genuinely good people, and the fundamentally good and noble world they fight for is a real possibility. It focuses on the fundamental conflicts of idealism vs. cynicism, hope vs. fear, and innocence vs. experience. Balancing the magical and mundane is important, as unlike other supernaturals a Princess not only CAN, but MUST maintain her normal mundane identity in addition to her supernatural one, and one of a Princess's greatest sources of power is quite literally her friendship with others. Princess need not be played as a game focusing primarily on horror, but it can be; the horror it provides is emotional in nature and focuses on fear of being betrayed or emotionally harmed, fear of letting down those who depend on you, and fear of one's own limitations and failures.

There are three different playstyles the game supports, on a sliding spectrum of light to dark:

 - Light and Shadows, which is a generally light game where Princesses are the good guys, and their foes can be soundly beaten and their enemies redeemed, focusing on the coming of age story and realization of one's power to postiviely shape the world. It is most appropriate to games using the Innocents rules, where the player characters are children.
 
 - Light and Darkness, a game where the protagonists are genuinely good, their opposition is wicked and nearly insurmountable, focusing on the contrast between the two extremes and the importance of the struggle between them. It is the assumed default playstyle, most appropriate to a standard game focusing on a group of adult Princesses.

 - Shadows and Darkness, a game where the evil is genuinely evil but the protagonists don't have moral authority or righteousness on their side, focusing on the horror and difficulty of trying to rise up from one's own dark nature to do good. It is most appropriate to crossover games not primarily focused on Princesses, as it has the least contradiction with the themes of other gamelines.


WHAT IS A PRINCESS?

A Princess is the reincarnation of a royal spirit from the Kingdom, a world that preceded our own that was as much a World of Goodness and Light as this one is a World of Darkness. Withouttheir souls being utterly beaten-down and darkened by the fear, misery and horror that denizens of the World of Darkness take as a given, they are able to draw upon the power of their own Inner Light to shape magic called Charms, fueled by Wisps of positive energy she gathers from her frienships and the world around her. Most Charms must be shouted aloud to be cast, and additional magic words, called Invocations, can be added to the casting to alter the Charm's properties. Casting a Charm silently is harder to do, and usually no Invocations can be applied to it.

One of the most fundamental abilities of a Princess is her Transformation, the ability to draw out her Inner Light and assume the identity of her "perfected self", her royal spirit untouched by the ravages of the World of Darkness. Not only is her Transformed identity able to perform magic and exceed her normal human limitations, but she appears to all intents and purposes to be a different person, allowing her to maintain a normal life with none of her acquaintances the wiser that she can become an empowered hero of hope -- and none of the many dark enemies she makes are aware of the vulnerable second identity she has. Maintaining the secrecy of this dual-identity is of paramount importance to a Princess, as without it, her friends and loved ones are in danger.

A Princess's Belief replaces the normal human Morality; her Belief measures her confidence in her own goodness and abilities to change the world for the better without compromising her principles. A Princess who compromises her Belief and degenerates may and probably does feel guilty about her actions, but is convinced there is no other way -- "I can do this, BUT, I have to be willing to bend this principle." When a Princess reaches Belief 0, her mantra becomes "I can't do this. No matter what I am willing to give up, it is impossible for me to succeed," and becomes so utterly consumed with hopeless despair she will invariably commit suicide.


WHAT IS THE KINGDOM?

The Kingdom was the world before ours, the world all humankind deserves. The World of Darkness emphasizes the worst in people, and the Kingdom was just the opposite. Mankind was, and is, inherently good. People cared for and helped each other. Society worked like how you dream your favorite political philosophy would work, without having to deal with human nature screwing it up. Sure, there were crimes, and people got sick; but less of each, and those people needed help, and they got it. The Queens and Princes and Princesses ruled by divine mandate that didn't give them the RIGHT to rule, but the RESPONSIBILITY.

Happiness cannot exist without sadness... but there was far less sadness, and far less intense. There were monsters, creatures of darkness... but they lost. Evil seeks only to destroy, and goodness builds, and that's why the Power of Love always triumphed.

Until the last time they fought. Until the Cataclysm. Nobody's actually sure what happened -- of the Queens who guide the Hopeful now, five of them were dead by the time of the Cataclysm and can't remember anything specific. The sixth one, the Queen of Tears, is the one who tells her followers that mankind must reach the utter nadir of misery and despair before the Kingdom can return to them, and she NEVER, EVER talks about what she saw. While the Hopeful don't have a lot of facts, they have been able to surmise a few things.

First, and most obvious, the Cataclysm was horrible beyond imagining. It was the ultimate power play of what they call the Great Darkness, a phrase they can use to easily refer to "all the forces of evil and badness in the world." As evil cannot build, only destroy, it could never defeat everything that goodness and love had built up and expect it to stick. Its only option was to try and prevent goodness and light from building anything at all. The Catclysm was so great and terrible, it could be seen as having "rebooted" the universe, starting it all over in a great cosmic cycle. As the universe restarted, the Great Darkness essentially attempted to kneecap the Inner Light of hope at the starting line. The physical world was literally coated in darkness and evil to prevent the Light from shining through and gaining anything.

That's why the world is so messed up, so Dark now -- because we've had Yin with no Yang (or Yang with no Yin, I forget how it goes). The inner goodness of all humankind still exists, but it's in a constant state of near-suffocation under all the world's darkness and despair. History progressed, and the inner light of humanity did its best, but its gains were meager and always threatened by darkness, despair, depravity, malice. When the darkness was broken and the Light allowed to shine through, it was entirely by accident. When the Apollo 11 spacecraft landed on the Moon, it opened a gate, and the Light, shrouded for so very long, began to shine again from the Moon, and got its chance to join the restarted cosmic cycle in earnest. Some believe the great nature of this accomplishment was what allowed humankind to hold on to enough hope to let the Light in, a metaphysical proof that mankind can accomplish. Some believe that landing on the Moon dispelled the illusion of the Dreamlands that the Hopeful's souls had been trapped in, allowing them to realize the nature of the world they inhabited. Some even believed the mission gained the intention of some vast, nameless, formless Thing, and the manifest darkness followed the little craft back to Earth to visit pain and fear upon its inhabitants... but in its absence, now there was no great darkness blotting out that area of the universe.  This is why the Moon is so important to the Hopeful, why it gives them their powers, their visions, and their hope. The shroud of darkness doesn't cover the Moon any more, and it is from the Moon that the light of hope is allowed to shine, and with this light, the Princess will cast away the darkness, supernatural and mundane, suffocating man for so long. And you may say she's a dreamer... but she's not the only one.


HOW ARE PRINCESSES ORGANIZED? WHAT KINDS OF PRINCESSES ARE THERE?

Each Princess has a Calling, the fundamental task of bringing hope to the world that resonates the most with her: a Champion defends the weak, a Mender aids those in pain, a Seeker finds the truth, a Grace leads the guideless, and a Troubadour inspires the downtrodden. A Princess's Calling is chosen when she becomes a Princess, and cannot be changed; it determines most of the magical Charms she has an affinity for, the duties she can perform to regain magical power, and the sacred Oaths she must maintain.

Almost all Princesses follow a Queen, an archetypal leader from the Kingdom who provides guidance and teaching from afar. The Queens are named for the suits in a deck of cards, and each favors certain attributes (boosting dice pools involving them by spending Wisps, whether Transformed or not; this ability is called Practical Magic), teaches an affinity for a certain elemental Charm, and has a certian outlook on the world. Followers of the five Radiant Queens may not see eye-to-eye on many things, but most of the time they know they work for the same team and work closely together, bolstering each other's strengths and covering each other's weaknesses.

 - The Queen of Clubs leads the coven of Princesses who seek harmony with nature and draw strength from the natural world. They believe in solving their problems by enduring hardship and favor Resistance Attributes, they are the magical girls who will never, ever give up, no matter how dire the circumstances. They have an affinity for the Charm of Terra, governing earth and endurance.

 - The Queen of Diamonds leads the conclave of progressive-minded Princesses who believe in constantly adapting and refining the Kingdom's techniques. They believe in solving problems with their minds and favor Mental Attributes, they are the magical girls who can do anythign they put their minds to. They have an affinity for the Charm of Aqua, governing water and wisdom.

 - The Queen of Hearts leads the court of Princesses with a strong traditionalist background who seek to bring back the Kingdom in form as well as spirit. They believe in solving their problems through charisma and personality and favor Social Attributes, they are the magical girls whose greatest asset is their ability to love everyone. They have an affinity for the Charm of Legno, governing plants and friendship.

 - The Queen of Spades leads a confederacy of winking scoundrels and good-hearted rogues who believe the best application of the rules is to break them. They believe in solving their problems through finesse and subtlety and favor Finesse Attributes, they are the magical girls who are everyone's friend and no one's pawn. They have an affinity for the Charm of Aria, governing air and subtlety.

 - The Queen of Swords leads the company of Princesses who believe that the best methods are the direct ones, that subterfuge and indecision are luxuries of a happier time. They believe in solving problems through the most direct and overwhelming means available and favor Power Attributes, they are the magical girls who let nothing stand in the way of their goals. They have an affinity for the Charm of Fuego, governing fire and passion.

Above and beyond their innate Calling and the loosely organized philosophies of the Queens, some Princesses choose to join an Embassy, dedicating themselves to making some thing or concept better to humanity, and are granted powers that help in that area, as well as giving them and their allies access to deal with it. Members of Embassies are still very human, but are other things on top of that -- the Ocean Embassy are mermaids, the Arcane Embassy are cute witches, the Machine Embassy are Ridiculously Human Robots. Some Princesses originate from the concept of an Embassy and have joined humanity on its behalf, they are called "Ambassadors". If you want to play a magical girl who comes from a world of magic and is leaning to join and live with humanity, as with Mermaid Melody or Mahotsukai Sally, play an Ambassador.


WHO DO PRINCESSES FIGHT?

Princesses fight -- either to combat or redeem -- all who make this world a World of Darkness, mortal or otherwise. Their primary foes are the forces of Darkness, empowered by the very nature of suffering and sorrow to inflict more of it on the world. Forces of Darkness can take many forms, from insidious corrupting influences to brutish and destructive might to dark secrecy and witchcraft. Dark powers are provided on an "a la carte" basis, for Storytellers to build their own sorts of dark powers without adhering to a limited number of tempaltes, as well as providing several examples of individual antagonists and organizations.

As well, Princesses find themselves in conflict with other Princesses, mostly the followers of the two Dark Queens, whose goals oppose that of the Radiant Queens the players follow, and each other:

 - The Queen of Tears leads a dark contingent of Princesses in service of Alhambra, the last city of the Kingdom, impossibly still standing as a bastion of light within the very heart of Darkness. Her followers harvest the hope and joy from the world, sucking away our dreams to buy another day of life for the Grand City -- a life none of them pretend is happy or worthwhile, but one that must be maintained because the alternative is too terrifying to contemplate. They are Dark Magical Girls who have given in to loneliness and hopelessness, holding on to a precious few scraps of Belief, telling themselves that keeping Alhambra alive with stolen hope is the best they can do. They have an affinity for the Charm of Vuoto, governing void and sorrow.

 - The Queen of Storms is a being utterly consumed by her rage at the depredations of the darkness, and all thought, mercy, and virtue is incinerated by her white-hot fury. Her Princesses and servants are living vessels of pure Fury, so single-minded in their pursuit of punishment and revenge that they are blind to the sorrow and ruined lives they leave in their wake.  They are Dark Magical Girls who have given into rage at the injustices of the world, who have lost the parts of themselves that were worth fighting for. They have an affinity for the Charm of Vetriolo, governing acid and caustic hatred.


HOW ARE PRINCESSES DIFFERENT FROM OTHER GAME LINES? ISN'T THIS A BIT LIKE MAGE OR HUNTER?

Princess's focus on hope and the good nature of its protagonists is its primary draw -- where other games are about the horror of trying not to be a monster, Princess can be about the horror that must be withstood even when you're the good guy. It duplicates a genre not represented in existing World of Darkness games, one that can be played light and fun, dark and serious, or silly and comedic, depending on the preferences of the group.

It uses a lot of themes from Mage and Hunter (and some from Changeling), but goes in a totally different direction with them, much the same way Mage and Promethean go different ways with the idea of "what it means to be human". The backstory is left open to integrate with other games as much or as little as desired; the Kingdom may have been a competing view of Atlantis, or may have co-existed or come before or after it. The Abyss and Arcadia may be expressions of the Darkness, or their own separate entities. The Queens themselves may be real individuals, archetypal gestalt ideas of the human consciousness, or even redeemed True Fae who gained love and empathy.

Compared to other supernaturals in playstyle, Princesses strongly emphasize determination and the power of friendship. They have greater reserves of power to draw on than other supernaturals, with the ability to convert Willpower into Wisps (their source of fuel), and the ability to refill thier Willpower in advance of fulfilling their Virtue, with a heavy cost if they fail to actually fulfill that Virtue after using this ability. They have the ability to spend Wisps to negate damage almost as well as a Sin-Eater, though no innate ability to reaise themselves from the dead like a Sin-Eater or Promethean. The Charm of magical blasting attacks is an affinity for all Princesses, but most of their powers are constructive in nature and hard to use destructively. Many of their Charms enhance the abilities of themselves and their friends, meaning that while one Princess alone may not be very powerful, a group of them can all enhance each other and become a very powerful force. However, their powers lend themselves to being open and direct, and even the most subtle Spade isn't as subtle as the average vampire or Changeling. They must act themselves, and can't really act through agents, whether mortal or spirit or ghost. The way they operate makes them some malign enemies, and they must be cautious and vigilant to make sure their mundane identity is not exposed,  for it would put their lives and their friends and family's lives in danger.

Princesses are compelled to save and defend others by their Sensitivity, their ability to reactively feel the pain of others. Sensitivity is triggered by seeing, experiencing or causing traumatic or painful events and being unable or unwilling to stop them; Sensitivity is rolled much like Paradox is for Mages, and "successful" Sensitivity rolls cause negative Hauntings to afflict the character and can give her Shadows as well, which are lingering negative powers that lessen her ability to regain Wisps and increase the severity of Hauntings she suffers. Areas of great suffering or pain can also take on Shadows, negatively impacting everyone in them but expecially harming Princesses.


DO I HAVE TO PLAY A GIRL?

No. not all of the Reborn are women. Males are called Princes, and are not necessarily feminized by their status -- but female Princesses outnumber male Princes by about 5 to 2, and nobody is really sure why. Thus, the feminine noun and pronoun forms are used when talking about Princesses in general.


HEY, DIDN'T THIS USED TO BE ON RPG.NET?

Yes, but due to irreconcilable creative differences, the project had to be forked. Now they are going in one direction over there, and we are going in another direction over here.


WHAT'S DONE? WHAT'S STILL LEFT TO DO?

The unique mechanics for Princesses are done, their society and organization is done, and the magical Charms they use are mostly done, there need to be some spots filled in that used to be occupied by varying magical attack Charms that are now incorporated into the Volley Charm. The setting and mythic background are complete and need to be fleshed out. We have a good handle on our antagonists, but need to detail a list of dark powers for them to choose from. Most of the work to be done is fleshing out and refining or streamlining existing content.


HOW CAN I HELP?

You can help by being interested in the game! Tell us what kind of character you want to play, what kind of games you want to run, what stories you want to tell, so we can make sure those can be done in the system. Make sure we know what makes you interested in the project, so we can emphasize those aspects. If you have ideas for the kinds of things magical girls need to be able to do, we need to make sure you can do them. If you have information useful to constructing the signature city of San Francisco, it's welcomed. And if you can flesh out missing Charms, Embassies, or Dark Powers, that's even better.

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