the Charm Makers, Witches.
From the very birth of civilization, we have sought to touch the world that lies beyond our perceptions, to reach out and part the veils of reality and see the creatures of our imagination. The children of Amarazak and Armers have these gifts, and more. Throughout the search for answers to the mysteries of the spirit world that surrounds us, none have learned more than they, for they are necromancers and enchanters supreme. Still, little is known of the sordid past and difficult hardships that these two Estates have shared in common with one another.
We say “these two Estates”, for in the days of great Empires, before the floods washed over the world, they were known as the Rafia and the Rapha. They were two distinct and proud heritages of powerful magi; the Amarazakim, otherwise known as the Rafia, practicing the powerful art of necromancy, and the Armersem, or Rapha, employing great spiritual charms of protection and enchantment. Their kingdoms were situated side by side, and they co-existed peacefully, often calling upon each other's services. Though they shared many physical characteristics, they were of two different minds when dealing with their Goety, mortals and other Estates. The other Estates did not see the difference and collectively referred to them as the Rafiam. It was thus inconsequential to the immortal armies of conquerors that came to their lands. Both lineages were lumped into one group and name and assailed from all sides. However, fate has a way of dealing the cards in odd ways, for had this not been the case, neither Estate could have possibly survived what was to follow.
At the height of their power, the two Estates owned neighboring kingdoms, which were both vast and very prosperous, using their Goety and spirit allies to create a paradise here on earth for themselves and all who lived within their boundaries. They shared company with many other Estates and peoples, all of whom belonged to a circle of like-minded Immortals. But their rich and fertile lands were the envy of many other Estates, and thus began their hardships. At first, incessant conflicts with the Asaelim, the Ben-Hivvah and other Estates taxed their resources. When the order of things had thoroughly been corrupted and wars raged across all the kingdoms, things began to quickly slip out of control. It began with the fall of their allies, Estates that neighbored their own, peoples who are now long lost. Forced into a defensive position, their allies called upon their aid far too late. With their borders now exposed their lands, although rich, slowly diminished under the onslaught and waves of conquering enemies. Their allies depleted, their spirit ancestors drained, the two Estates had only one another to turn to.
The final blow came when the Gibborim warlords aimed at taking what was left of their lands. The Rapha were first to be attacked, and their protections were strained to a thin line of meager defenses. The Rafia soon came to their aid and a bloody battle took place the next day. The Gibborim forces were repelled temporarily, but it took mere days for them to return, ten times stronger. The two Estates fought bravely, but were no match in single combat against the giant warlords. They were forced to flee their homeland, forever. They scattered to the four winds and were hunted everywhere they went. Only the strong survived. It took decades, but somehow they reunited in a valley far from their native land. There, they made a pact and a new Estate and covenant was born, as well as a sworn oath: a promise of vengeance. From that day forth, they were known as the Rafiam.
The floods came and washed over the arid and inhospitable lands of the new Estate, yet they survived. When the waters receded, the Rafiam struggled to rebuild their lost empire, with limited success. They would never know the grandeur of their former kingdoms again, nor the richness of culture they once held.
The Rafiam may no longer be hunted, but they are very much mistrusted. “Never turn your back on a Rafiam” is a common saying amongst the other Estates. And in all honesty, they do well to keep on their toes. Woe comes to the day that the Rafiam decide to collectively exact their long-made promise, woe indeed.
The Rafiam are a highly organized Estate, with small local covens of loyal individuals, which each take on a sect name. These in turn are divided into four groups; each represented by a compass direction and led by an immediate Vizier, who answers to a Coven Master. All Coven Masters are expected to report to the Regional Magi. These Magi have a council of their own, to whom each answers to those councilates above them as well, till the entire hierarchy ends with the Eldest of their Estates, and perhaps beyond.
Relations with other Estates have always been strained, few trust them and they have even fewer allies during these dark times. They remember fondly their fallen friends who once shared their circle of Magi so long ago, now made spirits. Their words and songs are not lost to them and the Rafiam seem to have found more solace amongst these departed than with the living. However, there have been some accounts of recent abuse on the part of the Rafiam on these ties to these ancestral allies.
Younger generations do not share the memories of this kinship, and instances of disrespect and forceful Goety use upon them have begun to occur. This is not so in the case of their mortal families though, for they are an integral part of the Rafiam way of life. Some have been allowed a certain measure of power in local covens and have even attained small levels of magical ritual ability. They are not so much cherished, as prized, for the Rafiam know of the value they hold to their own continuity. It should be noted that within the Two Estates, mortals of Amarazak’s blood cannot bear offspring with the children of Armers, nor vice versa. They are, and remain, two separate and distinct lineages, albeit governed by one single Covenant.
Both lineages of the Rafiam are a comely people with dark and alluring looks and mysterious ways. However, the similarities end there.
The children of Amarazak are by far much more dominant in personality and demeanor. They do not step aside easily and are meticulous in their decisions and plans. They are cerebral by nature, and prefer to outwit and trap their enemies rather than chance a direct conflict. They think little of using treachery and blackmail to their advantage, nor selling their services with debts to be paid at a later date. It is this very mindset that has worked against them and has given the Estate as a whole a bad name. But were it not for this very same mentality, the two Estates would never have made it this far.
The children of Armers are very different in ideology from their Estate counterparts. They are private in their doings and prefer a cautious approach to the use of their Goety. They are not dominant by nature, quite reclusive actually as well as subordinate. They prefer to strike bargains that are mutually beneficial, and have a dislike for treachery. They are not without their darker side however and are vindictive when crossed. One would do well to keep in mind that they hold grudges, regardless of how long it takes to exact their revenge.
Traditionalist and mystical persona concepts are common amongst the Rafiam; however, an emphasis is often placed on mystical knowledge and scholastic studies.
The children of Amarazak begin with 4 points of Redemption and 5 points of Sin. This is to reflect that, although they are willing to do anything to come to the defense of their allies, their ends do not always justify the means. They still harbor a deep-seeded desire of revenge for what was done to them ages ago, and this holds them back greatly.
The children of Armers persona archetypes range from the submissive to the recluse, but rarely the overt. They begin the game with 5 points of Redemption and 4 points of Sin. This is partially due to the fact that they often entrap the spirits they summon and thus accumulate dark energies as well as Sin in the process, showing that their magic requires a certain level of unscrupulousness.
The Rafiam tutelage of both sides of the Estate are very similar, only the Goety to be taught are different. Both Estate pupils are assigned to a warder who will spend the next few years preparing them for their initiation. This is done in three steps. First they must learn the knowledge and the use of their minor Goety before they are permitted to go any further. They will then be taught to use rites and lesser Goety that will prepare them for the next step, learning their Greater Goety.
Each step has a sign of graduation, the first being robes, the second a staff, the last being the Rite of Rebirth. All this is done at the pupil’s future coven; there are no great voyages with the Rafiam, which only serves to reinforce their sense of loyalty to their local sect. While in tutelage, the initiates will also be expected to learn Estate politics, etiquette and perform many chores demanded of them by their future brethren, who see no shame in taking advantage of the young upstarts in any way they see fit, and although taking this too far is frowned upon by the Estate elders, who knows to what extent these hazings go to behind closed doors.
The Goety of Amarazak:
The Rafia are gifted with a Goety that permits them to summon, speak to and extract various knowledge from spirits. They are exceptionally gifted in finding hidden information from such sources, including the secrets of other Nephal, possibly even their angelic names. The methods by which they extract these elements may vary from bargaining or trading with souls, to interacting with them on various other levels. This has created great controversy amongst the other Estates who tread carefully when dealing with them, never fully trusting them. After all, who knows how much they truly know? It is important to note that although the ‘Amarazakim’ are adept summoners, the spirits they call upon are in no way bound to them and may decline their requests at any time unless otherwise coerced.
This Estate is so intricately associated with the ghosts, spirit ancestors, elemental forces and the mystical races around them, that they have developed an acute sense to their presence. All children of Amarazak benefit from a +1 bonus to all difficulty markers per dot of Minor Virtue in the detection of spirits and their recent activities in an observed area. Although this cannot be used to determine what powers the spirit may be using at that point in time, it can allow to detect the details of the spirit’s activities, their current location within the area, and the type to which they belong.
To perform any Greater Goety, The children of Amarazak must spend Essence like any other Estate. However their summons demand exacting tributes in the form of personal energies. Thus, the Rafia have two options: spend their own Essence and physically weaken themselves greatly each time they perform their arts, or spend the energies of other sources. To this end, most place much time and effort into finding, accumulating and preparing spirit energies for future use through the aid of their Armers brethren.
Consequently, anytime the ‘Amarazakim’ perform their Greater Goety, they draw upon a part of their very being. Sometimes these effects are almost passive, other times violent. Either way they leave the Rafia weakened and suffering a temporary age penalty to all die roll difficulties until they have rested an amount of turns or regained an amount of essence equal to the total Essence spent in the effort. As an alternate, they have been known to use the energies from sacrifices, or that which is accumulated through “borrowed” sources such as the talismans their brethren create. However, once used, these sources are permanently depleted. Should a vessel containing a spirit be drained of all its Essence, the spirit will cease to exist. Tots and other natural sources of energies can and do offer a replenishing source of Essence, however if tapped into in excess, they can dry up like a riverbed and cause unforeseen spiritual complications in the area.
The Goety of Armers:
The Rapha are well versed in the manipulation of spiritual forces, as well as the knowledge of summoning circles and charms. They are known for opening gates to other worlds, and even binding souls to people, places and things. Although they may rival the children of Azkeel in the creation of artifacts, there is one great difference: Golem and similar creations made by the ‘Armersem’ are not living artifacts or beings, they are spirits bound to an inanimate object, thus forced into the world of the living and trapped within an alien shell. Many spirits do not take kindly to being forced to render their services, and some do not go willingly. The art of Armers can be altogether time-consuming, and has its price.
As a Minor Goety, they are able to detect if an object or individual is possessed by or contains a spirit or if it is enchanted by a power of any source. They are thus able to gauge the nature of that spirit or power as well as the effects that may be exerted on the given host. This can also be used when looking at charms and talismans created with spirit energies, allowing them to determine their source, purpose and levels of power. All ‘Armersem’ thus benefit from a +1 bonus to their difficulty marks per dot in Minor Virtue in the detection of spirits or powers said to be present.
As the ‘Armersem’ perform more and more magic, they mark themselves with a part of the effect. The eventual outcome is that they attract the animosity and hostilities of the forces they seek to control. This is compounded by the fact that as time advances, most of their efforts will be increasingly spent on creating protection charms and wards against such forces, adding to the vicious cycle in turn. Consider the Armersem to accumulate temporary “stains” on themselves each time they forcefully bind a spirit into servitude. These marks translate into an age penalty modifier on all rolls when dealing with spirits of that kind, who can see these marks as spots on the Rapha’s aura. This penalty will last as long as the charm maintains its use. Should their actions or Goety be responsible for extinguishing a spirit, the stain becomes permanent when dealing with that particular spirit’s ilk, having possibly devastating effects when next they seek to summon them.