This story opened chapter one. Keep in mind that I wrote this about four years ago...the desire to edit these is almost overwhelming! Here goes:
I was born in Unity City, the youngest daughter of Roian parents. My life was normal, idyllic even, and I spent my days going to school or church, or else sitting in grandpa’s big old rocking chair, relaxing on our back porch.
My memories of that time are fragmented; I remember the cobblestone streets and white fountains, my mother’s eyes and my father’s hands, even the laugh of my big sister, whose golden curls bounced as she ran. I have forgotten the face I had back then, and have no recollection of my name, though I'm sure I had one.
I also remember the first time I saw one of The Tainted. How could I forget? That was the day I lost everything, starting with my mother…
She had taken me shopping in the Trade District. It was to be a quick trip, and since my sisters were at school and my father was busy in the garden, Mother decided to take me along. I forget what we were after.
The streets were surprisingly quiet; for some reason, I remember expecting a loud, bustling place, and being surprised at how few people were there. Mother led me to a small pavilion and began talking to the shopkeeper. I remember squeezing her hand tightly, wide-eyed and excited, and then seeing the strange man with glowing red eyes. He smiled at me. His face was twisted and strange, with a pointed nose and unnaturally sharp teeth; he looked exactly how I'd always imagined the Tainted, and my whole body trembled with the fear of him.
I scurried around behind Mother's legs, peering at him as much as I dared, tugging at the hem of her skirt. Finally, fear got the better of me; I buried my face in Mother's skirt and didn't look out for a long time. When I finally did, he was gone.
There was another man, though. This one was too skinny, with greasy black hair and long smudge of dirt across his cheek.
He held a dagger close against his thigh. I tugged at Mother and asked if we could go home. "Hush," she said, as she gathered her purchases into her shoulder bag, "it's almost time." Then she hefted me into her arms, settled me onto her hip, and turned to go. Within a few short steps, there was a dagger in Mother's side.
I heard the man's harsh whisper. "Act casually," he said, then he pressed himself against her back--my leg was pinned between the two of them--and pushed us through the heavy door that separated the Roian District from the trading alley. Once inside, he asked her for her money, and said awful things; I remember them, but they were too awful to say. Mother’s face turned red and her breath quickened; she pried my hands from her shoulders, put me on the street and shoved me away, yelling, “Run, run home!”
I was an obedient child, and confused. I started to run.
But then I heard Mother scream. It was an awful sound; the moment I heard it, something deep inside of me broke, and whatever it was, it's the one thing I can never heal. My legs failed, my knees buckled, my breath caught in my throat, and I collapsed to the ground, crying even though I didn't yet understand why. Mother was lying on the ground, a red stain growing across her white dress.
I gathered my strength and ran to her. By the time I got there, the man that had stabbed her was already gone, and her eyes, Mother's loving eyes, were becoming glazed and distant. She was leaving, and I needed her to stay. I threw myself across her chest and willed her to live. I was ready to give anything, do anything, I just wanted her to stay.
My hands tingled with strange energies, and instinctively, I willed them into Mother. Her chest shuddered. Her eyes grew wide and I heard her gasp, filling her ruined lungs with air. Light returned to her face. I smiled down at her, still crying. Mother. My mother. I loved her so much…
But Mother didn't seem to see me. She ran her fingers through the dark stain on her dress and held them up, examining them. Then she looked at me the same way she did when I hit my sister. She pushed me away from her, held me by the shoulders and asked, in a horrified half-whisper, “What did you do?”
I didn’t know. I remember trying to tell her that I had wanted her to stay, and she did, and everything was okay now. I just wanted to go home. “No,” she told me, her voice strange and wooden. “You can't go home. Not ever again. You're going to have to go to a new home, now." I tried to deny it, I tried to argue, I begged and pleaded, but no matter how hard I tried, Mother wouldn’t take her awful words back. She wouldn't even look at me. She grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me back into the trade alley, then through it and into The Commons. From there, we went to a large house, full of people I didn’t know, most of them young. Mother told the harried, unkempt woman at the door what had happened and said that she would bring my things in the morning. I was never to see Mother, or any of my other family members, ever again. I had become a magic-wielder. I had become Gieden.
So, if you want to run a Gieden game, you have to choose your flavor. You could have your players start in the ruins of a city (or even your home town), at which point, there will be plenty of lost technology but also plenty of Nuameii. Your players may be part of a tribe or agricultural village, or they could live in a newly-built city, like the character in the story above.
There are lots of ways to go about creating a character. You might start with their natural abilities; is your character strong? Attractive? Smart? Are they particularly magically gifted? Remember that even Roian characters can use magic; what separates Gieden from Roian is choice.
Another way to go about it is to start with the Nuameii that the character is linked to or has the potential to be linked to, should they ever touch magic. One chapter of the RPG is dedicated to Nuameii, but any fantasy creature you can imagine will work: dragons, fairies, werewolves, trolls...you name it. You can also use real animals, or more powerful versions of real animals.
A person's Nuameii should be a reflection of their true nature, no matter how different that is from their outside persona. It might also give you an idea of what kind of magic the character wields: werewolves are often associated with rage, for instance.
Another way to begin is to think of a Taint for your character, although Roian won't have them and Gieden who do are generally shunned. Taints are parts of the body that were destroyed by the character's own magic, and are now replaced with the corresponding part of their Nuameii. A character might have glowing eyes, or an arm that ends in a hoof, or a serpent's tongue. These phantom limbs act physical but look magical; they are almost see-through and glow faintly with the color of the magic that created them.
The nine magical spheres are: Protection, Healing, Pure Magic, Destruction, Fury, Elemental, Artifice, Subterfuge, and Counter Magic. They each have their own color and their own uses, and they're covered in the next chapter, which I'll be putting up next time. :)