Lineage represents the touch of magic on a human, and can occur in many ways. Parents with lineage often give birth to children of the same lineage while the offspring of a human and an eternal herald, while rare, always expresses the appropriate lineage. It is also common for fully human parents to give birth to a lineaged child for no apparent reason.
Lineage often comes through the blood, or from exposure to a strong magical aura when very young, but can also occur for other reasons, for instance a child born in a primal forest, under the influence of the realm of Spring might become a briar in later life while a child born during a great famine when Winter holds sway might be born a draughir. Likewise, some places simply have a higher incidence of lineage among the children born there - places like Syrene in Casinea or Spiral Castle in Weirwater.
The Briars are touched by the realm of Spring, an exuberant realm of uncontrolled natural forces dominated by green growing things that care not at all for humankind. more...
The Cambion are infused by the realm of Autumn, a realm of naked ambition and intrigue where complex webs of wealth and influence connect the Eternals. more...
The Draughir are touched by the realm of Winter, a nightmare realm of hunger and death that nonetheless possesses hidden wisdom. more...
The Merrow are touched by the realm of Day, a realm where sky and ocean merge. They are rational, calm, curious people who look as if they are as much at home beneath the waves as they are on land. more...
Creating a lineaged character
If you wish to play a character that is not fully human but you do not want to play an orc then you may select one of the six lineages that are available to a human character. Each lineage is linked to one of the six realms - so if you wish to have lineage then you must pick one of the six shown above, you cannot create your own lineage. Only humans possess lineage, Imperial Orcs are not affected in the same way by the magic of the realms and do not generate lineage.
Lineage has no effect on your character's skills or abilities but each lineage has a list of trappings - physical and mental characteristics associated with the lineage. You need to decide how much lineage you want your character to possess. It is possible to have only the slightest touch of magic in your blood or to be very strongly affected. How lineaged your character is based solely on their appearance and the way you roleplay the character. If you choose to use most of the mental and physical trappings and to make any phys-reps large and impressive then your character is strongly lineaged (often called high lineage). If you only adopt one or two of the trappings and they are subtle or difficult to spot then your character is not strongly lineaged.
When you create your character you must choose at that point if you have a lineage. If you choose a lineage then you must phys-rep the degree of lineage that your character has. Choosing whether to have lineage or not is a major decision that should not be taken lightly. There is no easy in-character way to remove lineage once a character has been played. If you later discover lineage is not for you then you may need to retire the character.
There is a section about attitudes to the lineages in each of the nation briefs. There are individuals of every lineage in every nation in the Empire, lineaged characters are considered human, and for the most part they are fully accepted in most lands. The only exception are briars who enjoy a poor reputation as violent and confrontational individuals and suffer prejudice in most nations as a result.
Creating a lineaged group
Individuals with lineage often feel more comfortable in the company of others who share their lineage. Because of this, and the fact that lineage has some tendency to run in the blood, it is possible to create a group of characters who share a lineage. Such characters may have been born in similar circumstances or they may have chosen to seek each other out and work together. For instance, the members of a thane's hall in Wintermark may all be briars due to the presence of a powerful Spring aura in the area. Or a band of Dawnish knight-errants may all be draughir, having chosen to quest for glory together.
Playing a lineaged character
Each lineage has a description of how the touch of magic influences the personality and attitudes of a character with that lineage. These are meant to be useful hooks to help you build an iconic and interesting character as well as a way to make lineage more interesting for those who interact with them. However it is up to you how you create your character, you are free to interpret these elements as you wish. Even if your character possesses all the physical trappings of a lineage, you don't have to roleplay the mental trappings of a lineage, it simply means your character's personality is not affected by the magic in their blood - that they do not have high lineage.
Each lineage has a boon such as the ability to eat spoiled food of the draughir or the stubborn will of the cambion. These boons represent a minor ability that the character possesses as a result of their lineage. Some of these abilities provide a limited source of spiritual strength allowing the character to respond to specific roleplaying effects in a specific different way. For example, a changeling can respond to roleplaying effects that would cause them to be afraid or filled with doubt by becoming angry. It should be obvious to those nearby that you are using this special ability. Others are more conditional - the merrow ability to survive underwater for long periods, the naga heightened senses, or the draughir ability to eat spoiled food. These are very much about providing roleplaying opportunities for the lineaged character, rather than mechanical advantages. While they might in theory provide an advantage in a specific scenario, they are very unlikely to give any sort of consistent or persistent mechanical advantage. Situations where these boons grants a game advantage would be the exception rather than the rule.
Lineage and the Eternals
The eternals are known to sometimes respond positively to approaches from individuals with high lineage of their realm. In effect they may see a character with high lineage as one of their own and a powerful and important lineaged character is more likely to be treated as an equal. This does not guarantee good treatment, it does not guarantee that the eternal will respond positively, it simply improves the likelihood of being well received, particularly at first meeting. The physical or mental trappings of high lineage are equally likely to help make a good first impression on an eternal of the appropriate realm.
Gaining lineage in play
If your character starts play as human, then you cannot simply choose to adopt a lineage. Lineage that appears spontaneously does so during childhood; adults do not become lineaged without a reason. The only exception to this rule is for young players - especially at the point where they pass their citizenship test and gain their skills.
There are several ways to gain a lineage in play. Some eternals will offer to help with the transformation for those who seek out their aid. Traumatic wounds may include text that states that if your character is healed using magic then they may choose to become a briar. Traumatic wounds caused by magical events such as rituals that go badly may expose a character to the magic of the realms and present a similar opportunity to change lineage.
Certain eternals have a strong connection with the lineage associated with their realm: (Yaw'nagrah with briars, Meraud with changelings, Prospero with cambion, Sorin with draughir, Roshanwe with merrow, and Azoth with naga) and may be prevailed upon in play to provide access to boons that allow a human to gain lineage. One eternal - Ylenrith - has the opposite association, being known to grant boons that remove lineage from people who wish to become fully human. These boons generally require tasks or payment of some sort depending on the eternal and the circumstances - or the eternal may offer their boon as a reward for a service.
Some magic can give a player the option to gain lineage - sometimes as a side effect. This process is little understood - there are certainly rumours of rituals that increase the likelihood of children being born with lineage in a given area or to given parents - but permanently granting an adult lineage (or removing the same) usually requires powerful ritual magic backed with ilium to allow a lasting change to their essential nature.
It is exceptionally difficult to change lineage - even more difficult than becoming lineaged if one is human. No known magic will reliably change lineage - in the rare occasions where it has been achieved it first requires the person to lose their lineage, becoming fully human, before gaining a new lineage via the normal (arduous) process.
Becoming lineaged, or removing lineage, are both significant goals your character can accomplish in play, but they are likely to take time and effort to achieve, and success is by no means guaranteed.
Gaining lineage is never obligatory - it is always an out-of-character choice by the player, but it is something that you can only choose to have happen in response to in-character events.
Limits on lineage
There are only six lineages available and the physical trappings listed for a lineage are the only trappings that should be used. You should not mix physical trappings from different lineages or invent your own physical trappings - e.g. you cannot play a merrow with horns or a third eye.
If you want to phys-rep one of the trappings with a slightly different technique or style to the ideas suggested on the lineage pages then that is absolutely fine. If you want to use different trappings to the ones listed then you should email us to discuss your plans. Your request must be an extension of the stylistic concepts listed for the lineage, for example there are no circumstances under which your changeling can have fiery red skin as a trapping. If the trapping you have requested is a good fit for the lineage, then we will add it to the list of minor trappings available for the lineage.
Some individuals with lineage may find that their lineage grows stronger with the passage of time. If you want to do this, then your build on your phys-rep over time to increase the degree of lineage that your character has. The precise mechanisms by which your lineage grows stronger vary from character to character, it may be the passing of time, exposure to magic, etc.
This process does not go in reverse, you cannot become more human over time. However if your lineage trappings are problematic, for example if you are having an allergic reaction to a prosthetic, then you can reduce or change the way your lineage manifests. Otherwise please try to keep your lineage consistent.
Finally, it is not possible to play a lineaged character with no physical trappings. You may choose to have the bare minimum, but you must have at least one of your lineage's physical trappings if you possess lineage.
No matter the circumstances of your birth or the way you came to possess lineage, your character must have been raised in the mortal world. Humans cannot survive in the realms themselves. Mortals who claim to have visited a realm have in fact visited a chamber - a place that exists part way between the mundane world and the realm. Some of these chambers are very large - one might contain an entire forest for example. For this reason you character's background cannot include a visit to a realm, you cannot have grown up in a realm or have been raised there by heralds or an eternal. You may have visited a chamber and spent time there, but even in these cases it is unlikely a background where you are raised by heralds or eternals will be approved.
- Lineage FAQ