Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Psi-Wars: Ruminations on House Elegans

The third of the Psi-Wars houses is that of House Elegans. Once proud, they've been laid low by the rise of the Empire. Let's take a closer look.

House Elegans

Who are they?

Never one of the most powerful houses, Elegans was nevertheless beloved by the other nobility for their charm and flair (not to mention their dueling prowess!). Their connections with the lost house of Alexus lent them a further mystique, and their exploits and scandals were favorite topics of gossip.

Then the Emperor led his coup, and Elegans found itself trapped between the fledgling Empire and the treacherous, untamed wilds of the galaxy’s Dark Arm. With much of the nobility fleeing into Maradonian space on the other side of the galaxy, support and aid was nowhere to found, and the traditional home of Elegans was captured, gutting the house in the process.

The survivors of House Elegans have scattered widely, and while many have made their way to Alliance space, evading Imperial pursuit along the way, many others have not, either going into hiding in the Empire or fleeing beyond its other borders.  Marchessa Anna Elegans is now the Lady of the house, but her power is tenuous at best, with the loss of territory and deep divisions among the members of the house hampering her efforts to preserve what remains.

How do the common folk see them?

Ask a typical member of the Alliance what they think about the Elegans, and the response you’ll most often get is confusion. With their holdings so far from Maradonian space, the Elegans have not had much exposure to the people of the Alliance.

What the people do have opinions on are the individual Elegans they’ve encountered, and these can vary wildly. Some see them as drunken, belligerent rogues with too much provide to accept their current circumstances. Others see the compassionate side of Elegans, and pity them for the trials they’ve gone through. Still others see them as heroic, taking the fight to the Empire where the rest of the Alliance sits around and bickers.

How are they seen by the nobility in general?

As a whole, the nobility tend to look on the Elegans with pity. Here was a proud house laid low by the Empire, with only remnants to carry on the name and tradition. But while many sympathize with their plight, here their thoughts go in very different directions.

Much of the nobility lost territory, power, and members during the rise of the Empire, and they’ve rallied around House Elegans as they call for revenge and a renewed effort to win back their lost worlds. They hold up Elegans as an example of their plight, and warn that, if the Alliance does nothing, the rest of the nobility is next.

Others detest Eelegans, for in Anna they see a firebrand who would goad them all into a headlong confrontation with the Empire. While they sympathize with the motives of Elegans, these nobles believe that such a confrontation is premature, and that her constant calls for a fighter will upset their carefully laid plans.

A third group of nobles, partially overlapping with the second, calls for a formal dissolution of Elegans, and incorporating their remaining holdings into other houses, citing the house’s weakness and inability to control its membership as reasons. Some are doing this for political reasons, especially those who oppose Elegans’ populist and warmongering stance, while others see opportunities for economic gain.

What are the strengths of House Elegans?

With Elegans existing as only a shadow of its former self, it can be difficult to say that they even have strengths. This is misleading, for while they certainly don’t have the economic or military power they once had, the house is not entirely without advantages.

Foremost among these is the legendary Elegans charm. People who meet the Elegans tend to like them, especially if they’re making an effort to make a good impression, and so they find themselves willing to support the Elegans, financially or otherwise.

Elegans also has the support of large parts of the nobility who also lost much with the rise of the Empire, and their very losses make them a rallying point for those calling for revenge.

On an individual level, Elegans have passion. The Empire may have gutted their house, but so long as any of them remain, they will never give up the fight against the Empire. They may not have the strength to stand against the Imperial Navy directly, but they will lead insurgencies, wreak havoc among the starlanes as pirates, and more.

What are the weaknesses of HouseElegans?

The greatest weakness of Elegans as a house is that they are dependent for their very survival on the support of others. With the loss of their worlds, their lord and his heirs, and their wealth, Elegans has very little to draw on. Traditionally, a house that fell on such hard times would be dissolved by the Senate, and Marchessa Anna Elegans is fighting hard to keep her house from suffering the same fate.

The Marchessa is also faced with the daunting task of leading a house whose membership is widely scattered, many of whom have their own ideas on how to take the fight to the Empire. Worse still, Anna Elegans is several steps removed from the previous lord of the house, and while those with a better claim are either dead or in hiding, this undermines her authority.

On an individual level, Elegans cannot count on the support of their house, for even if the Marchessa agrees with their goals and methods, there's not a lot she can offer them in terms of resources.

How can House Elegans be the good guys?

First, note that House Elegans is so deeply divided that the house as a whole can hardly be said to be good or bad. Instead, what you’ll find are individual members of House Elegans acting in either role, depending on what motivates them and how they go about achieving their goals.

Heroic members of House Elegans are out fighting the good fight, opposing the oppression of the Empire and empowering the people they meet. These are your Robin Hoods of the setting, to give but one inspiration.

How can House Elegans be the bad guys?

Villainous members of House Elegans chart a darker course. Revenge against an Empire that cost them everything is their primary motivation, and they will go to any lengths to see it destroyed. Cut-throat brigands, assassins cutting a swathe through Imperial leadership, and insurgents sowing terror among the Imperial populace are some of the possibilities you’ll find here.

See also the discussion on Elegans psionics further down. Telepathy has some scary abilities in its list!

Which Communion Paths do they follow?

By far the most common paths for Elegans are Righteous Crusader or Rebellious Beast, depending on whether they fight for principles or for revenge. Some, especially those with revenge as a motivation, turn to the path of Death.

Others have turned to debauchery as a means of coping with the trauma of losing their house, and these walk the path of the Beautiful Fool.

What role does House Elegans’ psionics play?

The combination of Aspect and Emotion Sense means that people tend to like the Elegans, and they’ve got a knack for reading people that lets them navigate social landscapes readily. This is large of part why, even though the house is facing hard times, individual members are often able to find support wherever they go.

The more manipulative members of the house use Aspect and Emotion Control to push people into doing what they want, and even heroic members will use it to increase the impact of their inspirational speeches.

When fighting the Elegans, the battle is as much mental as it is physical. Instill Fear makes it hard to stand and face them, while their Emotion Sense lets them pick out those who are already wavering.

More subtly, Mind Clouding allows them to slip past living guards (but not robots!) without being noticed, making them excellent at infiltration and reconnaissance.

The most gifted Elegans, with full access to Telepathy, are some of the most feared psions in the setting. Mental Surgery lets them brainwash people, Mind-Wipe to make people forget what just happened, and Sensory Control lets them play games with what people perceive. More ethical Elegans will still get a great deal of mileage out of Sleep, Telescan, and Telesend/Telereceive.

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