[Nobilis] Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine: Easy-Going Spoiler Thread

Rand Brittain

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People first heard the name "Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine" some time ago, but we haven't really heard much about it. That seems inappropriate, given how long in advance the anticipation threads for Nobilis 3e were kept up (in fact they are still on the front page), so I'm opening up a thread to give a few spoilers on the project while Jenna's busy working on it, and on her novels. We've been enjoying ourselves playtesting this game, and even though there's still plenty of work to be done, I thought the rest of the world ought to know about it.

Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine is a new setting for Nobilis that maps the game to the pastoral setting and a generally lower power level. It's primarily inspired by sources like the films of Studio Ghibli, TV shows like Kamichu!, and school phantasmagoria like Revolutionary Girl Utena, although if you look closely you'll also spot influences like Diane Duane, the more traditional Nobilis sources, and even, may Cneph forgive me, Homestuck.

The setting is Town, which at one point was a Chancel and now appears to be most of what's left of Creation after somebody finally carried out the threat and shot down the sun. A miracle occurred, and as Creation drowned in the Not, the sun's light illuminated the Lands Beyond Creation, transforming them into the Outside, with mysterious metaphysical consequences.

But all that notwithstanding, Town is a quiet sort of place. I mean, I'm not saying the dreams of the children of Town never get invaded by deathly witches, or maybe King Death turns his gaze upon Town from across Big Lake, or the Riders come in to the Walking Fields and decide to hunt you today, but in general, it's a place where people want to get on with their lives, talk about their feelings, and pass their classes/find love/help their sick dog/thaw their heart/find their lost teddy bear.

The game is intended to be playable no-prep, so it comes with a set of pregenerated Main Characters, who I'll discuss in spoiler blocks. If you decide you want to play somebody else, though, there's nothing Jenna can do to stop you from statting up Sphinx or a rat or Caroline Yatskaya on 9 CP and going to Town.

Spoiler: Show
The official Main Characters are:

  • the Wishing Boy, an ordinary boy, but not so ordinary that he can't build a Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine in the vacant house down the street. Because that happened.
  • the Best Friend, called into existence by a wish to be Chuubo's best friend. The problems inherent in being created by magic to be a specific person's best friend are giving him an existential crisis.
  • the Prodigy, a young lady from Russia who is the official best at everything. She has a history, which has led to her heart being frozen, and must thaw it with the power of friendship and also Town's extra-strong black coffee.
  • the Idol, the most magical and wonderful being who could ever possibly exist. I will summarize him by informing you that the Idol's player gets bonus Destiny every time the other players shake their fists at the heavens and curse his name. That should tell you everything you need to know.
  • the Magical Detective, a mysterious elf who has arrived to fix Town's problems. She's never found a case she couldn't solve with judicious application of stickers, a whilffle bat, and the Young Detective's Guide to Achieving Good Outcomes in a World of Intrigue and Skulduggery.
  • the Child of the Sun, who is the sun. If you ever wanted to get an idea of what Imperators were capable of, she's a pretty good example. She's a fabulous sky princess who would really like to track down her mother, the old sun, and avenge her not-death at the hands of her father. Also she's failing math (this is traditional for Imperators who have to take math class).
  • the Class President, who isn't really certain about all this magic and miracles stuff, because honestly, isn't it what's in your heart that's important? In spite of having no clue what is going on, he is here to help.
  • the Ideologue, a girl who got hit in the head by a dodgeball, achieved enlightenment, and realized that the world needed to end. Salute! Apocynum! Why did Jenna decide to make Deceivers playable? Because the world is a shell of lies and everybody's held into it by their misconceptions.
  • the Rival, who... seriously, why is he labelled as "the Rival" on his own character sheet when Chuubo gets to be "the Wishing Boy"? Are you laughing at him and his Nightmare Technology? Fools! But no matter; he shall show you all!
  • the Empty Child, whose dreams are killing him. Seriously, stop making him care! He'll have to go back in the <bleep> White Room again, and nobody wants that.
  • the Practical Teacher, who is here to explain how dreams and wishes are for silly children and you should stop having them, because that's what practical people do. Now, please explain this human practice called tennis. It's not because I don't understand it or anything; I just want to be sure that you know.
  • Ogre-sensei, who was surprised to discover that humans are people, even though they're meat. So now she guesses she'll have to teach them, in the hopes that one day they'll be worth it.
  • Principal Entropy II, who is The Man. Is it true that he killed his father? Why is he always hovering around Town dripping blood and doing feng shui? Is it all part of his master plan? (Yes.)
  • the Wish-Granting Engine, the spirit of the Wish-Granting Engine, who is here to wear steampunk clothes and solve problems. Or, if you play the male version, is here to not wear a shirt and solve problems.


Now is the time to start asking questions, so that we can reply with vague, enticing and unsatisfactory answers!
 

Rand Brittain

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And here are a few quotes I picked out:

On the History of the Rival said:
You were raised in Town’s orphanage and everyone hated you.

But that’s all right.

You’ll show them. You’ll show them all.

One day Billy Sovereign stabbed you right through your chest with a railway spike. He thought that it would impress everyone around you with his power. He thought that it would burst your heart and induce systemic shock and that you’d de-cardiac yourself to death. But you showed him! You’d taken your heart out just three days ago yourself and used it as the key component for your Abhorrent Sun-Sustaining Superconductor — so stabbing you in the chest just disrupted your rib cage and filled your lungs with bloody fluid! It was practically irrelevant!

“Too naive,” you gurgled, proving yourself the greater man, and you struggled your way free.

Later you discovered that Billy Sovereign can live indefinitely while on fire. This was at first amusing and then disturbing and finally a horrifying proof that the world hates you and will never allow you to have anything you want. But it’s OK. It’s OK. When you’re in charge such petty inconveniences as people that you can’t productively set on fire will know the fullest remedy.
On the Child of the Sun said:
You're a bit of a space cadet sometimes. It comes of living in the sky all the time. Forget "this strange human emotion called love," half the time you're confused by "this strange human apparatus called credit cards" or "this strange human activity called sneezing."
No said:
Sneezing!

WHAT IS IT ABOUT ANYWAY?

Sometimes you sneeze — and you still don't get it! It's madness! WHAT IS THE POINT?
The Simple Life said:
Those who find that the simple life does not suit them eventually depart from Little Island — though, it can take a while. There's a story that Bethany Lennox realized one day that life on Little Island wasn't quite to her tastes. Seven generations later, her great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter finished putting everything to rights and saying her goodbyes and took the ferry over to Town for good.
On the Problems of the Shopping District said:
Town's Shopping District maintains a small number of exorcists to handle situations where tsukumogami or other youkai go wrong. They train at the Kinnoruto temple, which doubles as a nekomimi-themed café and gift shop. They learn to make tea and sandwiches, look good in cat ears, describe the history of the temple and its neighborhood, tell fortunes, and hunt down renegade demons before they can hurt anybody. The exorcists-in-training are usually called "Kittens;" the team name for the two exorcists who currently collect a retainer for patrolling and keeping the Shopping District safe is "the Stray Cats." As one might expect, they're a male-female pair of hardened, crass, and occasionally slovenly exorcists who alternate between wearing sensible gray clothing and wearing the cat-eared maid and butler costumes that they trained in back in the day. There's also a professional yin-yang master employed by the business and financial offices to prevent inappropriate use of magic and ensure the safety of the business section — he's traditionally called the Gray Man (or Gray Woman), and the current Gray Man is a half-Excrucian gentleman with an office in the Methodology Tower.
On Kaiju said:
The big events in Fortitude rise from the lake. A week of good catches and food gets cheaper and the whole place starts to smell of fish and spices. The boats find themselves in the Baltic Sea and cod, herring, and sprat will dominate; if it’s easier to reach the coast off Rio then a good catch of marlin and sailfish will come in. Traders intermittently bring in luxury goods from the old countries, from America, Russia, Japan, Brazil, Romania, and Greece; from Locus Imsety, where they may buy true prophesies for fortune-telling festivals and cookies; from the Keep of Lady Mugain, where the smallest quantities of levirock and dryrock (for the construction of floating and desiccating devices) may be obtained. When such a ship comes in it’s an occasion for small festivals, for buying the cheaper knickknacks in a free-for-all market at the docks, bidding on the more precious goods, and greeting any emigrants who have arrived. When a fishing boat comes back with a fey light in its crew and captain’s eyes and some Outside-caught monster-god dead or squirming in its nets, the whole of Fortitude will celebrate: that is a kaiju day, and if the thing is edible it will dominate their cuisine for days. If it’s not, then scavengers, industry, and scientists will do their best to find something that it’s good for before the corpse decays.
 
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Law Orc

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I forget, which characters are in your group?

(We have de Montreal, Senko, Lillimund, Natalia, Shounen, and Luthien).
 

Rand Brittain

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I forget, which characters are in your group?

(We have de Montreal, Senko, Lillimund, Natalia, Shounen, and Luthien).
We've been using Seizhi, Shounen, and Luthien, although Luthien's player renamed her Maddala.
 

Rand Brittain

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It occurs to me that I didn't include any examples of the Main Character's powers, so I threw in one of the Child of the Sun's Imperial powers, to give you an idea of how Imperators work as PCs.

Limb to Shelter Hope said:
Type: Imperial Miracle

If you listen to somebody talking about an important hope or dream for at least 5 minutes, you can grow an organ or limb to protect that hope. The rule for this organ or limb is:

  • The HG must expect there to be circumstances where you can use its power to protect their hope.
This power is sometimes influenced by your PC's thoughts about what should happen, so you can tell the HG what you're looking for and they might listen. However, whether the HG is listening to your ideas or not, they shouldn't break the rule above. In fact, the power of the limb to protect hope in the appropriate circumstances is absolute — mundane and miraculous actions that directly crush that hope or directly oppose the limb's power fail. Other Imperial miracles may be able to break past this effect but they will need at least 2 Strike to do so.

Power Up!

The power of this limb can evolve. Each time you have a further conversation about their hopes, or what it would mean to protect those hopes, the HG modifies the function of the limb, adjusting it to current circumstances and the outcome of the conversation. The HG may also increase its power a small amount after such a conversation, but this is not obligatory.
 

David J Prokopetz

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What I'm gathering from all this is that tweeness is apparently a zero-sum proposition - all the twee that leaked out of Nobilis between the second and third editions had to go somewhere, and this, evidently, is the result. :D
 

Rand Brittain

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What I'm gathering from all this is that tweeness is apparently a zero-sum proposition - all the twee that leaked out of Nobilis between the second and third editions had to go somewhere, and this, evidently, is the result. :D
It's also possible that I'm showing bias in what I'm picking to show the world.

...wait, Nobilis 3e was less twee than Nobilis 2e? Since when?

EDIT: As a counterbalance:

The Outside said:
The world becomes more stressful as the Outside presses in. It becomes harder to distinguish between things and experiences — when you're not looking at things, and sometimes even when you are, they fade into a welter of sensation or bits of abstract form. Your ship can remain entirely real while riding a wave that's nothing more than a wash of blue watercolor. You can spend an hour talking from or running from a man before you really notice that he had a metal sink instead of a face. The low Outside begins to slip from the surreal into the lyrically abstract, and you'd think you'd be able to laugh at that or play around with it but underneath it all is this pulsebeat of fear and distress. It's not a magical Toontown or fairy tale land. It doesn't feel like a magical Toontown or a cool abstract painting. It feels like you're being starved of reality. It feels like you're in a desert of sense, where the world itself is so desperate to hang on to form and meaning that it's using abstraction and bizarreness to paper over its terrible lack.
And that is probably as much explicit excerpting as I should give out until Jenna appears to make comments herself.
 
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David J Prokopetz

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...wait, Nobilis 3e was less twee than Nobilis 2e? Since when?
3E does seem to take itself more seriously in general, though this may be partly a side effect of making a much stronger effort to present functional mechanics and a readily gameable setting right out of the box.
 

Rand Brittain

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3E does seem to take itself more seriously in general, though this may be partly a side effect of making a much stronger effort to present functional mechanics and a readily gameable setting right out of the box.
I guess that's kind of true—if you don't count the faux-pretension in the Great White Book as being actual pretension, it's not really a very pretentious book on the whole, but you wouldn't know that from the way it often gets discussed.
 
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