Playtesting: The Considerata (Non-Human Heroes) in Swords of the Serpentine

By Kevin Kulp

We’ve had fun providing rules for non-humans and giving you two Ancestries for Swords of the Serpentine, Intelligent Animals and Unsleeping Advisors. This month’s Ancestry is inspired by heritages like the tiefling and aasimar from other classic fantasy games. How might you create a Hero in SotS who has a remarkable and supernatural lineage, but who fits fully into the world of Eversink?

The Considerata

Ancestry abilities: Ancestry (Considerata), Corruption, Laws and Traditions, Ridiculous Luck

  • Ancestry (Considerata) reflects your innate knowledge of soul contracts and ancient supernatural entities, and gives you access to any Considerata special abilities
  • Corruption represents your supernatural patron’s contractual agreement with you, which allows you to rewrite reality
  • Laws and Traditions represents your natural understanding of contractual language, gained because your soul is literally contracted for
  • Ridiculous Luck reflects your supernaturally contracted patron’s subtle and miniscule assistance in keeping you alive and thriving

You are one of the Considerata, the living symbol of a supernatural bargain. You are the fulfillment of a promise, and a testament to a contract between your human ancestor and a small god or demon (and really, is there much difference?).

One of your ancestors struck a contract with a divine or profane entity in exchange for luck, love, or power, and the physical manifestation of this contract has surfaced in you. You look human until under duress, at which point your appearance changes for the rest of the scene to mirror aspects of the entity with whom your ancestor struck a contract. Some Considerata also have unusual skin, horns, wings, a glowing aura, a tail, or another unique trait. There are ancient and decadent cities ruled by Considerata where the ruling family must exhibit these traits to be considered for the throne.

It’s wise to remember that you wouldn’t possess this Ancestry unless the contract your ancestor struck so many years ago was still unfulfilled. That’s unfortunate if you’re from a family where no one living knows the terms of the contract, or when and how its terms come due. If you ever manage to successfully fulfill the terms of this contract during play, something done as the major focus of an adventure, you decide whether you keep your current Ancestry or whether you remake yourself as a full human.

This heritage doesn’t need to be limited only to Heroes who grew up in Eversink. Foreign barbarians whose souls are pledged to much-loved (or feared) local deities, secret cultists who have been pledged to terrible powers, and sturdy sailors (or pirates) who owe a debt to the gods of the ocean all might apply.

Play a Considerata if you want a secret background you’ll learn about during play, if you want ties to powers greater than yourself, and if you have fun manipulating and establishing laws to change and define the world around you.

Designer Notes: The Considerata

The first draft of this Ancestry was extraordinarily demon-y because it assumed that your heritage was from some sort of fiend, echoing the tiefling from other games. But there’s no reason to assume that; the world of Swords of the Serpentine is full of other spirits and small gods, and it’s more fun if you have the option to create a hero who grows angelic wings and sheds a halo of pure light when threatened.

If you want to play a naturally lucky “chosen one” – whether chosen for good or evil – this Ancestry is a fine choice. This Ancestry assumes it was your own ancestor who made the contract, as that’s usually juiciest for interesting backstory, but this is fantasy contract law instead of heredity. It’s quite possible that you’re the result of a contract that your family’s worst enemy or an unrelated third party made seven generations back. Have fun tracking them down to find out why!

Investigative ability: Ancestry (Considerata)

You don’t necessarily have a unique culture outside of your close-knit family, but you identify other Considerata by making skin-to-skin contact with them. Your heritage makes you a natural authority on contracts and contractual language used by ancient supernatural spirits who crave worship and grant power. You can identify what entity a cultist propitiates, read (usually with some research or time-consuming effort) ancient writing that involves contracts or supernatural entities, find common contractual loopholes in such contracts, and sense when someone is possessed (unless they are taking steps to hide that information; if they are, you will be unsure about possession instead of gaining a false negative). You know the common names for demons and small gods, as well as what they are said to crave in exchange for power.

Sample spend: Spend a point to summon your supernatural appearance at exactly the right moment, impressing and terrifying others as if you had just spent a pool point of Intimidation instead. Given a sufficient sacrifice of something a demon or small god holds dear, summon the entity’s essence and speak with it (or one of its servants) directly; doing so will almost always gain you a Grudge or worse. You can spend a point to emphasize another sorcerer’s demonic possession so that all nearby might sense it. If you find a Supporting Character willing to bargain for power, you can spend a point to broker an agreement with a supernatural entity that grants the Supporting character access to Corruption (awfully handy if you’re trying to grow a cult by giving its faithful sorcerous powers).

Character Creation Advice

  • Considerata can represent any kind of supernatural entity or god: traditional demons or angels, tentacular monstrosities or spider gods, legendary saints and heroes, and creations of law or chaos. Describe your changing appearance to reflect both your own power and that of the entity you’re contracted to. Pick something you’re going to have fun with.
  • Certain supernatural appearances are likely to be more prestigious or stylish than others. An angelic or beatific manifestation doesn’t mean you’re necessarily a good person, but it fits well with Nobility and Trustworthy. The severity of a god of law’s manifestation might go well with Intimidation or Command. Pick Social abilities that complement your appearance.
  • When picking your spheres for Corruption, you can either select spheres that match your supernatural patron, or choose contradictory spheres to indicate stubbornness and rebellion. When your soul’s contract is with a god of war, choosing peaceful spheres will lead to some fun roleplaying and character development.
  • Make sure you take at least one rank of Laws and Traditions. Your future survival is likely tied to a supernatural contract, so it’s fun to be able to exploit that connection.

Sample Hero – the Considerata

Oleander Crane, Considerata, a common girl with a remarkable future

Plucky, stubborn, tousled, fierce, loyal, annoyed by her “imaginary” friend

Drives (what is best in life?): Helping your friends, doing what’s right, standing up to bullies

Defenses – Health: Health Threshold 4 to 7 (angelic shield), Armor 0 or 3 (angelic plate mail), Health 10

Defenses – Morale: Morale Threshold 3, Grit 1 (stubborn), Morale 8

Offense – Sway: Sway 10: Damage Modifier +1 (inspirational)

Offense – Warfare: Warfare 1: Damage Modifier +0 (fist)

Investigative abilities: Charm 1, Command 1, Intimidate 1, Liar’s Tell 1, Trustworthy 1; Laws & Traditions 3, Ancestry (Considerata) 0, Ridiculous Luck 3

Allegiances: Ally: Commoners 2, Enemy: Church of Denari 1

General abilities: Athletics 5, Bind Wounds 7, Preparedness 4, Stealth 3, Sway 10, Warfare 1

Gear: An imaginary friend who claims to be an angel of Denari looking out for you; deep confusion as to whether she’s real or not; clean but faded and much-mended clothing; partially-forgotten training as a church scribe; legal books you stole from the church law libraries and haven’t yet returned; despairing parents; many, many unruly siblings; mystic armor that appears on your body after you first get hurt, and what’s up with THAT?

Special: While Oleander currently has zero ranks in Ancestry (Considerata), her player intends to add it several adventures in using Advancement points, simulating her growing knowledge of her powers and history.

The character description establishes that Oleander’s plate armor (SotS p. 136) and shield appear once she’s taken Health damage. This fiction makes sense considering the possibility that Oleander’s imaginary friend is a literal servant of the Goddess, but it is something that the player and GM would need to agree upon. We like the idea because (a) it’s fun and cinematic, tying into a mystery; and (b) the benefit of not always wearing heavy armor is reasonably balanced by the lack of armor during the first attack that hurts her. When gaining the benefits of heavy armor, the penalties for heavy armor (-6 to Athletics tests when swimming) apply.

Sample Adversary – Considerata

Advocate Celeste, Considerata Manipulator

Believable, cunning, manipulative

Defense — Health: Health Threshold 4, Armor 1, Health 15 per Hero

Defense — Morale: Morale Threshold 4, Grit 2, Morale 15 per Hero

Offense — Sorcery: +2 (vs. Morale); Damage Modifier +1 (emotion, memory, writing)

Offense — Sway: +2; Damage Modifier +1 (convincing) or the Persuade Maneuver

Abilities: Malus 15

Special Abilities: Magical Charm (cost 3), Mastermind, Monstrous Ability (cost 3 – Ridiculous Luck), Persuasive (cost 3), Spellcasting (cost 3 – per effect)

Misc: Alertness Modifier +1

Refresh Tokens: 7

Description: Celeste is an Ironcross prosecutor whose soul is legally bound to the small god of guilt. She has dedicated her career to bringing down miscreants, proving them guilty, and making them regret their crimes. Each malfeasance triggering guilt helps repay a portion of her family’s debts to the god who makes her lucky and gives her secret power.

Celeste knows the law forwards and backwards and can use 3-point Malus spends for the equivalent of a Laws & Traditions spend. She’ll typically do this and use her Sorcery to further ensnare her prey in a web of law and bureaucratic red tape. She’s a background villain, one whose presence is felt gradually across multiple adventures.

Sample Allegiances

Establishing the Considerata as a unique faction implies that Considerata are more than just unconnected and unorganized divine legacies, and that this heritage represents a divine bloodline that considers itself powerful and influential. A faction of Considerata may be a divinely-appointed organization with a certain degree of fanaticism that make them valuable allies or implacable enemies.

Having the Considerata as Allies means that they consider your interests to match those of their divine patron, their cause, or their tightly-knit organization. This may be due to contractual loyalty – their preference – or through your actions. Use your relationship to learn about contractual law, divinity, and the intersection between the two.

Having the Considerata as Enemies probably means that their divine mandate contractually forces them to oppose you. This may be due to who you are or what you (or your ancestors) have done. It’s also possible that you’ve directly thwarted them and made them furious – and if so, their hatred of you might extend to your descendants, too.

Kevin Kulp (@kevinkulp) and Emily Dresner (@multiplexer) are the co-authors of Swords of the Serpentine, out now in hardback and PDF. Kevin previously helped create TimeWatch and Owl Hoot Trail for Pelgrane Press. When he’s not writing games he’s either smoking BBQ or helping 24-hour companies with shiftwork, sleep, and alertness.


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