Fluff from Clinton’s book, as is part of the crunch. Onomastics from Clinton and various Internet sources.
Ammeni is a sensual land of beauty and death, a place where human perceptions are overpowered by the strong spices, garish fabrics, power and helplessness. The land and the people answer powerfully to instincts of lust and hate, they are shaped by it all.
“Ammeni” is the land ruled by the Houses of Ammeni, seven mercantile entities of immense influence. They are the only law in the land, their traditions the only values people believe in. Theirs is a poisonous influence that marks the people to the bone.
Ammeni lands reach from the Sea of Teeth to the eastern coasts, making them a linchpin of trade for all of northern Near. The original plantations are mostly scattered along the River of Vipers, their bases of power extending all over the Zaru delta. Ventures of Ammeni reach far to the south, and with the war into the lands of Khale as well.
Ammeni, being incredibly hot and wet, is extremely fertile. The majority of the Houses’ business is growing rice and fruits and farming fish and water buffalo. These staples, plus the chilies grown further in the west, provide them with an endless source of trade. Their navy is powerful and is used for shipping, not only for Ammeni, but to allied merchants in Maldor, where it makes a tidy profit on the deal. Ammeni is also home to Near’s most wondrous drugs and deadliest poisons. A career in death is definitely a lucrative one here. The items Ammeni is most deficient in, yet craves, are metals and jewels. Most of their trade is for these two goods.
Power in Ammeni comes from the seven Houses, plantations which have grown into both tremendous mercantile houses and governmental entities. The “House” refers not only to the ruler of the House, or the business, but also the land that House controls. Within a House, laws are determined by the ruler of that House or his staff, and are usually capriciously enforced. Trade law is created by majority vote among the rulers of the seven Houses, the Council, which are normally embroiled in the covert sabotage and annexation of each other, forming alliances that last only weeks before backstabbing tears them apart.
Ammenites are known outside their country for their cruelty and decadence. The appearance is misleading, however: only the richest of Ammenites have the opportunity for cruelty and the ability for decadence. The rest of them are merely opportunists, making the best deals they can in a colonial society. The upper class of Ammenites, however, are decadent to an extreme, clothing themselves in the finest silk and eating bizarre delicacies grown only in the fertile delta soil. Ammenites are the descendants of Maldor, although they do not like to be reminded of this fact. Their language is much like the language of Maldor, but is filled with pops and flecks in between words to convey connotation.
A full five percent of the population of Ammeni belongs to the hyper-wealthy House families, although many of these are not related by blood. The habitual assassination of family members means that ambitious types may rise quickly. Slavery is common in Ammeni, and at least twenty-five percent of the population is made of slaves, many of them from the former nation of Zaru. The rest of the population are either what we would know as middle management – low-level employees assigned to control slaves and supervise menial labor – or poor freemen, who try to attract as little attention as possible, and often leave Ammeni to become wanderers or traders.
The Ammenites collect art of other cultures more than they create their own: the acquisition of art is a hobby for the upper classes. Native Ammenite art is bizarre, focusing on themes of oppression and the inevitability of death. The most famous Ammenite painting is of a rice patty, red with blood, with tall stalks rising to the sky; the most famous book is the story of the last 24 hours of a rich, mad man. Zaru slaves do create art as well, although mostly ritual chants made of gibberish that manages to convey emotion. Their funeral dirges are known to bring even the strongest Ammenites to tears, which brings horrible wrath upon them.
WoN_internal.rst [+] 3596,1 46% The food of Ammeni, however, is considered a delicacy. Hot and spicy, full of cream, rice, and noodles, as well as odd ingredients such as slugs, uncooked quail eggs, and fish-eyes, it evokes either love or disgust in most people. They make a rice wine that is similar: either astounding or repulsive, depending on the taster, and they take large amounts of poiture, the pollen of a gleaming white flower that grows wild in the rice fields of Ammeni. Poiture puts people into a deep relaxed state much like slumber where the sense of time becomes elongated. The Ammenites eschew religion, worshipping only gold and riches. The Council of Houses has outlawed religious ceremonies in the land, although both the Zaru slaves and members of the Houses often participate in odd cults, especially the Revenant Cult.
Ammeni are the ever-popular antagonists of Near. In fact, their greatest theme in my eyes is redemption: how might this culture be justified or cured? Much of my original work on Ammeni in the following chapters revolves around this theme.
Ammeni makes a very good milieu for steamy, passionate stories of human folly, sex and violence. This sort of story, called a BLOOD OPERA, is very good as a first introduction to the game for a group that doesn’t want to work with an adventuring premise. A blood opera operates on the premise that player characters are set up from the beginning to have clear, passionate goals that conflict with each other and those of other characters in the setting; this is very easy and natural in Ammeni, perhaps contributing to its popularity.
Ammeni characters and stories set in Ammeni can go to some very dark places. The rules on conflict propriety from the SOLAR SYSTEM are important in defining the LINES that will not be crossed in the game content, as is common sense communication among the group; there’s no need to play awful events when they can be paraphrased in abstract, drawing a VEIL over the details.
I have an important message for character players here, one that I often have to teach to new roleplayers: protagonism is not a guaranteed right, it can be lost. The easiest way to do so is to have your character act without understandable human motivation. In the immoral Ammeni it is easy for your character to trivialize the suffering of others; if you trivialize it as well, the other players will come to dislike the way you play and doubt your commitment to the fiction. They’ll try to play around it and take your character seriously, but if it seems that he’s just committing atrocities because you want attention or don’t care, it doesn’t come off very well.
What the above means is: if your character does horrible things, you as the player should acknowledge it and accord the moment with the gravity it deserves. If the other players are taking the fiction seriously, they won’t like it if you don’t respect the endeavor equally.
Ammeni is not, properly speaking, a nation; it is a cartel. It does not have citizens or nationals; even the individual Houses do not – they only have members.
A member of a House is an interesting character because he or she might be steeped in cruelty, but still be a human being. How does that work? Is there a tension?
The lower rungs of the House organizations have less and less stake in the endeavor that is Ammeni, thus making them more and more likely to have their own interests outside the House life. Or the middle-management might just be hungry and ambitious, ready to impress their masters by being even more ruthless than the next guy.
Women of the Houses are usually very equal with the men, and twice as poisonous. The contrast is stark, as women in general are treated as property by the House scions.
The Ammeni relationship with their slaves is an interesting topic, as it can range from pure victimization for gratification to uncaring practicality to a sort of internalized, natural partnership predicated on unequal rights. Pay attention to this, and you will see the Ammeni society in many different lights.
Ammenites are of Maldorite stock, so their language is Romance like Maldor’s. Theirs is a land of many minorities and cultures, however, so in practice their language sounds exotic to those from Maldor, including foreign clicks and accents.
Kaarlo, Philippe, Amoux, Onfroi, Cador, Edmund, Owain, Montaigu, D’anton, Jarkko, Toussaint, Duval, Quennel, Dacian, Piperel.
Helene, Galatee, Shalott, Celie, Arleta, Eugenia, Sidonie, Rohais, Ruby, Eleta, Ysabel, Zuria, Marquisa, Damia, Aveline. Also use names from any lands Ammenites trade with, as women often take exotic names, or are actually brought from afar.
Valier, Desmarais, Braud, Landry, Nevill, Godott, Somm, Badeh. The family names of high classes originate often from Antiquity (like the House names), or pretend to. House members use the name of the House, possibly barreled with a second name indicating their House branch. While House members are “of the House” with de/du particles, House slaves are “House’s” with the -ae/-e(h) suffix. So “De Braud” for House members, “Braude” for slaves and other property.
People outside the Houses do not use family names, but rather patronymics or (rarely) matronymics. The father’s name gets the -eau/-eh suffix to make a patronymic, like Philipeau or Cadoreh.
Ammeni do not usually name places; rather, they use the native names. New places and things owned by Ammeni might be named for the people owning them, in either possessive or genitive case.
Typical Ability SPECIALIZATIONS for Ammenites include profiteering, torture, plotting, poisoning, seasoning, sexual positions, accounting wealth, traveling, knowing of peoples, recognizing plants, caring for animals, sewing wounds, commanding others.
Typical Pool CONDITIONING for Ammenites comes from a life of dissipation and traveling among foreign peoples.
Typical Ability ENHANCEMENTS for Ammenites include habitual performance enhancing drugs, apprenticing to a master, experiences among far-off people.
Typical Ability SYNERGIES for Ammenites include bladework with everything, anatomy with social abilities, thievery and vagrancy with wealth and trade abilities.
Typical Ability RETRAINING for Ammenites includes combining Vigor and Instinct and making social Abilities coldly calculating.
Typical EQUIPMENT for Ammenites is knives, bamboo implements, clothes of all sorts, rugs, pipes, luxurious furniture, precious metals, slaves, scarves, pantaloons, papyrus scrolls.
|Ammeni knowledge of bodily functions is the most extensive of the nations of Near. This Ability can be used for surgery, torture and bizarre piercing arts sometimes inflicted on decorative servants. Practitioners tend to be respected and wellpaid craftsmen.|
|The art of silent, sudden death. The Ability is not so much concerned with martial skill as it is with a compartmentalized mind necessary for cold-blooded killing. An encyclopedic knowledge of the instruments of murder follows. Use this Ability for any exotic, pre-meditated killing, such as leaking poison into a sleeping person’s mouth via a string.|
|This Ability is used for all sorts of intricate knife skills from tricks to fighting to crafts. It is typical to both high and low classes in Ammeni, where men display bravado with knives and women are expected to hide their protective blades intimately. The Ability may support in many sorts of social, craft and violent situations and even be the main Ability of a focused turning-point.|
|Ammeni culture takes sex somewhat seriously as a craft and art form. Practice is not entirely egalitarian; women, especially house slaves and professional entertainers, are expected to be better at it. The Ability is useful accompaniment for CHARM (I) in seduction, and in general usable as a sort of artistic and knowledge Ability related to sexual performance, reproduction biology and sexual hygiene. Despite their purposeful sensuality, Ammeni are no smarter than others over what sex means; expression ranges all over the place, even more so than in less sensual cultures.|
|Others may know how to dance, but the Ammeni entertainers are the best there is. The Ability is useful as an artistic thing, which, as we know, means that the player needs to make it useful by playing towards that sort of content.|
|Bamboo Warrior (V)|
|Most weapons and armor in the metal-poor Ammeni are made of bamboo, a flexible, common material in the area. This Ability is good for creating weapons and armor out of bamboo, as well as using polearms and such made of the light material effectively. Originally this was a peasant art of defense, but today independent peasants are few and bamboo is cut for professional soldiers.|
|Secret of Kata Nei|
|Kata Nei is a bamboo fighting style mostly favored by high-class Ammeni. It utilizes improvised weapons, preferentially untreated bamboo stalks, which the fighter cuts and splinters into nasty instruments during the fight. The character gains bonus dice to his BAMBOO WARRIOR (V) checks in a fight by breaking his weapons: each expended bamboo stalk gains one die, to a maximum of two (one for each hand) per check. Replacing the weapons mid-fight ranges from trivial (i.e. in a bamboo forest) to impossible; in extended conflict it requires either advance preparations or a defensive round spent in procuring replacements.|
|Secret of Bamboo Mercenary|
|Most mercenary officers in Ammeni are from Maldor, but half of the men are locals as well. Those units that cannot afford metal arms are forced to adapt to native conditions. The character with this Secret can use MELEE (V) and BAMBOO WARRIOR (V) interchangeably.|
|Secret of Healing|
|When the character is healing another with an Ability check, he can make an Effect off the result. As long as he maintains the Effect, the target character heals one Harm under the Effect level for every scene of bed rest. However, if the patient acts against the Effect’s recovery instructions, he suffers the Effect level as Harm as his wounds reopen.|
|Secret of Ritual Dance (specify)|
|The character has learned a specific, complex dancing performance purported to have wondrous power. If any character declares that a Secret his character possesses would be greatly supported by the preternatural qualities of this particular dance, this will be so: not only can the dancer support the Secret in action, but he can also share his Pool points with the user of the Secret. The player should keep a list of the Secrets that have been associated with the dance under this Secret.|
|Cost: the other character pays REASON equal to the number of Secrets aided by this particular dance before adding his.|
|Key of the House|
|The character is a member of an Ammeni House, the rulers of the land.|
|1xp: Serve the House.|
|2xp: Your own interests align with those of your House.|
|5xp: Show initiative or take risks for the House.|
|Buyoff: Betray the interests of the House.|
|Key of the Overlord|
|The character enjoys his dominant position over other people.|
|1xp: Order somebody else to do something.|
|3xp: Enjoy the abasement of others.|
|Buyoff: Free a person under your domination.|
|Key of the Aesthete|
|The character adores experiences, the more refined the better.|
|1xp: Partake of art or indulgence.|
|3xp: Experience a new sensation.|
|Buyoff: Refuse a new experience.|
|Key of Treachery (specify)|
|The character is planning to betray his benefactor or ally.|
|1xp: Plan your treachery.|
|2xp: Your target trusts you.|
|5xp: Take steps to bring your treachery to fruition.|
|Buyoff: Your treachery is revealed.|
|Key of the Outsider|
|The character is not a member of a House, or if he is, then he’s a lowly assistant or a member of a marginalized House branch.|
|1xp: Your lack of status comes up.|
|2xp: You’re shut out of decisionmaking.|
|5xp: You suffer for your lack of status.|
|Buyoff: Leave Ammeni for good, or become an insider.|
|Key of Wanderlust|
|Ammeni often leave their land because of necessity or preference; some hate home, others need to prove themselves in foreign lands.|
|1xp: Talk about going.|
|3xp: Cut some ties or make|