So of course, when Fred asks for DRYH hacks that don’t use existing IP, that’s all my game design muse wants to give me. Here’s one for Nobilis. Note that I don’t have the new edition yet, so it works off of 2nd edition’s assumptions.


It’s all over the news. There’s been another bizarre death. There’s been one every day. What the news doesn’t say is, with each one, the city gets a little weirder. Most people haven’t yet noticed that it’s getting harder and harder to get out, but they will. The roads are turning in on themselves. The ties to the rest of the world are slipping away. Somehow, you’re one of the few that have noticed. There’s something behind it all, something far more than human. And it’s watching you. It’s judging you. It’s changing you.

You’ve started to notice that you can do things. Things not human. Things not even superhuman. And with the powers of a god come the trials of one. You’re being challenged. Threats are seeking you out. But nobody will tell you the rules. Your powers grow the more you use them. What are you getting yourself into? What happens if you pass these tests? Even worse, what happens if you fail?

Growing Power

This system serves as a way to play out the Empowerment of Nobilis PCs. It postulates a situation where an Imperator is gradually determining which of the citizens of a new Chancel will be its Powers by slowly extending them capabilities during the 100 day ritual to make the Chancel. If they prove competent, they’ll be awarded soul shards… if they don’t, dementia animus is possibly the best case scenario for a mortal that tasted the powers of creation and then had them taken away.

Players have three types of dice: Competence, Passion, and Miracles.

  • Competence is similar to Discipline. Every PC starts with 3 dice in the Competence pool. It represents anything that a pure mortal could do, if only in movies with a very liberal view of physics and other sciences. When Competence dominates:
    • The success or failure plays out with the precision and order of the truly skilled.
    • The player should make a mark next to Aspect.
  • Passion is similar to Exhaustion, but represents the power of the character’s will and soul. It starts at 0 dice, but a player can take on one die of Passion before each roll. As the Passion pool increases, the character becomes increasingly “real” and noticeable, giving all the impression of a colored image against a desaturated background. When Passion dominates:
    • The success or failure is strongly influenced by the character’s overwhelming emotions or force of personality. If the result was a success, and any kind of supernatural effect was in play, onlookers will notice a “bubble” around the character, about the diameter of her own height, where her own reality is imposed on the world.
    • The player should make a mark next to Spirit and reduce the Passion pool by 2 dice (to a minimum of 0). Passion has no technical cap, but will become increasingly likely to dominate and reduce itself the higher it gets.
  • Miracles is similar to Madness, in that it is a fast surge pool where the player can add from 0 to 6 dice on any roll. Adding these dice represents warping local reality to produce a result, and the player should describe what is being attempted. When Miracles dominates:
    • The result of the miracle is very obvious, and may cause mortal onlookers to go mad.
    • The player should make a mark next to Realm (unless using her Affinity, as described below, in which case make a mark next to Domain).

Players also have a Skill and a Domain.

  • Skill represents an area of mortal concern that the character is particularly skilled at. It is mechanically about as broad as an Exhaustion Talent. Whenever using the Skill, the player may choose to turn any or all Competence dice into 6s after rolling (i.e., the player can all but ensure that Competence dominates).
  • Affinity is the miraculous concept with which the character is becoming increasingly associated. It is a single word that will eventually become the character’s Domain. Whenever Miracles dominates, if the result is within this affinity, it increases Domain instead of Realm.

GMs roll two types of dice:

  • Tribulation dice are rolled when the GM believes that the situation the players are dealing with was engineered by the Imperator to challenge the characters. This might be an overt manifestation of the Imperator’s domains and operatives or may be a situation that was socially engineered (e.g., clues that lead the PCs to a tight spot). Tribulation ranges from a minimum of 1 die (to some extent, everything the characters encounter is being monitored and allowed to happen by the Imperator) up to 10 or more, and should generally increase over the course of the 100 days as the Imperator tests the PCs more thoroughly. When Tribulation dominates:
    • The seams of the challenges become obvious: it is metaphorically like a trap suddenly springing shut.
    • Mark whether the PC succeeded or failed on such a roll, and record a mark next to Approval or Disappointment for that Imperator’s subsequent dealings with that PC.
  • Bane dice are rolled whenever the situation involves dangerous elements that aren’t directly under the Imperator’s control. That is, the PCs are in more danger than just failing their future master’s tests. This can be anything from conflict with citizens of the soon-to-be-Chancel, to environmental difficulties, to the involvement of supernatural elements beyond the Imperator (rival Powers, future Chancel Banes, or even Excrucians). Bane dice range from 0 to 6 based on the severity of the situation. When Bane dominates:
    • The PC is injured in some way; if the roll was a success for the player, this injury is superficial, but failure can bring actual life-threatening problems.
    • It is up to the GM and players whether death is on the table from too many failed Bane dominations.


In addition to choosing a Skill and an Affinity, each player should answer the following questions for her character:

  • What is your name?
  • Why is this happening to you?
  • Who do you love most and why?
  • Who do you hate most and why?
  • Why should you have power?
  • What just happened to you?


Once the group is ready to proceed to their characters becoming Powers (everyone agrees that they’ve been sufficiently challenged for the Imperator’s satisfaction or the 100 days run out), convert the characters to Nobilis rules via the following method:

  1. Total all marks made across the four scores for each player (e.g., 5 Aspect, 6 Domain, 2 Realm, 7 Spirit is 20 total).
  2. Divide the game’s character creation point total by this number to create a multiplier (e.g., in a 30 point game, 20 marks means a 1.5 multiplier).
  3. Apply the multiplier to each individual category so the marks turn into character points with as similar a ratio as possible to the original marks (e.g., in the above examples, the player would have 7-8 Aspect, 9 Domain, 3 Realm, and 10-11 Spirit).
  4. Spend each category to buy the related trait levels, bonus miracle points, or Gifts related to that category (e.g., 9 Domain points buys 3 levels of the Domain trait, 9 bonus Domain Miracle Points, 9 points worth of Domain-related Gifts, or some combination of the three).