I'm rolling this back to basics. I'm keeping the original intent, the new traits, and the basic outlined structure, but upon rereading HotB, I realized I approached this all wrong.
I started out without clearly defining those three questions at the beginning of the book, I kept them in my head, but I didn't actually put them down. I focused on mechanics first, and that was a mistake. So I'm going to start us off with Hyperborea, and focus on them until they're done. I'm still not sure what to name it, but I'm going to work on it.
So let's get this show on the road.
What is My Game About
The Hyperborean expansion should be about danger. It should be about exploration. It should be about survival. It is not a story of betrayal, and intrigue, and groups trying to one up one another, though all those things have a place in the narrative, it is a game about honor and glory, about a group of heroes working together to protect and grow those things they hold dear, and to become immortal in the doing of it. You are a Hero in Hyperborea, a warlord, a sage, a wanderer, a guide, but you are a hero in the classical sense of the word. You do things other men and women cannot, and you live with the consequences. This is not a story about superheroes or the characters of modern literature, but stories of beings like Hercules, Theseus, Oedipus (Yes, even him, read his story), Pericles, Beowulf, Gilgamesh, the Twin Hero Gods of Mayan mythology, and so many more. It is a story about beings who were flawed, but changed the world, and in many ways, made it better or worse, even as they carved their own graves or made their peace with them. They were not good people, but they were heroic. That is what this game is about.
How Does My Game Do That?
Just like in HotB, we use virtues to define them, this is the core of the entire system, and where we play with it, we play with the differences and shared virtues between them. For the Heroes of Hyperborea, these are Might, Cunning, Faith, Honor, Insight, and Prowess. They are the strengths and weaknesses of the Heroes, just as they are in traditional mythology and heroic sagas. We also will have rules for adventures, building a legend and legacy, tribes, crafting and naming weapons, and we'll have more rules to cover other things as we come up with them. Ideally, the system will cover, if not on a 1-1 basis, then have equivalents for everything the Ven have.
What Behaviors Does My Game Reward
This game rewards players for being heroes. For slaying tremendous foes, for defending their honor, for risking their lives at every turn, for building their legend, for protecting and growing their tribe and their family, for boasting and building ties, for acting like the heroes of old, without showing fear or weakness against insurmountable odds. The Heroes of Hyperborea are the heirs to the world. When Lemuria is ashes. When the Ven lies shattered, when Atlantis is taken below the sea. The Hyperboreans will be the ones to rebuild the world and become heirs to it. Their lack of fear, their tenacity, their refusal to back down from a fight or to allow anything to force them down, even unto death, is what permitted this. It is these traits and these actions the game will rewarded in this game.
The Hyperborean Virtues are:
Might To Stand For Others (replaces Strength): A hero stands for more than just himself. They can stand for themselves, but a Hero is only at his best when he fights for one beyond himself.
Cunning To Plot, To Plan, To Execute: An odd trait for a hero, but if you look at literature, you find that Heroes were cunning, they plotted, they planned, they tricked and beguiled foes stronger than themselves, bringing them into a position of weakness. The Hyperboreans are not so adept at the uses of Cunning as the Ven, but they are, in many ways, the weakest of the races that predate us. They are not enhanced as the Blooded are, they wield neither sorcery nor magic as the Lemurians or the Atlantians do, they make their way through the world with the strength of their bodies, and the wit of their minds, to overpower foes that would otherwise overwhelm them.
Faith To Follow a Costly Code (replaces Courage): Faith is what defines a Hyperborean's life more than almost anything. One might ask why we don't use "Courage" as a virtue. So few myths speak of a hero feeling fear, not the really old ones. Courage wasn't part of their vocabulary, because they did not fear death, they did not fear physical harm. Threat of violence never deterred Conan the barbarian! No, instead they have Faith, which is to Follow a Costly Code. Faith means that you have the willpower, the moral fiber, even yes, the courage (note the lack of capitalization), to stand for what you believe to be the proper course of action even when your selfish impulses tell you otherwise. Please note, this is not the same thing as Service. Service is the virtue to do what is best for all. Faith doesn't care if what you are doing is best for the whole, or just for you, or just for your tribe. It is about the code, and about what someone has determined should be right. The word courage is one we use to describe heroes, but the virtue of Courage, as has been defined by the game, would make no sense for the Hyperboreans to hold in high esteem, for they would not understand the question. Further, as explained below, punishing players for risking their lives would make no sense (as a lack of courage -does- punish players). For this reason, we have Faith, where players test their faith in decisions between what must be done for the good of their tribe, and what they feel is the morally right decision. Of such things, Legends are made.
Honor To Show Nobility Through Action (replaces Beauty): To the Hyperboreans, the way a thing looks means nothing. The most beautiful object in the world shatters under the iron hammer of a hideous worker, but that worker might build walls that hold back the bite of winter and let his tribe survive another turning of the seasons. Actions speak louder than words, and louder still than appearances. The Hyperboreans do not trust the surface of things, and seek instead proof through actions, and proof through reputation. Reputation is everything to the Hyperboreans, and Reputation is built only on Actions. Hyperboreans have little time for gossip or the finer things in life, but if they have heard of one's honor, and you then prove it in your actions to them, they will believe in it truly, and follow you to the ends of the earth.
Insight To Understand the Truth (replaces Wisdom): The Hyperboreans are a young people, and remain such for time out of mind. They do not record stories in books or scrolls, they have an oral tradition, and teach their young to learn for themselves rather than to trust in words that might be lies or state things that are no longer true. The stones are carved with the stories of the ancient Demon Lords who once ruled these lands, proclaiming their eternal glory and might, and yet where are they now? No, the Hyperboreans trust in their insight, their ability to tell the truth of things from falsehood. Insight is how a Hyperborean defines the world, just as if he was using wisdom, for Insight is the ability to see a thing in small, and then extrapolate how it will work larger.
Prowess To Find Advantage: Like the Ven, the Hyperboreans understand the importance of advantage. They seek it in all they do, and they protect themselves with force of arms against a world that would seek to devour them. They know themselves to be weak, so they find every chance they have to make themselves stronger, and will not back down from any advantage they can take, as long as it does not compromise their Faith or their Honor, for both allow them to draw strength from others, and one man alone will never be as strong as one who has others at his back.
The Hyperboreans call their world An'Agras "The Mad Teacher". Hyperborea, to them, is the term for those lands they carve from the Mad Teacher, it shifts, it moves with their tribes, and they claim that Boreas was the Demon Lord of winter, a being who they escaped beyond the grasp of. Hyperborea means "Beyond Boreas", beyond the grasp of the Demon Kings, and that is how they define the places they hold.
The Hyperboreans do not say "No" in terms of denying someone. It is considered a weak word, a fearful word, and immediate response made by cowards. A true Hero will say either "I Will Not" or "I Can Not." They each have their own meanings, but the difference lies in that the former is most often used as an insult, a method to call someone to battle or challenge, while the latter is a statement, an admission that it is beyond one's capabilities for reasons of ability or obligation.
The Sword is an important weapon to the Hyperboreans. It is known as the Slayer's Weapon. The Hyperboreans recognize that nearly any tool can be a weapon, and that many tools can be made into forms better suited for war than utility, but they believe that the Sword exists purely to make war with. If a Hyperborean carries a sword, it is a statement that they are not only ready, but intending, to kill another human being. Hyperboreans may not be tagged for 2 dice for not carrying a sword provided they are carrying another weapon, but a sword will automatically grant them 1 extra dice for all prowess checks as a free invoke, but allows them to be freely tagged as well for any contest of honor, as someone who openly carries a sword to any meeting not immediately preceding a battle is seen in a wary light at best, and as a duplicitous threat at worse. In Hyperborea, to carry a sword is to carry a threat against fellow Hyperboreans, and while it might be permissable to wear one on the road, it is expected for a visitor to turn their sword over (if not their other weapons) to their hosts upon entering a tribal settlement or wintering hold.
Hyperborea is a lawless place, but that does not mean it has no rules. Heroes are not above the law, they must interact and deal with others. They are not nobility in the sense the Ven mean the word, but they are the faces and representatives of their tribes, the leaders of them under the elders of each tribe, the ones who chart the course for that tribe in action, word, and deed. They have responsibilities, just as the Blooded do, but they execute them with far more freedom and less ritual.
Legends: Replaces Houses, these are the things by which heroes and indeed, all people of Hyperborea define themselves, the ancestors of all Hyperboreans, who fled the Demon Kings, broke Boreas' hold on the lands they now occupy, and then mingled their tribes.
Myths: Replace suaven, calling on past legends to give nearly magical abilities through song and story.
Tribes: Replaces domains. The tribes are made up of people wandering about Hyperborea, carving out a living as they define the world through exploration, hunting, and harvesting, leaving marks behind for other tribes to take advantage of in their absence, or to return to later on.
Bannermen: Replaces Vassals, where loyalty is not important because you fear they'll turn on you, but because they are bound to you only by their freely given oaths, which may be revoked when you cannot act in their interest as they deserve
Legacy: Replaces the system of Heirs and in general, this is the most important thing for advancement. It is the things you pass onto the heir of your legacy, the one who takes on the mantle of hero after you.
Blood-Brothers: The process by which two or more Hyperboreans enter into pacts to protect and defend one another, but inevitably, the interests of their tribes will pull them apart, Blood Brothers will switch from Brothers to Rivals, and can even slip into Blood Feuds if they do not rebuild their bonds. The interplay of Blood-Brothers and Blood-Rivals is important, and the switch between them should be as important to the story as Romance is to the Ven.