Friday, November 14, 2014

At the Table: the Order of the Broken Flask

This one's a quick post, mostly to get you to check out an older blog post I just stumbled across. It's part of Quinn Murphy's ongoing New Rules of Fantasy series, which digs into bog-standard fantasy tropes and applies some creative thinking to them. The results are pretty fresh and cool! The post in particular is one about rethinking what it means to have "adventurer" as a profession, and figuring out cool ways to include adventurer professions that make sense. Check it out!

Thoughtcrime Games: On the Road

(And if you're curious, I'm reposting my sample writeup of the Order of the Broken Flask, from the comments section.)

The Order of the Broken Flask
is an order of mendicant monks who follow the Rule of St. Paraclesus, a holy individual who expressed his devotion through the sciences. It was St. Paraclesus who helped the Sapphire Faith to become a renowned source of knowledge. The monks of the Broken Flask are tasked with traveling the world in search of ancient and powerful magic, whether that be in the form of lore, strange creatures, or magical items.

Each chapter of the Order is comprised of a number of monks who report to an Abbot or Abbess as their superior. The superior seldom leaves the chapter’s abbey, and is almost always a well-studied individual who spends much of their time curating the stores of knowledge that the abbey possesses, or overseeing the assignment of novices to research projects being conducted by the senior monks.

A monk begins as a novice, who joins the order as a young man or woman somewhere in their teens, usually around the age of 16. They undergo scientific and religious instruction under the watchful eye of the senior monks, who are called Magisters. A Magister spends much of their time in a laboratory, analyzing lore and peculiar things brought in from the field, but Magisters also go out on field missions sometimes. Generally, Magisters are considered to be too experienced to risk on dungeon-delving.

When a novice is thought ready, they are given one last opportunity to leave the abbey before they commit with their vows. A monk of the Broken Flask swears vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and also a fourth vow: the vow of reverence for the secrets of the world. This last vow is interpreted in multiple ways by various perspectives, but within the Order it has three basic meanings.

First, it means that the ancient secrets of the world must not be treated as cheap playthings nor defaced wantonly.
Second, it means that these secrets are valuable and to be treated and studied with great care.
Third, it means that these secrets are sacred, and that exploring them is a divine duty for the glorification of the Godhead.

Newly-admitted monks are not immediately given field assignments, but undergo training from more experienced members of the Order. Then, they are sent out in small groups to pursue new and wondrous discoveries in arcane vaults and other strange places. They are given orders by their superior to retrieve knowledge or items from a given locale. How they accomplish their orders is up to their own judgement, but they are expected to retrieve them and return to the abbey in good time.

Amongst the general public, it is not known why the Order of the Broken Flask takes that name. It is a point of much speculation amongst some, though a few have pondered–was the “Flask” broken from without…or from within? They are well to ask the question. For the Order has a fifth, secret vow: to recapture and contain the sinister creature known only as Homunculus.