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I am in the process of writing a new tabletop one shot with a working title of “Seven Deadly Virtues”. To that end, I am busy world-building and I thought I’d share some of it with everyone. Since I am literally world building as a write, there may end up being some contradictions between pieces. Of course, that could also be differences in the points of view of the seven houses upon which our story centers.

This will be a seven part series – one for each house. Each house was founded by a member of a loosely associated cabal that came together for one mission that ended in disaster. The founders were reasonably powerful mages, but the technocracy, under the guise of the Railroad barons, held great sway over the SF bay area at the time.

This series will probably not contain spoilers for the game, but I encourage any possible players to remember that the detailed histories here, and insights one might glean from them, are not publicly available to the characters.

Diana Chalberg was a conservationist before it was cool. When our story starts, on Christmas Eve, 1905, she was working as an activist to get places like Muir woods protected for future generations. She had previously gained minor fame in the San Francisco area for her work with Yosemite and was trying to leverage that. Her passion and drive inspired those around her to do great things, but her eternal frustration was lack of power. When the founders came together, she couldn’t even vote. Despite this, she would keep everyone up, late into the night, spinning tales of the amazing things she dreamed of doing. If only she had some way of making it happen. Eventually, Prokhor Dimitrov provided the answer.

After the smoke cleared at the end of the mission,the possibilities kind of went to Diana’s head. She traveled the world, advocating for protecting natural places. Eventually she settled down in Berkeley, and started teaching at the University. Her estate grew mores slowly that those of the other founders, since Diana preferred to live frugally and donate most of her earnings to charity. It was her children that started investing in businesses. They had a much bigger plans than Diana did, and much more focused on people than the environment. They reasoned that the best way to help people was with scholarships. But the only way to provide meaningful scholarships, was to have the money to give.

Once Diana died, the Chalbergs focused more and more on business. It might seem strange that they stayed in Berkeley instead of moving to someplace like New York, Hong Kong, or at least San Francisco, but the Chalbergs have never let their location limit them any more than Diana let her gender limit her. These days, the Chalbergs own majority stock in Google, Apple and Microsoft.

The Chalbergs are the smallest family. Partly this was due to their intentionally keeping things very small – after all, money to maintain a larger family means less money for helping others. And the new Model S in the driveway was just part of the image. No one wants to give to an unsuccessful philanthropist organization.

Partly the Chalbergs are so small because in 1955, they announced that their object of power had been stolen. They formally accused the Kingbird family of taking it, but nothing was ever proven one way or the other. Over the past 60 years, they have had only 3 natural-born mages. They have adopted 7 others, but it has done little to slow the down-ward slide of the family and their finances.