Riley McArthur Notes

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This is a miscellaneous page for the various notes and text dumps I need to keep track of the things happening around Riley. There isn't going to be a lot of rhyme or reason to what's found on this page - it's just a repository for things I want to keep close at hand.

Mechanical Notes[edit]

Superior Hapless Heroics[edit]

I want to touch on her superior skill - Hapless Heroics. It's a skill meant to represent that Riley's core is that of a big damn hero. Like a lot superior skills, it also sort of starts ceasing to make rational, human sense at level 3+. It's something like:

  • Superior HH 0: you're a normal human who's rising to the occasion. Someone needs help, and all evil demands is that good men do nothing. So do something!
  • Superior HH 1: At this level, you're the sort of person everyone comes to for advice. If people have problems, you're noticeably good at taking them away. It isn't like you can cure cancer or anything but maybe you can make the trauma of cancer less weighty - help people be at peace.
  • Superior HH 2: You're a knight in shining armour, you're John McClane, Rambo, Zorro! The sort of paragon ideal that people think of when they say 'hero'. You can ride out and vanquish evil with aplomb.
  • Superior HH 3: You're a hero - one out of legend. King Arthur, blessed by the Lady of the Lake. Cu Chulainn and his indomitable prowess. Beowulf, grizzled badass. People might still be able to rationalise your capabilities as human...if they squint a bit and suspend their disbelief.
  • Superior HH 4: Now you're some sort of magical mythological (maybe even fictional) hero. Son Wukong, Krishna - Superman even!
  • Superior HH 5: You cease to have a problem with trouble. Trouble starts having problems with you.

But the superior part of superior skills doesn't always apply. I'm envisaging the Edge from Riley's skill isn't universally applicable. I mean, sure, at Superior Hapless Heroics 3, Riley could probably swim for miles, leap across roof tops and out-wrestle a bear (and she does know how to wrestle - I like to imagine hero training being a McArthur thing, even if they're not destined for it. Tradition!). But that doesn't mean she gets Edge in all circumstances.

I actually rather think she'd only get the Edge from her Superior skill if she's doing something heroic or hero-like. She gets her edge if she's standing up to someone doing something wrong, if she's doing something to help another person, if she's living up to her reputation! She gets her edge if she's being a hero. She wouldn't get her edge if she was being a bully - even if she's technically more than strong enough to physically intimidate a normal person twice her size...that doesn't mean she gets her edge. That might not even mean she gets to use her Hapless Heroics skill at all!

Skaldic Heart[edit]

The move from "I read them all!" to Skaldic Heart was motivated by the realization that...the first skill really didn't fit Riley. After establishing her character in play, a bookish sort of 'solely mental' skill just wasn't her, and I couldn't actually imagine a scenario where she'd use the skill. Hence the change.

Riley still works in the library and the new skill still reflects that. It just means that Riley doesn't love books anymore - she loves stories.

So that's Skaldic Heart in a nutshell. Riley loves listening to stories and reading them. She loves telling them, and singing them and epic poetry - things that can raise spirits or motivate people or just provide poignancy.

But more than that, sometimes knowing all those stories proves useful. Because they're stories about places. They're stories about people and how they did the impossible things they're known for. Which is the sort of thing that can be useful when things get weird or epic.


Riley's connection to Rage is deep and fundamental. It's a fuel, a source of strength, an overriding imperative, and at the core of her being. As a skill, Rage allows Riley to ignore distractions, and act without hesitation even in times of doubt or crisis. It lets her break mental bonds, and function even in the face of overwhelming opposition. It is a terrible and fearsome thing, and Riley can use this to intimidate and browbeat. Finally, Riley is fundamentally linked to the metaphysical force, and concept of Rage. She understands, implicitly, the nature of Rage and those things that have a similar connection.

Consumed by her Kaiju Form, Riley's connection to Rage transitions into Superior Rage. Inhuman, and overwhelming - Superior Rage transcends the limits of Riley's normal skill. In addition to breaking mental bonds, Superior Rage can crush physical bonds: breaking out of mythical prisons, and sundering the strongest chains. She is a towering inferno, and utterly terrifying. And, more than that, she can wield Rage's signature lightning as her own.


  • Is representative of all 'negative' emotion.
  • Is the element of physicality.
  • Deals in belief and certainty*
  • Lords over lightning.
  • Can descend into madness.

Aspect: Blood[edit]

I also want to talk about Blood. Especially as Wyzard mentioned there isn't a lot of source material to draw on for its effects. So here's what Blood means to me, beyond its obvious physical being:

Blood is your life force, vitality, your strength and your health. If your blood is poisoned, you're weak and sick. Without it you die. With it you're alive! Blood empowers.

Blood is your lineage, your heritage, your birth right. The bastard son of a king is a bastard - his blood is diluted and impure perhaps, but it's still the blood of a king! You can claim power from your blood. And your blood can likewise shackle you to a fate or destiny carried forward by your bloodline - after all, power frequently has obligations. Blood is status.

Blood binds you to other people. You're bound by blood to your family - a bond that can never be broken. You can swear someone to be your blood brother, acknowledging a camaraderie that desires to never be broken by calling on blood's binding power. If there's bad blood between you and another, then they're your enemy because blood doesn't just bind friends and family but your nemesis as well. Blood is connections.

And from all of this, blood is about living things. It's not an omnipresent natural force. It's not the earth or the wind or gravity. It's not that far reaching. It's personal, intimate. Blood is about people: how they're related, and what they're capable of.

On changing aspects from Blood to Rage[edit]

I was motivated to change because of how Riley's shaping up in play. I was talking to Count about this when I realised that Riley hasn't turned out to be a leader - not like Ayumu is. Working with people and encouraging people to work together isn't her primary problem response. Riley's ended up as a character who shoulders burdens and tries to tackle things her way first and foremost. She might stand in front, but doesn't expect people to follow. So basically, I don't think she's really a Blood player insofar as how we've established Blood works (community, ties, etc).

Which left me wondering what I should actually switch it to - given that Blood doesn't really fit with Riley as she's turned out in play. She is a very...emotion driven character. She's passionate - very passionate - and she has a lot of verve. She hasn't turned out to be the sort of person who stops to consider all her options or all the consequences of what she's doing. And Riley does encourage people to be like that as well after a fashion. She wants to follow her dreams and likes to insist her friends follow theirs.

What made me consider Rage instead of, say, Heart for this (as a more positive, emotion-based Aspect) was Riley's response to her problems. When Riley's put upon, or pressured she gets...increasingly more negative. Which was kind of a weird realisation when I figured that out. As things get worse, she doesn't fall back on hope or love to pull her through. She gets scared and she runs (see her and her destiny), she gets upset and she cries (more than once) and if she can't do either, she gets angry and she breaks things until the problem goes away or the problem kicks her arse (as with the Ogres and the Rider). Basically, Riley is a bundle of joy and life and passion until things go bad. And then she gets horrible. Which is why Rage instead of Heart.

Character Notes[edit]

Chat Handle: Riley's screen name is 'ace7egend'. She came up with it when she was seven - and while these days, she's vaguely embarrassed by it, she hasn't got around to changing it (and nor has she come up with anything better). To be honest, she's grown a little be attached to it after all these years. A more psychoanalytical soul might remark that her love/hate relationship with her pseudonym symbolizes the love/hate relationship she has with her heroic self.

Capabilities: a destined hero, and heir to a legacy stretching back generations of McArthur's, Riley is stronger, quicker and more able than most people have any right to be. She doesn't really play up her capabilities but they're there - without them, you'd be hard pressed to fight an ogre after all!

Roughly, she's three times as capable as the most capable of ordinary folk. She can clear 3m with a high jump, sprint about 90kph (for a few minutes at least - useful for running on water!), and is capable of dead lifting just shy of 1.5t; useful for carrying elderly horses from barn to field and back. Her senses are similarly sharp, and that's why Riley finds reading glasses comfortable when she buries herself in a book.

Mentally, Riley is...not the brightest. She isn't dim, but she's not that witty. Passionate and nominally very stubborn, Riley is a very deliberate thinker - with a narrow, rigid (and perhaps fragile!) world view. If Riley acts decisively, it's not because she's considered the course of action she's taking a good one - or because she's considered the consequences - but because she's acting on instinct. Despite this, she does possess a lot specialised skills relating to her structured upbringing:

  • Farming and animal husbandry: she knows how to grow and harvest crops, rear animals and more besides.
  • Adventuring: a survivalist, explorer and tracker with a focus on living rough in dangerous locales.
  • First aid, and very specific knowledge about critters, creatures, monsters and general anatomy.
  • Heroism: fighting, knowledge of weapons and combat forms, inspiring people.

Family Notes:

Thematic Notes[edit]

Riley has a very mytho-poetic view about some human concepts. This is partly her heroic upbringing, partly a result of her love of legends, and coloured heavily by her time with the Rats.

  • Heroes: Chief among these beliefs, Riley doesn't really see 'heroes' as people. Riley sees being a hero as being a responsibility, a calling or maybe a curse. She is a person AND a hero - they're not the same thing! This is a big reason why she worries about being a hero; she thinks being MORE of a hero will mean she'll become LESS of a person.
  • Rage: To Riley, rage is a serpent. Influenced heavily by the Rat's view of rage (informed by Typhon, the Snake of Wrath), Riley sees rage as a kind of...insidious thing. It nestles inside your chest, and sinks its poison fangs into your heart. When you get angry, you have to fight against the venom!
  • Fear: the only fear is Death - when you can't move forward anymore. Riley sees fear as the dead: the people she's killed, and the people she couldn't save. Everyone she feels responsible to: their hopes, and their dreams. She MUST keep moving forward...both to do them justice, and to stop them from catching up, dragging her down, and adding her to their number.
  • Restraint: restrictions are chains. And something Riley - as an impulsive, instinctive and naturally wrathful fighter - has layered herself in over the years. They weigh her down, and limit her potential for both great success and crushing failure. Thanks to all this self-denial, Riley hasn't seriously hurt anyone she knows in years. Though anger has a bad habit of loosening her shackles...

Relationship Notes[edit]


Riley and Lilith have a vague, semi-antagonistic relationship. She plays the overacted villain and Riley is inexplicably compelled to stop her latest scheme. But it's all good fun, right?

They met when Lilith built a deviant laser. Riley broke it. And afterwards, they stayed in touch.


Character Colour: RoyalBlue3 - #2554C7

Songs and Stories[edit]

Come home, merry sailor
From across the far sea, the wind blows to me,
The songs that come from the outside.
Caught on the lips of sailors in ships,
They sing the songs from the outside.
From where these tunes come no one can know,
Just that they come from outside.
From there to here, what we hold dear,
The sailors come back from outside.
The sailors come back from outside,
Singing the songs the songs from outside...

Distant Game

Far away~

Across these skies unnamed.
Our homes were stolen~
Swallowed by lands untamed.

With this game we play,
We fled away.
To find ourselves on distant shores.

We are lost~
Lost and afraid.
But our hearts don't falter,
Our courage does stay.

We fight and pray~
To see the day...
We return to our homes once more


Yay for fun IRC conversations~

Riley Alter[edit]

Her heart crushed instead of tempered by the weight of suffering around her, Riley Alter has embraced the power of her blood but rejected the obligations of her destiny. The lives of others are so fleeting - lacking power as they do - and they are not worth saving.

But they are worth using...for her own enjoyment and her own machinations.

Ruthless, brutal and debauched, Riley Alter exists to devour the joy of others: everyone and everything a distraction from the cold hate of a universe that abandoned her. Ultimately, she seeks to tear Fate apart - piece by piece. And she cares little for the people she has to step on or the things she has to destroy to accomplish her goal...

Riley Battered[edit]

Nobility and chivalry are lies we tell ourselves to sleep at night, but justice...justice exists. And it must be wrested from the cold, dead hands of villainy

Riley Battered has accepted her destiny and it has broken her upon its rack. She lives a half-life, haunted by the dead and the damned that she tried and failed to save. She is bitter, hurt and bleeding - yet still she struggles. She has run out of mercy, she has run out of patience...and she has, almost, run out of hope.

Yet she still believes, beyond all reason, that there is a light at the end of this darkest of tunnels. It's the only thing that sustains her.

Riley Exalted[edit]

There is goodness beyond goodness, beauty beyond beauty and truth beyond truth. In the realm of gods and angels, Riley sought the strength to struggle on - and she succeeded, but not as she thought she would.

Her impurities, her failings - her very humanity have been scourged by a light so harsh that almost none could hope to bear it. Riley did...and she didn't. She survived, but she was changed. She is pure, now, but also ruthless. She cannot rest, she cannot stop, she cannot compromise.

She is an instrument of the divine: a heroic paragon...and nothing else.

Return to Riley's main page.


Child of Ash maybe notes

Estate The Roaring Sea

A maelstrom of violent waters and active volcanoes; the lands constantly swallowed by the waves before erupting in pillars of molten fire. A place of struggle, strife, and the burning will to survive – even as you’re swallowed by the darkest depths.

Mood Vigour

Riley emanates a sense of confidence, assurance in your own abilities, and of possibility. You feel like you can do what you’ve always wanted to do and damn the consequences!

Kaiju Form Unbound Fury

At best, this is potential and verve! At worst, this is being devoured by chaos and rage. This is shedding your mortal skin – your flesh and blood and bone – because they cannot contain the coursing, unstoppable power that beats at your core of your being. Everything becomes indistinct: no longer entirely solid or there. Hair becomes like fire, whipping and gleaming. And the physical constraints of a body vanish entirely…the unbound fury bending, and moving and flowing and growing and shrinking and burning with a power that obeys no laws.

Wicked Mode Rage