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The World of HDR

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My Highlander campaign has developed a "canon" and mythology all its own. This page features some of the facts and legends about the HDR world. Player Characters may be aware of some, all, or none of this...


Terms

Fledgling: An immortal who recently died his or her first death. Honorable immortals consider it unworthy to kill a fledgling, and doing so earns you a bad reputation. There's no official point at which you stop being a fledgling, but it's generally considered to last roughly until you're old enough that mortals who knew you at the time you "died" will start noticing that you look much too young for your age, i.e., anywhere from 5 to 20 years. (Obviously, a young immortal who goes out on his own looking for duels will rapidly exempt himself from the unwritten rule against beheading fledglings.)

Pre-immortal: (Some sarcastically use the term "egg"). Someone who will become immortal, but who has not yet died his or her first death. Immortals can sometimes sense a pre-immortal.

Moderns, Medievals, Elders, Ancients: In recent years, some immortals (mostly younger ones) have started labelling their own kind by age. Moderns are immortals who were born in the last couple of centuries. Medievals are theoretically immortals born during medieval times, but some younger immortals apply it to anyone born before 1800, which tends to annoy immortals born long after the end of the medieval period. Elders are immortals born during or before the so-called "dark ages," i.e. pre-1000 A.D. Ancients are immortals who remember the Roman Republic (or is it the Roman Empire? Some of the younger immortals have a poor grasp of history). Obviously, these categories are imprecise, and the dividing line between them inexact. A few cheeky young immortals have started referring to their "generation" as post-modern, and some use the term methuselah or antidiluvian to refer to really old immortals, but they've probably been reading too much Anne Rice.

The Watchers: This is what immortals call them, not what they call themselves. Some immortals know (or suspect) that there is a mortal organization that's been keeping track of them for centuries. Others laugh at such conspiracy theories, and believe that it's natural that occasionally mortals would stumble onto the truth, and perhaps form unrelated groups dedicated to learning about (or hunting) immortals at various points in history, and others think that only in modern times have a few government agencies begun to apprehend the existence of immortals.


HDR "Canon"

While HDR is inspired by the Highlander movie and TV series, I do not use them as canon! Nothing that is true in the "official" Highlander universe is necessarily true in my game.

The following things are true in the HDR universe:

  1. IMMORTALS HAVE PARENTS. In the Highlander series, all immortals are "foundlings", adopted by mortal parents who don't know where they really came from. I think this is silly. You may make your character such a foundling, if you wish, but most immortals have real parents who are known to have actually given birth to them. Immortality is not a heritable trait, however -- an immortal may have siblings, but it would be an amazing coincidence if one of them turns out to be immortal also.
  2. IMMORTALS DON'T REPRODUCE. This is consistent with the series. Immortals don't father children or become pregnant. Ever. Not with mortals and not with other immortals. Not even before their first death, when they don't know they're immortal.
  3. IMMORTALS ARE (MOSTLY) MORTAL UNTIL THEIR FIRST DEATH. Until an immortal "dies" for the first time, s/he can be injured like anyone else, and must heal normally (though most immortals are unusually healthy even during their pre-immortal existence). Once a pre-immortal "dies" for the first time, he becomes immortal and ageless, and will remain physically the age he was at death. Any permanent scars or missing limbs, etc. that the immortal already had when becoming immortal will remain also.
  4. IMMORTALS NEVER DIE NATURAL DEATHS. Pre-immortals never become immortal as a result of disease or aging or other health problems. Pre-immortals don't have strokes or heart attacks -- as a general rule, they don't have any severe health problems, although they aren't completely immune to disease before becoming immortal. They don't contract diseases like leprosy. They can be poisoned (even immortals are not usually immune to poison).
  5. IMMORTAL CHILDREN/ELDERLY IMMORTALS. There seems to be a "fate" element that affects immortals, in that no one has ever seen an immortal toddler or infant, nor a geriatric immortal. Perhaps a pre-immortal cannot become immortal if killed before a certain age, or perhaps a supernatural fate just ensures it doesn't happen, or perhaps such young immortals are always killed out of compassion when discovered by other immortals. While a child might become an immortal, it is very rare, and an immortal too young to fend for oneself has never been seen. (Not that I think anyone would want to play an immortal toddler, but you never know....) Conversely, immortals may be middle-aged or older when they die, but no one who's reached a state of decrepitude has ever become immortal. Again, perhaps fate ensures pre-immortals always experience an unnatural death before then, or perhaps if a pre-immortal lives that long without being killed, he will lose his "immortality" and die normally, but assume that no one old enough to fail an Aging Roll will become an immortal.
  6. IMMORTALS CAN ALWAYS SENSE ONE ANOTHER. As per the series, immortals feel a "buzz" whenever another immortal is nearby. The exact range varies, but with very few exceptions, they always sense one another at the same time. It is virtually impossible for one immortal to surprise another. Immortals can usually sense how many other immortals are nearby, but not always, and they usually cannot determine range or direction, only that another immortal is in the vicinity. Some immortals can sense a "pre-immortal", at close range.
  7. IMMORTALS CAN SENSE HOLY GROUND. It isn't clear in the series whether this is so, but the Highlander novels imply that they cannot. I've established in HDR that holy ground does have an "aura" that immortals can sense when they enter it, though its strength seems to depend on the extent to which that site is actually used as a place of worship. A long-abandoned holy site may no longer have an aura, though immortal tradition generally says that once a site is holy ground, it is always treated as holy ground. Exactly what happens if an immortal breaks the Rules and takes another immortal's head on holy ground is unknown, since it hasn't happened yet.....
  8. IMMORTAL POWERS. Every immortal heals most wounds in a matter of seconds, and cannot be killed permanently except by decapitation. Immortals are immune to disease. They are not immune to poison, but they are resistant. Immortals can suffocate and drown, but they get better. Your character will not automatically know all this at first, of course. There may be other immortal powers that some characters can acquire.

The Game

Every immortal knows of "the Game." Immortals hunt and kill each other, taking each other's heads in order to gain their Quickening. But why this game? What's the purpose? What's the point?

All any immortal knows is what other immortals have repeated! No one knows who started the legends, who was the first immortal, or the origins of the Game. Maybe the Game was devised by the first immortal(s). Maybe it was ordained by God. Maybe it's just a tall tale someone made up eons ago, which has been passed down as gospel for untold millenia.

"There Can Be Only One"

This phrase has been repeated from time immemorial. Every immortal has heard it. Supposedly, someday there will be but two immortals left on Earth, and they will fight, and one will take the other's head. The victor will be the winner of the Game.

The Prize

Legends say that the last immortal will win the Prize. Presumably this will be the sum total of every other immortal's Quickening, throughout history (discounting those few immortals who lost their heads to non-immortals). Such an enormous Quickening would certainly suffuse any immortal with incalculable power. Some believe it will make the last immortal into a god, granted powers beyond those of all other immortals put together. Others believe the last immortal will finally receive the answer to all the questions immortals have had throughout history. Or perhaps the Game will simply start anew....

The Rules

Most immortals obey the "Rules", though no one knows where they came from. Immortals who violate the Rules are generally considered evil, but nowhere are the Rules formally written down, nor are there any formal enforcers of the Rules. The Rules that are recognized almost universally are:

  1. No fighting on Holy Ground.
  2. Immortals must fight each other in single combat, with no outside interference once the duel has begun.
  3. You may only behead an immortal you defeated fairly in single combat.

An immortal who is known to have violated these Rules is reviled by other immortals, and is commonly considered to be exempt from the Rules himself; i.e., no one will hold it against an immortal who beheads a Rule-breaker after gunning him down with a machine gun. (In practice, most honorable immortals have a hard time violating the Rules even against a known cheater.)

Not every immortal follows all the Rules or interprets them the same way. Different immortals may interpret certain rules differently, and some follow rules that others do not. For example, most immortals consider it unacceptable to kill a pre-immortal or a fledgling....but while killing a fledgling will get an immortal labeled as a scummy hunter, it won't get him labeled a Rule-breaker.

Most also consider it dishonorable to kill an immortal who's unarmed. Almost all consider it a breach of the Rules to take someone's head while he's weak from the Quickening after beheading someone else. But exactly what the Rules are, and how they are enforced, is not necessarily universal.


Famous Immortals

These immortals are fairly well-known (some only by legend) in 2000 A.D.

Akiko Inoue: She is world-famous as head of the Inoue corporation, but some immortals also know she is one of them.

Sir Alastair Stewart: A Scottish immortal who works for the British Crown, and thus has powerful contacts with the government.

Aman: Very, very old. Most elder immortals have at least heard of this ancient African dictator, though he rarely interacts with fledglings. He may at this point be the oldest surviving immortal; he's certainly the most active of the ancient ones.

Casca: A fabulously wealthy immortal who dates back to Roman times, known to be a devout Christian and very reclusive.

Ciaran: An ancient Celtic immortal, known to be a hunter of hunters.

John Smith: He's been around the world and is known to most sociable immortals as a gentleman and an honorable soul.

Morrigan: At one time believed to be possibly the oldest immortal alive, and likely the greatest combatant, she has not been seen in at least a thousand years, and is generally assumed to be dead. Most immortals over 1,000 years old had heard of her.

Nimrod: Supposedly one of the most ancient and deadliest hunters, rumored to be the Nimrod, from the Old Testament. On the other hand, no one knows what he looks like, and many immortals believe he's merely a legend, and that now and then a hunter hears about the legend and assumes the guise of "Nimrod" to make himself seem more formidable.

Payal: Famous as a hunter (particularly of Muslim and Christian immortals), and for her cold-blooded viciousness.

Titania de Charbonneau: A former French noblewoman who owns an exclusive club in London called La Lame ("The Blade"). It provides a neutral ground where immortals can meet; all immortals who enter the premises agree to abide by Titania's rules.


Myths and Legends of the HDR World

Myths and Legends

These things might be true. Many immortals have heard these stories, and some might even know whether or not they're true.

Highlander
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