Wololita: Mainline vs. Reformed
At its core, Wololita’s guiding principle is focused on the weak, but Reformed and Mainline Wololita focus on the weak in different ways. Both Mainline and Reformed Wololita despise the weak and admire the strong. However, Mainline Wololita seeks to kill the weak, while Reformed Wololita wants to make the weak strong. Reformed Wololita members will use whatever methods work to motivate the weak to be strong, but they tend to focus on “tough love” tactics like humiliating them and picking on them. They are like the bully on the beach who kicks sand in the fact of the 98-pound weakling and steals his girl, though they do it not to be mean, but to give the 98-pound weakling incentive to work hard at becoming strong enough to fight back. They are not averse to killing the weak to serve as a lesson to others, but they would prefer to avoid it to give the weak a chance to be motivated to getting better.
Mainline Wololita believes in fair fights, and might join the weaker side to make things even. Reformed Wololita doesn’t care about fair fights. In an unfair fight, they are more likely to side with the stronger side to encourage the weak in the fight – or those observing – to become strong, but they may side with the weaker side in some circumstances if they feel it helps their mission better.
Reformed Wololita Overview
Reformed Wololita believes in excellence in fighting just as much as Mainline Wololita, but they believe all skills a person has — combat and non-combat alike — should be at an excellent level. Think of them as kind of like the ancient Greeks, who admired fine fighting skills, but also admired great athletics, great artistry, great oratory, etc. A reformed Wololitan believes if you are going to do something – whatever that something is – you should do it well or not at all. Their greatest ideal is a renaissance man who is highly skilled in as many things as possible.
Reformed Wololitans believe magic and any other tools you can use to make yourself better should be used. They believe tools do not make the person no matter how good: tools are mere icing on the cake for a person’s skills. If someone is highly skilled, using great tools will just make them appear all the greater as a human ideal, further encouraging the weak to become like them. Any tools will not be very helpful if someone doesn’t have great skills to begin with. If you give Joxer a +5 mithril sword and +10 tile armor, and Xena a rusty sword and leather armor, Xena will still wipe the floor with him in a fight. Michael Phelps may have a high-tech low-friction swim suit, but that just helps him get a little edge at being the best he can possibly be at swimming. No one would think he would be a poor swimmer if he didn’t have it, and up and coming swimmers aren’t going to stop working to be like him just because he uses that swim suit (quite the contrary).
Reformed Wololitans love battles and tests of skills. Anything goes in battles and is admired, as long as the person doing it is highly skilled. If someone wins a fight by throwing dirt in the opponents face or casting magic, well, the other person should have been ready for it and should have been highly skilled at countering it. On the other hand, they despise cheating or sabotaging a contestant before a battle. For example, a Reformed Wololitan would condemn any of the following actions:
1) In a battle for who has the greatest knowledge on the subject, if one person found the list of questions ahead of time and researched the answers before the contest,
2) In a singing contest, if a person won the contest by magically clouding the minds of the judges,
3) Before a sword fight, if a person glued the opponent’s sword to his scabbard (However, once the battle started, if he threw a bottle of quick-drying glue at the opponent’s scabbard before the opponent had a chance to draw, that would be OK).
A cleric or paladin of Reformed Wololita should be someone that either people admire, and want to be like them; or someone that people envy and hate, and want to be strong enough to defeat them. The cleric or paladin is fine with either reason or any other reason that causes the weak to strive to be strong. Ideally, the cleric or paladin should be comely, though this is not required. Every attribute they have should have a positive bonus. Every skill they use in public should be at least 14. While they have a skill that they are working at to raise to an acceptable level of excellence, they will deny any capability with that skill and never use it outside of training.
Note: it should be clear to the characters that Reformed Wololita clerics, paladins, and university graduates truly do things excellently. However, it is often difficult to get across to players the difference between a character doing things well, and a character that is expressing bravado and undeserved overconfidence about his abilities. Thus, if another player is indicating that they believe the latter is going on, the GM should make it clear to the player that he is wrong. The person playing the Reformed Wololita character cannot clarify this without reinforcing the other player’s preconceived ideas about what is going on, so it has to come from the GM.
Reformed Wololita University
Reformed Wololita universities teach fighting as well as any subject or skill that would draw students. In New Hope (town of the famous original university) back when it was a frontier town, that included teaching farming, forestry, mining, hunting, merchandizing, magic, and some of the arts. Students go through a rough sink-or-swim training in any course of study. In Reformed Wololita fashion, they are shown no respect until they show they are good enough to have earned it. For example, the students are referred to as worms, as if it were a title, such as “Worm Kennie”. Students handle all menial chores at the university, such as cleaning, with the worst chores given to the newest students.
Teachers are expected to excel in their chosen discipline, with a skill of at least 18 in their discipline and a teaching skill of at least 14. (If someone who excels in a skill wishes to become a teacher but has a lower teaching skill, they may take classes at the university to raise their teaching skill to a strong level.) On rare occasions, there are some fake masters who try to become teachers, but they get weeded out quickly. The religion and university stresses excellence, so a faker’s lack of knowledge and/or skill is typically apparent to students and other teachers fairly quickly. The university deals harshly with a poorly skilled person pretending to be strong enough to teach students, especially if it appears they’re doing it knowingly rather than being deluded.
Any skill is considered worthy of being taught, even evil ones. If a teacher shows up who knows torture well, all the fighter students can optionally learn about torture from him. However, the focus is to build skills in resisting torture, not using it on others. Think of the training as being similar to US Special Forces, where they’re tortured by instructors for the same reason. Likewise, if the university can find some good thieves, the university will have them instruct the fighter and merchant students about knowing how thieves operate so they can detect and thwart thieves, not become thieves. They should also know how to truss someone up both to restrain suspects, and to know how to escape themselves if they’re trussed up.
The university expects that some students will take classes specifically to take up an evil profession, such as thievery. However, the universities have found that most of these students realize long before graduation that it’s much safer, prestigious, and even more lucrative in the long run to use their skills towards a more honest profession. For those few that stick with their original goal, at least they end up being strong in their chosen evil professions.
Most universities will quietly alert the local town’s authorities about suspected unreformed students, both to maintain good relations with the town and to further incentivize the students to become very strong if they are determined to stick with it. Successful students then cause the authorities to have to become stronger themselves, even further helping the mission in a virtuous cycle.
Completing a course of study means someone has at least skill 14 in all skills needed to be successful in that area. For example, with forestry, graduating requires at least skill 14 in 10 of the following skills: weather sense, herb lore, mushroom lore, animal lore, monster lore, hunting, tanning, tree lore, logging, log transporting, wilderness lore, wilderness survival, first aid, bow, horsemanship, reconnoiter, situational awareness, appraise (forestry products), and move silently.
Should someone complete a course of study and graduate, they have the right to have a Wololita tattoo put on their left arm that describes their completed course of study, and shows they are now experts in that field. Having a Wololita tattoo is considered very meaningful, and it lets everyone know the graduate is strong in their field of study. Think of the process as similar to someone who trains to become a Marine and gets a tattoo, or someone who graduates from MIT and gets a ring. It’s tough to get through, but can mean a lot if you complete it. Anyone caught with a fake unearned tattoo will be hunted down and killed.
No matter what the course, any student will be taught a strict set of ethics that they are to follow after graduation if they are wearing a Reformed Wololita graduate tattoo. These ethics are designed to ensure that the Reformed Wololita graduate tattoos carry great prestige and are sought after by employers, further serving the Reformed Wololita mission. So, for example, as a fighter, they should always be loyal to their employer, help their brother fighters, don’t steal, don’t torture, etc. Think idealized Japanese samurai or WWII American ethics. They can quit an employer at any time if they don’t like what the employer wants them to do. If they violate these ethics, they are dealt with harshly by the university. However, if they remove their tattoo, the university would be OK with anything they did – torturing, thieving, etc. – as long as they did it well.
Students do not have to join Reformed Wololita to attend the university. It’s nice if they become members and it often happens naturally with a significant number of students, but it’s considered much more important to achieve the mission of getting people to become strong than to evangelize.
New universities are often subsidized by their local towns when they start, by nearby members of Reformed Wololita, and/or by other universities; but they become self-sufficient over time. The long-term financial goal is to break even, not make a profit. Students can take only individual classes they are interested in, or try to complete an entire course of study and graduate. Students either pay tuition, or can attend free on scholarship if they are trying to graduate and agree to pay a portion of what they make post-graduation with the skills they learn. The post-graduation portion covers their scholarship cost on average and interest, plus it is raised a little bit to keep scholarships revenue neutral by taking into account that some graduates may die or disappear before they pay everything back. Dropouts have to serve as serfs until they have paid back the tuition for the time they were there. Welchers are dealt with harshly.
The universities sponsor competitions in any skill taught, complete with prizes for the winners and merit badges for the top 10%. Rules are standard for what is considered OK for Reformed Wololita. Again, the competitions are self-sufficient: the competitions are held as festivals, and the cost of the festivals is recovered from admission tickets and selling space to merchants. The competitions are intended to reward and encourage skill, recruit students and teachers for the university, and get more people to join Reformed Wololita.
At the festivals, even evil skills will have contests, though typically to emphasize fighting against those skills. For example, there may be a contest for who can resist torture the longest, who can successfully get the torturer to believe the most incorrect information, who can detect thieves the earliest, who can escape from being bound the fastest, etc.
New universities are usually built outside the walls of towns. Since fighting is always one of the skills taught, the university should be strong enough to defend itself against anyone or anything that dares to attack. If they turn out not to be, it serves as a lesson that others should be stronger before being outside the walls. The university is built and fortified by construction students and teachers, both for the initial buildings, and for any expansion of the fortified area as the university grows. Adornments and art are added by artistic students, so university buildings and grounds typically end up being very beautiful and impressive. Constructing and adding to the university is considered good training for the students in a kind of eat-your-own-dog-food way. Again, the university should be built with excellent fortifications to withstand any attacks, and, if that is shown to be inadequate, it’s considered a lesson for the other universities to become stronger.
Typically, the universities are on retainer with the neighboring town to provide extra needed armsmen or other skilled people (both teachers and students) if needed during any major crisis. Since the retainer fees go towards the university, all sides end up with a win-win situation: the town has extra fighters, construction builders, etc. to call upon in extraordinary situations that don’t cost them much (think Army Reserve), and the universities have extra funds to serve the mission of making the weak strong. The university and the town typically view each other symbiotically, which, from the Reformed Wololita perspective, is encouraged because it helps the university gather students and spread its mission.
Clerical Ranks (in order):