Dirty Princesses

A Game about Expectations and Danger

Rings and Circlets April 9, 2011

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It’s time I told you about the remaining two Virtues of a Máran Princess, which are also the remaining two suits in a traditional Máran deck of cards.

Previously I talked about Swords, which represents strength, might and military prowess, and Shields which represents faith and compassion. Now I’ll be writing about Rings and Circlets.


Rings represent Leadership. Each one is a unique ring that carries the symbol of the Princess in question, a symbol that would be recognisable to anyone who saw it. The rings themselves are not particularly valuable in terms of their material components, but whoever carries one has the ability to command, lead armies and ask for almost anything. But they are not all gift. They also represent that the wearer is someone to be trusted, relied upon and turned to in times of trouble. A Princess who has been noticed wearing her ring (not that they wouldn’t be asked anyway, the ring is simply an excuse, or perhaps a promise) can be expected to be called upon to solve problems and to help those in need. It is a symbol that she can be counted upon to lead, but also that those around her who are loyal can be counted upon to follow. It symbolises confidence and decision-making ability.

As a suit of cards, Rings represents rulers, leaders, wisdom, patience, generosity, military forces and militia (in the sense of people gathering, not so much the violence that comes with them), towns and stability.


A Circlet sits upon the brow of each Princess, a diadem with a single jewel centered on the brow. It is elegant, simple and beautiful. The Circlet symbolises intelligence and education. It shows that the Princess is a person of learning and erudition, that she knows many things and is wise in many matters. The lorekeepers of Mára are considered to be the greatest in the land, their libraries are the most complete and deepest. Many say that if they do not know something, it is not worth knowing. Princesses are not truly expected to carry such prodigious knowledge, but they are certainly expected to be more learned than the average person and always keen to learn more.

As a suit of cards, Circlets represents intelligence, education, knowledge, mystery, secrets, whispers, travel and books.


Cardinal Virtues December 10, 2010

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There are four Virtues that every Máran Princess is expected to embrace, display and embody. The Queen is considered an equal paragon of all, regardless of her actual capabilities and inclinations. The Princesses, however, are expected (but not encouraged) to favour one over the other, as is appropriate to their age and limited experience. Associated with each of these Virtues is an item, an artifact, that the Princesses carry out into the world as they prove their worth. These items are rich with significance, each having been passed down from mothers and aunts, each with a history. In turn, each item is associated with one of the four suits used in the deck of cards. The Princess and The Queen have particular titles and significance.

The Four Virtues are:


Might is several things at once. It is the strength of a sword-arm and skill in battle. It is tactics and strategy, the realm of the warlord and the general. It is feint, attack and defense. Might is fearsome and awe-inspiring, acts of physicality, strength and agility.

Obviously, Might is physically represented by the Sword. But not just any sword. A sword crafted by Máran metallurgists of the finest Máran Steel. The term means something more than just a simple metal, it means a willingness to shed blood for the greater good, it means a mastery over the sword, it means only drawing it with intent to use it. Máran Steel is guts, drive, determination and willpower. Every Princess carries Máran Steel, at her side and in her heart. Each sword is unique, elegant and above all practical. They are intended to be used, not to sit as decoration. Nobody would take up Máran Steel unless they were willing and able to use it.

The suit of cards, Swords, is symbolic of violence, conflict, blood, war, conquest and strength as well as sex and romantic love. The Queen of Swords is also called The General and the Princess of Swords is known as The Warrior. In less polite or formal company, The Queen of Swords is called The Bloody Bitch or The Destroyer and The Princess of Swords is called Ravager or Slayer.


If the sword and military prowess united the tribes, it is Faith that keeps them together. Before, they worshipped a variety of gods and goddesses, each embodying a different aspect of the world. Now they have been given a new, singular face. They are all aspects of the one Goddess, her masculine and feminine sides, creator and destroyer, love and all part of the same thing. This proved enormously successful, allowing all to continue worshipping Her in their own way, but bringing them together like never before. The Princesses are expected to lead the people in faith and piety, leading by example. They should not favour specific aspects of Her (that is not to say that they don’t), but rather worship the Goddess as a whole. This can make things confusing, as some of the requirements of Her aspects can be prohibitive or even contradictory, and she is known by many different names. The Princesses must walk a tricky path in showing faith.

The symbol of their Faith is the Shield. The shield is polished until it is almost reflective, elegantly and beautifully made, as well as solid and protective. The outer face is inscribed with a personally chosen symbol of the Princess’ faith and belief, the inner face inscribed with prayer and litany to see them through times of darkness and fear.

The suit of Shields is one that symbolises protection, faith, belief, piety, loyalty, platonic love, life and birth. I’m still working on specific meanings and names for The Queen and Princess of Shields.

That’s all for the moment, I’ll cover the other two virtues at a later date.