The Sensates, originally founded by Clan Hedonis about 200 years ago, are part geisha, part artist, part monastery order, and part diplomat. Controlled by the powerful Sensate Guild, the goal of the Sensates is to provide humanity with pleasure and art, and to enhance life in the Protectorate. While the classic image of the Sensate is that of a high-class escort, that is far from an accurate depiction of their talents.
Sensates are trained, above all, in bringing joy to the human race. This can be through art, music, poetry, electronic media (the sensory game industry is almost completely dominated by Sensates), the sensual arts, and even through peacekeeping and diplomacy. It all really depends on where the sensate focuses his or her talents. As long as the end goal is bringing pleasure and joy to the lives of others, it is considered in the purview of the Sensates.
Sensates enter the guild generally before adulthood is obtained, usually around the age of 10 to 12. By the age of 16 they are generally considered fully trained, although their education never truly ends. About 1/3 of all Sensates are recruited by other Sensates or the guild itself. Youths who show a particular aptitude for the arts, a special grace or sensitivity, or have a particular beauty, are all fair game. Being invited is a great honor that is not often refused (it is never refused by members of Clan Hedonis, except in extreme circumstances). Training is intensive and incredibly varied. Sensates must move with the grace of a master martial artist, speak like a skilled orator, and turn their minds into a repository of information on the arts. They must learn to observe and perceive the world on a minute level, and be able to find beauty in all things.
All Sensates work by taking assignations. These assignations are pre-arranged contracts with their employers. They could be for a night’s pleasure, for musical entertainment on an interstellar cruise, or to establish a Pleasure House on a new colony. Prices vary greatly, and depend on the activity being requested, the length of service, and the reputation of the Sensate. In all cases, the Guild gets 10% of the take.
Sensates never truly retire. Those who find age catching up with them often open a salon in an area where they have significant influence, and continue to host parties, art showings, poetry readings, or even host political negotiations from their beautiful homes. They also tend to find a young Sensate and become that Sensate’s patron; helping them attain assignations, develop new skills, and move upward on the guild’s complex and fluid social structure.
Another option for Sensates is the Life Contract. Sensates, in general, approve of marriage for others, but frown on it for themselves. Sensates see a marriage as having too much focus on themselves. Instead, they find a partner for whom they are willing to commit their considerable skills to for life, and sign a permanent contract (in return for room, board, and even specified levels of affection) to be that person’s Life Companion. Needless to say, the competition for a Sensate life companion can be fairly intense. On some of the outlying colony worlds, parents will have their children (usually girls) attempt to join the Sensates just to be more valuable a marriage prospect. The Guild is aware of this, and cherry picks the girls with real promise and guides them into the full Sensate profession. Those who have only a little potential are trained enough to make good wives or husbands and sent on their way. Those with no potential, who would dishonor the guild, are refused admittance.
Most citizens of the Protectorate understand and support the role of the Sensates, and there are special laws to protect Sensates and the profession from abuse. First, only members of the guild may call themselves a Sensate. Second, Sensate contracts are legally binding in all Protectorate courts of law.
The guild itself will sometimes take actions against individuals who abuse a Sensate or break contract by “blacklisting” that individual, meaning that they can no longer hire any Sensate or frequent any Sensate business for any reason.
Sensates are recognizable by their satin capes, usually red, and Protectorate custom dictates that one does nothing to diminish the pleasure of a Sensate or their traveling companion while the Sensate is wearing the cloak. To do so is considered both bad taste and bad luck.
Sensates in the military
The Sensates do, in fact, have a presence in the fleet, though rarely in the marines. Sensates in the fleet are warrant officers, and work as councilors, alien culture specialists and entertainers. Most ships assigned a Sensate are either fleet flagships or cruisers on long-range exploration missions. While the Sensates are not onboard for general assignations with the crew, virtually all make their services available at extreme discounts (usually 1/10th their normal price). Female Sensates do this the most, and have picked up the nickname “Ship’s Girl” on most of the ships on which they serve.
While Sensates are not usually skilled at ranged ground combat and are not combat pilots, they are very skilled hand-to-hand combatants. The same cat-like grace and knowledge of human anatomy that they use to give pleasure can be used to snap an enemy’s neck. Rumors abound of some Clan Hedonis Sensates who double as expert assassins in the legendary, unconfirmed, House Belladonna Assassin’s Guild.
Special Abilities and Bonuses
1. Cat-like Grace: All Sensates have an amazing physical grace, balance, and economy of motion. They are trained to be graceful in every movement. As such, they receive a +1D4 to P.P., +3 to roll with punch, fall and impact. Unlike other characters, who can only roll with damage once per melee round, a Sensate can roll as a free action every time they receive damage. Additionally, when suffering a knock-down attack, even by surprise, a Sensate who successfully rolls with the attack does not lose an attack or initiative (though they take full damage in such cases).
2. Disarming Presence: Sensates are, obviously, incredibly charming. But they are also incredibly non-threatening. Every enemy attempting combat with the Sensate or a group the Sensate is obviously a part of must roll above the Sensate’s charm/impress skill or their initiative will automatically drop to one point lower than the Sensate’s. This ability is negated if the Sensate has attacked or acted violently already, and has no effect on those who have rolled initiative lower than the Sensate’s already. Only applicable to the first melee round of combat.
3. Impervious to seduction and charm/impress skills. They just don’t work on Sensates. When a Sensate falls for someone, it is due to personality, appreciation for the arts, and true inner beauty. They are too familiar with outer beauty to be taken in by it, although they won’t hesitate to appreciate a person’s beauty….sometimes for hours or days…up close…in private.
4. Other Bonuses: +1D6 to P.B. (minimum of 17), +2 to save vs disease.
Alignment: Any, but 90% are either Scrupulous or Principled. The rest are Unprincipled or Anarchist (evil alignments are anathema to the philosophy of bringing pleasure to others, those in the Belladonna guild, if such a guild exists, would be Aberrant, however)
Gender: Any (60% are female, 40% are male)
Attribute Requirements: A physical prowess of 12 and a physical beauty of 14 or better (before adding bonus) are required. A high I.Q. and M.A. are recommended, but not necessary.
Starting S.D.C.: 20
Racial Restrictions: Human
Speak and Read Native Language 98%
Two languages of choice (+10%)
Literacy: two of choice (+15%)
Public Speaking (+10%)
Wardrobe and Grooming (+20%)
Gymnastics (+10% where applicable)
Art (one type of choice) (+15%)
W.P. Ancient (one of choice)
Hand to hand: Assassin (while not evil, Sensates are trained to end a fight quickly and with little damage to themselves as possible…there’s no requirement to be fair)
O.C.C. Related Skills: Ten (10) other skills, but at least four must be from either Communications, Domestic or Technical. Receives two additional skills at levels 3, 6, 9 and 12.
Communications: Any (+10%)
Domestic: Any (+10%)
Electrical: Basic only.
Espionage: Detect Concealment, Escape Artist and Interrogation only
Horsemanship: General or Cowboy only
Mechanical: Basic only.
Medical: Any (+5%)
Pilot: Any non-military
Pilot Related: Navigation and Read Sensory only
Rogue: Any (+5%)
Science: Math only
Technical: Any (+10%)
W.P. Ancient: Any
W.P. Modern: Any
Wilderness Survival: Any
Secondary Skills: Select six Secondary Skills at first level from the Secondary Skill List in the Skill Section of Rifts Ultimate Edition. These are additional areas of knowledge that do not get any bonuses, other than any possible bonus for having a high I.Q. All Secondary Skills start at the base skill level.
Standard Equipment: Extensive, luxurious wardrobe, light armored spacesuit or body armor, an extensive set of art supplies, hovering and armored steamer trunk (20 M.D.C.), sun glasses, goggles, backpack, two small personal weapons of choice, personal communicator (planet-wide on networked worlds, 200-mile range on frontier worlds), extensive music, film and literature collection on computer disc, high-end portable personal computer.
Vehicle: Small, personal vehicle commiserate with any piloting skills the Sensate may possess. With GM permission, the Sensate can own a small personal transport, but generally they do not own a starship.
Starting money: Sensates make PLENTY of money, though much of it is spent on the very extravagant lifestyle required by their profession. Starting credits: 1D4x10,000
Cybernetics: None to start, generally prefer biosystems if needed. Cybernetics are not popular or wide-spread among the Protectorate.
Experience: Use the Rogue Scholar experience table.