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AMFV
2014-02-02, 05:50 PM
I'm curious if anybody knows of any other systems where a characters beliefs or fundamental precepts can have in-game effect on the character. I'm familiar with WoD, and TRoS, and the TBW. But I'd be interested to see if there are any others like this. I think the idea of having characters whose morality affects the game is really fascinating to me. So are there any other such systems?

Edit: Realized this sounds really a real world morality thing so I'm altering the title to fit better with the in-game nature of this question.

Rhynn
2014-02-02, 06:59 PM
Pendragon, sort of; it's more about your personality traits and passions, but your character's faith is also important.

HeroQuest, kind of, although it's not as explicitly supported, but the setting is big on belief (on a large scale).

Actana
2014-02-02, 07:08 PM
Oh, oh! I know! The Riddle of Ste-

TRoS

Bah. :smallannoyed::smalltongue:

Fate can do beliefs in this way through aspects, but given that "belief" aspects work pretty much the same as any other aspects, it's not that interesting of an example.

Burning Wheel's two sister games, Mouse Guard and Torchbearer are also pretty big on beliefs, but I'd count those alongside Burning Wheel and not as separate entities.

Airk
2014-02-02, 07:42 PM
Burning Wheel's two sister games, Mouse Guard and Torchbearer are also pretty big on beliefs, but I'd count those alongside Burning Wheel and not as separate entities.

I'd be inclined to agree with counting the siblings as part of the same game for this purpose.

Tenra Bansho Zero also does something like Beliefs with it's 'Fates' system. While a fate can be something like 'Misfortune: Loss of your most precious thing' they can also be "Emotion: Hatred of Kuga the Bloody" or "Taboo: Fighting." So they're actually broader than just things your character 'believes', per se, and are instead just "things your character is deeply invested in."

Grinner
2014-02-02, 07:56 PM
Unknown Armies is big on this.

The character creation chapter opens with the header "Who Are You?", followed by a description of Obsessions which then flows into Passions. Your character's Obsession is the one thing he's born to do. It's the thing teenagers spend years trying to find, according to modern psychology. Each character also has three Passions: a Noble Passion, a Fear Passion, and a Rage Passion. These Passions are what the character intimately cares about. They're the things he loves, the things he fears, the things he hates. Only after these aspects are defined does the book ask what the character can do.

They also have some mechanical effects.

There's more to this though. Unknown Armies was designed around the concept of hope. It's the antithesis of Call of Cthulhu. Where investigators in CoC are inevitably doomed to insanity, the people of Unknown Armies can make a difference, but they have to walk a long, treacherous road to do it. To do that, they need to believe in something. When night falls and the wolves bare their teeth, that's going to be what sees you through to daybreak.

Take care that you master your dreams though, rather than let your dreams master you. Sure you get kewl powerz from it, but you'll be left a broken, inhuman husk. You'll probably also go to Hell.

Geostationary
2014-02-03, 03:14 AM
Nobilis and Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine do something along these lines, though they aren't necessarily beliefs.

What they have are these things called Bonds and Afflictions. Both are true statements about the character, but they do different things and are true in different ways. Bonds generally indicate what the character strongly believes in or otherwise greatly cares about, though this isn't always the case. They can be invoked by the player in the face of relevant opposition to help them power through said opposition by gaining certain mechanical benefits. They can also be used in situations of legitimate death to sustain themselves on their passions indefinitely, but this doesn't often come up and is rather unhealthy.

Afflictions are axiomatic truths about the character, be they "I never tell a lie" or "My touch burns the wicked". They are under the control of the DM/HG/ST/etc. and are true, logic be damned. They are useful in the way axiomatic truths are useful, and have built-in defenses against people trying to change or fight them. It is useful to note that Bonds are the best tool against Afflictions and similarly defended things.

Both can gain you in-game resources if they become problems- your inability to lie or your devotion to Heaven may become a liability when negotiating with demons. Similarly, if a Bond or Affliction is made to be contradictory, it can break, harming you and gaining you the same resources as before. Breaking can only really happen with the consent of the player, and there are subtle differences between a Bond or an Affliction breaking. Additionally, people can and do set out to pervert and break these as a method of indirect conflict.

Berenger
2014-02-03, 04:43 AM
Most of the time, I don't find alignments useful at all.

If such a label mechanic is necessary (because "Detect This" or "Smite That" exist) I prefer Allegiances (http://www.d20resources.com/modern.d20.srd/basics/allegiances.php). This way I can label the demon from hell als "chaotic" and "evil" if I wish to do so, but the "typical roman soldier" gets an allegiance of "IX. Legion" (or "IX. Legion | Wife & Children | Mithras" for multiple allegiances) instead of some arbitrary alignment of "Lawful Neutral".

.................................................. .............

Zavoniki
2014-02-03, 06:40 AM
Eclipse Phase has motivations which are expressed as a statement and then a + or - (I agree or disagree with this statement). You use them to regain Moxie. It's a minor part of the system but can be very helpful player characters(Moxie is really powerful).

Wild Talents has Passions and Loyalties which affect your Willpower. You can spend Willpower to get benefits and losing all your Willpower has really really bad effects on a character.

I think GUMSHOE systems also do this, but I'm not too clear on the details.

AMFV
2014-02-03, 07:14 AM
Most of the time, I don't find alignments useful at all.

If such a label mechanic is necessary (because "Detect This" or "Smite That" exist) I prefer Allegiances (http://www.d20resources.com/modern.d...llegiances.php). This way I can label the demon from hell als "chaotic" and "evil" if I wish to do so, but the "typical roman soldier" gets an allegiance of "IX. Legion" (or "IX. Legion | Wife & Children | Mithras" for multiple allegiances) instead of some arbitrary alignment of "Lawful Neutral".

Do the allegiances have any in-game affect though outside of the bonus to diplomacy checks? And is there a benefit for playing true to your allegiances?


Eclipse Phase has motivations which are expressed as a statement and then a + or - (I agree or disagree with this statement). You use them to regain Moxie. It's a minor part of the system but can be very helpful player characters(Moxie is really powerful).

Wild Talents has Passions and Loyalties which affect your Willpower. You can spend Willpower to get benefits and losing all your Willpower has really really bad effects on a character.

I think GUMSHOE systems also do this, but I'm not too clear on the details.


This seems to be a common theme, you get the equivalent of "karma" or "edge" for your beliefs, that or added experience are common ways of dealing with that.

As a tangential question, of the two which do you guys prefer, if either.

Mr. Mask
2014-02-03, 07:20 AM
Would you count DnD's domains for clerics? They don't take it very far, but the god(s) you worship had some effect.

NichG
2014-02-03, 07:22 AM
In my current campaign, there's something kinda similar, but instead of beliefs its memories. What your character remembers is true, regardless of the current apparent status of reality. If memory and reality get in eachother's way, memory wins and reality reconfigures to make the memory self-consistent.

It helps of course that the PCs (and most everyone in the world) are amnesiacs, and only remember bits and pieces of things. Whenever a character would regain a lost memory, the player has a choice about some (but not all) of the details of the memory - this is presented in the form of something like 'Betrayal of a Friend, Loyalty from an Unexpected Quarter, An Affirmation of Beliefs - pick one', with the choice being semi-in-character (its something that characters can learn over time to exercise control over by consciously focusing on certain details as the memory unfolds. These rememberings can actually influence fundamental truths about the ordering of the world - last game one of the characters basically 'remembered' on behalf of an NPC by stealing their memories, and as a result caused something that NPC had believed to become factually true.

So its not quite beliefs, but it is related.

AMFV
2014-02-03, 07:23 AM
Would you count DnD's domains for clerics? They don't take it very far, but the god(s) you worship had some effect.

I don't think I would, personally that's not really getting a benefit from your beliefs, but from a kind of nebulous relationship. You don't have to make any kind of beliefs or dogmas regarding travel to benefit from the travel domain. Or spend any effort on Knowledge to benefit from the knowledge domain. Now with that sort of thing as a houserule you could call it that, but as it is, it's only very slightly a reflection of character belief. At least to my thinking.

Mr. Mask
2014-02-03, 07:34 AM
I think that has more to do with the staleness of DnD religion than it does with the mechanic.

AMFV
2014-02-03, 07:36 AM
I think that has more to do with the staleness of DnD religion than it does with the mechanic.

I agree in some respects, I think that if the mechanic where more based on actual belief, or if that was more enforced then it would be something similar to what I'm discussing and a pretty interesting example actually. Without tweaking it wouldn't work for that, but with a little tweaking it might.

Rhynn
2014-02-03, 07:50 AM
I think GUMSHOE systems also do this, but I'm not too clear on the details.

Oh, I entirely forgot!

In the GUMSHOE-based Trail of Cthulhu, you have a Drive: something that compels you to do the stupid things necessary to be/become a protagonist in a Mythos adventure. They include Antiquarianism, Arrogance, Bad Luck, Curiosity, and In the Blood. Resisting your Drive costs you Stability ("temporary sanity"), but following your Drive refreshes your Stability pool.

Some are very simple: Antiquarianism, Curiosity, Scholarship, and Thirst for Knowledge could all lead you to study forbidden tomes or explore an old, empty manor-house for what lies within.

Some are more complex or abstract (narrativist, you might say): if you have Bad Luck, the GM just makes bad things (but ones that advance the story/adventure/investigation) happen to you. In the Blood is a sinister, inexplicable drive to explore unwholesome things.

Stability is pretty essential: you use it a lot, and if you run out, you start getting penalties, can't use Investigative abilities, and eventualy go temporarily insane and finally kill yourself (or, at your option, just go catatonic for the rest of your miserable, blasted life).

There's also the concept of anagnorisis, for use in Purist games (particularly character-driven story-focused ones): the anagnorisis is "the big reveal" that exposes the folly or worthlessness of your drive (e.g. the realization that the past is fundamentally horrifying and humans have no idea, or that you are descended from inhuman monsters, or whatever). It leads to either suicide, catatonia, or a permanent retirement (if you were lucky enough to get away with some Stability remaining).


Perhaps more pertinently to the topic, there are Pillars of Sanity: things that you believe in. You have one for every 3 points of Sanity pool. These are explicit beliefs that you hold dear and have the highest trust in: religious faith, family, human dignity and value, scientific progress and human intellect, physical laws and scientific reality, the goodness of Nature, moral principles, love of your home town, et cetera. These exist for two reasons: for the Keeper to attack and shatter in the course of play, and for the player to "crumble from within" to avoid Sanity loss.

On the story level, Lovecraftian gaming is about the folly of all humanity holds dear - all those Pillars of Sanity. So, during the course of a story, Mythos revelations can and will shatter PCs' Pillars of Sanity. PCs can also lose faith (the player decides the Pillar "crumbles from within") to avoid the Sanity loss of having it shattered, but this can't be done in response to the shattering revelation: it has to be done "on your own time" (after having lost 3+ Sanity already). PCs with a higher Sanity rating have more Pillars of Sanity.

Incidentally, Trail of Cthulhu sanity mechanics also include denial and fainting: you can elect to faint when confronted by Sanity Loss, avoiding the worst of it (only losing 1 Sanity) but being out of commission for the rest of the scene. You can also go into denial, but this requires destroying all proof of what happened, roleplaying the denial, and only lets you recover 1 point of Sanity. (Still, that's a whole precious point - Sanity doesn't come back unless you're using some of the optional pulp rules).

Grinner
2014-02-03, 07:52 AM
I agree in some respects, I think that if the mechanic where more based on actual belief, or if that was more enforced then it would be something similar to what I'm discussing and a pretty interesting example actually. Without tweaking it wouldn't work for that, but with a little tweaking it might.

It would help if the religions were actually defined. As it stands, they consist of a god: a name, an alignment, and a collection of powers. On occasion, there's a bit of history thrown in for good measure, but there's nothing that actually describes the religions.

They're brands, not entities unto themselves.

I think having a set of tenets and a code similar to that of the paladin would be a good start. I wouldn't trust that to Monte Cook or any of WotC's usual stable of writers, however. While they may be well-qualified game designers, I think their critical thinking ability where abstract thought is concerned leaves something to be desired.

Mr. Mask
2014-02-03, 08:07 AM
Even very simple ideas: Priests of the god of travel may not remain under the same roof for longer than a year.

That'd say a lot about people who become part of that religious order and that religious order. It could also have a lot of interesting interpretations (from people who move next door yearly then move back the next year, to those who take short holidays to neighbouring places, to constantly travelling vagabonds).

Of course, that goes against the idea of the thread, where your specific belief has an effect.

Rhynn
2014-02-03, 08:32 AM
Oh, I guess Artesia: Adventures in the Known World also sort of qualifies.

There's Bindings that represent connections and attitudes to the world around you, and can compel actions (and can be discerned and then intentionally triggered by other characters, by and in both PCs and NPCs), ranging from the obvious and directed (Hatred, Love) to the abstract (Despair, Ennui).

Perhaps more significantly, a lot of ways to gain Arcana Points (the equivalent of experience points, used to improve skills, attributes, gifts, etc., and get rid of bindings) are about internal processes, beliefs, and developments. Some of these conditions (each of which grants a set number of Arcana in that "category," based on the Major Arcana of the Tarot; each Arcana can be used to improve specific listed abilities):

Find True Love.
Convince someone else to stick to tradition.
Take a decisive action on your own.
Set a goal for yourself.
Hold an opinion in the face of evidence to the contrary.
Refuse to accept a defeat.
Forgive someone who has harmed you.
Mourn and grieve for a loved one.
Seek harmony in your relations with others.
Refuse to chnge, even when change is in your interest.
Make a judgment about yourself.
Discover a hidden secret about yourself.
Decide your Destiny for yourself.


This all mechanically strongly incentivizes roleplay and making external and explicit the internal processes and thoughts of your character, creating a fairly unconventional style of play.

Also, the game has Mysteries that you are Illuminated to: there are game mechanics involving them, but Mysteries are, at the core, a belief that becomes personal truth for you. Being magical, they can be true for you: the world behaves differently, perhaps in subtle ways, if you know its Mysteries.

Ring_of_Gyges
2014-02-04, 05:52 PM
In Nomine is a fantastic Steve Jackson Games game where players (typically) play angels and demons.

All celestials are free willed, but if they act against their nature they get weirder and weirder and eventually the strain is too much and they fall (if angels) or redeem themselves (if demons). The "get weirder and weirder" can involve stigmata, paranoia, obsession, etc... basically spiritual, mental, and physical deformities of all sorts as they rebel against their nature.

AMFV
2014-02-04, 06:00 PM
Oh, I guess Artesia: Adventures in the Known World also sort of qualifies.

There's Bindings that represent connections and attitudes to the world around you, and can compel actions (and can be discerned and then intentionally triggered by other characters, by and in both PCs and NPCs), ranging from the obvious and directed (Hatred, Love) to the abstract (Despair, Ennui).

Perhaps more significantly, a lot of ways to gain Arcana Points (the equivalent of experience points, used to improve skills, attributes, gifts, etc., and get rid of bindings) are about internal processes, beliefs, and developments. Some of these conditions (each of which grants a set number of Arcana in that "category," based on the Major Arcana of the Tarot; each Arcana can be used to improve specific listed abilities):

Find True Love.
Convince someone else to stick to tradition.
Take a decisive action on your own.
Set a goal for yourself.
Hold an opinion in the face of evidence to the contrary.
Refuse to accept a defeat.
Forgive someone who has harmed you.
Mourn and grieve for a loved one.
Seek harmony in your relations with others.
Refuse to chnge, even when change is in your interest.
Make a judgment about yourself.
Discover a hidden secret about yourself.
Decide your Destiny for yourself.


This all mechanically strongly incentivizes roleplay and making external and explicit the internal processes and thoughts of your character, creating a fairly unconventional style of play.

Also, the game has Mysteries that you are Illuminated to: there are game mechanics involving them, but Mysteries are, at the core, a belief that becomes personal truth for you. Being magical, they can be true for you: the world behaves differently, perhaps in subtle ways, if you know its Mysteries.

This sounds like almost exactly what I was looking for, it sounds like an excellent system, how is it in other respects?


In Nomine is a fantastic Steve Jackson Games game where players (typically) play angels and demons.

All celestials are free willed, but if they act against their nature they get weirder and weirder and eventually the strain is too much and they fall (if angels) or redeem themselves (if demons). The "get weirder and weirder" can involve stigmata, paranoia, obsession, etc... basically spiritual, mental, and physical deformities of all sorts as they rebel against their nature.

That's pretty interesting as well, I like the idea of strain on beliefs as a game mechanic as well.


It would help if the religions were actually defined. As it stands, they consist of a god: a name, an alignment, and a collection of powers. On occasion, there's a bit of history thrown in for good measure, but there's nothing that actually describes the religions.

They're brands, not entities unto themselves.

I think having a set of tenets and a code similar to that of the paladin would be a good start. I wouldn't trust that to Monte Cook or any of WotC's usual stable of writers, however. While they may be well-qualified game designers, I think their critical thinking ability where abstract thought is concerned leaves something to be desired.

I think that it could be a really interesting system if you worked a more belief based system into D&D, it would require a complete reworking of the alignments though. So you could have opposed ideals that could be smitten, the Paladin's codes would vary greatly. You could have for example a Rossau Paladin facing off against a Hobbs Paladin. (Those are mildly real world, but I'd rather not discuss the actual mechanics of it, since those are an examples)

Mr. Mask
2014-02-04, 06:14 PM
If you're interested in Artesia, I think you won't be disappointed. I've heard it lauded as being among the best combat and magic systems available in an RPG. Its lore/fluff/background/setting/yada is among the best of RPGs, and the art could be argued to be the best. It also has a pretty good comic series.

Rhynn
2014-02-04, 06:16 PM
This sounds like almost exactly what I was looking for, it sounds like an excellent system, how is it in other respects?

Great on balance, but with some quirks.

Artesia: Adventures in the Known World is a Fuzion RPG and has sort of got Cyberpunk 2020's problem with target numbers: you're rolling 1d10 + attribute + skill + modifiers against a target number, so frequently you have a very clear idea about your chances of success. (Since it's a Fuzion system it should actually be pretty easy to re-write it for 3d6 rolls by changing the list of 6 standard target numbers; just increase all static TNs by 5.) I don't care so much about the standard target numbers, because with this game I rarely feel a need to roll the dice unless a PC is actively opposed by someone (in which case it'll be roll vs. roll).

The combat system is quite simple but realistic enough: it accounts, without too much detail, for weapon reach, and it has a relatively realistic damage and armor system. There's a small hickup: it's way too easy to delay your attack and make an aimed attack at your opponent's unarmored locations (usually the face) with a higher chance to hit than if you weren't delaying and aiming. (The aiming bonuses from delaying, which is required for called attacks, are greater than the penalties for hit locations.) The delaying is irrelevant: a lot of the time, you can still act before your opponent. You probably have to come up with a solution for this, but it's not a big deal.

The magic system has a quirk: for whatever reason, Smylie didn't realize how powerful unshaped spells (True Forms) are. I advise against giving them to PCs ever. Make them work as an apprentice to a magician, during play, for 5 years or something, to get a single True Form, and don't let them get True Form Enchantment Ritual. With Enchantment Rituals, PCs can stack 2-3 times their magic skill on all combat rolls, for instance, making their actual skills irrelevant. My players quickly picked up on this, and in future campaigns, I will not give out any True Form spells.

Some people have found the Arcana experience system a bit cumbersome, but I find it great: at the end of each session, we have a 5-15 minute de-briefing where I go over the Arcana and the actions listed, and the players argue (in the good sense) for what they should get points for. If you play with jerks, this might not work great. Also, you have to be very careful not to be too generous: I was at the start, and my players got 100-200 points per session, advancing at enormous speed. The book does tell you that actions have to serve a story purpose or goal to qualify: killing a random person doesn't get you Death Arcana, but killing someone who is in your way, or someone you hate, does. This is less about the rules and more about how you use them, though, IMO.

But the good sides are enormous and numerous. The magic system is brilliant, other than the above caveat: you can enchant materials to get specific effects (e.g. an enchanted horse-hair plume on your helm makes you stronger and faster), and you can enchant herbs to create potions and poultices, and write and enchant runes. The Arcana system got roleplaying out of my players that no game ever in 20 years, has gotten out of any player of mine. The game has some general rules for relationships between characters, and (simple) rules covering life from conception to death and judgment. The Otherworlds are cool, although they need a lot of fleshing out by the GM.

The graphic design is brilliant - the book was written, laid out, and illustrated by Mark Smylie, the creator of the comic Artesia (and of Archaia Press, which publishes e.g. the Mouse Guard comic). Too bad he's not put out any more of the comic in years... it's one of the best I've read. (Be warned, though, there's full nudity and sex.)

The biggest problem, really, is that there's not enough of the game. It's so awesome that I hate that there's not much, much more of it.

Mark Hall
2014-02-04, 06:20 PM
Planescape had that as a setting feature, but I'm unsure of how much it was implemented.

AMFV
2014-02-04, 06:28 PM
Planescape had that as a setting feature, but I'm unsure of how much it was implemented.

They did have those factions, I think that'd be an interesting way to resolve a lot of the alignment system issues, because you'd have an easier time of figuring what was "good" for a particular alignment path.

Rhynn
2014-02-04, 06:35 PM
Planescape had that as a setting feature, but I'm unsure of how much it was implemented.

Not mechanically, IIRC. It was all fluff. But the fluff was great, and the Factions do, indeed, make it concrete. They're well-described philosophies, and PCs can actually really represent and embrace them.

AMFV
2014-02-04, 06:37 PM
Not mechanically, IIRC. It was all fluff. But the fluff was great, and the Factions do, indeed, make it concrete. They're well-described philosophies, and PCs can actually really represent and embrace them.

Do you think it might be possible to work that into a mechanical system or would that be too unwieldy? I'm not as familiar with spelljammer or AD&D, so I'm not sure how that would work.

Rhynn
2014-02-04, 06:42 PM
Do you think it might be possible to work that into a mechanical system or would that be too unwieldy? I'm not as familiar with spelljammer or AD&D, so I'm not sure how that would work.

Almost certainly, but there's so many ways. You could probably plug in how Instincts etc. work in Burning Wheel, and/or tie beliefs to earning XP, or other stuff. Sort of "meta-game" rules, that affect how you play the game rather than what happens in the game.

Mark Hall
2014-02-04, 06:44 PM
Do you think it might be possible to work that into a mechanical system or would that be too unwieldy? I'm not as familiar with spelljammer or AD&D, so I'm not sure how that would work.

I know that in Planescape: Torment, your Wisdom and Charisma was used to determine how much you could do.

Knaight
2014-02-04, 06:45 PM
I'm curious if anybody knows of any other systems where a characters beliefs or fundamental precepts can have in-game effect on the character. I'm familiar with WoD, and TRoS, and the TBW. But I'd be interested to see if there are any others like this. I think the idea of having characters whose morality affects the game is really fascinating to me. So are there any other such systems?

REIGN does this. Basically, characters can have a Passion, a Duty, and a Craving. In short, something they are devoted to, something they are bound to do, and something they want. When directly pursuing these, they provide a 1 die bonus to rolls. When going against them, they provide a penalty. Where this gets interesting is that it is really easy for the three to contradict each other to some extent; there is also GM advice that basically says to go for this given the opportunity.

Rhynn
2014-02-04, 06:59 PM
I know that in Planescape: Torment, your Wisdom and Charisma was used to determine how much you could do.

That's sort of a Black Isle RPG thing, mostly.

dps
2014-02-04, 08:02 PM
I agree in some respects, I think that if the mechanic where more based on actual belief, or if that was more enforced then it would be something similar to what I'm discussing and a pretty interesting example actually. Without tweaking it wouldn't work for that, but with a little tweaking it might.

Sure it would work, if the players actually role-play their beliefs, instead of just using the mechanics. Though when you get down to it, that would be true in almost any system. I guess what you're really asking is for systems that actually deal with beliefs mechanically.

AMFV
2014-02-04, 08:09 PM
Sure it would work, if the players actually role-play their beliefs, instead of just using the mechanics. Though when you get down to it, that would be true in almost any system. I guess what you're really asking is for systems that actually deal with beliefs mechanically.

Yep, that's what I'm looking for, or a system that incentivizes the roleplay of said aspects.

AMFV
2014-02-04, 09:03 PM
Great on balance, but with some quirks.

Artesia: Adventures in the Known World is a Fuzion RPG and has sort of got Cyberpunk 2020's problem with target numbers: you're rolling 1d10 + attribute + skill + modifiers against a target number, so frequently you have a very clear idea about your chances of success. (Since it's a Fuzion system it should actually be pretty easy to re-write it for 3d6 rolls by changing the list of 6 standard target numbers; just increase all static TNs by 5.) I don't care so much about the standard target numbers, because with this game I rarely feel a need to roll the dice unless a PC is actively opposed by someone (in which case it'll be roll vs. roll).

The combat system is quite simple but realistic enough: it accounts, without too much detail, for weapon reach, and it has a relatively realistic damage and armor system. There's a small hickup: it's way too easy to delay your attack and make an aimed attack at your opponent's unarmored locations (usually the face) with a higher chance to hit than if you weren't delaying and aiming. (The aiming bonuses from delaying, which is required for called attacks, are greater than the penalties for hit locations.) The delaying is irrelevant: a lot of the time, you can still act before your opponent. You probably have to come up with a solution for this, but it's not a big deal.

The magic system has a quirk: for whatever reason, Smylie didn't realize how powerful unshaped spells (True Forms) are. I advise against giving them to PCs ever. Make them work as an apprentice to a magician, during play, for 5 years or something, to get a single True Form, and don't let them get True Form Enchantment Ritual. With Enchantment Rituals, PCs can stack 2-3 times their magic skill on all combat rolls, for instance, making their actual skills irrelevant. My players quickly picked up on this, and in future campaigns, I will not give out any True Form spells.

Some people have found the Arcana experience system a bit cumbersome, but I find it great: at the end of each session, we have a 5-15 minute de-briefing where I go over the Arcana and the actions listed, and the players argue (in the good sense) for what they should get points for. If you play with jerks, this might not work great. Also, you have to be very careful not to be too generous: I was at the start, and my players got 100-200 points per session, advancing at enormous speed. The book does tell you that actions have to serve a story purpose or goal to qualify: killing a random person doesn't get you Death Arcana, but killing someone who is in your way, or someone you hate, does. This is less about the rules and more about how you use them, though, IMO.

But the good sides are enormous and numerous. The magic system is brilliant, other than the above caveat: you can enchant materials to get specific effects (e.g. an enchanted horse-hair plume on your helm makes you stronger and faster), and you can enchant herbs to create potions and poultices, and write and enchant runes. The Arcana system got roleplaying out of my players that no game ever in 20 years, has gotten out of any player of mine. The game has some general rules for relationships between characters, and (simple) rules covering life from conception to death and judgment. The Otherworlds are cool, although they need a lot of fleshing out by the GM.

The graphic design is brilliant - the book was written, laid out, and illustrated by Mark Smylie, the creator of the comic Artesia (and of Archaia Press, which publishes e.g. the Mouse Guard comic). Too bad he's not put out any more of the comic in years... it's one of the best I've read. (Be warned, though, there's full nudity and sex.)

The biggest problem, really, is that there's not enough of the game. It's so awesome that I hate that there's not much, much more of it.


I've been reading the rule book and it is pretty amazing, the only objection I have is that there's no binding factor keeping the character to one Arcana at a time, which seems more consistent with the kind of destiny type stuff that I would apply, although that may not have been their intention, also because of this they avoid repeats of tasks that might have virtue in different paths, so I'm not sure if I agree with their system in it's entirety, it is pretty amazing though.

Grinner
2014-02-04, 09:17 PM
Yep, that's what I'm looking for, or a system that incentivizes the roleplay of said aspects.

There's a few I can think of:

Unknown Armies
FATE
Mutants & Masterminds, I think?


All of these games rely on GM adjudication to determine when the players qualify for rewards, and rewards are handed out for upholding the character's predetermined drive.

Unknown Armies is notable in that it also penalizes players for "violating Taboo", but that only applies if they're playing Adepts or Avatars (and therefore have a Taboo to violate).

Airk
2014-02-04, 11:01 PM
Yep, that's what I'm looking for, or a system that incentivizes the roleplay of said aspects.

The TBZ Fate system does this, in that players are rewarded with chits when they roleplay their Fates in interesting ways (or just generally do cool things). Then those fates serve as multipliers that turn those chits into, basically, XP (stuff that can be spent on temporary or permanent bonuses). But the catch is that spending this 'XP' ("kiai" in the system's terminology) gives you Karma. Collect too much karma and you freak out and become an evil NPC (Basically, you care TOO MUCH about worldly things and kinda go all dark Jedi being willing to do ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING for those things you care about). And the way you shed Karma is to 'sublimate' your Fates. Basically, 'complete' or change or otherwise cease caring about them. If one of your Fates is "Hatred of Lord Kanazawa" and now he's dead, you can cross that fate off and burn off a bunch of karma. Or if your character no longer honors his Taboo against fighting, you can cross that off. But in order to get more Kiai, you'll need NEW fates, which can be purchased with the chits you earn, and the whole thing rolls in a cycle.

Or, to summarize:
Playing your Fates, or Roleplay that entertains other participants ---> Aiki Chits
Aiki Chits ---> New Fates, or convert to Kiai based on the strength of your fates
Kiai ----> Temporary or permanent character boosts, becomes Karma
Karma ----> Bad! Remove by sublimating Fates

Instead of just rewarding you for "always playing a character whose defining belief is X" it rewards you for having a changing, dynamic character.

AMFV
2014-02-04, 11:05 PM
The TBZ Fate system does this, in that players are rewarded with chits when they roleplay their Fates in interesting ways (or just generally do cool things). Then those fates serve as multipliers that turn those chits into, basically, XP (stuff that can be spent on temporary or permanent bonuses). But the catch is that spending this 'XP' ("kiai" in the system's terminology) gives you Karma. Collect too much karma and you freak out and become an evil NPC (Basically, you care TOO MUCH about worldly things and kinda go all dark Jedi being willing to do ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING for those things you care about). And the way you shed Karma is to 'sublimate' your Fates. Basically, 'complete' or change or otherwise cease caring about them. If one of your Fates is "Hatred of Lord Kanazawa" and now he's dead, you can cross that fate off and burn off a bunch of karma. Or if your character no longer honors his Taboo against fighting, you can cross that off. But in order to get more Kiai, you'll need NEW fates, which can be purchased with the chits you earn, and the whole thing rolls in a cycle.

Instead of just rewarding you for "always playing a character whose defining belief is X" it rewards you for having a changing, dynamic character.

Interesting, I'm not sure how I'd feel about the Karma points though, at least that seems to be in some respects punishment for focusing on the fates, and focusing on those, which is less what I was looking for, although I'd have to read it. I don't mind a system that allows a character to shift their beliefs but their beliefs should be a fundamental part of the system, at least if such a system does exist.

Airk
2014-02-04, 11:11 PM
Interesting, I'm not sure how I'd feel about the Karma points though, at least that seems to be in some respects punishment for focusing on the fates, and focusing on those, which is less what I was looking for, although I'd have to read it. I don't mind a system that allows a character to shift their beliefs but their beliefs should be a fundamental part of the system, at least if such a system does exist.

I added a summary, which might help clarify. It's not really a "punishment" so much as a "limit on how nutso you can go with your kiai points".

It all fits together very tidily in practice.

Edit again, 'cause I keep thinking of stuff: It also helps that the 'you have too much Karma, so you freak out' check comes at a defined point (basically, during an "intermission") so you are assured of having opportunity beforehand to reduce it by resolving Fates. So if you had the aforementioned "Hatred of Lord someoneorother" you could collect a ton of karma in the big showdown where you defeat him, going over the official 'max karma' since you know you'll be burning off a bunch of it when you shed that Fate.

AMFV
2014-02-04, 11:22 PM
I added a summary, which might help clarify. It's not really a "punishment" so much as a "limit on how nutso you can go with your kiai points".

It all fits together very tidily in practice.

Edit again, 'cause I keep thinking of stuff: It also helps that the 'you have too much Karma, so you freak out' check comes at a defined point (basically, during an "intermission") so you are assured of having opportunity beforehand to reduce it by resolving Fates. So if you had the aforementioned "Hatred of Lord someoneorother" you could collect a ton of karma in the big showdown where you defeat him, going over the official 'max karma' since you know you'll be burning off a bunch of it when you shed that Fate.

I'd definitely have to read it though, although I'm not sure as to how I feel about "shedding fates" being a positive, since I've not read the system. It's definitely along the lines of what I'm looking at, although I'd like to have more of a faith based thing or a belief based thing. The destiny aspect is really interesting though, and it is definitely along the right lines though.

Airk
2014-02-04, 11:35 PM
I'd definitely have to read it though, although I'm not sure as to how I feel about "shedding fates" being a positive, since I've not read the system. It's definitely along the lines of what I'm looking at, although I'd like to have more of a faith based thing or a belief based thing. The destiny aspect is really interesting though, and it is definitely along the right lines though.

Another caveat - it's designed for oneshots or short-shots, and requires a little bit of tampering to work well in an extended campaign.

Shedding Fates may not be as big a deal as you think, as you typically have 4-5 of them, so it's easy to hold onto one 'central' aspect if you want. Also, at least one of them will be a GM assigned "Destiny" which is basically "Here's what I'd like you to try to accomplish/play up in this session!" - usually these are either Goals or emotions towards central NPCs in the game, so you can -expect- to resolve your Destiny in some way by the end of the session.

Anyway, it's a very interesting game system that I think everyone should read because it comes at a lot of questions in an unusual way, and it addresses a lot of the 'periphery' around playing games that sometimes people forget. It's also designed for crazy over the top action and has some funky "cinematic"/"anime inspired" mechanisms as well. (Damage and death is handled in a way that is unlike anything I've EVER seen elsewhere.)

The PDF is available for the slightly random but fairly reasonably price of $14. (http://kotodama.bigcartel.com/category/game) It contains a TON of stuff. @[email protected]

AMFV
2014-02-04, 11:40 PM
Another caveat - it's designed for oneshots or short-shots, and requires a little bit of tampering to work well in an extended campaign.

Shedding Fates may not be as big a deal as you think, as you typically have 4-5 of them, so it's easy to hold onto one 'central' aspect if you want. Also, at least one of them will be a GM assigned "Destiny" which is basically "Here's what I'd like you to try to accomplish/play up in this session!" - usually these are either Goals or emotions towards central NPCs in the game, so you can -expect- to resolve your Destiny in some way by the end of the session.

Anyway, it's a very interesting game system that I think everyone should read because it comes at a lot of questions in an unusual way, and it addresses a lot of the 'periphery' around playing games that sometimes people forget. It's also designed for crazy over the top action and has some funky "cinematic"/"anime inspired" mechanisms as well. (Damage and death is handled in a way that is unlike anything I've EVER seen elsewhere.)

The PDF is available for the slightly random but fairly reasonably price of $14. (http://kotodama.bigcartel.com/category/game) It contains a TON of stuff. @[email protected]

I'll probably check it out, I'm just interested in figuring out how it actually works with a system of beliefs, which is perhaps more fundamental even than destiny.

Airk
2014-02-04, 11:44 PM
Enjoy; It's a pretty awesome game with an interesting history behind it, so I try to let people know.

Rhynn
2014-02-05, 12:47 AM
I've been reading the rule book and it is pretty amazing, the only objection I have is that there's no binding factor keeping the character to one Arcana at a time, which seems more consistent with the kind of destiny type stuff that I would apply, although that may not have been their intention, also because of this they avoid repeats of tasks that might have virtue in different paths, so I'm not sure if I agree with their system in it's entirety, it is pretty amazing though.

That's an interesting idea, and one I could get on board with. Limiting a PC to one Arcana (of the player's choice), maybe on a per session basis, would be sort of metaphysically fitting - "choose your path!" - and it would limit the amount of Arcana points gained per session. It would encourage players to think about goals for that session. It could be a bit punishing, though, if they chose poorly, since they might end up not getting very many points through no fault of their own.

There is encouragement in the rules for focusing on one Arcana, though: you get more World Arcana the higher you get any one Arcana path. (The total ever earned, not the current unspent points.) World Arcana is the best type, because it has the least restrictions (all characteristics, all skills, all bindings except Vanity, and a bunch of Gifts no other Arcana grants). The reward per 100 Arcana in other paths is pretty huge, too.

AMFV
2014-02-05, 12:55 AM
That's an interesting idea, and one I could get on board with. Limiting a PC to one Arcana (of the player's choice), maybe on a per session basis, would be sort of metaphysically fitting - "choose your path!" - and it would limit the amount of Arcana points gained per session. It would encourage players to think about goals for that session. It could be a bit punishing, though, if they chose poorly, since they might end up not getting very many points through no fault of their own.

There is encouragement in the rules for focusing on one Arcana, though: you get more World Arcana the higher you get any one Arcana path. (The total ever earned, not the current unspent points.) World Arcana is the best type, because it has the least restrictions (all characteristics, all skills, all bindings except Vanity, and a bunch of Gifts no other Arcana grants). The reward per 100 Arcana in other paths is pretty huge, too.

Well I think that you'd have to considerably expand the Arcana for that to be workable. I think that I love the system and would love to expand on it, perhaps going with an overall philosophy type thing. That way you wouldn't have to worry about overlap so much, for example, a particular philosophy would have methods for gaining experience in combat and in a social environment and in character development. I'm not sure what the actual end result would be, but it would involve less focus on splitting arcana and more on following a particular philosophy. Which is kind of what I was trying to incentivize.

Other than those few minor tweaks and gripes though, this is a really close approximation of what I'm looking for.

Rhynn
2014-02-05, 01:02 AM
Other than those few minor tweaks and gripes though, this is a really close approximation of what I'm looking for.

That sounds absolutely doable! My own thinking has been that, for future campaigns, I'd just decide on a number of Arcana Points I want to hand out per session, and then use the PCs' actions and the players' stated goals/focus as a guideline for how those points get distributed between the Arcana for each character. Really exceptional actions could result in extra awards. This would also largely solve a problem I immediately noticed in the game: from session to session, some PCs will get less Arcana Points than others, and that can really add up. (It doesn't help if the PC who's falling behind is also the one who's not focusing on magic-use.)

AMFV
2014-02-05, 01:28 AM
That sounds absolutely doable! My own thinking has been that, for future campaigns, I'd just decide on a number of Arcana Points I want to hand out per session, and then use the PCs' actions and the players' stated goals/focus as a guideline for how those points get distributed between the Arcana for each character. Really exceptional actions could result in extra awards. This would also largely solve a problem I immediately noticed in the game: from session to session, some PCs will get less Arcana Points than others, and that can really add up. (It doesn't help if the PC who's falling behind is also the one who's not focusing on magic-use.)

I imagine that spreading out the Arcana to include more types of stuff would probably help to fix that problem at least in some respects.

BootStrapTommy
2014-02-06, 12:43 PM
In GURPs strong moral beliefs are categorized as "Disadvantages" which you can take.

AMFV
2014-02-06, 12:46 PM
In GURPs strong moral beliefs are categorized as "Disadvantages" which you can take.

That's actually pretty terrible. I wouldn't like that sort of system at all I don't think.

For everybody else, I've been working on an alternative cosmology for D&D based around philosophical viewpoints and stealing no small amount of stuff from Artesia, it seems like it will be fun to play around with. I've mostly been using D&D because my system mastery is more in that area, so that's what I'm currently working on with this, I'll try and post it when I'm finished, although I'll have to ask the mods about that since some of the philosophies are really close to real world ones.

CarpeGuitarrem
2014-02-06, 12:48 PM
That's actually pretty terrible. I wouldn't like that sort of system at all I don't think.

I don't find it to be that problematic, personally. Of course a strong personal belief is a disadvantage; it puts you on the spot in a lot of situations. The only major problem with this approach is how GURPS Disadvantages are structured to begin with--you get the bonuses upfront, instead of getting them when your Disadvantage comes into play.

AMFV
2014-02-06, 12:49 PM
I don't find it to be that problematic, personally. Of course a strong personal belief is a disadvantage; it puts you on the spot in a lot of situations. The only major problem with this approach is how GURPS Disadvantages are structured to begin with--you get the bonuses upfront, instead of getting them when your Disadvantage comes into play.

I disagree though that a strong belief is a disadvantage, because it can also come into play as an advantage, particularly in a world setting where the beliefs have an actual impact on the world. Which is sort of what I'm going for.

BootStrapTommy
2014-02-06, 12:57 PM
That's actually pretty terrible. I wouldn't like that sort of system at all I don't think. Moral codes restrict action. They designate some actions or ideas as acceptable, while designating other actions or ideas as unacceptable. In this way a character stands up for what they believe in, but they must always do so at a cost. That cost, of course, is action they will not take which could be advantageous.

For example, the disadavntage Stays Bought prevents a mercenary from switching allegiances when offered money to do so, since he believes that when he's hired to do something he should do it no matter what, which could very easily get him killed. A character with a Vow of Chasity meanwhile lacks the ability to willfully choose to seduce an individual whom they may need to complete an objective. To save the world perhaps?

But you must note that Disadvantages give you more points to spend on Advantages, so Stays Bought or Vow of Chasity buys you extra skill as a markman, greater sauve with the ladies, or even a Photographic Memory.

Rhynn
2014-02-06, 01:07 PM
That's actually pretty terrible. I wouldn't like that sort of system at all I don't think.


I disagree though that a strong belief is a disadvantage, because it can also come into play as an advantage, particularly in a world setting where the beliefs have an actual impact on the world. Which is sort of what I'm going for.

The GURPS approach is a bit binary. Beliefs like that (e.g. Code of Honor, Sense of Duty, Pacifism) are disadvantages because they limit or compel behavior, inflicting penalties or requiring Will rolls. Something that granted you a bonus would be an advantage. (So being Reckless, which requires you to make Will saves not to do reckless things, is a disadvantage; but it won't help you resist fear, and you have to take the Fearless advantage for that.)

I agree that beliefs are more interesting when they can also function as a source of strength.


I disagree though that a strong belief is a disadvantage, because it can also come into play as an advantage, particularly in a world setting where the beliefs have an actual impact on the world. Which is sort of what I'm going for.

Yeah, GURPS very much lacks mechanics for that, IMO. Your belief-disadvantages only affect how your character functions.

There are other, similar, but possible better implementations of the same idea, like Artesia's Bindings, which can be triggered by characters, circumstances, or Gifts to compel actions or inflict penalties. Some other games go further - essentially, a player can call on a NPC's beliefs to cause something to happen, and the GM can do the same to the PCs.

Airk
2014-02-06, 01:31 PM
It occurs to me that at an elemental level, couldn't you reproduce this same thing with Fate, where each character has an aspect or two that explicitly have to be beliefs? Since most Fate aspects are designed to be both good and bad and have direct impact on play?

Rhynn
2014-02-06, 02:48 PM
It occurs to me that at an elemental level, couldn't you reproduce this same thing with Fate, where each character has an aspect or two that explicitly have to be beliefs? Since most Fate aspects are designed to be both good and bad and have direct impact on play?

Yeah, I'm not familiar with Fate, but I thought I recalled it had them going both ways. That sort of system would definitely work, and could probably even be plugged into other games with some work.

Actana
2014-02-06, 03:53 PM
It occurs to me that at an elemental level, couldn't you reproduce this same thing with Fate, where each character has an aspect or two that explicitly have to be beliefs? Since most Fate aspects are designed to be both good and bad and have direct impact on play?

I mentioned Fate on my first post on the topic, but it does have the problem that Aspects define far more than just beliefs. If you're looking for a system that does only beliefs in the sort of way described, Fate isn't really it. Fate can do beliefs, and does so quite well, but it does every other Aspect in the same way, thus making the beliefs themselves not that impressive as a standout mechanic.

AMFV
2014-02-06, 04:20 PM
It occurs to me that at an elemental level, couldn't you reproduce this same thing with Fate, where each character has an aspect or two that explicitly have to be beliefs? Since most Fate aspects are designed to be both good and bad and have direct impact on play?

You could, but I don't think that it would have the same sort of thing as I'm interested in. I'm looking for a game where there is a distinct belief mechanism, and that should be aligned with that, if it just gives you bonuses or isn't really mechanically defined it won't really be exactly what I'm looking for, so while you might be able to do it with FATE, it's not really what I'm looking for.

Berenger
2014-02-06, 08:39 PM
Do the allegiances have any in-game affect though outside of the bonus to diplomacy checks? And is there a benefit for playing true to your allegiances?

They determine the outcome of certain spells and effects (like alignments) and are prerequisites for certain classes. Other than this and the bonus on social checks, no (there is a feat in D20 Future, Oathbound, that grants improved aid another on people with and improved damage against people without your allegiances).

AMFV
2014-02-07, 01:25 AM
Moral codes restrict action. They designate some actions or ideas as acceptable, while designating other actions or ideas as unacceptable. In this way a character stands up for what they believe in, but they must always do so at a cost. That cost, of course, is action they will not take which could be advantageous.

But moral codes don't necessarily only restrict action, they can mandate it as well. Which should be reflected in game, they can also encourage specific sets of actions. Which can in turn be advantageous or not, certainly in a system where morality is worked in there would be a certain mechanical advantage to it.



For example, the disadavntage Stays Bought prevents a mercenary from switching allegiances when offered money to do so, since he believes that when he's hired to do something he should do it no matter what, which could very easily get him killed. A character with a Vow of Chasity meanwhile lacks the ability to willfully choose to seduce an individual whom they may need to complete an objective. To save the world perhaps?

But a character with "Stays Bought" will also be seen as more trustworthy, he has no record of betrayal and a reputation that he will have acquired by never betraying his teammates. So he will have significantly more lucrative jobs, also he is more likely to evaluate extremely carefully those contracts that he undertakes more so than others.

Likewise a character with "Vow Of Chastity" is also him or herself, likely to be unseducible, which would prevent enemies from using that against them. They may have certain advantages in particular cultural environments. They are unlikely to contract certain diseases. There are clear advantages to both "flaws".

Which is why I think it's not necessarily a good idea to represent moral codes as a flaw, but as something that has both drawbacks and benefits. A system that undertakes this would be inherently fairly complex but also incredibly interesting.



But you must note that Disadvantages give you more points to spend on Advantages, so Stays Bought or Vow of Chasity buys you extra skill as a markman, greater sauve with the ladies, or even a Photographic Memory.

But those don't have to relate to the moral section, which kind of removes the actual moral section from the gameplay beyond a very small intersection. Which is workable if you want a system that can do lots of things, but not if you want the morality to be a main focus in the game.

I agree that beliefs are more interesting when they can also function as a source of strength.




There are other, similar, but possible better implementations of the same idea, like Artesia's Bindings, which can be triggered by characters, circumstances, or Gifts to compel actions or inflict penalties. Some other games go further - essentially, a player can call on a NPC's beliefs to cause something to happen, and the GM can do the same to the PCs.

That's also interesting, could you give me some specifics (if that's possible without revealing any copyrighted material), I'm mostly trying to work out how things will work in my own system at this point, which hopefully will be interesting, and at the very least is causing me to have to re-examine a lot of philosophy stuff I haven't read in years.


They determine the outcome of certain spells and effects (like alignments) and are prerequisites for certain classes. Other than this and the bonus on social checks, no (there is a feat in D20 Future, Oathbound, that grants improved aid another on people with and improved damage against people without your allegiances).

I'd be interested in making a system for D20 where alignments and philosophy plays a much more central role to the game, which to my mind seems reasonable since they are cosmological forces.

Rhynn
2014-02-07, 11:21 AM
That's also interesting, could you give me some specifics (if that's possible without revealing any copyrighted material), I'm mostly trying to work out how things will work in my own system at this point, which hopefully will be interesting, and at the very least is causing me to have to re-examine a lot of philosophy stuff I haven't read in years.

A:AKW Bindings are divided into Active and Dormant Bindings. They can also be classed as Magical, Mental, and Physical - some Bindings represent physical ailments or disabilities, including Grievous Wounds gained in combat.

Active Bindings are always in effect, and usually penalize your characteristics: e.g. Doubt penalizes your Conviction. They also describe what you are like: a character with a strong Doubt Binding is unsteady in his beliefs and convictions, usually for a specific reason. For instance, a character with a high CONV but an equally high Doubt was once very strong in his beliefs, but has lost faith. Active Bindings inform roleplay but do not compel actions.

The full list of Active Bindings is Ambition, Cruelty, Curse, Despair, Doubt, Ennui, Guilt, Hex, Love, Madness, Pollution, Promise, and Vanity. Curse and Hex are special cases: Curses require the most adjudication, as they can be just about anything (they can replicate another Binding; for instance, you might be Cursed with blindness or with Madness), Hexes just penalize one skill or characteristic. Pollution is also a special case: it represents religious impurity, and penalizes all magic use (except Occult magic, which revels in Pollution). Promise is also different, in tat it grants you bonuses when performing actions, but breaking it gives you a Shame Binding.

All Physical Bindings are also Active: Amnesia, Encumberance, Fatigue, Grievous Wound, Fever, Plague, Poor Hearing, Poor Sight, Poor Smell, Poor Taste, Poor Touch, Pox, Rot (Leprosy), and Shakes.

Yes, Encumberance is represented as a Binding. It penalizes your Movement and all physical tests. That's the heart of the Binding mechanic, so it fits well. Grievous Wounds are gained in combat, and penalize a characteristic depending on the location (e.g. a wound to the face penalizes Appearance). Grievous Wounds that are severe enough can permanently lower characteristics even after they are healed. Poor [Sense] Bindings with a level equal to your Perception characteristic mean you lack that sense (e.g. with PER 8 and Poor Sight 8 you're blind, and can't do anything sight-related at all).

edit: Oh, the Love Binding makes it harder to resist all opposed rolls by your Lover, but quite importantly it is a requirement for three Gifts with fairly awesome cost-to-benefit ratio: Bonds of Love, which lets you sense whether your Lover is safe or in danger, and to take damage inflicted to their Body, Mind, or Spirit on yourself instead (this can effectively double all three for someone!); Love's Grace, which gives you a constant bonus against all kinds of harm and danger (!); and True Love, which must be bought by both Lovers and gives you a bonus to all rolls you make (!) and Wards (directly reduces) all harm to Mind, Spirit, and Body. All three are personal (constantly active at no cost). A romantic knight who has found his True Love can be an incredible force to be reckoned with. /edit

Dormant Bindings are not constantly active, and must be triggered by something. They usually directly compel actions in addition to affecting characteristics: for instance, if your Fear (Fire) Binding is triggered by exposure to fire, you have to run away (or e.g. surrender if cornered by someone wielding a burning brand). Resisting the triggering of a Binding erquires a Willpower (WILL) test with the targer number based on the Binding Level.

Once a Dormant Binding is triggered, it remains triggered even after the trigger is gone, but once the trigger is gone, you can try to suppress the Binding once per minute by making the same test. (This interval, IMO, might be adjusted based on the scenes going on; for instance, I think it'd be perfectly reasonable for someone to be in active Grief for weeks or months at a time.) Other characters can also try to calm or soothe someone to suppress their Binding.

Dormant Bindings include Addiction, Awe, Desire, Dread, Envy, Fear, Fury, Greed, Grief, Hate, Jealousy, Lust, and Shame. Most of them are directed: for instance, Addiction is to a specific substance (like alcohol), Awe and Dread or dread towards a person, Fear towards a source of fear (place, creature, idea, thing), etc. Some, like Greed, Lust, and Shame are not directed, but Shame still has to have a specific source (trigger).

Awe and Dread are slightly interesting cases: both penalize you if you are opposing the object of the Binding (Awe penalizes all opposed tests, Dread just penalizes WILL, CONV, and Courage), but both grant a bonus equal to the Level when obeying the object of the Binding.

There's also "binding feedback" (my term I just made up). Several Bindings can cause another Binding, if the Level of the original Binding exceeds a specific characteristic. (The GM has to rule whether that's unmodified or modified characteristic.) For instance, a Dread Binding igher than your Courage gives you a Fear Binding equal to the difference. Grief over Conviction (specific & Dormant) gives you Despair (general & Active). Jealousy over Reason gives you Fury.

My favorite loop starts with Desire (longing for love, usually romantic and non-sexual by default). Desire higher than Empathy gives you the Lust Binding. Lust higher than Empathy gives you the Cruelty Binding. Cruelty higher than Empahy gives you the Hate (Living) Binding. That's a game mechanic that tells you the heart of a story right there: when someone with poor Empathy loves hard enough, the results can be tragic.

For several Bindings, there's a defined starting level derived from your characteristics: for instance, Promises start at CONV, and Bindings related to your relationships frequently have starting values that depend on your Empathy. However, this is a very loose guideline and there's no real reason for the GM not to assign starting levels or the player not to decide them. (Although having set starting values does keep things fair on both sides.)

A player can elect to take on a Binding freely at any time, although obviously it should be roleplayed and deemed appropriate. This grants you Fool Arcana points (the "metagame" points that can be used as luck to modify rolls), and in some cases other Arcana points (such as Lovers points for taking Love).

Removing Bindings is harder. There's some 100% in-character ways to do it (some herbal potions can remove some Bindings, for instance), but there are many, many times more ways to gain Bindings against your will. The basic way to remove Bindings is by spending Arcana points: each Arcana lists connected Bindings that you can buy off with those points. For instance, Death Arcana can be used to remove Doubt, Dread, Fear, and Vanity, while Lovers can be used to remove Despair, Fear, Grief, and Hate (but not e.g. Jealousy).

Gifts are one of the main way of gaining Bindings. In short, there are several categories of Gifts: Aura, Mask/Visage, Voice, Touch, and Personal. You can only have one Aura, one Mask/Visage, and one Voice active at a time. Some Gifts (mostly the Personal Gifts, but not all of them) are passive (e.g. Veteran just gives you a bonus to Initiative, Courage tests, Morale, and Tactics tests), but most must be activated and paid for with either Body, Mind, or Spirit points. (Body is your hit points, Mind and Spirit are used for magic.)

Most Masks and Voices cause Bindings. Dreadful Visage causes Dread of you, Brazen Body causes Lust, Forked Tongue can be used to talk someone into one of 8 Bindings, and so on. All Tongues require speaking to the subject (or at least being heard; I figure Dreadful Voice can work with inarticulate roaring, wolves have a Dreadful Howl that works the same, and hyenas use Voice of Madness by laughing at you). All Masks/Visages require having your face visible (meaning PCs are likely to have their faces exposed in combat), and Brazen Body requires you to be naked.

There are also Gifts like See Guilt, which lets you see Guilt Bindings in others (they can resist, but stronger Guilts are harder to hide) - basically, you look into someone's heart all Galadriel-style and lay bare their guilty secrets, and can then use them against them (Guilt is not triggered since it is Active). Another is Unmask Desire, which reveals Desire, Love, and Lust Bindings. There's some grounds to think these all involve actual visions in the Known World setting, since visions in dreams and foretellings are rather prominent in the system and the comic.

There's slight vagueness about stacking Bindings, but the way I figure and run it is: if you e.g. have Lust 8, then gaining Lust 6 doesn't actually increase your Lust Binding, just triggers it (automatically, no roll to resist - you already failed to resist gaining the Binding). It'd be silly to let someone stack your Lust sky-high with Brazen Body 1, but it should certainly be enough to trigger anyone's Lust.

As I indicate above, many animals have Gifts, sometimes surprising ones. Hyenas have Ghost Mask (a mild fear effect when activated, and ghosts and the dead do not harass them) and Voice of Madness, sharks have Terrifying Mask (Fear), etc. They also have Bindings: e.g. horses Fear Wolves.

Gifts are gained by buying them with Arcana points (each Arcana has several associated Gifts), but you can also start with some based on your heritage and the omens and circumstances of your birth and childhood. (A:AKW character creation is awesomely fun!)

I mentioned relationships above. A:AKW has a loose relationship mechanic with many classes (explained in total by a handy one-page table). There are a total of 15 categories, from Enemy to Worshipper. They tie into the Bindings: your Enemies Hate you, your Lovers Love you, and so on. A fumbled social skill test with someone can cause a change in category (Stranger to Skeptic, Skeptic to Opponent) or give them a Binding (Love gains Jealousy and Fury, Follower gains Doubt, Enemy gains Hate and might attack, etc.). Conversely, if e.g. your Lover dies, you might gain a Grief Binding, or if your Lover betrays you, Fury or Jealousy.

The relationship system requires common-sense adjudication, because just letting PCs make repeated social rolls to bump up their relationship category with someone is a terrible idea - generally, I think it's better to assign appropriate categories based on interactions.

A:AKW's style is a sort of mesh of gritty realism and stories and legends like the Peers of Charlemagne and the old Arthurian stories (Le Morte d'Arthur and the Mabinogion), and the Gifts and Bindings sort of represent that. They're not exactly magic, but they kind of are. They're sort of narrative devices, but they're also explicit properties of the people who have them. And I feel they do a good job at encouraging the kind of epic stories those myths portray, but mixed with a sort of cynical realism...


Uh, there's probably a lot more I could say about all this, but that was a lot already. A lot of that is why I love the game. Please feel free to ask specifics!

CombatOwl
2014-02-08, 11:04 AM
Fate can do beliefs in this way through aspects, but given that "belief" aspects work pretty much the same as any other aspects, it's not that interesting of an example.

But do a really good job of it, because they can provide benefits and serve as easy fodder for compulsions. They're way better than most aspects for having opportunities to get fate points back. Belief aspects should come up quite a lot--certainly far more than some obscure background aspects ought to come up.

But then, this argument has been had before regarding aspects and their variable utility. :smallannoyed: