Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fatebinding and Mortal Reverence

Scion has a couple of trippy and unwieldy mechanics involving Fate. Everytime you spend Legend points, the GM is supposed to roll to see if you get fatebound. The mechanics are convoluted. The difficulty number changes over the course of the scene, and there's a lot to track.

Worse, despite complicated rules, much is left to GM fiat. If there's 2 or more mortal NPCs in the room the GM chooses whether to apply those 6 successes as one strength 6 bond or 2 strength 3 bonds, or some other combination, which arbitrarily changes the power level. And then the GM chooses the exact fatebound role they pick up, and those can very quite a bit in terms of story potential and power. If the GM wants to saddle you with a nemesis or sidekick, they can suck your willpower and legend points away, and if they want to reward you with a lover who boosts all your rolls, they can do that to, so it's very subjective.

As a result, I've largely ignored the letter of the rules, and just winged it. For a while, that worked great. I mean, why slow everything down with another dozen+ dierolls per combat if in the end I'm just going to have to make the critical decision myself anyway? I know I'm not alone in this, most of the best STs on the Scion Forum have admitted to eyeballing it too.

But I now expect trouble with the way improvised Fatebonds interact with the Mortal Reverence system, especially now that the PCs are high enough Legend that they have actual worshipers. The mortal reverence system pretty much requires solid fatebond numbers, not mutable improvisation. Plus, it's a little unclear. If the bonuses stack, then they bump up to huge numbers (like seriously +1000 dice would be pretty easy to attain). If they don't stack, then the system's not worth the hassle, as +3 dice is barely noticable at God level.

So I came up with an idea of how to solve this. If you're in my Scion Campaign, please don't read any further. Seriously, this will only work if the PCs don't know about it before hand, and I think you'll find it to be a lot of fun. It'll benefit your characters, so just trust me and let it happen. To facilitate that, I'll put the rest of this in as a comment, so you have to intentionally click on it to read it.

1 comment:

rbbergstrom said...

Remember, if you're playing in my Scion campaign, please don't read this:

Sometime before they hit God, I'm going to have all the players make lists.

First, I'm going to have them sit down and list the four things most known about each PC. This can be public image, accomplishments, personality traits, etc, anything they think the mortal public (and their worshipers) knows about the most. I'll do the same.

Then we'll put those lists aside.

I will use these lists to do something, but not until the PCs reach Legend 9 / Godhood.

At that time, I'll hand them a compiled list of things mortals expect them to do or expect them to be like. Anything that appeared on multiple lists will be +X successes. If it appeared on only a one lists, it'll be +0.5X successes. Not sure what X will be yet. I'm thinking 5 or 6, but I could go twice that.

This will function like (and in place of) Mortal Reverence dice. If a PC works towards what the public expects of them, they get bonus successes. If they act against the mortals expectations, they get a difficulty penalty.

In this way does fate straight-jacket the Gods.

I know, this sounds pretty drastic, but it's exactly what the existing setting and system do, and I've reinforced it repeatedly in the game by having Loki (and Polyphemus, and Nemesis, etc) claim to be forced to do all that dirty work because mortals and the fates expect it of them.

I'm just fixing the mechanics of the existing system so it's meaningful without being overpotent. I certainly don't want +100 dice, but I don't want +3 dice either. I also don't want to have to track exactly who (and how many) think what (and how strongly) about whom. This system will simplify all that, and give the PCs some say in what benefits and penalties they get.