Saturday, May 24, 2014

Talents in Hero's Journey: Doing the Deeds

Okay, folks! The Kickstarter is in full swing, and we made it to our Facebook goal, so that means it's time for some spoilers about game specifics! Today we're going to talk just a tiny bit about Talents, the attendant stats that accompany the Aspects.

Whereas the Aspects represent general heroic archetypes that your character can choose to embody (such as Trickster or Sage, et cetera), the Talents that those Aspects govern are where their true skills and powers lie. Each Aspect has three active Talents attached to it and one passive one, and it's these stats that really allow a Hero to shine and perform deeds that will be remembered forever in song.

Aspects provide the basic ability to perform any action that falls into their area, but Talents are what allow Heroes to be really good at those things. Without the Talent needed for a particular task, you'll probably be about as decent at it as a mediocre human, but with it you instantly rocket past the competition.

The Leader Aspect contains the Diplomacy, Sovereignty and Tactics Talents, as well as the passive Talent of Purpose.
The Lover Aspect contains the Beauty, Empathy and Persuasion Talents, as well as the passive Talent of Inspiration.

The Leader's mythic role includes leading others to victory, making tough choices and finding ways to motivate or support their followers, and the Talents associated with it are designed to do that. Diplomacy is the stat used to mediate, negotiate, defuse or discuss; it's an indispensible Talent for those Leaders who specialize in political roles or interaction with other people of import. Sovereignty, on the other hand, is the stat used to command authority and demand respect, and is rolled for Leaders who want to give orders, lay down the law and be seen as the power in their particular sphere of influence. And, finally, Tactics is the Talent of choice for Leaders who command troops in battle and have to make weighty decisions about war maneuvers and issues of the chain of command.

The Lover, on the other hand, is mythically associated with uplifting and inspiring those around them in one way or another, and has an arsenal of Talents designed to bend the hearts and minds of those nearby in just the right direction. The Beauty Talent measures a lover's strikingness of appearance - not necessarily in traditional "standards" of attractiveness, but rather in how important their presence is and how much it makes others want to be near and see them. Empathy is the stat used by Lovers who want to play on the emotions of others, coaxing out feelings buried far beneath the surface. And Persuasion, the last of the Lover's specialties, involves using their charms to convince, cajole, or even outright lie in order to get their way.

This is all pretty standard stuff (although new, since we've never released it before!); you encounter a situation that requires Tactics, you roll Tactics, things happen based on how well you did. However, the passive Talents are where things get really neat. Not all of them are rolled, and in the case of the Leader and the Lover, both are resources they can use to affect the game around them.

The Leader's Purpose allows them to motivate others around them, even when they would otherwise be drained and spent. Leaders can spend points of Purpose to give their allies the ability to take heroic actions even when they would normally have exhausted all their resources and lost that chance. A savvy Leader who knows where and when to spend Purpose can help their friends snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, or give them that final push they need to make it the extra mile before collapsing.

The Lover's special skill is instead Inspiration, which allows them to provoke greatness in others from the sheer elation of their presence. Lovers can spend points of Inspiration to enhance the rolls of those around them, allowing them to turn a middling roll into an acclaimed success, or a success into an unheard-of triumph. A Lover who shares their charms and provides the comfort and joy that their allies need makes any group they enter more likely to win their way to victory in spite of the odds.

And remember, of course, that this hypothetical Leader and Lover could be one and the same person; Aspects are not exclusive and Heroes may invest in any or all of them as they see fit. Many famous gods and heroes clearly had more than a touch of both of these Aspects at once, including the beloved war general Nuada, the famously beautiful Dido who ruled the kingdom of Carthage, and a certain Norse giant who shall remain nameless here.

Talents also grant you access to the special powers and bonuses of the Web of Fate... but that's a whole post in and of itself and will have to be saved for another day. These were only two of the seven sets of Talents available to Heroes, but we'll cover the others in more posts to come!