Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Guide to Spending All Your Resources on Your Horrible Group (Part 1)

This is another one of those posts suggested by the playtest groups, who like to playfully complain about how many resources they spend on each other. This goes along with our discussion of the cooperative nature of HJ from a few weeks ago, but here we'll talk about some more of the specific mechanics involved in making the team better together than they are apart. Let's take a look at some of the players and their real-life cooperative adventures!

We're going to make it a series of posts about the Spending Resources on Your Friends' Bad Decisions facet of the playtest games, so the first one will focus on the Leader and Lover resource-generators, and we'll talk about some other Endowment options next time!

Leaders and Lovers: The Resource Factories

Leaders and Lovers, by virtue of their Aspect specialties, have direct special abilities to support other players, which makes them pretty darn important to overall group success. You can get by without them, of course, but as several players said with horrified looks on their faces when this was suggested, why would you want to?

Lovers use a Talent called Inspiration to help encourage their companions to do their best at all times, even under pressure or when the forces of bad luck strike. They spend their Inspiration to allow others to reroll a poor die roll - a very important skill, considering that it can mean the difference between success and failure, or prevent a tragic mistake even if it doesn't make its way all the way up to a success.

Our most long-running playtest had one dedicated Lover character, Ananda, who provided the major wellspring of Inspiration; she was constantly encouraging her companions, telling them that she believed in them, and suggesting that they could do better and try harder, for her, of course. She regularly exhausted her Inspiration on others' rolls, leading to other characters starting to invest in some Lover to help her out, and for a few games it was a sort of communal love-fest, with Annie leading the "we can all do it, guys!" charge.

Unfortunately, Ananda was killed in action a few Chapters ago, and the effects on the group were immediate and distressing. Without a steady source of Inspiration, the group continued to run into situations wherein they had run completely out, and every die roll was left up to the whims of chance. The players expressed that they've never felt quite so close to death as when they had to handle a giant combat against supernatural foes, and every poor roll resulted in them throwing up their hands and saying, "WELL, sorry everyone, I have wasted my round," or in one memorable case, "I JUST STABBED BERNARD IN THE ARM, SORRY ABOUT THAT."

In Ananda's absence, the other characters are jumping in to fill the void; Nate, the heavy Trickster of the group, was already interested in Lover for its powers of Persuasion, so he's begun to grab some Inspiration, too, and Bernard, the Sageliest of mages, is also trying to encourage success in his companions, although he has further to go. Regardless, the group definitely did not want to go on without enough Inspiration to help them out of jams, and even those who aren't going into the Lover Aspect are still taking advantage of the ability to get a few points of Inspiration here and there throughout the Web of fate.

Leaders, similarly, use a Talent called Purpose to directly motivate their followers and give them the ability to succeed when they might otherwise be exhausted. They spend their Purpose to restore resources to companions who have run out, so that they can literally do more things than they otherwise could have, including using powers when they would normally be out of juice, or enabling them to Strive for Glory when they might otherwise be too tired to step outside their normal wheelhouses.

The ongoing playtest game has long been plagued by a shortage of Purpose; while Ananda and Jennifer both had a little bit, it wasn't enough to do more than provide an occasional quick pick-me-up in an emergency, and so running out of resources (or being forced to spend more precious/higher-level resources in place of lesser ones) was commonplace for them. Several times, they found themselves having trouble winning battles against enemies or ending up being put in jail by the authorities because they just didn't have the remaining juice they needed to successfully use their powers to handle something.

When Ananda died, however, a new character - Ruby, a no-nonsense soldier woman who had been brought to the area as part of the National Guard but had since gone AWOL after realizing that martial law was making the situation worse for the local people, not better - arrived, bringing with her a big old bucket of Purpose and a willingness to tell other Heroes to get up off their butts and do things at her instruction. Since her arrival, she's given driving Purpose to her fellows somewhere in the neighborhood of five to eight times per Chapter, although she's starting, like Annie, to find that the diminishing returns on this heavy use is going to run her dry at a crucial moment in the future.

In both cases, the group has decided pretty definitively that they definitely want Inspiration and Purpose in play as much as possible, even if they have to get them sideways rather than as a primary focus for the players, and that they love their Lovers and respect their Leaders - which is, of course, exactly what they should do. The new European playtest is only a few sessions in and hasn't quite settled down to having enough experience to start bothering them for overall statements, but we look forward to hearing their thoughts on the systems in the future.

Next time: the Aspect Endowments and how they spend resources on their companions and overall group success, including Leaders leading people to get things done, Lovers calling upon the support network of their loved ones, and Tricksters tricking their way to something approximating success (hopefully with other companions in tow).


  1. Sad about's rare for me to see Sarasvati as a patron :(

    BUT, yay for Ruby Durga patronage goodness :D !!!

    As for the system, I love the interdependence of players, but I'm wondering how this plays out in a smaller play's easier to have all your bases covered if you have a large group of people playing, but what about with only two or three PCs? How easy or difficult do you think it would be for them to make an effective party?

    1. Its similar to how small groups in most games might have problems with healing. In a large DnD group, you can have one person be the healer, they cover it completely and other people get to ignore it.
      While in a 3 person group, you might not be able to get a full time healer, but you could have a paladin who could heal some, but also fight or lead the group.
      In heros journey, you could have someone with dedicated to giving everyone inspiration if you have a large group. Or in a small group, a couple people could pick up a little inspiration to help each other, but none would focus on it.

  2. Yes, actually, I was wondering the same thing. A cooperative party is great, and certainly in keeping with the genre, but if you only have two players [or one], won't that leave you a bit buggered if you need resources that you don't have? I also wondered if it was possible to be more than one type of character? Can you be a Lover/Leader? Or is it "one per customer, please"?

    1. 1 and 2 person groups will have trouble. But thats a symptom of almost all rpgs. There are usually a set number of useful skills spread across the different classes/races/etc. The way we try to mitigate that, is that although the lover has the majority of the inspiration, there is definitely a lot around the web for any warrior or sage to pick up if they wish. So you can have a group that completely esques lover(especially in the case of smaller groups) but knowing they dont have a lover, they make sure to pick around the web for a little inspiration.

      1 person groups are always a challenge. The GM needs to mold the story a lot more for the specific character. They may need help along, akin to starting a solo DND campaign with extra healing potions.

    2. Also, John didn't mention, but it's not one per customer - folks will be in multiple Aspects, so you could certainly be a Leader/Lover if you want to. :) Players actually start with multiple Aspects at the beginning, and can get into others later as they progress if they want to.

    3. Cool - that alleviates some of the worry, at least. Multi-Aspect PCs will definitely help when the party is smaller.

  3. I was already looking forward to playing a primarily Lover-oriented character (Chosen of Hera) and this post has made me even more excited to play my character. Re-rolls are good, especially as at least one of the other players in my group rolls as notoriously bad as me. Looking forward to your game coming out, don't keep us waiting or we might simply combust here.

    1. *salutes*

      On it as we speak, friend!