Sunday, March 18, 2018

Mechanics Talk: Explain to Me How to Leader

On we rumble, into the Aspect of bosses and Serious Business - Leader! Leaders are all about being in charge, which means more than just looking important (although they do definitely do that); it also means being able to wrangle large groups of people, make rules (and make them stick), and inspire people to not only do what they want but really, really try hard at it.

What do you do on your adventures and for your group when you have Leader?

Being the Boss: Leaders are the boss, which is pretty obvious from their name - seriously, thoroughly the boss. They get to make rules, demand things of people, and intimidate dissenters into submission (which, depending on the Hero's personality, could be something they do patiently and comfortably, or something they just brute force without caring much about the feelings of the people involved). Obviously, every Hero can make demands or try to intimidate someone, but the Leader can really make it stick - when they do those things, they change how people behave and what they think, even if they really didn't want to back down to the Hero, which lets them get around a lot of obstacles and head off a lot of potential enemies before they even get started. Being large and in charge is a concrete skillset for the Leader, who has lots of Blessings that leverage it into action. (And, if Leader is one of their main Aspects and they have the Sway Endowment, they can literally just call up underlings to boss around when they need to!)

Managing a Crowd: One-on-one intimidation is one thing, but commanding a group or subduing a mob is also one of the Leader's abilities. They can sway the hearts and minds of huge numbers of people at once with speeches, demonstrations, and other giant social actions (unlike the Lover, who usually only affects a few people at the time more strongly, they get to affect a lot of people but with less intensity). Some Leader Blessings let them not only affect a large group but actually shape them into a living weapon or useful item, although what they can use them for varies depending on their specific stats - to attack people, or set up defenses, or start new trends, whatever they might need.

Resolving Conflicts: It's not all do-what-I-tell-you when you're a Leader; they're also in charge of keeping the peace and making things easier for everyone under their command, including their fellow Heroes. They get to create compromises and enforce fellowship among people - very literally, they have skills to help people stop fighting and start cooperating, helping the whole group do better. These things often provide the people they mediate for with extra powers or resources as a result of working together - it's not just that everyone feels better, they literally are better as a result of the Leader's influence.

Directing a Battlefield: Leaders are also the tacticians; they make combats better for their own side, which includes themself and any other Heroes as well as friendly NPCs. They can read the battlefield and make good plans, of course, which is half the battle right there, but their Blessings let them move people around the battlefield, mess with how effective enemy attacks and friendly defenses can be, give people additional opportunities to help, and so on and so forth. Heroes can always fight without a Leader, but having one makes them so much more effective, especially as a group, that it's always that much more awesome to have one on the team.

What is the Leader Effortless At? Leaders are motivating as all hell. Just being near other people encourages those people to do more than they ever would have thought possible otherwise. Unlike the Creators and Hunters we just looked at, Leaders effortlessly influence everyone besides themselves - they literally give out Labors to other people, illustrating that those people just can't bear to let them down, or are willing to try that much harder to do great things when their Leader is around to see them. To the Leader themself, people are just being effective due to their expert guidance; it seems to them like they just always have the best team. To everyone else, the Leader is a literal Godsend of encouragement.

What are the Leader's Drawbacks? Leaders need other people to be their best, obviously, so they're not as good at solo missions and issues wherein they get separated from their companions, which is how you end up with King Richard the Lionheart sitting in jail for a while while his people try to raise enough money to ransom him back. They also control a lot of situations with social acumen and power - many fights are stopped before they ever begin and obstacles are avoided before they ever become a problem due to the Leader dealing with them in advance - but when an emergency comes up that they didn't previously handle, sometimes they're out of options and have to let the other Aspects take center stage.

In playtest groups, Leaders have been awesome recently by muscling their way into private events by being too important to ignore; redesigning the operating procedure of a crime syndicate by coming up with new rules and strongarming leadership into accepting them; making tactical assessments that allowed them to plan ahead for how to depower their enemies before ever engaging directly with them; and ending combats by intimidating entire groups of enemies into feeling bad for attacking them in the first place.

The Talents under the Leader umbrella are Diplomacy, Purpose, Sovereignty, and Tactics, with Purpose being the first of the stats that is used on the rest of the group instead of yourself (although there are powers that use it as fuel, so you do have opportunities to spend it selfishly if you want to!). Next time: Lovers, the other powerhouses of affecting other people!

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