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Author Topic: [Solar System] Developing Territory for Werewolf  (Read 21530 times)
chance.thirteen
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« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2009, 09:55:17 AM »

Don't let this derail the discussion at hand, but:

Under my reading of The Solar System the Eero Edition (that's right,  TSS EE), in general, the advice given was that lost Secrets should be up for Advance refunds unless the fiction really suggests otherwise and the players agree? And above, Eero has one suggestion of how to link that more tightly to the fiction and the tension of the decisions around breaking up or leaving a pack.

So, as I understand it, it wouldn't be deeply at odds with TSS if my group decided that all the Pack secrets aren't lost just deactivated, save the first one about Pack membership. That IS lost to represent the loss of the integrity and teamwork of a given group, and rebuying the Secret with a new pack name represents reconstructing such trust and familiarity.
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2009, 05:10:06 PM »

That seems good to me!
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Courage75
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« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2009, 06:46:18 PM »

My first reaction to that sort of set-up would be to allow the fiction and conflict system to resolve the integrity of the pack. An important member leaves? Let the others roleplay their reactions to it and perhaps have the leader roll a simple leadership check to see if the pack stays together or loses its integrity. The same for if somebody dies or if there's a challenge for dominance or such; just have leadership checks and put the pack integrity up as stakes. Then every player gets to decide how much they care about preserving the pack.

That's an interesting idea. At the moment there isn't an alpha (leader) in the pack. Instead, there is a "default" alpha that the pack presents whenever they deal with other werewolf packs, although another pack member usurps this role at times. Otherwise, whenever an issue comes up that affects the entire pack the members argue amongst themselves to decide what to do and I usually handle it as a Persuasion [Instinct] conflict. An amusing conflict erupted last session when the default character, refused to get out of bed one morning and the rest of the pack wouldn't stand for it. It ended up being a an extended conflict where a couple pack members where dealing Vigour Harm to the default alpha but he was dealing much more Instinct Harm to them in the form of scathing, personal insults. In the end the rest of the pack gave up and let him sleep in.

Thus I haven't formalised a challenge for leadership in the pack as such. I might do it, though. The PCs could challenge for dominance using whatever Ability they liked, as long as it is clear that is an attempt to be alpha of the pack. Perhaps the winner could turn the result into an Effect whenever an issue that affects the pack comes up?

I like the idea of pack integrity. No idea what that would be though, other than the Effect the (current) alpha creates from a dominance check.

Also consider having the experience kickback from leaving the pack be contingent on the terms of the breakage - I'd probably have it be that the pack leader decides whether anybody leaving the pack gets their xp back or not. Could be interesting, and would make for some pressure to make sure that the leaving happens on good terms.

I like this, too. If I put in the dominance check for alpha, I will definitely put this in as well.

So, as I understand it, it wouldn't be deeply at odds with TSS if my group decided that all the Pack secrets aren't lost just deactivated, save the first one about Pack membership. That IS lost to represent the loss of the integrity and teamwork of a given group, and rebuying the Secret with a new pack name represents reconstructing such trust and familiarity.

Just out of curiousity, are you running a Werewolf: the Forsaken game using Solar System or just being hypothetical here? If you running Werewolf, I'd be very interested in comparing notes!

Getting back to your post, how about this:
  • If a PC leaves the pack, the pack integrity is shaken and the alpha needs to start making checks to re-establish integrity
  • If the alpha is successful, the pack Secrets can be "re-activated" without having to buy them again
  • If the alpha is unsuccessful, the pack disbands and must reform under a different alpha/name/totem and can attempt to purchase the Secrets again

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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2009, 08:11:59 PM »

All of that sounds good to me. You could handle pack integrity as an Effect the alpha is responsible for: he makes a check to create it, writes it down (something like "Our pack is strong 3/I" or just "pack integrity for pack X 3/I") and may spend it for bonus dice in critical situations to order the others around. He could also renew it with new checks. Seems workable.

A slightly more mechanized take would be to make pack leadership a Secret:

Secret of Alpha
This character is the leader of the pack. Another character may challenge the position to strip away the rank, in which case you gain back the Advance. As long as the rank stays, the character may turn his own bonus dice into penalty dice for his opponents in any domination/leadership conflicts within the pack. To do so, the character has to invoke his position. Cost: 1 Vigor per scene to invoke position.

That might work to formalize what it means to be the alpha - that's useful if the players are not very much into the spirit of being wolf-people and thus instinctively downplay the importance of wolf-pack domination mechanics. That sort of loose Secret still allows the characters to be as liberal-democratic as they want, but it also leaves the current leader the interesting option of abusing the powers he gains from the traditional role.

(Note: in case it's unclear, getting to use your bonus dice as penalty dice against others is powerful because of the way dice mechanics work on the game. Try it out.)

You could, if you want, use even more structure:

Secret of Beta
A character who challenges the pack Alpha may get this Secret if he wants and the Alpha allows him to. If the Alpha is later dislodged, lose the Secret and gain an Advance. The Beta is a high-ranking second-in-command for the alpha wolf, which gains him some prestige: the character gains a free bonus die to all social conflicts within the pack. Note that the current Alpha may well have this Secret as well, should he have the respect of the pack.

Secret of Omega
A character on the bottom of the pack hierarchy may take this Secret. He cannot initiate social conflicts within the pack, but he is not bound by the results of such, either: going against the will of the pack Alpha incurs just one penalty die for the Omega, even if he lost a social conflict that enforced the will.
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Courage75
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« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2009, 09:37:42 PM »

Thanks Eero!

I had a feeling Secrets would be the way to go and I am impressed with the ones you came up with. They are pretty much what I have been looking for. Awesome! I'm keen to try them out with my players as we have often wondered how the whole "wolf-pack" mechanic works in Werewolf but the original system never went beyond "that is up to the [GM]".

As usual, I have a few questions/suggestions:
  • In regards to the establishing/challenging the alpha conflict, I am thinking of standardising this as a Primal Urge [Vigour] check. Primal Urge is an innate Ability that all werewolves possess and it relates to a werewolf's connection with his "wolf-side". It is commonly used for shapeshifting and tracking by scent and other such werewolf behaviour. Since establishing/challenging an alpha is a wolf thing, it makes sense that this is the Ability required, rather than an eloquent speech (Persuasion [Instinct]), bullying (Intimidation [Instinct]), or fighting (Brawl [Vigour]). Werewolves would be able to purchase Secrets that allow them to support a Primal Urge check for the alpha role with these Abilities, though. Of course, a Primal Urge conflict could be extended into a fight, which is common in Werewolf fiction.
    Note that this process is only for establishing or attempting to usurp the alpha position in a pack. Packmates are quite free to argue/fight amongst themselves using whatever Abilities they wish, and the alpha can use the Secret of Alpha if she so wishes in such cases.
  • In regards to the Secret of the Omega, you mention that the Omega only suffers a penalty die if he goes against the will of the pack, even if he loses a social conflict that enforced the will. Does this mean that any other pack member may suffer penalty dice if goes against the will of the pack? Is this coming from the Secret of the Alpha or somewhere else?
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #20 on: May 21, 2009, 06:36:00 AM »

The Omega thing is that normally a character would be obligated to follow along with a viewpoint upon which he had been convinced. For example, if a character were planning to go and do something stupid, but the Alpha ordered him to stand down, he'd have to do so - at least until the next scene. The Omega, though, he's half-outsider anyway - he can still do it, the worst others can do to him without actual physical restraint is a penalty die for bad conscience. His social tie to the pack is so thin that he can ignore the rest of the pack when it suits him.

Using Primal Urge (V) seems fine as the primary wolfy social ability to me.
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Courage75
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« Reply #21 on: May 21, 2009, 04:40:51 PM »

Cool. I really like the Omega concept!

So the omega doesn't suffer any Instinct Harm beyond Minor (one penalty die) from an Instinct conflict where the alpha orders him to do something? Or he doesn't suffer Instinct Harm at all, just a nominal penalty die?

Another question: can a conflict using Primal Urge (V) checks result in Instinct Harm rather than Vigour Harm? I'm thinking about the dominance conflict to determine an alpha here. I think Instinct Harm might be more appropriate than Vigour Harm, although the conflict might involve some physical scuffling between contestants (changing forms, snarling, grappling, etc).
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #22 on: May 21, 2009, 10:18:02 PM »

I allow Harm to be different in type than the Ability that caused it - the Ability is just the default, the SG can change it to whatever makes sense in the fiction.

As for Harm for Omegas - I hadn't thought that the Secret would affect the Harm mechanics, but perhaps it should. It makes sense for the Omega to be partially invulnerable to social Harm. If it seems right to you, go ahead and try it. The way to phrase it wouldn't be that the character is immune to Harm, though, but rather that he doesn't ever apply more than one penalty die to social situations, no matter how much Harm he's taken. Giving immunity from Harm screws up game balance.
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Courage75
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« Reply #23 on: May 21, 2009, 11:54:33 PM »

Thanks Eero, that clears a lot of things up for me.

Yep, I am with you on the omega only suffering a maximum of one penalty die from any Instinct Harm incurred. The only thing I would add is that the Instinct Harm has to be inflicted by his packmates (including the alpha). He would take Instinct Harm with full penalties from anyone outside his pack, unless the Harm somehow tied in with his omega role in the pack (outside werewolves taunting him about his lowly status in the pack, for example).
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