[Near] A little question

Started by Luca Veluttini, November 22, 2010, 11:23:22 AM

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Luca Veluttini

Hi, Eero.

I've read this, in the Sky God Faith Crunch:

QuoteSecret of the Axiom
A character with this Secret may gain Blessings. Either he asks for one with PRAY (V), or has an AXIOMATIC REVELATION with an appropriate virtue Ability. In the former case the player chooses the Blessing (designing it with the Story Guide if necessary), while in the latter the Story Guide chooses a Blessing that relies on the virtue in question. Either way, the Blessing costs an Advance. Cost: 7 minus the check result in Ability-appropriate Pool Requirement: Have no vices.

How does it function?

Thank you.

Eero Tuovinen

Oh yes, that's one of the gems in there, if I may say so - the sort of stuff where I've put quite a bit of play into just a couple of sentences. I'm rather pleased with much of the crunch in that particular chapter, and that one just ties it all up with a neat bow.

Now, as the game text describes, Blessings are basically just Secrets with a particularly circumscribed method of learning them. Usually we play the game pretty fast and loose, yes? A player wants to add a Secret to his character, and the SG just nods amiably, the group exchanges some snippets of fluff to colorize and riff off the fact that the character has changed a bit. However, with Blessings the SG is strict: either the character has factual access to another Highland Saint who is willing to relinquish him the Blessing, or he goes on a Quest (Secret of) to gain this extraordinary power (perhaps from just such a saint, or perhaps from some other source), or he uses the Secret of Axiom or Secret of Hagiography. Any of these might be trivially fulfilled by the character's positioning in the fiction or his mechanical state, of course, but the basic presumption is that Blessings are regulated a bit more than other Secrets. (Why that is is a boring and long-winded thing, you don't want to hear about it.)

Reading the text, the player activates this Secret by choosing which of the two modes he's going to use: either his character will Pray (V) to the Sky God for some magic, or he will have an "Axiomatic Revelation" that provides him with the magic via a Vritue Ability check. The former is probably pretty clear in fictional terms - the character is a holy man of such currency that God actually hears his pleas and responds (or that's what he thinks, anyway - no objective truth value to God as we remember). Axiomatic revelation is more fuzzy in fictional terms by intent, but personally I just assume that it's holy inspiration, personal virtue of the character that he uses semi-intentionally. For example, the character might be in a sudden crisis situation where people are suffering, and the player uses the character's virtue of Compassion (I) to spontaneously express magic that is birthed out of his compassion. With me so far?

Now, those two options have story-significance: is the character the sort of holy man who trusts in God and talks to him, or is his connection to the Godhead (called the Axiom in the religion) of a more intuitive nature? (This might be understood as similar to the distinction between worshipping Buddha and following Buddha.) Of course different character builds are made possible, with trade-offs in terms of flexibility and whatnot. However, the most important difference in these two activations is that the player of a character who prays to God for his Blessings will get to choose the Blessing his character learns, while having an Axiomatic Revelation means that the Story Guide gets to choose. Why does this make sense - well, when you pray, you ask for something specific, and that's what you get; intuition is not similarly controllable, the player merely chooses the time and the virtue to use and hopes that the SG gives him the sort of Blessing that he wanted. Most of the time the two methods of accessing the Axiom/God will result in the same or similar Blessings, as the SG is not out to fuck with the player by intentionally giving him something he doesn't need. However, if the player chooses to have an Axiomatic Revelation in a situation that leaves the SG with leeway, definitely feel free to give him something surprising.

What else... As the text says, the group can totally design a new Blessing for the situation right away if there's nothing good prepped for the purpose; there are few ascribed limits to what the magic can accomplish, although the more fundamental Blessings will likely use those fucked-up higher Virtue Abilities. In practice it's not a bad idea to just choose the name and rough function of a Secret in play and leave the SG to write up the exact rules text for the next session of play; just give some vague bonus dice or whatever in the meantime.

Also, I suppose that the last couple of sentences might be where you're confused:
  • The Blessing you get out of this Secret costs an Advance, and you have to pay for it once you trigger the Secret successfully. If you can't pay, you go into Advance dept.
  • The cost of this Secret's activation depends on the Ability check result you get when activating the Secret: a Great (3) check means that you pay 4 points of Pool out of the Ability associated with the Ability you used, for example. If you can't pay because the check wasn't good enough, the Secret does not activate and you don't get the Blessing. (Whether you get the Pool back when the Secret misfires is an open question; I'd probably judge as SG that you lose whatever points you have, but that's just because I'm an asshole.)
  • The Secret of Axiom requires that you "have no vices". As usual, this is intentionally vague as to whether this is a requirement for using the Secret or for merely gaining it; I think that the setting information overall points towards requiring the character to currently have no vices if they are to activate the Secret, but that getting a vice does not imply losing the Secret; you merely can't use it while you have the vice. As to when and whether a character "has a vice", the simplest way to establish this is to check whether they have the Key of Vice. (It's technically possible for a character to have a vice without that Key as well - for example, I would personally judge a human who has the Secret of Addiction is in the grip of a vice and therefore ineligible to successfully contact the Axiom; this is one of those normal SG calls that are made constantly on all sorts of things.)

And, the last bit of clarification that I can think of right now: as the Secret doesn't specify anything else, it is very much reusable: as long as the character possesses the Secret of the Axiom he can use it as many times as he wants to gain more Blessings. Using the Secret takes whatever time is established as reasonable among the individual group; I might put in a penalty die if the character wants to Pray (V) himself some new magic on an emergency schedule instead of kneeling at a church a couple of days for it, but whatever works for the group is good.

Did that answer your question? I'm uncertain as to which part is confusing you. I can also discourse more on the Axiom, Avatar theology and what the Sky God magic looks like in the fiction and all that if that seems helpful.
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Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Luca Veluttini

Thank you very much.

You give me a comprehensive answer to the question.

Mr. Mario

Hi, Eero. Luca above here is going to be my SG, and I've been playing a young, naive goblin whose natural ingenuity and peculiar vision of the world managed to impress even a coistrel, who began teaching him the ways of the Sky God. I've been considering the secret of the Axiom a possible way to turn him into a sort of unlikey prophet, whose strange, but sensible wisdom catches people off guard. So I think the second way of using the secret would be perfect for him.

Now, if you've got the time, I'd very much like to take you up on your offer.
Quote from: Eero Tuovinen on November 22, 2010, 06:10:52 PMI can also discourse more on the Axiom, Avatar theology and what the Sky God magic looks like in the fiction and all that if that seems helpful.

Eero Tuovinen

Hah, that's an excellent character concept. Have the SG prep some suitable Blessings in advance, it'll make play easier when your character starts learning new stuff left and right. Lucca: be sure to throw complications at the poor goblin PC with the Love-related bits of magic in the Sky God Faith, as that part will surely be all but incomprehensible for goblins. Penalty dice for Love-based virtues, for instance. It might even be impossible altogether for a non-human to learn Blessings that rely on Compassion (I) and other Love-based virtues.

As for the theology of the Axiom, first things first: are you familiar with the Avatar Ethics that underlie the Sky God Religion? WoN does not list quite all of the recognized virtues of the theology, for instance, so you can derive the rest like Humility (no associated Pools) and Honor (V, R) by researching Ultima games ;)
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.