Monday, May 30, 2011

Mono no aware and the role-player

Any game only lives in our memory.

This last week I watched Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo, a documentary on the role of insects in the Japanese cultural landscape. Primarily it focused on collections and the keeping of bugs as pets. I wasn’t aware of the extent of that practice. It also looked at how they figured in culture, in poetry, in art and in Japanese memory in general. It has some really lovely bits following the people who actually go out and find them for the pet industry (including a shot of a Japanese hornet which will lodge firmly in my nightmares for years).

My first reaction was- well that makes sense, they have smaller living spaces- I’m not sure how accurate that is. But then I thought about the fragility of these things- how long would these kinds of pets live? There was a sequence with a collector who had accumulated many varieties of crickets. His house was filled with the sound of them, many different sound patterns interlacing and making a whole new experience. I thought about my own irritation when I had to hunt down a single chirping cricket in the basement.

Then they interview a cultural/art historian who talked about the idea of mono no aware, which Wikipedia describes as:

Mono no aware (物の哀れ mono no aware?, literally "the pathos of things"), also translated as "an empathy toward things", or "a sensitivity to ephemera", is a Japanese term used to describe the awareness of impermanence (Jap. 無常 mujō), or the transience of things, and a gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing.

We had thunderstorms this weekend. Bad ones that nearly rained out our yearly gathering at Kenny’s house. Today we have a wash of humidity. I remember nights back in the late 80’s in high school when we would play out in my garage. After the divorce my mom offered that space to me if I cleaned it up. Garbage had piled up and festered out there for at least a year. It took several days to clean it out, to purge the muck, to remove the bale of hay which had been there since my parents had moved in. We cleared slugs, mice, centipedes, wasps…it was awful. But when it was done, we had a still filthy garage we could set up a ping pong table in and play.

The earwigs writhed out in a horror for that first summer. Finally we managed to supersaturate the wood with enough bug bombs to drive them out- provided you left nothing for them to hide in. It would get insanely humid out there in the summer. We had a fan in the window, but we’d be dripping sweat, playing with the garage door open and watching the moisture condense on the tall, sixteen ounce bottles of pop we’d bought out of the cooler at 7-11. We played AD&D, Rolemaster, DC Heroes and some homebrews out there. Scott Hamlin brought a buddy over one day and rebuilt the tables to make them solid and not the teetering and swaying deck they began as. I remember talking about Crisis on Infinite Earths with the group, I remember giant free-for-fall superhero battles using the room “as is” for the figures with characters lifting and hurling giant dice cups and the like, I remember Art Lyon raiding my fridge without asking and boiling up all the hot dogs I had, I remember coming out after a rainstorm and feeling just absolutely damp out there.

I remember some of the stories from those games. Some we still tell. A couple of people in the group remain from those days. Some remain from the later days when we played in the basement- we’d done that in the winters for a time, but eventually we migrated down there full time.

I’ve played a lot of games- some pretty bad, some only worth it for the people, but some that were great, some that changed my life, some sublime in their execution. They won’t happen again, but when I think on them I can take a bit of that joy and happiness and bring it forward into my memory. I’ve been depressed and in bad places in the past- and often I’ve rewritten those memories to be worse than they were. That’s what depressives do, that’s what I’ve done. I’d forgotten how much I’ve enjoyed those things- until later when I actually remember the little things, the tiny and transient details that made those experiences great. The mist from the river when Gene and I played Bushido down by Century Center, the blessed heat from the furnace every time it kicked in the basement, walking through downtown Cairo at 6 am after an all-night amazing campaign wrapping session.

Embrace the mono no aware of rpg play.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Trader to the Crown: Merchants in RPGs

I like the idea of the "merchant" as a class in an rpg campaign. I think they often get thrown in as lip service when people are putting together collections of classes and the like. But the merchant embodies a kind of goal-oriented character that I can really get behind. And of course, there are many flavors of that at the table. What I’m talking about isn’t the merchant as the con-artist, face-man or used-car salesman. I’m talking about the merchant who actually deals in goods, makes arrangements, and searches for profit.

To that end I’ve put together a Geeklist which assembled some of those games which have that as a key premise. I love the abilitiy to draw together different games across obscure criteria. Anyway, the link for the Geeklist.

Merchants and Manifests: Trade in RPGs

So I love the idea of a trading game more than I probably love the actuality of a trading game. I love trade as a factor in Civilization and Europa Universalis, for example, but I can automate all of those details. I’ve skipped quite few exploration, economics and trade games because the review suggested that things were a little too hands on for my taste (the Annoseries for example). In the same way, I’m attracted to trade and economy as an issue in tabletop games. I’ve read some on that (A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World; The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World; and some economics texts) in the hopes of being able to bring that into the game. But when it comes to the crunch of things- well, I kind of fall down. I mean, I don’t think we’ve tracked money as a factor in campaigns for at least a decade now. We make assumptions about wealth, we deal with the idea as an abstraction. We don’t have price lists which used to be a cool thing we’d pore over at the table.
So the key question: how do I marry those abstract systems to satisfying options for someone who wants to play a merchant.

One thing to figure out is how that ‘trade’ functions in the game. One the one hand, it could be crunchy- with players tracking goods, hunting down items, fulfilling contracts, rising to challenges, and making choices which shape the direction on the business. The other approach takes the mercantile enterprise as a means to an end. They provide a gateway to abstract wealth, contacts, allies, or most often new plots. Legend of the Five Rings, at least in the early editions has to contend with this problem. The Yasuki are among my favorite families in the setting. They’re merchants in a culture which looks down on samurai class involvement in that kind of trade. Other clans (notably the Unicorn and Crane) have families that deal with that but in a less direct way. The Yasuki- in my mind- serve as martyrs to the necessities of trade. But their abilities in the game essentially revolve around the ability to get things and not much beyond that.

I think one of the most useful and fruitful approaches for these kinds of games is to make the company a shared resource. This is how Bookhounds, InSpectres and even Reign handle things IIRC. Question of businesses as a resource of the players- as a kind of patron of some kinds, but not just as a monolith, but one in which the players have to make an investment. InSpectres and Bookhounds both take this approach- so the group functions as a merchant, rather than a single character having to take that role. I ran into Ken Hite at a con and how much I liked the structure he’d built into Bookhounds. He said that its yet another thing Ars Magica created and that other games have lifted and used. (That would be an interesting Geeklist to see- one looking at the influence of Ars on later games)

This kind of approach can be used in other campaigns as well- building up a set of details and ratings which the players can raise collectively provides a nice bond. In HeroQuest, this is represented by the community rules. In Changeling the Lost, if the players share a single Hollow, they can all pitch in on it. That makes it a more useful refuge for the group. A fantasy campaign might see the players managing a town or a keep. Ars Magica has this in the form of covenants. If you have a science fiction campaign, then the shared resource can be the ship and upgrades to it. That does mean the GM has to have lots of elements ready for the ship- ideally ones which matter to the roles of the party members.

So one of the obvious things to notice is how much the idea of playing a 'Trader" is a sci-fi rpg trope more than any other. I wonder if that has something to do with the contrast between the civilization and wilderness kinds of adventures. Certainly early D&D and other games focused on heading out into the wilds- whether those be literal wilderness or lost ruins. Urban focused adventures came a little later. There’s a degree of crunch to those representations of trade as well- at least in early Traveller materials. We have detailed and significant systems for the kinds of goods, for space requirements, for the interaction of local laws and bureaucracies, for transport costs, and so on. It’s a spreadsheet game. Later games would tone those aspects done more- hand-wave them or focus on general aspects.

To consider a more recent, sci-fi example, Firefly. Money and trade serve as the backbone and motivation for events, but they’re not the key element. There have to do nearly literal horse-trading, but money’s always in short supply. The nature of the setting means that they can’t get ahead. And that’s worth thinking about- how you keep the players striving for a goal (like material wealth) that they can’t really obtain as that would undercut the premise.


Of course in Cyberpunk universes (let’s take Cyberpunk and Shadowrun as examples) corporations are essentially large-scale horror factories of crime and villainy. There’s a strange contradiction which comes out as those gamelines roll along. At the beginning, most of the player material seems aimed at making them anti-authority anarchists and punks. But then eventually we get more and more supplements about how to buy in- showing the sexy corporate stuff. Not that they’ve any less evil, but they get sexed up for the setting. Of course Werewolf has Penetex, which I think of as the classic evil corporation. Then there’s stuff like SLA Industries and Corporation which take a more or less dystopian approach to those ideas. There’s a message about capitalism, coming from a game company, which always seems more than a little ill-informed and high-school in its mentality. Mind you most of these presentations don’t really deal with the idea of trade and commerce but of business and control. I can’t imagine anyone deciding to play a Ventrue or a Giovanni in Vampire the Masquerade because they really want to explore the world of business.

Of course all of this talk about merchants means that there has to be a couple of agreements at the table. The GM has to be comfortable and ready with the idea of the player actually building something- like a trade network, a series of contacts or a business. If the game’s not going to allow for that, then the GM needs to make that clear to the player. When my wife first got into role-playing, she played in a fantasy campaign which seemed urban focused. The group played around in the city for a long time, with the characters doing things and carrying out operations. She’d made up a merchant character and spent her time building up a business, establishing contacts and essentially developing resources for the group to use. The GM acknowledged that and let her build stuff up and then as she was getting things in place, shifted the group to an entirely different country- essentially jump cut and they’re in a new place. If the GM had made it clear that was going to the shape of the campaign, she would have built differently. And a GM who sees a player investing heavily in something they know is going to come to nothing really owes the player at least some kind of discussion and redirection. Or provide some means where that can explicitly pay off later.

The other agreement is about the level and scope of social interaction at the table. Is trading a series of rolls? Is it actual haggling? How much details will there be and how much room at the table will be allowed for those kinds of social interactions? We play pretty social interaction heavy games generally. So there’s some room. Others don’t. Peter Amthor has some posts on bad play which address the question of how much social interaction/play at the table is enough. My experience is a little different, as I’ve more often seen GMs and some players shut down any attempt at interaction at the table. I’m not talking about the excessive stuff, the narrating everything, the talking to everyone, the wheedling with the store owner stuff- that seems a little like a straw man. Part of the problem comes when very different people come to the table for very different purposes. If the group’s doing that kind of heavy NPC interaction and enjoying themselves, then the player not into that needs to figure out if that’s where they want to be- rather than getting irritated. And the reverse holds true- I just wonder how GMs can communicate and hold to a particular level of social interactions and focus at the game table.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

RPG Game Auction

Chad Bowser, author of Cthulhu Invictus, is running a little auction over on RPG Geek to help fund some house repairs. If you have an RPG Geek, Board Game Geek, or Video Game Geek account, you should go over and take a look. He has a lot of amazing stuff up, in most cases without reserve. The auction ends on Friday. The link to the list is below:

cjbowser's House Repair Auction

He has almost too much cool stuff to go through, from Eclipse Phase, to classic D&D, to OpenQuest, Conan, Star Wars, Hackmaster, Marvel and beyond.

Probably the most amazing thing he has is a massive Trail of Cthulhu lot- with just about everything which has been published so far at an amazing price right now.

Go take a look.

Contracts of Kohl/Prisoner: Changeling the Lost

Two new Contract set ideas for Changeling the Lost. The second one I posted a couple of years ago, but I thought worth reposting since it had been lost from our campaign. Both sets have been written using our homebrew rules, but could be easily adapted over to WoD system mechanics.


Social, Affinity: Fairest

Kohl is a cultural tradition predominantly found in the Middle East, Africa and South Asian regions—all of these are areas where the heat and sun are constant. The Contracts revolve around protection, status and the eyes. The process of making Kohl is time-intensive, taking the better part of a day, but the result will remain pure and suitable for these Contracts for a full month. All Contracts assume that kohl or some dark kohl-like cosmetic is being applied. All Contracts of Kohl have a dusk/dawn or dawn/dusk duration.

Because Kohl is seen as a form of protection, these contracts are notable for their ease in bestowing upon others and have a secondary effect of communicating regard and the intent to protect to the recipient.

Drink the Sun (•)

This Contract grants protection from penalties to vision from light, flashes or glare. For Darklings upon whom this Contract is bestowed, they may make a Physical pull to resist the effects whereas otherwise they would have no chance of resisting.

Cost: 1 Glamour

Catch: Changeling uses kohl they've made themselves.

The Eloquence of the Eyes (••)

The Contract grants a +1 bump to Expression for any interaction that involves eye contact.

Cost: 2 Glamour

Catch: Recipient gazes at self in mirror for at least three minutes before kohl is applied and then another seven minutes after.

Warding the Evil Eye (•••)

Recipient of the Contract is more likely to escape the notice of those with dark intent. So long as recipient does not act aggressively, issue commands or take possession of any object desired by the one who might do them harm, the recipient will remain low among the priorities or desires of those of unkind intent, appearing inconsequential.

Cost: 1 Glamour

Catch: Put a visible dot of Kohl on the left side of the forehead of the one to be protected—for children, the dot may be hidden by placing it under the right ear or at the nape of the neck.

Cooling the Eyes (••••)

Recipient of the Contract receives a +2 bump to disguise intentions and emotions, appearing calm, collected and thoughtful.

Cost: 2 Glamour

Catch: Eyes are completely ringed by kohl (although skill and care can make this quite subtle on all but the palest of complexions).

Mark of Station (•••••)

Recipient gains an aura of rightful authority and entitlement. Challengers and nay-sayers act at a -2 penalty to call their actions or choices into doubt or to impugn their reputation among any who can see the recipient of this Contract.

Cost: 2 Glamour

Catch: Station marked is in fact possessed by the recipient of the Contract.


While all Changelings suffer in their durance at the hands of the True Fae, the nature and representation of that despot's soulscape varies from realm to realm. The Wizened serve have positions and occupations-- professions twisted to serve the ends of their masters. The Fairest often least understand the nature of their imprisonment-- that they live out another's twisted sense of beauty and greatness. Even those who seem to have freedom in Arcadia do not-- their actions instead serve out the whims of the Old Ones. Or at least that suspicion chews at the minds of those Changelings.

Some, however, do serve more classically as prisoners and slaves, most often the Darklings, for whom suffering and isolation has been made an art. The Contracts of the Prisoner represent a minor form of rebellion, but more for the cause of survival. While these Contracts cannot affect the True Fae, they can affect minions set upon the Changelings. It should be noted that they cannot affect the truly souless or fully bestial, as those things possess no conscience for these contracts to reflect upon.

The Prisoner's Sustenance (*): While chained, enslaved or under the enforced orders or onus of another, the Changeling may significantly reduce their need to eat or drink. They require only a crumb of food or a drop of water. This lasts from sunrise to sunset (or vice versa). A Changeling may only activate this contract consecutively a number of times equal to their Wyrd. Overuse and reliance upon it can cause Clarity damage or derangements.

Catch: None-- may only be performed under the above-mentioned circumstances.

Cost: 1 Glamour

Cry for Brethren (**): The Changeling may contact another known Changeling for aid and assistance. This gives the targeted Changeling a visual signal indicating direction, but not distance. This affect cannot reach across from the Hedge to the Real World (and vice versa). It lasts a number of hours equal to the Changeling's Wyrd.

Catch: The targeted Changeling has made a pact to aid the user.

Cost: 2 Glamour

Hide Among the Dead (***): The Changeling may give the appearance of being dead. To all non-invasive techniques they will appear to have died. If the Changeling has been injured, death will seem to have occurred from that wound. If not if will seem to have happened from blunt trauma. While in this state, the Changeling reduces their bodily functions, but will be hungry, thirsty and weak when they awaken. If wounded while in this state, the Changeling will awaken groggy and disoriented. While in the “trace” state, the Changeling has limited perceptions-- as if the character hovering between sleep and waking. The Changeling may choose to awaken at any time-- though groggily-- or the affect ends after a number of hours equal to the Changeling's Wyrd.

Catch: The Changeling lies down among corpses.

Cost: 2 Glamour

Knotted Mercy (****): The Changeling may select a target to bind with themselves. From that point forward, damage done by one of the pair to the other will be echoed on both. This means that if one of the pair does wound levels to the other, both will suffer the same amount of damage. This damage cannot kill. Should one of the pair be killed by other damage, the other will fall unconscious. Damage dealt in this way cannot be soaked by armor or other means. The Changeling who invoked this Contract cannot heal damage dealt to themselves via this affect by means of their own Contracts or abilities-- instead it must either heal naturally or through the intervention of another party.

Catch: The Changeling has kissed the target

Cost: 3 Glamour

The Martyr's Wedding (*****) When a Changeling touches the skin of a target and invokes this contract, both parties die. Targets of significant power or much higher Wyrd may resist this effect. If the target resists the effect, the Changeling who invoked it does not die, but will fall unconscious.

Catch: None

Cost: 4 Glamour (if failed, otherwise, none)

Monday, May 23, 2011

When to Tell

Communication at the game table isn’t easy. Not in the sense of talking over people, or getting your turn- but in the sense of a GM creating a scene and a moment, filled with detail and the players responding to that moment, with their characters, trying to describe their characters actions- at least what they’re doing, maybe what they’re saying and more rarely what their motivation is. Everything at the table comes in pieces- some direct and indirect and each person there forms a very different sense of what’s going on. Games with heavier mechanic negotiate that space in a certain way, concentrating on shared and adjudicated details. But the bottom line is that the nature of the tabletop game does make telling a detailed and coherent story difficult. We manage it, but can we do a better job or it, as players and GMs.


I’m going to quote at length here for something John Wick says in Blood and Honor:

As gamers, we have a (…)problem. We come up with elaborate and detailed backgrounds. Rich internal landscapes. And then, when we start playing, whole sessions go by without the other players having a single clue.

Characters have secrets. Sure they do. That’s fi ne. But authors use devices to give the audience clues as to why a character responds a certain way. We get to see that rich internal landscape. Even if a reaction is a mystery, we trust that somewhere down the line, the author will let us in on the secret. We’ll eventually understand all those cryptic sighs, mysterious glances and enigmatic gestures.


But in roleplaying games, we keep secrets. We write the Narrator private notes. We take him aside for a whispered meeting. We keep that 24 page background to ourselves. Nobody else gets to see it. It’s ours and ours alone.

The method. Secrecy. Otherwise known as mental masturbation.

You are, quite literally, playing with yourself.

Nobody else is invited. Nobody else gets to know about your character’s past. That lost lover. That blood feud with your father. That secret conversation you had with your mother. Your childhood rivalry with your sister. Your hidden marriage. That secret you’ve kept for twenty years and never told a soul.

All that rich background you’re selfishly keeping to yourself that no other player will ever know. It’s yours and yours alone. And you’re the only one who will ever enjoy it.

So- yes. All that cool stuff you’re keeping secret or hidden about your character. The other players won’t really care, won’t really be able to pay off of unless you give some of that away. You can afford to be meta- and out of character- perhaps ask the GM to play out a brief scene at the table to reveal that to the other players. But it might even be better if you told the other PCs. Players (and GMs at the table can only really play to what they know). That’s one of my favorite bits in the rules for Microscope. At the Scene level, you go down to the smallest details and play out characters briefly. When you take up a character and do something, you have to make your purposes and motivations explicit- you must give the other players something to play off of. Graham Walmsley talks about this even more in Play Unsafe.

But it isn’t just about secrets, plots and vulnerabilities. I think players should take a moment every few sessions to make an explicit statement their character’s motivations and ideas. Not necessarily as a direct statement, but as a meta-statement or an internal dialogue. The other players need to know where you’re coming from. Why is your character playing so shy when dealing with these NPCs or why does she seem so angry when talking to this particular NPC? Unless you as a player make those things clear, explicate motivation, they the players only have the action to work with- and may assume it is a player-based reaction, rather than character. And the GM may not know either, and has a legitimate right to provide you options and choices based on that. I’ve had a number of times where I’ve had PC that I thought “Wow…that’s an interesting choice, having a character who could easily go over to evil,” when in fact that’s not how the player thought they were presenting themselves.

At risk of repeating an example I’ve used with this several times before- I played the least powered character in a Buffy-esque game. We had a Vampire, a Voodoo Priestess, and a pseudo-Slayer. I could essentially pick locks. I really enjoyed being able to play that Xander role- of feeling like the weak link in the group. I loved the idea of him struggling, but keeping up the fight. However, to other players, when my character complained, or bitched about this, they thought that I, the player, was upset about the power imbalance. I hadn’t made that clear. When I realized that they’d read my play for months and months as being really dickish- as a player, I was incredibly embarrassed. I left the game- it had been my fault and I managed to shoot and enjoyable character in the foot because I hadn’t been clearer with the other players about where I was coming from.

CAVEAT: On the other hand, that kind of explanation does not serve as an excuse. Some people who seem to think that having a reason for doing something is the same that that reason being valid- it isn’t. There’ a certain tension between “I was just playing my character” and getting along with the rest of the table. And I’m not talking about the most dickish end of the spectrum on that- but day to day play. Even if you make it clear your character’s a mopey, Emo wretch, you still have to consider how that plays with the group.


When I plot, I tend to plot in arcs. I imagine what the goal is and how it will play out if left to its own devices. In other words, if the players do nothing then this plot will succeed with a 100% rating. Everything the baddie intended will occurred. I begin from that perfect state- then when players do things, they chip away at that. They reduce its efficacy, they force resources to go other places, they make the bad guy react to them. I don’t usually think too hard about the process of how the players are going to win: they’re smart enough to figure that out. Thinking too much about solutions ahead of time can make me decide on “right” choices. In other words “they have to do it X way.” That’s for big arcs. For little things- I usually throw things out there- situations and look forward to seeing how the players change or affect them. I try not to have too much in my head about that.

But one problem can be that I have too many plots, people and threads out there at the table. Especially in campaigns which have lasted for years, the players may feel overwhelmed. Some stuff will obviously get dropped- forgotten. Recently I’ve been trying a kind of Getting Things Done approach to game brainstorming (since I plot loosely). In a couple of games, I’ve made lists of outstanding plots. Then, if I’m going to introduce something at the table, it has to relate directly or tangentially to one of those plots.

I sometimes put plots out there, usually in the background, but then I slow players down when they work on them. This is a bad practice- my bad practice. In my head I imagine that the plot needs time to brew, to build up dramatic tension. Or perhaps other pieces haven’t fallen into place. Or perhaps in my head I haven’t quite assembled exactly how I want it to look. I don’t want to get to that yet because it will be better if I have some more time- to develop tension, to keep the players from getting too far ahead, to figure out what would be perfect…


Make the jump. Yes you can put things off a little to build some tension. But events, details, and threads which the GM doesn’t actually bring to the table: they’re worthless. They don’t do anything sitting in the your head as GM. Put them out there. Worse, they can build up frustration- especially if when you finally do get around to putting them out there, the players feel like the effort they made earlier trying to pull on those threads isn’t validated. I have an NPC who has been missing in the Changeling campaign for some time. I’ve distracted the players from it a couple of times, but I suddenly realized that it isn’t nearly as interesting or cool for them as the story I’ve been self-spinning.

CAVEAT: Players can reasonably get frustrated when they’ve investigated, been shut down and then the thing they’ve investigated pops up as a threat, as if they hadn’t taken steps. However, I’ve had a cases where a plot thread has been hanging out there, like the Sword of Damocles, with an obvious clock ticking on it. And the players have avoided it- some because they felt it wasn’t their place, and others just really goofily. They’d approach working on the idea and then not. Those latter players lose their right to complain when that plot comes to fruition if they haven’t taken any steps to deal with it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Contracts of Uniform: Changeling the Lost

I thought I'd showcase one of the Contract sets we wrote up and use for the Changeling the Lost campaign. This one focuses on the idea of the Changeling putting on a role. The mechanics below are from the homebrew system we're using to play Changeling, but I'm sure those could be easily adapted to the originally nWoD mechanics.

Contracts of Uniform

Social; Affinity: Wizened

A uniform is the oldest of mundane transformations; it remains among the most powerful, instantly communicating role, affiliation, skills, responsibilities, and entitlements to those of even passing familiarity with the costume. The Wizened possess a particular affinity to these Contracts, having given over their selves to role and duty in order to survive their durance. The catches are very duty-driven and structured by the nature of Uniform itself (which takes itself very seriously). While the Contracts can be used for masquerading, they are generally more useful for improving performance over the long haul for those uniformed as a given profession or affiliation.

Note that Uniform is stodgy--it is slow to accept elements as uniform for professions or roles that are individualistic in nature. Those attempting to use the uniform of an Artist, for example, need to either acquire a signature piece of clothing from an established artist or to establish themselves over a number of years in order to use their own "look" as uniform. Similarly, Junior League or other social groups that are identified more by a shared socio-economic status and uniform adoption of certain fashions can be infiltrated by the Contracts, but typically require acquiring something from an established member and paying the greater Glamour costs for a period until the Changeling has established themselves as a member.

Unlike many other Contracts, the default length of a Contract of Uniform may be either dawn/dusk, dusk/dawn or a given shift if the Uniform is related to a profession.

Wear it Well (•) (role)

The given uniform fits perfectly, as if tailored for the Changeling spending the glamour. Alternately this contract may be invoked to make the uniform appear spotless and in good repair. Both uses may be applied to the uniform, but the Catch will only negate the Glamour cost for one use in a given dusk/dawn or shift cycle. A Changeling whose Durance has transformed their mien to a uniform never pay Glamour for this Contract.

Cost: 1 Glamour

Catch: The uniform has been assigned to the Changeling as part of their duties.

Uniformity (••) (affiliation)

The most powerful quality of any uniform is that it identifies the wearer as a member of a designated group. This contract smooths over any problems with the Changeling's individuality, giving them the ability to understand and speak the jargon (not the language--if the group is speaking a different language, the Changeling will need more help than this contract) of the group and extending an aura of familiarity between group and the Changeling. If Changeling's mask differs well outside norm of group, cost is double in order to alter Changeling's appearance to eliminate differences in expectations: gender, gradations or types of beauty (or lack thereof), relative appearance of fitness, youth, age, ethnicity, etc. Double the cost again if the group is not one that wears at least some standard variations of a uniform--a name badge, corporate logo casualwear or a letter jacket do qualify as uniform--everyone dressed in Abercrombie & Fitch does NOT.

Cost: 1 Glamour (x2 for alterations to appearance) (x2 for non-uniformed group)

Catch: This is the first time interacting with the group for the Changeling--and the group DOES wear a uniform.

Complete the Look (•••) (responsibilities)

With only a piece of a given uniform--hat, shoes, shirt, badge--the Changeling can choose to appear as if dressed in the complete uniform. Double costs if uniform comes with standard issue equipment like gun or tool belt with tools and Changeling expects them to be usable rather than just ornamental. Changeling must have seen complete uniform at some point.

Cost: 2 Glamour (x2 for functional conjurations)

Catch: Changeling is inserting themself into a dangerous or hectic situation in order to quell panic or restore order.

This Means Something (••••) (skills)

For Changelings who have made the Contracts of Uniforms, nothing is more valuable than experience in carrying off the effect. Both the Changeling's experience with the duties associated with the uniform and the experience of a previous wearer of some piece of the uniform determine the strength of the effects of this Contract. For this reason, old uniform pieces once worn by veterans of any given group are extremely valuable to the Changeling who wishes to possess an expertise beyond their own experience. However, a Changeling who invests any amount of time in a role can use this contract to quickly become impeccable in representing the role of the uniform.

Essentially, every 7 years of experience (sum of the Changeling's and that of the veteran who once wore some part of the uniform) translate to

...minimum: Knowledge: (role, affiliation, skills, responsibilities, and entitlements)

...minimum (1): 1 associated Skill that the Changeling does not currently possess (chosen)

...minimum (+1 bump): Advantage: Intuition-- (gives bumps on deciding which course of action to take next)

Hence a Changeling who has never worked as a security guard but who puts on badge once owned by a twenty-five year veteran of the profession will have Knowledge: Security Guard, 3 skills to call upon that they did not otherwise have and a +3 to make the correct decision on how to proceed as a Security Guard. This is typically sufficient for faking it. (The first use of that Intuition: Security Guard should probably be employed on deciding which 3 skills are going to help you most...)

A Changeling who is wearing their own uniform is always getting an additional effect to add to their own experience--and has the given bumps on making decisions and additional skills beyond those they've already mastered. Experience with similar duties can carry over (i.e. experience as a Nurse will partially add to the sum if the Changeling takes to masquerading as a Doctor).

A Changeling may also use this contract to determine the value (for the purposes of this contract) of any number of uniform elements they can touch within a dawn/dusk or dusk/dawn cycle. The Glamour expenditure for this use may never be by discounted by a Catch.

Cost: 3 Glamour

Catch: Changeling is wearing complete uniform, has used at least one other Contract of Uniforms at full Glamour cost within the last 12 hours and has not worn any other uniform than this one within those 12 hours--alternately, the Changeling's mien is the Uniform being enhanced.

The Uniform Makes the Man (•••••) (entitlements)

Uniform does not give it's gifts away easily. Only the most advanced Contract automatically confers the full trust and and access to entitlements appropriate to the Uniform. The Changeling becomes that which she wears—it is extremely difficult to convince anyone otherwise, especially because people tend to react to the sense of familiarity as "I've seen this here before--I know it.". Identification and security issues are very likely to be put aside. Changeling has full access to whatever areas, information or gatherings that the most trusted of the group are allowed, provided that access is controlled by people--electronics are a good deal less impressed. However, it is fairly easy to get someone to bypass those measures for you, since you are clearly supposed to be there.

Cost: 2 Glamour

Catch: Changeling is gaining revenge on or tricking those who wear the same Uniform but have not paid proper respect to the duties and responsibilities of the Uniform