Monday, December 10, 2012

Ideas for Aspects with nWoD

Some notes on the bolt-on system I'm going to be using in our Changeling game. Note that this is more an additional/optional system, rather than something that replaces a core element of the rules. 

New WoD doesn’t have flaws in the classic sense (like disadvantages, weaknesses, etc in other games). I'm old school and used to flaws which offer additional build points (as goofy as that may be). They have some mechanics for that in later supplements as rp spurs, but we’re going to use a slightly different version, borrowing from FATE. This involves the use of aspects.

ASPECTS function as an additional use of Willpower. Generally in WoD you can spend Willpower to: Gain +3 dice on a roll OR add +2 to resist something.

You regain Willpower as follows: +1 point if you take a risky/sacrificing action that plays to your character’s VICE or regain all Willpower if you take a risky/sacrificing action that plays to your character’s VIRTUE.

The additional use of Willpower in this system is to spend Willpower to invoke an aspect on a scene to have it cause some additional effect. But I’m probably getting a little ahead of myself.
When we go into a conflict situation, physical, social, mental or otherwise, I’ll usually describe some scene aspects- 4 or 5 of them. For example, you might go into a warehouse and I’d describe PILES OF BOXES, DARKENED CORNERS, SLIPPERY FLOORS, CREAKY STEPS. Those are scene aspects.

In play, you can use those to your advantage (and so can the Bad Guys). Each Aspect on a scene may be freely used once. Imagine it as a free floating Willpower point you can grab if you can work it into your action. You can use it to do one of the normal Willpower actions:
Gain +3 dice on a roll OR add +2 to resist something. For example, using BOXES to gain cover and additional resistance or using SLIPPERY FLOORS to say you gain an unbalancing bonus on your adversary. But you can also call on that to change something about the scene- for example, you make a successful attack and knock someone back. You might call on the PILES OF BOXES to say those fall on them and trap them, keeping them stuck there for a few rounds. Once used a scene aspect has been freely used, players may spend Willpower to cause an effect using that aspect should they wish. A player may only use one free aspect per turn.

So to sum up:
SCENE ASPECTS can be use freely once per scene to act like a Willpower point or to create a bonus effect. Once used, players may spend Willpower to cause an effect should they wish.

FLAWS on the other hand are TROUBLE ASPECTS for your character. They function a little bit like more specific VICES.

In play, you can play to your FLAW to regain a point of Willpower. Your play has to be risky/sacrificing. It should be significant rather than just a casual giving in. On the other hand, FLAWS also give the GM the option to COMPEL you. In this case, the GM offers you a point of Willpower for your character to play to their flaw in that moment. Usually this means reducing your options. For example, a SOFT-HEARTED character might find themselves unable to be brutal to an enemy or will feel obligated to rescue someone despite the dangers. A Compel doesn’t force you to take a course of action, but instead will generally reduce your choices. The GM may also invoke your FLAW, especially physical ones, to give you a penalty or offer an enemy a bonus.

When the GM invokes your FLAW you always have an option. You can decline the offer of a Willpower point, but in that case you must spend a point of Willpower.

Here’s how FATE describes Bad or Trouble Aspects:
Why Would I Want a Bad Aspect?Trouble or “Bad” aspects – indicate a downside for a character, either in their directly negative connotations, or in their two-edged nature. Aspects like Drunkard, Sucker, Stubborn, and Honest all suggest situations where the character will have to behave a certain way – making an ass of himself at an important social function, falling for a line of bull, failing to back down when it’s important to do so, or speaking truth when truth is the path to greatest harm.
So why put take aspects if they’re only going to make trouble for you? Simple: you want that kind of trouble. These aspects offer a direct line to more drama points – and drama points power some of the more potent positive uses of your aspects.
Outside of just the rules, a “bad” aspect adds interest and story to a character in a way that purely positive aspects cannot. This sort of interest means time in the limelight. If someone’s trying to take advantage of the fact your character’s a Sucker, that’s an important point in the story, and the camera’s going to focus on it. “Bad” aspects also immediately suggest story to your GM; they tell her how to hook your character in. From the perspective of playing the game to get involved and have fun, there’s nothing but good in this sort of “bad”.
Clever players will also find positive ways to use “bad” aspects. The Drunkard might get looked over more easily by prying eyes as “just a drunk”; someone who’s Stubborn will be more determined to achieve his goals. This brings us the “secret” truth about aspects: the ones that are most useful are the ones that are the most interesting. And interesting comes most strongly from aspects that are neither purely good nor purely bad.
So what constitutes a Trouble Aspect in this set up?

They could be Mental (Obsession with Beast Changelings, Gregarious About Your Projects, Senstitive About Your Appearance); Social (Reputation as a Homewrecker, Incorrigible Gossip, Tongue-Tied), or Physical (Bum Leg, Missing Digit, Bad Allergies). Most WoD flaws can easily be converted into Trouble Aspects. You could also take an old classic like Personal Rival, Hunted by Enemy, or the like.

Martyr for Justice
Who’re You Calling Skinny?
Living a Double Life
Too Cocky For My Own Good
Unlucky at Love
Known Welcher
Easily Distracted
Old War Wound

You don’t have to take any flaws if you don’t want to. If you decide you want some, you may take up to two of them. Each one is worth 8 experience points. You can also come up with flaws during play if you want, taking a “Place-Holder” which you will fill in during the first couple of sessions after you see how your character plays out. You’ll also have the opportunity to rewrite flaws after the third session (and buy them off with experienced should you choose to do so).

  • Flaws should help reflect the kinds of stories you’d like your character involved with. They’re a good signal to the GM. So a flaw like Political Agitator suggests some Court stories. A flaw like Protective of Innocents suggests others.
  • Flaws should be about you and put some pressure on your choices as a character. Some flaws are what we’ve come to call Goober Flaws. These generally don’t really hurt the player, but instead cause trouble for the group. For example flaws like LONE WOLF, STUBBORN, and BERSERKER are more about the player wanting license to play in an unfettered way, but leave the rest of the party to pick up the pieces.

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