Assorted Newbie Questions

Howdy folks,

We’re two sessions deep with a group who hasn’t really played anything more modern than 3rd edition D&D before, and it’s going pretty well. I have a few questions I haven’t been able to find answers to on which I’d really appreciate some input!

[li]In a psychic Duel of Wits, a psychologist adds successes from a Psychology test to Will for the Body of Argument, and an unskilled victim uses double Will. What about a character who is neither a psychologist, but is not unskilled because of having the Psychology skill?
[/li][li]One of my (GM) Figures of Note is the slave leader of a slave rebellion. With the lifepaths she had to take, she’s very short on Resources. What’s the trick for simulating the organisation buying something? Having a dozen people handing over helping dice doesn’t seem right.
[/li][li]The (10 - dice) rule for when a Circles NPC becomes a Relationship states “that’s how many Circles tests the player must make”. Do they have to succeed to count toward this? My hand-wave in play was yes, but the Hammer Lord’s player was a bit miffed about being unable to find a ship’s surgeon.
[/li][li]Are all the GM Figures of Note considered to know each other automatically, like all the PCs do?

Finally we’re just a bit unsure about the amount of authorship power the players have. An example was:

There’s a GMFoN who’s a trader\smuggler with a worm in. The PCs are together and researching the space port for discrepancies, and succeed (a linked test), so they decide that means they found a ship that’s been suspicious several times in the past. The Void Lord decides to roll Void-Wise to see if that ship has operated around his neck of the woods - his success has him declare that indeed it has. The port administrator rolls Circles to see if he the guy is in the port right now - success, so he is (we probably added a +2 Ob or so for “in the port” rather than “on the planet” but with the Reputations and Affiliations he could use in the port he was still better off being more specific).

They haul him in and interrogate him and win a crushing victory in the Duel of Wits, with their Purpose being something like “he spills the beans”. Since they won, I guess they determine the beans spilled, so they were considering having him immediately fingering the worm smuggler, because why not? They eventually decided to make it more interesting by having a longer trail, but is everything that happened above within the scope of what players should be able to do, or am I giving them too much leash?

Thanks for reading, and thanks for all the questions I didn’t have to ask because people have answered them elsewhere on these forums!

  1. Roll skill, add successes to Will. No Barrier bonus.

  2. As it stands now, the organization is too poor to make purchases. This is a conflict – a situation to be resolved in the game. You’d have to Circle up those people for their helping dice. Or, much more interesting, she needs to go to another FoN and ask for help.

  3. Either way is fine. But more important, why couldn’t the Hammer Lord find a ship’s surgeon. Enmity Clause states that you find what you’re looking for, but they’re ill-disposed toward you. In other words, why isn’t there a Vaylen ship’s surgeon in your game right now?!

  4. Sure, but I usually set a couple of them at odds in order to give the players some hooks.

Commentary: I don’t think that’s right. Players don’t “decide” anything after they’ve rolled. Player state their intent and how they’re going to accomplish it. Then they roll. The results of the roll determine whether they’ve accomplished their intent or not.

Sounds like, from what you wrote, that you’re not using the intent/task system and you’re not challenging your players’ Beliefs through in-game situations.


Great, thanks for the quick reply!

  1. Hmm, the character in question has Will 6 and Psychology 6 and isn’t a Psychologist. Without the Psychology skill he’d have a Body of Argument of 12 (double Will), but having to roll his skill he’ll be averaging 9, which is a 3-point penalty for taking the skill at max. Is that an intentional game effect? Like, being more empathetic makes you more vulnerable maybe?

  2. Because I sure didn’t think of it. I slapped myself in the head several times and said something rude when I read this. ARGH. ARGH!

True enough, we’re still working on getting used to many of the concepts in the game. I’ll have to have a think about that. And try to remember the “if you fail” bit.

Thanks again!

  1. It is meant as a defense for the innocent. With the Psychology skill that character is neither innocent nor incapable of defending himself.

  2. I lay awake at night hoping that one day a player might fail a Circles test for ship’s surgeon.

Good luck!
Thanks for posting!

I’ve had it happen and it was everything you dream of. And more. :smiley:

If/when my BE game gets off the ground I’ll probably be dreaming of that day too. Plus the thing with the foam…

Shut up and get back in the jellyfish. You’re not allowed in anything with vocal chords until you can keep the war-secrets of our clan.

And by foam I mean shaving cream!


That slave-rebellion thing? That’s totally hot! You’re awesome! I especially like making the naturally sympathetic Spartacus-type a Vaylen FoN. That’s dirty pool.

My instinct on #3 is to let all tests count. With the enmity clause, they should usually be making contact on a failed test. Even where they don’t, they’ll need like five Circles tests to get a relationship with that surgeon, so if they muff one and can’t find a surgeon, chalk it up to extra motivation to keep in touch with any surgeon they can find.

A Hammer Lord doesn’t have to roll to find a Ship’s Surgeon, he can just bring him into play as part of the trait. Not to invalidate Luke’s dream, of course.


Unfortunately, using the trait means that you don’t get a test on Circles, which means no advancement. Plus the skill level is capped depending on their affiliation level with the Hammer Force.

Taking that risk can reward you an awesome surgeon! And failing still gets you a coveted circles test.

True! See, I don’t trust my own surgeons. They clearly suck. I’m going to see if I can press a really good surgeon off of this oddly-painted mercator that just jumped into system from god know’s where…

Sympathetic is relative, of course - she’s by quite a margin the most likable character in the game, because the player characters are almost all a pack of ruthless, self-righteous sociopaths. Ahh, gamers.

But yeah, I do like how that turned out - by taking the Insurrectionist lifepath twice she had to take the Royalist trait. So, she believes that the Forged Lord would do something about her peoples’ plight if only he could be made aware of it. Her agenda is pretty much “please… no more kicking” because replacing the system hasn’t even occurred to her. Yet.

My instinct on #3 is to let all tests count. With the enmity clause, they should usually be making contact on a failed test. Even where they don’t, they’ll need like five Circles tests to get a relationship with that surgeon, so if they muff one and can’t find a surgeon, chalk it up to extra motivation to keep in touch with any surgeon they can find.

Well, with, say, three Circles exponent, and a 3d Affiliation to the fleet, and a 3d Reputation as the Hammer Lord, that’s nine dice. One roll and he’s yours to keep. You’re right though, I’ll try to make more and better use of the enmity clause, and the motivation thing is a good way of looking at that.

Next session is tomorrow, and I’m still uncertain about the player authorship power. Is “I’m going through the station records looking for evidence of unusual smuggling. If I succeed, I discover evidence pointing to a particular ship” overdoing it? If not, how about the wise test to declare that this ship is known to operate in a particular area? What about a Circles test to see if this particular ship’s captain is on the station, of all places in the galaxy? And the Duel of Wits, since he’s an NPC the players Circled up, can they determine what he knows, and so set their Statement of Purpose as “he fingers GMPC Dude”?

I’m now inclined to think I gave them too much power, in fact straying too far from the traditional GM and players system. It’s not a GMless game, after all. Now I’m thinking that when an NPC enters the game, he’s mine, and I determine what he knows and where he is. Does that seem right?

Thanks again for all the input, folks! I’ll try not to let the side down. :wink:

Aww, yeah, I forgot that affiliations and reputations count. Still, with all that social firepower concentrated on the fleet, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that he just knows one or two of every job in the fleet (not just the first X lifepaths).

As far as authorship, the script runs like this: “I’m going through the station records looking for evidence of unusual smuggling. If I succeed, I-” “Cool. You go through the records, they’re clean.” That’s assuming there is no illegal smuggling going on. If there is, the PCs should have a chance to find it. It may be a slim chance if the worms didn’t go through the station, but there could be something on scan or some record of a ship diverted to another station or something.

It’s also legit to say “Okay, you succeed. The intent of your test was to find the name of the ship that carried the xenobiological contraband. It was the ‘Small Slice of Large Pie,’ a tramp mercator that left system six months ago. Of course, you could always try to trace who received goods from her…”

You should do whatever pushes your PCs beliefs the hardest. If one of them has instincts about asteroid belts and a relationship with a scummy miner, let them find a ship and have a chase scene and stuff! Awesome! If not, take it back groundside and push on a different player’s relationship to his magnate sister. Let the ship be a dead end and make them trace the rot into her company and from their to the player’s own home.

The key point is that intents and tasks have to make sense in game terms. An intent like “I use Signals to scrub the airwaves and find my wife’s secret transmission to her lover” isn’t technically legal unless the wife really has a lover and is transmitting to her. Now, it’s not very interesting if she does but you decide that they communicate by smoke signal instead (unless there’s some other hook being pulled by that) so if there is a lover I’d run with the intercepted transmission, but if there’s no lover, can it. The litmus test here is that the character should recognize the truth of the intent. Now, you can make metastatements about your intents, like “I want to track them to a secret pirate hideout so we can have a space battle” or “I want to find the lover and get stabbed so we can have a cool wounded-warrior scene when the worms attack!” but that’s not your intent proper, it’s table talk about your hopes.

Usually if an intent is a lame dead end, I just say yes. “I want to use Signals etc” “Okay, you succeed, finding nothing.” If it’s an awesome red herring, test away, but don’t bother for lame stuff.

Circles is a player authorship mechanic, to a degree, so if your players are looking for “the guy who has the poop on Thing X”, and they succeed, they find him. But again, you can say yes, like “Okay, you succeed, but the only guy who knows anything secret about Thing X is this tweaker fuck who’s obviously a little off in the head even without all the meth and lives in a shack full of cat piss and speedloaders. He’s nuts and a waste of your time.”

Fuck yes!

When Lord Stefan took a swandive off Szekszard Falls hugging his hapless rival I thrilled at the thought of him failing his Circles roll to call in a physican with his final croaked words. I have the finest surgeon in the land, the (hulled) Archcotare’s hand-picked doctor, ready in case he fails.

“Lord Stefan, we caught your comms burst! We are so glad we could get here in time…”

Next game, next game…

I’ve let players use Wises to confirm the presence of smugglers and then circles to find one that is compromised (that can be unique or special knowledge if you think it’s unlikely) and then go to town with extracting confessions or building cases and whatever. In effect it was all Linked Tests towards a DoW with a rival, but its still letting them fool around with authorship - so long as they get their intent right. :slight_smile:

I amusingly recall the players Circling up a talking-head Board Member of the plutocracy who endorsed their position (linked test for them) then I had him killed by an exploding shuttle (linked test for me!). I gleefully recall their discussions: “What skill exponent do we want?” “Just three, his skills aren’t important!”.