Clarification on GM scenes.

(Gorsh) #1

Hi everyone, we had our first maneuver last week and it was awesome. I’m the GM, and I’m planning a lot of devious plots to trigger on the PCs. But first, I need to know the extent of the scenes I can create with my narrative budget, and specially, who can they be activated with. Yes, I’ve read p.428 but still; I’d like to run it from my actual examples.

My roster is:
*The planet’s Forged Lord, Infiltration’s GM FoN.
-His associate, a vaylen geneticist posing as a scientist/diplomat helping the mukhadish breeders make better slaves.

*The planet’s ArchCotar, Usurpation’s GM FoN
-The Cotar Fomas beneath him, in charge of most of the planet’s ground forces.

*A Slave Insurrectionist, Invasion’s GM FoN

  • …and his mukhadish friend/bodyguard.

And, created by the PCs:

  • A charismatic Foundation Speaker, inimical to the First Speaker PC.
  • The Forged Lord’s niece, trapped in the middle of a love triangle between two PCs.
  • The wife of one of those PCs, obviously antagonistic to his husband affair.

So, my question is, basically: who of those can initiate each kind of scenes?
Can, the Foundation Speaker make a building scene to investigate the First Speaker’s shady deals? Can the betrayed wife act on building scenes to gather proof on his husband’s infidelity? Can the Cotar Fomas act upon orders given in an insterstitial by the ArchCotar?

I read any of my characters can initiate conflicts, but I’m not sure about building scenes and color/interstitial; and on who’s account should they be deducted, if there’s such a hard compartimentalized account…

(Colin Booth) #2

GMFON’s don’t have an account, the GM has an account. The contents of said account are: 0/1 Conflict scenes, N/N-1 Building Scenes, N Color Scenes, N Interstitial scenes. Where N is the current number of GMFON’s. The chart on page 429 spells out how the scene numbers get tallied. The GM can spend those scenes on any character that they control.

(Gorsh) #3

Really? So I could run 2 buildings and a conflict from the same GM FoN? I’ve read Luke here in the forums saying otherwise…

(Gorsh) #4

So you’re saying that as long as I don’t run a conflict scene and a building scene with the same character, everything else is fair game? What if I initiate a conflict scene with a non-FoN NPC… does that mean I get three building scenes, one for each FoN? Can one FoN run two or three of those building scenes in a row?

I always understood it as more restrictive; and I fin the text and chart on said pages quite ambiguous (a literal reading would imply non-FoNs cannot initiate building scenes, for example).

(Colin Booth) #5

Re-read Building Scenes on page 428, that applies to both the GM and the non GM players.

By the strictest reading of the rules a GMFON can’t run multiple building scenes in a single maneuver. In practice the desire to do that rarely comes up (you have multiple characters all pushing their agendas, and it’s almost always better to have the GM side attacking on multiple fronts). That said, it’s totally gameable to get around that restriction and I’m personally flexible on the enforcement of that rule. An example of gaming this from the PC direction: my character can’t run two building scenes this maneuver, so someone else uses their second in command to do some prep work for my building scene. Since scenes are a player resource (as opposed to a character resource), the GM scene budget is spent somewhat differently solely because the GM manages more characters. I would not allow a GMFON to directly roll two back-to-back building scenes but I would allow that GMFON to spend one scene gathering resources and then have that GMFON’s second in command take the second building scene, even though technically both characters are under the purview of the same GMFON.

All in all, the GM scenes are just as rigid in terms of counts, they are simply a little more fluid in terms of exactly how the accounting happens.

An aside:
There are a few rules drifts here:

  1. not strict accounting of scenes to character authority scope (by the rules the GM has to keep the scene budgeting completely separate)
  2. GM conflict/building scene accounting is weird (by the rules you’re totally right, that a conflict scene initiated by a non-FON NPC means the GM gets three building scenes)

These drifts serve a few purposes. The main one is that it reduces the workload on the GM by letting them coordinate their GMFONs into an opposition front as opposed to having to handle precise bookkeeping. Secondarily it removes an exception about scene handling that only applies to the GM (the non-FON conflict weirdness that you pointed out). It also means that both sides can think about scenes as a player resource (as opposed to player scenes being a player resources and GM scenes being a character resource). Lastly, the situations that these drifts come up are fairly rare - the GM almost always wants to have all their FONs engaging with the mechanics each maneuver, and it’s rare that a GMFON would not participate in a conflict (Duel of Wits to be sure, Firefight to a somewhat lesser degree, though if I was playing and the GM regularly dispatched their second in command to do stuff so they could get an extra building scene, I’d call bullshit on it).

(Gorsh) #6

Great; I think I’ll keep it loose as you do. What scared me was a potential breach of trust with my players, once I’d started using this permissions to the GM’s advantage. But since I’ve spoke to them and they think this rules apply in pretty much the same way you do; so they’re warned.
In the end, I keep forgetting the competitive side of Building Empires is just a tool to make good stories with it; so I shouldn’t worry so hard regarding “balance” and clarity of rules as long as the games we have are fun and interesting… right?

(Colin Booth) #7

Exactly, it’s a tool to make a certain kind of game happen. The big thing to remember is that one side or the other wins in the Infection which only has a loose connection to the scenes that take the majority of the time, and that Infection itself is mostly a system to keep the pressure on and to tell people when the game is finished. The individual maneuvers (and the scenes inside of them) are similar, the scenes are there to limit how much goes into each maneuver, and the restrictions about PCs not being able to trade each other scenes is there to keep all the players engaged. Since the GM is by definition going to be engaged, instead you are trying to forward your agenda which is the opposition of the players. Most of the time it makes sense to advance all your FONs or have them work together, but sometimes the right thing to do is to spend a building scene fortifying the planetary capital (an Anvil Lord thing) and also run a raid against PC insurgents (also an Anvil Lord thing).

You nailed it though, in the end the GMs job is to provide strong opposition within the confines of the rules in order to make a tight and tense game where we find out what the PCs are made of.