Engaging emotional attributes?

By reading about emotional attributes I’ve noticed that they’re kinda like an expiration date where you can’t play your character anymore when you top it. Really cool attribute.

Here’s my question: How often these emotional attributes should be adressed and how crucial that is? Any good example of how to use them as a GM and as a player? Can they go down somehow if not mechanicaly would a narrative reason be acceptable?


As far as I’m concerned, the GM should be poking the players in the Emotional Attribute as much as possible. I’m of the opinion that you don’t play a character with one unless that aspect of the stock is something you want to engage in - like BITs, it’s one more flag for the GM. It’s also something of a pacing mechanic for the character.

All Elves have Grief, but not all stories about Elves are about Grief. The same is true of Orcs and their Hate. It can be a driving factor in the character arc, or it can be a character detail, like a more intricate trait. The balance is up to the player and the GM to work out to taste. It is really important for both player and GM to keep an eye on the thresholds that count as tests for advancement, though, because especially low emotional attributes will definitely climb.

Here’s the secret, though: it’s really hard to get those very high Ob requirements to advance to 10. In practice the only time you’re going to lose a character to emotional attributes is in a very long campaign where the emotion is front and center or the player is calling on that attribute via artha all the time. Probably both, honestly. I’ve never heard of anyone unwillingly losing a PC to the emotional spiral.

As for how to use it, look at those thresholds and see how they’re likely to come up. Elves experience sorrows. Dwarves want things. Orcs are prodded and needled and given reason to seethe. Actually, Men experience all of those, and Elves have reason to feel envy and Orcs might be sad, but they’re not tracked the way the stock-specific attributes are.

It does make all those iconic figure of the fantasy genre alive with an existential-ontological purpose rarely seen in other games. At any rate, this hate-thing with Orcs is just way to fun to compels to the PC when you are a GM :D.

Actually, no. BW has very little in the way of compelling PCs to do anything. You can prompt and poke and prod with Beliefs and Instincts, but I don’t think Hate or the other emotions are really made for that. They’re about how you see the world and how the world affects you, not about what you do per se.

Maybe I use to verb “to compel” with an inaccurate meaning. By that I just meant that I was narrating situation where an Hate test was needed, at the most inappropriate (or appropriate, it depends how you see things). Those test - especially the failed ones - generated the best narrative seed of the game session… maybe we are not using them the “right” way, but it’s a real blast :smiley:

So to reiterate the question…Is there any way to make the emotional attribute go down? is it really like an expiration date where when the attribute reaches 10 its over…no way to bring it back?

Nope, EA’s always go up. Even Elvish laments only stave off the inevitable for a time.

Thanks Shaun! Thats’ what I thought.