Just learning how to write Beleifs and Insticts - I’ve read some of the threads arround here on writing them but this is my first character, a smuggler (burned so that I can learn the rules to pass on to my group). I’d appreciate any feedback on the beliefs and insticts below:
My brother-in-law (Kurn Hurtz) let my wife (Jenny Lee) die by not coming to her aid; I will force him to admit it; first I will gather evidence.
Smuggling past my brother-in-law will embarrass him; I will deliver a cargo of guns to Omar Karliz.
My ship (Jenny Lee) is all that I have left of my wife; I will arm it to defend her memory.
Strike the one who insults the name of my wife (or ship).
Always begin by insulting a Noble when entering a DOW against them.
Always keep the ship ready to leave at a moments notice.
Cool stuff. Some thoughts (with the caveat that I’ve not played BE/BW yet, although I am pretty experienced with a lot of “Indie” games):
The Instincts look fine. The “always begin by insulting” doesn’t get you much, except potentially Artha for deciding to ignore it, because in a Duel of Wits you always script your first action, so basically it amounts to “always choose Incite as my first action in Duel of Wits.”
The Beliefs are a good start, but I’d make two recommendations:
Specific is good, but thinking small isn’t. “Gather evidence,” “deliver a cargo,” and “arm [the ship]” are all things that can be over in ONE scene; “deliver a cargo” may not even take a die roll! I’d just snip these details off the end of each Belief.
Two of your Beliefs are basically the same thing, and I’d merge them: “I will avenge my wife by humiliating my brother-in-law until I force him to admit his incompetence and guilt.”
The third is the classic “I love my ship” belief for a sci-fi captain. It’s fine once you drop the “arm it” part.
Now, here’s the tricky part, so apologies in advance for shouting: You want your Beliefs to CONTRADICT each other, or at the very least have the potential to conflict. That way you get more interesting roleplaying – and you get Artha for whichever way you go! (Remember, Beliefs are not enforced primarily through punishments like witholding XP for violating, as with D&D Alignments or GURPS Disadvantages, they’re enforced through rewards for playing them up).
“I love my ship” is good because it potentially conflicts with everything your character does: Sure you want to take on that big smuggling job, just think of the look on your brother-in-law’s face – but wait, what if my ship gets blown up? Suddenly your character’s torn between the memory of his dead wife and the reality of his ship. You want more dilemmas like that for your character.
I personally would think up another Relationship for this character and make a Belief about that person which has nothing to do (explicitly) with smuggling, his dead wife, or his ship. Something like, “Annamaria is a true innocent – I must protect her”: Then, whenever you have the chance to do something that could embarass Kurn Hurtz but might hurt Annamaria in the process, or you have to risk your precious ship to save Annamaria, or whatever, you get the goodness of conflicting Beliefs.
For your character in particular, I’d especially recommend a potential love interest: Then every step in the relationship feels like a betrayal of the dead wife, guaranteeing lots of anguish and Artha!
I notice that your doing the same thing that my cousin is doign with his first character. You are putting all your eggs in one basket. All your beliefs and instincts are drawn from a single conflict, in this case Revenge for your Wife’s Death.
Now having a very focused character is cool, and at any give time you are more likely to be pursuing one belief over the others.
So even if you don’t start with beliefs outside of this conflict, be ready to pick up a new belief (by rewriting one that you have now) to express new things that come up.
Even staying within this conflict you can expand it into new regions:
Belief: I loved my wife with all my heart; I will give my heart to no other.
This gets in the way of all sorts of things (good); but expands the conflict beyond revenge on the B-i-L. It also conflicts with you love of the ship, when it comes down to it, who will win, your ship or the memory of your wife?
You second instinct can be rewritten to give you a free incite action before the DoWs begins, I think. Just like drawing your sword automatically, right?
Well those are my thoughts.
Thanks for your thoughts - I was so focused on the ideology + goal part of beleifs that I lost the conflict aspect. I took another stab following your suggestions.
My brother-in-law (Kurn Hurtz) let my wife (Jenny Lee) die by not coming to her aid; I will avenge her by humiliating him; eventually I will force him to admit his incompetence and guilt.
I love my ship it is all that I have left of my wife; its fate it tied to the that of its crew, by protecting my crew I honor my wife; I will save a crewmember from their fate.
Annamarie is worthy of my love; I will earn her love and show her family I am worthy of it.
Regarding the second - I’m not sure about the non-specific goal - I’m spelling out to the GM and other players that it’s OK to put one of my crewmembers in a fateful/dangerous position - but this could be any fate.
I tried to make it so any goal conflicts with the others, how does my love for my ship interfere with earning Annamarie’s Love? how does earning her love interefere with humiliating Kurn? how does humiliating Kurn risk my crew and ship?
It was tricky adding another relationship, as the character only had 5 circles , and I burnt 4 oth them on the ship’s crew (2 for relationship with XO, and 1 for affiliation, and 1 for reputation). I guess I could have made Annamarie the XO, and added a different reputation.
“I will save a crewmember from their fate” – you don’t even need that: As soon as you put “protecting my crew” into your Beliefs, every good GM (or player character, if this guy’s an NPC!) should be gunning for the crewmembers. You’ll be saving them from all sorts of fates left and right. Don’t say “a crewmember” – you don’t want the Artha mill to stop after the first one!
“Annamarie is worthy of my love; I will earn her love and show her family I am worthy of it” is very nice, especially since the family can say, “But you got your last wife killed!” or “You’ll never put her first – you’re married to your ship!” or “You’re just a scummy smuggler!” or even “But your own brother-in-law says you’re unworthy!”
I personally would twist it even further to something like “My love for Annamarie is purely platonic, really it is; I will show her family I am worthy of her trust without ever being untrue to the memory of my beloved wife.” Then you get to draw on every romantic comedy/tragedy where the main characters were in denial about being destined for each other (Moonlighting, Ranma, the Siegried-Brunnhilde legend). And when you finally come to the crisis point where your character either has to admit his love for Annamarie or walk away from her, you get big Artha points either way - Fate points for sticking to the self-deluding belief, Persona for changing it.