Infamous Reputations - AAAARGH What?

The mechanic for infamous reputations has me stumped.

According to the BWG(Revised), an infamous reputation adds +1Ob per die to any test of Circles where it is factored. It then clarifies that this means adding BOTH the advantage dice of the reputation, PLUS the obstacle penalty.

So, of course, a 1D Rep adds +1D and +1Ob, a 2D Rep adds +2D and +2Ob, etc.

My question is: why specifically this choice of mechanic?

If it’s meant to increase the chances of a failed test of Circles (and therefore of finding an Enemy) then why not just replace the dice with ab obstacle penalty?

A CLARIFICATION: I’m not complaining about the mechanic - I don’t think it needs to be “fixed” or remedied. What I’m looking for is a designer’s insight - a look at the possible design philosophy that inspired this specific choice, in order to better understand how to play out this mechanic in-game.

We love this rule at our table!

From my (personal) point of view, I think that it does a few things:

  • It follows the Reputation mechanic (+1D / “level”), so it’s consistent.

  • Odds-wise, the penalty (+1Ob / “level”) is not offset by the bonus (+1D).

  • However, with Artha (and luck), it’s possible to get a whole lot more successes out of it.

  • It therefore tempts the player to purposefully engage with the Infamous Reputation, whereas if it was just a flat penalty, they might be tempted to find another way to Circle what they need.

I’ve definitely had players at our table look at their Infamous Reputation, and change who / how they want to Circle in order to lean into their Infamous Reputations.

They’ll say something like “well, I really want this to work, and with a bit of luck / Artha, I can Circle up an allied Bishop amongst my enemies, but if I fail, then it’ll likely be an enemy or complicated relationship, and that’s to be expected after what I did to the Archbishop.

To me, it helps complicate / nuance the game world, and tempts us to reincorporate this (growing) history of the characters.


Thanks, this is super helpful!

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I’d say, fictionally, it’s indicative of the character being well-known but that people that they are encountering are less likely to have a positive attitude towards them. After all, failing on a circles doesn’t (necessarily) mean you don’t find the person you want; maybe you find them but they act in ways that aren’t in your best interest.

eg. from the sci-fi realm: Han Solo failed on his circles and rolls up Lando. Sure, seems great at first. Then it’s dinner with Vader and being frozen in carbonite


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