Resources Ob for Raising Affiliations Bought in Character Burning?

So, in our Burning Empires game (run by the extremely cool EarthenForge), I’m hoping to sometime soon take my unit of Sodalis and raid the blasphemous Casiguran cult we share a planet with. In order to do that, I was hoping to outfit us with heavier weaponry than the security batons and disrupters we mostly have (we’re supposed to be a slave-riot-suppression unit) and represent that upgrade in part by moving my Affiliation from 2D to 3D (seems appropriate for making them happier with me to buy them new toys and also gives me dice to back up things like, “OK, I want a pilot and an assault sled.”).

But I’m a bit confused by the rules on page 355. Two questions:

  1. I’m assuming that the language under “Advancing in Rank” is intended to apply to advancing from 2D to 3D as well as from 1D to 2D (which is how it’s written). But I’d be interested if there’s a reason to forbid advancing to 3D in play.

  2. What is the Ob?

Here’s the problem with answering 2. According to the book, advancing in rank is +2Ob from what it cost me to buy in. But as I bought my 2D in character burning, it didn’t cost me anything to buy in. We’re in Usurpation.

Since we’re treating the Sodality as a whole as a Junta (possible split with the Church faction, as the Cotar Fomas is Vaylen and has lots of personal loyalty among the ranks), does it just cost me an Ob7 Resources test (1 for the Junta dispo bonus in Usurpation, +2 for each die)? That seems the most straightforward, but gives no advantage for having bought in in character burning, rather than during play. In Usurpation, it’s not that bad (but my Resources sucks, so I’ll take any advantage I can weasel), but it would seem to be weirdly punishing someone who, say, had a junta affiliation from character burning and waited to increase it until Invasion, vs. someone who bought in in play in Infiltration, when the junta dispo is 0.

  1. Advancing in Rank can go from 2D to 3D in play, that’s just awkward language I believe

  2. The Ob is: 2 + Value in Dice + (2 * current rank) + 2. Breaking that out, it’s 2 for the base, the current affiliation’s rank times 2 to simulate the “what the character bought in at” section, and 2 for “obstacle is two greater.”

All that aside, I think this should be a boost to your Reputation and not your Affiliation since you described it as “your squad likes you better” as opposed to “you’re gaining ranks.” The main benefit for getting new gear however is that the next time you bring your Sodalis into play you can bust out with jack lasers or PAcs or whatever it is you bought for your boys.

Lastly, Burning Empires doesn’t make a distinction between “things bought before play began” and “things bought earlier in the game” so it would be the same penalty if you had bought a rank two affiliation in the Infiltration phase and then wanted to raise it later.

All in all, glad to hear the game is going well! Burning Empires was my introduction to BWHQ games so I’m always curious to see how it goes for other people.

Thanks, Colin.

My concern, though, is that the book does make a distinction in the cost of advancing in rank depending on when you bought it, because of the way the dispo bonus for the faction figures in. The formula given in the book is different from the one you gave. On 355, to buy in initially, it is [Value of the Faction’s Disposition Bonus in this Phase] + 2*Dice.

To advance in rank, the cost is given as [what you bought in at]+2. This gives an advantage (or disadvantage) to someone who bought in during a phase other than the current one. A Junta’s bonus is 0/1/5. So, if I’d bought a 2D affiliation during Infiltration, it would cost me an Ob4 test [0 + 2*2]. If I then wanted to advance to 3D in Invasion, it would cost me an Ob6 test. But, if I had no Affiliation and wanted to buy a 3D Affiliation in Invasion, it would instead be an Ob11 test!

So, yeah, I grant that the game doesn’t generally make a distinction between stuff bought earlier and stuff bought in burning, but here it matters whether it’s treated as “earlier this phase” or “in an earlier phase” or what, to figure out how much I’m paying for the dispo bonus part of the formula.

Your point about maybe using an Affiliation bump to represent my intent is well-taken, though. I had in mind the model of how raising an Anvil/Hammer Lord’s Affiliaton gives them a better outfitted force, so was thinking that while I’m not becoming more powerful within the organization, the org is becoming more powerful around me, and an Affiliation bump would be a way to model that. But maybe not the best one. For an Ob6 Resources roll I could also just buy fusors in bulk…

Really it depends on what you’re using that boost for. If it’s as an effectiveness boost for the squad: a bit of a reputation boost with your men and the fictional ammunition to bust out with better gear (maybe net you some superior weapons or right tools for the job bonuses on top of being generally better equipped) than bumping the affiliation isn’t terribly meaningful. If it’s as force projection and as fuel for your circles outside of the squad, than maybe it does make sense to increase your affiliation (along with shelling out the money to actually up-gear your men) all though that generally involves having a force with broader reach as opposed to the same reach but better equipped. Read the examples about the Black Lynx black ops team, those guys are stone killers and ultra-effective but only about two dozen men, hence only providing one die of Affiliation. Generally speaking though, Reps and Affiliations are fairly loose and convey no actual effectiveness outside of the Circles mechanics.

As for the math, you’re right, I did get that wrong. It’s actually 2 + DispoAdd + 2 * (Dice - 1) to buy in, since the disposition addition is the cost for the first die. So yeah, Ob 6 to go from 2D to 3D (zero cost for the dispo) if you had the Affiliation since character burning (or in the case of the Junta, Infiltration). I guess it does reward thinking ahead. It does make me wonder why the dispo is added to the Ob since as far as I know having an Affiliation with a faction doesn’t affect said faction’s performance in Infection eg. PC FoN’s with the Junta can’t syphon off Infection Disposition if the Vaylen side activates the Junta. The only thing I can think is that it’s thematic as groups that are powerful and influential (represented by having a high dispo bonus) are less likely to allow people to join.

As a side note, this conversation here has helped me clear up some of my long-standing quibbles with Reputations and Affiliations. The scores for both of them have little to do with the quality of the reputation or affiliation and everything to do with how broadly they connect you into the rest of the world. Raising your reputation is about increasing the reach of your own legacy, raising your Affiliations is about increasing the reach of the groups that you are associated with. The quality of the reputation or affiliation is purely governed by how you title it (though a notorious smuggler is more likely to have a broadly reaching reputation than a local grifter so there is some linkage).