Two Questions on Choosing to Make a Reputation Infamous

While doing a bit of a character burn with @Mark_Watson last night, I came up with a noble born character who is strongly shaped by his father having him spend some time seeing how the estate is run (i.e. a Peasant LP), leading to a belief that commoners are of different rank rather than different value. During which we passed over a couple of bits of Reputations that I’m not certain I have the RAW status of.

(1) Can one choose to make a “free” Reputation from a trait infamous if it isn’t stated to be? Didn’t end up applying to the character, but while pondering various routes, I noticed some traits (e.g. Bastard) grant an infamous reputation whereas others just grant a Reputation. Obviously, if I purchase a Reputation using rps, I can decide to make it infamous; if it makes sense for the character can I choose to make the Reputation infamous even thought the trait doesn’t say it is?

(2) Can one choose to make a Reputation infamous for a particular test? As each NPC is a person with their own beliefs and experiences, the NPCs in a particular town/&c. won’t all agree something is a good quality/deed/&c. For example, while pondering how exactly to define the 1D Reputation my character has for his past, I struck upon “Genuinely Cares about Commoners”. As it’s “not the done thing” for feudal nobility to challenge the the idea nobles are “betters”, it seems like it would make finding an amenable noble harder, but as it means I’m not going to have a commoner whipped just because I’m in a bad mood, it equally seems like it would make it easier to find an amenable peasant. Rather than taking a Reputation for each group (1D with commoners, and 1D infamous with nobility) can I define the small area as “my father’s estates and surroundings” and choose to take an Ob penalty on Circles tests with Nobles despite not being forced to?

Remember that the rules for Advantage and Disadvantage (p. 27) are available for any test where context should change the odds. This can (the book even says must) be used by the GM to make an Ob higher when the situation demands. I think when a normally good Reputation should make it harder to find a particular NPC who’s well-disposed to the PC would qualify.

For example, trying to Circle up a closeted republican revolutionary among the French court should be harder for someone with the normally-positive Reputation “The court’s most loyal royalist”; the GM can/should/must crank up that Ob. I think this is in addition to the usual “different disposition” addition to the Ob: a regular royalist Circling up a republican would get the higher Ob from disposition difference, and the Ob for someone who is The Most Royalist royalist should be higher again.

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That makes sense, @eggdropsoap; and with many systems it would be odd to even ask about choosing to make things harder. However, as shifting the Ob slightly can affect which test one gets for advancement, seemed prudent to check.

Which raises the question whether having a situation-negative Reputation counts like an infamous one, i.e. “if a character has an infamous or hostile reputation to a certain group… then he gains +1Ob per die of his reputation” (BWG p 385)—i.e. that a player gets the Ob penalty whether or not they add the Reputation—or whether it would only apply if that is the Reputation the player is adding to the Circles test.

The word hostile suggests the penalty comes from a known history of active opposition to the NPC’s beliefs/interests/role rather than just a history of support for a different position (for example, a Reputation for “Siding with Commoners over Nobles” is hostile to nobles, whereas my pondered Reputation of “Genuinely Cares about Commoners” doesn’t show any actively negative belief about the nobility), so only actively calling on a reputation (e.g. to represent hinting at it to attract interest) would cause a GM to assess whether it might have a negative effect.

I’m with @eggdropsoap on this one!

A positive reputation with one group can (and should) be viewed as a potential hindrance with an opposing group (depending on circumstances, naturally).

In our previous games, I’ve treated a (positive) reputation as an infamous reputation if we felt the circumstances demanded it.

For instance, in our (old) Broken Wheel campaign, the party had a reputation as “Heroes of Wurstheim”. When they were trying to circle a nearby noble who coveted Wurstheim and opposed their actions there, that acted as an Infamous Reputation, netting them both the +1D for the Reputation and the +1Ob.

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I think that’s a possibility but it’s going to depend so much on the situation.

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