Advancing Fellowship Focus rules

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Ecorce
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Advancing Fellowship Focus rules

Post by Ecorce » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:39 am

Introduction

During my game sessions on The One Ring as a Loremaster, I found that players don't make real efforts to enrich their relationships inside the Fellowship.

Though, my aim for that game consists partly in making the players tell and develop their group story. I don't want them to be characters cooperating just for the common challenges (battles, encounters, travels) with dice pools. I want them to interact, whenever and wherever they want, because I love that aspect inside the books. The Adventure to Mordor or to Erebor is a thing (and the game do it great). The progression around the relationships is another thing to create rhythm for that Adventure.

I guess some players need advanced rules not to forget to do it. And there are already rules for that, but maybe they're too "thin"?

Fellowship Focuses (FF) gives you Hope if your partner has no Wound, is not Miserable, etc. And I like that 'cause players will act to protect their Fellowship Focus. But according to me, those rules are meant to simulate the relation between two characters during the hardest moments (battles, corruption...). Great, but I want more. I want the whole relationship, I want to feel the consequences of every choice, every day of their Adventure.

On that purpose, I imagined advanced rules for the FF, using the Traits mechanics.

Fellowship Focus : from optional to mandatory

The RAW "suggests" players to create FF, but they are free not to do it. I guess the aim is to "focus" on one or two relationships. That's ok, but it means they are no rules for the others and I don't want the players to ignore each other, even if they focus on one or two characters. They live with the whole fellowship during their Adventures (at least), night and day, every minute, every second.

I suggest to ask the players to create a FF for every other character in the fellowship. That's the first part.

Relational Traits : describing the relationship

Second, players choose a Trait from a new list of "Relational Traits" to describe each Fellowship Focus. They can choose the same for several relationships or a different one, but they pick one for every character in the group. We maintain the fact that players can choose a different Trait for their common FF.

They can choose also one favourite FF (underline the Trait of that FF).

List examples: Brotherly, Master, Confidant, Servant, Teacher/Mentor, Student, Lover, Rival, etc.

We will replace the link between Fellowship Focus and Hope with another mechanic, no more Hope points recovered at the end of the session/adventure (don't remember the correct rule).

For these home rules, players will be rewarded Hope points when playing their relationships. So, this is how it could work...

Invoking the Relational Trait
A player can invoke a Relational Trait (and the FF at the same time) whenever and wherever it seems relevant during the Adventure.

By doing so, the two players (the one that invokes the FF and the target of the FF) interrupts and get the narration to play a short scene, featuring their relation from the first player's point of view. The aim is to make their relationship progress.

The players are invited to get inspiration from the location where they stand and the recent events of their Adventure and think how it could influence their relashionship positively. Get inspiration from the books too, there are many scenes out of battles/encounters that are meaningful for the progression of the characters' minds.

At the end of that short scene, the first player rolls a relevant skill (probably a social skill) to determine if the scene makes him recover Hope or not. Default difficulty is 14 (Loremaster decides to set it higher or lower). If the roll is a success, the player recovers 1 Hope point (more for better success quality?).

A favorite FF allows the player to roll the d12 twice and keep the better result.

A failure just means the relationship needs more attention (more scenes) to generate Hope.

Another way to use the Relation Trait is to invoke it when something happened that could have been that kind of short scene. Then, the player just rolls to recover Hope.

Shadow over the relationships

In the RAW, when a character is Miserable and the player rolls an Eye of Sauron, the Loremaster takes control of the character for a short time, playing his madness.

I suggest in theses home rules to extend that idea with the Relational Traits.

The Loremaster should take control of the character and invoke a FF's Relational Trait (the one he wants, or choosed randomly) whenever it's possible (not during a battle). Then, he plays a short scene around that Trait with the second player as if the first player invoked it, but this time, the relationship has to progress negatively.

Now, the Loremaster has the Shadow weakness and the Relational Trait to get inspiration for the scene. Players will have to consider those negative scenes for their next ones.

Changing Relational Traits

As a new Undertaking, a player can change a Relational Trait, to imply an evolution in the nature of his character's relationship with the targetted character.
Last edited by Ecorce on Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:46 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Advancing Fellowship Focus rules

Post by Falenthal » Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:43 pm

It seems very interesting, Ecorce.

On a first read, I'd limit the chance to recover Hope to once per Adventure phase. Players should look for a climatic moment in the adventure for their characters to represent their relationship. With this limit, I think it would be ok to allow a recovery of 1 Hope with an ordinary success, 2 with a great success, etc.
Remember though, that the RAW Fellowship Focus only allow the recovery of 1 Hope point if all conditions were met (which are not that easy).
But it's just an idea after a first read.

But maybe another addition would be something like "not playing a relationship scene during an Adventure phase implies gaining 1 Shadow point". It represents a slow turn to individualism in the character.

Too many rules in this sense could lead to forcing the players how and what to interpret their characters. It is always a danger. But it also depends on the kind of players you have in your group.

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Re: Advancing Fellowship Focus rules

Post by Ecorce » Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:07 am

Thank you for your suggestions, Falenthal. :)

I was wondering too if I needed to limit the number of scenes. I suppose that if every player wants to perform a scene, there can't be more than one per player. Maybe I should add it int the rules to be clear... but it seems obvious to me.

I added a sentence about the meaning of failures : "A failure just means the relationship needs more attention (more scenes) to generate Hope."

My first thought on those rules included a new way to manage Fellowship Pool, but I'm not sure how to do it without creating subsystems... don't want it to be complicated.

Another way could be that there are no more individual Hope points. There's only the Fellowship Pool. The only way to increase its points would be to play the relationships. Players ask to use it during the Adventure Phase.

But removing the individual points creates an issue... how to know when a character becomes Miserable, as the Shadow points can't be compared anymore to that individual pool?
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Re: Advancing Fellowship Focus rules

Post by Ecorce » Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:03 am

Ok there's a simple solution, but means other strategies for the players...

We compare the individual Shadow points to the Fellowship Pool (same process as RAW but with the Fellowship Pool, not the individual Hope points).

Now, the Fellowship Pool measures :
  • the number of Hope points available for the players
  • the threshold that implies the Miserable state when Shadow points reach it
Same process as RAW but using a Hope point means decreasing the threshold for every character. A character will think twice before using a the Fellowship Pool.

A good way to invite players to use their Fellowship Focus to raise the Pool, and becomes an important part of the Adventures (that is my wish).

During the fellowship's creation, we will need to know how many points the Pool starts with. We can't use the actual rule. Each character could raise the Pool at creation, the same number of points for everyone or a number that depends on the Culture... In my opinion, the same number would be simpler. Let's say 2 Hope points per character in the Pool.

For example :
  • 3 players: at least 6 starting Hope points
  • 4 players: at least 8 starting Hope points
  • 5 players: at least 10 starting Hope points
It makes sense to me to have starting points. First, players won't begin with 0 Hope point, that would be far too difficulte. Second, in my opinion, a new fresh fellowship should have enthousiasm, represented by the starting points. In their next adventures, they will face the Shadow, decrease Hope points, and FF will allow them to keep this enthousiasm alive.

We could use the Culture Blessing of Hobbits and the Virtue "Honey cakes" to raise the Pool at the beggining of every session (+1 Hope point), and that would be the only way to do it (every session).

It means the number of Hope points is no more limited by the characters. They can raise it as much as they want/need. Indeed, as the only pool, the points will decrease quickly (I guess), so no need to limit it. My aim is not to destroy any Hope (lower the Pool to 0). I just want the players to manage the balance between using Hope points to succeed, and risking Miserable state for every character.

Another thought on Corruption/Fear tests, where you just need a success. Success quality doesn't imply anything.
We could say that superior/extraordinary successes on Corruption/Fear tests, using a Hope point, gets it back to the Pool?
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Re: Advancing Fellowship Focus rules

Post by gsecaur » Sat Mar 31, 2018 5:02 pm

I'm intrigued by the initial concept of defining the interpersonal relationships within the fellowship. My group and I have played together for many, many years, and the relationships between players are clear to all of us, but those sometimes tend to bleed over to our characters. (If Jim-the-player has a competitive relationship with Ted-the-player, sometimes it seems like all their characters have a similarly competitive relationship.)

Defining these relationships with Trait-style descriptors would certainly make for stronger role-playing, and your proposal actually introduces a mechanical effect of either playing to or playing against that defined relationship. I like that!

I also really like that it encourages players to interrupt the narration of, say, the Battle of Helm's Deep, to say, "Hang on. Legolas has a Rivalry with Gimli, so I'm going to challenge him to kill more Uruk-hai than I do." Again, it stimulates role-playing and builds the bonds of fellowship.

There's been conversation in other recent threads about when to refill the Fellowship Pool -- every session? every Adventuring Phase? -- and I've had some thoughts about that for my own game. We have a big party of five player-heroes, including a Hobbit and a Beorning with honey-cakes, so our Fellowship Pool starts at 7. This means that if the players are careful with spending Hope, they can easily refill their own pools by the end of the session and therefore never drop low enough on Hope to be in danger of becoming Miserable. That means that Shadow Points aren't a very serious threat and the moral hazard of adventuring is much diminished.

So how about this: The Fellowship Pool does not refill every session. Instead, as it is depleted, it is only refilled by conducting these Fellowship scenes that you've described. Each pairing of characters can only gain a Fellowship Point by this method once per session, so it can't just be the same two heroes carrying the full burden of refilling the pool by continuing their banter every night around the campfire. (But even after the example I used above, Legolas could still share an Elvish song with Aragorn. He just can't quarrel with Gimli again to regain more points.)

It would make sense to grant a full Fellowship Pool at the start of the Adventuring Phase, figuring that the fellowship has been relaxing together and engaging in behavior that naturally restores that pool -- singing and drinking together in the local tavern, for example.

It would also make sense to grant the Hobbit bonus and the honey-cake bonus on a per-session basis, so as not to seriously reduce the usefulness of those Virtues. So in my own group, session one of the Adventuring phase would start with 7 FP. Session two would start with whatever number they had at the end of session one, +1 for a Hobbit and +1 for honey-cakes, etc.

It might be a while before we get back to playing TOR -- we alternate games pretty frequently, so I'm just waiting for my turn to come up again -- but I'll try implementing this next time we play.
Last edited by gsecaur on Sat Mar 31, 2018 7:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Advancing Fellowship Focus rules

Post by gsecaur » Sat Mar 31, 2018 5:17 pm

I forgot to mention in my previous post that we don't even use the Fellowship Focus option. As I mentioned, my party tends to be at or near full personal Hope all the time, because they are fairly stingy in spending Hope and they have a big Fellowship Pool. They don't need yet another free point to keep them topped off. (I realize that the Focus can actually cost them Hope, if the focus character is hurt or suffers in any way, but they don't tend to get Wounded very often. Protection tests are one area where they are quite willing to spend Hope!)

I'm not interested in overhauling the Fellowship Hope mechanics quite as drastically as you're proposing, Ecorce, and I don't like the idea of comparing the Fellowship's collective Hope against personal Shadow points for purposes of determining when someone is Miserable. The different starting points for initial Hope across the different Cultures -- in addition to being an element of game balance in comparing Cultures -- is an important indicator of the "personality" of that Culture. Hobbits are bright and full of cheer because the Shadow is so far away, so they have high Hope. Elves have seen so much of the light go out of the world, how could they be otherwise than low on starting Hope? If you apply the Fellowship number as a universal threshold for misery regardless of the hero's Culture, then you erase this essential difference.

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Re: Advancing Fellowship Focus rules

Post by Otaku-sempai » Sat Mar 31, 2018 7:10 pm

There are some interesting ideas here, but I don't know that I would implement most of them. I like Fellowship Focus, yet I would oppose the notion of making it mandatory.
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Re: Advancing Fellowship Focus rules

Post by Rich H » Sun Apr 01, 2018 3:06 pm

I'm actually okay with making Fellowship Focus mandatory, I've done this in all my games to good affect as it does get players thinking about their characters and relationships a lot more.

I think I prefer the original post on this as the later suggestions seem to be overcomplicating what is the primary goal of these houserules which I believe are:

1) To get players RPing their relationships with each other a more

2) Tying that into refreshing the Fellowship Pool

I like these two goals and doing it through each character's Fellowship Focus.

I'll have a think about the suggestions more when I have time but it's an interesting approach and something which I think has a lot of possibilities...
TOR resources thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62
TOR miniatures thread: viewtopic.php?t=885

Fellowship of the Free Tale of Years: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=8318

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Re: Advancing Fellowship Focus rules

Post by Ecorce » Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:43 am

Thanks all for your impressions. :)
Rich H wrote:
Sun Apr 01, 2018 3:06 pm
I think I prefer the original post on this as the later suggestions seem to be overcomplicating
What in my last suggestions seem overcomplicating/overcomplicated to you?
Is it about "changing" the RAW? Changing feels overcomplicating (last intention), more that improving it (first intention)?
Rich H wrote:
Sun Apr 01, 2018 3:06 pm
I'll have a think about the suggestions more when I have time but it's an interesting approach and something which I think has a lot of possibilities...
I would be very pleased to read your thoughts here and I'm glad you're considering these house rules. :)
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Re: Advancing Fellowship Focus rules

Post by Rich H » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:47 pm

Ecorce wrote:
Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:43 am
What in my last suggestions seem overcomplicating/overcomplicated to you?
Is it about "changing" the RAW?
It was your third post on here - which felt like it was moving away from the nice ideas of getting players RPing their relationships with each other a more and tying that into refreshing the Fellowship Pool and starting to over-complicate with regard to comparisons between personal and share pools (eg Shadow and Hope). Personally, I like your initial post I think that probably has more mileage/interest for me.

I think a little more. Time is at a premium this week though.
TOR resources thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62
TOR miniatures thread: viewtopic.php?t=885

Fellowship of the Free Tale of Years: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=8318

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