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Mars University
Mars University's picture
Sorte Strand Manipulation in 2nd Edition
sorte

One of my dissapointments with second edition is the change to the Sorte abilities. Tugging, destroying, and creating strands was one of the more interesting dramatic options available for Sorte, and I wanted to see it represented. I'm considering adding the following Tessere in place of or in addition to the less thematic Pull:

Manipulate

You may touch and alter the strands of fate for another character. Manipulating strands during an Action Sequence costs a Raise. You can only manipulate a strand if you can see all characters tied to that strand. (For example, two lovers or business partners bound together by Fate would both need to be in your vision to manipulate the strands connecting them.)

Minor

Take one or more Lashes to tug on one of another character's strands. You may only tug on a strand of a Rating less than or equal to the number of Lashes you have. You may increase or decrease the Rating of a strand by one. This change is effectively permanent, but may slowly be undone by the natural course of events without further changes. No single strand can be affected by this more than once per session.

Major

Spend a Hero Point and take one or more Lashes to cut an existing or create a new strand. You may only cut a strand of a Rating less than or equal to half of the number of Lashes you have. (So, to cut a Rating 3 strand, you must have six or more Lashes.) This permanently severs this bond of fate permanently, although a new bond may form on its own over time. You may only create a new strand if you have five or more Lashes, and any newly-created strand starts at Rating 1. This is the most risky and fearsome ability available to a Fate Witch - Corruption Points are likely for many uses of this power, and there will likely be wider effects of these changes than she anticipates. A Strega can use this power once per session.

A Note on Strand Ratings

I'd suggest using an abstract Rating of 1-5 for strands to show their relative intensity/importance (as with the Strength 1-10 value in First Edition).

Alternatively, you could use the Rating of either the lowest Trait or most relevant Trait or Skill for the target (half Strength for Villains) for this Rating. A Commerce strand might have a Rating equal to Sailing for a sea captain or merchant, or equal to Weaponry for a bodyguard.

Anyone have any thoughts on additional considerations or things to change to make it more useful at the table or fit better in the existing system?

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LibrariaNPC
LibrariaNPC's picture

I think you need to give some sort of background as to why a Strength rating is important to strands. I don't have my books nearby (yay packing and not having everything downloaded to my work drive. . .yet), but if I remember correctly the strength of the strand was partly narrative (emphasizing how strong of a connection) and partly mechanical (knowing what you were up against). 

Mechanically, I think the only thing I'd change is that you must take a number of Lashes equal to twice the Strength of the Strand being removed/created. Remember that Lashes were literally the strands of fate lashing out at the Strega, and it also shows the high risk involved with tampering with strands at this level. As this power can literally ruin marriages, create new business deals, and spark rivalries, it's a narratively powerful ability and should have a mechanically powerful threat attached to it.

The only other thing I'd want to add is a note on Court cards (cards that cannot be altered). Not something to really throw around on a whim, but still a fun idea, especially with characters that you want to keep off limits (like Queen Elaine).

 

Otherwise, I think this is interesting and really showcases why a Fate Witch is so feared in Theah.

"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to create a sarcasm font." --Lost_Heretic

Mars University
Mars University's picture

I think you need to give some sort of background as to why a Strength rating is important to strands. I don't have my books nearby (yay packing and not having everything downloaded to my work drive. . .yet), but if I remember correctly the strength of the strand was partly narrative (emphasizing how strong of a connection) and partly mechanical (knowing what you were up against). 

In 1E, strand Strength was both a narrative convention (how important it was to the characters/drama) on a scale of 1-10, as well as a mechanical one. Some of the Sorte abilities interracted with it in different ways, using it as a difficulty benchmark to work with the strand or as a bonus/modifier if the thread was employed to an end. Here, mostly, I'm using it to make bigger changes more taxing, but I'm thinking it isn't the best fit with the 2E mechanics. Also, the Minor power isn't very narratively interesting or useful, as a result.

Mechanically, I think the only thing I'd change is that you must take a number of Lashes equal to twice the Strength of the Strand being removed/created. Remember that Lashes were literally the strands of fate lashing out at the Strega, and it also shows the high risk involved with tampering with strands at this level. As this power can literally ruin marriages, create new business deals, and spark rivalries, it's a narratively powerful ability and should have a mechanically powerful threat attached to it.

Are you thinking that twice the Strength in Lashes might be too high? I was honestly trying to decide on the best mechical/dramatic cost for this power. In 2E, most costs fit one of the following:

  • Spend a Raise: You'd already be spending one for an Action, and you normally don't spend more than one outside of damage and opposed action resolution.
  • Spend a Hero Point: The Major weaves and most Sorcery already has this cost included in some way. I suppose you could have a cost of more than one, but I can't think of an example from the book where more than one was spent. That could also be potentially too high of a cost, Heroes can only "count" on three HPs per session (Starting+Quirk+Quirk+Hubris), more than that would require choosing "I fail" or the GM buying unused dice.
  • Add Danger Points: This could be an option, but Lashes are functionally potential Danger Points for the Strega already.
  • Gain Corruption Points: I did mention the possibility of this, but I don't think this is an "always" penalty for the power. While there could be huge consequences, there isn't anything inherintly evil in, say, cutting a strand for the enmity between two warring leaders.
  • Take Wounds: This could be an option, but Lashes are functionally potential Wounds for the Strega already.
  • Take a Dramatic Wound: Again, this could be an option, but since Porte already relies on this cost, I feel like it might be treading on that Sorcery's "theme" in the system a little bit.
  • Take Lashes: I went with this because its the default cost associated with Sorte, but I agree that ten Lashes is a LOT (and kind of silly besides). One option I'd consider would be a "permanent Lash", that couldn't be paid for in blood or misfortune. The Strega would have effectively one more Lash than normal, say, until completing a Story.

The only other thing I'd want to add is a note on Court cards (cards that cannot be altered). Not something to really throw around on a whim, but still a fun idea, especially with characters that you want to keep off limits (like Queen Elaine).

Yeah, I should have mentioned that, since it really keeps the power from being too game-breaking.

Here's an alternative take on this, changing up some things:

Manipulate

You may touch and alter the strands of fate for another character. Manipulating strands during an Action Sequence costs a Raise. You can only manipulate a strand if you can see all characters tied to that strand. (For example, two lovers or business partners bound together by Fate would both need to be in your vision to manipulate the strands connecting them.)

Minor

Spend a Hero Point and take one or more Lashes to tug on one of another character's strands, intensifying or weakening this aspect of their fate temporarily. This applies Pressure to the targeted character for the remainder of the scene, either towards or against the relationship represented by the strand being manipulated. The character must spend additional Raises equal to the number of Lashes you have to act against this Pressure.

For example, if tugging on a Conflict strand between two characters, the Strega can either apply Pressure towards this conflict (the characters must spend extra Raises to do anything not related to this relationship, such as arguing or fighting) or away from it (the characters must spend extra Raises to act in a way that reinforces the relationship, they would be more or less amicable to oen another for the scene otherwise). If the Strega had three Lashes in this situation, it would cost each character involved four Raises to act against the effect of her Sorte tugging: one Raise for the Action itself, and three (her current Lashes) to overcome the Pressure. As usual, once the price is paid to overcome the Pressure, the effect ends (until the next time Pressure is applied).

A Strega can use this power once per Scene.

Major

Spend a Hero Point to cut an existing strand or create a new strand. Cutting a strand severs this bond of fate permanently, although a new bond may form on its own over time. Newly-created strands are relatively weak, but may strengthen on their own over time, now that the ties of fate have been established. 

There are always severe repurcussions from fate for manipulating it so directly in these ways. After cutting or creating a strand, the GM may add one to the number of Lashes the Strega has when spending a Danger Point for Fate taking its due (eliminating dice on a Risk). For example, if spending a Danger Point against a Strega with three Lashes who recently cut a strand, dice that have rolled 1, 2, or 3 could not be used for Raises (as if the Strega actually had four Lashes). When removing Fate Lashes, this effect also adds one to the Wounds taken or Danger Points added to eliminate a Lash. This effect provides no benefit in any other situation where the number of Lashes the Strega has are being considered. This repurcussion lasts until the Strega completes any Story (this includes Season, Episode, Hero, Character, and Retroactive Stories).

This is the most risky and fearsome ability available to a Fate Witch - Corruption Points are likely for some uses of this power, and there will likely be wider effects of these changes than she anticipates. A Strega can use this power once per session.

A Note on Strand Types and Strength

There are four types of strands of Fate, each corresponding to one of the suits of the Sorte deck:

  • Coins (Yellow Strands): represent Commerce, including business relationships and those of monetary advantage for one or both parties
  • Cups (Blue Strands): represent Passion, including all varieties of positive emotional bonds
  • Swords (Red Strands): represent Conflict, including both mental or social (hate, rivalry, enmity) and open physical confrontation (dueling)
  • Staves (Green Strands): represent Authority, including relations of status or personal respect (where other threads wouldn't be present)

Strands have varying strength and intensity, depending on the importance of the connection they represent to the characters they are tied to. This is largely irrelevant to this power. However, there are four instances (represented by the four Court Cards of the Sorte deck) where an existing strand cannot be manipulated:

  • Squire "Discoverer": The strand is too new and unstable to be manipulated. A strand created by the Strega (or fresh, naturally occuring one) cannot be cut or tugged on, it is simply too etheric and pliable for the application of force.
  • Knight "Defender": The strand is too powerful to be altered. The Fate Witch cannot cut or apply Pressure away from this strand. She may still apply Pressure towards it with a tug, but this is usually uneccessary due to the consuming nature of these strands.
  • Queen "Mother": The strand is splitting, creating a new strand on its own. The relationship is in flux and too unpredictable to manipulate accurately. If the Strega persists in doing so, the end result could be anything: altering the strand into a new type, shattering it into several weaker strands, changing the characters tied to it, and so on.
  • King "Ruler": The strand is too well-established and stable to be changed in any way. It may no longer be cut (unless it weakens naturally on its own), but may be tugged by the Strega, at the discretion of the GM.

 

 

LibrariaNPC
LibrariaNPC's picture

In 1E, strand Strength was both a narrative convention (how important it was to the characters/drama) on a scale of 1-10, as well as a mechanical one. Some of the Sorte abilities interracted with it in different ways, using it as a difficulty benchmark to work with the strand or as a bonus/modifier if the thread was employed to an end. Here, mostly, I'm using it to make bigger changes more taxing, but I'm thinking it isn't the best fit with the 2E mechanics. Also, the Minor power isn't very narratively interesting or useful, as a result.

Well, if you had examples as to how characters (PCs or otherwise) should act with regards to types of strangs and the strength, the minor power is rather useful and interesting, at least to me.

Are you thinking that twice the Strength in Lashes might be too high?

Actually, I was trying to say that twice the Strength in Lashes is good, but rather instead of having it being total number of current lashes, make the players take that many Lashes for using the power.

For example, I have a Strega at my table. Let's say said Strega has six lashes after giving blessings to allies before attending a Ball. With your first writeup, this means she can cut or create a strand with a rating of 3 without taking any further lashes, or weaken one at 5 or lower (unless one is ALWAYS a requirement; then the "or more" becomes a moot point). That's the part I'm concerned with.

Personally, I'd say "Take a number of Lashes equal to the Strand rating" if you are influencing it (minor) or "Take a number of Lashes equal to twice the Strand rating" if you are creating or destroying. Both of these talents are truly the higher-end portion of the magic, and they can impact stories in a much greater way than other sorceries.

 

And now, for your power writeup (and since I snagged my 1st Ed stuff, I can be a bit more useful):

  • I'm not too sure how I feel about the requirement of having both people in the room to alter a strand. Remember that, originally, you could only see the most important strand (and at master rank, the three most important), or look for a specific strand between two people. This means that, technically, looking for the most powerful strand on a man deeply in love with someone will show that the strand is off on the horizon if he is away from home for some reason. Not having the ability to alter it makes for a limit that isn't too dramatic in my opinion.
    I'd stand by "If you can see the strand, you can alter it. If you are making a new strand, you must see the people to connect them."
  • I'd still consider causing a larger number of lashes as a baseline for altering the strands in any way, but that is my opinion.
  • Using the Pressure mechanic is interesting, but I'm not sure if that's the best approach here. Characters don't always have viable strands to target, and if a player has to spend a Hero Point and take Lashes to just apply Pressure, it's not as useful (considering you can do the same thing with just a Raise).
    Now, the Lash approach in Raises for that Pressure is interesting, but I think it'd be too overkill. This means that players and characters legitimately do not have a choice, which makes this a go-to "Mess with everyone" power. I know I'd find it annoying as a GM is my players did this to my NPCs in a social situation, and I know full well that my players would call foul if I used it against them (especially when the Villainy 12 Strega I have on the sidelines decides to start wrecking havoc). 
    This power also lacks in the story department; it's only going to influence how Raises are spent.
  • I'm not sure how much I'm digging the way the Major talent works.
    For starters, completing a story isn't always cut and try. My players are about to enter into game three and haven't even gotten close to completing a story due to their sidetracking ways (and habits of making enemies), so this feels TOO rough.
    The repercussions of having the Fate lashes count as one higher doesn't feel like enough oomph. Remember, many Strega risk their lives to do this, as it is inherently dangerous (both in terms of retribution and how Fate carries things out).

I have a pitch to offer to remedy this, but I need to finish a few reports at work first, so it might not happen today (stupid time getting in the way).

"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to create a sarcasm font." --Lost_Heretic

LibrariaNPC
LibrariaNPC's picture

My thoughts on this:

Minor: Make the minor talent modify a strand. You take at least one Lash (can take more), and you must have at least a number of Lashes equal to the strand rating to influence it in either direction. I'd limit it to one direction, once per round, but they cannot remove it (max of 5, minimum of 1)

Major: I'm tempted to offer more than one major here. A part of me wants to say that cutting and creating are seperate, while another part of me wants to bring back the Black Strand.

My thought, in any case: don't put a cap on it per scene, because they'll pay for it. Make them take a number of lashes equal to the Strand they are influencing, and they can take more. They must have a number of Lashes equal to double the Strand rating.

Part of me also wants to implement a way to enforce when the Lashes kick back, but I don't want to make it so mechanical that it gets out of hand.

"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to create a sarcasm font." --Lost_Heretic

Mars University
Mars University's picture

I think that's a fair interpretation.

My big concern with the strand rating is that it doesn't have more than a narrative function right now. That's ok for purely roleplaying purposes, but I could see a mechanically-inclined player ignoring it completely, except to potentially weaken strands that they later intend for their character to cut. My suggestion to have a Pressure effect was mostly to create a more mechanical result that could be utilized by the player. I think to give strand Ratings some teeth, you'd really need to have them provide another effect, like a bonus to Blessings or an additional boost that could be triggered by spending a Hero Point or by the Strega using another new weave.

The black strands were interesting, and I would rather have seen some inclusion of them than the weave to pull characters around by their Fate strands, but I'm not sure how overpowering that would be. Wasn't the ability to see and/or manipulate the black strands limited to one or a few Fate Witch NPCs in first edition?

Back to strand manipulation, though; I've been wondering if you could also manage this in the system as a Risk rather than as a Sorcery Advantage-granted Weave? Let any Strega who has Read a target roll Resolve (for force of Will) or Panache (for force of Personality) + whichever Skill seems appropriate (I could see Empathy, Notice, and Scholarship possibly working, mabye any of those or even some other Skill, depending on the effect wanted). The Approach would be the exact intended change, while Consequences could include Wounds, Lashes, unexpected effects to other strands, inadvertently increasing the own strand connecting you to the target, and so on. If this seems overpowered, maybe require a Hero Point expenditure, as well?

LibrariaNPC
LibrariaNPC's picture

Glad to know we can talk about this politely and like adults while being on the same page.

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't strand ratings have little impact beyond RP and the mechanical effects of altering them? I know they were used as a guideline to show how strong of a tie existed between two people, so really, they are inherently narrative, and the mechanics were nothing more than a way to enforce a specific narrative effect (people suddenly hating each other, suddenly loving each other, etc). Really, that;s the big perk of Sorte; bending Fate to cause the results you want, which makes it more narrative than mechanical.

As for a "mechanically-inclined player ignoring it," there's sadly no easy fix for that. Also, unlike in 1st Edition, the current writeup we have here doesn't give a reason to weaken a strand before cutting, unless we throw something like "Spend a number of raises equal to the Strength to create or cut a strand." Anything else to give Strand Ratings "teeth" might bog the game down too much (I for one enjoy not having to check rules for EVERY action players are taking). 

Perhaps the best way to handle Strand Ratings and dealing with the Rulings vs Rules would be to:

  • Give examples of how strength is tied to narration (i.e. two people deeply in love with a committed marriage would be a 5, while a passing insult or even a playful rivalry could be a 1).
  • Cause and require a total number of Lashes based on the current Strength rating.
  • Require a number of Raises based on Strength rating to take an action (1/2 rating for altering, equal to for removing?)
    • This also means a Strega can spend her entire non-combat scene altering a single strand. Not entirely sure how I feel about it just yet, since a Sanderis losejas can do some similar, temporary effects with one Raise.

Pressure is an odd 50/50 the more I think about it. I'd be concerned as you'd be spending a Hero point to do something that you can already do with another skill, while most magics give you a specific perk when taking actions. Granted, if you include it as another Minor Weave to allow the Strega to "tug" a strand to make them act on it without requiring they take an action (like talking to them), it makes sense. It's a 50/50 and a matter of direction (especially if we want to keep things matching so you don't have "left over" points after buying Sorcery). Maybe add a new major/minor to Pull? Like:

  • Minor: Spend a Hero Point to tug on a specific strand you are able to see both sides of. The character is Pressured to act on that strand with the individual on the other side.
  • Major: Spend a Hero Point to pull on a specific type of strand (Coins, Swords, Cups, Staves). The character is Pressured to act in accordance with that suit.

Just a thought.

Trying to manage the strand manipulation as a basic Risk is a mixed bag. Part of me wants to go for it, but another part of me feels like it goes against the spirit of having specific tesse/weaves in the first place. It also means that it gives the character the ability to alter things around them as though they were using Sorte, spend Raises to get out of the only real backlash of the power (lashes), and "unexpected effects to other strands" is just fun narrative that shouldn't be reduced to a mechanical effect in my book. Even with a Hero Point, not having this tied to a Weave is pretty powerful. Just my humble opinion, of course, but I feel that it goes against the spirit of the rules.

Black Strands were interesting, and there were only a few written NPCs that had the ability to even SEE them, and I don't think anyone had the ability to work with them. I almost want to rewrite the Read power in some cases. Maybe, for example, add this tweak at the end of the official writeup to incorporate these new rules):

Read: The Streghe is able to see the most prominent strand of each suit (Coins, Cups, Staves, Swords) and Arcana of each individual. Some Streghe have mastered the art of reading to allow better understanding of an individual.

Minor: The Streghe can focus on all strands associated with a specific suit, and see where they all connect.

Major: The Streghe has learned to read the most dangerous strand: The Black Strand. This strand is often associated with death, and some legends state that a Streghe will often see her own black strand shortly before her death. This strand cannot be created, cut, or altered in any way by the Streghe.
Note that Black Strands don't always form before someone dies; there seems to be another hidden condition. There is also a belief that the Streghe who have mastered seeing the Black Strand have learned ways to prolong their youth, but this may just be a myth.

 

On that note, a part of me wants to make a new Tesse for Spreads. See my next post.

"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to create a sarcasm font." --Lost_Heretic

Mars University
Mars University's picture

I'm really enjoying this discussion, I feel like its generating a lot of inspiration regarding this I wouldn't have had on my own.

 

Honestly, I don't mind strand Ratings and manipulating them being story based, it works fine and is appropriate to the setting. Using the rules to engage players that really get into the mechanics of a game is my own personal windmill here. I've had a lot of good players that were very into the game's machinery, so I can look at a mechanic, see how it would have a fun impact in the story at the game table, and a day or two later, realize that a subset of my players would look at it for two seconds and dismiss it as uneccessary/uninteresting because it doesn't do something more tangible. Its something I can't really change every time, but I like to attempt it with mechanical tweaks from time to time.

I've considered requiring more than one Raise for some of the action, but that doesn't seem to have much of an impact outside of Action Sequences in 2E. I suppose this could be a huge cost for Dramatic Sequences, which would include Scenes at court, where Sorte should be very influential, based on the setting. Maybe expertly cutting the right strand at the right time at a ball is the mark of an expert strega, because you often won't have a second chance, with the effort required?

My initial thought of applying Pressure by tugging on strands was to imply that the strega was pulling heavily on a single strand, putting a finger on the scales of Fate. Most people wouldn't even be aware that anything had happened, but one thing would suddenly matter to them much more than it normally would, overshadowing other concerns in their life. I was envisioning a strega pushing two courtiers to fixate on their rivalry with one another, temporarily forgetting their duties to their respective Princes and the benefits to the same if they were to work together; or to more strongly tempt a merchant to take her husband's money to the benefit of their personal business, and not consider their close friendship to one of the husband's rivals. The Pressure mechanic was used mostly because it already existed in the system, and it offered a solid, "yeah, I don't do that," mechanic already. That said, it probably isn't a perfect fit. I like the ability as a concept, but it probably needs a fair ammount of review and balancing, and should probably be its own thing.

Regarding just doing a manipulation as a Risk, I was thinking that it would be a simple way to handle more dramatic uses of the sorcery (with little rules impact) if you didn't want to get into additional Weaves. Like the above, its still kind of a rough idea, and definitely should have a cost (Lashes and Hero Points, at least) outside of the Raises to save it from abuse by players.

I could also envision that seeing black strands is an ability that is gained either through taking the maximum number of Sorcery Advantages (as-is, strega lose out on another Minor Weave on their fourth time taking the Advantage) or by a 5 Step Hero Story (if I recall, at least one NPC gained the ability by reading the works of an ancient "mad" Fate Witch).

LibrariaNPC
LibrariaNPC's picture

Mechanical tweaks are admirable, but I'd just be worried about convoluting a system that is purposely made to be lightweight. House rules are there to make things better for the table, so if you need something crunchier, have at it. The ideas I'm offering are just what I think would be good rules; that doesn't mean that they ARE good, it's just something I think would work and I would use at my table.

Well, the multiple raises for various effects can put a damper on Dramatic Sequences, as you only get so many raises to spend. The idea was just something to throw out there, really, to give some teeth to Strand ratings. The more I look at it, though, the more I realize it wouldn't be used; my players average 4-5 Raises without using special abilities like Glorious or spending Hero Points on more dice, which would mean that if a character has to spend a number of Raises equal to strand Strength, they'd be able to impact one strand before they are done for the scene.

Cutting the strand at the right time is a mark of an expert Strega, but it's tough to decide if we want that to be portrayed mechanically or via RP. Hrmm. . .

Perhaps, as a compromise: Take a number of Lashes and spend a number of Raises equal to the rating. If you take additional Lashes, you may reduce the number of Raises for each additional lash.
Other ideas that have cropped up: always cost an additional raise (has nothing to do with Strength, though); If you possess a number of Lashes equal to twice the Strength, reduce the Raises required.

Also, if you really want to give a mechanical benefit, try this: If a Strega increases the strength of a strand between two people, the primary target gains/loses a die for each difference in Strength on related rolls. For example: say the Strega at my table wants to improve upon the Cups strand between a noble in her party and a nobleman's daughter (they have a 1 due to flirting at previous events). If she can somehow raise it to a 3, the noble in her party would gain +2 dice (or, if it was already in intent, +2 Raises) toward this goal. Fate does move things in unexpected ways, after all.
This could be edited to allow for the same benefit on both sides, and these extra Raises ONLY influence the type of action (i.e. if said noble wanted to hurl an insult with Empathy instead of seducing with Tempt, these raises cannot be used). Again, just spitballing right now.

The ability of Pressure as a concept is pretty cool, but it's not quite fitting as there isn't always a strand in existence to manipulate to cause this sort of thing to happen. It also doesn't help that, again, Pressure is a thing that exists and requiring a Hero Point to apply Pressure without another benefit to it just doesn't seem to work in my book. I do think that impling the ability with the Pull Tesse might work, but that's just an idea.

I'm really not sure how I'm feeling about stand-alone risks just yet. This isn't like 1st Edition when how well you roll determines whether or not you succeed; your chances of not getting a single raise even with a beginning character rolling only 3 dice is still pretty slim (and even slimmer once you get to higher ratings), so the idea of turning Sorcery into a stand-alone Risk only for specific effects is a bit wonky for me.

Now, granted, if it were a Risk and a player came up with an interesting way to utilize Sorte (or another Sorcery) to complete that Risk, then I'm all for it (e.g. getting across a burning room: Porte spends a Raise to mark a coin, another to throw it, and another to teleport out after hearing it land; Sorte pulls strands of a failed Ally to literally pull them across; Sanderis to cool the area enough to get through without burning, etc), but I don't want to have a "You can do this specific Sorcery effect that you will want to use often, but you must roll for it each time."

 

Seeing Black Strands could totally be the "Master" rank of this sorcery, or even part of a story. I really can't argue with either of them.

As for how the NPC got it, I'd have to really get to reading again. It's been so long since I read the nation books from cover to cover that I forget some specific little details.

"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to create a sarcasm font." --Lost_Heretic

Catalina Arciniega
Catalina Arciniega's picture
I think It would work with pressure but only if It required only one raise to activate it and you got as many strands as the levels you are strengthening/weakening that strand. I would also make It a temporary matter, lasting only until the next day/scene. This way a Strega would feel inclined to use the hability in order to save her raises. Creating a new strand or cutting an existing one should give a harsher penalty. Maybe using a similar mechanic to corruption So that, the Strega would get Fate Points in the same way she would get corruption points and throwing a die to see if fate tales its toll (permanently reducing a skill or giving a penalty to dice). Or maybe something more annoying, like getting a single Fate Point every time she uses that ability and having her re-roll as many of her highest dice as Fate Points she currently has.
LibrariaNPC
LibrariaNPC's picture

After mentioning the Black Strand as something to see in my previous comment, it got me thinking about spreads, as the true power of the Black Strand is within the spread. I figured I'd do a quick writeup and see how well they flow together with the manipulation side of things.

I'll have to put in the baselines and then finish typing it later. Life is getting in the way.

 

Spreads: The Streghe uses tarot cards to perform a spread, allowing for specific benefits to those she reads the cards for. This takes at least ten minutes to perform, requires the Streghe to have access to their Sorte deck, and they must be with the person they are reading for. Each Spread requires the expenditure of a Hero Point and requires the Streghe take at least one Lash.
(Site Note: I really want to write this out in better detail once the Tarot cards are released, but until then, I'll use a simple dice mechanic).

Minor: The Streghe can perform the Coins spread. This is performed by pulling only the Coins cards and respective court courts from her deck, shuffling them, and selecting three cards at random. She lays the first one out, the second lengthwise across, and the third above them. This is done to temporarily increase the wealth of an individual.
Both the Streghe and the target must spend a Hero Point. The Streghe takes a Lash, and can take up to four additional Lashes. Each Lash taken increased the target's Wealth rating by 1 at the beginning of the next game (or when narratively appropriate).

Minor: The Streghe can perform the Cups spread. This is performed by pulling only the Cups cards and respective court courts from her deck, shuffling them, and selecting three cards at random. She lays the first one out, the second lengthwise across, and the third below them. The Streghe performs this with the hopes of increasing attraction between the target and another individual.
The Streghe an the target must spend a Hero Point, and someone must spend an additional hero point (to represent the other target). The Streghe then takes one Lash, and can take up to four additional Lashes. The recipient may re-roll that many dice on any Tempt-based roll against the other target for one month or until the end of the Story, whichever comes first.

Minor: The Streghe can perform the Staves spread. This is performed by pulling only the Staves cards and respective court courts from her deck, shuffling them, and selecting three cards at random.The first is laid out, the second lengthwise across, and the third to the left of them. The Streghe performs this with the hopes of increasing the recipient's fame and influence over others.
The Streghe and the target must spend a Hero Point. The Streghe then takes one Lash, and can take up to four additional Lashes. Each Lash taken allows the recipient to acquire a remporary Reputation rating. This will last for at least on month or until the end of the Story, whichever comes first.

Minor: The Streghe can perform the Swords spread. This is performed by pulling only the Swords cards and respective court cards from her deck, shuffling them, and selecting three cards at random. She lays the first one out, placing the second lenghtwise on top of it, and places the last to the right of these. This ability is performed to imbue an individual weapon with a Destiny.
The Streghe spends 2 Hero Points and takes one Lash, and may take up to four additional Lashes. Each Lash grants the weapon in question a "Destiny" die, allowing it to be added into any combat roll related to the Destiny of the weapon (such as slaying a particular opponent). These dice may be cancelled by the Streghe at any time, but will otherwise remain with the weapon until the Destiny is fulfilled.

Major: The Streghe can perform the Arcana spread. 

Major: The Streghe performing this spread may only do so if she has acquired the ability to see the Black Strand. The Streghe can perform the Black Strand spread. Using this spread automatically marks the Streghe with a black strand. The Streghe performs this ritual by shuffing the Skull suit (seldom seen in Theah) with respective court cards, as well as the Tower from the Major arcana. After shuffling, she blindfolds herself and draws two cards. As long as the Tower is not drawn, she prolongs her youth based on the cards drawn. Should the Tower be drawn, she loses all benefits of this weave.
The Streghe spends a Hero Point; if there is a recipient, they must spend two Hero Points as well. The Streghe then takes one Lash, and can take up to four more. After the Lashes are taken, roll Resolve. As long as you have at least one Raise, you have prolonged your youth and will continue to look young for an additional number of years equal to the Lashes you have taken. Should you fail, you immediately age to your actual age. 
<Trying to come up with a way to make this harder over time, but not sure if it's needed>

"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to create a sarcasm font." --Lost_Heretic

Mars University
Mars University's picture

I like the idea of the different Minor effects you've suggested. It definitely gives the power set something more interesting and impactful to do than the vanilla Blessings and Curses.

That said, I'm not sure how often the benefit of the Coins spread would be used in play, for the potential Lashes involved. Maybe instead, grant bonus dice on social Risks tied to the target's business, or have the Wealth benfit last over a longer time period (enough for a character to fake having the Rich Advantage for long enough to pull off a con job, perhaps?).

I'm not sure if you need an escalating difficulty over time for the Arcana spread. I wouldn't expect many Heroes to use this more than once or twice (if at all, since its more something you'd expect a Villain to have access to), and the odds that one of the rolls will fail to generate a Raise generally increase over time. There's also always the risk that a younger, competing strega is able to activate a Curse on you at the wrong moment, which would be disasterous while attempting this.

LibrariaNPC
LibrariaNPC's picture

Thanks for that input. I was thinking of just making it a simple "Take X lashes, gain + bonus dice to a specific task," but it feels too much like a blessing and not enough focused oomph (especially since I wanted these bonuses to stick around longer).

When I wrote each of these (still need to do Arcana if time permits today), I was relying on the original for inspiration and was doing more of a translation instead of a recreation. Coins in first edition gave automatic guilders due to business success, so I thought an automatic Wealth increase was a good correlation. Trying to give bonus dice "on social Risks tied to the target's business" could be easily twisted; grant this to a swordsman, and they'll get this bonus every time they pick up a sword, for example. 

Faking the Rich advantage wouldn't hurt; perhaps give a +2 Wealth per session (or when appripriate to gain Wealth) for a number of sessions/episodes equal to Lashes? 

The Black Strand spread can probably get away without escalating difficulty, but I wanted to have something there to keep the player from using this as a "Stay Young Without Risk" ability. I don't want to force Corruption for it, nor do I want to limit how often it can be done. Granted, it'll take a crazy player to do a 5 Resolve Strega (and only 3 Wits and 3 Panache), so I'm not too worried about it being too easy or too difficult, but I need some sort of catch beyond Lashes to keep the player from relying on it like a crutch. Perhaps requiring a Raise for every X Lashes? A raise for every use? Just trying to figure that out.

"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to create a sarcasm font." --Lost_Heretic

Seventh Sea
Seventh Sea's picture

Quoting Mike Curry (7th Sea Lead Developer) from Reddit yesterday (05-SEP-2016) commenting on Sorte Strands:

Hello! I am Mike Curry, Systems Lead for 7th Sea 2nd Edition! by 7thSea_dev in 7thSea

[–]7thSea_dev[S] 3 points 23 hours ago 

Lore-wise, I don't directly write a lot of independent stuff. I write pieces -- Sorcery lore, Duelist Style backgrounds and fluff, example text, etc -- and I am something along the lines of an editor / sounding board for the larger lore pieces.

With Sorte in particular, we took some liberties with the definition of exactly what a strand represented. While they are still heavily based around relationships and associations, there is also a limited physical component to them. Mostly we did it for cool factor -- we thought it was still thematically appropriate, but also a new little trick for veteran Sorte players to toy with.

To directly answer your question of "what stops a fate witch from strangling people with their fate strands?"

The same thing that stops an assassin from looping a noose around your neck. So, not much.

I could see a situation where I let a Fate Witch spend her raises in an action sequence to trip people with errant strands, bind them, lash them around, etc. Sounds pretty cool, but I don't see a specific power being associated with that sort of use any time soon.

This is a bit off topic, but a lot of my answers to questions are different depending on whether you're asking me as a designer or as a GM. There's a lot of stuff that I'd be willing to let people do as a GM in my particular campaign that I would never DREAM of writing a mechanic for. The reason for this, in general, are that players don't see rules as special or unique.

For example, let's say I write a power that allows a Strega to cause Wounds at some higher ratio using fate magic. Just, for the sake of discussion, let's say it looks something like this...

Activate this power. Until the end of the round, whenever you spend a Raise to cause a Wound to another character or to reduce the Strength of a Brute Squad, you the effect is doubled. You cause 2 wounds, or reduce their strength by 2, for each Raise you spend.

It isn't a particularly interesting mechanic, but it has a direct use. It's easy to understand in application. That makes it pretty boring.

On the other hand, as a GM, if I write up a similar power and through the course of the story I give the strega in my group the option to pick up this custom power, they are more likely to find it much more interesting. The fact that it is unique to them adds a lot of spice.

Simple mechanics become a lot more interesting when they are YOURS only, when YOU are the only strega who can smack people around with fate strands.

Things like the Pull power are meant as much to be a specific power available to players as they are a signpost that this kind of thing is okay. It's a little outside the traditional role and scope of sorte, but it isn't WILDLY out of line. It doesn't come completely out of left-field, and even if someone doesn't particularly like the implementation or isn't interested in it, they can see how it would work and how this power relates to fate strands in a general way.

 

 

 

 

Mars University
Mars University's picture

Thanks for adding this in here. I had already seen this on Reddit, but its a good reference for anyone stumbling upon this thread in the future.

From Mike Curry's comments, I get the impression that the Sorcery abilities are intended as tent-pole examples of each power set, and they left a lot of room for custom or special/rare powers to be added by individual player groups. Definitely good to keep in mind!

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

In so far as adding strengths to the strands, perhaps have it so that the strega must spend Raises equal to the strength of the strand, less her Wits, and for every Raise she comes up shy, she suffers a Lash?

To be honest, I'm kinda glad that the whole "strength of the strands" thing got removed, as in the few games I played in where a strega was present, it often proved to be more of a hassle... though part of that could have been the GM being a dick (something he was sadly known for) and screwing with the strega's player so that he couldn't be nearly as effective as the characters the GM's buddies were playing.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog
http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/

LibrariaNPC
LibrariaNPC's picture

That is an option, honestly.

Personally, I'm on the fence about Strength being removed. I feel that the emotional/fate manipulation that makes a Strega the way she is wasn't as prominent in this new edition, so I'd like to see something like it come back.

 

As for the situation you mention, yeah total dick move from the GM from the sounds of it. I've run into that a few times, but from my experience as a GM, the Strength ratings are really useful to gauge just how important something is to someone. . .and what can happen if it's gone.

"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to create a sarcasm font." --Lost_Heretic

Evan Sageser
Evan Sageser's picture

I think the main issue with strand strength was that they were difficult to really distinguish.

What is the functional difference between a Strength 2 sword strand and a Strength 3 strand? How much more do they hate each other because of such a change in strength?

It just feels somewhat fiddly in a system that's supposed to be very dramatic. It doesn't help that the books seemed to all but ignore strands when talking about NPCs.

Frankly I'd rather go with the idea to go fully abstract. There are strands, the suits are a handy way to differentiate between them, and they are varying in strength but we don't have to give them distinct numbers.

LibrariaNPC
LibrariaNPC's picture

I feel the numbers just help in the mechanical way. I mean, having the suits to help understand the type of relationship is vital, in my opinion, but as it currently stands, a Streghe in 2nd Edition can't do anything to alter emotions. The best we have in the mechanics is applying Pressure via Sorte (with creative allowances from the GM) to allow this; otherwise, we don't get the same feel of fraying, cutting, or creating strands, which I'd personally LOVE to see return.

"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to create a sarcasm font." --Lost_Heretic

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

So was reading through the Strega web supplement that AEG published way back when, and got to thinking about maybe incorporating some of those elements, as well as perhaps including the Sorte spreads, as well as perhaps including the Master-tier ablity to manipulate the Black Strands.

However, rather than try to cludge up both Minor and Major versions for each of these, what if instead they were all treated as being Minor Weaves, and that upon purchasing the Sorcery Knack the Strega had the option to in place of learning a single Major weave they could learn two Minor Weaves.  This would mean that a Fate Witch PC would need to purchase more than 4 ranks of Sorcery if they wanted to fully master Sorte, but I don't see that as being much of a drawback.  And being Minor Weaves in general (apart from the Black Strands Weave), they should be fairly low-powered.

I don't have much in the way of mechanics on these, as this is a notion that's still very much in the early formative stages, and truthfully was brought about from a recent play session where a Fate Witch PC bemoaned the fact that she couldn't really make use of the Curse weave (she's got both Major and Minor) to hinder the foes our group was facing; she's otherwise cool with Blessings needing set-up to work, or that using Curse requires some duplicity to get the full effect, but having a few more options, both in and outside of Action Sequences, wouldn't be too bad of a notion.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog
http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/

LibrariaNPC
LibrariaNPC's picture

This could be interesting. Just to flesh it out a bit more, would you consider that each "Strand" be it's own Weave in this case, and allow a character to influence that strand in some way? 

As an alternative to my original notes (above), perhaps we can tone down the crunchiness (especially with strengths outside of narration) and try having a minor and major weave (or multiple, if need be) for each.

For example: 

Minor Weaves can work as a blessing/curse, without needing the same type of prepwork. This is literally modifying a strand that exists and altering in a way to benefit one side over the other, but the strand must exist. 
Use the rules for the Major Blessing/Curse, but it must be in accordance to the Strand (+dice=Lashes, can be spent on any action in relation to strand; Swords are combat, Coins are commerce, etc).

Major Weaves (should we choose to take this route) allow creations of the strand. Perhaps it counts as a bonus die for the scene because it is new (and a bit volatile; extra unused die does mean more Danger Points)?

Use the above for each Strand (except Black) and call it good. If we go by 1 major, 1 minor for each Sorcery Advantage, that's another 4 purchases. If we only go minor and give 2 minor for each purchase, then that's still 2 more Sorcery Advantes.

 

I'm not sure what you think about my Spread notes, but perhaps if each of them (except Black and Arcana) were a Minor weave, it would give players two minors and a major for each strand. I do feel I may have made things too complicated (too fond of the original and all that), but I'm really just playing with the rules to allow a longer-lasting Blessing. Any input there?

 

Side Note: I've allowed Sorte Strega to use their Hero Points to aid another character with a simple "I tweak the strands." This nixes the need for a power and allows a player to grant a bonus when they normally could not (such as standing on the sidelines of a duel). It seems to work out and not horribly unbalanced, but I'm wondering if I should include a cost (one Lash?).

"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to create a sarcasm font." --Lost_Heretic

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Yeah, we did suggest the using of a Hero Point to bolster an ally as an example of a Fate Witch "tweaking the strands," with the same possibly being said of her creating Opportunities (and she's got the Team Player Advantage).  But the problem is having Hero Points on hand to do that, and while the player does understand that Sorcery in this game isn't meant to be a road to great power, she'd still like to have useful things to do beyond using Pull or just setting up Opportunities for the other players.

Honestly, not really had time to give this much more than a cursory thought as I've been focused on getting everything compiled and edited for my Converted Duelist Styles document as well as fine-tuning a list of converted/homebrew Advantages.

At a glance, might say treat the 1e Apprentice abilities as Minor Weaves, with the Adept and Master abilties as Major Weaves.  Probably not worth trying to convert all of them, as probably don't want to overload a Strega with too many Sorte powers.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog
http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/

Lule NZ
Lule NZ's picture
It seems that we're intended to invent interesting unique powers specific to a player as we go, but I like some of these ideas being stock powers. Helps bring back the feel I got from reading about Sorte in 1st ed and gives further inspiration when inventing player specific abilities.

In my current game we don't have any Sorte users but I did create an NPC that could, to a degree, tell if someone was lying. As we don't have any Strega players I didn't explain how it worked but in my mind it was something along the lines of: for a limited time whenever someone answers a question or states something as fact the Strega sees one strand that exists between the person and something related to what they are saying. Colour and strength help determine if they are telling the truth. Questions have to be asked carefully so as to illicit answers that will generate a strand to the right "thing". The NPC only had a bit part early on so I left it vague in my mind but if a player wanted the ability I think it would be interesting. The trick is to make sure they ask the right sorts of questions to avoid the strand that becomes visible linked to the wrong "thing" (after all, much of the time you will not see what's at the other end of the strand unless it also happens to be in line of site).

Probaby needs a bit of refining for actual player use but I liked the general idea.

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Mechanically, the whole "lie detection through Sorte" could be replicated for a Player by using a combination of Empathy and what are called "Barnum statements," which are the sort of general statements that many a fairground fortune teller has employed.  Some examples given in the Strega web-splat were...

"I know what you did last week." - person must have done something he's ashamed of in a week.

"Your fear is transparent to me." - of course he's afraid, he's being questioned/interrogated by a Fate Witch.

"This was not the whole truth; do not lie to me again." - His first offering is not going to be the whole truth, or you'd not be questioning him in the first place.

"You have a great need for other people to like and admire you." - who doesn't?

A great TV example can be found in the series Babylon 5, where Garbaldi and PsiCop Bester are working together to track down a shipment of illegal psi-boosting drugs.  Bester is forced to be put on drugs that suppress his telepathic abilities, more so that he doesn't just casually read the minds of the B5 command staff, who are doing things that EarthGov (now under control by a President Evil) wouldn't approve of.  During an interrogation with a perp, Bester just casually looks at the perp and says "he's lying."  And when Garibaldi calls Bester on how the blazes he managed to use his telepathic talent, Bester just says that he didn't, and explained in a wonderfully smug tone that his PsiCop uniform and PsiCorp badge gave a psychological edge (not unlike Garibaldi's uniform), and the perp's immediate response made it clear that he wasn't giving Garibaldi the full truth.

Bearing in mind that most people only know the inflated stories about what a Fate Witch can actually accomplish with her sorcery, it's easy to get the ill-informed to believe she has far greater powers than she can actually accomplish.  Used properly, the black dress and veil can be potent psychological tools in getting others to do what you want them to, and sometimes the threat of Sorte (which can't be seen or identified unless you've got the sorcery yourself) can be more potent than Sorte itself.  After all, who's to say that run of bad luck you've been having the past few days isn't the result of a Strega whom you managed to annoy? ;)

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog
http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/

LibrariaNPC
LibrariaNPC's picture

^This. For all the things good and sweet in the Grumfather's beard, this.

As a fun note, in most of my campaigns I've been in as a player and a GM, the Strega of the group was known to break away from the veil when she could. In one game. she would sometimes dress the Castillian woman as a Strega. In another campaign, the Strega would dress the courtesan in the normal attire. This surely made things intimidating as sometimes BOTH would dress up that way, and sometimes it proved to be a distraction as everyone is watching the "Strega" and not the woman actually pulling the strands. Creative stuff, there.

 

Back on topic: You can also argue that each of these "Barnum statements" can be used to create Opportunities. Say a player really wants a reason to hate an NPC, they can technically create one by using Opportunities with an appropriate skill. You don't need to be a Fate Witch to do it, but it does add some extra oomph to the story when it happens that way.

You could argue that a Strega could just make Opportunities like this even if they aren't technically true. Not sure if it's worth making a power over it or not, but the psychological side of things (as well as the storytelling mechanics built into the game) surely make this a valid option.

"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to create a sarcasm font." --Lost_Heretic

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Yeah, after a discussion at the table after last Wednesday's session, I was thinking that between use of Pressure and Opportunities, a Fate Witch PC could do quite a lot all while flavoring it as her manipulating/twisting/tugging the strands.

Pressure represents various ways she confounds or trips up an opponent through subtle plucking of the strands, making them dance to her tune, while Opportunities (especially if she's got Team Player) reflect ways she tweaks and arranges the strands to make her allies more able to accomlish their desired goals.

For instance, a Fate Witch is asked by a trusted ally to help him humiliate a common rival while all three are attending a high society function.  Sure, she can break out a Blessing, but during the rest of the Dramatic Sequence, she can use Pressure to stymie the rival and Opportunties to make things play out in her ally's favor with whatever Raises she generates.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog
http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/

Lule NZ
Lule NZ's picture

I didn't think about the psychological impact of the mere presence of a Strega, certainly a powerful tool.  In my scene only one player was involved and it was not made clear at any point that the lady was a Strega.  One could of course make that assumption but he may not have as, like myself, he is new to the world of 7th Sea.

In the scene in question (in brief) the player happened to be in a Montaigne debtors prison and a group of inmates were rounded up and brought into a room in which a uniformed man sat at a table with a cowled woman in black standing to one side.  Before the player's turn at the table he was able to witness a few prisoners taken (one at a time) to the table where the uniformed man asked questions - all related to a certain subject, at each answer the woman in black, who did not speak and stood out of line of site of the sitting person, would slightly shake or nod her head.  At the end of the questioning each prisoner was put into one of two groups.

The psychological impact I was going for was more generic not knowing exactly what her movements meant, what the questioning meant and what the two groups were for.  Also given that the worman's head movements could not be seen by the person being actively questioned added a level of tension.  I didn't really pull it off very well but that was the idea I was going for anyway.

I think when our group is more familiar and immersed in the setting it will be easier to deploy psychology specific to the world.

At first I didn't like the lack of detail in the magic sections of 2e and it does still annoy me a bit but not so much as it did because throwing in custom unique powers for players and npcs alike means people won't be so ready to make assumptions about whats going on, which I think helps keep things interesting (and thwarts any smug players who know the books so well they can instantly identify what abilities are in play at any particular time).

I think I've drifted off topic now, sorry.

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

So looking at the Card Spreads, I'm thinking these could be compressed into a single Tesse, with a minor and major effect.  The Fate Witch does not have to suffer a Lash to use the card spreads, but she can only perform them during a Dramatic Sequence as Action Sequences are geneally too frantic.  No Lashes need to be taken since the character's weaving of the strands using a card spread is generally more controlled and careful than typical weaving.

Minor - choose one of the four suites, which provides a +1 bonus depending on the suite, with the bonus lasting for the rest of the scene.
Cups: Target recieves a bonus die on Tempt checks.
Coins: Target's Wealth is considered to be one higher.
Staves: Target's Reputation is considered to be one higher.
Swords: Target receives a bonus die when making a combat-related risk

Major - as above, but the effects last the entire session and the Strega has to spend a Hero Point

The Arcana Spread is already covered under the Arcana tesse, and the Black Spread is really more of a narrative thing since this edition doesn't have aging rules; in fact I'd say that if a Strega has the Major Weave for the Black Strands tesse, then she's aware of this particular trick of keeping herself youthful looking and uses it on occasion with there needing to be any invocation of game mechanics.

Yes, they do look fairly weak, but the fact they don't invoke Lashes makes them quite useful to a Strega that wants to help her fellow Heroes but is leery about taking too many Lashes in quick succession.  And since only the Major spreads need a Hero Point, this means a Strega could use the Minor spreads to help her allies in various ways.  And no, you can't stack the effects of a spread on a single character in a scene; no doubling-down on Swords spreads to make a Duelist into an even more fearsome killer, and no stacking Coins and Staves on the courtier at the same time.

I'm pondering a "Manipulate" tesse, with the Minor weave being a revamp of the "Fate's Attention" trick and the Major Weave being inspired by the "Weaving" ability.

Manipulate (my take, very rough draft)
Minor - The witch takes 1 Lash, and the target immediately gains or loses 1 Raise (witch's choice) during the current Round.
Major - The witch spends a Hero Point and takes 1 Lash.  At her choosing, the target gains or loses (witch's choice) 1 Raise to all Risks for the rest of the scene.

So my take on Manipulate is a blending of the Blessing and Curse Tesse, trading the "must kiss them ahead of time" requirement of those Tesse for what is generally a weaker effect, as there's no option to boost Manipulate's effects where you can go hog wild with Blessing or Curse if you so wish.

As for a Black Strands Tesse, that's going to be a bit tricker.  This should be potent, but also hard to obtain, and likely require the Strega to have at least 4 ranks of Sorcery before they can learn these weaves, since manipulating the Black Strands (at least in 1e fluff) is the domain of Sorte Masters.

Black Strands (again, very rough draft)
Minor - Spend a Hero Point and take 1 Lash.  For the rest of the scene, any time the target suffers Wounds, they suffer 1 additional Wound.
Major - Spend a Hero Point and take 1 or more Lashes.  The target immediately suffers a number of Dramatic Wounds equal to the number of Lashes you currently have, but you also suffer a Dramatic Wound and gain Corruption for committing an Evil Act.

Yes, the Major weave is scary-powerful, which I think is very fitting for a rare and dangerous art, but it's also got a notable cost attached.  And if the Strega gets too reliant upon it, just remember that Corruption as laid out on page 203 compounds; so using the Major weave too often leads your Strega to becoming a Villain, maybe even one of the Unravelled if she also happens to die from the Dramatic Wound she suffers.

The Minor weave is sort of an conglomeration of the various little effects that the Behind the Veil web sourcebook listed, which all boiled down to "make the target's time of death approach faster," which in this system would itself boil down to "takes more Wounds."  Yeah, it's only 1 Wound, but the fact it lasts the rest of the scene... that's a nasty thing to drop on somebody that's in the midst of an Action Sequence or taking a Risk with high Wound-related Consequences.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog
http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/

LibrariaNPC
LibrariaNPC's picture

I have to respectfully disagree on a few fronts. I'm on the fence about making Manipulate and Spread a single Tesse instead of one per strand; I'm also not sure if that gives it TOO much versatility, or if it's too limited. If 

On Spreads: I agree that the Dramatic Scene is the way to go, because it takes time (and Action scenes are too chaotic). I do disagree with the current approach, though; Spreads are something that should have long-term effects, or at least take some time for them to come to fruition. They were more of a "nudge the universe and get eventual results" than the "instant satisfaction" of creating a new strand/blessing.

I went with Lashes as a means to dictate the amount of rewards and due to how long they last. Perhaps, we could reach a compromise by granting a smaller bonus for a set period of time (or buildup in the future) that can be extended by Lashes?

For example:

Coins: Perform the Coins Spread. The target gains +1 Wealth at the beginning of the next session, +1 additional Wealth for each Lash (up to 3) (Minor). The target gains +1 Wealth by the beginning of the next scene (if applicable; doesn't always work in the wilderness), +1 additional Wealth for each Lash.

Cups: Perform the Cups Spread. The target gains +1 bonus die to Tempt rolls, +1 additional die for each Lash (up to 3). The effect lasts until the end of the next scene (Minor). As above, but the effects last until the end of the session (Major). 
Alternative: Grant re-rolls instead of +1 die. Sometimes, a re-roll is a bit more useful.

Staves: Perform the Staves Spread. The target gains +1 to a specific Reputation, with an additional +1 to that Reputation for each Lash (up to 3). The effect lasts until the end of the next scene (Minor). As above, but the effects last until the end of the session (Major).

Swords: Perform the Swords Spread on a weapon. Anyone weilding that weapon may re-roll 1 die, +1 additional die for each Lash (up to 3) when using that weapon. The effect lasts until the end of the next scene (Minor). As above, but the effects last until the end of the session (Major).
Alternative: The weapon gains a number of "Destiny Dice." Destiny dice can be added to any combat roll, but once used, they are gone. Destiny dice also last for a limited time; either the session (Minor) or story (Major). An item can only be given a Destiny once per story.

 

I still think each of these should come at a Hero Point cost, as all magical effects have a Hero Point cost due to how they modify the rules.

 

As for Manipulate, I'm really on the fence. I don't like the idea of taking away Raises, because there are few abilities that already do this and have their own requirements (Cursing requires a kiss, for example, and only the Major one takes away Raises). 

Perhaps, to combine our ideas again:

Strand Manipulation: 

Minor: The Strega spends a hero point and takes one lash to manipulate an already existing strand. The target benefitting from this gains +1 Raise for this round. Additional lashes may be spent to prolong the effect (1 lash per round).

Major: The Strega spends a hero point and takes one lash to create a brand new strand. Both sides of the strand gain +1 Raise when interacting with each other regarding that strand. This bonus lasts for the Scene. The strega may, at her own volition, take 3 additional Lashes to modify this strand as per the Minor talent without spending an additional Hero Point.

 

This way, no one is losing Raises, and the bonus only goes to the side that would benefit. As creating Strands was often tricky and lead to some potentially volatile results, I thought the +1 Raise to both sides was fitting. The additional dice or + result to dice doesn't fit well in Dramatic scenes, so the Raises are the better way to go.

I would like to consider another Major Tesse to show cutting strands (perhaps that's a "Lose a Raise" scenario?), but at a high Lash cost.

 

The Black Strand should probably only be a Major Tesse, because only masters can acquire it. As an option, perhaps we could require that the Strega mastered the other arts, and a Sorcery purchase only goes to this (as it no minors can be purchased). 

The Black Strand: Spend a Hero point and take 5 lashes. You create a Black Strand for the target, signifying their death. The strand is weak, and only lasts for the Scene. For the rest of the scene, the target cannot prevent wounds taken, and will die once they take their final Dramatic Wound. Gain a Corruption point for taking an Evil Act.

 

I think this ups what you had, but has a high start-up cost as well as instilling an additional type of fear. 

"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to create a sarcasm font." --Lost_Heretic

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

On losing Raises, the Pull minor weave does exactly that (one Raise) with the chance to inflict Wounds.

Also, I'm not 100% sold on every weave needing a Hero Point to be spent.  The Blessings, Curse, and Pull minor weaves all just say "take a Lash" while the major weaves and both Arcana waves specifically say "spend a Hero Point" on top of taking one or more Lashes.  That and I think requiring a Hero Point for every single Tesse, minor or not, starts to make using Sorte prohibitively expensive when it's already got a built-in limiter on overusing it in terms of what happens if you rack up too many Lashes.

Hexenwork and Glamour both provide ever-growing effects for a single Hero Point, where Sorte is more static in comparison; more Sorcery for a Strega just gives her more toys for the toybox, while Hexe gets more recipes and more ungents per Hero Point, and Glamour effects simply get more potent the more ranks invested.  Glamour has a code of conduct that's not super-binding, and same with Mother's Touch.  Porte offers outright teleportation, which has traditionally caused issues in games where it appears.  Sanderis can have some pretty impressive effects for just the Minor Favors, to say nothing of the option of Major Favors whose only limit is pretty much "what the GM will allow."

Sorte manipulations (at least the official ones) are generally more limited in what they can do, so it just feels off that using the minor weaves also require a Hero Point unless they state otherwise, as is the case with Arcana.

Frankly, re-reading the fundamental rules, it feels more and more like trying to shoehorn in things like the Card Spreads and material from that 1e web splat isn't really necessary, since smart use of Pressure and Opportunities along with a GM willing to let the player make use of the narrative already covers a lot of that sort of thing without introducing a lot of clunky and frankly unnecessary mechanics.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog
http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/

LibrariaNPC
LibrariaNPC's picture

Also, I'm not 100% sold on every weave needing a Hero Point to be spent.  The Blessings, Curse, and Pull minor weaves all just say "take a Lash" while the major weaves and both Arcana waves specifically say "spend a Hero Point" on top of taking one or more Lashes.  That and I think requiring a Hero Point for every single Tesse, minor or not, starts to make using Sorte prohibitively expensive when it's already got a built-in limiter on overusing it in terms of what happens if you rack up too many Lashes.

In response to this, I'm quoting page 229 of the core rulebook:

"When a Strega uses a Tessere, she spends a Hero Point and takes at least 1 Lash (some Tessere give the option to take additional Lashes, but the minimum is always 1)."

This means that every Tessere should require a Hero Point, so unless there's something from the devs to clarify that, that's how I've been running it and will run it. Yeah, it's not scaled like Glamour, but Glamour is apparently the major exception to the rule as it is a sliding scale of "More bang for your Hero Point" over time, while the others simply allow a single, specific effect and nothing more.

Additionally, a number of the Tesse allow for prolonged effects that directly impact dice pools (and Pull also deals damage), while most other forms of magic are a one-off effect to do a single thing. Sure, some of them are powerful, but in a Hero-Point-To-Dice ratio, they lose out.

If anything, as it stands, Sorte and Porte kind of got the raw deal here; the effects are severly limited, and there's only a few minor reasons to expand on purchasing more Sorcery ranks. Expanding the options via narration is great, but having additional effects to really flesh them out and give additional reasons to strive for mastery or to bring them more in line with the other sorceries is part of my goal.

 

Frankly, re-reading the fundamental rules, it feels more and more like trying to shoehorn in things like the Card Spreads and material from that 1e web splat isn't really necessary, since smart use of Pressure and Opportunities along with a GM willing to let the player make use of the narrative already covers a lot of that sort of thing without introducing a lot of clunky and frankly unnecessary mechanics.

This is where we may have to agree to disagree. Yes, smart use of Pressure and Opportunities are brilliant, but they can be done by anyone without magic, so they don't really add anything to Sorte.

Additionally, I know a few GMs that want to have a step between the first and second editions for their games; they want the original setting but they want to incorporate a number of new rules. This project, at least on my part, is to help that or even make soem 1st Ed diehards a little more comfortable with the idea.

"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to create a sarcasm font." --Lost_Heretic