Sunday, November 26, 2017

Gorgon Archer - Clockwork Dominion - Character Advancement

Character Creation and the Gorgon Archer

Characters advance by the acquisition of Experience Points which are spent on increasing stats with an escalating sequence of costs. The game presents several options for how to award experience points but suggest an average of 2 to 4 experience points per session. One option is for everyone to gain an set reward for every session, referred to as an Installment in the vein of old Victorian serials. This set reward is in addition to any circumstances, such as acquiring a permanent Liability in game play, that might also grant Experience Points.

The second offered option is awarding experience points on an individual basis. This is not my favorite way to do things, because even with the best of intentions it can become difficult to keep track of how much XP each character has acquired over the course of the campaign. Also, in the case of players who are more naturally reticent, you might end up having to stretch matters in order to keep them along the same level as the more active players. Some people, however, consider this method as an incentive to encourage more active play. In this case the rewards are as follows:
  • 1 point for participation
  • 1 point for significant progress toward a personal goal
  • 1 point for each player that took risks in furtherance of their pursuit or roleplaying their Affinities.
  • 1 point for characters who were convinced of something in social combat and accepted the results.
  • 1 point for the character voted by the players as the single most valuable character of the session.
The third mission is to use what they refer to as "Book Award Ceremonies" which is an additional experience reward on top of the normal session awards for when you reach the end of a particular story arc. In this case everyone gains one experience award for participating in the Book and the players then vote for players that most added to one of the themes of the Book. Some example themes are as follows:
  • Steam - The character most involved with discovering, creating, using, or learning about advanced science or technology.
  • Punk - The character that most actively supported or threatened a social system or institution.
  • Victorian - The character most involved in historical Victorian society: politics, romantic entanglements, fashion, etc.
  • Horror - The character most involved in uncovering hidden knowledge, most impacted by Pontus events, chimera and/or aberrations, or surviving some sort of personal horror.
The game also suggests that you can speed up the pace of the awards if you desire a shorter campaign or a faster acquisition of ability.

As to the cost of the advancements, they are as follows:
  • Increasing an Aptitude costs the new rank x5 experience points.
  • Increasing a Skill costs the new rank x2 experience points.
  • Increasing a Reputation costs the new rank x2 experience points.
  • Increasing an Affinity costs the new rank x1 experience points.
  • Gaining an Asset requires consulting with the GM and spending 7 experience points.
  • Losing an Asset permanently grants the player 5 experience points with consultation with the GM.
  • Gaining a Liability permanently grants the player experience points with consultation with the GM.
  • Losing a Liability permanently requires consulting with the GM and spending 7 experience points.
  • Becoming partially fluent in a language costs 2 experience.
  • Becoming fully fluent in a language costs 5 experience new, or 3 experience to update a partially fluent language.
It is also possible for players to use their experience to affect a permanent change in the Affinities or Reputations of an NPC. For example if they decided to put a lot of effort into harming the reputation of an antagonist or building an affinity in a potential love interest. The costs for this are as follows:
  • Decreasing Reputation costs the Fixed rank x2.
  • Increasing Reputation costs the Temporary rank x2
  • Decreasing Affinity costs the Fixed rank x2
  • Increasing Affinity costs the Temporary rank x2
For this simulation, I am going to use the Installment based award with Book Ceremonies. I am assuming six books of three installments each. I am going to assume 3 points per Installment and two bonus XP at the end of each Book. This will come to 11 experience per Book.

Starting Stats


Book 1 - The Curious Curse - Strange occurrences in a mining community have attracted the attention of the group. The hear rumors of a strange curse but they are able to find no indication of magic in use. Eventually, they find proof that the curse is a hoax being perpetrated by the owner of the land as a way to trick the mining country into breaking their contract with him and gain a business advantage. Before they can expose the landowner, some miners are killed resulting in the mine being legitimately haunted. - The gorgon earned the Punk theme award for very publicly accusing the landowner. - 11 Experience

With the GMs approval, she takes the Estate Merit on the understanding that this is revealing things that were already true but did not yet appear in the game. - 7 XP

Does not play the game - Reputation 1 - 2 XP - Due to her blunt and public shaming of the landowner she has gained a reputation for not following the normal noble behavior of avoiding public displays.

2 XP Banked

Book 2 - Family Concerns - One of the men controlling her family interests has been turned to stone and the gorgon is accused of turning to one of her distant aunts to deal with him. The team witchfinders are forced to investigate the gorgon and evidence keeps piling up against the gorgon until they are able to prove that another of her enemies used illusions and magic to pass as the Mills in provoking Stheno on the idea of eliminating two problems at once. Mills is barely able to convince Stheno and Euryale to punishing the man for his actions and trust him to mortal justice. - Mills earns the Victorian theme award for the politics involved. - 11 Experience (Total 13)

Improves her Reason to 2 - 5 XP
Improves her Composure to 3 - 6 XP

2 XP banked

Book 3 - A Riot in Redding - Laborers are being roused to violent protests as a result of horrible working conditions. The group investigates and finds that the local company has infiltrated the workers with changeling instigators designed to provoke these riots and use those to convince politicians to pass draconian laws in their favor. - Mills earns the Adventure theme for a street running duel between her and the criminal changeling. - 11 Experience (13 Total)

Improves her Firearms to 4 - 8 XP
Valor without Compassion is Blind improves to 3 - 3 XP

2 XP banked

Book 4 - No One Expects The Inquisition - Agents of the Magisterium are chasing a powerful entity of evil into London and they don't care that Britain doesn't want them on her soil. The concern for a witch is legitimate however, and the situation turns into a three-way battle between the Inquistion, the characters, and the evil being sought. The Inquisition is sent out of Britain without killing them, but the evil remains in Britain. - Mills earns the Horror theme when the Magisterium captures her and tortures her. She also loses an eye, suffering an Impaired Senses Liability. - 16 Experience (18 Total)

Improves Composure to 4 - 8 XP
Loyal to the Crown - Reputation 1 - 2 XP 
Loyal to the Crown Affinity 2 - 3 XP

5 XP Banked

Book 5 - Carpathian Foulness - The group begins the hunt for the villain that the Magisterium was chasing, a vampire from further East. The characters work with a Dutchman by the name of Van Helsing and manage to track the villain's hiding places. Unfortunately, they are only able to chase him out of Britain rather than destroy him outright. Van Helsing and a few others continue the pursuit but the characters are asked to remain in Britain. - Mills gains the Punk theme for convincing the others to listen to the call of the Crown and leave the hunt for the vampire to others. - 11 Experience (Total 15)

With consultation with the GM, Mills gains two ranks of Membership: Army, regaining her position as an active soldier with a promotion to Lieutenant both as befitting her title and her recent deeds. - 14 XP

2 XP Banked

Book 6 - On Her Majesty's Orders - The group is addressed by representatives of the Queen with requests to head across the ocean to address some concerns in Canada. As they pursue that investigation they discover a Colonel Moran trying to provoke a renewed war between the United States and the British Empire. He claims to be sparked by a prophecy that the States would eventually overshadow the Empire, but it is revealed that said prophecy is a hoax and he is actually hoping to profit off of the war especially if the States can be reconquered. - Mills receives the Punk theme for exposing the plot to public awareness in Canada and the States, embarrassing the crown. - 11 XP (Total 13)

Does not Play the Game improves to 2 - 4 XP
Valor without Compassion improves to 4 - 4 XP
Loyal to the Crown reputation improves to 2 - 4 XP
Shifts from Purpose 2/Ether 3 to Purpose 3/Ether 2

Gorgon Archer

Countess Millicent Wintercrest formerly Sgt "Mills" Kellery
Weak-Blooded Trickster Changeling
Pursuit: Freedom 
Profession: Hunter
Background: Soldier
Class: 4 - Titled Nobility
Means: 2 - Small townhouse with one or two servants
Purpose: 3
Ether: 2

Languages: English
Glamour: Weak-Blooded Changelings start with two Glamours for which they have enough Guile to qualify for.
Captivate - Your social attacks have the Entrapped weapon condition.
Hex - Force opponent to draw two cards and use the worse.
Unnatural -Weak-blooded changelings receive some acceptance in metropolitan areas but are still treated with awe and fear in rural communities.
Grace 4
Vigor 2
Focus 2
Reason 2
Presence 2
Will 3
Physical Defense: 4
Guard: 1 (2 with Weapon)
Social Defense: 7
Esteem: Status Trait (Means/Class) - Tenor +/- half relevant reputation to encounter
Academics 1
Athletics 2
Command 2
Composure 4
Firearms 5 (Army Rank 2) - Mastery: Marksman - Aim maneuvers bypass Light and Heavy cover.
Fisticuffs 1
Guile 2 
Intuition 1
Melee 1
Parley 1
Stealth 2
Survival 2
Streetwise 1
Tactics 2 
Vocation: Soldier 1 (Army Rank 1)
Title - Countess
Higher Class x3 - Increase Class by 1
Well-Off - Increase Means by 1
Estate - Size of property that of someone of Means one rank higher. Sustains itself but doesn't have the usual number of servants.
Army Membership Rank - 2 - Authority, Bonus Reputation, Bonus Training
Obviously Inhuman (Snakes for Hair) - Despite the many generations separating her from her inhuman ancestor, she has presented the clear sign of her heritage. No matter the care you employ, only supernatural methods will conceal your inhuman nature and you will be treated with fear or disdain at best, hostility at worst. You suffer a -1 penalty to Esteem in addition to other penalties imposed by bloodline.
Meddlesome Parent - One of Medusa's sisters has learned of her existence and interferes regularly.
Impaired Senses (One Eye) - Any Focus checks relying on Sight suffer a -2 penalty and cannot achieve remarkable or phenomenal success levels unless a Fate card is drawn.
Valor without Compassion is Blind - 4
Loyal to the Crown - 2
I prefer to be alone - 1
Raised Among the Peasants - 2
British Officer - 2
Loyal to the Crown - 2
Does not play the game - 2
Descendant of Perseus - 1 

Further Notes

The game has a few interesting things about it that I did not immediately consider and that involves the ability to purchase Affinities and Reputations. These allow for a lot of flexibility that I did not originally take into consideration when I was looking at the character advancement. Affinities are especially low cost and given the large amount of times social combat is designed to come up they can be especially powerful. I also acquired quite a few Reputations though I didn't raise any past 2. 

In fact, Skills cost the same level as Reputations, but I only increased a couple, including gaining some increases via the Army Membership Asset. The Affinities and Reputations are just so much more flavorful than the Skills that when I was spending points they were the first thing I jumped towards. I imagine in the course of an actual game that weaknesses in the build would become more clear and inspire me to spend more on Aptitudes and Skills, but even then, I think I'd be hitting the Affinities and Reputations more often.

Going for the social abilities is especially something that would happen with as much social negatives as this character has being suddenly thrust into nobility while being much of what the nobles hate. That said, some of her Reputations actually make things difficult for her when dealing with other nobles and her rank 4 Affinity involves both valor and compassion but not decorum and would cause her to speak out when most nobles would prefer to keep their silence. This sort of makes these act like Virtues in Scion where the higher Virtues give you substantial benefits but make act ever more unreasonably in certain circumstances.

Increasing Aptitudes, gaining Assets, and the higher ranks of Skills are rather expensive requiring definite attention and saving up which definitely represents the amount of effort it takes to reach mastery or to improve one of your basic capabilities. In addition, the affect of your Aptitudes and Skills on tests is small enough that you won't be too limited by not advancing the Skill or Aptitude, but significant enough that it has a measurable impact, especially if you raise a Skill to five and get a Mastery.

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