Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Astrology, Edges, and Conditions

After a long campaign in OHMAS - covering three years, three marriages with another long-term relationship, two births, the death and un-death of a queen, a fairy invasion, foreign machinations, and many strange monsters - I can now say the Astrology mechanic of the Savent is far more important and far-reaching than I thought when I created it.

Here's the Savant writeup from the Blog, and for those too lazy to click, here's the Astronomy bit:

The Astrology Table

Luna rules Emotion
Mercury rules Reason
Venus rules Romance
Mars rules Conflict
Jupiter rules Fortune
Saturn rules Order

Roll Luna Mercury Venus Mars Jupiter Saturn
1-2 Fear Deliberation Flirtation Trickery Secrecy Boundaries
3-4 Hesitance Inspiration Subversion Might Timing Laws
5-6 Horror Analysis Sex Indirect Boldness Customs
7-8 Anger Deduction Seduction Flanking Lavishness Families
9-10 Doubt Mystification Titillation Position Prudence Organizations
11-12 Affection Appreciation Fascination Intimidation Investment Channels
13-14 Lust Deceit Ingratiation Brutality Trust Ethics
15-16 Confidence Misdirection Sympathy Glory Miserliness Morals
17-18 Longing Compromise Intrigue Caution Distrust Patterns
19-20 Joy Persuasion Beauty Opportunity Openness Connections

Note: the Savant may roll several times on one column.

As I am writing IHW: StarCluster, this is becoming very important to me. In OHMAS I called them "temporary Traits", but they are not. They are - in IHW:SC terms - Conditions. In IHW: SC, Worlds have Conditions - i.e. Blistering, Freezing, Dim, Wind-swept, etc. Players have Edges, specialized training or experience with a Condition or range of Conditions. When Condition and Edge match, the character has a bonus.

In OHMAS, the Astrological forecast by the Savant - a random roll - describes the Conditions which are favorable. Whenever characters willfully act in accordance with the Conditions, they get a bonus. In effect, knowledge of the Condition becomes an Edge when the characters put it into effect by going that way. If Mars (Conflict) favors Intimidation, bluff and bravado become much more effective. If Mars favors Trickery, on the other hand, setting up a trap might be a better bet.

What this does that I didn't anticipate is set the day's agenda for both the PCs and the GM. If your Conditions are Horror, Mystification, Seduction, and Opportunity, the GM should set those Conditions in play descriptively. By matching the Conditions, the day's opposition starts to write itself. This becomes a powerful tool for Situational GMing - acting as a daily Situation seed. I began basing what the opposition was doing on these Conditions, by having the opposition act so as to create those very conditions. The PCs had automatic buy-in, because they *wanted* that bonus. The more Conditions they matched, the bigger their Edge.

The same will hold true with IHW:SC, though to a more limited extent. The world has extant Conditions, and matching these Conditions with Edges gives them bonuses. They will tend to act in accordance with their Edges, if they can be brought to bear. The Situation starts to build itself. It all makes a great deal of sense, from either an emulative or story point of view, and works without conscious volition apart from the players initial choice of Edges.


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