When I set out to design Rumors/Subplots, my goal was to create a system to generate story content. Players need something to do? Give ‘em a Rumor.
Then I actually ran a couple hexcrawls and realized how superfluous quests could be to the structure of a game. Enterprising players can certainly come up with their own quests if sufficiently motivated.
It was then a question of randomly generating content for them to explore — the dungeon generator I’ve been working on, with its dungeon classes and whatnot.
Now that I’ve made some pretty good headway with the dungeon generator, I find myself looking back at the Rumor system and wondering what I could possibly use it for — it certainly has things. Things which mean stuff. But, what?
First, I need to tell you that a lot about Rumors changed since the last time I blogged on the subject — the scores changed, the meaning of some scores changed — a bunch of stuff. It left me in the lurch a bit.
Condition. This is what makes the Rumor inherently difficult. It’s an abstraction that basically means “if/then.” I don’t have a use for it, but if a Rumor made Attack rolls, this is what it would Hit you with.
In a way, Condition reflects the ability to fail. Not how, just… fail.
Complexity. This moved, understandably. Complexity applies to and modifies Condition in the same way that Constitution is important to a Fighter. You punch with Strength and take punches with Constitution. If you can’t dish out a whole lot, you’d better be able to take some hits.
Put another way, Complexity is the likelihood that a job will get harder. One thing can be known for sure, that it certainly won’t get any easier.
Challenge. This used to reflect the level of a dungeon created by a Rumor. Rumors don’t create dungeons anymore — don’t populate them, don’t make them harder — which isn’t to say Challenge has no effect, I just don’t know what it is yet.
Difficulty. This is in the same boat as Challenge. It’s different from Challenge — it’s Difficulty after all — both terms have clear definitions. What they do within the context of an adventure is something I haven’t figured out yet.
I realized the the original “Urgency” score was a type of Difficulty but at the same time, it led me to the discovery and understanding of the “Condition” score, above. “Veracity” is gone too, as I realized pretty much the same thing about it — is the Rumor a false lead? Difficulty spike!
Relevance. Still here, and will probably have something to do with the consequences of a Rumor. If the PCs complete the Rumor/Subplot successfully, there’s a good consequence. If they fail, there’s a negative consequence.
These can actually (importantly!) be linked to the Consequences found on the New Character Sheet I shared last week. Blowing off a Rumor once it’s been generated carries with it a minimum penalty of one consequence.
Influence. This is another new score, like Condition. Influence is in some ways, an indicator of how much bargaining power it gives the PCs who complete it successfully. It’s one of the only reasons to do a quest to begin with — sure, you get a reward, but they still kind of owe you. In a way. It’s a whole thing.
It’s an intangible law of connection that exists between business associates — the metaphysical equivalent of a paper trail that leaves a mark on both participants. Wield a Rumor’s Influence with extreme caution. It may blow up in your face.