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Author Topic: Setting assumptions and a problem with the use of Contacts.  (Read 1204 times)
SilvercatMoonpaw
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« on: April 21, 2012, 09:11:49 AM »

I’m slowly coming up with a FantasyCraft setting and the rules to go along with it.  The assumption I have is that the PCs will generally go to different regions for each adventure.  This then creates the problem, if Contacts are used, of normal Contacts just not being useful because the PCs never return to where they live.  Yet they fit better than any other kind of Prize with the exception of Renown (Magic Items I want to be more background elements, a mobile Holding would get filled up fast with nothing else to spend Rep on, and Favors I see as basically temporary Contacts).

It is my thought, therefore, that rather than require location-based Contacts instead represents the type of individual that can be called on.  Non-important details such as Species might differ based on GM prerogative, but what the NPC would be useful for would stay the same.  Of course some types of Contacts wouldn’t be available everywhere just based on logic.

So then what about the Explorer Core Ability?  Well first off the “summon Contact” part would sometimes represent finding a wholly new Contact for those times when it just shouldn’t be possible to meet an old one.  There is also the thought of allowing mutability in the special Contact such that the Explorer has a more flexible array of skills to call on.  Except that this may make the ability too good, granting Explorers an infinite array of Contacts from only one slot.

Can anybody help think of a way to keep the existing Explorer Core Ability relevant, or think of a new one?
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Mister Andersen
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2012, 09:45:32 AM »

Once per scene spend an action die to gain a culture-related study + associated language of their choice that lasts until the end of the scene?
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tfwfh
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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2012, 09:53:08 AM »

Well, I can see a couple solutions to this problem.  First is that, if it's really that common for the heroes to spend so much time traveling, maybe it's similarly more common for their allies to travel as well?  So Contacts as presented in the rules could just be a lot more available, because they are already accustomed to traveling and because they are more likely to be nearby when the characters call on them.  You might allow that if the PC is within the Contact's home region (nation, continent, or whatever scale you're operating at) then they can be easily summoned as normal, and when outside that region, some additional measures need to be taken, such as sending a message via courier.  And then the Contact may or may not be willing to make the trip, at your discretion.

The other option is similar to what you suggested.  Rather than a contact being a single character, it could represent a network of characters.  So rather than the PC gaining the favor and service of Friar Tuck, the PC instead gains the favor of an order or Friars.  When the PC wants to call on this "contact", it's simply a matter of deciding whether there is a member of this order in the area and if there is, finding him, which might involve some skill check, or not.

With either option the Explorer's core ability works pretty much unchanged.  Spending an action and waiting a few hours guarantees that his contact will be available.  But, it also makes everyone else's contacts more available, without necessarily trampling on the Explorer.
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SilvercatMoonpaw
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2012, 11:41:29 AM »

The other option is similar to what you suggested.  Rather than a contact being a single character, it could represent a network of characters.  So rather than the PC gaining the favor and service of Friar Tuck, the PC instead gains the favor of an order or Friars.  When the PC wants to call on this "contact", it's simply a matter of deciding whether there is a member of this order in the area and if there is, finding him, which might involve some skill check, or not.
I also think of it as PCs having a kind of "destiny" for what kind of people they meet.  So you're always running across grizzled war veterans or sultry dancers because.....well, that's the sort of story the character is in.  Of course maybe that sort of thing should be reserved for:

With either option the Explorer's core ability works pretty much unchanged.  Spending an action and waiting a few hours guarantees that his contact will be available.  But, it also makes everyone else's contacts more available, without necessarily trampling on the Explorer.
I suppose you're right.  The Explorer ability might be considered "ability insurance", just a tad bit exempt from GM story considerations.

It's just something I have to be sure of when thinking about how games in the setting should work.
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Sletchman
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2012, 02:13:50 PM »

Depending on the setting, your PCs might just look at investing in different kinds of contacts.  An outsider, spellcaster, or supernatural being who can astrally project or teleport is pretty available just about everywhere (given a means to contact them - magically or ritually).

I also like the idea in Spycraft that your contact doesn't necessarily help you out personally - but rather, he has a guy in the area who can hook you up with [X].  That kind of thing can follow through in fantasy pretty well: "Oh, Gentleman Johnson owes you a favour?  He saved me life this one time back west, so I'll hook you up."  This one is likely more predicated on the the concept of rapid long distance communication though (and works with the former idea - they PCs know a wizard, they magically contact him, and he magically contacts a subordinate/ally in the area they are in to help them out).

Finally, you mentioned mobile holdings - with that in mind, PCs can bring some contacts with them.  A contact who is the pilot of your mobile holding (even just a regular Ship's navigator) can be called on to do something more immediate then be in the background.

Just thinking out loud here - none of these might work with your setting.  If you're looking for an alternate Core Ability option for the Explorer, I quite like Mr A's idea of gain a temporary language/culture - it really fits the Explorer's motif.
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Mister Andersen
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2012, 03:13:41 PM »

Also, the Explorer's core ability does specify that the home locality of a summoned contact is actually entirely irrelevant; the only thing that matters is the size of the local population. So yes, an explorer with Queen Elizabeth as a contact could by the RAW manage to stumble across her in the middle of McMurdo Airbase in the Antarctic
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Bill Whitmore
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2012, 03:15:21 PM »

I actually modified the rules for contacts slightly in my game to cover some of this.

I now use 2 kinds of contacts, one is for a specific individual, the other is for a certain class, group or organization of people.  In the case of specific individuals, I cut the Reputation cost in half again largely because it is harder to utilize that contact.

So let's say a character wanted to buy a Mercenary (pg 246, 43 XP) contact.  They could spend 22 Reputation to gain a Mercenary contact that will be available just about anywhere where mercenaries operate, which you could think of it as a retainer paid to the Crimson Blades for future service.  Alternatively, they could spend 11 Reputation for Jordan 4-Finger, a mercenary of some repute that is based out of the Rockwall province, which has a cheaper rep cost but won't be as available.

With regards to the Explorer's ability, this would allow the Explorer to use more specific individuals for his contacts, which makes them cheaper to purchase.
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SilvercatMoonpaw
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2012, 03:50:35 PM »

Also, the Explorer's core ability does specify that the home locality of a summoned contact is actually entirely irrelevant; the only thing that matters is the size of the local population. So yes, an explorer with Queen Elizabeth as a contact could by the RAW manage to stumble across her in the middle of McMurdo Airbase in the Antarctic
Well see what's at issue here is that if it's not illogical for the type of Contact to be in the area any PC can find one (barring GM fiat).  That means the Explorer ability is slightly weaker because now the "call them anywhere" clause is only an exception if there's no reason that type of Contact to be in the area.
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2012, 05:12:18 PM »

For what it's worth, Explorers can summon contacts virtually anywhere.  Their ability only requires at least 40 people within a 25 mile radius.  That's a population density of 0.02 people per square mile.  For reference, Alaska has a population density of 1.264 per square mile.  I think it would be reasonable to say that the only place friends all over doesn't work is inside of dungeons.  And even then, there might be some dungeons where it should.

So even if everyone has "type" contacts instead of "individual" contacts, they would still need to be in a place where that contact would reasonably be, and I would imagine that generally means urban areas.  So if they need a contact, they either have to plan ahead for it and summon one before they leave town, or wait until they're back in town.  Explorers are not so constrained.
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SilvercatMoonpaw
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2012, 05:55:32 PM »

Yeah, that's what I'm thinking.  So it's still good.
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Sletchman
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« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2012, 02:08:46 AM »

Bumping this instead of creating a new thread.

Next week I'm starting a Stargate game.  I know I've got a player playing a Scout, and I'm fully expecting an Explorer.  Across the world is one thing, but across the universe is another entirely.

So, how would you handle contacts (particularly with regard to Explorer's summon ability) in an interstellar situation?  My main concern is that in the shows the main characters demonstrate having contacts all the time (Thor, Jacob Carter, the Tok'ra council), but their contacts are often unavailable.  While that's fine for regular contacts awarded as prizes, I don't want to step on the Explorer's Core ability (but at the same time, I don't want the Explorer to have a single Action Die "Asgard Ex Machina" ability, that could really undermine narrative tension).
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Krensky
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« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2012, 03:02:41 AM »

I had an Explorer in my SG game.

I used the Schrodinger's contact concept.

"I need someone who can guide us through the catacombs..."

* Rolls and thinks.

"Ok, so you know this guy who you met at a dig on P329X who was friends with a merchant from P45G2 who had some dealings with this guy named el Fadir who does this sort of thing on this world. Give me a roll to see if you can track him down.
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« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2012, 03:08:10 AM »

I used the Schrodinger's contact concept.

"I need someone who can guide us through the catacombs..."

* Rolls and thinks.

"Ok, so you know this guy who you met at a dig on P329X who was friends with a merchant from P45G2 who had some dealings with this guy named el Fadir who does this sort of thing on this world. Give me a roll to see if you can track him down.

Isn't that the Kevin Bacon Rule?
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Krensky
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« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2012, 03:09:11 AM »

Six degrees of Dark Helmet.
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Sletchman
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« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2012, 03:13:46 AM »

I might suggest to a whoever wants to play the explorer that he gets a specific (and exclusive) kind of Narrative Control as his core ability - Spend an Action Die to temporarily gain a new contact.  To extend the "Schrödinger's Contact" idea.  How's that sound?

Isn't that the Kevin Bacon Rule?

Oh god I hope my players don't see that, they'll just start saying things like "The explorer casts Summon Kevin Bacon".
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