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MessagePosté le: Mar 6 Oct - 20:40 (2009) Répondre en citant Back to top


Empathy straddles the line between the active, interpersonal Themes (Magnetism and Romance) and the passive, informational scores (Comprehension and Intrigue). While it won’t push around extras and supporting characters the way the more active scores will, it can still make people confide in you when they normally wouldn’t.

The higher your Empathy rating, the more reliable and personal information you receive. Empathy 1 might give you a brief, shaky glimpse into a friend’s mind. Higher levels also let you “reach” important characters who are more distant from you, befriending them or helping them with their problems. Empathy 5, under the right circumstances, can help your worst foe overcome his sociopathic tendencies — and isn’t that worth just about any Complication?

Empathy can be used to calm or counsel other player characters, which is very helpful when you’re trying to keep a party together. If the player consents, you can use Empathy 2 to pull someone out of a blind, drug-induced rage, or to refocus a memeblasted ally. Of course, this all works on supporting characters without anyone’s consent, but our point is that Empathy has many helpful aspects, which you can use to support your team as well as manipulating others.

Unlike Romance, Empathy does not work in reverse. You can’t use Empathy to get someone to shut up, or to send away an annoying friend. You may want to be careful who you start listening to.

Empathy can even work when your character doesn’t really want it to. You can be trying to have a quiet drink in the bar when important people randomly stop by and spill their guts to you (or to their own confidante at the next table over). You can be trying to get some serious work done when one of your friends comes in to confess their involvement in a universe-wide conspiracy. It’s all up to you and when you spend your Twist. Whether this actually bothers or slows you down depends on whether you’re taking a Complication, and whether your GM wants to invoke the complication immediately.

Empathy and Magnetism allow you to be an excellent leader, both motivating your followers and understanding their problems. Empathy and Intrigue make an excellent combination for an undercover spy. Empathy and Comprehension can work together to give you deeper insights into people and “the human condition.” Empathy and Romance are the canonical combination of Themes, giving you both friends and lovers, letting you walk in all social circles.

Empathy Scores
1. Gain an unimportant NPC as a friend. Hear gossip of varying veracity.
2. Help people through emotional trauma.
3. Befriend an important NPC. Hear highly reliable gossip.
4. Befriend major foes or their henchmen.
5. Get someone to start spilling their deepest secrets to you for no good reason.

Reluctant, Bad News, Matters of Love, Trusting Fools, Shoulder to Cry On, Good News, Day-to-Day, Problems, Digital

The team’s moral core has just had his worldview shattered by a nasty memetic attack. One of the other characters has Empathy 2 (Shoulder to Cry On). Regardless of whether he chooses to rebuild his Core Values or move on to new ones, she can help him do it.

The party is trying to get a meeting with an important member of the opposition, but they can’t risk disrupting the local power structure by using Romance or Magnetism. One of the group has Empathy 4 (Barfly) and spends a Twist to have a few drinks with this fine fellow, befriending him by the end of the night.

One member of the team uses his Empathy 3 (Bad News) as a “crisis antenna.” By spending his Twist through it each session, he has his friends from across the universe tell him about all the bad things going on in their neck of the woods. He hands that information over to the group’s psychohistorian for further analysis.


Magnetism comes in all sorts of different flavors. An army colonel whose men follow his commands out of loyalty and trust has Magnetism. A statesman who truly represents his constituents has Magnetism. An enlightened religious leader who cares for the souls of his acolytes has Magnetism. However, so do the colonel whose men are brainwashed into believing him, the manipulative politician whose back-room deals ensure his power, and the power-mad cult leader. Like all Themes, Magnetism has no moral weight of its own — but, unfortunately, it’s much easier to be a sleazeball leader than an ethical one.

Magnetism starts, at the low levels, with merely attracting immediate attention. As your Magnetism score increases, the attention lasts longer, becomes more widespread, and becomes significantly more intense. You can also reach more important people, though typically only one or two at a time. The more powerful and more influential you want your followers to be (either individually or as a group), the higher Magnetism score you’ll need.

One drawback to Magnetism is that your character can easily end up with a half-dozen sidekicks who insist on following you around everywhere. Unlike Romance, which lets you dictate the type of love you get, Magnetism only creates impressed admirers. Not everyone has a strong enough personality to admire from a distance. Such followers can be useful, but are likely going to be in mental and physical danger from time to time, and their presence highlights your own — having a horde of groupies following you around attracts attention.

Then again, sometimes you want a horde of groupies attracting attention! Magnetism is a great way to keep peoples’ eyes on you, and off the rest of your team. Stealth is very difficult in modern times, but if the guard is distracted by a celebrity, it suddenly becomes much easier. Be sure to treat your groupies well, or you may have to hire some bodyguards to keep yourself safe from stalkers and jilted ex-followers.

Your Magnetism Descriptor outlines your methods, and thus the type of people you can attract. If you’re a religious figure, you’ll attract those who seek meaning in their lives. If you’re a politician, you’ll attract those who want power and importance. Musicians attract groupies, actors attract paparazzi, ideologues attract intelligentsia, and so forth. If your Magnetism simulates a pheromone gland, you can attract pretty much anyone around you, but the effect won’t last all that long. It doesn’t matter whether you actually have what any of these people want; they think you might be able to help them get it, and they’ll stick with you until something proves them wrong (typically rather difficult).

Magnetism and Romance let you attract both a cult following and a few people who really love you and look out for you. Magnetism and Empathy lets you hand-pick high-level followers who need what you can offer. Magnetism and Intrigue nets you some very informed followers indeed, putting you in touch with both public and private lives. Magnetism and Comprehension (a rare combination) can give you a devoted following indeed, because you truly appreciate what you’re doing and what you’re talking about. Your followers would be more accurately called students or disciples, wanting to share in your understanding.

Magnetism Scores
1. Attract the immediate attention of those around you.
2. Impress groups of people. Gain an unimportant bystander as a devoted admirer.
3. Build a strong but not fanatical following.
4. Attract long-term attention and celebrity. Attract the personal attention of those in high office, and impress them.
5. Attract fanatical attention from thousands locally, or millions across the universe. Gain a high official as a devoted admirer.

Fame, Friendship, Political, Ideological, Physical, Convincing, Memetic, Cult, Pheromonic, Religious, Bullshit Artist, specific cultures or kinds of people

The team’s quarry is escaping through the city streets on a Mechanican world. The group’s leader has with Magnetism 3 (Commanding) and a Twist to spare. He spends it, shouting “Stop that man!” at the bystanders, who instinctively obey, tackling the poor sap to the ground.

The group’s spy is trying to sneak into a records room, but there are too many people around. However, one of the group is a famous athlete with Magnetism 4 (Physical). He takes a Complication for a Twist, and spends it for a Magnetism 2 effect: everyone crowds around him, asking for his autograph and checking out his bulging muscles. The spy receives a bonus to his stealth roll.

A Tao ambassador wants to make sure everyone knows she’s important. A Twist spent through Magnetism 1 (Political) will get everyone’s eyes on her as she enters the room.


Comprehension is a means of obtaining information, from another character’s personality traits to the workings of unfamiliar technology. Even insights into religion and enlightenment can be found by using this Theme (though, admittedly, fewer people take Comprehension for that reason).

Comprehension seems, at first, to be a gamebreaker. Wouldn’t someone with sufficient amounts of Comprehension and a Twist to spare be able to immediately solve any mystery? Surely an insightful Old-Worlder, who can afford to go through Complications like water, would be able to lay bare even the most complex and deeply-buried of plots in one or two games.

Luckily, that’s not how it works. To put it concisely, Comprehension is not Plot Immunity. It rarely resolves any problems on its own. Instead, Comprehension is there to point the way to a solution. The greatest benefits from Comprehension come when its results are placed in the hands of a high-Cognitech character (or a creative player) who can figure out how to best apply such revelations.

Let’s say, for instance, that the characters are investigating a case where a possession Lens (one that allows someone to take over its user) was “accidentally” distributed in place of a beneficial Lens. Someone with the Criminal or Political Professions can guess as to what government or group might have set this up. A good roll and some Reserve will let them see through the smokescreen that the instigator put up to cover their tracks. Comprehension, as a Theme, is more powerful: level 4 could let someone immediately figure out who did it. But then what? If it’s someone powerful, how are you going to stop them? And if you use Comprehension to figure that out, you still need to actually do it, to bring other resources to bear on the problem. Before you do any of that hough, you’ll need to convince others that you’re right about what’s really going on. Comprehension gives only knowledge, not proof.

Because of this, Comprehension enhances any other Theme. It can tell you the best place to spend your Twists, the most effective way to affect your world. Sure, it slows things down, but the trade-off is knowing that you’ll never need fear wasting a Twist on the wrong target. Alternatively, you can use your Magnetism or Romance scores to convince others to believe you when you reveal the true mastermind’s identity.

The Complication rules mean that someone with a lot of Comprehension will either have occasional flashes of great insight, or will be a beleaguered genius constantly plagued with outside problems. Both are great archetypes to play.

Comprehension Scores
1. Learn how to make something perform one of its basic functions. Solve annoying riddles or puzzles.
2. Learn the basic principles on which something is based. Guess a person’s Core Values correctly (but not their rankings).
3. Learn all of a device’s functions as if you had the user’s manual. Correctly guess events in a person’s past.
4. Invent new uses for an existing device. See the cause and motivation for someone’s behavior.
5. Predict a person’s behavior accurately. Break a code or cipher by instinct.

Intuitive, Logical, Emotional, Forced Monologuing, Explanations Ex Machina, Methods Behind the Madness, Invention, Religious, specific branches of technology, specific profession

This guy you’re chasing; is he really at the top of the power structure? Or should you be barking up a different tree? Comprehension 4 (Forced Monologuing) will let you figure it out, as he blathers on incessantly about his incredible plan.

This strange device you’re examining could be just about anything — in fact, it could very well be a bomb. Comprehension 1 (Stringtech) will let you guess basically what it does, though without any Stringtech Engineer skill, you may not be able to back up your guess when talking to others.

This guy we’re talking to... is he really working for who he says he is? Comprehension 2 (Emotional) will tell you his Core Values, and thus whether he’s part of a particular civilization or society.


The basic use of Romance is to ensure that your character is loved, and has good people to love in return. That, alone, is worth its weight in gold. A few levels in Romance and you’ll never have to worry about your lover betraying you, never have to put up with an abusive or unfulfilling relationship, and (if you like) never have to spend the night alone. If we all had this Theme in real life, the world would be a much happier place.

Of course, you don’t have to use your Romance score to make everything happy. If you prefer stories about unrequited love and tragic Shakespearean romance, or if you prefer to be a manipulative bastard, you can do that too. You can use it as a shield, as well: if all you want to do is keep the GM from entangling your character in some stupid lovey-dovey subplot that you don’t care about, buying a single level of Romance will do it. It’s much cheaper than purchasing enough Plot Immunity to keep the consequences away, and longer-lasting too.

Romance can easily be the most entertaining Theme, partially because its complications and its results are often the same thing (or at least reciprocations). You effectively get to tell two parts of the story at once. Let’s say you use a Twist to make one of the campaign’s major antagonists fall in love with you and let your group escape from a death trap while he or she stands there staring in awe. There are abundant possible complications: kidnappings, stalkerlike activity, even jealous rage when the antagonist discovers your existing lover. Whether the resulting events are humorous or serious is completely up to you — you dictate your own Complications, and the GM decides where and when they should appear.

When used in combination with Magnetism, Romance can be absolutely devastating. Want to become the idol of millions? A sex symbol for a whole subculture, or even an entire civilization? Careful combination of these two Themes can yield the fame and fortune of your wildest dreams. Plus, the rest of your group will thank you for it: you can get the negotiators into any venue, you draw attention away from the sneaks and investigators, and you give the goon in the group someone to guard. Everyone wins. Romance and Intrigue make you a movie superspy, Romance and Empathy make you everyone’s friend, Romance and Comprehension let you cut someone to shreds emotionally — or find their greatest strengths. Romance combines well with almost every other Theme.

Use of Romance on others is useful as well. Someone in the party is lonely? You’re an excellent matchmaker. Someone in the Senate is being a jerk to you? Whisper in the right ears, and suddenly he’ll have to take so much time mending the cracks in his relationship that he won’t be able to bother you. Want to put someone in jail? Simple: one Twist to make Person A fall head-over-heels in love with Person B, and a second to make Person B loathe Person A. Person A could end up facing a visit from the police. Take pity on Person B.

Higher levels of Romance don’t necessarily have larger effects. Instead, they work more quickly and attract better people (or drive deeper wedges between people). If all you want is a one-night stand, Romance 2 will do it. If you want a one-night stand hat starts off the best relationship you could hope for, you’ll need Romance 5. If you want a squabble, Romance 2 or 3 will work. If you want an obsession-driven
heart-wrenching breakup that ends in a restraining order, it’s Romance 5.

Finally, this is an excellent time for a reminder: Twists cannot affect other PCs without the player’s consent. You can give a random extra a crush on your teammate, but not the other way around. You can turn the rest of the game into a heart-strewn battlefield as long as you’re willing to accept the consequences, but not the main characters.

Romance Scores
1. Flirt successfully. Reject unwanted romantic advances.
2. Play matchmaker successfully. Find a onenight stand. Make an unimportant NPC fall in love with you.
3. Start a good long-term relationship. Stun someone with your mere presence. Ruin someone’s relationship.
4. Find someone worth falling in love with. Get one of the major villains to fall in love with you.
5. Get someone to fall madly in love with you after merely catching your eyes from across the room.

Long-term, Short-term, Hopeless, Unexpected, Tragic, Legendary, Sexual, One-Night Stands, Devoted, Manipulative, Loving, specific types of people

A sniper has our hero in his sights from fifteen kilometers away. One shot and our hero’s dead. (He knows this because of the GM’s obligatory cutscene; see page 58). The player has Romance 2 (Unexpected), and one Twist available. He takes two Complications to get two more Twists, and then spends them all. The sniper raises the gun to his eye, catches sight of the character, and just before he pulls the trigger, the player hits him with a Romance 4 effect. The sniper realizes that after everything he’s learned about this target, he loves this man like a brother, and cannot possibly kill him. What he does after that depends on the Complications...

Your character is known as a Casanova, but his one true love is forever out of his reach. You, as the player, use Romance 3 (Hopeless) to involve him in a series of uninspiring relationships while he tries to figure out why his true love doesn’t care about him. You plan to eventually use a Twist to change the descriptor to Loving, but right now you think he’s a more interesting character this way.

One of the team keeps whining about how he never gets the girls. It’s probably because all he talks about is war. Perhaps your Romance 2 (Matchmaker) score will help find him a camp follower to shut him up.


Twist vs. Twist

Once a Twist has been used, it can’t be undone, even by the use of another Twist. However, players whose characters have different goals might use several Twists to wrest control of the story back and forth, each describing a particular event or series of events. They can’t contradict each other, but they are allowed to bring in new elements that mitigate the effects of the previous Twist.


MessagePosté le: Mar 6 Oct - 20:40 (2009) Back to top

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