Pooled Influence Battles

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Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Simon Molendinarius on Thu Nov 19, 2015 4:47 pm

I am not sure if this has been covered, so apologies if it has, but I was wondering what would happen if a pooled influence was successfully attacked.

Say you use your pooled influence to do something, and someone is watching for that action. They get a touch on you. But is it a touch on the pooled influences? Is it a touch on the person who spent the action point to perform the influence? Is it a touch on everyone in the pool?
What if you trace it, or attack it. If you attack an influence, does someone randomly loose a point, or does everyone loose a point?

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Simon Molendinarius on Wed Dec 02, 2015 10:56 am

Bump.

Also, in addition to this question, I am curious if the use of pooled backgrounds totally negates the existence of influence caps. If you can generate an influence at 10 with pooled backgrounds, what does it matter if someone has the cap of 5 already? Is there any way we can perhaps create a cap for pooled backgrounds? Perhaps the first pool to reach a 10 would stop anyone else from getting there, etc.
On that note, Does it make sense that Yorkshire can even accommodate a lvl 10 use of every influence? Perhaps the region wont support more than a 7 in something, or maybe even less.
I just think the current system is too liberal. I like having lots of influence, but pretty much anyone can start with elder level influences right off the bat if they pool correctly.

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Giric on Wed Dec 02, 2015 4:07 pm

I agree with the above. It is a good idea to not allow actions beyond a certain level. People might be able to pool to greater amounts, but those could only be used in supporting roles, such as boost or stealth. And what that cap is may vary for the different influences in york.

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Lord Jacob William on Wed Dec 02, 2015 10:27 pm

pretty sure mentioned the pool cap for a single action was 10 and can have more than pooled up to your anchor.

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Giric on Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:37 pm

Yes, but that would be because influence actions above 10 don't exist, so it is just making sure that non influences (such as military force) are kept in line with influences. If you read what higher level influence actions do, they become fairly ridiculous quickly.

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Simon Molendinarius on Thu Dec 03, 2015 10:27 am

Also, I am arguing the cap is too high. Level 10 as a cap is crazy for starting players. Elders are supposed to build their influence over decades or centuries. I can build a character right now with starting points that can pool backgrounds with itself in order to get at least 3 influences at level 10 on day 1.
As a reference...
Church 7 - I can send magically imbued hunters to kill you. Hunters that can turn off your powers and burn you away with faith based fire. Easily should be a death sentence for all but the most elusive or most combative characters.
Occult 6-10 - includes the ability to create your own rituals. Allows you to find and hire hedge mages, lupines, etc. Allows you access to legendary magical items. Allows you to grant 2 levels of the allies background permanently for free. And gives you access to torpored methueselas and entire copies of the book of Nod. Frankly, none of these things should be available to PCs, certainly not on session 1.
Street 9 - Mark a person entering a region for death.

These are just the first things that come to mind without even consulting a book.

Moreover, allowing PCs to have level 10 powers means you need to ST a game with level 10 powers in it. That means when a players uses level 10 politics to force the local Lords to turn the Castle in York into a bouncy house, you will have to go along with it. I have used a couple level 10 influences already and the results I gained for those expenditures didn't really seem worth it. I did get some good information, but it seemed like the same stuff I would have gotten at a 5. I just didn't feel the power of a level 10 influence.

While that is obviously an exaggerated example, my point is that having a dozen level 10 influences in the game reduces the ability to tell a story that will challenge us in any way, and also makes the use of such amazing power almost commonplace. For example, my character has a goal that I assumed would take a year or two to accomplish. I knew that in order to get this goal I would need one particular influence at 8, and I assumed that would take lots of RP and character growth to achieve. Instead, I already have access to more than a 10 in that influence and I am having to completely redefine what my character goals are because my initial goals are already achieved without my even trying.

Here are some possible alternative/additional rules. Not sure if any one of these will work for the staff, but I figured its better to offer options than to just bitch...

Pooled backgrounds pool normally up to 5, after which they pool at a slower rate, perhaps two 5s making a 6, and so on. This will allow for ample low level influence to maintain domain and handle plot, but will make getting above a 6 somewhat more challenging.

Influences over 5 require time to recharge. People do not have the ability in this time and age to repeatedly pull together to frequently or so often. If you use Occult 9 to access a legendary magical item, for example, there may not be another legendary item moving through the region for another 6 months. When using Church 7 to hire some imbued hunters, you are pulling the best hunters in the region to you, and if they fail there will be no one to replace them for another couple months. Etc. This recharge would apply to everyone, so if someone in the city used a high level influence it would use up that resource for everyone until it recharged.

Influences can be pooled, but you cannot contribute more than one instance of an influence to the pool. IE, if you and a retainer both have the same influence, only one of you can contribute to a given pool.

Retainers get 5 starting backgrounds, but do not gain XP. Or retainers gain xp, but do not start with any free points. This won't do much in the long term, but it will slow down how fast we get to these obscene power levels.

Institute city caps for influences. Does the local Learning scene really support a level 10 influence? Are there enough places of learning even in York to support that much, or should this number be capped at a lower figure? How about Church? Perhaps one of the most powerful institutions at this time in history, but would every region support a level 10 action? We have been spending time trying to keep the inquisition out of York, doesn't that imply we are actively stopping the Church from reaching its most powerful in the region? Influences could be capped at 5 or 6 in most cases, and require PC intervention to raise the cap before anyone could take advantage of it. That way we have personal goals, and projects the city can participate in, and also areas of weakness to protect in case of attack from enemies.

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Valance on Fri Dec 04, 2015 12:03 am

An accurate summation of the game we are playing in. We get draws every session that mimic some of the elder influence powers you mentioned. I agree, this is a high powered game. Why draw the distinction at backgrounds, when disciplines have similar problems? I like Majesty, but I don't want to have to throw RSP, Father Knows Best. I'd like to kill my opponents, but I don't want to risk losing. Blood Mastery and Chill of the Windsaber.

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Guest on Fri Dec 04, 2015 2:47 am

Not allowing pooled influence to go above the level of the Anchor Background is the key here, and is a start. All you have to do is not allow pooling of any anchor background and the problem is solved. Only one sheet can have the anchor background on it. This means, for the Elder characters, the Anchor for any group no matter how large is 6. Which in turn means no influence action above 6 could be performed.

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Simon Molendinarius on Fri Dec 04, 2015 9:24 am

It is a high powered game. As most know I always prefer a more conservative game. However, I don't think the high powered disciplines are really analogous to the influence game.
Yes, it is possible to start with an elder power if you spend pretty much all your starting points, but then you are very one sided with tons of vulnerabilities. And it will take quite a while to build another discipline up that high. Sure, it means that some powers are walking around in the game, but those powers are few and far between and they take time to build up. On the other hand, I can start that same character with an elder power, and as long as I can find 5 points to shift into retainers I can also start with 25 points in backgrounds, and there are no limits in starting power, even if all five retainers have to start with no higher than a 2 in whatever influence, that still pools to a 10.
I know that some characters are currently built around the concept of high level influences, so there will be issues with any change. However, consider that your access to lvl 10 Commerce doesn't really mean that much to me since in 2 months I can have each of my retainers pick up 2 levels of Commerce and now I have a 10 as well. Limiting this power will only help the influence characters by making them have something to contribute. Supply and demand is important in any economy, but the supply of influence in this LARP is nearly unlimited.

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Simon Molendinarius on Fri Dec 04, 2015 9:29 am

Really upon reflection, its not even that the high level influences exist. I agree that some people should eventually have access, its just that there is no control. The current system allows for multiple people walking around with 10s in the same influence. I know for a fact that has already happened in at least one background, and I suspect others. I would be satisfied if there were simply caps on pooled influences in the same way there are caps on individual influence. IE, only one person/coterie can have the highest level.

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Thomas the Bastard on Fri Dec 04, 2015 5:01 pm

Do you want PvP to be the way to resolve who has the best Influence? Because that's what limiting caps inevitably ends up with. If I can't usurp your position by any other means, I will quite happily kill you to get it.
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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Simon Molendinarius on Fri Dec 04, 2015 5:33 pm

Actually yes, that is exactly how I would like it resolved for several reasons.

First, I play this game explicitly for the PvP. I like that the plot doesn’t come from the STs alone, but from the combined plotting and planning of the STs and all the players. LARP has innately PvP elements, and trying to eliminate them kind of eliminates my reason for playing, and half of what makes LARP unique.

Second, why do you assume you will know who it is you have to kill? If someone has the highest level of an influence and you bump into it, you don’t automatically know who that is. You may be forced to deal with it on an influence level exclusively.

Third, it is a little sad that your immediate answer to a problem is to kill it. That is really not appropriate to the vampire genre as told by White Wolf. Yes, murder happens, but usually at the end of a long drama. Vampires, especially elders, are dead inside. They don’t feel like they did in life. So they will do anything just to have that feeling back, including tormenting their rival. Hatred and rage is better than emptiness. That is a common theme in vampire. Assuming that you will resort to murder as step one completely misses the point. The more thematic approach would be to find ways to undercut your adversary and rip him from power so you can take his place and lord it over him.

Fourth, you say that murder will be your only recourse if someone has already reached the cap. But the entire point of this thread started as a way to discuss the rules for influence combat. Your only recourse is not murder. Instead you could choose influence battles, political backstabery, boons, support from the Prince or others on high, etc. There are SOOOOOOO many ways to deal with something before resorting to death. Hell, maybe you decide that a protracted battle isn’t worth it and you simply invest elsewhere.

Fifth, you assume you can kill me and get away with it. In my experience that happens less than half the time. What if your target is known to be one of the hardest to kill in the land? What if your target is the Seneschal? Are you going to kill someone in the Princes court over a simple influence? Even if you are definitely capable of doing it, most people are caught, or are unable to find a good time to commit them in the first place. So yeah, if you can’t think of a more elegant way to get what you want and you come after me for an influence I hold, take your shot. You run the risk of death almost as high as your target, and then the cap gets freed up for someone else entirely.

So yes. I want caps. I want people to have to fight for their power and to fight to keep it. I don’t want this game to become what so many other high XP games eventually become. All the OWBN games, for example, were quite boring to me. I made a character in frozen queen that was designed to be an influence broker, but I found out that literally everyone already had anything they could imagine, from rocket launchers to magical items, to unlimited blood, to item cards with $5,000,000 written on it. I ended up dropping the character because I could provide nothing new. Supply and demand was out of whack, and ultimately influences didn’t even matter. They were like candy to be added after the important work of buying disciplines and traits was out of the way.

This is the world of darkness. We are all of us playing monsters.

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by UninvitedGuest on Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:03 am

ST Phil here. To clarify the rules on this so you can have a more precise discussion, I will go over the book rules from F&F and DEpics below for everyone. We currently have two formal house rules regarding influences: You may expend your Influences at session to perform minor, quick, local, Use actions and this does not count against Influences used in your Influence report, and that report must be received seven or more days prior to the Session. If some informal conventions were in use previously due to lack of a dedicated influence ST, these will be rolled back for now; if our team is convinced that some of those conventions enhanced the game they could be reintroduced at a later date a formal House Rules. Again, we currently have only two formal house rules regarding influences, above. The below are not house rules, they are re-stating what is in the allowed books with occasional clarification when two sources diverge.

*Each character can control total Influence traits equal to the sum of their permanent Attribute traits plus dedicated Retainer traits. Other backgrounds and Merits that mimic Influence don’t count against that limit.

*Influences are always divided up by Category: Church, Court, Health, Learning, Occult, Political, Street, Transportation. Unless otherwise specified, one category cannot participate in actions that affect another Category directly (no DEpics actions of Court vs Street, etc.)

*Influences are always based on a single City. The City does include lesser municipalities nearby, such as villages, farms and homesteads (refer to the Domain Map to see where your ST team has defined what the available Cities are). Each City has its own Influences that can be controlled by characters (ex. So a character can have Church x 2 (York) and also Church x 4 (Scarborough) and these count against his total controlled influences separately). Affecting other cities with an Influence requires Fame unless otherwise stated.

*An Influence Action is an expenditure of a specific Influence category for a specific purpse on one of the following: Use; Boost; Stealth; Block; Watch; Combine; Trace; Follow; Attack; Conceal; Defend; Grow.

*An Endeavor is any initiated Action (Use; Block; Watch; Combine; Trace; Follow; Attack; Conceal; Defend; Grow) plus any Actions that modify it (Boost and Stealth).

*A Use action is one of the items listed in Faith and Fire under each Influence header. Characters who achieve Level 6 (and those rare Paragons with 7) will need to look outside F&F to find additional Use actions.

*Combine is an action that allows you to grant extra actions that month to another character. For every 2 combine actions granted to a character, that character receives 1 additional Influence trait that can be spent on an action for that influence. Combine completely replaces the Influence Loan mechanic from base LoTN. Combine can be Watched like any other Action, but the bonus actions themselves are the sole property of the receiver and only trace back to the receiver. (Ex: Audra performs Combine x 5, Benji performs Combine x 5, Chris performs Combine x 3 and Dean performs Combine x 2, each targeting Elijah with their Street. Elijah has his own Influence plus an extra 7 traits to spend on actions this month as he sees fit, although one trait of the Combine is wasted.)

*When gaining additional traits of Influence from your own Mentor, your Mentor is using Combine, just like any other character. A 2 or 3 trait Mentor is using Combine twice, giving you 1 extra trait for actions; a 4+ trait Mentor is using Combine four times to grant you 2 additional traits for actions. Your Mentor will only Combine with you, so to grant those Mentor actions to other characters you must Combine a second time, effectively halving the bonus.

*Your own Allies do not need to Combine with you to grant you extra traits (but they can if you wish). Other characters’ Allies do need to Combine to grant you traits of actions. Remember that your Allies cannot initiate Endeavors, only continue them, and only at levels lower than your own traits in the Influence used; therefore, for your Allies to Combine with any Influence, your own Influence must have Combined with the target in the previous month.
(PoO: Not House Rules. Ex: If you have Health x 3, your Allies x 6 can only perform Health x 2 or lower actions following up from the previous month, such as mimicking last month’s Watch 2 with Stealth 1 endeavor…
If you spent Health x 3 to perform 3 separate Get One Blood Trait actions, then the following month your Allies could continue that, because that is a Health x 1 action and lower than your Permanent Health x 3 traits. In month three, you could spend Allies x 3 again. If you also spend another Health x 3, then in month four you could spend your Allies x 6 on following up for 6 Blood traits; 3 following up the older action, 3 following up the newer action. But if in month five you do not use either Allies or Influence on getting Blood traits, month six cannot involve any Allies to mimic Health for Blood Traits…
You could instead use Combine x 2 targeting yourself, leaving you with only 2 Health traits to spend that month. The following month your Allies could mimic the action, giving you an extra trait to spend on actions. Yes, in the Health x 3 Allies x 6 example you could eventually get yourself 6 total traits of Health actions by dedicating your Allies to that purpose.)

*Because Grow and Combine have the same effect whether they are 1 big action or multiple smaller actions, you can purposefully structure them as individual level 1 actions for easier Allies-mimicking, or you can structure them as one large action for easier Stealth-ing, or some other combination, at your own option when you make your expenditures; please specify.

*No Action can be taken that exceeds your Permanent Influence Traits in any Category using your Influence, Mentor, Allies and Combine. (PoO: This is not a House Rule. This is just what Combine’s description says in DEpics. If you have Politics x 2 you simply cannot enact Major Legislation using it, no matter how many thousands of Influence you are lent.)

*No Endeavor can be taken that exceeds 20 Traits using your Influence, Mentor, Allies and Combine. (PoO: This is not a House Rule. This is just what Combine’s description says in DEpics. Although only a 7th Generation Paragon PC could hope to be directly affected by this in his one Paragon influence by being unable to both Stealth 7 and Boost 7 a level 7 action, it does affect NPCs. A Methuselah and his brood cannot perform a Watch 8 with Stealth 8 and Boost 8, because that Endeavor would exceed 20 points. Influence has its limits.)

*Your Influences operate from the Challenge Cap at end of a Session until the Challenge Cap the following Session. Your Influence report takes effect at the previous Challenge Cap, and extends until the following Challenge Cap. (So if games are January 10th and February 10th, then you must submit your Influences by February 3rd and they affect January 11th through and including the Session of February 10th. Watch, Combine, Follow and Block actions will still be up during the session so will likely affect gameplay. All STs will be notified by me of these ongoing effects. Please give them a friendly reminder to check for those notes when you go to them for Influence actions to prevent having to rollback some action you took at session that should have been Block-ed.)


I hope this helps. If I left any confusion on the table please let me know.

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by UninvitedGuest on Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:13 am

Shoot. There's a third House Rule. You cannot start with more than 2 + Clan Advantage Influence per Category. My bad!

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by UninvitedGuest on Mon Dec 07, 2015 7:11 am

Double Tap! Found another mistake, this one of exclusion. The limit on Actions to your Permanent Influence Traits is only for Use Actions, as in the example provided. DEpics actions such as the Watch can go up to x 20. If you and your Coterie want to destroy all Transportation invaders you easily could, working together to Attack x 20 some poor isolated Elder.

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Giric on Mon Dec 07, 2015 9:06 am

These rules certainly help to clarify how influences work on an individual and coterie level. How do they function with pooled influences following those rules in Faith and Fire?

Also I am confused by what you mean in the allies section where you say "*Your own Allies do not need to Combine with you to grant you extra traits " since you then give an example where they do need to combine with you (following the lead of combining with yourself).

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Simon Molendinarius on Mon Dec 07, 2015 9:36 am

I also want to point out that while you have stated that some rules will be rolled back, the previous SOP was that an influence could effect all of Yorkshire, and would not be dedicated to a single town. This was done because Yorkshire is the play field and the individual towns are more like neighborhoods.
I have no objection to this change, though it so massively alters the way everything has worked and multiple conversations regarding Fame, Network, and other questions of scope that we should probably be given the chance to alter the structure of our holdings. I have never selected a home base for my influences and they have been useable in all of Yorkshire, so I would need to consider such a massive difference.

I will also point out that while this may allow for more robust domain maintenance, it will reduce influence interaction to the barest minimum since most peoples influences will be located in different places.

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by UninvitedGuest on Mon Dec 07, 2015 11:11 am

Thank you for the questions and comments!

The example provided for Allies combining with one's own Influence is for those who want their Allies to be able to contribute to an Influence Category more flexibly by flat out granting half their rating to the Influence. Please see the other Allies examples for how they can work less flexibly, but at their full rating by following up on an action you've already performed. The important thing to take out of it is that your Allies do not serve as an instant response in any Category at their full rating, they either need the alow churn of self-combine or to copycat your Influences or Abilities to do anything to help you.

Regarding the Yorkshire County vs York City concern, I will say that those unnamed small towns do fall under the sway of the nearby City, and all Influences are based in the large City rather than any small town. It's not that you cannot affect those areas at all without fame, it's just that you're stuck wih localized effects in the City or a small town rather than hitting the whole County with a single action. However, because the root of the Influence is going to be York City for many characters, those Influences are still able to interact because the power flows outward.

Regarding everyone being based in different cities, I do not think that is the case. Of the 8 or so cities in play, only two have much action. Characters could base their influencds in other areas and ttheir Influences there would be safer, but also less helpful outside of that area. On the flip side, a character could try to control only one Category of influence, but in all the game's cities, getting a wide network that's specialied.

Replies welcome!

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by UninvitedGuest on Mon Dec 07, 2015 11:26 am

Forgot to answer a couple of your q's. Influence interactions will still occur because there will be many NPCs with Influences coming up soon. Characters will be allowed to choose their influence bases for each influence they own. They will need to be able to describe what that influence represents and how they control their influences if they are in multiple cities (possibly through domain actions, magic, courier networks, etc.)

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Guest on Mon Dec 07, 2015 1:33 pm

When do these new policies go into effect? I assume not this downtime, since we all submitted reports prior to this announcement.

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by UninvitedGuest on Mon Dec 07, 2015 3:41 pm

These clarifications and SoP rollbacks go into effect immediately after next session. Players will have the whole session to deliberate--and I hope negotiate In Character--where influences will be located. Players who cannot make it can notify me at the end of their next session, or at any time if they can't/don't need to negotiate face-to-face. Players who don't notify me within a reasonable time will have their Influences located in York. If the clarifications/rollbacks make it possible for your character to pursue a strategy that fits it better if only they had a different influence spread, please let me know about that so I can bring it up with the database ST and HST; I would argue for streamlining those adjustments so as to help you tell a better story without screwing with your XP total, but we would need to discuss that case-by-case.

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Simon Molendinarius on Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:45 pm

Since I am not based in any given region and I know that several others have never chosen a base, it would be difficult to say that most actions occur in only one place. In the last 2 months, for example, I performed influence actions in at least a half dozen different districts. In fact, I probably touch York itself with my influences less than half the time. I use transportation to facilitate travel between cities. I use Military actions to patrol roads and deal with heretics I uncover. I use Church actions in almost every district in Yorkshire.

Also, I disagree that the root city will be York for most players. Anyone using influence in York without the direct permission of the Prince will find themselves drifting in the sunlight before long. Obviously people can try to secretly control influence there, but I would have to ask how they are effectively controlling their own domains if all their influence is held elsewhere. Those that manage large domains are, for the most part, using influences to improve those domains.

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Simon Molendinarius on Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:47 pm

Also, as an additional point I just considered...
If influences are set in specific regions, does that mean that pooled influences must all be in the same region to be pooled? If so this will cause issues for those that have already pooled resources. If not then how does it work? Can someone pool with a friend in a different district but then use the full force of that pull in either district?

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by UninvitedGuest on Mon Dec 07, 2015 5:15 pm

I think I understand your concern. If there is an edict in place that has repercussions for a character holding Influence in the City of York, there may need to be secrecy or political deals made to accommodate your Influence in York. But to be blunt, if your Influences were swinging around all of Yorkshire no problem and the Baron never said anything, he's just bullshitting you and can't or won't do anything about your transgressions. Ultimately reverting to the base rule set, like any shift in rules, is going to upset the status quo and require some adjustments either socially or strategically. For the discomfort that comes with that, I do apologize. If I missed the point, please let me know.

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Re: Pooled Influence Battles

Post by Giric on Mon Dec 07, 2015 5:41 pm

As I see it, the fact that information doesn't travel far is a key part in all of this. Without fame, or clan prestige, if you travel to a new town they have no idea who you are and have little way of verifying it for possibly several months. With this in mind, if you go to another town across the domain and expect to hold the same sway you do in your home town it is unlikely to work.

So far in the game this has been underplayed, but I am fine with having to buy up fame to work my effects across the land. However I would suggest this only target influence based things. If someone wants to march their military force across york they certainly could, however there may be reprecussions or questions.

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