[The Hellenes] mercurial heroes (or should that be hermetic?)

edited December 2010 in Story Games
Idea:
three kinds of traits - d4's for arete (skill), d6's for names (relationships/allies), and d8's for aegis (divine favor). you can have multiple dice in a given trait, and different die sizes will get mixed around into different kinds of traits. so, at character creation, you'll have only d4's in any arete traits you buy, but over time you might end up with d6's and d8's in your "spear and shield method" arete also.

you roll all traits together in a pool, whichever ones you have that fit the current conflict; highest single number wins. whichever trait produced that number dictates, roughly, how things turned out - if an aegis trait wins it for you, then Mount Olympus intervened.
if a name trait wins it, then either a teammate bailed you out, or you won 'cause You Love Her That Much, or you won because your father's blessing was true and genuine.
if an arete trait wins it for you, then your own skill alone was what won the day.

if both sides tie for highest, the conflict is a draw; you can try again when conditions change: time elapses, he turns his back on you and walks away, the guards buy your side of the story and leave, etc.

if you tie between two of your own dice, and they're from different kinds of traits (a name trait and an aegis trait both coming up "4"), you have to decide for yourself what it was that made things happen like they did.

A) if you WON the conflict, a tie on your own dice means you must take a die from one of the tied traits and move it to another.
again, if my father's good name and my devotion to artemis both produced a 4 in this conflict, i'd be choosing which one to attribute my victory to, and which one to say, "nah, didn't help". if i decide it was really artemis, and my father's blessing meant nothing, then i take a die from my "name: My Father" trait and put it in my "aegis: Artemis" trait. make sense?

now - if i give away a die from a name trait, like in the above example, then my relationship with that person has suffered. this will be played out in some fashion the next time we meet. if the name trait belongs to a teammate or fellow combatant, we can hash it out right then and there.
if i give away a die from an aegis trait, then i've received subtle, divine aid and refused to be thankful for it - the god will dispatch a messenger to resolve the matter, usually by demanding a quest from me as compensation.

if i give away a die from an arete trait, it is patently obvious that it was not my skill, but that of others, that saved the day - allies and enemies are going to be well aware of this fact.

B) if you LOST the conflict, a tie on your own dice means you have to decide whom to blame for your failure.
instead of moving dice from one trait to another, we're going to be setting them aside in some fashion. pick one of the tied traits, "blame" it for your failure (castigate it aloud, if you prefer), and set one of its dice aside.

if i set aside an aegis die, i now have a grudge against that god, his heroes, and his priesthood. i can only use this die when directly interacting with such entities. i can use the die again normally once i feel i have settled the bad blood between me and the deity, but i must have at least one related interaction with the god or his servitors in order to reach this point.

if i set aside a name die, i have a beef with whoever the die represented. just like setting aside an aegis die, i have to confront the person and hash out the problem - were their prayers insincere? were they going to let me die in that battle, and refuse me aid? etc. once i confront the problem, i can get the die back.

if i set aside an arete die, it just goes away. it's no good just blaming yourself, then, but you might not want to start shit with Zeus, or your father the king, or whatever.

ONE MORE THING: i can get new traits; aegis, name, and arete; by doing certain kinds of things to establish a connection between them and myself. if some kind of conflict generates the new trait, i can't use the new trait *in that conflict*.
- a meaningful bit of bonding or fractiousness between me and a new person can merit one die in a name trait with them
- making sincere prayers or giving offerings to a new god, for success in some venture, gives me one die in an aegis trait with that god
- attempting to solve a problem in a new way gives me one die in a related arete trait.

AND SO: you're moving dice around on occasion, stirring up strife with your allies and patron gods, and trying new angles or approaches gets you more dice TO move around.

i'm pondering possible sources of something like Fate Points, or whatever, to affect the dice rolls.

A CRITICISM: a friend of mine said this was inappropriate, as structured, for greek heroic tales - she said that the characters' personal skills were just not a big enough impact on play. it occurred to me to switch that around a bit, giving arete d6's instead and putting names or aegis-es in the d4 slot, but i haven't playtested at all yet, so we'll see how it feel when that happens.

thoughts? i want to know if any big holes jump out at you, if anything needs to be cleared up to make sense, etc.

[edit: it occurs to me that romans, and roman mystery cults, might make excellent fodder for this system]
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