As the representatives of an ancient Kingdom, and agents of the Light, the Hopeful may forge themselves and people who look to them as an example into an organized body, dedicated to a common purpose. These are commonly called the Nations. As they rise in a Nation, the members' wish to achieve its purpose opens their hearts to the Light, and they learn ways to draw on it, even if they have no other link to the Light's magic.
A National ChronicleEdit
From tiny acorns grow great oaks. A Nation begins when a group of people, led by one touched by the Light, swear a vow by powers of good to perform a lifelong work. To the Hopeful and their Shikigami, the technique to give such vows effect is fairly obvious; once she forms the intention to gather a team for some important goal, a Princess will eventually realize how to bind them together as a Nation. Beacons and Sworn have a considerably harder time figuring it out. A Beacon on his own might lead his friends into swearing a proper oath without knowing it and create a Nation by accident; but in general Beacons or Sworn can found Nations only with help from someone with stronger ties to the Light than theirs. (For this reason Nations were vanishingly rare before the Release.)
The players in a game may choose to have their characters begin as the leaders of a Nation. This implies a fair amount of shared backstory among them, so the players should go through a second stage of character creation - they make not only the Nation the PCs govern, but a number of supporting characters who belong to it, and a web of relationships among them and the nakama.
After each player has finished creating his Noble character, the players get together and introduce their characters to each other, giving a short description of their mundane lives and transformations. Once everyone has a clear idea of who the main cast are, each player in turn proposes a way in which his character is connected with someone else's. The other player can refuse the connection, in which case the first player makes a different proposal, or suggest modifications; this continues until both players are satisfied with the link.
Now that the players have woven a web of connections between their characters, they should have the start of an idea for the cause that brought them together, and the Nation they founded to serve it. This, then, is when the players can begin choosing the traits for their Nation. The Storyteller can make suggestions, and help resolve any disputes between players, but the players together have the final say. When they've come to an agreement, each player in turn gets to add a supporting character, a person of some importance to the Nation or the nakama. These characters may be played by either their creator or the Storyteller, and are given stats less potent than the main characters - Beacons, Sworn and Shikigami can all be introduced in this phase.
Supporting Cast TraitsEdit
- Choose two Aspirations. One should define the character's role in the Nation; the other can be anything.
- Choose a Virtue and a Vice.
- Distribute Attribute dots as for main characters.
- Distribute 15 Skill dots.
- Distribute 5 Merit dots.
- If the character is Light-touched, apply the appropriate template.
After the players have finished their supporting characters, they once again go in turn, proposing a connection between their new character and a character created by someone else. They may choose a Noble or another supporting character, but not their own Noble.
A third round of creation takes place after all the supporting cast have received their connections. The characters made in this phase are purely Storyteller characters, given highly simplified traits, and play a peripheral role in the Nation. They are given just one Aspiration each, and three activities with fixed dice pools. When attempting the first action, a minor character rolls 5 dice; for the second he rolls 4 dice; and for the third he rolls 3 dice. On anything not covered by those three actions the minor character rolls only 2 dice. The players can continue making more minor characters if they like, or stop with a single round.
Nations are represented by a set of traits, somewhat like those of characters, but describing the group as a whole.
Nations use the three simplified Attributes of Power, Finesse and Resistance, similar to those of ephemeral beings. Power represents the Nation's capability for direct action; it's rolled for tasks where a character would use Strength, Intelligence or Presence. Finesse represents the Nation's capacity for subtlety, and its indirect influence; it's rolled for tasks where a character would use Dexterity, Wits or Manipulation. Resistance represents the Nation's mutual loyalty and its commitment to the common goal; it's rolled for tasks where a character would use Stamina, Resolve or Composure.
A player-controlled Nation begins with 1 dot in each Attribute, plus 6 more dots distributed among the three. During play, a dot in an Attribute costs the Nation 6 Experiences.
Nations have two Advantages, Standing and Morale. Standing represents the Nation's relative importance and the scale of its operations; it limits the Nation's ability to act as a body. A player-controlled Nation begins with 1 dot of Standing; during play, a dot of Standing costs the Nation 5 Experiences. Morale represents the Nation's current cohesion and overall well-being; it's the analogue of Health for characters. A Nation's Morale equals 5 + its Resistance.
|Charms||0 / 0||1 / 1||2 / 1||3 / 1||5 / 2||7 / 2||9 / 2||12 / 3||15 / 3||18 / 3|
A Nation's Merits represent its possessions, connections and talents - which aren't necessarily those of its members. Resources for a Nation, for instance, may refer to a member of means who makes purchases on its behalf, but may also mean the membership as a whole pools contributions when something just has to be bought. Status (police) can indicate most of the members are police officers, or that a high-ranking officer belongs to the Nation. Player-controlled Nations begin with 7 dots of Merits, and may buy more in play for 1 Experience per dot.
Each Nation is a mystery cult, and thus has a Mystery Cult Initiation Merit; every member has at least one dot in this Merit. When the players control a Nation, they design the details of its Initiation Merit. Each PC gains the first dot in that Merit for free.
Aspirations and VocationEdit
The Nation's Aspirations are the goals it works toward and the ideals it desires. Actions in accord with an Aspiration earns National Beats, which accumulate into Experiences that can be spent to advance the Nation. Aspirations also constrain the Nation - working against an Aspiration sows doubt among the members, and a Nation can't change its Aspirations without provoking a crisis of faith or sacrificing a portion of its powers. A Nation has three Aspirations, phrased as goals to be achieved - although generally, a Nation's goals will take a long time to attain.
Specifically, at the end of each session, for each Aspiration that the Nation has achieved or advanced during that session, it gains a Beat. If the Nation takes an action that directly opposes an Aspiration, or one of its leading members (e.g. a character with Mystery Cult Initiation (the Nation) at 3+; a PC, in a Nation she founded) does so openly, the Nation takes the Disturbed Condition. (If a leader secretly opposes an Aspiration he gains the Embarrassing Secret [CofD 289] Condition; the organization takes Disturbed when the secret comes out.) An Aspiration can be freely replaced if the Nation completes it; as long as something remains to be done, though, a Nation must sacrifice a dot of its Standing or resolve the New Dreams Condition to abandon an Aspiration.
A Nation's Vocation is like an Aspiration, only more so - it's the lodestar the Nation follows. As with Aspirations, a Nation gains a Beat at the end of each story in which it advanced or did significant work on its Vocation. In addition, any member of the Nation may take its Vocation for his own at the beginning of a story, in addition to his Aspirations (and other Vocations, in a Noble's case.) Deviating from the Vocation, however, is unthinkable. A Nation cannot take any action opposed to its Vocation, and if a leader does so the Nation both takes the Disturbed Condition and takes 2 lethal damage. Also, the Nation can't change its Vocation at all; it pursues that goal unless and until it disbands.
When player characters belong to a Nation, they can turn their experiences from their own labors for the Light into lessons for their compatriots. A PC may donate Luminous Experiences to the Nation she belongs to, to improve its traits; each donated Experience counts as one on the Nation's tally, equal to those it earned from its Aspirations and Vocation.
Virtue and ViceEdit
A Nation's Virtue is the personality trait its members recognize as highest and best, and most worth enduring trials to act upon; its Vice is the temptation its members are likely to yield to, gaining a moment of comfort. A Nation may fulfill its Vice once each scene, when it acts as a body in accord with the Vice; each participant in that action regains one Willpower. A Nation may fulfill its Virtue once each session, when it acts as a body in accord with the Virtue in the face of difficulty or risk; each participant in the action regains all spent Willpower.
Nation Building SummaryEdit
- Choose a Vocation and three Aspirations.
- Choose a Virtue and a Vice.
- Power, Finesse and Resistance begin with 1 dot each; distribute 6 more dots among the Attributes.
- Choose 7 dots of Merits.
- Standing begins at 1; Morale begins at Resistance + 5.
- Design the Nation's Mystery Cult Initiation Merit.
Damage and RecoveryEdit
Morale acts as a Health track, with bashing, lethal and aggravated levels of damage. Bashing damage fades at a rate of 1 box/2 days, lethal at 1 box/week, aggravated at 1 box/month. If a Nation's Morale fills with bashing damage, it gains the Disturbed Condition - which, if not addressed, leads to the Coup or New Dreams Conditions. If its Morale fills with lethal damage, it takes the Strife Condition. A Nation disbands if its Morale fills with aggravated damage.
Morale and damage also determine how well Commonalty Charms will work on the Nation. A Nation with 2 or fewer undamaged Morale boxes is nearly falling apart - its Commonalty is Casual. With 3, 4 or 5 undamaged Morale, the members cooperate but lack enthusiasm; their Commonalty is Interested. With 6, 7 or 8 undamaged Morale the organization is in good order, and its Commonalty is Concerned; finally, with undamaged Morale of 9 or more the members have their hearts in the work, and their Commonalty reaches Dedicated.
To resolve Coup, New Dreams or Strife, the Nation's leaders may (and, for Strife, must) force a crisis: a moment that, though it diminishes the organization, at least settles the quarrel. Three methods are available to them:
- Purge: In a show of power, the leaders throw the dissenters out. This violent method leaves resentments among the members and blackens the Nation's reputation; the Nation loses a dot of Resistance and gains the Notoriety [CofD 290] Condition.
- Favors: The leaders use the Nation's social connections to shore up their position, calling in favors and making promises in its name. This method ties down the Nation's strength, leaving it in debt to others; the Nation loses a dot of Power and gains the Leveraged [CofD 289] Condition.
- Compromise: The leaders reach an accomodation with the dissenters in the name of the Nation's Vocation. This method reduces the leaders' discretion and the ways they can exert influence; the Nation loses a dot of Finesse and gains the Insubordinate Condition.
A project is a set of actions taken by the Nation's members in cooperation toward a desired outcome. Each project is represented as a sequence of tasks, which are activities carried out over at least a scene; the number of projects a Nation can undertake in a story, and the number of tasks that can be part of one project, are both limited by Standing. However, if a Nation truly needs to take on a project past its limit, it may; but it takes 1 lethal damage for each task it completes.
Any project is a long-term effort (so using a Merit, for instance, is never a project) but how long they take varies. Small projects that would occupy the time of a single character for a few days need just a few tasks to complete. Massive projects that involve coordinating hundreds of people over weeks or months are represented by a long sequence of tasks - in fact, one too long for all but the largest of Nations to complete in a single story. Players who want their Nation to attempt such projects will have to break them into parts. Indeed, most of the activities of large organizations aren't single projects in the mechanical sense, but series in which each project is a milestone, leading up to an ultimate goal.
|# Tasks||Example Projects|
|1||Change the vote of a city councilor. Organize a band's performance at a bar. Collect food donations from a neighborhood and deliver them to the needy. Purify a Tainted area of Size 0 or 1. Recruit members from the local population.|
|3||Persuade a town council or company to change a policy. Hold a concert at a venue seating hundreds.
Supply food and shelter to a small town destroyed by fire. Purify a Tainted area of Size 2 or 3. Expand the Nation's influence throughout a city.
|5||Become an important political faction in the local government. Organize a tour of concerts through a region. Rescue and supply the needs of people trapped by a great flood. Purify a Tainted area of Size 4. Establish branches of the Nation throughout a region.|
|7||Persuade the national government to enact a new policy. Turn a Nation member into a national celebrity. Rebuild a town destroyed by natural disaster. Purify a Tainted area of Size 5. Recruit members throughout a region.|
|10||Become a player in national politics. Invent a new genre of music and inspire popular devotion to it. Restore order to a region suffering social collapse. Purify all the Tainted areas in a city.|
The Nation completes tasks to generate points of Effort. Effort can be spent during a project to create temporary Social Merits to help the project, at a cost of 1 Effort/dot; such Merits last for the current session. However, Effort is also needed when the project ends, to keep problems from arising. A task is normally resolved by rolling the Nation's Attribute + Standing.
- Dramatic Failure: The Nation gains an adverse Condition, and if other Tasks depend on this one the project's task limit becomes 1 lower.
- Failure: The Nation gets no Effort, and a complication arises. Any task depending on this one takes a -2 penalty.
- Success: The Nation earns 1 Effort.
- Exceptional Success: The Nation earns 2 Effort and gains a beneficial Condition related to the task.
The PCs may choose to perform a task on their Nation's behalf, rather than let the Nation work. If it's just one PC doing so, the Storyteller picks a dice pool for the player to roll, replacing the Nation's. If the whole nakama takes over a task, the Storyteller should resolve the task as a full scene, and award Effort and other consequences based on how things play out.
When all the tasks of a project are completed, the project resolves, bringing about the desired goal. The accumulated Effort determines the price the Nation pays for its prize: if Effort equals or exceeds the number of tasks, the project succeeds with no problems. If it doesn't reach that mark, the Storyteller imposes penalties on the Nation: for each point that Effort falls short of the number of tasks, one complication appears. Complications arising from failed tasks count towards this number. A Nation can choose to abandon a project at any point before completing its last task. While it loses the goal, it also evades the problems that would arise if it fell short of the necessary Effort - only the complications from those tasks the Nation has completed remain.
- The task severely taxes the members' morale; the Nation takes 2 lethal damage.
- The Nation's members question its leaders' judgement; the Nation gains the Insubordinate Condition.
- The project cost more than anticipated, and the Nation goes into debt; it gains the Leveraged Condition.
- The Nation comes to public notice, in a poor light; it gains the Notoriety Condition.
- The Nation makes an enemy by pursuing the project.
- The project revealed a greater, previously unsuspected, problem.
A Nation may take many of the Merits open to characters. From the Chronicles of Darkness, Nations may have Allies, Anonymity, Closed Book, Contacts, Encyclopedic Knowledge, Eye for the Strange, Fame, Fixer, Good Time Management, Hobbyist Clique, Language, Library, Multilingual, Resources, Safe Place, Staff, Status, and Untouchable. From Princess: the Hopeful, Nations may have Palace and Troupe Magic. Some of these Merits have different rules for Nations:
- Allies: A Nation rolls Finesse + Standing + Allies when calling on its Allies.
- Contacts: A Nation rolls Finesse + Standing + Contacts to consult its informants.
- Encyclopedic Knowledge: A Nation rolls Power + Standing to recall a relevant fact.
- Eye for the Strange: A Nation rolls Power + Standing to recognize the otherworldly.
- Good Time Management: A Nation with this Merit reduces the Effort needed at a project's end by 1, to a minimum of 1.
- Hobbyist Clique: A Nation gains 9-again on project tasks that fall under the chosen Skill.
- Staff: A Nation may use its Staff to carry out minor actions outside of its projects, but not on any task within a project.
- Library, Palace, Safe Place, Troupe Magic: Any member of the Nation gains the benefits of these Merits.
There are also a few Merits that only Nations can have.
The Nation's members throw their hearts into its business. Add one box to its Morale.
Supernatural Membership (•-•••••)Edit
The Nation's membership includes people with extraordinary abilities. Any NPC members of the Nation created with simplified rules (that is, with general dice pools instead of Skills) may be given Supernatural Merits, with dots up to twice the Nations rating in Supernatural Membership.
As Nations grow, they learn to draw on the Light to bless their efforts, letting their members accomplish the near-impossible. A Nation with Standing of 2 or more acquires its own Invocation, similar to (but significantly weaker than) the Invocations of the Queens. Any member of the Nation can purchase dots in its Invocation at the affinity cost of 2 Experiences/dot, and use it in the same ways as any other Invocation. The Invocation is free to use on actions directly serving the Nation's Missions and Vocation, and is locked out to anyone who acts against its Vocation for the rest of the current story.
However, both the Nation's overall Standing and members' position within it limit how high they can reach. The Nation gains Invocation dots as its Standing rises, and members can't have more dots in its Invocation than the Nation has. Moreover, a character must have at least as many dots in the Nation's Mystery Cult Initiation Merit as in its Invocation. If a Nation's Standing falls or a character loses dots in its Initiation Merit, he loses the excess Invocation dots (the Experiences are refunded, as with Sanctity of Merits.) Finally, learning a Nation's Invocation doesn't grant a Noble any Charm upgrades.
A Nation, as a corporate body, can call on its Invocation for aid in its projects. For one task in each project it undertakes, the Nation's leaders may come together for a ritual confirmation of its identity, history and purpose, relate those to the task immediately at hand, and ask the Light for blessing and guidance; on doing so, the Nation adds its Invocation dots to the dice pool for that task.
Nations may also gain a small number of Practical Charms as their Standing rises. A Nation buys all Charms at the out-of-affinity rate, and members can use the Nation's Charms if they have dots in its Invocation equal to or greater than the Charm's rating. They do not need any supernatural quality other than that - even a mundane member can cast the Nation's Practical Charms (if he has the Wisps, or a Charm doesn't require them) and Noble members don't have to transform. Nations may change their Practical Charms when their Standing changes. If a Nation's Standing drops below the level that can support the Charms it has, it loses the excess dots, and their cost in Experiences is refunded.
It's even possible for Noble members of a Nation to invent Charms that draw on its Invocation, or upgrades to other Charms that do so; and the Nation itself can acquire those Charms as Practical, if its Standing permits. Such Charms naturally need to be tied to the Nation's Vocation or Aspirations in some way. Variations of Charms that require other Invocations, if thematically appropriate, can be adapted to the Nation as well. When players control a Nation, they may develop custom Charms for it that require dots in its Invocation, up to the Nation's own dots. Such Charms will still work if the Nation disbands and its Invocation is lost, but can't then be taught - they have to be recreated independently.
- The Nation's members entertain real doubts of its current direction. When the Nation's members fulfill its Virtue, they regain only one Willpower. At the start of each session, the Storyteller rolls (10 - Resistance) dice and keeps any successes; when he accumulates 10 successes, or this Condition is inflicted again, replace it with either Coup or New Dreams.
- Causes: The Nation violates an Aspiration, or learns that one of its leaders has done so; the Nation's Morale fills with bashing damage.
- Resolution: The Nation gains a dot of Standing; the Condition is replaced.
- Beat: Internal quarrels disrupt a project - the Nation accepts failure on a task that should have succeeded.
- The Nation's leaders have lost the members' confidence, and new leaders have stepped up to challenge their positions. All the Nation's actions in projects are reduced to a chance die. Once a session, the Storyteller may introduce a complication related to the coup: a block on one of the leaders' Social Merits, an attack on the leaders, etc.
- Causes: The Disturbed Condition worsens.
- Resolution: The Nation goes through crisis or disbands; the present leaders step down and are replaced.
- Beat: The Storyteller introduces a complication from the coup.
New Dreams (persistent)Edit
- New doctrines are spreading among the Nation's members, threatening to replace the old ideas. The Nation gains a new Aspiration; each time it gains a Beat from it, the Storyteller notes it. All the Nation's actions in projects become contested, with the opposed pool equal to the number of Beats earned from the new Aspiration - if that pool wins, the new Aspiration gains Effort instead of the project. If the new Aspiration earns more Effort from a project than the project itself did when it completes, the Nation replaces one of its existing Aspirations with the new one.
- Causes: The Disturbed Condition worsens.
- Resolution: The Nation goes through crisis or disbands; the Nation abandons an Aspiration and adopts the new one.
- Beat: The Nation advances the new Aspiration.
- The Nation is tearing itself apart. All projects are abandoned, and none may be initiated. The Nation upgrades 1 box to aggravated damage each day the Strife continues.
- Causes: The Nation's Morale fills with lethal damage.
- Resolution: The Nation goes through crisis or disbands.
- The Nation's members continually question their leaders' choice of plans. At the beginning of each project, some leader must spend 1 Willpower to suppress the internal debate and get the project moving.
- Causes: A complication from a project; the Nation goes through crisis.
- Resolution: The Nation fulfills its Virtue; the Nation completes a project without complications; the Nation gains a dot of Standing.
Ultimately, the World of Darkness will not truly change until people have changed - ordinary people, with no hint of the paranormal about them; people just like the ones you see in the street every day; the people who close their eyes to any hint of the strangeness and wonder of the world, because too much of it is perilous to notice. Every Princess learns in time that she must understand and persuade ordinary people if she wants to push back the Darkness.
But no man is an island, and no one stands completely alone. Everyone acts not just by and for themselves, but in cooperation with others; the most magnificent things ever done are the work of thousands of hands. To accomplish her mission, a Noble cannot limit herself to one person at a time; she must deal with the organizations in which, through which, they live and act.
The systems described above can represent mundane organizations of small to medium size - groups with sway ranging from a small neighborhood to a city - with minor changes. A mundane group doesn't have a Vocation, an Invocation or Practical Charms (those are gifts from the Light) and defines a Mystery Cult Initiation Merit only if it is a cult; but it does have all the other traits of Nations, and can take actions in the same way.
Just as PCs can act on their Nation's behalf, PCs can try to block an organization's actions. Such an attempt is best resolved as a sequence of scenes, with each scene representing one task of the project the PCs want to frustrate. In such scenes, if the PCs succeed in their goal the organization fails the task, gaining no Effort and facing a complication; if they fail, on the other hand, the organization earns its point of Effort and the project continues unimpeded. Spectacular success or failure on the PCs' part maps to dramatic failure or exceptional success on the organization's roll. It's up to the Storyteller whether the PCs' interference with an organization's work causes it to abandon a project.
A player-controlled Nation will also sometimes come up against other organizations, with their projects interfering with its own, or discover that another organization's work has to be stopped. Whenever one organization opposes another's project, the rolls for that project's tasks become contested; only the winner of the contest gains any Effort from that task, even if both succeed. An organization must start one project to oppose another's project - merely wishing the other group will fail has no effect. But if two organization's projects are naturally opposed resolve the conflicting tasks with contested actions, and the group with the least shortfall of Effort at the end achieves its goal, while the other gains only what remains consistent with that achievement. When organizations of different Standing contend, the one of lesser Standing can't contest any more tasks than its limit per project, leaving the rest unopposed, but it may pick which tasks are contested.
The ultimate form of conflict between organizations comes when one determines that the other must be destroyed. An assault on an organization often takes the form of violence against its members, but human death isn't the point - the goal is to break the opponents' morale and sense of corporate identity. A war of organizations is a project much like other projects, though neither organization has a set goal. Instead each battle in the war is resolved as a contested task, and the organization that wins the contest inflicts 1 lethal damage to the losing group's Morale. Both organizations must respect the limits on tasks per project and projects per story of their Standing, but either organization may continue fighting when a project runs out of tasks by starting another project.
Organizations can't perform social maneuvers; when they want to persuade a character into a course of action they start a project. However, characters can use social maneuvering against organizations. When trying to convince an organization to act with a social maneuver, the number of Doors required starts equal to the organization's Resistance. Aspirations affect that number as they do for characters. Virtue and Vice have the same effect as for characters. A goal that would require the organization to take damage to its Morale affects its Doors as a breaking point does a character's Doors.