Knowledge Advancement

Knowledges do not get better as you use them. Remembering what you know about Japanese mythology does not teach you more about Japanese mythology. Knowledges improve when you read books or attend lectures. Some knowledges can also improve if you just sit quietly and think about them, putting information you already have together and drawing new conclusions. Personae should be encouraged to pursue these kinds of activities.

The problem is that they are not obviously exciting to play out. “I sit in a comfy chair in a nice warm room, with a cup of coffee, and read a book for a couple of hours.” There is no conflict, no interaction, and nothing more to say. Certainly, the GM should not offer a lecture on the contents of the book. The same problem applies to practising a skill. “I sit in a comfy chair in a nice warm room, with a cup of coffee, and write norito for a couple of hours.”

So, the question is how to incorporate these activities into the game.

The first step is to award experience points if the player says that her persona is doing such things. Even at this level, the activity becomes a part of the game, as it is something that the persona does. It takes time, and so the persona should not get experience points immediately, but this is also a good thing. It establishes an ongoing task in the persona’s background, and that helps to flesh out the world.

This is not really enough, however. The next step is to define sources of experience, such as books or practice exercises. The personae gain access to these sources in play, and a source either grants bonus experience points, or access to an element. Realistically, sources should have a level, and grant more experience points the closer the persona’s current ability is to that level, but that might be too much book-keeping.

At this point, sources of study would have about the same level of detail as they do in Ars Magica. Years of experience have shown that this is a reasonable level of detail, and does make study quite important in the game. However, I would like to make it even more important in Kannagara.

One possibility is to define the subject of a source of study in some detail, and grant a bonus experience point if a persona, in the course of play, connects that subject explicitly to events that are important in the narrative. “I read about it in Hogwarts: A History” would be the simplest possible form (although not that exactly, of course), but it should be possible to do it a little more elaborately. In effect, this would allow a persona to gain experience points for using knowledges, as long as the player explicitly tied the use of the knowledge to whatever the persona was currently studying. This might work best if invoking the study allows the player to claim experience as if the roll were for a skill: one point on any failure, and a point on success if the difficulty is greater than four times the number of dice kept.

Another possibility is to give the source of study specific features, which could be as simple as a physical description of a book, or of an exercise, and give the player bonus dice to roll if she makes those features important to the narrative. That is, she uses the features to make the fact that the persona is studying from this source into part of the story.

This may be enough to add to the Ars Magica model. Study should be an important part of characters’ lives in Kannagara, but it should not dominate. However, there is still one important source of study that we have not considered: teachers.

Skill Advancement

Personae in roleplaying games have advanced, become better at what they do, since the hobby began. There is room for debate over whether this is necessary for roleplaying in general, but as one of the main themes of Kannagara is personal development, it is clearly necessary for this game. Indeed, advancement should be rather fast, because players should feel that their personae are developing.

Because development is one of the themes of the game, development should happen in play. This means that skills and knowledges must be handled differently, because personae do different things to improve them. Basically, one improves a skill by using it, but one improves a knowledge by studying.

This makes skill improvement easier to handle. The improvement process involves the persona doing things with the skill, and “doing things with skills” is what we play out in the game. So, the first point is that using a skill in the game will improve that skill. People learn from their mistakes as much as their successes, but do not learn much from succeeding at things that are easy for them. Failing at something that should be easy for you can be a great learning experience, of course, and you can learn a lot from both success and failure at a difficult task.

This is a place where the precise numbers will be determined by playtest, but as a first pass a persona gets an experience point when she attempts an important task with a difficulty that is greater than four times the number of dice she gets to keep. It does not matter whether she succeeds or fails. The chance of getting greater than 4 with one die is one in three, while the chance of getting 9 or greater on two dice is less than a quarter, so these are tasks at which failure is likely. Of course, the number of dice being rolled will also affect this probability, so personae with high knowledge scores might well advance while succeeding, but that is not necessarily a problem; as mentioned above, advancement should probably be fast.

Similarly, a persona gains an experience point if she fails an important task with a difficulty that is less than or equal to four times the number of dice she gets to keep. Succeeding at this level does not teach much, but failure certainly can. To put this another way, a persona gets an experience point whenever she fails at a task, and when she succeeds at a task with a difficulty greater than four times the number of dice she gets to keep.

Experience points go with a particular skill, and when a persona has a certain number of experience points, the skill increases by one die. I think I want to use a flat number of experience points per increase, so that it might always cost 10 experience points to raise a skill by one die, whether the persona has a skill of 1 or a skill of 10. However, the actual number involved will have to be decided as the game is developed and playtested. It might even be something that players are invited to change, to set an advancement speed that their group likes.

I noted above that these rules apply to “important tasks”. That means a task that is part of the narrative of the game. Players cannot just have the characters go off and fail consistently at hard tasks in order to acquire lots and lots of experience points. However, it is obvious that personae can go off and practise their skills in downtime, and that they should improve if they do that. This is a mode of improvement that also applies to knowledges, and so I would like to discuss it in its own post.

Ability Types

At the moment, I think that Kannagara will involve two kinds of ability: knowledges and skills. The distinction is straightforward: knowledges represent what a persona knows, while skills represent what she can do.

When creating something, a player will normally roll the persona’s knowledge, and keep the skill. The more you know about a field, the more likely you are to create something good, and the less likely you are to create something truly appalling. However, if you are lacking in skill, you will never do very well, while someone with great skill but poor knowledge might produce something great.

Knowledges are also used when checking to see whether the persona knows something, or understands the significance of something. In this case, the player rolls the knowledge, and keeps a number of dice based on the environment, and the hints that it gives towards the answer. A question with no context gives one die, and the difficulty to recall a fact is never higher than six. If a persona has studied a topic, there is a chance that she knows any fact, no matter how obscure. The difficulty to understand a situation may be higher, but as the situation itself provides more cues, the player also gets to keep more dice.

In principle, both knowledges and skills can be rolled or kept. Thus, there might be situations where a player rolls one knowledge and keeps another, or rolls one skill and keeps another. I suspect that rolling a skill and keeping a knowledge will be rare, but I don’t want to rule it out as a possibility. For example, there might be a skill “exam technique”, which personae roll when taking an examination, keeping the relevant knowledge. Given the topics of Kannagara, I think that rolling a knowledge and keeping a skill will be the most common situation.

In many cases, a knowledge and a skill might share a name. Thus, knowledge of norito and skill in composing norito would both be called “norito”. However, they should be written in different places on the persona sheet.

The issue here is ease of use. Having the same name for two abilities might be confusing, but calling them norito knowledge and norito skill is clumsy, and trying to come up with completely different names for every pair of abilities will become difficult, and lead to some strained terminology.

Abilities represent general ability, not particular facts a persona knows, nor particular techniques. Those would be represented by elements, at least in the creation process, and elements might well apply to single actions as well. Although someone with only one die in a knowledge has a one in six chance to know any general fact, some facts might be represented by elements, and unknown to any persona who does not have access to that element. Similarly, some techniques might be simply impossible if a persona does not have the relevant element to go with the skill.

The fundamental difference between the two types of ability not only affects how they are used in play, but also how they are improved. I suspect that I will not want to distinguish them during persona creation, but for later persona development the mechanisms will be different.

Jinja Personnel

One important feature of personae is their relationship to the jinja. Kannagara assumes that all personae have a close relationship with a particular jinja, just as Ars Magica assumes that all characters have a close relationship with a particular covenant, and the stories develop around that jinja.

There are several different close relationships that a persona can have to a jinja. The first is to be a shinshoku at the jinja. In this case, “priest” is actually a perfectly good translation, but as there are no good English terms for the other relationships, it would be odd to avoid the Japanese for just this one. Shinshoku are specially trained, which normally takes a few years, and there are several levels of training, levels of job, and levels of status that they might hold. Those will be important in the game, but I will deal with them later. Shinshoku lead the matsuri, typically performing the harae, offering the mikë, and reading the norito. Sometimes they also perform the kagura, but not always. In most jinja, the shinshoku also do most of the management tasks, and even in the largest the office is typically headed by a shinshoku.

For local jinja, the post of shinshoku is very often hereditary in practice. There are no rules requiring the son or daughter of the old shinshoku to take over, but it is made particularly easy if they want to do so, and many jinja want shinshoku who were born into a jinja family, even if that family is responsible for a different jinja. This means that shinshoku often have a very close relationship with the jinja, and with the surrounding area. However, there is currently a shortage of people who want to be shinshoku, which means that jinja cannot always get such a shinshoku, so some are new arrivals.

The next group of people are the ujiko. These are lay people, with no special training, but they live within a defined area around the jinja, and help to manage it. They normally provide financial support, and assist at large matsuri. In most cases, the ujiko’s family have been ujiko for generations, possibly for as long as the shinshoku family have been there, and maybe even longer. At some jinja, the ujiko managed all the ceremonies until the late nineteenth century, so that shinshoku are something of an innovation. Ujiko have a long-standing relationship with the jinja, but it is not always very close.

Sūkeisha are lay people who strongly support the jinja, but are not ujiko. Someone who does not live within the defined area around the jinja cannot be an ujiko, no matter how strongly she supports the jinja, and so will remain a sūkeisha. In many cases, someone who is not from an ujiko family cannot easily become an ujiko, even if she lives in the right area. There are no general rules restricting this, however, so the jinja can change this if the people in charge want to. In Kannagara, a sūkeisha might want to get the rules changed so that she can become an ujiko, or so that she can take on a particular role despite being a sūkeisha, if she does not want to move into the jinja’s area.

The final group of people are the miko. All miko are female, and they are almost without exception young, under 25. Historically, they communicated directly with the kami, but in the present day they assist the shinshoku. They wear a distinctive outfit, of bright red hakama (trouser skirts) over a white kimono. Miko need have no formal qualifications, but they often perform the kagura, so many of them learn to dance. Some miko, particularly at larger shrines, are actually fully qualified shinshoku, but have not yet been able to find a job as such. In Kannagara, of course, miko are likely to find themselves taking on their traditional roles.

Each relationship creates certain assumptions. A shinshoku knows a lot about Shinto and matsuri. An ujiko has a family connection to the shrine. A sūkeisha is deeply committed to the shrine. These relationships will be developed as the game progresses, and the jinja develops under the personae’s direction.

Persona Creation

Character creation is an important part of any roleplaying game. While it is sometimes thought of as part of preparing to play, it is part of the game in many cases, most notoriously in the original Traveller, where your character could die before character creation finished. For new players, however, character creation often does not feel like part of the game. It feels like study, and if you don’t fully understand the whole game you might make stupid decisions that land you with a broken character. This is why so many games provide pre-generated characters for new players. The problem with that, of course, is that the player cannot create her own character, and so might not have the character she really wants to play.

In Kannagara, I want players to create their personae during play.

At the beginning of the first session, the players know that their personae are human beings who live in Japan and have some association with a particular jinja, but that is all. All further details, such as sex, age, and specific relationship to the jinja, and all mechanical details, will be determined in play.

For background features, a player will define a feature of her persona when it matters, and when the session has made it clear why and how it matters. It does make a difference whether your persona is old or young, male or female, but the significance of each decision in the game is not clear until you start playing.

Mechanical features work on the same basis, in that players will choose them when they becomes important. In this case, however, the rules need to ensure that one persona does not become omnicompetent, leaving other players with nothing to do. The standard mechanic for this in contemporary roleplaying games is a pool of points, which must be spent on mechanical abilities. I intend to use something similar.

If the pool is limited, however, spending the points on one ability means that the player cannot buy others, and the player might regret her decision when a new ability is introduced. It seems unlikely that it will be sensible to introduce and explain all the available abilities before defining the first one, so I suspect that I will want to divide the pool of points. That way, players can spend all their available points on the abilities offered without jeopardising persona development, or their concept. This does mean that a group of abilities will need to be introduced before the first one is chosen.

A similar point can be made about the level of abilities. For simple tasks, where the options are success and failure, a persona who succeeded might actually have more dice available to roll or keep. In that case, the abilities can be raised later. If the persona failed, however, that ability is set. If the persona had more dice, she might well have succeeded, so we can say that her ability is capped. Similarly, once an ability has been used to create something, it is fixed, because we know what score the the persona contributed to the creation. However, the rules, and the structure of the initial scenario, should avoid fixing the ability scores before it is truly necessary,

Because Kannagara places a great deal of importance on building and improving relationships, personae should start with problematic relationships with other personae or characters. These are features that we want players to take, so rather than costing points, they should probably grant them. However, the number of relationships per persona should be limited, so there may be a second pool of points for relationships, and taking the relationship converts those points into points that can be spent on abilities.

This strategy means that introductory scenarios need to be carefully designed, to introduce abilities properly and allow players to make sensible choices. Of course, Kannagara makes it possible to change your mind about where you want your persona to go at any point, so mistakes at this point are not fatal, but it is still better to start with the persona you want to play. Introductory scenarios may cover more than one session, and ordinary scenarios may include opportunities to reveal more about the past of a persona. The first bit of actual game material for Kannagara will be an introductory scenario, to allow persona generation.

Experienced players can, of course, create personae by simply spending the pool of points on the abilities that they want. For an experienced player, creating a character in that way, carefully weighing up options and balancing things to get as close as possible to the concept you have, can be a lot of fun. It is one way of playing the game, and I want Kannagara to support it.

Persona Development

The development of personae is a very important part of Kannagara. Personae get better at what they do, and gain new abilities. Sometimes, they even transform into something other than what they were.

Because this is such an important part of the game, there is an important principle that I want to respect. Any persona, at any point, can work towards becoming anything that the game makes available as a possibility to any persona. The change might not be possible immediately, and might be difficult, but it is always possible. Furthermore, this possibility is part of the standard game; it does not need a special exception of any kind.

Most existing games break this requirement. Ars Magica, for example, provides no standard way for a character with no ability to work magic to get The Gift. Similarly, a character who starts off as a faerie cannot become human. The reverse is possible, but far from easy. In Pathfinder, a character cannot easily change race. Even changing between classes is difficult, as the first level of a new class counts as a higher level, and the new rules for retraining, which recognise the appeal of this requirement, are outside the normal methods of advancement — retraining takes time, not experience points.

Of course, it makes perfectly good sense to break this requirement. If you have fantasy races, it makes sense that characters will not be able to change their race. Real people can’t do that, after all. That means that Kannagara will be a little artificial. Fortunately, I have supernatural powers available, and those will allow personae to make the necessary changes. Sex changes will be possible, but so will more important changes: humans can become kitsune, kitsune can become kami, and so on. Further, no change is irreversible.

That does not mean that all changes will be equally appealing to all personae. Some changes will build naturally on each other, so that once a persona starts down a path, continuing down that path will seem like a better use of time and effort. Similarly, it may not be possible for a persona to be a particular combination of possibilities at the same time. Kitsune are an obvious example. A kitsune is a fox who can take human form, so it is not possible to be a kitsune and a human at the same time.

New persona options will be introduced along with the ways in which personae can discover that they are possible. In that way, players will never feel that their personae would have made a different decision in the past. A player might wish that her persona had known about a certain possibility earlier, as might the persona, but it will never be the case that the persona did know about that possibility even though the player did not, and it will also never be the case that the possibility is no longer open to the persona.

There is a second important principle. Development should be part of play. That does not necessarily mean that the group will play out all parts of development, although they will do so for some. It does mean that development will not be abstracted, and that personae and players will make the same sort of decisions. Development in Ars Magica does follow this principle; characters make the same developmental choices as players, deciding what to study or research in a given season. Pathfinder does not; the details of development are abstracted. Kannagara will be closer to Ars Magica, but with even more emphasis on playing out character development.

Elements of Creation

The elements of a creation are the concrete features that the players know about, and that allow them to describe the creation in the game world. The elements will, obviously, vary depending on what is being created, but their game-mechanical role will be more constant, and so can be described here.

Concepts and embodiments include elements in the creation, one for each role. That is, the concept is automatically an element, as is the embodiment. A concept might be “the birth of a kami” while the embodiment is “a painting”. Assessment does not add any elements itself, but it creates the option to include more, by either adding a concept or revising the existing creation.

Each element has a description, saying what it is in the game world, and possibly a mechanical effect. The mechanical effect does not always apply to the process of creating the work; instead, it might apply to the effects of the work in the game world. One element, for example, might change the context of success, so that the completed work has a greater effect on a particular audience than it might otherwise. Another might give the completed work an extra bonus under certain circumstances. Some elements will be purely descriptive, with no mechanical effects.

Elements with no mechanical effects are available to anyone. They are the basic building blocks used for that kind of work, and if the work is something that the players understand, they can freely add this sort of element, making them up as they wish. If the players do not know anything about the kind of work in question — Shinto matsuri, for example — they can use the list of free elements provided by the game.

Access to some elements with mechanical effects is gained through actions in the game. For example, a single action earlier in the game might give the players access to a particular element, with a very useful bonus, for a later creation. I suspect that this will be a good source of advantages to give out for successful rolls. Other beneficial elements might be available to anyone with a sufficiently high ability. This will increase the benefits of high abilities, which is probably a good thing; personae with better abilities should feel significantly better to the players.

These elements will have two types. The first type is specific to a particular situation. They might give the players a bonus with a particular character, for example. If a character really likes strawberries, then including strawberries in the dinner a personae is preparing will improve her reaction to the meal. These elements will typically be discovered in-game, as part of the process of learning about a situation. The second type is general, giving a bonus in any situation. Access to general elements comes with increasing ability and discoveries made in-game. As a rule, specific elements will be available to any persona who knows about them, while general elements, even those discovered in-game, will only be available to personae with sufficiently high abilities.

Elements need not be entirely beneficial. Some might impose a penalty to the roll necessary to incorporate them into a work, or be incompatible with certain other elements. To keep things simple, elements with no mechanical bonuses attached will not have penalties or incompatibilities either. Those elements are simply colour.

As personae develop, they get access to more elements, and thus become able to create better works. They need to keep a list of these elements, and this will make the character sheet complex, but the elements will build up slowly over time, and so should not overwhelm the player. If an element is specific to a situation, there is no need to record it, because it will not be useful outside that scenario. (This is something to be careful about in design: an element should either be generally useful, or restricted to a single scenario. Players should not have to keep track of elements of restricted utility.)

That leads into the question of persona development. Development was one of the major themes I gave for the game; how will it work? As a central part of the game, it should be more than simply adding elements to a list. In the next post, I will start to look at this aspect of the rules.

Perspiration

Once you have the inspiration, it is time for the perspiration.

Embodying the idea seems to work well as a single action, with the result being compared to the difficulty of the creation. Now, I want revision to be a normal part of creation, so the first result should generally not be high enough to succeed. The easiest thing to do here is to just take the total of the first roll, and use that as the progress towards creation.

The next step is assessment, looking at what has been achieved so far. This is best done by someone other than the person who embodied the idea; it is a truism of creation that you cannot effectively assess your own work. Of course, it is not impossible to do this for your own work, just difficult, and progressively harder the more revisions you have looked at. This is probably best reflected in a penalty to the number of dice to roll, and this penalty should go up every time you try to assess your own work. Other personae get no penalty the first time, but after that they start to take the penalty, because they are also getting too close to the work.

The difficulty of the assessment should be based on the current progress towards the difficulty of the creation, so that it gets harder to see places for improvement as the work gets nearer to completion. However, it seems likely that the assessment and embodying totals will be about the same, so the difficulty should not be the same as the current progress. It should be possible to make progress even though none of the personae stand a chance of completing the work in one roll. A simple rule would be to double the result of the assessment roll, and compare that to the progress. If this total exceeds the progress, the assessment has succeeded, providing useful insight into the creation.

A successful assessment creates the option to revise the work. The revision roll may use the same total as initial creation, or, in some cases, might be different. To get the difficulty for the revision roll, subtract the current progress of the creation from the total on the assessment roll, after doubling. This is always a positive number for a successful assessment, because the assessment total exceeded the progress of the creation. Then subtract this result, the amount by which the assessment total exceeded the progress, from the progress, to get the difficulty of the revision. If the work has not made much progress, improvement is quite easy, and if the assessment is very successful it is also easy. The difficulty of the revision cannot drop below zero; if the assessment total was more than twice the current progress, the revision difficulty is zero.

After the revision roll, increase the progress of the creation by the amount by which the revision roll exceeded the revision difficulty.

So, for example, suppose that Yoshihiko rolls 6 and keeps 3 (R6K3) for his embodying roll. He gets 13. Aya rolls 5 and keeps 2 for her assessment. She rolls an 11, doubled to 22. That’s 9 greater than the progress on the work, so the difficulty for Yoshihiko’s next embodying roll is 13–9, which is 4. He rolls 11, which means that he can add 11–4, or 7, to the progress, for a total of 20. At this point, Aya and Yoshihiko are probably stuck, because Aya only gets to roll four dice to assess the work a second time, so her chances of getting over 20 are slim; she would need to get 11 or 12 on the two dice she keeps. They need to find someone else, ideally someone who keeps at least three dice for assessment, to make further progress.

A revision need not increase the progress. Instead, a revision may add another concept to the creation. In this case, the assessment roll is followed by a conception roll, rather than an embodying roll. The difficulty of the revision is subtracted from the points available to set the benefits and difficulty of the new concept, which will typically make this harder than just having a new idea. In addition, the difficulty of the new concept is added to the existing difficulty of the creation. Not only does the revision not increase progress, it actually pushes completion further away. It is hard to incorporate too many ideas into the same creation, but extra ideas do make the final product better.

This pattern allows several personae to contribute to a creation, but it doesn’t give the players many choices, and it doesn’t describe the creation. That is where elements come in.

Inspiration

What would make good mechanics for creation?

The first point is that it is important to make it possible for several personae to cooperate. In the real world, a lot of creation is done by individuals working alone, but even then, not all, or even most, of it. In a game, you must give as many players as possible the chance to participate. Obviously, the personae have to be able to communicate in order to collaborate on the creation, but that’s unlikely to cause problems. The personae don’t even need to be in the same place; I have worked on books with collaborators on four different continents.

The process of creation, in my experience, goes something like this.

Have an idea.

Write some words that capture the idea.

Revise the words, because they didn’t work at all.

Have another idea.

Revise the words to incorporate the new idea.

Have someone else read the words, and revise again based on what they say.

Decide the idea was terrible to start with, and go back to the beginning to start again.

The fact that it is possible to just throw an idea away and start again must be reflected in the rules. Going back at any point is possible. For some kinds of creation, there may be limits on whether you can rewind part of the creation process and restart from a partially completed work (you can’t stick marble back on a block of stone, but you can go back to an earlier draft of a novel), but going right back to the beginning is always possible in principle. In some cases, you might not have the resources you need to do so, but that’s something that stands outside the rules for creation itself.

There are four other basic actions in the list above. Let’s call them conceive, embody, assess, and revise. Each of these should be a single action in the game, following the normal rules for single actions.

Conceive is coming up with the idea for the creation. I think it works best if this creates an option. Specifically, it creates the option to create that creation. Let’s say that the conception defines the best that the artwork can be, and also how difficult it is to create. The player can trade these two off to some extent, based on her roll. If she really needs a brilliant artwork, she should make it difficult to realise, but possibly great. On the other hand, if she just needs a basically plausible story, but really, really needs that story, then an easy creation of mediocre quality is the thing to go for.

It is possible to add ideas to a creation later in the process. I do that in real life. However, for game purposes these further ideas should not be able to improve the established potential of the creation. Instead, they add new potential. If the first idea lets the creation have a bonus of up to +3K, then a new idea might allow –2D, or add an additional option. Adding a new idea should always increase the difficulty of the creation, and should increase it more the nearer the work is to completion. Throwing away some or all of the work done so far to get back to a point where you can add the new idea is, of course, an option, if you have the time and resources to do so.

My feeling is that there should be a limit on conceiving for a single persona. Ideas don’t just appear to order, and sometimes you need to take a break and get inspiration from somewhere. However, other personae do not run out of inspiration because you do, and their ideas might inspire you again. One way to implement this would be to impose a penalty to the number of dice rolled, while another would be to require personae to spend a resource statistic (that is, something like Confidence points, Willpower points, Fate points, or Hero points) in order to make a conception roll. I don’t have a resource statistic yet, but I think I’ll be adding one. In any case, this is also something to decide on later.

Having the idea is not, of course, the end of the process. The next post will look at the 90%, the perspiration.

Products of Creation

The products of creation are an important part of the game, so their description does not need to be particularly simple. They are, for example, as important as characters, if a little less important than personae, and so their description could certainly be as complex as a character’s description. In particular, a creation need not be described by a single number, and indeed most often will not be.

A creation that grants a bonus should specify the situation and the bonus. The bonus might be extra dice to roll, extra dice to keep, or a reduction to the difficulty. Those can be abbreviated as +1R, for an additional die to roll, +1K, for an additional die to keep, and –1D, for a one-point reduction in the difficulty. The situation might also be open to abbreviation, for certain standard contexts, but it should also be possible to describe it more generally. The rules should avoid restricting the personae’s possibilities for creation.

A single creation may have more than one bonus, and more than one type of bonus. In general, the type of bonus desired constrains how the creation must be created, but the details depend on what is being created. The players are often able to choose the bonus they want, and that affects the difficulty of the creation process.

A creation that changes the context should specify how it does so. This result will, I think, almost always be specific to a scenario, as contexts are not generally portable. That is, the same context does not normally arise in different scenarios. However, there are always exceptions. To take a simple example, a crash helmet changes the context of a cycling roll to avoid an accident, by reducing the severity of the injury the persona suffers on a failure. The change in context will determine the difficulty of the creation, and will generally need to be determined on a case-by-case basis. Guidelines will be needed, but the game system needs to be a bit more solid before I can start doing that.

Creations that create options also need to specify the option. That might be like a move from Apocalypse World, describing a single action that a persona with the creation may take. It might also be a bit more general, allowing a range of related actions. The difficulty of creating the creation will depend on the usefulness, and difficulty, of the option created. For example, composing a piece of music creates the option of performing that piece. A piece that is easy to perform, but has a great impact on the audience, will be harder to create than a piece that has the same impact, but is more difficult to perform. (This is perhaps not entirely realistic, but it is close enough.) Again, guidelines will be necessary, and will depend on the details of the game system.

A single creation could have all three of these properties, creating several options, offering bonuses to actions, and changing the context of a situation. On the whole, I suspect that it will be better if most creations are not that complicated. An option and a bonus, or a few bonuses, might be best. People do have to be able to play the game, after all. On the other hand, a whole campaign could be concerned with realising a single creation, and in that case it might be a very good idea to make the central creation extremely complex. The creation would structure the whole campaign, so making it simple would also make the campaign simple. The rules, then, should not place any restrictions on the complexity of creations, although they should naturally lead to relatively simple creations in most cases.

The next question, for the next post, is about the rules for the process of creation.