Meet the New Personas

By | January 21, 2017

The social roles of Forthright Open Roleplay, Personas, have undergone more changes than any other aspect of the system. We’ve experimented over the years with as few as one and as many as fifteen at a time, but every iteration has felt limiting in one way or another. Limitations are not in and of themselves bad things – limits shape and define, after all. But in these cases, they have felt constraining. This is something we’ve been striving to overcome and, with 0.05, we believe we’ve finally hit that mark.

I’ve spoken previously about how we’re removing the awkward, conversation-stilting mechanics we had introduced for social interaction-as-combat. This does not mean there is no mechanic driving social interaction. What it does mean is that there is no more mechanic for forcing an NPC (or a PC!) for behaving the way you want them to through conversation alone. Instead, Setbacks mean in general that the NPC will take a dim view of a statement, while Wins result in a positive view of a statement. This helps inform the Guide’s roleplaying while still providing some control to players.

Our previous designs for Personas have involved bonuses in three manners: for talking in specific situations, for talking to specific audiences, and for talking in specific manners. For example, the Carouser was good at parties, the Aristocrat was good with the High social stratum, and the Glory Hound was good at boasting. Something we kept running into was that players wanted to be members of a Faction or be associated with a loose group of like-minded individuals – things we had options for, but which were less obvious in the system. Combining and condensing those concepts have led us to these new Personas:

  • Agent:  Choose a Faction in the Gamescape. You are a member of that Faction. You can requisition resources from the Faction and must work to uphold that Faction’s Agenda. Higher-ranking members of your Faction can give you orders.
  • Mingler:  Choose a specific setting or situation (such as “in court,” “before an audience” or “in a mob”). When in that specific setting or situation, you may treat your Talk Check Setbacks as Exchanges.
  • Networker:  Choose a loosely-affiliated group in the Gamescape (such as “space truckers,” “IT professionals” or “spellcasters”). When communicating with that group, you may treat your Talk Check Setbacks as Exchanges.
  • Orator:  Choose a manner of speech (such as “evangelizing,” “inspiring,” or “silently judging”) that is not related to the content of the speech (such as “lying” or “boasting”). When speaking in this manner, you may treat your Talk Check Setbacks as Exchanges.
  • Socializer:  Choose a Social Stratum from the following: High, Low, Bonded, Outlaw. When communicating with members of that Social Stratum, you may treat your Talk Check Setbacks as Exchanges.

Additionally, Protagonists will be able to pick up additional Personas through character advancement. These new Personas provide access to everything we have presented in previous drafts of the system, but with significantly more versatility. Players and Guides will work together with each Persona to identify what is appropriate for the game (a Networker: Cthuloid Monsters might work well in a transhuman space Gamescape where it would not in an interbellum horror Gamescape). This also helps ensure they’re both on the same page as far as the meaning of the Persona ahead of story play, and gives the Guide more opportunity to be inspired by the Protagonists.

So, what do you think?  Let us know!  And thank you for reading 🙂