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Touchstone Anchors in splat books, why choose 2?

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  • Touchstone Anchors in splat books, why choose 2?

    In most splats, characters are given two Touchstone Anchors that seem to represent diametrically opposing concepts. In Geist it's living vs the dead, in Werewolf it's control vs instinct, etc. Since they are both opposed, and they both work mechanically the same so there's no real incentive to use both, it seems like most players would just focus on one over the other. So, why even have both? Am I missing something, or is this a major issue with how 2e CoD splat books work?

  • #2
    You mean the Virtue/Vice, Mask/Dirge, Blood/Bone, Needle/Thread stuff? Those are just Anchors, not Touchstones. Touchstones are their own separate things for splats that have them and generally have a variable count.

    The reason for having two of them is because they give more opportunities than just having one (and often also affect breaking points and their equivalents in different ways). You don't have to exclusively focus on one of them, and there's no incentive for doing so (other than the player relying on only one of them as a crutch to portray their character). As long as you haven't picked diametrically opposed concepts as your Anchors you could sometimes bounce between both during a scene for double the WP gain (unless you get full refill from one of them), and even if they're too different for that or too circumstantial you often end up in situations where only one of them can be played to without going against the flow of the scene. Having multiple choices grants more situations for playing towards at least one of them during various scenes.


    Bloodline: The Stygians
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Shadowdragon View Post
      In most splats, characters are given two Touchstone Anchors that seem to represent diametrically opposing concepts. In Geist it's living vs the dead, in Werewolf it's control vs instinct, etc. Since they are both opposed, and they both work mechanically the same so there's no real incentive to use both, it seems like most players would just focus on one over the other. So, why even have both?
      Because they mean different things and often monofocusing on only half of your core characterization tools will hamstring you if not outright create difficult circumstances.

      In Vampire's case, your outward persona and your core personality archetype have opposite impacts on detachment checks, and leaning into one over the other plays into the game's undercurrent of cultivated pretenses and ugly truths as surely as the Strix resenting Humanity does; keeping to your Mask means staying aware of what lines you still have to keep from crossing to maintain perspective, but the security of your Dirge often creates problems despite feeling that little bit better to stick to. Notably, Masks and Dirges draw from the exact same list and are slightly more important to vampires, since they don't recover Willpower naturally.

      Werewolf doesn't play as directly with the mechanical impact of Blood and Bone, but the fact remains that a character who solves their problems with Kuruth and impulsive hunts looks very different from a tactically-minded and measured individual; there may not be an attached bonus or penalty for breaking points made in service to those Anchors like with some of the other games, but the former is probably going to destabilize their Harmony faster than the latter.

      Mages use the same Virtue and Vice setup as mortals do, but the way magic works means their Praxes function sort of like extra Anchors, and gradually shifting and refining their Anchors as their Gnosis as the game suggests increases pulls them closer to the weirder points of fulfillment and indulgence that Supernal beings exhibit, which says things about the character's growth as a magical actor. Also, certain Conditions they gain can outright change their Vices, which is important because both of the main examples of that stem from Acts of Hubris.

      Promethean's Anchors outright work differently from each other, with Elpis relying on other people showing an emotion for the smaller returns and Torment messing with your Torment checks; the difference between a gregarious seeker after Sorrow and someone who stews in their Dejection at every opportunity is pronounced, to say the least, and the latter is much less likely to build themselves a soul than the former.

      Changelings have a core persona like Vampire's Masks and Dirges and a central emotional throughline somewhat akin to Promethean's Elpis; pretty much nothing about your Needle and Thread are mutually exclusive and they have identical influence on Clarity attack rolls, but focusing on being a Protector over chasing the highs of Friendship still looks different in general even if the two Anchors didn't interact with different Clarity Conditions and other parts of the game.

      Hunters are mortals and thus use the same Virtue and Vice mechanics as normal, but most of them are going to be operating under a Persistent Condition that affects whether it's slightly better for them to risk Willpower in service of their Virtue or their Vice in addition to the usual influence those traits have on breaking point rolls, and a common Condition stemming from their breaking point rolls outright gives them an extra Vice. (Assuming that the playtest mechanics from late 2017 hold, at least, but the framework looked solid enough.)

      Like vampires, Sin-Eaters draw both of their Anchors from the same list, but your Root and your Bloom deal with groups of people that the setting contains a pretty solid wall between; even without your Bloom being more concerned with your mundane life and your Root angling more into the supernatural side of things, the Anchors of the Bound encourage them to occasionally ignore one in favor of the other. Both are equally effective in Social Maneuvering, and Synergy doesn't have rolls to meddle with for risking it, so Sin-Eaters being able to theoretically live almost entirely on one side of the fence or the other as a choice is working as intended.

      (No word yet on how Anchors work in Mummy 2e, so we'll leave that one alone for now…)

      Demons use Virtue and Vice just like mortals, hunters, and mages do, but start out at the level of weird that mages gradually shift to on account of being former angels, and compromise rolls take no direct influence from Anchors, so the main contributing factors to Unchained behavior from them are how strange they can be and their influence on Social Maneuvering under the standard systems. Straightforward enough.

      Beasts use their Anchors in a fairly direct this-is-where-you're-strong-and-infamous versus this-is-where-you're-surprising-but-denying-your-power dichotomy and don't use breaking point rolls, but since the former corresponds pretty directly to using supernatural powers that draw attention in a way that makes you predictable and the latter involves playing into the more vulnerable side of mortality, leaning too far into either one is going to come with its own complications for the character's life.

      Deviant outright merges its Anchor traits with Touchstones and Aspirations and makes them a core gameplay focus where the one that's harder to cultivate makes it easier to stabilize yourself and one of the antagonist types runs on a flipped dynamic for those traits; focusing on one, of course, looks very different from the other.


      Resident Lore-Hound
      Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

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