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Previous Pledge Procedure Problems

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  • Previous Pledge Procedure Problems

    I'd like to ask to previous gamers.. was the original pledge system truly as broken as people says? I heard as a common complain was how easy was getting" free lunches" from things you were about to do anyway.

    Ej: Motley Pledge: never abandon or betray the party, which most players never do.
    This could be solved by the GM making Pcs fall into complicated situations.

    Ej: During the events of Miami 's coup de etat against Grandfather Thunder, a Summer knight must choose between betraying his liege (Knight's oath) or denuncing his friends (Motley Pledge). Drama ensues.
    Last edited by Raistlin; 05-18-2017, 09:45 AM.

  • #2
    I found it led to excessive lawyering and made it far too easy to get perks. Over many, many years of play, I always saw it being used to get bumps and perks rather than being a system that lends mechanical support to something usually approached in-character. It was the one thing in Changeling I really wanted to see fixed in the new edition.


    Eric Christian Berg
    Onyx Path Freelancer
    Promethean: The Created Second Edition, Dark Eras Companion

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    • #3
      On the one hand, if I ever had to figure out the particulars of a Pledge in the middle of a game session, that game session would pretty much grind to a halt for half-an-hour, and that's assuming players were being agreeable.

      On the other hand, I had starting player characters be nearly as powerful mid-to-late chronicle characters from other games through carefully contracted pledges. Sure, they had costs I could exploit, but the nature of them meant it would take a lot of time to build, and in the mean time, the players had very little that could directly challenge them for a long time.

      Much as I liked that absurd power, it was exactly that-absurd.


      Sean K.I.W. Steele, Freelance Writer
      Work Blog Coming Soon
      The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey

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      • #4
        Mmmm... interesting. Can you give me here an example of such abuse of rules lawyering?

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        • #5
          Maybe once I'm done writing for today, but for now I'll point out the problem of it not even necessarily being rules lawyering. The way they are used is often more or less as it was intended.

          I don't exactly play with munchkins. I tend to play with people who like the balance of narrative reasons/purposes and power, and even then a majority of them will lean towards narrative over power or even efficiency when pushed. So to come across this does not exactly inspire me to particularly question the players handling.


          Sean K.I.W. Steele, Freelance Writer
          Work Blog Coming Soon
          The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey

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          • #6
            Because of the way Pledges are constructed in first edition it's really easy to stack a ton of horrible penalties, hinge them on a condition you will never meet, and reap the benefits. "I swear on pain of literally every punishment in the book that I will not paint the entire hollow in a red and yellow plaid pattern this week" is technically a valid pledge, though grossly against the spirit of the rules, and it's worth a lot of bonuses.

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            • #7
              I don't know, I personally enjoyed the mechanics of pledges - but then that was also probably because I used them quite frequently, with every chance that I got as a player. They seemed powerful, but broken implies that they were not a skill that every changeling had. I remember any time a person would make a promise, I would use it - both to bless that person in their pursuit of that promise and to punish them if they lied. Whenever I had a challenge, my character would promise to themselves to overcome it - or abide by the rules of an engagement. It made any changeling that you dealt with very fluid - in an instant, they could have skills you never knew they had or resources that would come to them. It provided a nice balance when compared to things changeling had weaker than other game lines - such as the lack of a third trait for rolling for non-court powers (and the fact that one of those traits was the -power stat-, which was one of the hardest traits to raise).

              Ideally, when making a pledge you were making it with the intention of not ever breaking it. It -is- made sometimes to assure that a person keeps their word, but when dealing with mortals or other things, I often used it as a supplementary tool unless I wanted to hurt the other person.

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              • #8
                The big thing about pledges is that you could really make them and get lots of benefits with zero drawback. Even in 2e, with Goblin Vows, I'm looking at some rather hefty abilities and bonuses that have not a lot of restrictions. This puts me far and away stronger than anyone who's not engaging at Goblin Vows at my table.

                Pledgecrafting is a lot like spells in Mage. Without restriction (which is fairly easy to do), you can stack insane bonuses that make you pretty much impossible to mess with and trivially solve most challenges. There's a lot of power right there.
                Last edited by MCN; 05-19-2017, 09:22 AM.

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                • #9
                  I mean is still better than the utter nuttered pledge system from the 2ed previews.

                  That said, pledges can be OP because in WoD Merits are better in most cases than raw skill/attributes.

                  As other people have point out before examples of it, the thing you gotta remember is that the DM has to keep in mind the rules for pledges and he has to check all pledges before they are made and like broken builds forbids some of them no matter the raw.

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                  • #10
                    I wouldn't say that the 2e pledges are entirely nutered. Sealings, for instance, are very horrific. I've seen someone with Contorl Elements seal basically a death threat inside of a sealing. Its pretty nasty. There needs to be more restrictions on benefits, yes, but they went too far that its now impossible to do a deal-with-the-devil type thing.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MCN View Post
                      I wouldn't say that the 2e pledges are entirely nutered. Sealings, for instance, are very horrific. I've seen someone with Contorl Elements seal basically a death threat inside of a sealing. Its pretty nasty. There needs to be more restrictions on benefits, yes, but they went too far that its now impossible to do a deal-with-the-devil type thing.
                      If you compare 2e pledges to 1e pledges, they have most certainly been what I would call entirely neutered - the ability for a Sealing effect to inflict an undefended contract against a person who misspoke is an effect that was also in 1e. The big difference is, there is no benefit to being a part of such an pledge even if you wanted there to be - and now, you can't trap other changelings or trick your fellows into being careful what they say or commit them to their word. You can only use it against other, non-wyrd based entities - which, if your playing a game with mostly wyrd entities, makes it virtually worthless. (Huntsmen not withstanding).

                      In fact, that's actually true of all pledges. The only real type of pledge now that provides benefits to changelings rather than providing detriment to others is oaths - and it does that by the power of teamwork - by making one person into multiple. There are no longer any real single person vows - barring goblin vows - and the closest thing to a beneficial pledge between outsiders is the bargain - which in order to work, requires you to do the one thing a changeling never -would- do: reveal themselves and trust another person (okay - maybe that was just -my- changelings). And even that does very, -very- little IMO.

                      I can't honestly say that I can think of any real -advantage- the current structure of the new pledges have over the older pledges.

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                      • #12
                        Simply put, 1e pledges and 2e pledges don't occupy the same gameplay purpose. And perhaps not even the same narrative niche, although I'm not well-versed enough in 1e Changeling to be certain. They're the same in name only it seems. Best to judge them separately as their own things.


                        MtAw Homebrew: Even more Legacies, updated to 2E

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Jakondite View Post
                          I can't honestly say that I can think of any real -advantage- the current structure of the new pledges have over the older pledges.
                          If you don't consider encouraging changelings to collect favors and requiring that they bargain with assets that they actually have access to an advantage in story structure, sure, but "the Lost can pull massive amounts of resources out of the ether by making dire bargains with otherwise unrelated characters" is not something I'm sad to see booted out of the realm of technical possibility. Connections are supposed to matter — it's why Touchstones are such a big deal mechanically in Vampire and Werewolf.

                          Wyrd-based entities need to spend Glamour to form or get out of a Sealing, which is both a part of the Huntsmen's particular vulnerability to the process and a reason for high-Wyrd changelings with a higher floor for starvation to still be careful with their words — Water Under the Bridge's motley has had multiple Sealings in both directions to the point where the need for harvesting scenes is becoming quite incessant. It isn't something done lightly.


                          Resident Sanguinary Analyst
                          Currently Consuming: Changeling: the Lost 1e

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Satchel View Post
                            If you don't consider encouraging changelings to collect favors and requiring that they bargain with assets that they actually have access to an advantage in story structure, sure, but "the Lost can pull massive amounts of resources out of the ether by making dire bargains with otherwise unrelated characters" is not something I'm sad to see booted out of the realm of technical possibility. Connections are supposed to matter — it's why Touchstones are such a big deal mechanically in Vampire and Werewolf.

                            Wyrd-based entities need to spend Glamour to form or get out of a Sealing, which is both a part of the Huntsmen's particular vulnerability to the process and a reason for high-Wyrd changelings with a higher floor for starvation to still be careful with their words — Water Under the Bridge's motley has had multiple Sealings in both directions to the point where the need for harvesting scenes is becoming quite incessant. It isn't something done lightly.
                            *Considers this* In first edition changeling, there was no shortage of characters collecting favors, and while the system did allow you to provide things like resources 3 with a few choice words from the ether, there was also no shortage of people agreeing to do an undisclosed favor in return for a favor now - or bargaining their personal aid, or even knowledge that they themselves had. The system saw use, both for promises to oneself and between individuals. In the test plays I've run using the Sealing system, there hasn't been a pledge yet (besides the typical: Motley, Freehold, Court) - there hasn't been a reason to do it, and so far the benefits of using the system don't outweigh the issues itself. It's not something done likely in our games, because it's not something done at all. In that regard, it doesn't really encourage anything - it seems more to discourages it. So I guess I'd have to say no - I don't consider it an advantage in story structure. It removes one tool, without really adding a new one to replace it. I suppose there can be different forms of stories contained with Bargains - because by their very nature, they force the changeling to expose themselves - but then that assumes that a character who has (usually) been abused to make themselves vulnerable*.

                            As far as spending a Glamour, Glamour itself has never been a particularly hard resource to acquire. The means and methods to harvest are so numerous that a single glamour has never - in any edition of the games I've run - been a hard cost to pay. Which makes sense, given that many of the more powerful abilities take 3-5 glamour to truly utilize. Because of that, Sealing for a Glamour is much the same as paying a person a penny for their thoughts (one glamour) and them giving their two cents (second glamour) :P . That said, maybe in your games it's a bit more difficult to acquire glamour than in mine? I've never really found a method of limiting the flow of glamour that I was comfortable with (unless I outright took the characters away from mortals for an extended period of time).

                            * - Much of my general discomfort with Bargains, when compared to 1e's ensorcelment pledges, are that in order to set up a bargain you need to reveal yourself before the Bargain is met, rather than it being an aftereffect of the agreement. Ensorcelment, while having the same issues as Bargaining in regards to needing to be made vulnerable, at least had the security blanket that if your trust was misplaced, it was too late for your target to back out.
                            Last edited by Jakondite; 05-21-2017, 02:23 AM. Reason: Small Added Section

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Jakondite View Post

                              *Considers this* In first edition changeling, there was no shortage of characters collecting favors, and while the system did allow you to provide things like resources 3 with a few choice words from the ether, there was also no shortage of people agreeing to do an undisclosed favor in return for a favor now - or bargaining their personal aid, or even knowledge that they themselves had.
                              Keeping a tab open in the old system required making use of what was supposed to be a limited resource — characters had a finite amount of credit to their name for supporting oaths, vows, and corporals, and the technical out of taking extra mortal corporals was bound up in Social Merits. You far more often saw people looking at the system with the intent of getting a couple of very powerful pledges under permissive strictures and hang the question of wording.

                              The system saw use, both for promises to oneself and between individuals.
                              "Promises to oneself" were literally never actually a thing. The closest 1e came to this was one-sided pledges, which still required a witness.

                              It removes one tool, without really adding a new one to replace it. I suppose there can be different forms of stories contained with Bargains - because by their very nature, they force the changeling to expose themselves - but then that assumes that a character who has (usually) been abused to make themselves vulnerable*.
                              Remember what the easiest means of exposure a changeling has access to does for them; dropping the Mask in the presence of a single mortal or bringing them into a Hollow with you is a demonstration of "vulnerability" that almost inherently contains the seeds of its own resolution.

                              As far as spending a Glamour, Glamour itself has never been a particularly hard resource to acquire. The means and methods to harvest are so numerous that a single glamour has never - in any edition of the games I've run - been a hard cost to pay.
                              Hard has nothing to do with it — it's a cost, and those add up irrespective of whether you have time to make gains to balance them out.

                              Which makes sense, given that many of the more powerful abilities take 3-5 glamour to truly utilize. Because of that, Sealing for a Glamour is much the same as paying a person a penny for their thoughts (one glamour) and them giving their two cents (second glamour) :P .
                              If you have a lot of side hustles going on, sure, but do remember that part of the point of changing how harvesting works was to make harvesting emotions actually consequential.

                              That said, maybe in your games it's a bit more difficult to acquire glamour than in mine? I've never really found a method of limiting the flow of glamour that I was comfortable with (unless I outright took the characters away from mortals for an extended period of time).
                              I have four players and exactly one of them has gone out of their way to go get Glamour on their own initiative over the course of the game so far. Another one has made an oath with one of the oldest changelings in the freehold to exchange favors for a couple weeks on pain of losing his entire Glamour pool in return for Glamour-swapping and getting around the drawbacks of being Deprived and physically frail — said character also has Clarity 10, the best breaking point pool in the motley, and the group's only Bargain so far. The group's been in downtown Chicago for at least half the game time so far and despite a mass panic making up the backdrop of multiple sessions only one of them actually took the opportunity to make a harvest in the confusion.

                              What I'm getting at is that no, explosive spending and poor planning/initiative do plenty to make life difficult without adding limitations to the process of gaining Glamour.

                              * - Much of my general discomfort with Bargains, when compared to 1e's ensorcelment pledges, are that in order to set up a bargain you need to reveal yourself before the Bargain is met, rather than it being an aftereffect of the agreement. Ensorcelment, while having the same issues as Bargaining in regards to needing to be made vulnerable, at least had the security blanket that if your trust was misplaced, it was too late for your target to back out.
                              Again: The prerequisite circumstances involve your mark either being in another dimension or standing in front of you when all your magic tricks are supercharged and you may also be scrambling their perception a bit. If you want to play predatory lender with Bargains then your first step is covering your tracks or being untouchable, not relying on the mark being in a pledge whose immediate effects inherently balance out in the system without any other obligations. (This is without getting into how Bargains do not serve the same narrative purpose as ensorcellment in the first place.)


                              I by no means disagree that that pledge mechanics previewed in the past year are far from perfect, but they presented a system that very visibly placed more importance on wording and exchange than on numerical bonuses in the framing and in my view that's already a stark improvement over the tallying exercise and stacking questions that nested in the cracks of 1e's setup.
                              Last edited by Satchel; 05-21-2017, 03:25 AM.


                              Resident Sanguinary Analyst
                              Currently Consuming: Changeling: the Lost 1e

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