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"First Impressions" primary factor

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  • "First Impressions" primary factor

    I don't understand why the Mind 2 spell "First Impressions" is Duration primary.

    I feel like this is one of those times when I write a thousand-word argument built on a fundamental misunderstanding. Please help correct me here.
    1. When I imagine a spell designed to make a good impression on someone, my intuition tells me that the spell grows in power by making a even better impression -- Potency.
    2. The spell is Withstood; typically Withstood spells are Potency primary.
    3. The saying goes, "You only get one chance to make a good first impression." It seems like the spell ought to have a Lasting aftereffect in terms of the improvement in impression ranks (more on that below). Typically spells with Lasting effects are Potency primary.
    So now I'll assume I'm wrong and analyze the use of the spell RAW. In this analysis I'll assume that in addition to the enjoying the effect of the spell, a character gets to engage with the impression system via the mundane route as well (social roll, bribe, etc...) so as to enjoy an additive effect. If instead it's an either/or proposition then spell needs an addition success beyond what I describe below to be of any use.

    It's Withstood by Composure. Average human Composure is two dots, so on average in order for the spell to have any effect whatsoever on a Sleeper it needs to score three successes minimum. Since Duration is the primary factor, the only way to get the additional Potency needed to overcome the WIthstand is by taking a 4 die penalty right off.

    The purpose of gaining impression ranks is to shorten the interval of time between social encounters in which one character can attempt to open one of the other's doors. In the common case, two characters start off with Average impressions of one another. Let's say I manage to succeed on the roll for the spell despite the -4 die penalty and end up with the Good impression level. At the Good impression level, the interval drops to one day. Since the aftereffects of the spell are not Lasting, then I have to get the Duration of the spell up to at least one day or the spell ends up being useless -- the other character's impression level drops back to Average before I have any possibility of taking advantage of the benefit of the spell. Realistically, I have to get the Duration to beyond one day, unless I'm able to have the next social encounter precisely 24 hours after the social encounter in which I used the First Impressions spell.

    Consequently I'm required to spend a reach on Advanced Duration, or the spell has no actual in-game benefit. Moreover, to exceed one day in Duration, I either need Mind 3 or I need to take an addition 2 die penalty (total 6 die penalty, pretty steep).

    Considering an Apprentice of Mind, unless she has this spell as a rote, she's now having to cast it via ritual or risk paradox since she had to spend her one free reach on Advanced Duration. Given that RAW the spell impacts the subject's next social encounter with any person, I don't think I need to explain the absurdity of the idea of casting this spell as a Ritual.

    Overall I just find it hard to believe that in the common case an Apprentice of Mind can only gain a benefit from "First Impressions" by having it as a rote and succeeding on the casting roll with a 6 die penalty.

    If the spell were Potency primary with Lasting aftereffects the scenario plays out differently. In the common case, an Apprentice of Mind will pay a 2 die penalty for one additional Potency to overcome average Composure Withstand, spend the free reach on instant casting, and begin the social encounter with the subject in the turn after casting (or later by rolling with additional die penalties).

    So my bottom line is that spell makes more sense as Potency primary, and has more reasonable gameplay with Potency primary. But I'm certainly open to learning about how I'm totally wrong.

    Thanks for reading all that.
    Last edited by galivet; 03-14-2017, 10:40 PM. Reason: Apprentice, not Acolyte...

  • #2
    Because it's got to last all of the way through the social encounter, otherwise their impression level will shift partway through.
    Also if the Primary Factors irks you that much, use a point of reach to change it.
    I do that all of the time.

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    • #3
      The principle counterpoints are that you've disregarded the fact that the spell also lets you reduce the impression level, that Duration-primary spells that need Advanced Duration to be sustainably useful are not thin on the ground, that failing to cast a multi-factor spell as an Apprentice with no Yantras is neither surprising nor cause for especial concern, and that risking Paradox is not a death sentence for a spell's viability.

      For that matter, don't look at rotes, look at Praxes — a single factor in Duration and a single extra dot in Mind gives you enough Reach to instant-cast a spell that lasts for a week turn after turn until you get a roll that will let you ignore Withstand completely.


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

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      • #4
        Thanks for the response.

        Regarding Praxis, you mean if I land an exception success right?

        I guess my main irk here is that I can't design a legacy attainment around the spell without some arbitrary hand-waving (e.g. specifying that the attainment disregards the Withstand). Duration-primary powers that also have Withstand are annoying like that since your non-primary spell factors are capped so low. Without hand-waving you end up with an attainment that is useless except against uncommonly weak subjects.

        That, and that the spell seems more intuitive as Potency primary using the Creative Thaumaturgy guidelines, to me anyway.

        In the context of an attainment, maybe the best option if I want a spell effect like First Impressions that's more practically useful is to define a different version as Perfecting spell. Seems like I'll need Mind 3 to make practical use of the effect either way.
        Last edited by galivet; 03-14-2017, 10:50 PM. Reason: Clarity

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        • #5
          It's only a 2-dot spell, save it for the Third Dot attainment.
          How I'd run that is to make it take a scene to activate (such as the entering the party scene), and save the two reach for changing the Primary Factor.
          That'll leave you with another increase or two to the secondary factor, which you can spend on changing that from 1 target to perhaps 2 or 3 (in case you need to talk to multiple people in that scene).

          So assuming Mind 3, that's probably a change in Impressions by 1 step on 2 people.
          Rising to 2 steps on 3 people at Mind 4.
          At no cost, with no Paradox, Dissonance, or capacity for others to dispel.

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          • #6
            For spells with Withstand converted into low-tier Attainments, in my homebrews I usually add a clause allowing them to bypass Withstand when the mage uses them in specific circumstances befitting to the Legacy. Maybe the con artist Legacy can bypass Withstand when using First Impressions to make themselves look good in preparation of a con, but have no such boost when using it to get a date. Unless the date in question is their next mark or something.

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            • #7
              Definitely seems like a bit of an oddball case, but when you want a person to be a social pushover you cast this on them with Potency Primary (Duration will matter less since the time it takes to work them over will be reduced) by spending a Reach to switch and when you don't want them to be so easy you cast it on them with Duration Primary. Duration Primary also comes with the perk that if someone tries to overcome the enchantment on the person it will likely get a bonus to the CoW meaning the subject of the spell is -really- hard to persuade. Which is a good defensive measure for allies, especially unAwakened allies of the Mage who might have valuable information on him. They're likely to waive their Withstand too.

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              • #8
                Thank you, that makes a lot of sense. It also helps me understand where Satchel was going in emphasizing that the spell allows the mage to decrease impression levels as well as increase them.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by galivet View Post
                  It's Withstood by Composure. Average human Composure is two dots, so on average in order for the spell to have any effect whatsoever on a Sleeper it needs to score three successes minimum. Since Duration is the primary factor, the only way to get the additional Potency needed to overcome the WIthstand is by taking a 4 die penalty right off.
                  You could also spend a Reach to change the Primary Factor, but otherwise yeah.

                  Originally posted by galivet View Post
                  The purpose of gaining impression ranks is to shorten the interval of time between social encounters in which one character can attempt to open one of the other's doors. In the common case, two characters start off with Average impressions of one another.
                  This is a bit of a faulty assumption, as a Good Impression, by RAW, is attainable upon first meeting without a roll required, simply by making an effort - dressing nicely, behaving agreeably, etc. So, Good Impressions to start with are a more reasonable assumption. It also only takes one successful roll to improve the Impression from Good to Excellent, and Soft Leverage to improve from Excellent to Perfect, but I assume since you're using a spell to improve Impressions, your goal is to avoid having to make such rolls or give Soft Leverage. So yeah, Good Impressions is probably the starting point we should assume.

                  Originally posted by galivet View Post
                  Let's say I manage to succeed on the roll for the spell despite the -4 die penalty and end up with the Good impression level. At the Good impression level, the interval drops to one day. Since the aftereffects of the spell are not Lasting, then I have to get the Duration of the spell up to at least one day or the spell ends up being useless -- the other character's impression level drops back to Average before I have any possibility of taking advantage of the benefit of the spell. Realistically, I have to get the Duration to beyond one day, unless I'm able to have the next social encounter precisely 24 hours after the social encounter in which I used the First Impressions spell.
                  Following the same train of thought from an assumed starting point of a Good Impression, you only need the spell to last an hour to take advantage of it once. Presumably, you probably want to be able to open all of the subject's Doors before the spell has expired, so a Day is probably sufficient. That's one Reach for Advanced Duration, and either -2 to increase the Duration from one hour to one Day if you spent Reach to switch to Potency Primary, or no additional penalties if you kept the Duration as Primary. Alternatively, you could spend -2 on Potency to increase the Impression by an additional step, bringing it to Perfect

                  Originally posted by galivet View Post
                  Consequently I'm required to spend a reach on Advanced Duration, or the spell has no actual in-game benefit. Moreover, to exceed one day in Duration, I either need Mind 3 or I need to take an addition 2 die penalty (total 6 die penalty, pretty steep).

                  Considering an Apprentice of Mind, unless she has this spell as a rote, she's now having to cast it via ritual or risk paradox since she had to spend her one free reach on Advanced Duration. Given that RAW the spell impacts the subject's next social encounter with any person, I don't think I need to explain the absurdity of the idea of casting this spell as a Ritual.
                  What's wrong with a few dice of Paradox risk? Seems to me like the optimal way to cast this spell, assuming a Gnosis 1 Apprentice of Mind, would be 1 Reach for Instant cast, 1 Reach for Potency Primary, -2 to increase Potency to 4, and 1 Reach for Advanced Duration. That leaves you with 2 Paradox dice, which can be reduced to a chance die by using your Dedicated Tool as a Yantra, and gives you a full day to try to open their 2-3 Doors at a Perfect Impression. Alternatively, if you really want to avoid even a Paradox chance die, 1 Reach for Instant cast, -6 to increase Potency to 4, and Duration Primary gives you 3 turns to try to open their 2 Doors at a Perfect Impression. The -6 can be offset by spending Willpower for +3, and you should be able to manage a +2 Yantra fairly easily. This is also all assuming pretty much the minimum requirements for being capable of casting this spell. If you have it as a Rote or a Praxis, or have higher Gnosis and/or Mind, it gets easier.


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                  • #10
                    Wow, thank you for the time you spent on that. I learned so much from that post.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by galivet View Post
                      Wow, thank you for the time you spent on that. I learned so much from that post.
                      No problem, glad I could help!


                      Onyx Path Forum Moderator

                      My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

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