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My take on the Awakening Gambit

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  • My take on the Awakening Gambit

    So, I've seen a couple updates on the Awakening Gambit, but I felt that they kind of fell short on being master planners. I actually think that's more the fault of the 1e write-up which included heavy-handed attainments like Emotional Urging for direct manipulation rather than because they're just that good at throwing together a strategy.

    Another reason I'm posting this is because I'd like to ask for suggestions for the final attainment. I have a couple ideas, but nothing that's really grabbed me so far. Anyway, without further ado:

    For the first attainment I reskinned Craftsman's Eye from Matter so that when they look at a plan or strategy they can immediately understand the purpose of the plan, and also the integral parts that the plan requires in order to succeed. I justify this via the fact that a plan is a form of communication which falls under the purview of Mind.

    The Optional Time part of the attainment lifts the power of the 11Q to use Perfect Timing, giving a Kingmaker the ability to take a turn to plan a counter-strategy and get a bonus equal to their dots in Time on that action. The action has to be mundane.

    This means that if you hand a Kingmaker a battleplan, a wedding program, a script, boom instant analysis, and he can probably take it apart if he wants.
    Attainment 2

    For Mind we have Mental Scan, it's Instant, and Sensory, and the only thing you can dig for is information related to plans and strategies which may require steering an interrogation or conversation. Of course once you have this, it's now subject to the first attainment, so good luck playing chess or poker with these guys.

    Time gets you Divination and it's Instant and Sensory and will get you more than yes or no questions, but it can only be used to gather information about a plan or strategy. So you can ask the future, "Will their plan to steal Exodia work?" They can also use this to stress test their own longer term plans.
    Attainment 3

    Mind: You get One Mind, Two Thoughts, now you can plan while you plan, or plan while you monitor the battle situation or whatever. It's actually a bit broader, technically you can take any two Mental Actions whether Extended or Instant simultaneously.

    Time: The Kingmaker can set up a number of Hung Spells equal to the equipment bonus of a Plan that they’re appended to. These spells do not take up spell control until the Hung Spell is released, and the attainment and any spells remaining Hung end immediately after the Plan definitively succeeds or fails.

    Mind 4: So, back to Matter, you can take a plan and treat it like an object in the first attainment so I figured, let's do that again here. I lifted Crucible and it takes a scene to activate (War room conference though so the flavor works nicely). Now I can slap Advanced Duration on there to give the plan a pool of rote action rolls equal to dots in Time that lasts a week. Since a plan is mental equipment, anyone using the plan can use one of these rote action rolls while doing their part. Though once the pool runs out it's out until another scene can be used to refresh it.

    Time: The Kingmaker is now able to hang not only spells, but people. The Kingmaker can "hang" a Rewrite History on a number of people equal to the equipment bonus of the plan they are helping him carry out. This is an Instant Action with Advanced Duration. After the plan definitively succeeds or fails, the Rewrite History effect ends whether or not it was used.
    Last edited by Mrmdubois; 10-20-2018, 03:26 PM.

  • #2
    I like it a lot, I think it nails the feel of the master strategist, feels a lot more focused as well. For the second attainment, I wonder how far the idea of what constitutes a plan can be extended. For example, if you are on the trail of a psychotic killer like the villain of Seven or even the Joker from The Dark Knight, would it let you tell their next moves, their motives ? I imagine yes, because I see the 1st edition version of the 11th Question used as inspiration, but adapted to bring more emphasis on being a chessmaster. What about a battle plan ? Can this be used to discern the next moves of a bar brawler ? What about an enemy that is about to lose his temper ? Or an assassin that you found and whom you are going to ambush ? In other words, can this also be used for combat planning like that seen in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows ? Because that looks like a very interesting way for a strategists to tackle conflict, plus the Gambit is mainly an Arrow Legacy.

    For the 5th attainment, I think Temporal Pocket fits the theme. A master planner knows no plan survives contact with the enemy, so they know that "to succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well ". So if something unexpected happens, they can instantly go to a temporal pocket (probably with advanced duration via Time in a Bottle or maybe free if you are using it to adapt a plan to an unforeseen factor) and rest, plan the entire battle out, recharge mana via pattern scouring for "days", hang some ritually prepared spells and come back ready to turn the tide. Its magic used to create the ultimate version of Xanathos Speed Chess. Either you take the strategist out in 3 seconds or he already has a plan ready to go. Or he can pivot and regain magical resources in the blink of an eye.

    For the 5th Mind attainment, I think perhaps Psychic Reprogramming, costing one mana for sensory and advanced duration (which is not a problem due to the attainment above). This is what enables them to pull off Batman Gambits, making sure the key pieces behave exactly as you need them to, but being a lot more discrete than Psychic Domination (perhaps with an interesting way to bypass Withstand or waiver the cost, I really appreciate how 21C Hermit's version on 2ed Legacies add a thematically appropriate complication to attainments in order to get a nice bonus).

    One thing I am still wondering about, what happens to the hanged spells when you are dealing with an incomplete plan ? Either circumstances have caused you to scrap the original one and adapt on the fly or are facing someone who is just very spontaneous. Sure, if you adapt quickly, then perhaps you get a nice bonus. But what if your immediate priorities are countering the actions of the enemy rather than pushing your own agenda ? If they have no plan or a bad one, that can disable it (for example, countering the actions of a powerful yet not very intelligent spirit). Perhaps it would be a good idea to provide some sample criteria to determine the equipment bonus of a plan.

    But overall, its a really cool take on the Awakening Gambit.
    Last edited by KaiserAfini; 12-14-2018, 05:21 PM.

    New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.


    • #3
      I had forgotten about Time in a Bottle, that does make Temporal Pocket pretty tempting.

      Psychic Reprogramming is right out. It may be subtler than Psychic Domination, but it’s still a direct form of manipulation instead of simply relying on having a plan that’s got everything accounted for or relying on the heist team you put together to execute the plan. While the Awakening Gambit is a competent single actor I’ve tried to make them really shine as a force multiplier.

      As for if it’s any good for combat planning, it depends. Activation of attainments is an Instant Action, so before the 3rd attainment it’s probably a bad idea to create or attempt to analyze a plan while simultaneously doing any combat action. After that though it does become more feasible. To use the attainments to analyze a plan or create a counter strategy you have to be aware somehow of the enemy using a plan. If they’re just running in a panic, or have trained so extensively they don’t worry about their next move then you get nothing.

      I don’t understand your question about the Hung Spell attainment. Hung Spell allows you to effectively have some free spell control slots you can take advantage of when you put a plan together. If circumstances change but the plan is still usable then the Hung Spells don’t go anywhere. If the plan isn’t usable then it’s definitively failed and the spells are lost.


      • #4
        If we look at a plan quality as an equipment bonus , how do we tell the difference between a +1 plan, a +3 and a +5 ? Are there any more "tiers" beyond that ? When making a plan, a strategist normally needs to account for know facts and known unknowns ("I am aware that I don't know this data, but I can work its possibly tree into my plans"). On the field, these plans are tested by unknown knowns (when you had every last data you needed to antecipate something, but only figured it out at a critical juncture or after it happened) and unknown unknowns (things you didn't know and didn't even know it was an incognita). But those mean evaluating the quality of a plan is not easy.

        Perhaps it would be simpler to get [Time] dots per plan. So one on one, you get one set for the current plan for foiling enemy action, one for your current agenda, one for your backup plan and a set for each of your allies' plans as well. That way it encourages the team to act tactically. It also encourages the Gambit to act as the central strategic coordenator (you need to know the plans to hang them), so challenges can be seen as planned operations, every PC carrying a hung plan A and a plan B. And if things go bad, Temporal Pocket can salvage things. But before the 5th attainment, the main limiting factor is mana. By the time they can get the last attainment, it would be surprising if they couldn't pull off absurd power.
        Last edited by KaiserAfini; 12-14-2018, 09:57 PM.

        New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.


        • #5
          I’m not sure I understood you at all.


          • #6
            The Hung Spell attainment is dependent on the "equipment bonus" of the plan, so how can you tell an average plan (+2) from a brilliant one (+5) ? Wouldn't it be easier to use [Time] Potency instead ? That way, instead of getting 5 spells for a genius plan, you get [Time] ones per subplan. So each PC can have a suite of Plan A ("kill the Seer with these specific ones that target his defenses") of hung spells, a few Plan B spells ("contingencies in case he pulls out an artifact") and so on ("while he does so, you convince the target not to build his new HQ atop a Locus with these spells, suite B are in case he needs to be liberated for deprogramming"). If you don't waive the mana cost, it still continues to be very potent and incentivizes tactical thinking amongst the party. By the time the Gambit has the requirements for the last attainment, it would be weird if he couldn't pull off outlandish stuff (due to the natural synergy between the costs of hung spell and the mana replenishing use of the 5th attainment).

            New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.


            • #7
              Ah, I see. Well the thing is you can pre-determine what bonus your plan equipment will have. For instance if you want a +5 plan then you take a 5 dice penalty to the roll to craft it. So you are pretty much going to pre-determine how many Hung Spells you think may be appropriate for any Plan you come up with.


              • #8
                I believe the Rashomon Effect spell could make for a cool 5th Mind attainment:

                5th Mind Attainment: No Loose Ends

                A Gambit knows that merely executing a plan well is not enough. In order to guarantee the enemy will not get enough information to develop counter strategies, they must leave no traces of their actions. By expending one mana, they replicate the Rashomon Effect spell, with Reach assigned to instant use, affecting supernatural witnesses, affecting mage sight and indefinite duration (Time in Bottle frees a Reach, the total cost of it plus Indefinite duration are truncated to 1 mana since its an Attainment). The attainment also grants the Untouchable Merit, equipping operatives with the skills necessary to leave behind less spatial and temporally sympathetic clues, video footage or any other means of being tracked. Whenever a Clash of Wills happens, the user gains [Mind] automatic successes (which together with the +4 of indefinite makes it potent enough to be a worthy 5th attainment). This only protects from scrutiny relating to any of the Gambit's plans the target has been appended to.

                Gambits tend to terminate this effect on those they find to have betrayed them, leaving them and only them vulnerable once more to investigative scrutiny. The traitors also find themselves unable to denounce the operation (for now they are part of the confused witnesses). The Gambits are still Arrows and will not suffer those who have no sense of Honor.

                Technically speaking, Untouchable could only be added via the Master level Social Networking. But not having it might leave the effect easy to sidestep supernaturally by just looking for clues, leaving its viability as situational at best. But because its one of the last attainments and its supposed to feel awesome, I thought there was enough thematic justification.
                Last edited by KaiserAfini; 12-16-2018, 08:33 AM.

                New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.


                • #9
                  I'll think about it, but it doesn't sit right with me. It can't be made Indefinite in any case, the math doesn't work for attainments to that.


                  • #10
                    Right, no indefinite duration because of the -2 dice penalty needed, but having to renovate them after one year is still pretty good.

                    Thematically speaking, the current attainments already tackle the strategist angle pretty well. The Gambit can deconstruct plans quickly, is able to counter them effectively with both mundane and magical tactics, can read people to discover their plans with terrifying ease, is a great multitasker, can replenish troops on the fly, throw together a counterstrategy in even the most dire circumstance, account for the unexpected pretty well, alter history to make sure things go exactly as planned and can mentally equip every operative so key tasks are executed with uncanny success.

                    So most purely strategic and finesse based components are solidly covered. So what is missing ? The answer I arrived at was that their plans flowed smoothly, but leaving a trail could give an opponent a chance to antecipate their next move. The reason Sherlock Holmes had such a tough time defeating Professor Moriarty was because, even with such a huge criminal empire, he left almost no loose ends. In the Art of War, one of Sun Tzu's most reinforced maxims is "All war is based on deception". With the Gambits being Arrows who redefine themselves as the strategists best equipped to fight the War of Existence, I thought a last attainment about the mastery of deception could be very fitting.
                    Last edited by KaiserAfini; 12-16-2018, 06:56 PM.

                    New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.


                    • #11
                      There are some problems with it though, for instance it’s an effect that effectively has a global scale because it affects all witnesses regardless of number by being used on the subjects who do the actions that the witnesses would report on.

                      Also, after the plan or “war” is over, the strategy you employed to win hardly matters.

                      I’m tempted to instead create a permanent astral projection into the Legacy’s Temenos realm. This can accomplish a few things, one it gives the AG a way to access their generals and allows them to coordinate on really big stuff with more ease. Two, the projection is potentially immortal and can outlast the one who created it so that the AG almost never lose one of their generals. I don’t think I’d allow it count as a full blown lichdom, but it could come close. The generals probably can’t leave the realm on their own power, but it could be neat if the AG are able to summon them.


                      • #12
                        Incognito Presence works on the same principal of targetting the user. But whereas it denies information, the attainment causes effective misdirection. In a war, bad information is worse than none at all.

                        The war being over depends on what they are trying to accomplish, it might take a high ranking member years to fight some wars. Or they want the details to remain hidden for some reason. The less info anyone has on them, the easier it is to fight an invisible war and the easier to keep things under control. It might also be some Deus Ex influence in my train of thought.

                        Speaking of which, the astral AG chantry made me think of the Illuminati council scene at the start of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, is what you had in mind along those lines ? For the dead members, I wonder what benefits they could give. They aren't technically ghost mages or goetia. The Legacy's realm would need to be very well hidden and defended so as to not become a prime target for Seers. Telekinesis could also be used to accomplish this, without requiring them to be "logged into" the astral war council.

                        New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.


                        • #13
                          Never heard of Deus Ex: Mankknd Divided.

                          The projections would effectively be dream forms that function as normal for a Mage until the Mage dies at which point it becomes a goetia.

                          It would be pretty well defended considering its occupants.


                          • #14
                            The Deus Ex games are a great source of inspiration for campaigns rich in conspiracies. Mankind Divided is particularly subtle, the side quests are seemingly disconnected, but actually reveal one of the greatest secrets of the story, as well as hint at the greater plan of the villains. Its very easy to miss, you need to be wearing your paranoia cap to see it, but it all connects very well. They are fun and fascinating games, I highly recommend them. The scene I mentioned is this one, think of the Illuminati in this setting as a mix of Mammon, Panopticon and Unity:

                            They are using a Dive Virtual Reality system to hold these meetings. They are highly secure, can allow you to show up with a masked appearance and even allow people with the correct credentials to play them back entirely.

                            At the moment I have 3 new ideas for the last attainment, still fleshing the details out:

                            1- A variation of Temporal Lifeline mixed with some kind of Mind effect to justify it. A Gambit could hang it with some auto activation clauses (either the plan fails and it triggers, or the operative uses a certain key to trigger it or the Gambit uses his admin override). This could give the outward appearance that everything works out perfectly when a Gambit is involved, when actually they keep perfecting their plans over various iterations. They go back, do a Mind Weaving and the cabal knows "we tried that, didn't work, lets do something different this time". That opens the room for a Gambit and their cabal to lose Wisdom when they just can't accept a situation that has no clean solution and keep going back to the starting line.

                            2- A custom version of Goetic Summons. This could play on the idea of the Legacy not only having their fallen members aid the current ones, but also make them interested in collecting the astral version of great strategists for their Legacy Astral Sanctum. Need a master of formations ? Call Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great. Need an inspiring leader to be in the midst of it ? Call Yi Sun-sin. Need a strategist to navigate a political labyrinth ? Summon Talleyrand.

                            3- A mix of Psychic Genesis with Familiar, costing a point of mana, instant and with advanced duration. This would allow them to equip operatives on the fly with whatever tools they need to complete the mission plus give the strategists sensory information of everything that is going on. Spirits and goetia can be very flexible:

                            Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
                            Let me chime in and say that when I recently played a Spirit mage, I had prepared a Spirit for Combat, Investigation, Stealth, Chase, Social Interactions, Crafting, and Research in advance as basically my personal secondary cast, and it helped out a metric shit ton.
                            In addition, they make for discrete spies, reliable defenses for your sanctum, an emergency mana supply and much more. I think it plays into the theme of Gambits being force multipliers as well as the Arrow maxim of Adaptability is Strength. It also synergizes well with the extra mana that Temporal Pocket brings to the table. Need to get escape from an area quickly ? Create an escape artists. Need to cover your trail ? A "cleanup" crew. Need to infiltrate a state of the art facility ? A security expert. With this the Gambit can always bring the right "team" to support the cabal. After all, a great strategist needs to be a great leader, so being able to procure the resources the team needs, communicate well and play to everyone's strengths is the path to excellence.

                            I also wanted to ask: can the second attainment be used to enhance a plan or is it restricted only to counter strategies ? For example, if the cabal can only be granted audience with a spirit court of a theater if they perform a certain fragment of a play, can the Gambit stack it with the war room one and maybe some Fate conditions to guarantee a performance that will impress ?

                            Right now, I can't help but feel this take on the Legacy fits the Silver Ladder more than the Adamantine Arrow. Deconstructing a plan, making effective counter strategies, enhancing execution through meetings, being great at anticipating results, these speak of great leadership. It feels like Ladder members would be very compelled to join. But the influence of the Eleventh Question on the design also speaks of an analytical, methodical nature. I see them as being as detail oriented as the Sherlocks, discrete like the Subtle Ones, but more proactive. I guess right now I am trying to think how to align them more with the Arrows. But if that is not what you are looking for, then could you please describe a scene, image, video or any other reference that captures how they should feel ? That would help me brainstorm more suitable ones.
                            Last edited by KaiserAfini; 12-27-2018, 07:57 PM.

                            New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.


                            • #15
                              Maybe this is all explained in 1e, but i think a very important question is: What is their philosophical and spiritual basis? Legacies arent just collections of neat Paradox-free powers, cool Yantras and new ways to get Mana. They are a process of shaping and specializing your soul to fulfill an ideal, or even an archetype. They are a process not unlike forging steel into a tool, or creating a new lifeform from stem cells. Perhaps they are even a more controlled path to enlightenment, as compared to the blinding, searing jolt of the First and Second Awakenings.

                              So, ask yourself, what does a Gambit want to become? Moreover, why do they feel this is a worthy path? What questions do they have that the Legacy answers? What teachings are passed from Master to apprentice or codified by the self-taught?

                              From what i can tell so far, they definitely believe in the triumph of knowledge over ignorance and growth through adversity. More concretely, they wish to see as many Awakenings as possible, but only for the worthy.

                              But i think more insight into the mystic philosophy that shapes their souls would help us shape a power that truly represents what a Gambit would consider the ultimate personal expression of their truths

                              A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"