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The Agathos Kai Sophos, a Acanthus Legacy of strategists

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  • The Agathos Kai Sophos, a Acanthus Legacy of strategists

    In short: A Legacy of enlightened strategists. The Attainments and yantras reward planning and coming up with tactics. They can use Hung Spells like the Awakening Gambit, but have other Attainments that make them force multipliers for the cabal. The better you plan, the more devastating they become. Do you want to roleplay a Chessmaster like Xanathos or Grand Admiral Thrawn ? Then this is the Legacy for you.

    Greetings everyone, what was originally a reimagining of the Awakening Gambit has since branched off into its own Legacy of strategists. Here is what I have so far, I will also add some design notes for those interested. Feedback is very welcome.


    Agathos Kai Sophos

    Origins

    Nicknames: Sophos, sages, stoics, strategists, philosopher kings, aurelians, elenchus (student to mentor)
    Parentage: Acanthus, Adamantine Arrow
    Background: A relatively young legacy born from looking to the great strategists of the past to guide the tactics of the future. Taking inspiration from the campaigns and Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, they concluded that no battle plan can anticipate all contingencies. There are always unexpected factors including those stemming from the opponent's initiative. A battle must thus becomes a balance between plan and improvisation, between error and correction. By sculpting their souls around these Truths, they seek to secure ever greater victories for the Awakened.
    Appearances: Due to their passion for tactics, Sophos are normally found playing strategy games in their everyday lives. From board games to e-sports and timeless classics like Chess and Go, their interests are far ranging. Sages normally find themselves dressing casually, in order to draw the least attention when executing their plans.

    Doctrine

    Prerequisites: Mind 2, Academics 2, two dots in one of the following Skills; Socialize, Empathy, Subterfuge, Investigation, Politics
    Initiation: The aspirant studies Sophos philosophy and strategy under an elenchus, who in turn sends them on missions meant to test their ability to solve increasingly more complex moral dilemmas using strategy and Wisdom. When the elenchus feels the pupil is ready, they ritually prepare a place of Astral power (Hallow, Demesne, Synese, etc) with stoic symbols, such as transforming it into a reproduction of the Stoa Poikile, adding paintings and vases depicting the stoic virtues or bookshelves containing the works of Plato, Socrates, Zeno of Citium,etc. Common to all of these are a pyre at the center of the room surrounded by broken chains (representing Prometheus, gifter of knowledge, unbroken by the chains of tyranny) and an image of Metis (the mother of wisdom and deep thought). Once the pyre is lit, the elenchus starts to question the aspirant's approach to magic, his Shadow Name, his reasons to join the Legacy and his mistakes. Gradually the room shifts with these images, ever more vivid, as the dialogue acts as a meditative trance into their Oneiros. At this point the elenchus can no longer be found, the aspirant's goetia will take over the dialogue, until the aspirant "faints", overwhelmed with puzzlement and doubt over their choices (aporia). They will "wake up" knowing they failed, this time the goetia will come to antagonize and terrify the aspirant with the loss of all they hold dear. Should the aspirant persist, with the bravery of a warrior and the stoic virtues, then their Daimon will come to them, explaining the purpose of the test and letting them sit on the throne of a philosopher king, at which point they wake up with the ceremony completed. (For inspiration, watch the Shadow Raiders episode called The Ascension, Jade's trial is a perfect example. I recommend watching the whole series anyway, the story is timeless).
    Organization: Strategists can be found anywhere the Arrow needs to pull off a complex operation, coordinating the efforts of the Ungula Draconis for maximum efficiency. Legacy members also have a proclivity to research new strategies for the Order, debating new tactics, testing them and drilling Talons in them.
    Theory: The greatest warrior is the one who has attained Aretê, excellence of self. When they fight, they are swift and precise, like a great surgeon, they only excise that which damages the body. When they take on their duties, they commit their piercing intellect to attain victory. Whenever they enact an Imago, they declare war on Hubris. The path lays open to the truly diligent and dedicated, the forge is ablaze with the fires of Logic, Courage, Justice, Temperance and Wisdom. They lay ready to shape one into a sage, a blade of the Supernal.

    Magic

    Ruling Arcanum: Mind
    Yantras: Strategy or debate room (+1, +2 if it was prepared by the mage themselves), breaking down a spell's use with propositional logic (+2), playing one's part in a plan (+2, +3 if its of one's own making), first time using a tactic on a foe (+2, +3 if it was developed by the mage themselves), philosophical or strategic document (+2, +3 if its a published and innovative document authored by the mage themselves), spell will be used to act out one's Virtue (+3)
    Oblations: Participating in a Socratic dialogue, analyzing strategies or foes, studying
    or debating philosophy/strategy, creating a new philosophy/strategy or tactic, teaching others, training mindfulness, leading a strategy meeting, acting out one's Virtue.


    Attainments


    First: Syllogistic Diairesis
    Prerequisites: Initiation
    The Sophos knows that a strategist may be called to serve all sorts of different social roles. In order to attain Aretê, he must be quick to grasp the nuances of his duties. This Attainment allows the Sage to look at anything than can considered a plan in the broadest sense (a wedding plan, a script, a ransom letter, a conspiracy board, a case file, etc) and instantly use propositional logic to break down its purpose and all components required for it to succeed. When used against a plan that is being supernaturally obfuscated (a diary with the writing that flees, an astral record with mental static, etc) the Stoic scores [Mind] automatic successes in the ensuing Clash of Wills. This can be cast on the Sophos to deconstruct any plan he remembers. Reach is assigned to instant use.

    Optional: Time 1
    The mastery of Hormê, the proactive drive, requires not only having the will to act but also choosing the best moment to take action. By taking a moment to strategize, the Sophos can make the most of his next move. This replicates the spell Perfect Timing, with Reach assigned to instant use.

    Second: Mólis Oikeiôsis
    Prerequisites: Mind 2, Academics 3
    When faced with the conflict inherent to the cosmos, an enlightened strategist must act with deliberation. Through Oikeiôsis, the familiarization with the thought and goals of others, the Sophos is able to incorporate their actions into his strategies. Thus he is able to plan the most Appropriate Acts for a situation, for Oikeiôsis is the beginning of justice. The Sophos replicates Mental Scan, with Reach assigned to instant use and sensory range. If the questions asked are only about a plan or strategy, they may bypass the target's Withstand rating. In case the target's mind is supernaturally shielded, the Sophos gains [Mind] automatic successes in the ensuing Clash of Wills. Any plans uncovered can then be deconstructed by the first attainment.

    Optional: Time 2
    A plan is ultimately a complex propositional logic theorem, the more premises one has available, the more solid the proof that can be constructed. The Sophos replicates the Divination spell, with Reach assigned to instant use and sensory range. It can answer more than yes or no questions, but this Attainment can only be used to ask questions related to a plan or strategy. In case the target is supernaturally shielded against scrying, the Sophos gains [Time] automatic successes in the ensuing Clash of Wills.

    Third: Chalarí Apatheia
    Prerequisites: Mind 3, two dots in a second Skill among the optional prerequisite Skills
    To master a battlefield, a Sage must be able to rein in his passions, to keep focused on the grand strategy even as they tackle complex problems, to act with Apatheia. This functions as a broader version of One Mind, Two Thoughts which permits any two Mental Actions to happen simultaneously, whether they are Extended or Instant. Reach is assigned to instant use, advanced duration and being able to do any two Mental Actions at once.

    Optional: Time 3
    The Sage infuses his strategies with the virtue of Sophrosyne, planning with temperance, moderation and self control. Whenever they are appended to a plan, they are able to Hang a number of spells equal to the equipment bonus of the plan. 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. Reach is assigned to instant use and advanced duration.

    Fourth: Askêsis Andreía
    Prerequisites: Mind 4, Academics 4
    The Sophos learns to extend the Aretê of his soul to his Plans. By spending time perfecting a plan in a war council, the Sage is able to grant it a pool of [Mind] rote mundane rolls. Any participants in the plan can use one of these actions when doing their part. Reach is assigned to advanced duration and advanced scale.

    Optional: Time 4
    Sometimes the only way to seize victory is through bold strategies. By spending a point of mana while they are appended to a plan, the Sophos is able to Hang a number of Rewrite Histories equal to the plan's equipment bonus. It can be used on operatives, enemies, equipment, anything so long as the use contributes to the plan. Temporal Sympathy can be used for them individually. The attainment and any spells remaining Hung end immediately after the plan definitively succeeds or fails. Reach is assigned to advanced duration and a point of mana is used to pay for both Temporal Sympathy and Time in a Bottle (truncated to one mana due to Legacy rules).

    Fifth: Sophia Katorthōmata
    Prerequisites: Mind 5, two dots in a third Skill among the optional prerequisite Skills
    The Sophos embodies the Truths of enlightened strategy and is able to issue them forth from their soul. By spending a point of mana, he may create goetic embodiments of Wisdom, called Metisides. Reach is assigned to advanced duration and mana is used to activate Time in a Bottle.
    Metisides are rank 2 goetia created as per the rules of Psychic Genesis. They are created to be perfectly in tune with the Sage's soul, automatically having a Familiar bond that can resist even a rise in Rank.

    However, the Truth of these beings is entirely incompatible with the most heinous acts of hubris, possessing the Ban "cannot commit any Fallen Wisdom Sin unless directly ordered to by the Sophos who created them". In addition, should the Sophos (or the Metisides acting under his orders) perform any Act of Hubris of Fallen Wisdom, then this attainment immediately ends and all Metistides vanish, without giving a chance to convert the remaining Essence to mana. While the philosopher king can use certain methods to escape soul damage (such as Masques), these Fallen Wisdom Sins contradict his soul's nature on a fundamental level and cannot prevent the attainment from deactivating.

    The foundation of the stoic Truths lie in the state of the soul itself, in Wisdom and self-control. While Enlightenment is a noble goal, pursuing it is not required, but a grasp of everyday Wisdom is. Should the Sophos ever degenerate into Fallen Wisdom, he loses the use of this attainment. Returning to Understanding Wisdom restores its use.

    Additional attainment feature:
    A strategists is ultimately a warrior, one willing to sacrifice everything to champion his causes. By spending a point of mana, the Sage is able to manifest a specialized type of Metisides, called an Enchiridion. It that has an exact copy of his mind, is rank 1 and has no influences. But it does have one Numina: the ability to remove the soul of the Sophos and store it within itself. Should the Sophos die before this attainment expires, the Metisides becomes an independent (Lasting) Rank 5 goetia with the Ban "cannot perform any Act of Hubris of Fallen Wisdom". This attainment can only be used by the Sophos' own free will and is subject to the same duration and conditions than the Mind one. Therefore, performing a Fallen Wisdom Sin will leave the soul floating wherever it was. The Sophos can still come back and reclaim his soul before the attainment ends, but as this is a technique normally used as a last resort, it is exceedingly rare.

    Optional: Time 5
    A master strategist knows that no plan survives contact with the enemy, to succeed one must improvise as well. The Sage elevates this art further through the mastery of Ataraxia, the tranquility of mind needed to act in a Wise and responsible manner. By spending a point of mana, the Sophos is able to imprint this tranquility onto the fabric of Time, creating time to plan, prepare, heal, resupply and come back to turn the tide. The Sage replicates the Temporal Pocket spell, with Reach assigned to advanced duration and mana being spent to activate Time in a Bottle.
    Last edited by KaiserAfini; 01-17-2019, 03:17 PM.


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

  • #2
    Téchni Tis Stratigikís, the Art of Strategy

    So what is a plan ?

    Originally posted by Chronicles of Darkness
    Plans: Characters can “build” a plan to orchestrate a complex encounter with a specific goal involving multiple people, like a heist, a raid, or a rescue. If successful, this piece of “equipment” grants its bonus to everyone involved, but winks out of existence as soon as the plan definitively succeeds or fails. The Storyteller shouldn’t force the players to come up with every little detail of the plan —abstraction is what the dice are for — though if the players are gung ho about the particulars, that’s fine too.
    So what counts as a plan ? Something as simple as "I cast spell A on here, spell B on here, and you cast spell C on here" is not well structured enough, some examples of what does:


    Originally posted by Errol216 View Post
    Lets say you're going to make a plan to defend a building. Determine where the high-risk vulnerabilities are. Determine how you can funnel intruders into kill boxes. Determine how to safely fall back to rendezvous points. Then you can apply the plan to perception checks at the vulnerabilities, or subterfuge checks for leading the attackers around, or athletics checks when running down a hallway. The plan might include traps or establish reactions to specific actions. You can then apply the plan equipment bonus as a penalty to the attackers' attempts to avoid or detect that intent. For instance, you might mess with Space to subtly pull most of the sympathy into a single room, and then you'd roll, I dunno, Manipulation + Space + plan - Composure to decide whether or not the attackers actually decide to Portal into the trap. The plan would involve studying the layout of the building, likely including actually walking around and checking where everything is and what's in various rooms, so you can apply the bonus to things like, "Oh no, I need a fire extinguisher. (roll) But I happen to know there's one literally around the next corner."
    Walking around casting spells is fine if you're doing some interior decoration or trying to create a temporary Safe Place, but it's not a plan for an actual defense. The wording in the rules is "orchestrating a complex encounter".
    Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
    A plan is equipment. It grants bonus dice to relevant rolls just like any other equipment. The same way a Smartphone adds its equipment bonus to any rolls where having a smartphone would be helpful, a plan adds its equipment bonus to any rolls where having a plan would be helpful. The only difference is, a plan stops existing once it stops being relevant.
    So your players come up with a plan, like "Sean will distract the guard, then Dave and Samantha will sneak into the office. Dave, you try to hack into the computer to get the secret plans, while Samantha keeps watch. Samantha, if anyone interrupts you two, take them down as quickly and quietly as you can but try not to kill anyone. I'll be waiting at the base, monitoring the security cameras and keep in contact with all of you through our headsets. As soon as you've got the plans, give me the signal and I'll blow the c4 charges" (or whatever). Then any rolls the PCs make that would benefit from them having that plan gain the plan's equipment bonus as extra dice. For example, Dave might benefit from the peace of mind that comes from knowing Samantha has his back, so he can just focus on his job, making hacking easier. But knowing what everyone else is doing doesn't really make it any easier for Sean to distract the guard.
    Once they complete the plan, or things go so awry that the plan isn't of any use anymore, the plan stops existing and therefore can't grant an equipment bonus to any future rolls.

    Wits + Composure is normally rolled to create one. Nothing says it needs to be an extended action, but it could be for more complex operations. Dice penalties can be taken to add to the equipment bonus of the plan, at a ratio of 1 to 1. Additional dice bonuses and penalties can be applied depending on circumstances, some examples include:

    Bonuses:

    + Picking the best moment to execute the plan (the play goes up in a week with no major launches, the heist happening when the guard patrols are more sparse, etc).
    + Preparation (kevlar jackets for an combat mission, procuring false documents, looking up the blueprints of a building to infiltrate, preparing an escape vehicle, etc)
    + Modifying or using the environment to your favor, which could require an extended action (boarding windows, preparing traps, etc)
    + Rehearsal (training for the mission, reviewing a presentation, taking courses related to a mission)

    Penalties:

    - Walking into a suspected trap with no information on its nature
    - Purposely using faulty equipment

    On a success, the plan is created with no further complications. On a Failure, the plan has either the Fragile tag (you can only benefit from its Equipment Bonus a number of times equal to its Equipment Bonus), or the Volatile tag (any failures on rolls that benefit from the plan's Equipment Bonus count as dramatic failures, and also reduce the plan's Equipment Bonus by 2). On a dramatic failure, the attempt to create a plan fails, and some additional negative consequence occurs. On an exceptional success, the plan's Equipment Bonus increases by 1.

    Do plans affect spellcasting rolls ? No, they do not. Plans provide equipment bonuses for mundane actions, yantras provide the equipment bonuses for spellcasting ones. So unless the character has a Legacy that utilizes them as a yantra, they grant no aid for magic. However, magic can be used to generate the conditions to grant dice bonuses to a plan, such as quickly reinforcing all doors and windows with Matter, manipulate the enemy's teleportation entry points by pulling all the building's sympathy into a trap room with Space or causing foes to enter a zone of radio silence with Forces.
    Last edited by KaiserAfini; 01-17-2019, 05:39 PM.


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

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    • #3
      What were you thinking design wise ?

      For the first Mind attainment, plans were considered as a type of mental equipment, so it was treated as a Mind themed variation of Craftsman's Eye. A great strategist should be able to quickly deconstruct even the most complex plans at a glance. For Time, being able to get a bonus for thinking things through seemed very versatile and thematically appropriate.

      The second Mind attainment is Mental Scan. In this case I wanted it to maintain its relevance against targets with great mental fortitude. So when using it for the Legacy's specialty it gets a nice bonus. For Time we have Divination, which goes over one Reach to allow for more specific answers. Narrowing the scope of what it can be used on seemed like a fair tradeoff.

      The third Mind attainment covers the ability of the Chessmaster to multitask. So you could be holding a perfectly pleasant conversation in a bar while tailing a target with Psychic Projection. The Time one is directly influenced by the Awakening Gambit, with a greater focus on planning. The better the plans you make, the more powerful this becomes. The free spell control is there to compensate for not being able to use Hung Spells as freely as the Kingmakers, but allowing far more flexibility if you have a great plan.

      The fourth attainment adapts the Crucible spell to the Mind arcana, since a plan is considered equipment, adding rote property to it seems viable. Because a master of Mind can cast this instantly and not even use a spell slot (by relinquishing unsafely and recovering Willpower with, for example, Clear Thoughts), the mana cost was waived in order to incentivize the use of the attainment. Using Mind dots instead of the plan rating was done to limit the utter insanity that could create. For the Time attainment, Rewrite History allows you to make all sorts of adjustments to the plan, both in the preparation and execution phases.

      So far these have all been some really cool attainments from Mrmdubois' reimagining of the Awakening Gambit. For the last one I wanted to focus on this Legacy being a force multiplier for the cabal. Being able to create goetia seemed to fit this ethos perfectly. Goetia are just as flexible as spirits, sure they lack Manifestations, but they are completely loyal to the mage, which is a really nice tradeoff. Thankfully ephemeral entities are easy to stat, so it won't become a bookkeeping nightmare. Now the strategist can provide the perfect support team for every mission, even creating personalized ones for each cabal member. The goetia will be loyal to the cabal first, but to the Sophos foremost. However, now this creates three new problems. The first one is Essence bleed. The second one is creating a way to coordinate them. The third is that having an army of Rank 1 ephemeral beings doesn't sound awesome enough for the final attainment. Therefore I made them Rank 2 and provided them with a Familiar link.

      Now we are 1 Reach over the limit and with an ability with a lot of potential for abuse. Thankfully the theme of the legacy provides a solution. Stoicism calls for a sage to act with wisdom and self control. Therefore we hold the use of this attainment to a higher standard of Wisdom, one that cannot be cheated. Looking at Wisdom Sins, most the of the murderhobo ones are of the Falling level. So we set that as the bar, providing a nice challenge without closing off too many possible approaches. Using Pattering to create a symbiotic Manifestation with your cabal member and give them Dread Powers ? Sure. Having your army possess an entire building of enemies ? Nope. Blasting the werewolf that attacked you into fine powder ? Sure. Assassinating a rival mage ? Nope. Plus they can be used as reliable spies, mana batteries, remote casting windows and much more. If you keep them around long enough or promote their ideas, maybe the GM could reward it with a Rank up, which is all good since they have a 1 year expiration date anyway. The Wiser the mage acts, the easier acting Wise becomes.

      The secondary function of the achievement is a nod to Socrates, whose teachings had a heavy influence on Stoicism. It could also make for a fun plot hook.

      The final Time attainment reinforces the idea of the Chessmaster being a virtuoso of Xanathos Speed Chess. No matter what happens, they are quickly able to adapt and pivot their plans. Either you take out the master planner in one turn or he will be healed, rested and have a plan ready to systematically defeat you. Both attainments are made to complement each other. The Mind one allows you to create the multiple people needed to execute a plan anywhere, each one with whatever skills you require. The Time one creates the opportunity to plan and prepare.

      The theme of this Legacy was inspired by the Awakening Gambit, but upon further examination I found that I wasn't so fond of the risky game they play to Awaken the worthy. Rather it was fascinating how close it is to the archetypes of the Chessmaster, the Strategist and the Magnificent Bastard. To me, a more interesting interpretation of the role of an Awakened strategist is that, being Arrows, they believe that Wisdom is a consequence of being a good planner. If you can read the situation deeply, account for all factors and then plot a path to victory that is safe, efficient and leaves no loose ends to tangle yourself or others. In theory, if a mage can make a great plan, perfectly adapting even in the midst of chaos, they can achieve a safe and ethical solution every time. However, that seemed in direct opposition of the Gambit for which they are named.

      So instead of the Gambit aspect, I chose to make a separate Legacy focusing on enlightened strategists that cultivate Wisdom. Marcus Aurelius and the philosophy of Stoicism seemed to fit this theme perfectly. Because the first four attainments could be seen as components of great leadership, I considered switching the parent Order to the Silver Ladder. But after looking at the story of the Ladder, it seemed unlikely. Originally they were proto-Stoics, but their strong denouncement of Wisdom made them incompatible. I imagine this Legacy would ruffle the feathers of the more philosophically minded Ladders, by making a claim to the title of Sages, a role the Théarchs have identified themselves with for a long time. They would be especially indignant about the fact this involves sculpting one's Gnosis to fit the "prison" of Wisdom. If any additional Order were to adopt this Legacy, I imagine the Free Council would be the most likely.

      The attainment themselves were made to consolidate each of the Phalanxes of the Adamant Way to a Stoic virtue. Propositional Logic acts as the fifth virtue, since it was one of the greatest contributions of these philosophers:

      First Attainment: Propositional Logic -> Service is Mastery
      Second Attainment: Dikaiosyne (Justice) -> Existence is War
      Third Attainment: Sophrosyne (No direct translation, the closest one is Temperance) -> The Supernal is the Self
      Fourth Attainment: Andreia (Courage) -> Adaptability is Strength
      Fifth Attainment: Sofia (Wisdom) -> Enlightenment is Honor

      For yantras, I wanted to add ones that rewarded planning. The strategy room one and foe analysis oblation were directly inspired by Grand Admiral Thrawn. Motivating the character to fulfill their Virtue also seemed in line with the enlightened strategist angle, while also acting as a carrot to get them into trouble. I wanted to add a portable tool as a yantra, so the documents provided a thematic incentive, as well as rewarding them for contributing their own innovations (which is risky, since even a small self published batch could end up in an opponent's hands). Making tactics into one was a way to creatively stimulate the strategist's approach.

      For sources of inspiration for the strategy side, I suggest the book Star Wars:Thrawn, the Grand Admiral is one excellent tactician and the book is filled with memorable quotes (the Background section is based on one of them). The classic Thrawn trilogy of books (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command) is fantastic as well. Shadow Raiders is another terrific source, great for large scale conflicts and with a plot possessing timeless brilliance. Lastly, I highly recommend the first two seasons of Gargoyles, David Xanathos is one of the best written Chessmaster characters I have ever seen.

      And that's it, hope you had as much fun reading it as I had writing it. Thanks in advance for the feedback.
      Last edited by KaiserAfini; 01-17-2019, 05:08 PM.


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

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