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[IAWA] Particular Strengths questions

Started by Filip Luszczyk, March 13, 2008, 11:40:47 PM

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Filip Luszczyk

After playing a few games with different groups, I have some questions about the way Particular Strengths work. It's the one thing that people seemed to be doing differently. Note that I still don't have my own book, so I might be missing something obvious - but my regular group is likely to play the game more, and after the first session we're a bit confused.

1. Is there only a single, shared, PS sheet? For every PS or should a separate PS sheet be created for every individual occurrence of the same PS on character sheets?

Say, if there are two elementalists in the game, and both have Elemental Sorcery PS, should both work the same way both in fiction and mechanically?

If the player improves the Significance of his Elemental Sorcery PS, does he improve it for Elemental Sorcery in general, or only for his own copy of Elemental Sorcery? I.e. does it mean we now have two elementalists with Elemental Sorcery 2, or one of them has it at 2, but the other still at 1?

If it's the former, when a new elementalist appears in the game and is given that PS, does he get it at 2 (or 3, or 4, depending on how powerful it currently is), or does he get a new Elemental Sorcery sheet with Significance 1?

Otherwise, when I take PS that someone else has as well, do I have to make it mechanically identical? When I increase its Significance, and someone has the same PS at a higher Significance already, must I choose one of the same benefits?

2. Is it possible to negotiate gaining/draining/stealing/borrowing/whatever another character's PS in a way that would grant it's mechanical benefits?

3. Is it possible to give another character mechanical benefits of a PS without getting involved in the conflict on one's own? Say, the elementalis creates a fiery sword for another character to wield - does the other character get to roll it's dice?

4. If we negotiate that the character loses a PS, is it gone permanently, or will it become available again in the next chapter? What if the player decides to refresh the sheet for the new chapter?

5. Is it possible to roll the dice for more than a single PS in a conflict?

Also, If I use a given PS in the first exchange, can I use a different PS in the second or third exchange? Can I do it only in fiction, or would I get the mechanical benefits?

6. When I use a PS in the first round, do I automatically roll it's dice in the second and third sequence, without having to narrate its use later (i.e. as with the forms)? Or, do I have to "activate" it again in every subsequent round to get the die, and once its activated, always include it in my narration?

7. Can I decide to use a PS, and roll its dice, after the first round of rolls?

8. Does the die gained for PS count towards determining whose name gets written on the We Owe list?


In all cases, follow the logic of each particular strength individually. Mostly your questions don't have absolute exception-free rules. That's why different groups do them differently. You should do them differently too, case by case.

1. Each individual PS should have its own sheet.

If the two elementalists both practice the same elementalism, they should use the same elementalism PS. If they practice different elementalisms (including elementalism at different significances) they should use different elementalism PSs.

Quote from: Filip Luszczyk on March 13, 2008, 11:40:47 PM
If the player improves the Significance of his Elemental Sorcery PS, does he improve it for Elemental Sorcery in general, or only for his own copy of Elemental Sorcery?
Usually only his own, but it depends on the PS, exceptions are easy to come up with. This is prime "follow the logic" territory.

2. Strictly, no, but it's a technicality. Practically, yes. I can explain the technicality to anyone who thinks it's important, but consider going with "practically, yes," and not worrying about it.

3. Sure.

4. I don't know. Did you negotiate that it's gone forever, or only for this session?

When your character comes back, if you refresh your dice, you keep your PSs - you only refresh your dice. If you create a new parallel character sheet, you don't transfer them, they stay on the old sheet. The new parallel character might have a PS of her own, of course.

5. No. Choose one. Choose the one you're going to use first, or the better one, or the one that makes most sense.

In rounds 2 and 3, do whatever you want in your fictional actions, including using any or all of your PSs, but always roll just the same dice you started with.

6. Yes, as with the forms.

7. Nope. Don't change dice midsequence. Again, you can do whatever you want in fiction, but leave the dice alone.

8. Yes.

If that makes it unclear who's rolling bigger dice (is d12 d10 bigger than d12 d8 d8? Who knows? I could crunch it out, but I don't know offhand) then treat them as the same dice - neither goes on the owe list.


Filip Luszczyk

1. Ok, could you give some examples of PSs that would better be treated and improved as separate and contrast them with some that would better be treated and improved as shared/global? I can imagine PSs that represent concrete objects would be public, but what else?

2 & 3. So, having a given PS written on a character sheet is not necessary to use it, if one gains an access to it only temporarily for some reason?

Also, is it possible to create a new PS in the middle of the game and give it to an NPC or player character, applying the "follow the logic" rule?


1. I guess so. Concrete objects are the obvious ones. Um. "Command of the demon Paarishu." You recur, you bump it up to significance 2, you make it doubly potent, saying that your sacrifices have given Paarishu great power. Since it's not unique, I also have it as a particular strength - the demon Paarishu being one of those denizens of some other earth who can appear wherever, whenever summoned. It makes sense that since your character made Paarishu himself more powerful, it becomes doubly potent for me too.

Compare with, say, "command of demons," where you might bump yours to doubly potent, saying "I know ALL the cool demons." There's no reason for that to affect mine.

But I guess Paarishu is kind of a concrete object. How about this? What if the events in the previous chapter included, like, a powerful sorcerer breaking open the seal that holds closed the bloody moon, so that its obscure red light washes the world and all demons draw strength? Then you're like, "well obviously I bump my 'command of demons' up to doubly potent," and it WOULD affect mine too.

2 & 3. Sure. Also, sure.

Should I talk theory a little? Since you count particular strengths' dice when it comes to who goes on the owe list, and since particular strengths don't contribute as much to winning as the advantage dice do, I'm entirely comfortable with people throwing particular strength dice around as liberally as they like. The game's self-balancing where it matters, so the rules for who gets what particular strength at what significance can be quite free.

A character with no particular strengths is as much fun to play as a character with abundant particular strengths, and more likely to come back in the future, so I don't even worry about a particular strength arms race. Selective pressure is against too many particular strengths.

Particular strengths add a lot to the color and texture of the game without reaching very deep at all into its real functioning. Do what seems fun with them, case by case. They can't break the game.


Filip Luszczyk


Quote from: lumpley on March 14, 2008, 12:52:35 PMParticular strengths add a lot to the color and texture of the game without reaching very deep at all into its real functioning. Do what seems fun with them, case by case. They can't break the game.
OK, but what if I really, really seem to be using 2 Particular Strengths - i.e. Elemental Magic to make the Sword of Kings be all fiery.  ?  If I end up rolling 4 dice because I've got an extra particular strength, does that break the game? 

Christoph Boeckle

It hadn't occurred to me that particular strengths tended to throw characters out of the fiction, that's quite interesting.

Ryan, check out Vincent's reply number 5 in his first post, you only choose the dice for one particular strength, even if the fiction involves multiple ones.


In this thread

over on Story Games, there was some discussion of particular strengths.  In my (incredibly wordy) 'virtual play' example, I had characters using multiple Particular Strength dice in conflicts, and Vincent in his reply did not say that doing so was wrong, so I have been presuming that it was OK (although self-defeating if you are trying to get on the Owe list with that conflict). 

Admittedly, that was a side-note to the question I was asking and that Vincent was answering, so possibly he just missed it.  Ryan, you were in that thread as well; that may be where you picked up the idea, too.

In another thread (which I can't seem to find now, dammit) there was the concept of negotiating dice-changes in mid-conflict.  Below is the quote from Vincent that I pulled from that thread and pasted into my 'Notes about IaWA' file:

By default, you roll the same dice forward, with the winner of the last round adding an advantage die in this next round. If you want to do something else, you have to both agree to it - and either of you can end negotiation simply by demanding the default.
If you're like, "hey, instead of rolling this advantage die, how about I bring in my exorcism?" I'll be like "sure," every time. Easy - no particular strength is as good as an advantage die. But if you're like, "hey, in addition to rolling this advantage die, how about I also bring in my exorcism?" I'll be like, "pff. No."
Or maybe I'll be like, "okay, but I'm switching to directly with violence," and you'll be like, "sure," and so that's what we'll do."  -- Vincent

By extrapolation from that, using two or more Particular Strengths at once could be a result of between-round negotiation.  Using Ryan's example, going into round two, I come up with the idea "I use Elemental Magic to make the Sword of Kings blaze with fire."  My opponent says "OK, but I'm switching 'Directly' to 'for Myself' now, since I'm in fear of my life from your flaming sword." and puts in a bigger die.  Or he says "No, your sword blazes, but your dice don't change." (and neither do his) and we roll forward.  Would that be legit?

Stacking up multiple powerful Particular Strengths makes it harder and harder to get on the Owe list in conflicts where you are strong, but there's something appealing about the idea of two characters, over the course of many chapters, becoming legendary near-demigods as they strive against one another.  (Against one another because no one else is even a challenge, anymore.  They can't get on the Owe list conflicting with 'lesser beings'.  :) )



The reason to not roll multiple particular strengths at once is that each additional die you roll reduces the value of the advantage die.

Two probably wouldn't do too much harm, but "roll at most one" is a prettier rule than "roll at most two."



The answer to the first #3 puzzles me a bit.

You can use a PS to assist another character without being involved in a conflict?  I thought a basic principle in IAWA was "no risk, no gain", in that you've got to be in a conflict to affect it and that you never add dice to someone else's rolls, you weigh in on their side.

I admit in a game using the draft rules I got annoyed when the GM brought in dice from an NPC not present as helping someone present, such that that NPC was indirectly influencing things but not subject to answering any challenge from my character or others in the conflict and thus not at risk.



I imagined that the elementalist created a fiery sword, like, 4 days ago, and presented it to the character in question. Does the character in question get to roll a die for the fiery sword? Sure. It's his. What die? Well, he can create the sword as a particular strength of its own, significance 1, or maybe it makes more sense for him to be "sharing" the elementalist's elementalism. In that case, rolling the die for the elementalist's elementalism makes perfect sense.

If the elementalist is standing right there in battle, maintaining the warrior's fiery sword or whatever, then naturally the elementalist should roll dice too.



I think that calms me, the recipient turns the gift into a Particular Strength making it their dice or the helper is present, right?




See, I like the idea of the PS dice going with the sword for one easy reason.

Elementalist makes flaming sword for pawn to use in killing his enemy.

Pawn goes to kill enemy. Some stuff happens. (Pawn is seduced by enemy, pawn is killed by enemy, pawn turns out to be son of enemy...) Enemy ends up with flaming sword.

Enemy comes and kills Elementalist with own flaming sword, using their PS dice against them.
- Brand Robins