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Twisted Confessional | Everway

Sharpening Focus

Introduction

An adaptation of this

Heroes in Everway can be difficult to distinguish from one another because of Everway's famous flexibility. Two heroes with a Fire score of 5, for example, are practically indistinguishable in any Fire-based activities (not covered by specialties). While this is sometimes not a problem, it can sometimes make suspension of disbelief difficult for players.

As an example of a situation in which the difficulty of distinguishing between heroes can affect a game, consider a pair of heroes who both have a Fire score of five, with specialties unrelated to combat. The first hero, Bright Spear, is an Early Bronze Age type semi-nomadic hunter living near the forests far to the north of Windseat. The second hero, Fleet, is a street-smart confidence trickster living in the ghettos under the city of Skyport.

Bright Spear has spent her life hunting prey with the broze spear which is her namesake (as well as with knives and other such tools in a pinch). Fleet has spent his life fleecing the good people of Skyport and, on occasion, defending himself with the worn, but trusty, rapier which rests at his hip.

Under the Everway rules, both heroes are equally effective in combat with all sorts of weapons. Yet, it is fairly clear that Bright Spear would probably have a very difficult time figuring out which end of a rapier to hold, and that Fleet would not know the first thing about the proper use of a spear. Things become worse when we consider Bright Spear's expertise in city-dweller etiquette, or Fleet's expertise in judging the edibility of woodland herbs.

This system presents a more formal description of what many Everway Storytellers probably do anyway. In effect, what this system proposes is that all actions which fall outside a hero's character concept be treated according to how distant from the hero's concept the actions are.

Mechanics

In keeping with the light rules of Everway, the mechanisms this article proposes are minimalist, as non-intrusive as possible, and as dependent on Storyteller judgment as any other part of the game.

The core of the proposed mechanics is the concept statement - initially one or two sentences which describe the hero's concept. Under 30 words is optional, but optimal. This concept statement provides a focus for the hero, and some guidance for the Storyteller to base adjudication of any actions. Some examples of initial concept statements are:

  • Bright Spear is an early bronze age semi-nomadic hunter. Thanks to the blessings her Tribe has recieved, she has experience with spirits, and venerates them.
  • Fleet is a war-time refugee (and confidence trickster) in Skyport's undercity who longs to escape to the greater things he believes are his fate.

Concept statements require some minor modifications to three parts of the Everway rules: hero creation, action resolution and hero development.

Hero Creation

The initial concept statement should be draughted in the identity stage of hero creation. As with a hero's name, motive, virtue, fault and fate, the concept of the hero is central to the hero's identity. As with any part of hero creation, however, the concept statement should not be considered set in its final form until the entire hero creation process has been completed. Thus the initial concept statement can (and probably will) change as hero creation progresses.

Action Resolution

Action resolution remains completely unchanged for the Law of Drama and mostly unchanged for the Law of Fortune. The Law of Karma, however, requires a minor change:

Upon resolving an action using the Law of Karma, the Storyteller should consult the concept statement. If the action could reasonably be deemed to fall within the hero's concept statement, there is no modification to the use of the Law of Karma. If the action is, in the Storyteller's opinion, outside of the hero's abilities according to the concept statement, the appropriate element score is first reduced by 1 (to a minimum of 1). This modified element score is then used for adjudication with the Law of Karma. If the action is, in the Storyteller's opinion, well outside of the hero's concept, the Law of Fortune should be invoked, as by this point the hero is relying on luck as much as skill.

As an example, Bright Spear using her spear to attack an opponent is well within the concept statement provided above. Her Fire score of 5 is thus used unaltered. Attacking an opponent using a rapier is mildly outside of her concept in the Storyteller's opinion, so her Fire score is reduced to 4. Impressing the gathered gentry of Skyport with her poise and etiquette falls well outside of her concept in the opinion of the Storyteller, so she draws from the Fortune deck, and she might shock her hosts by using the wrong fork (or, worse, no fork at all) for the fish.

Hero Development

As with all other forms of a hero's character development, development of the concept statement requires the cooperative input of both the Storyteller and the player. The "how" of a concept statement's development is simple: the concept statement is modified to reflect any changes which may have occurred due to the hero's experience. For example: because Bright Spear has travelled with Pen Scratching, a scribe from Everway itself, for several quests, and because during that time she has had to interact with civilized people in social situations many times, her concept statement is modified to say:

  • Bright Spear was an early bronze age semi-nomadic hunter. Thanks to the blessings her Tribe has recieved, she has experience with spirits, and venerates them. She has picked up some civilized social graces because of her long association with Pen Scratching but remains a "savage" at heart.

It is important that changes to the concept statement be small unless something has occurred which warrants a dramatic change in the way a hero sees and interacts with the outside world.

The "when" of a concept statement's development is up to the Storyteller. There are three main reasons to change a statement, however, which Storytellers should be aware of:

  1. The hero has been acting in (or influenced by) an out-of-concept role for several quests;
    • This is best handled by a petition from the player to the Storyteller, asking for the opportunity to change the concept stateemnt.
  2. the hero has faced an important, central event which could change the hero's perspective on life;
    • A hero meeting her fate would most certainly change a concept statement (see below).
  3. the hero has been blessed by some in-game Boon which impacts the hero's concept.
    • This, of course, would be initiated by the Storyteller, as any situation involving Boons? would be.

Any opportunity to change the concept statement is also an opportunity to change specialties.

Turning Point

Whenever a hero meets their Fate, their player has the opportunity not only to change their concept statement, they also may shift a character point anywhere from one point to another, on their sheet.