Whew, we're back! We have been to far shores and mysterious locations and also we lived in a truck briefly, but we made it!
It's been a long break and I suspect most of you don't care what was happening in it that isn't related to Hero's Journey (which is more than fair, it was mostly very aggravating for us but also very boring), so we're just going to jump directly into updates, but if you have more specific questions, hit us in the comments!
Ouranos, Celestial Babysitter, an Epithet this guy has more than earned
We talked about Epithets (name finalized!) in December, but they're cleaned up, finalized, and sparkling fresh, so let's go through them! (Epithets used to be called Divine Favor, and if you're wondering why we changed it, we talked about it over here!)
Heroes gain Epithets during their adventures as as result of becoming well-known and gaining power; sometimes they're based on what the Hero has done, and sometimes they're based on where they're from, and sometimes they're even based on their most well-known skills, moves, or tools. They are generally bestowed by some authority figure (the Hero's patron is an easy one, but messengers and priests/oracles/acolytes are probably more common!), and once the Hero has them, they last forever.
So here's the full set, in all their glory! (Names are a continuing work in progress, but this is the current final draft, and mechanics are all set!)
Artifact: This Hero is associated with a specific Domain or Sphere and has an enchanted item that represents their power. While they bear their enchanted item, they gain bonuses to their Sphere powers as well as gaining the ability to occasionally use them to spectacular levels.
Examples: Islande Chery, Celestial Princess, or Thomas Jefferson, Bearer of the Scepter of the Sun.
Armor: This Hero possesses a protective armor or shield that they are well-known to use to defend others from danger. They get additional resistances and take less damage, and can protect others sometimes even against a shocking amount of injury.
Examples: Nicolas Buchanan, Bulwark of the Seas, or Woodrow Anderson, Shieldbearer.
Acclaim: This Hero has a reputation in the area and is considered something of a celebrity. They are especially skilled at specific Talents and Aspects and can occasionally get shockingly high or effective rolls on them in moments of crisis.
Examples: Valencia Rosales, the Rose of Miami, or Gunther Brunn, the Possum King.
Duty: This Hero has an important duty, such as a political office or important job in the community, that they are respected for and must perform. They have to pay attention to this role, but they get additional Wealth as well as regaining their Reserves more often in return.
Examples: Tiberius Julius, Senator of the Sun, or Helena Aguado, the Winter Queen.
Heritage: This Hero is descended from someone important - an ancient Hero, a being or character from folklore, a supernatural creature, a famous thinker, or even a god themself (for all you Heroes dealing with Zeus out there!). They are tougher to kill than most other Heroes, and can sometimes use powers above their normal Divinity level during moments of great crisis.
Examples: Mac Morales, Werewolf Blooded, or Ysolde King, Daughter of Death.
Luxury: This Hero is well-known in their community for being wealthy or owning luxuries. They gain higher levels in the Wealth system as well as becoming immune to some of the effects of Wealth Decay and being able to liquidate their Wealth more often.
Examples: Nero Julius, the Golden Prince, or Corsario Ramirez, Dread Quartermaster.
Piety: This Hero has a religious role to play in their community - they might be an oracle, a priest, a healer, a temple attendant, an acolyte, the local fortune-teller, or anything else that makes sense for their religion - that they are respected for. They have to pay attention to this role, but they get additional Wealth as well as being able to massage some things along the Quest Track and their Devotional powers.
Examples: Aurora Dahl, Soothsayer of the West End, or Joaquin Ramirez, High Priest of Poseidon.
Weaponry: This Hero possesses a famous weapon that they are known to use in their adventures. They get the ability to solve more problems with weapons than most other people probably can, as well as increased reserves of strength they can use in any situation.
Examples: Aadhya Chopra, the Hungry Blade, or Mohini Misra, Mistress of Kalari.
You don't get a LOT of Epithets over your adventure as a Hero - they are given out at specific parts of the Hero's Journey, so how long adventures take and how many times Heroes veer off onto the Quest Track will affect how quickly they get them - but they can be stacked; if you already have, for example, a Piety Epithet, when it's time to get a new Epithet, you can either get a different one, or upgrade your Piety Epithet to become even better.
New Epithets are now live in the playtests, with the Sunday group already using them and the Tuesday group about to pick up theirs as they finish their current Saga, so head over that way if you'd like to see them in action!
Kubera heard someone around here wanted to be RICH?
We've been around the block with the Hero's Journey Wealth system a lot, so much so that at this point I have no idea what we even told y'all about it last time. So strap in, I'm about to fix that!
Wealth is the system that models how much, well, wealth a given Hero has - yes, cash and bank accounts, but also other forms of material wealth such as houses/buildings they own, vehicles they have access to, and what kinds and qualities of goods they can expect to use as they go about their adventures. Money is a weird thing in a lot of roleplaying games, because anything set in a world that has commerce probably needs it, but no one wants to play either Accountancy Chronicles: Bankruptcy in Babylon or The What Even Is Money? We Refuse to Investigate from Our Inexplicable Yacht Files, so it's always a struggle to design something that's fun, models what we want it to in the game, and doesn't confuse everyone who isn't a CPA into falling asleep at the table.
So Wealth in Hero's Journey walks a fine line: it aims not to tell you how much money you have, because that's not useful unless you also want to monitor your in-game spending as well as the world's prices and market fluctuations and buying power forever (and we do not), but rather what you can do with your current level of Wealth. Wealth has a scale; all Heroes start at Wealth 2 automatically, but they can go up levels if they amass more resources or drop down if they spend them without replacing them. Here's how it works:
Heroes can remain at their present level of Wealth for an entire Saga, but when the Saga ends, they lose one level, a process we refer to as Wealth Decay. This represents that they've been out Heroing and whatnot instead of, you know, holding down a job or doing investment banking.
Heroes who choose some of the Epithets above can not only avoid Wealth Decay but even make their Wealth go up for the next Saga instead. Some Epithets also "freeze" your Wealth at a new minimum, so even if you do get hit with Wealth Decay, it'll never go low enough to endanger your heroic Condominium of Strategy Meetings.
Instead of each level of Wealth offering a set amount of money, each level offers these options for what you can do with it (names pending, you know the drill):
Allowance: The Hero gets a set amount of spending money or resources each Chapter. They don't have to keep track of it, but instead will have guidelines such as "can feed the whole group a reasonably good meal at a restaurant" or "get transportation within the city".
Assets: The Hero also gets a set of assets: somewhere to live, a form of transportation, and a general shopping budget. These are again not amounts, but give guidelines like "a reasonably nice used car" or "a rundown apartment", and each level up gets fancier and fancier versions.
Liquidation: If a Hero needs more resources than they normally have from their Allowance (or needs to do something weird that wouldn't make sense for it), they can instead liquidate one of their Wealth levels. This gives them a big lump sum of cash if they need it, but the level is gone permanently, so their Allowance and everything else goes down until/unless they combat that with Epithets.
ALL of these things, like most of Hero's Journey, are attached to narrative time instead of real-life time; that is, your allowance refreshes each Chapter, rather than at a set "amount of time", and it never carries over. Use it or lose it; Heroes who want to have expensive investments or make a lot of money should use the Epithet system to do so.
It's also worth noting that the Wealth system is universal, so it doesn't matter where your Heroes are or who they're talking to; if they have any kind of currency or barter system, your Hero's Wealth can accommodate it. A Hero with a high level of Wealth is rich in downtown New York City, of course, but they're also rich in a magical otherworld desert where everyone trades in clay tablets. They know how to get resources and use them effectively, and you don't have to explain why they have fairy gold as well as US dollars. A Hero who puts effort into being rich should get to be rich everywhere, not just when Destiny is being nice enough to let them hang out in shopping malls. (Destiny might want to explain it, but that's Destiny's job.)
Obviously, games are weird and players are even weirder, so there are a few rules in the book as well for what to do if something doesn't make sense for the Wealth system or the players need to pull off something monetary it can't handle, but these things should come up pretty seldom. The entire point of the Wealth system is that you don't have to keep up with it or track it; it's the same every game, and it only changes when the Saga ends or you decide to change it.
Which direction is this thing going? Who's DRIVING?
As you can see, we have one big project to be laser focused on: finishing Devotionals! (I promise, though. This time that is actually what we're doing. We've been working on it all week.) The Hindu and Norse Devotional powersets are both about half complete, awaiting final pulling-together and polishing-up and deploying directly onto our players. Once the Devotionals (and the god powers that go with them from Heroes' patrons) are completed, we're almost out of big projects! John and I will proceed to cleaning up a lot of these smaller things, such as the crafting system tweaks and outstanding Blessings that need cleaning up, in a grand attempt to finish off mechanics and then not have to think about them ever again (you know, until expansion time, and also on this blog, and also in the playtests, and...).
Now that we're moved and settled, updates should resume more regularly. See you next time!