• Anne

The Odyssey: September Update

It’s the second week of the month, so that means it’s time for a check-in on what’s going on behind the scenes in Hero’s Journey!


The checklist doesn’t look too amazing today, but that’s only because one of the biggest chunks was just taken out of it and we couldn’t figure out how to have chunks take more than one line:



That’s right, the Archetypes have finally been finalized, cleaned up, and are ready to lead your Heroes to their most fulfilling destinies! I’m sure this doesn’t come as a surprise to those of you who read last month’s update, in which the Archetype track system was finally ironed out and the Goals, the mother system to the Archetypes, got their final face-lift. And speaking of those…


Goals


Last time we made sure that the Goals were less complicated and easier to keep track of, and that they apply to the entire group rather than being single to each Hero. (We might also rename them before the final printing, but the jury’s still out on that.) Now we have the final versions of each of them in live testing:

  • Groups with Connection now get to pool some of their Labors in order to be a better overall team, but they also have to spend some from the sheer collective struggle whenever their members suffer Downfalls.

  • Groups with Order now get increased wealth and resources so they can make their way in society more easily, but they also have a collective need to oppose chaos and have to deal with more problems alongside their larger divine missions.

  • Groups with Recognition now get extra Lulls, so they can rest up and do even bigger and better things, but they also have a shorter Archetype Track, meaning that they have less room to mess up before they need to go on a redemptive Quest.

  • Groups with Understanding now get more resistances and Reserves than other groups, but they also start to lose Devotion the more they struggle with keeping up their ideals.

These are already in live testing over on Twitch, so if you drop in on the games there or watch some of the recent ones, you’ll see what both a Connection and a Recognition group look like live!


Okay, so if we ALL refuse to explore the island... you know what, let's explore the island


Archetypes


And now here we are with the big backbone system of Hero’s Journey: the Archetypes. We’ve talked about Archetypes ad nauseum and I’m sure we will again, but the short version is that they describe the very essence of a Hero: what motivates them to get up and be heroic every day, and what ideals keep them going even when things are tough. They’re the first thing a Hero gets at character creation and are instrumental to everything else after.


So, obviously, getting them just right is essential, and after more playtesting than we care to reflect on to try different versions, we’ve got our final draft of these bad bananas:

  • Artisans must always be working on a project, theory, or improvement instead of resting with their fellow Heroes, but they also get to have moments of great success where their past projects save the day.

  • Champions must take up any challenges and quests that come their way to prove their worth, but they’re also very difficult to knock out or kill without inexplicably getting back up for the tenth time.

  • Companions care about people and must try to de-escalate all potential conflicts before they come to violence, but they also have the option to be rescued by NPCs they’ve helped in the past, who take them for some well-deserved R&R.

  • Explorers have to go through portals to lands unknown or places they’ve never visited, unable to resist the lure, but they can also later recreate some of those portals for more easy travel to places they’ve been.

  • Guardians (formerly Saviors) have to avoid killing sapient creatures except in the most extreme situations, but they also get to pull off stunning eleventh-hour rescues of those who need it the most.

  • Jesters have to make sure that NPCs are actually friends with them before they can ask them for help, but they also get to lean into personal reserves of joy and happiness when the group most needs them.

  • Magicians have to collect powerful resources, items, and people so that they can reach for their lofty goals, but they are also very good at their master plan and are extremely difficult to kill (permanently, anyway).

  • Mystics have to create their unique philosophies of how to reach enlightenment by choosing two other Archetypes to take on, but they also get to sometimes see into the utopia that could be and reach out for it with spectacular results.

  • Revolutionaries have to refuse any kind of rewards or benefits for helping others or completing their divine missions, but they can also retain their free will and automatically resist outside powers even when no one else can.

  • Rulers suffer Downfalls whenever the rest of their group does, feeling the sting of not leading them to their best potential, but they can also sometimes use the very skills and powers of their teammates as if they were their own.

  • Scholars have to tell the truth except under unimportant or extreme circumstances, seeking to bring more knowledge and enlightenment into the world, but they also get to have moments when only their secret knowledge can turn the tide.

  • Stewards (formerly Advocates) have to make sure that their companions are never harmed to the point of unconsciousness while they’re still upright to protect them, but they also get to make sure their communities pull together effortlessly in a crisis.

In addition to all this, we also made a few other small tweaks, including adding more description to the process of choosing Archetypes to make sure that players get the concept they’re looking for.


Nefertari getting her Magician/Steward on in style


Combat & Conversation


This month saw the introduction of a new mechanic to the Combat and Conversation, currently working-named “Surrender”, which allows Heroes to quit and let their opponents win on purpose. This won’t come up very often, but testing showed that players were struggling with how to get out of antagonistic situations they either thought they couldn’t win or didn’t want to keep going and hurting their opponents, so this covers that little gap in the system. We’ll see how it plays out in future testing!


Talents


Just a little housekeeping - the Talent formerly known as Wilderness is now known as Environment! This change both allowed us to clean up some weird splitting where some things to do with travel, terrain, and environments were covered by Hunter Talents and others by Trickster, and removes the weirdness of the similar names of Wilderness vs. Wildlife, which was confusing for a lot of players.


Pictured: playtesters tired of not knowing which stat "Wld" refers to on their sheets


What’s Next?


In September, we’ll be working on getting those new Archetypes into active playtesting to make sure they finally cover all the ground they’re supposed to. Next up on the checklist for us is going back over the steps of the Hero’s Journey itself to make sure they still align with recent changes, and then we have some tangential things that have come up in recent work, including a quick retool of Flashback Episodes and a check on Domain balance. We hesitate to get too excited, but we’re also really hoping to finish a final pass on all the Blessings, including final names and formats, in the near future.


Until then!

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