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Why is Influence an individual stat, rather than a party-wide one?

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I've been puzzling over this for a while and I can't really figure out why FFG made this choice.

 

As it stands, there's very few ways to lose or gain Influence on an individual level. Pretty much all Influence gains and reductions are party wide, which makes a lot of sense; the actions of an warband are going to impact their standing in the world, as an entity. So why isn't Influence a single number affecting the whole party?

In Rogue Trader and Only War, your Influence equivalents are party-wide. Black Crusade is the only other game where they aren't, and it makes a lot more sense there; BC is a game about individual success and gaining the influence of the dark gods yourself. The game tries to encourage a competitive dynamic, so it works.

 

I can't figure out how it makes sense to have individual Influence values in DH though. Can someone enlighten me? Interested to hear opinions on this.

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Even though you're forming a warband together, I think DH is still pretty much an "individual" game like Black Crusade is. In fact, it's not uncommon for a warband to come together just to combat a single threat and then disband afterwards again. Other warbands will stick together as one unit.

 

Not everybody of your warband is going to be (or has the ambition to be) an inquisitor. You need 75 influence as a prerequisite to become an Inquisitor. I think the game steers you towards that goal, much like BC pushes you towards apotheosis/leading a Black Crusade. 

 

It's also more interesting imho to get choices on an individual level rather than a group level. What drives your acolyte? Will you become an inquisitor? Will you use your influence to get Weapons or Armor, in order to gain more raw short term power? Will you use your influence to sway others to your line of thinking instead? 

Edited by Gridash

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See the thing is the mechanics really don't support that interpretation. There's very few ways to actually lose or gain Influence on an individual scale, so it seems like it ends up being that whoever rolled higher at character creation is going to hit the Inquisitor threshold first.

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Why not? You can spend influence on an individual level to get weapons/armor, it doesn't affect the other characters in your warband.

 

As a minor note, you get more Influence as a Highborn character, using your family's influence.

Edited by Gridash

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Can you actually "spend" Influence to acquire gear? I've never run into that rule, the only place I've found rules for actually burning Influence are the reinforcements rules.

 

You have the option to burn influence (1d5) to automatically pass your influence test. So it's not just to acquire gear. If you desperately want that piece of Power Armor and/or a Bolter early on in the game, that's the way to go (although it might cost you subtlety :P)

 

Rulebook page 269:

Sacrifice:In desperate situations, an Acolyte may be forced to
sacrifice his resources or reputation to accomplish a goal. This
could mean calling in a major favour, requesting an onerous
task of, and thereby alienating, an ally, or even sending allies or
servants on a suicide mission. When attempting an Influence
test, before rolling, an Acolyte may choose to decrease his
Influence by 1d5 in order to automatically succeed. If degrees
of success are important, the Acolyte is considered to have
achieved a number equal to his Fellowship bonus. Note that
in situations where no test is possible, this use of Influence
cannot be made: the situation is beyond even the Acolyte’s
ability, or the item is impossible to acquire.
 
Granted, I wish they would have also referenced this in the Armoury: Acquisition section rather than only under Narrative tools chapter: Influence and Subtlety. We probably wouldn't have had this discussion in the first place then since it would have been clear you can burn influence individually.
Edited by Gridash

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That still doesn't answer the fact that there aren't really any ways to GAIN individual influence. As it stands, the only things individual influence has an effect on are the starting characteristic roll, home world attributes, and burning off influence. The game is very strongly designed around the group all working together and at the same time, rather than switching between individual wheeling and dealing. Individual influence values seem like they were just stuck in from black crusade (copy pasted?) without any regard to how they'd actually come up in gameplay. During BOTH beta tests, the narrative rules were almost completely untouched, and it shows.

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It is in your responsibility as a GM to award Influence points. You can either award them flat to the whole group, or you can reward players who played intelligently and sociably with a point more, or, if a player burned all bridges behind him, with less. I had situations in which one player insulted a kinda influential NPC (Captain Nils from the Desoleum adventures) and one other player of the group went behind his back and talked to her, giving her important informations. Situations like this are perfect for awarding Influence points differently.

 

I also have the house rule to grant 1 Influence point every time a player buys the Peer talent. That way it can go up differently for players.

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The section on page 269 talks about how an acolyte (singular) gains influence so all acolytes are judged by the GM individually whether or not they are eligible to gain influence.

 

The book also suggests giving influence when a PC acquires the Peer talent. So yes, it's upto to the GM to grant influence based on his campaign, much like XP is awarded and players can do whatever they want with it. 

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Individual influence values seem like they were just stuck in from black crusade (copy pasted?) without any regard to how they'd actually come up in gameplay. 

 

Can you elaborate a bit more on this?

 

Infamy and Influence are similar but still different so I'm not sure what you're implying here. 

Edited by Gridash

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That still doesn't answer the fact that there aren't really any ways to GAIN individual influence. As it stands, the only things individual influence has an effect on are the starting characteristic roll, home world attributes, and burning off influence.

The Peer talent gives 1 influence each time you buy it.

Just like with any other rewards or penalties, a GM can give different amounts based on character actions. For example, my GM gave my tech priest extra influence for taking auspex readings of a smelt rat king during a fight, gathering up smelt rat corpses after the fight, studying them and submitting a report to the biologis. Individual acts such as this should be when you reward influence individually. When one character goes out of their way, separate from the group, to increase there own standing or to help out someone they didn't have to it should be worth something. In the same vein if one character screws up and angers one group it shouldn't necessarily lead to the whole party gaining the enemy talent or losing influence.

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Our DH group split up relatively often, pursuing various goals which fit our different skillsets better. If you players do everything together and all act similarly to an NPC, then yeah, they're going to have the same influence.

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It is in your responsibility as a GM to award Influence points

 

This.

 

 

I've not used very much this system since my last games finished in TPK (we sat and talked it and now they should die less), which is bad for influence advances, but I count on giving them influence when they do good things to other people, and retrieve them influence when they do the opposite.

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The influence system is fantastic, take these different chars:

 

1. An Adeptus Mechanicus obsessed with becoming a machine

2. A noble inquisitor wannabe

3. A rogue traders heir, who must walk the line between personal power to fend off assasinations, and temporal power to ensure the continuation of the dynasty he will soon inherit.

4. A possibly scribe....armsdealer-ish thing....

 

The tech priest has little concern with influence, it treats all cybernetics as two degrees easier to find, so 11 influence is enough to have a 1% chance to get a very rare cybernetic, spends its d5 influence and yay cybernetics!  it spends it as fast as it gets it until it is....more machine now than man.  pretty soon it has all the cybernetics :*(  But! then it can just raise influence to 31 and swap them all for good quality ones!!!! hoorah!

 

The inquisitor simple refuses to spend any.  She's taken a look at the penalty for failing a requisition test, popped a few points in fellowship and picked up some peer inquisition talents (handy for an inquisitor anyway!) and just refuses to roll if there is a chance of losing influence.  At the start of the game things sort of suck, the inquisition has no clue who she is, her influence is a mere 40 (hey, she has high hopes it SEEMS low to her!), and her fellowship is even worse.  The only items she dare ask for are abundant anyway. As the game prgoresses, she stops calling everyone heretics learns a little tact, and starts to impress an interrogator.  With 50 influence and 40 fellowship and the approval of her peers, Average items are now all hers!  Marked for ascension, into the upper eschlons, she wears her title of interrogator proudly, (2 peer talents) wields vast influence (60) and knows when to keep her mouth shut (50 fellowship).  no one asks questions if she requires very rare items, it is simply a matter of whether she has the time to obtain them.

 

The rogue trader's heir just walks the line between the two, he spends a bit of influence here and there to equip himself with a few vital pieces of equipment (refractor field, power sword) and a few favours here and there to the right regimental commander, you know, after all father did save your life back during that awful to do last decade..oh? two decades ago? time does fly doesn't it anyway, if you could just see to using this particular continent on this particular planet to practice your urban warfare would be of real help to me.

 

Finally we have the scribe.  She is the fantasy of every NRA activist.  She doesnt want a big gun, she wants -all- the guns.  From start to finish the character is nothing more than a method to accumulate the most amount of stuff possible.  Influence is merely a resource to get more stuff.  Fellowship and commerce through the roof, not an iota of xp is spared, what social skills she has are simply whatever her fellowship score is -20, likely still higher than any other PC's.  Whilst at the start of the game her commerce skills of next to no use (npc's commerce scores are brutally high, fair, but still high). it will take but a few sessions before she is running the kind of blackmarket set up others can only dream of.  With her contact network, her ability to treat every item as one level less rare, and her astronomically high fellowship and commerce, her only problem is locating a trader....A ha! no! for a single fate point she can find out who exactly has what and where thanks to her seeker training!  Basically indestructible in combat due to her power armour and forcefield, the only saving grace for the poor gm confronted by this suprisingly delightful abomination (that fellowship has some use then) is thus! a) her other skills are so low that even with her targeter custom grip and red dot laser sight she rarely hits anything with her graviton gun. b) her pathetic strength toughness agility and willpower mean she is likely as not, on fire, poisoned, and running in terror.  Though the way she is leafing through the section on tanks and asking if there are more tanks in that imperial guard book is somewhat worrying. Oh where was I? oh ya influence.  She dun care, she can easily acquire near unique items and has little interest in using influence for anything its just a stat on her sheet that does nothing maybe use it to get one of them grey knights ooh or own personal cannoness! only 3 influence per adventure! Fellowship 40 > 60 (1600xp), Int 40 > 50 (350xp), Commerce +30 (900xp), peer(underworld) *2 (400xp) 30% to get a unique item, modified by a commerce roll, which will generally end up 30-60% depending if fate points are used.

 

I realise this was a somewhat silly, way of showing how the two influence rules can vastly impact the influence levels between characters and how those differing influence levels affect the character in how they are perceived and how they behave.  But hopefully it shows you what the system can do.  The rules i'll recap quick are on page 269.  The scribe uses rules from all over the place.

 

1. You may spend D5 to automatically pass a requisition test as long as a test could be made.

2. You lose influence on a failed influence roll if the DoF are higher than your Fellowship bonus.  This loss is equal to the difference between your DoF and your fellowship bonus.

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I wouldn't go so far as to call it "fantastic". The single bar does little to reflect the various ordos and factions of the imperium, in which your influence may drastically vary. You can have some variance through peer and enemy talents, but nothing in between. Furthermore, logically, if you are that "influential", you are also that well known, which should wreck your subtlety the moment you set foot on a planet(and not just when you 'use' it). It somehow doesn't. Furthermore, if it is only influence within the inquisition, one wonders why this stat even matters planetside, unless you can contact an inquisitorial representative, or your inquisitor is dumb enough to let you borrow his rosette on every mission.

The Fame, Notoriety and Street Cred split in SR does this far, far better. (the missions' campaigns, and other releases, also have spreadsheets for the various factions, dice pool mods according to your standing with them and tell you just what, and how, your standing can change with a faction. Zilch here)

 

As for acquisitions:

All you've done is illustrate, at length, why and how the system is easily gamed and that it can be munchkinned pretty badly (which has been a problem that hasn't been fixed since Rogue Trader). I had a player like the scribe in my party in a BC game once. Eventually we got sick of the perpetual "muh gear" and the long discussions of why he should be able to get terminator armour on a feral world with stone age tech and told him to pike off. All I'm reading is that, apparently, you can now RAW force the GM to give you your mary sue kit of choice with the rules and a couple of fate points.
And it would be so infinitely simple to create a proper budget system on top of this all, too, be it a wad of cash and snagging prices from DH1 or temporary "influence" for the mission that represents your operational budget and diminishes by d5-(DoS of commerce) per purchase. Because seriously, why should you be able to use your inquisitorial influence to acquire items in the field, especially in a sector where the entire setting wants your loyalist ass dead. 

 

What I see described is a system that removes consequences from roleplay. It gives players infinite resources (which is a bit contrary to the Askellon setting, when you think about it) and lets them go completely nuts. That was awesome, back when I was 12 and new to RPGs, but nowadays, decades later, I'm just sitting here and going: "Okay, I want to run out of money in a game, I want stuff to be limited in availability and I want it to raise eyebrows if I'm acquiring an arsenal and trying to move it from planet to planet." Sure, you take an "influence" hit for extreme failures, but influence is so vague, you really, really don't care.

 

 

 

 

 

It is in your responsibility as a GM to award Influence points

 

This.

 

 

I've not used very much this system since my last games finished in TPK (we sat and talked it and now they should die less), which is bad for influence advances, but I count on giving them influence when they do good things to other people, and retrieve them influence when they do the opposite.

 

A good way to die less is to bring mooks to die for you. In DH1, whipping up a mob of meat shields when things were about to get combat heavy was very much the cleric's job. If they want to do everything alone, I would encourage them to invest in some form of stealth or disguise. Just my two cents.

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I was about to reply to DBG in a well thought-out manner, but then I noticed it's DBG complaining. So instead, I'll just say this:

 

If you think that RAW allows players to force the GM to do anything related to gear acquisition, you either haven't read the rules or are being intentionally disingenuous.

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