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Jakob

Allegiance: Do I understand the rules correctly?

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I'm just re-reading Magic World with an eye to using it for a new campaign, and I'm wondering whether I'm getting the Allegiance rules right.

Allegiance Check: Roll UNDER current allegiance to raise Allegiance by d6.

Okay, that kind of makes sense - the stronger your bond, the more likely it is to increase.

Allegiance Test (if you act against allegiance): Roll UNDER corrent allegiance to avoid losing d6/d8(shadow) from your score.

Also makes sense - a stronger bond is harder to weaken.

If you make use of your allegiance Benefits, you have to make an Allegiance Check at the end of the session - that would be the one where Allegiance can go up (not go down). Also makes sense, especially if you think of the clichees about shadow: the more you are using its power, the farther it draws you in.

However, all in all, it looks as if Allegiance is bound to skyrocket from a certain point on, especially when it is beyond 100%. Given the hefty Benefits of Allegiance, this seems problematic.

Am I getting the rules right? How do others read this? Has anyone ever encountered problem with a player powergaming an allegiance to the extreme?

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3 hours ago, Jakob said:

I'm just re-reading Magic World with an eye to using it for a new campaign, and I'm wondering whether I'm getting the Allegiance rules right.

Allegiance Check: Roll UNDER current allegiance to raise Allegiance by d6.

Okay, that kind of makes sense - the stronger your bond, the more likely it is to increase.

Allegiance Test (if you act against allegiance): Roll UNDER corrent allegiance to avoid losing d6/d8(shadow) from your score.

Also makes sense - a stronger bond is harder to weaken.

If you make use of your allegiance Benefits, you have to make an Allegiance Check at the end of the session - that would be the one where Allegiance can go up (not go down). Also makes sense, especially if you think of the clichees about shadow: the more you are using its power, the farther it draws you in.

However, all in all, it looks as if Allegiance is bound to skyrocket from a certain point on, especially when it is beyond 100%. Given the hefty Benefits of Allegiance, this seems problematic.

Am I getting the rules right? How do others read this? Has anyone ever encountered problem with a player powergaming an allegiance to the extreme?

 

The allegiance system in Magic World evolved from Elric! In that game the Powers were Chaos, Law and the Balance rather than light/darkness. Chaos and Law are more ambiguous forces to serve and in fact you had to think carefully about whether you even wanted to be so strongly associated with either. The sense of 'selling your soul' was stronger, especially to Chaos and Law. Balance was the hardest to achieve by roleplaying, and provided the least mechanical benefits to your character, but that worked in the context of Young Kingdoms metaphysics.

Having said that though, yes mechanically there is a tendency to accelerate the accumulation of Allegiance beyond a certain point. And yes it can make characters powerful. I've had two Elric! characters achieve Apotheosis: one in Chaos and one in Law. The Chaos one, a sorcerer, did sort of stop playing soon after, effectively retiring. Later I thought of using his character as an NPC villain. The Law one continued for a time, founded a kingdom, had a few adventures and basically retired too.

So character Apotheosis could be a marker 'end game' or retirement (or even NPC-dom, like characters who lose all of their Sanity in Call of Cthulhu). In fact in Elric! that was explicitly stated for Apotheosis of the Balance -- that such a character has 'won the game' and could ignore the general doom of the Young Kingdoms.

Another approach (a more D&Dish style) would be to have champions of Light and Shadow routinely challenged by more powerful beings of the opposite side such as demigods, other champions or warlords, depending on your campaign. Basically move the campaign to a power-gaming stance.

To delay all of this you can invent or adapt ways to spend allegiance points, either on spells, magical effects or other benefits from the Power. A bit like Fate points or Hero points. Then you can put off the accelerating accumulation of points which ends in Apotheosis. A simple example is calling for intervention from the Power you serve. You could have a character make an Allegiance check. If successful, the Power called helps her immediately somehow (maybe very subtly, depending on your campaign magic level) but she then loses allegiance points equal to her dice roll. Failure has no effect. The character then straps herself into a hamster-wheel of Power-pleasing duties to recover lost allegiance points, and endless adventures ensue.

 

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I don't have any issue with the mechanics as written, but there is an implicit counterweight that isn't spelled out in the rules. The character serves Light or Shadow, not the other way around. Whatever forces you call on for aid can (and should!) call in their marker if you keep petitioning them. I compare it to the guy who goes to the mob to borrow money and next thing he knows he's running trunk-loads of contraband across state lines to pay off his debt, or his new "friends" are now part owner in the business he borrowed money against.

Make your players weigh their decision to tie themselves to a force part of the fabric of the campaign (if you can).

 

Edited by Nick J.
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Okay, I'm satisfied that I have understood the rules correctly!

I'll have to see if the rules fit my planned campaign - they sound great for Stormbringer/Elric (I think the edition of Stormbringer I played didn't have them in this form, but I'm not sure, it's been so long ...). However, I'm planning for something more low-key with less active cosmic forces.

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On 9/7/2019 at 1:01 AM, Nick J. said:

I don't have any issue with the mechanics as written, but there is an implicit counterweight that isn't spelled out in the rules. The character serves Light or Shadow, not the other way around. Whatever forces you call on for aid can (and should!) call in their marker if you keep petitioning them. I compare it to the guy who goes to the mob to borrow money and next thing he knows he's running trunk-loads of contraband across state lines to pay off his debt, or his new "friends" are now part owner in the business he borrowed money against.

Make your players weigh their decision to tie themselves to a force part of the fabric of the campaign (if you can).

 

 

That's what I was hinting at in my post about Law/Chaos. Those forces own a piece of you in exchange for their supernatural (or hypernatural in the case of Law) aid. In the original game such a commitment was a much more dubious one, as either of those forces were bad for humanity when applied in excess. Neither was good at reigning themselves in. The Cosmic Balance was their counterweight, and serving it was the closest thing to 'good' you got in the Young Kingdoms. Another particular thing about allegiance to the three forces in Elric! and Stormbringer was that things were heavily skewed towards Chaos in the Young Kingdoms. Chaos allegiance points were much easier to acquire and spend than Law or Balance points. They were like the Dark Side of the Force in Star Wars: "quicker, easier, more seductive". In other words the allegiances were deliberately unequal. I'm not sure whether the Light/Darkness allegiance in Magic World has a similar Balance force. Been a while since I looked at Magic World.

One of the great things about the allegiance system is that it is a game mechanic which relies on and supports roleplaying. You gain allegiance points through your actions, including some which provide no mechanical in-game benefit. You need a consistent 20 more points in one force or another to be committed to that force. That consistency requires roleplaying; most people accumulate points for all forces randomly unless they try.

 

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