Path of Influence

Okay... it looks like you're spending too much time worrying about the little things to avoid looking at the one, big thing that's staring you right in the face. You gotta stop avoiding that, kid - it will eat you alive if you neglect it. And I think we both know that, right? Right.

Of course I'll put in a good word for you when you do, kid. In fact, I already did, just this morning. It's all part of the service, right? Right.

I just can't guarantee the results, is all. So you be careful, kid, alright?

Unlike the dour Oracles, the Fortunetellers believe that destiny is not set in stone. They claim that fates can be changed, outcomes averted, and the Gods talked into changing their minds {or at least tricked into looking the other way for a short while}. The results aren't always as neat and tidy as one might hope, but Wraiths will pay quite well to have someone pulling for them.

The Arts on the Path of Influence involve changing the stakes of Wraiths' actions: making it harder for someone to be harmed, and more likely to succeed {or less likely to fail} in general. At a higher level, the Wraith using this art can hang failure over another's head, so that the likelihood of them succeeding in their goals becomes that much smaller.

The problem is that, cheap promises aside, the Wraith can't always determine what exact stakes will be changed. She may cast for what happens, or doesn't, but the decision as to when it occurs isn't always up to the character to decide. The Gods have their own ideas on things, and while they can be bribed, they cannot be forced.

This means that the Fortunetellers are often as surprised as their clients when something goes amazingly right. However, they always take all of credit and none of the blame - unless that was the idea all along.


** Good Guess:

The first Art of Influence is the easiest, for it gives one the ability to focus on an immediate problem, or threat, and guess which way to go. This has the effect of the Storyteller nudging the Wraith towards a certain, static choice {Door A, B or C} or the player electing to add to her character's Defense for one turn. These guesses and dodges take a Scene's concentration to "predict" - however unclearly - and can only be rolled for once a week, or when they're all gone.

These Good Guesses then last for a week, and can be used as needed - either for the Wraith or someone she knows. However, the Wraith must choose to do this entirely for herself, or that someone else: she can't have more than one Good Guess pool going at once.


*** Fortune's Favor:

This Art allows a Wraith to either create successes, or to take successes away, for herself or someone she knows. Casting this takes a Scene, and creates a Favor {or Disfavor} pool that lasts for one day. Unlike ** Good Guess, the Wraith can have more than one pool going at a time, but can't "double up," or add to a pool once it's cast.

The Wraith can ask to "spend" these successes, or order successes to be taken away, but the Storyteller can always say that it doesn't work. If the Storyteller blocks it, the success or failure returns to the pool.

Also note that, if a Wraith casts Disfavor against someone who is not intent on doing her harm {directly, or through her friends or Anchors}, she gets Tainted Essence.


**** Gift of the Wheel:

A step up from granting favors gives the Wraith a chance to avoid general disfavor, and keep failure from her door. The gift allows her to cast for successes - for her, or someone else she knows - that will be used when a failure would otherwise have occurred. Four successes must be traded in to cancel out a Dramatic Failure.

The casting takes a Scene, and, as with *** Fortune's Favor, the Wraith can have more than one pool going at once, but cannot double up or add more to a pool after it's cast. However, the Wraith doing the casting has no control over what failures will be replaced by success - these are entirely adjudicated by the Storyteller.

The Gift pool lasts for an entire Story.


***** Bad Karma:

This Art allows a Wraith to give failures to someone else over the course of a Story. As with **** Gift of the Wheel, the Wraith cannot choose when they are used, and four successes can cause a Dramatic Failure. And while the Wraith can have several Bad Karma pools going at once, she cannot double up or add failures to them.

However, unlike previous Arts on this Path, the Wraith does not have to know the person in order to grant her failures. This Art works just as well on known enemies as complete strangers, so long as she has either their true name or true likeness in hand. But if the target has done nothing to directly harm the Wraith, her friends or her Anchors, Tainted Essence will be gained.

While harsh, this Art has another, kinder side - a Wraith can use it to block failures from this Art, or any on the Path of Influence. She can defend herself, someone she knows, or someone she has the true name or true likeness of. However, she cannot block failures from herself while she is using this Art - or any other - to cause failures, even if those failures are highly justified, or in self-defense.


"Influence," Not "Control"

Storytellers and players might wonder why so many of the Arts on this Path take control of Fate away from the characters, rather than giving it to them. What's the point of spending Essence to cast favors or bad luck if they can't use the results as they desire? And why should they take the Tainted Essence if they didn't choose when the Dramatic Failure hit?

This has mostly been done to limit some of the power of the Fate Numen. While there's always a price to pay, the power of this Path could - if fully exploited - make a character almost impossible to beat at anything. And where would be the fun in that?

So this is Influence, rather than Control. After a certain point, the Wraiths who use this Path must learn to "let go and let the Gods," who consider the cast petitions for favors {or disfavors} and weigh them accordingly. Likewise, Storytellers are urged to find a "middle way" that gives the players a feeling of accomplishment while maintaining the mood and direction of the overall Story.