Wednesday, October 9, 2019

About Tags

Tags are labels. They're short descriptions that are attached to a person, item, or place. Their effect can be good (#faster than greased lightning) or bad (#wanted dead or alive), but the best ones can be either depending on the situation (#never breaks her word). They should always be noteworthy.

In Clout we always preface a tag with the hash symbol ("#"). We also use italics for the tag, so we can tell where the tag ends and normal text begins.

Examples

On a Place

A river might be #swift and #impassable. It's also #wet but that's not noteworthy enough to mention. A log crossing the river might be #wet, and that's definitely worth mentioning, cause that will make it harder to cross. It would be even more difficult to cross if it was #wet and #slimy.

On an Item

A sword might be #sharp or maybe even #enchanted. Then again, it could be #cursed.

A tag doesn't have to be one word, so maybe a player could find a sword that #magically deflects arrows away from the user.

On the other hand, tags shouldn't be too wordy. Instead of a ring that #makes the wearer invisible while extending his life and controls the other rings (technically that's three tags, but I'm making a point here), it's simpler to say that it's #The One Ring and have a separate write-up about what that means.

On a person

Robin Hood is #The Best Archer in the Land, even though Little John wins when they have a contest. He's also #Devoted to Maid Marian, which is usually used against him. Being the #Leader of The Merry Men is both an advantage (he has manpower at his disposal) and a disadvantage (he'll put himself in jeopardy to protect his men). Even though he's an #outlaw, I would go for the longer form of #Steals from the rich to give to the poor, as this, too, has a good side and a bad side.

Tags Can't Be Too Powerful

Some judges worry that players will take tags that are overly powerful and destroy the game. There is really nothing to worry about.

Let's imagine the worst-case scenario: Jack is a lifelong munchkin, and he gives his character the tag of #Supreme Being.

So what? There's two built-in mechanics the limit Jack's ability to abuse the tag.

Reason 1: Tags only give you a +1

The first is that the text of the tag doesn't increase its effect. When you're walking a tightrope, it doesn't matter if you're a #trained acrobat or the #Supreme Being, the result is the same: the roll is only boosted by one result category.

Judge:
Make a Nimbleness roll.
Jack:
5!
Judge:
That's a failure. Did you want to apply any tags?
Jack:
Yes! I'm the #Supreme Being.
Judge:
That will drop your clout one level, and it brings you up to a partial. You make it all the way across, but half way across you lost your balance and fell. You managed to catch yourself, but everything you were carrying has dropped into the crevice.
Jack:
But I'm the #Supreme Being! That doesn't make any sense!
Judge:
No, it doesn't. But that's the way it works. Don't be such a munchkin in the future.

Reason 2: Tags Burn Clout

The second mechanic that prevents abuse is that applying a tag to a situation causes the player to lose clout. A character only starts with 3 levels of clout to begin with. Every time Jack wants to apply #Supreme Being, he loses one of those levels. The only way to get clout back is for the character to actually fail at something, or to allow a tag to be applied against him. Jack's best-case scenario is to accept clout for a negative tag, and then to get lucky by rolling a 12 on a good skill. This would normally result in a crit, but now it gets knocked down to a (regular) success. He gets to succeed, and he gets to keep the clout.

Judge:
Make a Nimbleness roll.
Jack:
5!
Judge:
That's a failure. Did you want to apply any tags?
Jack:
Yes! I'm the #Supreme Being.
Judge:
That will drop your clout one level, and it bring the result up to a partial.
Jack:
But my clout is already at zero.
Judge:
In that case you're stuck with the failure. You start out across the tight rope, but realize that you can't make it, so you turn back.
Jack:
But I'm the #Supreme Being! That doesn't make any sense!
Judge:
No, it doesn't. But that's the way it works. Don't be such a munchkin in the future.

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