Beliefs

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Every protagonist has a set of beliefs that drive their actions. A major part of the game is testing those beliefs and seeing if they stay true to them when they are challenged. As the protagonists change within the game, so too will their beliefs. When you make your beliefs, you’re telling the MC that you want to explore that part of the protagonist you created.

If a belief needs to change to better represent your protagonist, there is never any penalty. You can make your beliefs whatever you want, but the MC should always know what they are so they can incorporate them into the fiction. You may change your belief at the beginning of a session, the end, or whenever it feels resolved or needs to be modified.

At the end of the session, you’ll go around the table and talk about if a belief was tested or challenged; if so, you mark 1 XP. When a belief gets you into trouble, you’ll mark 2 XP. Finally, when a belief is resolved, you’ll mark 3 XP.

Challenging Beliefs

So, what does it mean to have a belief challenged? When an MC is made aware of your beliefs, you’re giving them what’s called a fictional flag, meaning you are saying that you specifically want these beliefs brought up in the fiction. They are not out to get you, they’re taking these beliefs you’ve made and helping you explore and push character growth with you using what you’ve told them. For instance, if you have a belief like: “I will never kill someone, no matter what they’ve done.” You’re essentially telling the MC, “Hey, put me in a situation like this and let’s find out if I actually believe this or not”. When it comes up during play, the MC is intending to create a set of circumstances that would make you pause and think about your belief and how your protagonist is going to react regarding it. The MC is challenging that belief by doing so and we find out if it’s still something that holds true for you. Whether or not it is or isn’t, the act of it still generates XP for you by being put into those circumstances.

Resolved Beliefs

When a belief feels resolved, it may not mean that you no longer believe it. Your protagonist should be growing every session by exploring different facets of themselves and with that exploration it’s natural that they’ll change. When it’s resolved, it could also just mean you no longer feel it interesting to put yourself in scenarios where it’s tested any longer. The MC can still touch on that belief during play after it’s resolved, but it won’t benefit you in a mechanical sense because you’ve already considered it to be explored. If you feel that way, or it’s been challenged and needs to be changed, this means it’s resolved. When this happens, you mark XP and change the belief. You only gain this XP as long as it has been tested.

Getting Into Trouble

Situations where a belief gets you into trouble can be subjective, but when you stick to a belief and it puts you in a bad spot, you are also rewarded with XP. It also generates drama and intriguing scenes like nobody’s business, which can only benefit the overall story happening. If your beliefs only benefited you, it wouldn’t be a mutual arrangement between the MC and yourself to tell the most interesting story. By using these beliefs to deliberately propel the story into a place that isn’t only helpful to your protagonist, you help one another explore your beliefs as well as the MC, who is juggling all of your beliefs within the fiction.

Coming up with a good set of beliefs is more of an art than a science, but here is a good framework to get you started. Remember, these beliefs can, and should, change as you get to know your protagonist, and they grow as a result of the narrative.

When you create your three beliefs, they should reflect what you want to explore about your protagonist right now. Think about what you want to get out of this current session carefully before writing some down. Your beliefs should be in the present, grounding the character and exploring what’s currently happening or been established. If they aren’t, it’s better to keep it in mind for when that situation will come up later. The story is about the protagonists, so when you have beliefs and they are being tested—at least in part—the story becomes about that. The MC will be looking for opportunities to integrate it and you as the player should have the goal of driving a scene towards the exploration of a belief as well. In part to tell them what belief you want to engage with immediately, as well as to help the MC to push on your beliefs. Since they are tracking a lot of things and engaging with a lot of people at once, any help you can give them to guide them into engaging with what you want specifically will probably be appreciated.

To help focus your beliefs, some helpful guidelines are to make one about a philosophical standpoint you think will come up during play in regards to your character. Something like, “The Veil is neither good nor bad but only a tool.” This is really easy to have come into play as you play to find out if it’s true or not from your character’s perspective. People will use The Veil in many ways and how it is defined will change with every setting. Another helpful thing to do is base it on another protagonist in the fiction that you interact with a lot. “Kiva, the Onomastic is too mysterious and all mysteries are there waiting to be unraveled.” Now you have a clear goal that will almost certainly be tested. Not only the part about mysteries being unraveled, but also the first part in relation to that statement regarding the other PC because you interact with them all the time, there is a good chance the belief will be encountered in the fiction.

How to Get Your Belief to Come Up

A surefire way of having a belief come up in a session is to incorporate it into a specific current objective you want to accomplish that session. If we touch on the same example with Kiva, we could make a belief that is the first step on the road to that belief. Something like, “I will earn Kiva’s trust in order to gain entry to their sanctuary,” might be appropriate. You are beginning to unravel that mystery and in so doing, you may succeed, or find out maybe not all mysteries truly are there to be unraveled. Maybe there’s an alternate reason for Kiva to be mysterious about themselves and the sanctuary. When we see these in play, a few things can be engaged with about the belief, and the chances of them being touched on are increased, along with the amount of XP you could earn!

Beliefs

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