Monday, January 01, 1990

Narrating the Game--Gaining Inspiration and Corruption

Characters change over the course of the story through earning and spending Inspiration and Corruption. Characters are often awarded I/C at the end of a conflict, as described in the Conflict rules outlined in Chapter Four. However, this is not the only way that a character can earn I/C. Chapter Three states: “As the character is affected by evil or performs evil acts, his Corruption increases. In the same way, a character’s Inspiration increases when he does good or is affected by good.” But what does this mean?

First, a character should gain I/C when his actions reflect a moral decision. If the character goes back into a burning building to rescue someone, he should gain a point of Inspiration. Likewise, if he were to turn a deaf ear to someone in true need, he should gain a point of Corruption. Obviously, these decisions should only count if they are important to the story. A character shouldn’t be allowed to go around doing random good deeds in order to maximize his Inspiration gain.

This is why a character should probably gain I/C when one of his Traits is activated during a conflict. Regardless of the final effect of the activation, the character is drawing on his moral characteristics, which should be reflected in I/C gain. In general, the activation of a Lauds/Compline or Terce/None Trait should occasionally give an I/C gain while a Matins or Sext Trait should usually give an I/C gain. This is because Matins and Sext Traits are more intense and therefore have more of an impact on the character. This I/C gain is triggered even if the opposing player activated the Trait.

Second, a character should gain I/C when he is inspired by someone’s actions or is corrupted by another’s promptings. For example, an evil counselor could provide his king with many Corruption points. (Just think of Theoden and Wormtongue from Lord of the Rings for an example of this.) By the same measure, another’s help and comfort in troubled times could provide Inspiration. (Sam provided this service for Frodo many times in Lord of the Rings.) Certain events could trigger this gain as well. Finding a murder victim or the aftermath of dragon cultist sacrifice could cause a Corruption gain, while discovering a peaceful oasis while crossing the desert could give an Inspiration gain.

Third, the supernatural intervention of Good or Evil should provide I/C. Being in the presence of a dragon could trigger a gain in Corruption. Conversely, being visited by a unicorn could trigger a gain in Inspiration. Also, places especially touched by Good or Evil could be sources of I/C. Being in the Garden could very easily provide Inspiration, while a trip to the hellish depths of the Sea of Mist could give Corruption.

All non-conflict I/C gains are determined by player choice. But which player? Again, the gaming group has some decisions to make.

Narrator determination When using this option, only the Narrator may determine that a character has gained Inspiration or Corruption. This has the advantage of being even-handed, although its weakness is that the Narrator may not fully comprehend the ramifications of a character’s choices in the way that his player might.

Narrator or Controlling Player determination When using this option, either the Narrator or the player controlling the character may determine that a character has gained Inspiration or Corruption. This option allows the controlling player to have more input into the fate of his character but does open the possibility of abuse by a player intent on controlling the story by spending I/C to avoid dice rolls.

Regardless of which option is chosen, any player should feel free to suggest that certain actions or situations deserve a gain of Inspiration or Corruption.


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