Reputation and Perception

Reputation and Perception #

This subsystem is about the perception of the group of PCs on axes relevant to the themes of the game through reputation.

Types of Reputation #

A Reputation, in this case, is usually a very basic concept. These can be good, bad, or neutral qualities. They should usually be either predefined at the system level or have a starting list at the system level that’s amplified by actions in play.

These can be ways in which the group of PCs works or deals with others, such as:

  • Honorable
  • Bloodthirsty
  • Subtle
  • Businesslike
  • Ingenious
  • Destructive
  • Honest
  • Greedy
  • Diplomatic
  • Thorough
  • Magical
  • Technological

In general it’s best to predefine at least some of these.

Valiant Horizon #

Reputations are all positive qualities. This is intentional to emphasize heroic natures as opposed to negative traits.

Group or Individual #

The Reputation system here is mostly for groups based on the assumption that they’ll largely be doing the same things. But if that’s not the case, it may make more sense to make an individual Reputation instead.

If doing so, you may want to make distinctions between that and other individual-PC systems you may be using, like Relationships. There will end up being significant overlap.

Machinations of Court and Frame #

If you wanted to add a Reputation system to a game that’s heavy on Relationships such as this, you’d have to contend with how it interacts with Relationships with Factions and Concepts.

Positive or Negative #

If you like, you can also track Reputation as positive or negative with a concept. For example, a group could have a positive reputation with regards to subtlety (staying unseen, getting the job done, etc) or a negative reputation (being very obvious, making it very clear that they’ve been there, etc). This doesn’t have to be a value judgment or a bad thing, necessarily: a group who’s not terribly subtle might be a perfect fit for a job that relies upon being seen and heard.

Gaining and Losing a Reputation #

Typically a Reputation is gained by accomplishing, doing, or being involved in something of note. The important thing is that it has to be something that people, widely, have heard of. Reputation is about perception, so you’ve gained it when people perceive you as such.

Correspondingly, you lose it when that perception is lost. This might be a function of doing something to put a caveat on that reputation, but also could be the originating event being seen in a different light or fading in prominence.

Given the scope of it, it might make sense to only start using Reputation at higher Tiers if characters are intended to start out local and become more well known.


Examples #

Valiant Horizon #

Reputations start being explicitly included at Renowned Tier (i.e. 2nd Tier). The 1st Tier is mostly dedicated to feeling out characters through lower-stakes questing and things that set up bigger events later. The GM can also give Reputations early to groups who push limits, of course.

Using Reputations #

Simple Usage #

The easiest way to use a Reputation is to have it be something that grants Advantage or Disadvantage in social situations as per an Asset or Burden. This can be true for good or bad things: if a group is seen as Honorable, then that gives them certain advantages, but those who have no need for honor won’t look as kindly upon them or might view them with suspicion.

Guiding Further Gameplay #

You can also use Reputations as a way for a GM to keep track of how a group wants to interact with the game and provide plot hooks based on that, for better or for worse. If they’re seen as Bloodthirsty, they should get requests to defeat dangerous foes. If they’ve been noticeably Diplomatic in the past, they should be referred for more sensitive missions. If they’re Greedy, maybe a more mercantile client picks up on that and offers riches in return for some necessary task.

A Record of Events #

Reputation changes are a really great way to keep track of important deeds. Every one is tied to a specific action or event, so it ends up creating a record of everything important enough to make that change.


Examples #

Valiant Horizon #

This is a game that’s explicitly about building out your legend. Reputation is the key building block of this: every major change (and especially every extended downtime or timeskip) is an opportunity to take stock of what’s happened so far and decide where that leaves the PCs. The end of the campaign is intended to use this as the character’s explicitly defined legend: What impact did that set of deeds have on the world as a whole?

Fame and Maintaining a Reputation #

Once you’ve gained a reputation, for better or for worse, it has to be reinforced to stick. If you did one thing to gain it, it’ll be forgotten eventually.

Each Reputation has an associated quality called Fame (or Notoriety, or to that effect) that starts at a maximum of 10. Whenever time passes where you haven’t done something to reinforce that Reputation, roll and subtract the mid die from Fame. (You can subtract the low die or the high die instead if you’ve done something semi-qualifying or semi-disqualifying, or if the community in question is slower or quicker to forget people.) When it hits 0, you lose that Reputation.

Whenever you do something that would reinforce your Reputation, reset Fame at maximum + 1. Once it’s above a threshold of your choosing (20 is typical, or you can also tier-gate it), you’re immune to losing Fame - your Reputation is sealed.

Examples #

Valiant Horizon #

During Famous tier, you have to maintain Fame. If you get Fame up to 20, however, you don’t have to. Once in Renowned Tier, your Fame increases by 2 instead of 1 every time you reinforce it. In Heroic Tier, your Reputation is always sealed.