Influence represents an amount of social capital as well as the access to a professional network that such a reputation creates. Influence provides a toolset to perform actions that can be assumed to happen off-screen and without you, the player (or character) having to worry about how, exactly, to do it: ask and ye shall recieve from your network, and it's their job to see to the job being done correctly. This is opposed to doing actions yourself or giving instructions to Allies/Contacts/Retainers.
Influence is broken into different spheres in order to bring some MUSH-friendly nuance to the very simple tabletop system. The sphere separation exists largely to determine the scope of what your influence is intended to do. Each sphere has Specialties, which make actions pertinent to your Specialty particularly potent.
In short, a given Influence action consists of a player making a request to describe what they want done, paying for that Influence action in Downtime, and then making either one or more dice rolls. The storyteller will conduct the Influence action, deciding its consequences and other effects and updating the game appropriately (such as by running scenes or +bbpost news stories that are a direct result of the action).
The Influence Stat
Influence is a standard Background bought with Background dots, Freebies, and Starting XP.
Each dot of Influence belongs to a Sphere. A sphere is an overarching influence archetype, like "Police" or "Law". There is a standard list of Spheres.
Each Sphere has Specialties. A specialty is a sub-set of that sphere. For example, Criminal influence is a Sphere, like "Drug Trafficking" is a Specialty. The list of specialties is standard and pre-defined.
Lastly, when you pick influence Specialties, you pick a Niche. This is a free-form description of the sorts of people that your character's network is composed of. Someone who takes 'Drug Trafficking' might pick a particular gang, for example, or even just a particular drug.
When allocating dots of Influence, you can invest all of your dots into one Influence type or you can diversify (like 2 dots in Drug Trafficking, 2 dots in Arms Trafficking).
Influence means you know people who know people. Although dots of Contacts, Allies and Retainers come with NPCs who have sheets, dots of Influence does not allocate NPCs with sheets. Instead, for each dot of Influence represents a larger, more valuable, extended network of people with increasingly valuable contacts. You know some of them, but not all of them, since your instructions are carried out to people who know other people.
That said, storyteller(s) might flesh out NPCs who represent the manifestation of your Influence. This is for narrative purposes. It's more fun and immersive to read something like, "Your mousy intern calls you in a panic to alert you about the files and what horrible fate this could mean for the company!" instead of "Yeah, uh, so, ... someone is attacking your Influence for 3 dots."
Influence Spheres And Specialties
Each dot of Influence belongs to a Sphere. You can see the spheres with +inf/list or you can refer to the list on the right side panel of this wiki. Many of these Spheres have categories which are more narrow expressions of that sphere: use "+inf/list <sphere name>" to see those in game, or visit their individual pages here. For example, Transportation Influence has "Public Transportation" within it (as well as "rail transportation" and "air transportation").
You can perform any Influence action that is relevant to the overarching sphere, so for example, if you have Securities And Investment (a subset of Financial Influence) you can get up to practically any sort of wealth-keeping and money-manipulation hijinx but your dice will be far more effective if you make it directly relevant to your sphere. If your Influence is explicitly suited to performing the action instead of generally related to it, you can reduce the difficulty of an Influence roll by your rating in that Influence.
Example: Jim has 3 in "Securities And Investment" and Bob has 3 in "Banking And Credit." These are both Financial Influence. Both people can perform stock market manipulation and other financial hijinx. When Jim pulls stock market manipulation, however, he enjoys a -3 difficulty. Bob has to take the full difficulty. When Bob pulls some shenanigans to get a loan he doesn't deserve, however, it is his turn to enjoy that -3 difficulty.
When you take an Influence rating, you are asked to nominate a Niche. A Niche bears no mechanical benefit, and is instead simply flavor text, a descriptor of the social circle that your Influence is most strongly associated with. This way, when Storytellers work with you to carry out your bidding, they have some creative foundation with which to work. Players detecting use of Influence can also use this Niche as a sort of breadcrumb clue.
For example, if someone were to take Criminal Influence: Drug Trafficking, perhaps they pick the Sinaloa Cartel as their Niche. Whenever the Storyteller orchestrates the results of their influence move, they might drop rumors and/or news articles talking about the Sinaloa Cartel.
A Niche is completely free-form. You can make it your own ICly owned company, an IRL entity, or the IC investments of another person. Some of the Specialty descriptions specify what sort of Niches they're looking for. For example, Police Influence expects a jurisdiction, like 'SFPD'.
Influence is purchased as a Background. To learn more specifically about getting Influence, please see the Influence Background page.
The process is detailed in depth below, but for a TL'DR or refresher:
- 1.) Send in a Request. State what you want accomplished (+request Influence Move=I want to hire some thugs to slash Jimbo's tires without it getting back to me.)
- 2.) Determine The Difficulty. Use the chart below, or wait for Staff to do this for you.
- Difficulty Modifiers: Remember, if your Specialty is directly relevant, you can reduce the difficulty by your rating in that Influence.
- 3.) Roll the Influence action. Type +job/influence <job ##>=<name of influence> vs <difficulty>".
- Example: +job/influence 737=Drug Trafficking vs 7.
- 4.) Let Staff Carry It Out! Let Staff take care of the rest!
To use your Influence, send in a +Request describing your goal, (e.g. "I want to hire a top-notch investigator"), the influence that you want to use, and whether you want the influence action to be concealed. The storyteller will then instruct you to use the +job/influence command. It will roll dice and spend downtime for you.
The dice pool is 3 x your relevant Influence and the difficulty is determined by the storyteller. The Downtime cost is equal to half of the Difficulty, rounded down. For example: an Influence action that is Difficulty 7 costs 3 Downtime.
If an appropriate completion time is not easy to determine, the action will take an amount of weeks equal to half of the difficulty of the initial influence roll. Actions with nonconcrete goals (e.g. "patrol this area") will be performed for a number of weeks equal to the number of successes rolled.
The Downtime expenditure represents off-screen acts of you maintaining social capital to 'pay' for the action in deed (writing checks, recommendation letters, dinner dates, favors, etc.) plus staying up to date with the project's progress. The roll represents the process of locating, through your extended network, people who are qualified and willing to do the job.
If a roll's difficulty is reduced to 4 or lower, then no roll is required: you will be assumed to get 2 successes per dot of influence. If you would prefer, you can roll to try to get more successes, but you will be required to stick with the result if you go that route.
Success: Your influence action will start and complete within an amount of time determined by the Storyteller. If the action does not target or contest someone else in some way, then it can be carried out as immediately as appropriate. If the action does target or contest someone else, then the staffer processing the Influence action needs to first determine if the target(s) can detect the action, give the target(s) a reasonable amount of time to respond, and then they can complete the action. A "reasonable amount of time to respond" is whatever happens first: 7 days, or the target(s) responding. The amount of time that an Influence action takes essentially depends on how long doing that thing would take in real life. If you are pulling a line of credit, this should be a very short turnaround. If you're applying for something, then you may need to wait for the real-world wait time for that application process.
Failure: You don't contact anybody willing/able to do it. You will be permitted to roll again in 7 days. 3 failures in a row constitutes a botch.
Botch: The action gets performed but mitigating circumstances out of anybody's control sweep in and ruin things at the storyteller's discretion. The storyteller will roll 1 d10 vs 6 (essentially flipping a coin) and you will lose a dot of Influence if the roll fails.
The Difficulty is determined by running through this questionnaire:
1.) Amount Of Participants: How many people's direct, knowing participation is required? This doesn't mean that they need to know the full picture, just that they need to be involved at some point.
- One Or Two People: -1 difficulty.
- Two To Ten People: No modifier.
- Eleven To One Hundred People: +1 difficulty.
- Up To 250 People: +2 difficulty.
- Over 250 People: +3 difficulty.
2.) Level Of Expertise: Does anybody involved in this action (even if it's just one person) require a certain education?
- Joe Anybody Could Do It: -1 difficulty.
- Technical training and/or license required: +1 difficulty.
- Federal License/Permit/Clearance Required: +1 additional difficulty.
- Degree Required (e.g. medical degree): +1 additional difficulty.
3.) Equipment/Supplies Involved: Are you borrowing, permanently pilfering, or otherwise requisitioning fuel, supplies, equipment, etc?
- No equipment needed at all: -1 difficulty.
- Equipment needed, no damage/loss risk: +1 difficulty
- Equipment needed, some damage/loss risk: +2 difficulty
- Equipment needed, significant damage/loss risk: +3 difficulty.
- Equipment needed is valued over 10K: +1 additional difficulty.
4.) Morality And Legality: Might someone refuse to do it due to its questionable ethical or legal nature? This applies even when you have types of Criminal Influence.
- Routine, Everyday Task: -1 difficulty.
- Misdemeanor and/or a humanity 7 violation, +1 difficulty.
- Felony and/or a humanity 6 violation, +2 difficulty.
- Felony and/or a humanity 5 violation, +3 difficulty.
- If getting caught would negatively and permanently impact one's future: +2 additional difficulty.
5.) Storyteller Fiat: Different industries have different regulations, practices, types of available resources, and so on. Somebody could ask for an action that produces a difficulty that you find unacceptable with the above questionnaire. In this case please explain your decision to staff for future reference (to be consistent if it comes up again so the same action or same nature of action will result in the same difficulty for the next person).
Discovering & Investigating Actions
When an Influence action is rolled (through the system, using the +job/influence command), the game looks for everyone who has Influence in that category. For each character that has matching influence, the game reflexively rolls three dice per dot of their Influence. If they the same amount of successes as you did, then they will have passively detected your Influence move. The Influence system makes a staff-only comment onto the +job instructing staff as to who should be notified of this move.
When an influence action is ongoing, storytellers will notify the parties who are ICly equipped to intercept your influence action (those who have similar Influence). Staff may also determine that the action in question is gossip-worthy or news-worthy and publicize the action with IC news posts. In these cases, the person behind the Influence is not revealed. Rather, the actions underway are reported or speculated on. Scandals and incidences of violence or tragedy (real or orchestrated) are examples of the types of actions Staff may publicize while the action is awaiting completion.
When an influence action is complete, any observable effects caused by whatever has been done will be reported on by journalists or sent through the rumor mill where appropriate. If an action is not newsworthy (for example, all you did was check someone's line of credit), then it's not going to be broadcasted anywhere. If an action is newsworthy, then it will be reported on. When this report happens, the consequences and effects are getting reported on instead of you or your involvement as the Influence wielder.
If you catch wind of an IC event, be it in progress or post-completion, you may use your Influence to investigate the happenings or you may attempt to investigate things by your onesies with other methods. If whatever you're investigating happens to be an Influence action, then the amount of successes you need to get in whatever roll you perform is 1/2 of the original Influence roll's successes, rounded up.
When you beat the amount of successes that the concealing party rolled you will discover the identity of the wielder of the influence behind the action. You may also discover additional information where contextually available such as the true nature behind goings-on that prompted the investigation.
Example: Jimmy has a rating of 3 in Securities & Investment. He wants to do some insider trading, so he does, and he rolls 9 dice (because an Influence roll dice pool is [Influence Rating x 3].) He gets 6 successes with which to do his Influence action. Timmy catches wind of some potential insider trading and looks into it. He doesn't know it, but the ST knows that he's lookng into Jimmy's influence action. Jimmy can turn his own Influence towards the task or he can go gumshoe it himself with an Intelligence + Investigation roll. In either case, since Jimmy got 6 successes, Timmy needs to beat half of that in order to find out all the juicy details. Therefore, Timmy needs to get 4 successes on his roll.
The Influence system assumes that you want to hide an Influence action 100% of the time. When your Influence action is rolled, the 'stealth' of the Influence action (that is, how many successes someone has to beat to get the details) is equal to half of the successes on your Influence roll. You do not have to designate your action as somehow clandestine.
When you wish to combat an ongoing influence action, you can try to "block" it by requesting an Influence move. These work like any other move: +request it, specify your goal and what influence you're using. The storyteller will designate a difficulty and ask you to use the +job/influence command. This will roll dice for you and deduct Downtime accordingly.
While a more detailed explanation of what you're doing to block someone is definitely preferable (and will get your Influence action moving faster since that will relieve the burden of creativity from staff), you aren't necessarily required to specify more than 'I want to block this from happening'.
The amount of successes that your Influence move results in will be used as a dicepool against the amount of successes that the person you are blocking got on their Influence move. The one who ends up with the most successes wins. Ties go to the original Influence move that is being blocked.
Your Influence can be worn down as a direct result of attacks on the sources of your influence, your social capital, and so on. These can be performed by player characters and NPCs alike. Their in-character expressions can be things like smear campaigns, mergers followed by massive targeted lay-offs to purge someone's entrenched network, and other scandals.
Sabotage Important NPCs: Remember that some people don't own Influence directly, they wield it through their Allies, Contacts and Retainers. Cut off their source.
Sabotage Influence Directly: Request an Influence action to attack someone's influence. To do this, you need to identify at least one NPC you know to be in that person's network or otherwise furnish evidence of your target's influence (like tracing one of their influence actions, properly identifying their Niche). The difficulty for a smear campaign is always 8 (so the Downtime cost is 4). The amount of successes required is equal to the amount of successes one needs to actually purchase the level of influence you are attacking. For example, it takes 25 successes to buy Influence level 3, so it takes 25 successes to wear it down.
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