If you’re playing the preview pdf of Agon (provided for kickstarter backers) you can leave feedback and ask questions here.
Are you able to give more detail on changes in mechanics from the old version? I’m always reluctant to back a game when I don’t know how it plays.
Every element has been changed., though the general concepts are still there (like increasing dice sizes for traits, competition for Glory, a heroic lifespan measured by Fate).
There are four Domains for conflicts (Arts & Oration, Blood & Valor, Craft & Reason, Resolve & Spirit) rather than the 16 abilities from 1e.
Divine Favor is more closely tied to the aspects of the various gods, rather than a general pool to draw from.
The Strife Player doesn’t have a budget. It’s no longer competitive between the players and GM – just among the heroes, competing for the most Glory.
The resolution system is streamlined, but has familiar components from 1e (advantage dice, helping, harmful outcomes).
Battles are much simpler. They’re now a short series of linked contests, focusing on what the heroes care about the most, rather than a tactical mini-game. Agon veterans sometimes bemoan the loss of the old battle system, but are surprised by how much they like the new version.
Overall, everything is more straightforward. We redesigned every part so it’s easier to learn and less intimidating for new gamers. The pace of play is very high – you can run an island in 2-3 hours easily.
For a detailed breakdown, see Adam Koebel’s page-by-page walkthrough:
Rules question: when you mark Pathos to roll an additional domain die, it must be the same die type as the original one, or the player can make a case to roll a different (higher) domain die? (for example, rolling Craft&Reason to use a clever trick in a Blood&Valor contest)
You can roll any Domain die when you spend Pathos for it (so yes, you can use a higher one).
I can see how that language is a bit ambiguous. Thanks!
Just ran my first session as the strife player and really enjoyed it. Had a few things come up, mostly about battles, that I hope you can clarify.
If a player suffers against an opponent that doesn’t have any of the keywords that harm you, is there any other effect?
Are battles only meant to be in one domain? The implication is that they are but then the players can choose their own domain for engagement? Does it mean the strife player rolls one domain and the players roll a different one during engagement.
When you get to the defend and clash, should the strife player be making a new roll for each threat that is defended and then another new roll for the clash, or should the number rolled during engagement ride into these contests? Finale seems clearer that you should roll a new contest.
Is there any mechanical benefit to being ‘backed up’ by another player for bonds. Do you still get their name dice doing this?
Layout of character sheet
We thought it might be clearer for pathos if their were just 4 pathos boxes then the fate line and not have a box to mark agony. Other than that they are really nice and clear.
Thanks for the great game
Thanks for trying it out, Iain.
Battles sort of have a Domain…
- Engagement is whatever Domain each hero wants.
- Clash and Defend are based on the type of battle at hand
- Finale Domain is set by the winner of the Clash
Each part of a battle is a contest roll. So the Strife Player rolls once against all the heroes in the engagement. Then the Strife Player rolls once for the Clash and once for Defend. Then there’s a final contest roll for Finale.
When you spend a Bond, you can ask a hero to bolster you (I think “back you up” is an older phrase that needs to be updated). They give you a copy of their Name die to add to your pool.
Thanks for the questions and feedback!
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly John. If I might take a moment to go through the battle sequence as I understand it and ask a couple more questions:
The opponent makes their play and the strife player rolls first. Each player decides how their hero will approach this challenge and rolls a domain of their choice.
The opponent threatens the Island in numerous ways. Heroes choose to Defend against those threats or Clash directly with the opponent.
The Clash it is clear you would roll the domain that contest is happening in referencing that particular enemy in the Island description. In my case the threat was the pirate queen of Kryos so one of them went up against her in B&V.
The threats I wasn’t so sure on. I made two threats: lightning struck the town causing it to go and fire and some of the pirate queen’s men went and attacked the townsfolk the heroes had trained to fight. Couple of questions here. Should I roll once as the Strife for both threats? If so what do I roll, what domain do I look at and on which NPC? I could see how I could roll the B&V of theresa for the pirates but the lightning I wasn’t so sure on so just let the roll for the pirates stand as the target number.
Winner of the CLASH only choose what domain the finale happens in. This seems straightforward enough. The defence against threats has no bearing on this finale apart from in a narrative sense.
I think I misread something there Bolster is the term I should have used. So you can spend a bond to get a name dice, to block Harm or to make the leader follow your lead. The last one there is that basically you take Leadership for a given action?
Are there plans to include advice on designing your own Islands?
So, after reading the preview (but still before playtest) which I absolutely loved and enjoyed, there are a couple things that left me with questions:
Is Divine Favor limited to two /w each god, as the character sheet suggests (due to two diamonds next to each god)? If so, are the diamond fields next to “Favored god” on the sheet in addition to that (making it 4 favours total) or are those for “custom” gods only?
Does the Leader have a role in establishing approach and goal of the group? Can they influence the Strife’s decision on used Domain? Can non-Leaders solicit Contests with the Strife, breaking with the Leader? Is someone assumed to be the Leader for purpose of the first Contest of the game, to determine approach and Domains, or does the Strife lead all Heroes to a specific Domain with leading questions? There’s always going to be that player who wishes to soothe a storm by song, instead of holding fast and enduring a sailor’s hardship, and in hero stories that seems like a valid approach?
What happens when a Hero Player describes their approach in a Contest (other than Engagement) as much differing from that of other players, possibly warranting a different Domain than the obvious one? Should they have a separate Contest, would they sit this one out only supporting other heroes with their differing approach, or should they still roll the Strife-determined Domain, but with no possible advantage?
Are there procedures for reducing Wrath other than by custom island options and appropriate appeasement Contests? Like trading Bonds with deities for reduction of Wrath or such?
This looks great, I’m excited to play the game!
@ Fnordington Krzysztof
I’m not an insider, so take my answers with a grain of salt, but I think I can help you. I’m going to answer your questions in a weird order.
To me, Wrath is supposed to be unpredictable. It represents the fickle nature of the gods, and it’s a big part of what makes each Strife Player unique to enjoy a game with. Most of the mechanics in Agon are super predictable and give a lot of power to the Hero Players. This is great, but there needs to be a wild card element in there to shake things up. Wrath does this well, because it can feel really personal when Wrath is added at the right times, or it can feel really impersonal when done “poorly”, but that actually helps reinforce the idea that the Hero Players can’t truly understand the Gods’ desires.
For choosing Domains, the rules seem pretty explicit: Strife Player and Leader agree on the Domain. One thing to note in the rules: You can suffer 1 Pathos when declaring you enter a contest in order to add a different Domain to the current contest for your individual roll and narration.
So, if your group leader enters a contest against a storm and declares that you all will weather the storm with Resolve & Spirit, when your turn comes around, you just declare that you’ll suffer 1 Pathos to add your Arts & Oration Domain to the roll as well. Then, after the roll, when you narrate your action in the contest, you can add in a description of your song that helped calm the storm.
You would get to roll both Resolve & Spirit and Arts & Oration during the roll. That’s the benefit of suffering 1 Pathos.
For your other questions:
The very first contest is determined by the Strife player to set the tone of the game and establish the first Leader for the first island. This should be kind of streamlined. Most of the time it’s a teaching situation.
I’m fairly certain that you get 4 Divine Favor maximum with your Honored God, but I don’t know. It’s possible you don’t. I don’t think it has a major impact either way. It won’t break the game.
Thanks for your answers! They align very much with my instincts and the calls I would probably make But I do like to ask questions when learning a new game, even obvious ones, to see what I’ve potentially missed and what issues people agree upon - or not.
The one I most would like the official answer to is the Divine Favor one - having four slots instead of two impacts the resources available to Heroes considerably, at a glance.
I’m curious what the official answer is, too, but I will say this:
I almost always have seen Hero Player spend their Divine Favor from their Honored God first. They get into a rhythm of using that first, then getting 2 of it back from Sacrificing between islands. Since it always comes back to your Honored God, players feel comfortable spending it. And they get used to narrating how that God helps them.
It’s a nice feedback loop, and I think it’s rare that I’ve seen anyone stock up 3 or 4 Divine Favor for their Honored God.
@TDudeH I don’t think you add a different domain dice for suffering Pathos. The games says 'you may mark pathos to roll an additional domain die". We read this as you roll two of the dice you have in the domain of the contest rather than one if you mark pathos.
I think you can only have 2 marks in any one god, though I do agree that the sheet makes it look like you could take 4.
I played another session yesterday with a new group, and every single person used Pathos at some point to add a second Domain to the contest. It may not be intended, but we’re going to keep it as a house rule, because everyone loved the narrations brought about by doing it. There’s a lot more variety when some of the heroes are doing slightly different things within the contest.
Also, it has only a very small impact on the math.
I am loving the game, and keep trying things out. My group has ended up changing some of the wording of the Domains, as we had some disagreements about subjective stuff. The biggest argument was about Valor and Resolve feeling too similar, so we changed Valor to Power. So, now combat and athletic stuff is Blood & Power. We also changed ‘passion’ in Resolve & Spirit to ‘integrity’ to better show that Resolve & Spirit are about internal struggle, while the external process of stirring other people’s passions are in Arts & Oration.
The biggest request my group has is for some alternate rules for 3 player games (1 as Strife). We’ve found that it’s fun, but could really use something to alter things slightly. We’re working on our own rules for it. We dropped Leadership and are testing out other mechanics in that space, but it would be nice to have ideas for ways to modify that setup.
Fantastic game! Thanks for creating it
Cross-posting from the Kickstarter post where I’ve also posted my questions, here are answers by Sean Nittner (@Sean) :
Divine Favor - Yes, it is attached to each god and yes, you get two extra for your Honored god (so you could get up to 4 favor with a single god if you want).
The leader makes the call of what action to take whenever the band is uncertain or in disagreement. If any hero does not like the leaders call, they can spend a bond to take over as leader for that moment. Note that based on the leaders approach the Strife Player may judge that a contest falls in one domain or another.
One the contest is determined (we will win the favor of Queen Naia, we will wrestle Orta into the river, etc) the Strife Player will announce the domain and ask which heroes will compete. At this point in the conflict the hero only elect to join the contest, support another, or abstain. However, if a hero knows they want to use another domain outside the contest (i.e. they want to impress queen Naia with a feet of strength or trick Orta instead of wrestling him) they can mark pathos to bring another Domain into the contest.
Wrath is determined (usually) when the heroes depart an island. If the heroes have appeased a god (gaining favor with them) that god’s anger may subside (reducing wrath) however that isn’t a guarantee. Gods are fickle and may hold onto grudges. If a hero really wants to make amends they should see to ameliorate the god on the islands (perhaps making a contest sacred by doing it in the god’s honor, acting in the god’s idiom, or otherwise supplicating their vicious whims).
So, we removed Leadership when playing 2 hero players, instead calling it a Partnership, and we’ve added a rule for 2 hero players:
When two hero players enter a contest, they may decide to cooperate. The cooperating heroes setup their individual dice pool as normal, but they each only contribute their highest single die result. Add the two results together for their total.
(For Divine Favor, only one d4 can be added. If both players use Divine Favor, the higher is used).
Cooperating heroes don’t earn Glory for winning.
Whether they win or lose, the each of the cooperating heroes gains a Bond with the other, and they each gain 1 Glory.
Note: This method increases the odds of success. It’s meant to give the 2 hero players more choices in how they approach the island as a team. They can use cooperation to overcome really tricky obstacles, but then they don’t earn as much glory. They can also use cooperation to build up their bonds in the middle of the island, which is helpful because they tend to start with less bonds as a resource than a larger group normally has.
I need to test this more. I also plan to test it as an optional approach in larger games for exactly two players to do this. It might end up being a bit cutthroat to use it, though, so it’s tough to predict whether it will be fun.
The Players’ Kit has the following entry on page 4:
Once per island, each hero may swear an Oath. Name an outcome you will achieve and bet Glory on it (5-20). If you complete your Oath on the island, you win the Glory you bet—otherwise, you lose it.
This, however, is nowhere to be found in the rulebook, and only mentions of “oaths” conflate them with Bonds. Were Oaths removed from the game, or it the Kit corect?
Oaths were removed.
Thanks for the questions and feedback, everyone. It’s very helpful!