Playset hacking: Combining Divine Favor + Pathos

I’m thinking of doing what I describe in the title for my playset; combine Divine Favor and Pathos.

There is plenty of overlap already, and in a system without needing to worry about Gods Divine favor and it’s equivalent starts to feel a little unnecessary to me!
I’m going to walk myself through breaking it down. I’d love input and thoughts!

Pathos in AGON:

  • Represented by marking empty spaces.
  • Can be spent 5 times a session before contributing to Agony or Fate.
  • Harm / “HP” spent for suffering in some contests, entering others.
  • Resource to be spent on: adding extra domains
  • Feeds directly into the player “life-cycle” by triggering Agony and Fate.
  • During fellowship, all pathos is restored.
  • Very much an individual expression tool, represents harm, strain, stress, etc.

Divine Favor in AGON:

  • Represented by marking and clearing tics.
  • Room for up to 26 tics, though I can’t imagine that fills up that often.
  • Part of character creation: Favored Deity, and loosely related to Lineage if Demigod.
  • Harm / “HP” spent for suffering in some contests, entering others.
  • Resource to be spent on: adding d4 onto roll results
  • Can be restored by: marking stars in the vault of heaven, Sacrifice, and declaring contests for favor.
  • A tool for personal expression by suggesting “approaches” to add specificity to contests.
  • A narrative expression by representing relationships with the Gods, like a pseudo-bond.
  • A source of “group expression” - the group can choose to partake in contests and make sacrifices to appease various gods. Those in turn affect which “approaches” the party is better at as a whole.
  • Feeds into the Campaign progression by having players mark stars and affect divine wrath.

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Most playset settings don’t have Greek Gods!
While most of the play sets that have been released so far have had a divine favor analogy, they mostly exist as a way to flavorfully add d4’s to rolls, while much of the other narrative systems stop applying. I’d personally like to explore ways of consolidating and the two systems, given their overlap.

What would happen if I consolidated Pathos and Divine Favor into one track:

  • There would be much more harm focused on a single “resource”; it’d likely need to be longer than the 5 pathos of default Agon. On the reverse side, a longer track adds much more “health” if the player doesn’t engage with the “divine favor” aspect of it.
  • I could consolidate terminology for various contest threat levels: there is only “spend if you suffer” and “spend to enter”, not two sub-sets.
  • Contests may appear much more “expensive”, as you may spend to enter and spend to invoke a d4.
  • Restoring ALL of the resource between sessions is quite powerful given the longer track. Perhaps it should only be a portion of the track restored, or some type of narrative conceit to reward tics back to the player.
  • It’s important to define what “spending” the resource means, as there is some narrative meaning built into the agon systems.
  • There is a potential to lose both personal and group expression in this system.
  • There is a question of whether or not the system should be related to broader campaign systems, at least narratively. Existing play sets seem to think not.
  • I should keep room for customization in character creation.

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With all that in mind, here is my crack at a consolidated version of this for my Pirate game, Starbones;

Stars - These represent your inner fire to overcome hardship, small advantages you might have, skills, and even supernatural forces.
You have 10 stars available before entering “Doom”.

When you create your character you’ll write out one special way stars manifest themselves for you. It may be anything; luck, foolishness, fate, strength, wisdom, intuition, curses, or skills like swordplay, marksmanship, keen eyes, etc. Keep these in mind when you’re narrating as you spend and gain stars!

During the “Be Merry” phase of Spoils, the group will decide on either a new way to describe the stars for each player; the player can add it on to their list or replace an existing , or not add it at all.

Gaining Stars

  • During the Fellowship phase you may restore 4 stars.
  • Whenever you move between seas you may restore 3 stars.
  • If things are looking bleak for the party, the Peril Player can propose they pursue a “treasure” that will restore 2 - 3 stars.

Spending Stars

  • Some contests will require you to spend a star if you suffer, while other contests might require you to spend a star to enter.
  • Spend a Star to add an extra domain die to your die pool.
  • Spend a Star before rolling dice to add 1d4 to your roll result. Narrate how your stars are contributing to your extra effect.
    • Anyone who has added a 1d4 to their contest roll make a wager together. Players in the wager that aren’t the Best Player don’t earn any Infamy. If the Best Player is in the wager, they’ll earn any infamy that would have been earned by the other players in the wager.

Curious for your reactions to any of the above! Is it actually worth any of the hassle? I’m curious how my end result might work “economy” wise.

My concern would be threefold.

First, taking ‘harm’ by removing a dot of Divine Favor is a ‘real’ consequence, but is a buffer before losing a finite resource (fate). I think it will be hard to strike the right balance by combining Pathos & Favor. But, that can be solved with playtesting.

My other concern is that it removes one aspect of character differentiation. One way that players can shape their character is through their narration of different divine favors. Combining the resources doesn’t necessarily limit what the players can do, but it could limit how they describe what they do.

My third concern is that the story arc in Agon seems to be driven by the characters’ relationships with each other and with the gods. That source of story will need to come from elsewhere.

For what it is worth, I’m having the same problem. I ‘reskinned’ Divine Favor as a chemical augmentation (drugs) to give different types of boosts. The problem I am realizing is that it doesn’t provide a good driver for the fiction…and doesn’t work well with the ‘harm’ system.

For your first point, I’d say that Pathos itself is also a buffer. It’s just a matter of how much buffer. The way in which Divine favor can come and go might make it a bit more “fluid” of armor / harm.

The character differentiation is a pretty easily remedied with some fictional framing!

The 3rd point - different settings definitely won’t have relationships with the God’s! That’s mostly what inspired my post, haha.

I think there is some way you can make the drug system work! That certainly brings some pretty powerful (and potentially dark) fiction.