Aspirations

“Aim higher in case you fall short.” – Suzanne Collins

This is a new rules system that introduces some of the mechanics from the Blood & Smoke/God Machine books for our chronicle. THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR FREE BONUS EXPERIENCE EVERY MONTH.

Each character may choose up to 3 Aspirations to achieve with their character. These are Out-of-Character terms, so they do not necessarily have to represent character goals, just goals you as a player want to set for your character.

2 of these Aspirations may be short term, able to be resolved in just a couple of Game Sessions or within a Month of in-game Time. (examples :-

  • “Arrive early for the gathering”:
  • “Make it through a Game Session without taking any damage”:
  • “Raise [character name]’s status in [type of status]”:

For each and every Short Term Aspirations achieved, a Player will gain 1 additional Beat.
Note: A special Aspiration called Redemption is where the Character aspires to regain & recover from the breaking point affecting them and thus redeem themselves. This grants them 1 Beat (XB).

At least one Aspiration must be a Long Term Aspiration, a goal that will take 3 game sessions or longer to achieve. Examples :-

  • “Get Tenurial Domain in the city":
  • “Solve the Brood plot”:
  • “Become the Prince”:

For each Long Term Aspiration achieved, a Player will gain 1 XP.

Aspirations can be listed and reported on Downtime Forms. When reporting achieved Aspirations, please list the Story-Teller who observed the action which achieved the Aspiration, so we can give you credit for it.

If there were any short term Aspirations from your previous downtime that you did not achieve at the game, you are welcome to use one of your personal Downtime actions to complete each one. (These actions will almost always succeed.)

At the end of your downtime, you may list your new list of three Aspirations going into the next game. Any unfinished Aspirations from your previous downtime should still be included on the new list unless that Aspiration is no longer possible.

What are Aspirations, exactly?
Aspirations are plans and goals for your Character. Goals have always been encouraged as they add an extra dimension to a Character but now they also provide us with a way to track and award extra Experience (XP) by using Aspirations.

Though Aspirations are not obligatory and a requirement, they are strongly recommended as a way to add extra plot hooks and colour to a Character and a means to earn extra XP by achieving your Aspirations through gameplay. As a Character completes an Aspiration they have listed they will earn extra XP.

The God Machine Rules update provides a great overview of Aspirations, and gives a number of sample Aspirations to use as a guideline for Characters. These are meant to help define who your Character is, similar to Virtues and Vices. All of these aspects combine to help demonstrate who your character is, and often, these are the character’s most important traits, more so than any attribute or skill rankings.

Think about who this Character is. What does this person desire? Remember, we are creating more than just DoTs on a page. This is a complete personality, with hopes, dreams and desires of their own. Think about yourself. What’s something you want to accomplish in the next week? It doesn’t have to be anything complicated. That thing you are thinking of now, is your personal Aspiration. For example, my Aspiration is to finish this document. By the time you read this, I have achieved my Aspiration. This is a short-term Aspiration.

One or two of your character’s three Aspirations should generally be short term and accomplishable at an upcoming game session. For example, it might be introducing herself to the local Prince or gaining feeding grounds in the city. It might be successfully leading your pack in a spirit hunt. The first God Machine Chronicle character I played was a private detective. His Aspirations were to get a job and pay his bills. He acquired a job during the session, got paid for it, and then earned xp when his bills were paid. Ultimately, the more involved you are in the story, the better you can tailor your character’s Aspirations for an upcoming game. If you think the next game will involve hunting down a local Diablerist, your Aspiration might be to help him escape without getting caught.

Aspirations are not totally an in-character construct. They are meant to help guide your role-play and so they can be expressed in terms of failure. While your character may want to escape from the Vampire that is hunting him down, as a player you may deem it more interesting for him to get caught. Your Aspiration might be to get caught by the Vampire. They don’t have to always be what your character wants; it can also be what you want for your character.

In addition to two shorter term Aspirations, you should have longer term goals as well. Think of what you might want to accomplish over the next year. For me, I’d like to lose 10 pounds. That’s a long term goal. For your character, it might be to undermine the local Prince, leading to her ouster. It might be to hunt down the spirit that claimed your daughter. These are things that are ultimately accomplishable, but will take longer. Generally only one of your Aspirations should be a longer term goals. The other two should be short term (accomplishable during the next game session). Having too many long term goals will end up hampering your character and standing in the way of accomplishing things in the short term. Break down the long term goal. Your goal for this week might be to get a lead on your daughter’s whereabouts, or to strike a deal with one of the Prince’s other opponents, working towards the eventual long term Aspiration, but accomplishable over the next couple of sessions.

Storytellers, by looking at the Aspirations of the player characters, you can get a better idea what kind of game they expect and want. If the Aspirations are largely social in nature, then you can get away with a parlor style game with strong player driven stories. If the Aspirations involve hunting down a local Azlu nest, you can plan for strong storyteller driven plots. In all, understanding the player character aspirations will help you prepare for the upcoming game sessions and overall story arcs.

Finally, people do change, even centuries old vampires. They might simply be bored with the political machinations and decide they prefer to manipulate the local mortals. Not every Aspiration will be achieved; the character might lose spectacularly and have to adjust their priorities. Storytellers should allow players to remain flexible with the Aspirations and as the story changes, allow the character’s Aspirations to change with it. These changes should only be done between game sessions, even when replacing an achieved goal. Once one Aspiration has been accomplished or it’s clear the character cannot achieve it, replace it with another during downtime, but always make sure that you enter every game session with three (3) Aspirations.

Ultimately, these are tools to help you as a player better understand the individual you are creating, and to help your portrayal of that character and act as a guide post for your role-play. The best thing you can do is choose goals that can be actively pursued and will enhance the story for you and everyone around you. Don’t be afraid to create social, political, or even physical conflict. How many great stories are of people just standing around talking? Now think of how many stories are told with central conflict and characters acting on their own impulses, often at cross purposes.

As an exercise, think of a really good movie you saw recently. Now think about the main characters at the start of the film. What are their goals at that point? What goals do they achieve during the course of the film? How do those goals change?

Look at the recent Guardians of the Galaxy film. At the beginning of the film, Star-Lord has a really basic Aspiration that is shared by a number of characters in the film, obtain the Orb from the planet Morag. He accomplishes this in about ten minutes. A little later, Gamora shows up, her Aspiration is to steal the Orb from Star-Lord, with a long term Aspiration to keep it safe from Thanos. This creates a conflict between the two characters, which is then further complicated when Rocket and Groot show up, with an Aspiration to cash in a lucrative bounty. Think of how these Aspirations change over the course of the film and how the achievement (or failure) of their initial Aspirations leads to new Aspirations. Drax is an example of a character who accomplishes a long term Aspiration by the end of the film, only to replace it with a new Aspiration with a few short lines of dialogue. It’s a great film, and a good look at how Aspirations can be fulfilled, changed or replaced throughout the story.

Aspirations should be goals that your character hopes to achieve, or goals you want for your character because you think they will bring good roleplay or tell a good story.

Short term Aspirations like “Show up on time” “Attend Court” “Dress appropriately” “Don’t stab people” aren’t really things I would consider appropriate aspirations for the larger populace of our game.

“Show up on time” would only be good for characters who are chronically late and have never been on time to anything before.
“Attend court” would be good for character who never attends court.
“Dress appropriately” would be good for someone who never dresses appropriately.
“Don’t stab people” would be good for someone who likes to stab people a lot and has never gone through a single game without stabbing someone.

But if your character is on time, at court every month, always dresses nice and doesn’t stab people, then none of those are going to be appropriate aspirations for your character.

Aspirations should help us understand your character’s motivations and goals. They may even be something that challenges you as a roleplayer.

  • “Engage a member of the Circle of the Crone]] in a religious discussion without being insulting”: This is a good aspiration for a Lancea Sanctum who has strong prejudice against the Circle of the Crone.
  • “Get a boon from the Prince”: A good goal for someone who isn’t very good at social sparring.
  • “Expand my clan’s feeding territory”: A good aspiration for any kindred because it requires negotiation with court officers to accomplish.
  • “Arrange a location for the gathering and have it approved by the Master of Elysium”: A very good generalized goal as well.
  • “Insult the Invictus to their faces and laugh about it”: This would be a good OOC goal if you think your character isn’t receiving enough social pvp.

When you are thinking of aspirations, think of things that are going to challenge your Character, add a new level of depth to the story and are going enhance your roleplaying experience.

Ultimate Aspirations

Sample Aspirations:
Achieve a promotion at work
Make something that’ll outlast me
Prove my loyalty to the team
Show myself I’m not cursed
Give something important to someone in need
Put myself in mortal danger
Forget responsibility and enjoy myself
Get a new car
Show restraint when tempted
Indulge my addiction
Say my last goodbyes
Volunteer at the cancer center
Meet a ghost Interview my idol
Plant a garden
Show respect to my enemies
Establish a new identity
Learn what hurts shapeshifters
Have a one-night stand
Escape jail
Replace my broken guitar
Tell a long-kept secret
Say no without regrets

Sample Long-Term Aspirations
Put my daughter’s ghost to rest
Take control of the company
Become a parent
Take down the mayor
Outlive my boss
Pass on my most important skill
Become fully independent
Bring an end to the Chosen of Mammon
Find the witch that cursed my family
Become independently wealthy
Master my chosen art
Become a vampire
Find my soul mate
Prove my father was wrong about me
Buy back our ancestral home
Show the world that fairies are real
Open a branch in three nations
Become psychic
Uncover my mother’s killer’s identity
Find an unknown biblical gospel
Prove my uncle wasn’t insane
Discover the cure for mortality

Aspirations

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