'Your Followers aren't yours, more like you're theirs'

  • 7 Replies
'Your Followers aren't yours, more like you're theirs'
« on: February 06, 2016, 07:04:21 PM »
The Hocus Followers option where 'your followers aren't yours, more like you're theirs', I was curious if anybody had any ideas on how they'd interpret that option and the judgement trouble that can be attached to it.  The vague idea I had in my mind was a situation where the Hocus' following was less of a 'cult of personality', but had some independent sense of doctrine or identity not easily changed by a leader, but I'm not entirely sure I'm parsing the option right, and I'm a little less clear on just what happens with judgement there to make it notably worse than desertion.  Any help understanding either the original intent or how people have handled it in their games would be much appreciated.

Re: 'Your Followers aren't yours, more like you're theirs'
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2016, 09:14:54 PM »
My interpretation of this issue (and "judgement") is that the cult isn't one which venerates a particular Hocus because of her ideas and beliefs. Rather, the cult has its own beliefs and ideas, and the Hocus just *happens* to fulfill them at the moment. Should the Hocus deviate from that, they're likely to act on their own. For instance:

* They decide the Hocus no longer fills their idea of a leader-figure, and elect/choose a new leading figure, more in line with their ideals.
* They believe that the Hocus is the "chosen one", but nevertheless can step onto the wrong path. Therefore, it's their job to keep the Chosen One on the right path, by limiting their options, keeping them from certain information, or doing what needs to be done even if it goes against their wishes. (For instance, the Hocus makes friends with someone the cult disapproves, so the cult kills this person before their sacrilegious ideas can "infect" their dear leader.)
* They decide that their "chosen one" is wrong, corrupted, or possessed, and punish her severely until she falls in line with their goals once more. Perhaps they believe that this suffering is part of the Chosen One's journey ("and the son of Ezekiel shall be broken nigh unto near death..."), and it has fallen to them to fulfill that part of the prophecy.

Re: 'Your Followers aren't yours, more like you're theirs'
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2016, 11:08:06 PM »

It's a good option for a Hocus who was born into their position, or raised by a cult; someone who is socially captive to the group, even though they are ostensibly its leader. Also good for a charismatic mystic who was kidnapped by a gang of violent cannibals/raiders/etc. for good luck or guidance.



  • 415
Re: 'Your Followers aren't yours, more like you're theirs'
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2016, 11:54:21 AM »
There are many correct ways to read that line. My favorite is that the cult's belief in the Hocus is idealized, and they will hold the Hocus up to those ideals. Basically, they see what the Hocus should be as what they're all striving for, and demand that the Hocus live up to those standards, or else maybe they'll leave, maybe they'll purge the "sin" from the Hocus, maybe they'll make deals behind your back, or make increasing harsher demands from the Hocus.

Followers are threats too. Maybe they'll take something the Hocus values and use it as leverage. Maybe they'll just do whatever they expected the Hocus to do instead. Etc.



  • 12
Re: 'Your Followers aren't yours, more like you're theirs'
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2016, 01:42:31 PM »
I've never played a Hocus (or any of the playbooks, really, because I've only been an MC) but I can tell you how I handle one of my PC's characters that has this option (and what the context is to him belonging more to the cult than the other way around.)

In terms of ownership, Omosho (the Hocus in the game I'm MCing) has a situation going along pretty well with what Daniel mentioned. He was born into the cult, designated as a "Holy Child" by the previous leader before he kicked the bucket, because he knew that the followers of the cult wouldn't be able to do anything without some idea of a person to follow.

He's 12 years old right now, and has spent his whole life "leading" these people who are mostly older than him. It's an odd dynamic where the cult teaches him what is "right" and "good," and gives him rules to follow, while also following him in his decisions even if they're the obviously silly/not-well-thought-out ideas of a child. (This comes from the fact that he also selected the option that they rely on him for everything.) Ownership comes in the form of this being the only thing Omosho knows. It's the idea that it is the only option for him and that it is his absolute duty to do what is best for his people, but it also comes in the form of an inability to be separated from them. They need him, as far as they're concerned, and would probably follow him around and expect things of him even if he tried to disband.

Judgement in this case, for Omosho, generally comes as a response to him not being able to provide. Generally, if we don't know what the thing is, I as the MC will ask the PC "Why are your followers upset with you?" and he'll respond. Other times it's glaringly obvious- Omosho fainted, for instance, in a very stressful situation where he was expected to respond. It was very obvious the next session when the PC missed the start of session roll that his followers were judging him for not being able to do something in their time of need.

So far this has not had to have any mechanical "the followers will now do ____" consequences because the particular PC who plays Omosho has characterized him to desperately require acceptance and love from his followers, so when they are judging it very rarely gets to the point where they have to do anything, because Omosho jumps through as many hoops as he possibly can to try and get on their good sides again. Unfortunately on account of Omosho being a child and not very good at thinking things out from a perspective of someone with more experience, this usually just leads to even more trouble. It's an interesting dynamic altogether, I think anyway!

This option can, as mentioned previously, be played out in a number of different ways- that's just the particular scenario that ended up playing out with one character. I could see it going in a ton of different ways.

You could have a Hocus who belongs to their cult because their cult provides something for them that they need (whether through necessity, addiction, ect.) and they have no other way to get it, or no EASY way to get it, and maybe doing what they want from you is easier than the work it would take to get it otherwise. Judgement in this case could result in the loss of that thing, or further punishment, until the Hocus proved themselves/made up for it.

You could have a Hocus who is literally owned by their cult; Who is kept in shackles or followed around. Who literally can't escape even though they're terrified. Judgement in this case could result in physical harm, restraint from the outside world, death or destruction of whatever it was that let them "stray" from their path or inspired them to "rebel" against the cult. The removal of or punishment for whatever they're judging you for.

You could take it in a less literal direction; That the Hocus feels that they belong to the cult. That the cult has done something for them that makes them feel indebted. Or they feel like they have nothing else but the cult; The idea of not having those followers terrifies them. Maybe the cult doesn't actually need them- maybe the Hocus was chosen because they're someone who fits the bill, but there are others that the cult can find. And so when the slightest hint of their unhappiness with the Hocus' actions becomes known it's the Hocus themselves who reacts viscerally- judgement comes in the form of the Hocus perceiving that their position is slipping, and there is a fear of being abandon or unimportant so great that they do anything they can to make up for it, even if there is no actual danger of anyone leaving.

These are just some ideas off the top of my head, and I couldn't say with any certainty how well they'd work in play. But needless to say that any interpretation of it is probably fine as long as it actually makes sense in some form given the descriptor! That's what I'd think, anyway.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2016, 04:44:11 PM by Amora »

Re: 'Your Followers aren't yours, more like you're theirs'
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2016, 05:17:42 PM »
Great post!

Omosho sounds like a fantastic character; I'd love to have him in my AW game.

Re: 'Your Followers aren't yours, more like you're theirs'
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2016, 05:40:14 AM »
Like others have said, there are many different ways to play it. The first thought that comes into my mind, are followers that has flocked to the Hocus because they agree with the doctrine he is spreading. And now they have made the doctrine their own (perhaps even codifying it).

So if the Hocus is preaching Abstinence and Non-violence, they are going to be asking hard questions if he himself breaks those ideals. Where another Hocus who lives on his cult of personality can say or do almost anything (within the limits of the fiction), in this case the Hocus has to live what he preaches.

Re: 'Your Followers aren't yours, more like you're theirs'
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2016, 04:56:19 AM »
I know this is slightly old so mid-necroing:

In my Serenity based AW game I play an ex-Companion Skinner on a frontier planet and my last improvement was Fortunes and Followers to which I took "YFAY, MLYT" in this vein: My Skinner is a teacher in this world (and the only one who was willing to come to the planet) so his followers are his students. The students are loyal but have parents and each other to look after too - and are at best teenagers. If trouble comes they blame their teacher or come to him with their problems.

The Judgement has come into play once and very masterfully. The frontier planet is very "conservative Wild West" and my man is an Ex-Companion, which while is closer to a geisha is still seen mainly as a "whore." And a male one? Tsk tsk. So my guy got an 8 and the MC kicked in that "Judgement" was triggered; the town bible thumper turned Sunday school into "Sunday Schoolhouse" for "moral education" and my Skinner lost the effectiveness of his followers during the day time (when their parents made them go to new! school) and had to sneak around at night (where they had to sneak out of their houses) until he spent a good portion of a session proving that his art, science, and cultural education trumped "Because Reavers will eat you" education.

I'll be honest and say I've only had the followers for 2 sessions and my second session I got a 10 on the Fortune roll so I haven't had Judgement come majorly into play. I want to see it handled the following ways:

My man is in his late 20s, the oldest student/follower is 18. What happens when s/he purchases the Companion/whore services and blurs the student/teacher relationship? +Judgement

They are adolescents and teens. What they think will please their teacher may have dire consequences. +Savagery

They are the new generation shedding the frontier morals. Their parents make them choose between art and tradition. A battle, philosophical and physical is going to brew. +Savagery