Age of Ambition is the game of forward-facing fantasy. The ability of the heroes to change the world around them is one of the game's major themes. As such, the connection between the heroes and the rest of the world merits a special focus. This is handled through the Bond and Influence mechanics.
In this post I want to examine these two mechanics and how they might be used by players to make their marks on the world.
If you're not familiar with Age of Ambition, you should know that it's coming to Kickstarter on January 21, 2020 and its blurb is below:
Age of Ambition is a roleplaying game set on a world rapidly leaving the traditional fantasy milieu behind. It's the game of forward-facing fantasy! Where the heroes guide the world into a brave new era of promise or peril.
So strap on your breastplate and pick up your pistol. There are discoveries to make, wrongs to right, tyrants to overthrow and new social orders to trial.
Most folks on Trystell have a network of friends, contacts, memberships, rivals and enemies. These important relationships are represented by Bonds.
When a new bond is established, the name of the bonded character or organization should be recorded along with the type of Bond being created. New Bonds are also always subject to GM veto—after all, that particular NPC may have hidden motives!
Bonds may be called upon to gain a benefit. To do this, specify the Bond and explain how it aids your character, roleplaying as necessary. Each bond you possess may be called upon once for free, or an additional time at the cost of an Influence point. Once called on, a Bond is considered exhausted until the next downtime. During a downtime all bonds refresh.
In general, a Bond can be called upon to activate one of the following effects:
Example: Carter has found a mysterious pendant. Since he doesn’t know much about artifacts, he calls upon his contact, Bralin, who is an expert on such matters.
Example: Ayana is facing off against her sworn enemy, Kattanz. She calls upon her Bond to gain a boon to her initial attack, as previous experience allows her to predict what tactic he is likely to employ.
Example: Tingernaut is about to compete in a wagon race against Kuzuk-zul, his long-time rival. He calls upon this Bond to gain a boon in the race, spurred on by their fierce competition.
As the party performs great deeds, rights wrongs or makes contacts, you may earn Influence—accumulated leverage or social capital you can use to influence events or get tasks accomplished.
Your character’s accumulated social capital is represented by a pool of Influence points that she may call upon to aid her in social situations. Each point comes from a particular origin, such as from a Reputation or Status.
To spend an Influence, you simply need to justify how your character is calling upon it, given the point’s origin and what she is trying to accomplish. For example, if she is trying to convince the guards to open the city gates for her afterhours, she might spend a point from her status as a guild master to argue that her merchandise is needed in the city tonight. Assuming the GM finds this acceptable, the point is spent.
In general, an Influence can be spent to activate one of the following effects: