Reputation - does it ever go down?

edited May 2014 in Ashen Stars
I've been playing Ashen Stars for a good year now, and we went through four of the published adventures (Pleasure bringers, Dead Rock Seven, Justice Trade, Terra Nova), two homebrew adventures and some extra stuff that came out of the personal arcs of the characters.

Except for one adventure, the laser's Reputation kept rising after each scenario. In the very first adventure (one of the homebrews), I could habe been harder on them Reputation-wise, but I thought it to be better to play nice in the first sessions. However, I kind of regret that now, because in most of the published adventures, there really aren't any hard choices that might lead to reputation loss, and a lot of opportunities to gain reputation. By now, I have startet to fiddle around with the personal arc of some of the characters to get them to do some shady stuff, but in the end, the planet-saving in adventures like Justice Trade and Pleasure Bringers always means that they come out of each scenario with a positive score.

Maybe that's okay and my players are just awesome (actually, they are!). But the constant rise of reputation has big repercussions for the game: The time between contracts goes down, so by now, they have much more money that they need, and it becomes hard to believe that they would keep up their humble laser lifestyle. In my last homebrew adventure, they even decided to forego their payment, doing "the right thing" instead, even against the wishes of their contractors; they also lost their shuttle and had to buy a new one for 20, and they had to pay an informant for 15 - and still they have more than 100 bigcreds.

Has anyone else encountered similar problems? I don't want to hose them by delibaretly looking for ways to reduce their reputation or take away their money, but on the other hand, the whole campaign would be much more interesting if money was an issue for them from time to time ...

(Another factor in this is probably that they have very low upkeep - none of the Viroware and Cyberware enhancements seem particularly enticing to them, and neither do the bolt-ons. At least, they started upgrading their ship specs after a pretty close call in spaceship fight in the last adventure.)


  • edited May 2014

    If I read correctly, I believe there are rules for losing Rep scattered thru-out the book & in the "Missions" chapter; examples include, usually: botches in Public Relations, or doing nasty stuff, like killing w/out need or scamming your employer & things of that nature. Often, published adventures have these sort of sordid choices detailed within.

    About your party:
    But, overall, being "goodie 2 shoes" is never a bad thing in Ashen Stars! If they keep taking the high road, they should be recompensed with a high rep! Same as investigators in Call of Cthulhu: they often gain sanity when doing the right thing.

    Maybe sprinkle more ambiguous choices or dangle corrupt but profitable avenues in front of the players (lazers have a lot of power!). &, on the other hand, remember, in most pivotal situations they often have only themselves as an audience... Morality is a big part of the game.

  • Thanks, I guess I'll just have to look closer at the small stuff they might be doing to achieve the "greater good". Most of the time, my pc's simply are "goodie 2 shoes", so it's probably simply alright that they have a high reputation.

    I guess one thing that really reinforces morally upright behaviour in Ashen Stars is that there is a very strong connection between a good reputation and making money. Therefore, there is usually very little incentive to do anything shady but profitable - it is usually more profitable to simply build your reputation, thereby keeping your upkeep down. I would say that this is a feature of the game, but one that can turn into a bug if the GM isn't actively trying to create difficult, morally ambiguous situations for the lasers.
  • Although a low or 'bad' reputation certainly seems to be something to avoid, I like to think that there is room in the game for low reputations in a narrative sense. Along the lines of 'it takes a thief to catch a thief', perhaps there are some missions which only become available to laser teams with low or negative reputations. I try to portray NPC reactions as being shaded by the PCs' reputation score and how the score got that way--are the lasers actually 'bad', or are they just drawn that way? (Hat tip to Jessica Rabbit). In convention games, I give the players the opportunity to set their team's reputation at -1, 0, or +1 before we roll for downtime. Plus, the players get to explain the reason for the reputation score. In the case of a negative score, the reasons range from brutality or corruption, to more acceptable ones: prior mission failure (which provides motivation to now succeed), a hard-luck team, a team whose individuals have a checkered past, or even a 'Keystone Kops' type affair, where the PCs' misfortunes are entirely from circumstances beyond their control. It seems pretty common for private investigators to have a negative reputation--I am thinking of Jim Rockford's relationship with the police in 'The Rockford Files' as a prime example--but despite the negative reputation they are not bad guys! In the convention game, the players' decision on the PCs' reputation helps me determine NPC reactions and behavior. What I'd really like to do is design the adventure to be flexible enough that the Lasers' reputation determines who the actual client is!
  • That last idea sounds pretty interesting - most of the published adventures would also allow for alternative, shadier clients with some tweaking. (I'm thinking of Dead Rock Seven and Terra Nova, where there are factions or antagonists in play that could just as well act as clients; it's even easier with Tartarus and The Pleasure Bringers, where the actual clients could simply be depicted in a less favourable light.)

    Tweaking the rules a little, one could also say that if the characters, because of their low reputation, roll badly for downtime, they get the option of taking on a contract from a less reputable client sooner - with the probable risk that their reputation will go down even more if they go through with the corrupt mission.
  • I have to think, too, that Laser teams with negative reputations aren't going to get the contracts offered from Ossa One, but will instead be sought out by clients looking to engage the Lasers in a pickup contract of sorts--a contract that doesn't go through Ossa One. A lot of this depends on how specific campaigns see Ossa One. I see it as a filter that weeds out illegitimate clients and illegal requirements. But Ossa One could definitely suggest a low fee contract to a team with a bad reputation--or even some pro bono work in an effort to get the Team's reputation back up to snuff.
  • My players very rarely saw their rep lowered.
  • I ran a short campaign where the players had to pay a mortgage on thier LAZE business and ship in addition to all the upkeep so there was more pressure for bC and more temptation for them to do shady things to make ends meet. It worked to some extent however they were very careful with both PR rolls and Business Affairs and managed to 'buy' their way out of loosing reputation. Of course as their reputaiton rose it was easier for them to do. Next time I run a campaign I will double down on this recipe, making money even more scarse via random events and offering more shady business deals because I think if you don't set out to make it an issue it is too easy for the crew to raise their reputation.
  • edited August 2014
    Oh and I also had players all manage their own money while getting paid from the company coffers. This was to set them against each other and it worked ok, the high upkeep players demanding compensaiton for their contributions and the low upkeep players being miffed that they were spending too much and not paying down Company expenses. It was pretty great. I also did up a little table for lifestyle additions to upkeep so players with large appetites could burn through more cash but still avoid all that mucking about with small cred business.

    I wrote a bit a bout it on my blog if you're interested:
  • One sure fire way to lower their reputation is simply to have it sabotaged by their enemies. Shady contacts may pose as the character's using a similar ship with false registry to use their access to gain advantage or authority in a system and then abuse that authority, the fallout being on the player's team instead of the imposters. Additionally, other acts of abuse by Lazers in their sector could lead to their Reputation going down. If most of the Lazers in their area are scumbags extorting ships for protection or smuggling stolen goods for criminals, then it gives everyone in that area a negative Rep hit for all Lazer crews operating in that area, since the locals "assume the worst" about every freelancer. 

    Just some ideas. 
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