Focus represents what your character is putting time and effort into, right now. Focus points are automatically given to you on a time-based basis. You can normally keep a maximum of 10 Focus in reserve; once you reach this maximum, you will stop accumulating Focus until you spend some. Focus is meant to be spent, not hoarded. Moreover, since it represents the limit of how much your character can do in a span of time, it doesn't make sense for it to accumulate infinitely.
You'll spend Focus to do a variety of things, including:
- Performing a time-consuming activity. We generally use Focus as a limiter, rather than requiring lengthy real-time delays on such activities. For instance, many Gifts have implicit limitations on how often they can be used, because the gift's special action costs Focus. For instance, drawing a Trump costs 1 Focus.
- Investing in a token. Putting Focus into a token indicates the amount of time and effort and assets that have been put into it. These tokens can be spent for advantages, via a variety of mechanisms.
- Influencing what NPCs are thinking and talking about through the gossip system.
- Making statements in a Storybuilding Contract. You'll spend Focus to alter or counter your opponent's statements, demonstrating your OOC commitment towards particular outcomes.
- Purchasing a Lore. You'll spend Focus to indicate your time investment in establishing this connection or obtaining this knowledge or ability. Lores are the way that all training for Gifts, and stats over 10, are done.
- Opening sections of Packets. To unseal some packets, you'll have to spend Focus, representing time and effort expended towards accomplishing whatever a packet seal's criteria is.
Hint: If you want to get something accomplished, collaborative efforts are more effective than solo efforts, due to the larger number of players who can invest Focus in getting it done. Work with others — involve them in your play.
Focus is a Limiter
You probably won't have enough Focus to do everything that you want to do. This is intentional. The rate at which Focus accumulates is intended to allow you to spend it continuously, but also force you to make choices about how you want to spend it.
One of the key decisions to be made with Focus is whether you'd like to spend Focus for mechanical impact now (i.e., on winning conflicts), for immediate plot buy-in (i.e., on opening seals on packets), and other "gratification right now" kinds of actions, or whether you want to put it towards Lores and future sheet advancement. You can drive heavily towards some theoretical future mighty sheet that you want, but there is a trade-off in missing out on here-and-now action and sacrificing some ability to influence outcomes.
You will probably have the RPG points to purchase higher-tier gifts long before you meet the Lore prerequisites to purchase them. This is also intentional, and is a key part of what rewards longevity on the game.
Tokens are Always Required with Focus-Requiring Gifts
Some gifts, such as ritual magics, require the creation of a Focus-invested token to represent that magic. Whenever a player declares the use of such an ability, unless there's a specific no-token or 0-Focus effect, they must consume an appropriate token, even if there is no conflict at stake.
The reason for this is that such gifts normally represent significant effort, energy, and will. Focus is used not only to denote their power, but also to denote the rarity of the effects. They are not intended to be used as color, unless the gift description specifies the circumstances in which they can be.