We're pre-announcing an upcoming change in the token system that won't take effect until after the forthcoming Black Road scenes (which Zak expects will take place in the latter part of this week of Oct 8th). We're not going to invalidate any existing tokens; this will just change the token rules in the future. We're more than willing to let people rewrite their sheets, if necessary — don't hesitate to ask when the time comes.
In brief, the ability to write generic, Focus-invested tokens is going away. In the future, if you want to be able to cash in a token for a bonus, you'll need a gift that lets you do so.
Pattern (PAT-WA) will get a boost — using it, you will be able to write Focus-invested tokens with up to 6 points, representing your personal shadowfound resources. (Shadowfinding ventures will still exist for group shadowfinding and repeat investment.) There won't be any change in its gift cost. What's shadowfound is still limited to basically mundane resources (troops and so forth).
More significantly, though, we're introducing resource gifts. Resource gifts represent, well, resources — organizations, noble Houses, shadows, and whatnot. Each resource gift will be associated with a prop (and a prop charter). You'll buy a resource gift, and use it to write Focus-invested tokens, representing drawing upon its resources. There's a catch, though — all tokens written using a resource gift are publicly visible to anyone with the appropriate lore.
The costs for resource gifts are tentatively as follows: A personally-owned business, minor House, personal access to more significant prop, etc. will be 5 points and allow 3-Focus tokens. Personal access to the resources of a major House or of a Golden Circle shadow will be 10 points and allow up to 6-Focus tokens. Personal control of a major prop (limited to House Lords/Ladies and GC rulers) will be 15 points and allow up to 9-Focus tokens. (We haven't yet decided what we're going to do with non-shadowfinding ventures, but they'll probably require all contributors to have a resource gift or shadowfinding.)
Why are we doing this?
There are four key reasons for doing this. They include:
1. What you can and can't do with the current generic Focus-invested tokens is overly confusing. What exactly constitutes "mundane" is vague to a lot of people, and what is the territory of somebody else's protected and paid-for cool is unknowable. Gifts that are explicit about what you can and can't claim a bonus-token for are a simpler, clearer, fairer way to do this.
2. Having a resource currently has no real payoff. Anyone can claim just about anything mundane. This inadequately protects the cool of individuals or props that should have an exceptional amount of resources available them. With all resources chartered, it's clear who has what, what the protected bits of cool are, and the general range of what can be claimed. (This, in turn, hopefully creates clearer IC dependencies, and therefore more opportunities for play.)
3. There is currently inadequate protection of the cool of shadowfinding (specifically Pattern). Right now, because anyone can essentially claim to simply materialize resources from wherever their character is connected, there's no real point to getting something with shadowfinding. Granted, whether I sit in Amber and claim I train a brigade of locals for a +6 bonus, or I go out into shadow and find something cool for a +6 bonus, is an important color difference. We want to encourage going for the color, and we want to emphasize why it is that the royal family is important despite the potency of everyone around them.
4. Putting things out on the table, publicly, encourages conflict over those things. One of our key design goals was to try to lessen some of the OOC animosity that often creeps into IC conflict, and to generally increase the amount of conflict in the game, by encourage conflict over stuff rather than purely personal-level conflict. In order for this to be possible, people have to know what stuff is out there. If you write a resource token, you are declaring its story importance — and because it's part of the resource, its existent can be discovered by those who pay attention to that resource (i.e., have a relevant Lore). And now other people can decide if they want to interfere with it.
Yes, we're sorry for the mechanics change, but we've also said from the beginning that if we felt something didn't work, we would fix it. We recognize that mechanics stability is important to a lot of people, but at this early stage, fixing something that sucks is vastly more important. We may make changes to the above, too, as we continue to think about it in the next few days, hear people's feedback, and whatnot.
Talk to Helix if you have thoughts on the matter.