So, you’ve made important friends, and impressed powerful people. Some have been so grateful for your help that they feel indebted to you, and have rewarded you with a favor. Others have seen promise in your actions, and have declared you an ally.
That’s all well and good, but what does that MEAN to you as a player? If you want to do more with your character than simply show up and play session after session, Favors and Allies are crucial.
Koku certainly has its uses, but the REAL currency in Rokugan is the Favor. In the courts of the Empire, favors are traded like shares on Wall Street, and you are only as interesting as the people you know. By playing the game and talking the talk and earning favors, you become increasingly more useful politically to your Daimyo, and that in turn makes him more useful to HIS lord. It also helps your Faction, which is never bad, no sir!
This is not to say that we are going to allow you to swap favors like children cards. We want you to spend them. “On what?” you ask, and I am glad you did.
Favors can – and in some cases MUST – be used to purchase access to restricted items like advanced schools or Political Appointments. They can also be used to get additional spells for shugenja characters, or even special materials for you crafty types. Ronin can choose to trade the favors they’ve collected for Koku, since food is sometimes more important than, well, anything else. There are all kinds of things that knowing the right people can get you, if you use their influence wisely. To find out how many Favors would be required, it is determined by the GM on a case-by-case basis.
What about Allies?
Each ally you gain in the campaign has a pair of very important stats: Devotion and Influence. Devotion is a measure of how willing an ally is to help you, while Influence is how much that help is actually worth. With GM’s permission, you can ‘spend’ a point of Devotion from an ally to create a Favor that can be used towards anything that requires one. This Favor carries the Influence of the ally with it, which can decrease the favor cost of whatever you are requesting.For Example: You defended the honor of Kaiu Hamunchisu’s daughter against the horrible rumors that plagued her for that whole Winter Court in Scorpion lands, and have earned him as an ally with (2) Devotion, and (1) Influence. A month or so later, you need help getting into the Emerald Champion’s good graces so that you can become a Magistrate. You can reduce Kaiu-sama’s devotion by (1) point, and using him as a recommendation. He’s now 1 Dev/1 Infl. Calling on his influence a second time will reduce his Devotion to 0, but he will still be your ally, and interact with you favorably in any future encounters. If you *REALLY need his help a third time, the campaign may allow you to do so, but Hamunchisu would stop being your ally and you would now have a Minor Obligation to the Crab Clan.
Now let’s say that instead of a low Ranking Crab engineer, you’ve managed to somehow impress Miya Husiwatsu, Imperial Stenographer. This chap is slightly less impressed with you, and only has a Devotion of 1. However, his words carry more weight than any mere Kaiu, so he has an influence of 2. This means that when you call on Miya-samas’ help for a favorable marriage, his kind word in the ear of your future father-in-law counts as though it were 2 favors from different people. Once again, this means that Miya-sama’s Devotion drops to 0, and calling on him again will make you his.. well, pet.
Keep in mind that you can only use Allies in this manner when instructed by the GM. This is also limited to the Allies available at the location – if you want to contact Allies outside, this will require consumption of Time Units.