Willpower, Norms, and True Selves

Each character starts with a number of boxes in their Willpower track equal to their Resolve + 5. A character’s Willpower represents her determination and her ability to go above and beyond what should be possible to achieve her goals. Each character can spend points of Willpower for a variety of benefits, and regains Willpower through the Norms and their True Self or just naturally over time. A character regains all of their Willpower if they are able to get a full and restful sleep.

Spending Willpower
A character can cross off one of the boxes in their Willpower track, “spending” it. Certain Advantages require a character to spend Willpower in order to activate the ability. In addition, any character can spend a box of Willpower to represent themselves taking extra effort or pulling some unseen force from inside them in order to augment their actions. Spending Willpower in this way adds a +3 bonus to your character’s draw, or +2 to a Resistance trait (Resolve, Stamina, Composure). You may also spend a Willpower for a +2 to your Defense for 1 turn. Characters can spend only one point of Willpower on a specific action or resistance in this way. There is no limit on the amount of different actions or resistances a character can augment though, aside from how many discrete Willpower boxes they have of course.

Low Willpower
Willpower is your character’s driving force, and when they start to run low they suffer the consequences. If they only have 3 Willpower remaining unfilled on their track, they have a -1 penalty to all their draws. For each Willpower they spend from there, they take a further -1 penalty up to a maximum of -3. So, a character with only one or zero Willpower remaining will have a -3 penalty to all their draws until they can center themselves and move forward.

Norms and True Selves

In the world of Ask Again Later, there are certain Norms of the society that exist and surround all of the character. There are seven different Norms, each of them representing a different aspect of life in Oshtigwanegon. Norms overlap and contradict by design, and there are certain Norms that your character might care about more than others. Each character also chooses a True Self, a part of themselves that the rest of the town likely hates. And they may even hate that part of themselves as well. The True Self represents your character as they are forging their own path and breaking the rules placed on them in society. Above all else it shows who your character is as an outsider—who they are when they break society’s Norms.

The main uses for Norms and True Selves, aside from as a roleplaying tools, is to regain Willpower for your character. If a character upholds at least one Norm, they regains 1 Willpower. On the other hand, a character breaking a Norm to show their True Self gains 1 Willpower. And if they show their True Self at great personal cost to themselves, as determined by the Storytellers, they regain 5 Willpower instead. Each character has only 1 True Self, but they can uphold or break any of the seven Norms.

List of Norms

Respectability: Independence, “Character,” Moderation, Temperance

Tradition: Hierarchy, Religion, Established social structures, Knowing your place, Respect for elders

Contentment: Being happy, but happy with the way things are

Manners: Politeness, Modesty, Suspicion

Hard Work:  Physical/Professional Self-Reliance, Efficiency

Stoicism: Humility, not showing problems, Emotional Self-Reliance

Charity: Recognizing evil exists in the world and doing everything you can to stem its tide


List of True Selves

Below is the list of 26 True Selves each character can pick from. Click the link above for detailed descriptions, including a list of some of the Norms they are most likely to oppose.

  • Arrogant
  • Betrayer
  • Child
  • Clown
  • Coward
  • Cruel
  • Cynic
  • Deceiver
  • Dreamer
  • Drifter
  • Easy
  • Fussy
  • Gossip
  • Hedonist
  • Hoodlum
  • Layabout
  • Martyr
  • Misanthrope
  • Monster
  • Narcissist
  • Obsessed
  • Scrooge
  • Tyrant
  • Upstart
  • Violent
  • Weirdo