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A Matter of Conviction

A story-focused mechanic for your Witch Hunter: The Invisible World game.
By Daniel M. Perez

The creation of a good story is at the heart of any game of


Witch Hunter: The Invisible World, and fortunately, the
system already contains a number of bits that help bring
this aspect to the forefront. From the choice of
Backgrounds, Talents and Orders, to (most notably)
Virtues and Vices, these pieces all serve to create a picture
of who the Witch Hunter is beyond the numeric stats on
the character sheet (which serve to define what she can do).
Convictions present a new way to bring sharp focus on the
personal story of each character in order to drive conflicts
that will produce meaningful roleplaying which enhances
the individual and collective narrative.

Witch Hunter is a game where the cadre is supposed to work together to overcome the
supernatural threats preying on humanity, a world about heroes, possessed of “a strong undertone
of morality” (Core Book pg 88). Characters, though flawed, are all fighting on the side of
righteousness, and ultimately (except for those who fall irrevocably) should experience
redemption through their actions. The introduction of Convictions to a game may affect some of
these traits of the game. Some Convictions will bring inter-party conflict as disparate, and
sometimes opposed beliefs and agendas clash in the open. Likewise, some Convictions may test
the characters’ righteousness by putting choices they would normally not think about right in the
spotlight.

Lastly, though Witch Hunters may come from different religious or spiritual backgrounds, part
of the conceit of the game is that they put aside their differences in order to work together
towards the greater goal of overthrowing the Adversary. Convictions may cause this basic conceit
of the game to be put to the test and divergent religions/spiritual paths collide with one another.

The entire group should discuss beforehand the addition of Convictions to their game, and the
possible side-effects their inclusion could have. None of the above caveats are game-breakers in
and of themselves, but they require the group be consciously aware of them in order to know
how to deal with a situation should it arise.

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Convictions
Beyond the mundane barrage of thoughts and
Designer’s Notes: I have been reading and playing a
actions we mindlessly go through every day,
lot of the games to have come out of the “indie” design
everyone believes in something, everyone has an movement, games like Spirit of the Century, Burning
agenda, and everyone has behaviors no one will Wheel and Primetime Adventures. These games share
ever change. There are unshakable truths with a trait: the narrative is given mechanical weight via
which, and for which, we live and die; these are rules that create flags for the GM to know what is
important to the characters and to the players, and
more than beliefs, these are Convictions. rules that drive conflicts in areas where the character
has a personal stake, as defined by the flags. Witch
While most ordinary people may go through Hunter, because it already has a narrative-driven
life consciously aware of maybe one of their driving atmosphere as well as some story-focused mechanical
bits, seemed like a perfect choice to try to bring a more
conditions, Witch Hunters are far from ordinary.
formalized system of player/character flags.
The same keen insight that gives them that extra Convictions is the result of that idea and realization.
edge in the fight against the minions of the
Adversary also allows them to see clear as day what that which makes them tick on a variety of
levels. Much like Virtues and Vices, these Convictions that the Witch Hunter is so well aware of
are hot buttons that can dictate the great moments of victory as well as the darkest moments of
defeat. Throughout their lives, they may even reach milestones of being in which their core
Convictions may experience a change, though whether for the better or for the worse always
remains to be seen. After all, rare is the belief that is inherently and thoroughly good or evil.

Choosing a Conviction
Convictions are, ideally, short, powerful sentences, though short phrases or catch phrases are also
possible. When choosing a statement to be a conviction, be bold and decisive; remember these
are axioms by which you live. While some vagueness can be fine, no one is willing to die for
something in which they do not believe 100%. The more specific you are in choosing your
Conviction, the better the picture it paints about who the character is, that which motivates her,
and is important, nay vital, to her.

Well-chosen Convictions serve as flags to the Grand Master about what is important to this
character’s story, what elements you as the player want to tackle, what kind of conflicts you are
seeking to meet head-on.

Number of Convictions
Witch Hunter already has a number of flags embedded into its core system (backgrounds,
Virtues and Vices, etc.) and the addition of extra pieces of information may make it daunting for
the Grand Master to keep track of it all. The group must first decide how many Convictions
each character may have. It can be as little as one Conviction or as many as four, chosen from the
types described below. It is suggested that when Convictions are first added to a game, each
character have only one and all of the same type, allowing the new mechanic to be added in
slowly so its effects can be measured and considered. As the story evolves and both GM and

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players get used to the mechanic, further Convictions could be added at appropriate moments in
the story.

Types of Convictions
There are four types of Convictions that a Witch Hunter player character could possess:
Conviction of Spirit, Conviction of Thought, Conviction of Speech, and Conviction of Action.
Following are the definitions of the types of Convictions, as well as examples of each.

Spirit
Convictions of Spirit deal with the Witch Hunter’s relationship and connection to that which is
greater than herself, be it the belief in the Lord, Allah, the Great Spirit, Mother Nature, or
perhaps something more vague, as the nature of Good and Evil. All Witch Hunters have a
connection to something greater, and this Conviction defines a very essential way in how they
connect, understand and relate to that greater being/concept.
Example: The Pope must be obeyed at all times.
All [Insert Religious Group Here] are dead wrong in their belief.
Nothing is free, not even redemption.

Thought
Convictions of Thought deal with the way the Witch Hunter thinks and perceives either the
world or himself. Convictions of Thought do not always lead to Action, but they always colors
it; as such, this Convictions tend to reflect something very inherent to the personality of the
character, whether a perceived strength or flaw. This type of Conviction may be constructed
using “I think” as an opener, though it is not necessary.
Example: I think I am worthless.
All Englishmen are ignorant asses.
I have a lot to make up for.

Speech
Convictions of Speech deal with the way the Witch Hunter speaks, whether it is her mannerism,
or what she actually says. In many ways, this Conviction defines how a character relates to others
around her, at least in a non-physical manner, and while it can be influenced by the Convictions
of Thought and Spirit, it isn’t ruled by it.
Example: I always speak the truth; always.
I never initiate a conversation.
People often respond to what they are told rather than what is suggested to them.

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Action
Convictions of Action deal with the way the Witch Hunter always behaves in a specific situation.
This Conviction is an action that is always assumed of the character, as it is something so
integral to who she is that it is never in doubt that she does this. Convictions of Action are never
vague; they always express clearly and unequivocally what the character does in a specified
situation. Ideally, Convictions of Action are tempered by Thought and Spirit, and preceded by
Speech, but then again, this isn’t an ideal world.
Example: When threatened, I always draw my weapon.
Shoot first, ask questions later.
When I see an injustice, I seek to correct it immediately.

Using Convictions
Convictions are used to drive the storyline towards what is important to the players and the
characters. Before the game starts, a Witch Hunter cadre’s Convictions should paint a very
specific picture to the Grand Master of who these people are, what is important to them, and the
themes they want to hit during game play. At this point they are only what are known as flags,
big neon arrows saying “This is where I want you to hit me, GM, because this is where I want
my awesome roleplay to come from.”

During the active game, Convictions are used by the GM to compel the players towards
conflict-rich scenes where they can exercise their roleplaying muscles, and invoked by the players
as a source of bonuses in ways similar to Hero Points whenever they apply to the story at the
moment.

Compels
A GM may compel a character’s Convictions the same way they can compel a Vice. Whenever
there is a situation at hand that could become complicated yet enriched from a storytelling
standpoint by a player character acting according to their Convictions, the GM may offer that
player a Hero Point in exchange for their character following the story-appropriate-yet-
potentially-complicated path (This is especially true of Convictions of Action).
Following a compel on a Conviction does not automatically gain the character a point of
Damnation, as is the case when following a Vice, though it is a possibility depending on the
actions taken by the player once the Conviction has been followed. A character may not benefit
by gaining two Hero Points when following a compel on a Conviction and their Vice, should
they both apply to the same situation. Only one Conviction may be compelled per character per
scene. A player character may actively decide not to give in to the compel on a Conviction by
paying a Hero Point.

Example: Adam has the Conviction of Action, “When I see an injustice, I seek to correct it
immediately.” While at the market, he overhears a merchant trying to swindle a customer who does not
understand Dutch too well. Adam should lay low because the militia is looking for him, but this injustice
does not sit right with him. The GM compels Adam’s Conviction and offers a Hero Point for Adam to go

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and do something about this cheating merchant, even if means possibly facing the militia. Adam’s player
could pay a Hero Point and move along, or take the Hero Point offered and roleplay the conflict at hand.
If Adam had the Hot-Headed Vice, the GM could not compel that for a second Hero Point on the
same scene, though Adam would be fine to draw on that trait to inform his actions during this conflict. If
the GM had instead compelled Adam’s Hot-Headed Vice, had Adam accepted he would have also gained
a Damnation point, though depending on what happens in the scene with the cheating merchant, should
Adam lose his temper and do something too rash, he could be gain a Damnation point anyway due to his
actions.

Invocations
In many ways, invoking a Conviction is almost like a self-compel the player does on his
character, choosing to act in a way that is true to the character yet can potentially put him, the
cadre or even innocents at risk, all for the sake of enhancing the story. During a scene or a
conflict, a player may invoke a Conviction relevant to the story at hand, and gain one of the
following bonuses:
1. Gain a bonus die to one roll. The bonus die is added to the pool before all dice are rolled,
and it only applies to a single action. This bonus die may raise the dice pool beyond 10, if
applicable, and may be combined with a bonus die provided by a Hero Point.
2. Negate the effects of injury. All penalties suffered due to injury are negated for the next
action.
3. Remain conscious. After a failed roll to remain conscious, the character simply stays
conscious by sheer force of will.

When invoking a Conviction, the player must state which Conviction they are invoking and how
it relates to the scene at hand. The GM must deem the connection between the Conviction and
the scene a valid one for the character to gain the bonus. A player may invoke a Conviction and
spend a Hero Point for the same action. Only a single Conviction may be invoked per action,
though any number of Convictions may be invoked per scene or conflict as long as they are
relevant.

Example: Fortinbras has the Conviction of Speech, “I always speak the truth; always.” After a back-
alley altercation with some cultists, the city watch appears. Seeing five dead people on the floor and four
brandishing weapons wet with fresh blood, they arrest Fortinbras and his fellow Witch Hunters. The
time comes for the cadre to be interrogated and each of the other three Witch Hunters remains silent
about the fight, not wanting to reveal their mission to hunt down a cell of demon worshipers in the area.
When it comes to Fortinbras, his player decides that he wants to make a Charm roll to convince the
magister of the truth of his words, perhaps even gaining an ally to aid their mission. Invoking his
Conviction of Speech, Fortinbras tells the magister the truth about the fight and their mission, gaining a
bonus die towards his Charm roll. For good measure, Fortinbras’ player decides to also spend a Hero
Point to gain a second bonus die. If the skill check is successful, the Witch Hunters may indeed gain an
ally in the magister; if the roll fails, Fortinbras’ wild account of demon worshipers, gruesome sacrifices
and people imbued by the Lord with the power to hunt the minions of the Adversary by divine decree is
sure to make life a lot more interesting for the entire cadre.

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Conclusion
Convictions are a quick and easy-to-integrate way to enhance the storytelling aspect in your
Witch Hunter game by bringing the character’s quirks and personal conflicts to the forefront. As
suggested in the core book when discussing Virtues and Vices, a GM should be careful that the
use of Convictions does not end up highlighting one character at the detriment of another.
Ideally, Convictions will help a group cycle through scenes of interest to each of the members
that target what a player truly wants to explore with their character all the while helping to create
a more engaging and personal storyline for the entire group.
Give this new mechanic a try and let us know how it worked out.

Witch Hunter: The Invisible World, and all related names and terms, are © Paradigm Concepts, Inc and are used without permission. Their use
does not constitute a challenge to the rights held by PCI.
Find out more about Witch Hunter at http://www.paradigmconcepts.com/witch_hunter.