Starting characters with one or more of the Virtuees mention (e.g. Social Contacts) is rules to have 12 points worth of agents from the Agent Recruitment List. Which must all have a Bond of +1 or better.
How to do this?
Do you rate the agents as per their Resistance? Is that where the 12 points are spent?
And what about the Bonds, how much does that 'cost'?
The Agent rules in LOM list the cost of each Agent in the sidebar (don't have book for page number). Basically, you pay for the following things:
Exceptional Skills (3 or 4+ in rank)
Access/Control of Others
In the sidebar, you should find a cost for each of the categories. You add up the points and that's the cost.
As an example, without citing the specific rules/costs... my Agent is the bastard son of a nobleman.
2pts, Bond (Wealth) +2 (I pay him well and he thinks I'm his ticket)
1pt Influence (nobleman father)(weak influence but it's there)
2pts Band of Merry Men (he leads a band of mercenaries)
3pt Single Weapon 5, Intrigue 5, Guile 4
Otherwise, he's a normal character with the regular amount of skills. You only pay for the exceptional skills and particular Virtues.
You must have a different printing then I do, because mine doesn't have Bond anywhere in the sidebar table. Furthermore, the table looks to me like it is for calculating the difficulty for recruiting an Agent in play and it isn't entirely clear to me that it is directly related to buying them with points at character creation.
I think the information on buying them at a Character Creation is elswhere in the text. Individuals who start with Social Contacts and Temporal Influence get a certain amount of points and I think the cost of 'buying' them was the same as the recruitment value. Of course, I had LoM in my car yesterday and took it out last night... I think you paid for the level of the Bond only when purchasing them from CharGen. Otherwise, the Bond was maintained/decreased/increased by story and player actions.
This is what I find in the text under Aquiring Agents, Lords of Men, page 23
The rest of section details how to acquire Agents during play. The table, to my mind, is a little unclear because it talks about calaculating the agents "Resistance" on which is based the number of Agency Experience points needed to acquire them in play. Note however, Resistance isn't the flat cost of recruitment. Rather "A character's reistance is reduced 1 by in exchange for a number of Agency experience points equal to their current resistance. So a character with a Resistance of 3 would cost 6 points to purchase... which makes sense now that I do the math, it's just the "Art cost" for that level... but is less then clear to me in the text. Another relevent quote: "A new agent has a Bond score of 0." So, nothing here about getting agents with a higher Bond score.
Guidelines for increasing the Bond score are found a page further on, under "Maintaining Agents." Here the text describes using Agency experience points to buy an increased Bond score at the same rate as raising an Ability.
So, if I assume that at character creation certain virtues listed above grant Agency experience points, I can now puzzle out that an Agent with a Resistance 3 and a Bond +1 would cost 11 points... 6 for weakening their resistance and 5 for the Bond.
OK, in the course of typing this post, I have finally figured out how buying Agents at character creation is done.
(I've said it before and I will say it again now, Lords of Men has some great content but it is very poorly organized.)
Ok, this is my current understanding of how we would do this..
A knight at the local barons court. He has a minor social status virtue (knight) for Resistance 1. There really isn't any need for any other modifiers. So, 1 Agency point will buy off his Resistance. Now, he needs a positive Bond score, so we buy him Bond +1, which costs 5 points, for a total of 6 Agency points for your knight.
A city apothecary knowing lots of gossip on the city politics and people. He has a minor social status virtue (clerk) for a base Resistance 1. His extensive knowlege of gossip could be represented by the virtue Gossip, which increased his Resistance by 1. So, his total Resistance is 2, which will cost us 3 points to buy off. He need a Bond +1, which costs 5 points. So his total cost is 8 points.
Obviously, we can't afford to have both for a starting character with only 12 Agency points... unless we give the apothecary an inconvient flaw... let's say Dependent. This would reduce the apothecary's Resistance by 1 (Clerk 1, +1 Gossip, -1 Dependent) for a total Resistance of 1, reducing his total cost to 6.
Now we can have our knight and our apothecary... though our apothecary will come to us asking for help when his Dependent gets into trouble.
Well, if you want a starting agent with greater influence or ability, you just need to stack some flaws onto him... like Xavi's apothecary. You could have a Landed Noble (3) who is Wealthy (+3), has Many Underlings (+3) and Extraordinary Skill (+1) but who happens to be a Lycanthrope (-3) and your influence over him is based on the fact that you are holding his son hostage (-6)... total Resistance 1 (1 pt) and Bond +1 (5 points) for a total of 6 points.
Edit: Now that I think I've figured this out, it's kinda fun. I hope I actually have this right.
(Some SG's would cringe at anything that encourages "more" threads to a storyline. The Personality and Story Flaws of magi and Companions are usually already more than a SG can really weave together without adding more from NPC's. Either they get marginalized (or ignored entirely), or the main plotline(s) and RP time yield some of their focus to the considerations that they raise. Lose/lose.)
I wasn't looking at it from a Story perspective but it helped SG's create motivations and personalities for the Agents. Also, if someone wants to build a Bond then it would allow the SG to start with a decent list of ideas. I don't think Agents, unless they're super-impressive, should be dictating stories to magi/characters.
I tend to agree. I don't see them as so much dictating stories as adding an additional spice to the story... let's take Xavi's apothecary with a dependent.
Let's suppose a magus is investigating an infernal cult in the town in order to stop their diabolic ritual. He uses the apothecary to get information about that cult. The cult then kidnaps the apothecary's young daughter for said diabolic ritual. The magus was already going to try to stop the ritual. The fact that his agents daughter is now in peril just add drama to the storyline... and could thematically justify increasing the agent's Bond score, representing his gratitude to the magus.
Which, when weighed against adding additional player character spice to the story - is not as attractive.
And so the NPC's dependent takes the spotlight instead of some PC's dependent, or another of their Story Flaws.
If I had a character with some Flaws, I'd rather the story spin off of one of those than some NPC's Flaws. If Xavi's mage had some Flaws, the drama should spin off those, or another mage or Companion present in the scene, rather than some faceless agent* of that character.
(* And if that agent is not faceless, if they are to become an important NPC - then, again - why are we telling stories about an NPC rather than a PC?)
As a SG, if I ever run out of Player-Character hooks, I can add my own spice just fine. (But I can't remember that ever happening...)
Well, I am honored to have a personal apothecary. I will call him Lucius the apothecary, then
I pasted the storyline stuff in the other thread.
Where do you get the costs? I cannot find them in pages 22-25 of the LOM book. There is the resistance based on V&F et al, but the bond thing is nowhere that I can see, and the discount of flaws is not around either. I guess I am blind there, but some "build an agent for dummies" would be greatly appreciated.
The spice added is something I feel helps create more drama. Of course the story is about the PCs, but the NPS help flesh out the extras in the story rather than just faceless "some shopkeeper" who has his daughter kidnapped by said diabolists and nobody gives a fig. It gives the PC with the agents more incentive to go into the story. Let's say he is huntign diabolists because of a Story- or personality Flaw. As he is closing in the enemies up the ante. He is forced to take more risks and make hard decisons. If he wins he should eb granted bonus Confidence. And in any case some of this Personality Traits may change to represent personal growth (or degeneration). The Story exp granted also results in some Agency Points he can use to futher the realtionship, or alternatively start adding some 'faceless guy' to his network giving rise to even more fleshed out extras in the setting.
I don't see any problems with this but YMMV.
Prior to this we tended to have quote isolated sagas and we're now working on a new project where we characterize more NPCs and organizations and use them to inertact with
PS the "Build agents for dummies" was what I was lookign for when posting this thread.
Calculating the character's Resistance is based on the inset Agent Recruitment Table on page 23. This includes the discount for flaws (under Modifiers in the middle of the table). The way to calculate the actual cost for buying an agent based on his Resistance is found in the text, the frist full paragraph in column 3 on page 24. The way calculate the cost of the agents Bond score is found in the text, second paragraph of the Maintaining Agents section on page 25.
To sum it up easily...
Resistance 1 = 1 agency pt
Resistance 2 = 3 agenct pts
Resistance 3 = 6 agency pts
Resistance 4 = 10 agency pts
Bond +1 = 5 agenct pts
Bond +2 = 15 agency pts
Bond +3 = 30 agency pts
Like I said, this could seriously have been laid out more clearly. I've had Lords of Men since it first came out and it's only just yesterday when I was posting lengthy response to this tread which was originally intended to say none of this was in the rules that I actually found these critical sections and finally understood how this works.