Rules Updates v1.6: BGS and Focus

Hi Everyone,

BGS! This has been a big ongoing conversation for us, since we have a LOT of BGS (roughly 450 this last Winter) and we want to keep them fun and accessible for you, as well as manageable for us. In that vein, we’re implementing some updates to the system.


Focus is a super open ended BGS tool, and can cover a variety of actions. This makes it really useful, but also complicated. We’re implementing some new rules about what Focus actions can include, as well as clarifying how it interacts with Travel.

Most notable changes:

  • You may use Focus as up to 6cp of any non-true Header or Profession skill, or for 2 points of PI
  • Your Focus will be evaluated as representing about 6cp worth of skills
  • You should assume that the action of “traveling to another island” consumes the entirety of your Focus (assuming you’re using Focus and not a different mechanic for travel)
  • If you want to travel and perform actions like gathering info, setting up deals, etc (not just “hanging out”), you’ll need to use other BGS skills in addition to your Focus
  • If staff has told you to spend a Focus on advancing a plot between games, your focus will cover whatever actions are needed for that

Full list of Focus changes and Clarifications is in the rulebook and at the very bottom of this post.

Focus and Collaboration

We are removing the requirement that you use a Focus to hand off an item (component, part, etc) to another player that you forgot to exchange in game. We assume that if you really, really wanted to preserve your Focus, you could just drive to their house or mail them the physical item, so we’re dropping the Focus requirement for this.

We’re going to be consistent from now on about requiring the use of a Focus to collaborate on a BGS with other people in a single BGS cycle. This includes multiple people using PI in a single campaign, or multiple Engineers working on the same schematic.

Other Focus Notes

By specifying what number of CP you can use your Focus to substitute for, we’re trying to clarify what level of effect you should anticipate from your Focus. Generally, Focus will not provide a mod or a large effect unless combined with many points of other skills.

Capping BGS Submissions Per Skill

We’re making a change to how many submissions you can make for certain BGS types.

For any BGS for which you can choose a topic to investigate (e.g. Research, Political Influence, Experimentation, etc.), you may split your uses of the skill into no more than 3 topics in a single BGS cycle. This is a slight reduction from the current cap of 5 uses, which should affect very very few of you. If you have skills affected by this and wish to rebuild as a result of these changes, please reach out to staff ( by April 7th to let us know.

This is explicitly NOT intended to discourage you from doing things like submitting a summary BGS to explain your complicated interlocking set of coordinated BGS across players. Please still do that, it does not count as a use of a skill, it’s just a note to staff.

Folks who do Stock research: all research on stocks is considered part of one question/BGS.

If you have questions, or are uncertain if your skills will be affected by this change, please feel free to reach out.


Charlotte, on behalf of Staff

Full updated Focus text-

As a BGS, you may describe productive actions you take between events. Focus represents some activity to which you dedicate a significant amount of time. It can be very flexible, but exactly what you can accomplish (and how much) is still determined by staff. Focus can substitute for other BGS skills, accomplish some unique things, or augment your other BGS submissions.

Here are some specific things you can do with Focus:

Substitute for 6cp of one non-true rulebook skill: You may use Focus as up to 6cp of any non-true Header or Profession skill. In fact, anything you do in Focus will be evaluated as approximately 6cp of effort.

Substitute for 2 Points of Political Influence: You may use Focus as Political Influence, even if you are not a Socialite.

Chaining BGS: Normally, all your BGS are assumed to resolve simultaneously. However, if you want to do several things in sequence, you can chain your BGS with Focus. For example, you could use Experimentation to figure out the components needed for a new invention, and Merchant to line up a purchase for some of them. Without using Focus, you could perform those tasks, in order, over multiple events. With Focus, you can do it all in one BGS cycle. When chaining BGS, include a description of the chain in your Focus.

Collaborating on BGS with Multiple People: You can collaborate on BGS with other people, as long as one of you uses Focus to coordinate your efforts. For example, multiple Socialites can use their Political Influence in service of the same goal, or multiple researchers can work on developing a new schematic together.

Chaining BGS with Multiple People: You can chain sequential BGS with other people, as long as one of you uses Focus to coordinate your efforts. For example:

  • A Socialite could use their Influence Points to find out about a meeting between two of their rivals at a restaurant, a second Socialite could use their Influence Points to gossip with the waiter and find out what happened, and a Scholar could use their Research to research anything interesting that came up.

  • Multiple Engineers can make parts for the same artificial limb, one of them can assemble the limb, and the recipient of the limb can Calibrate it, all in the same BGS cycle.

Maintenance or Construction of Public Works: You may work to construct or maintain public works in town. Talk to the Town Council to find out how you can contribute!

Receive a Lesson: If you miss out on a Header or Profession lesson during the event, or can’t find anyone to teach you the lesson you want to learn, you may spend your Focus to receive a lesson.

Respond to a Newspaper Ad: Check the Newspaper for opportunities to earn a few ducats! You can use Focus to respond.

Do something that Staff told you to use Focus to do: An NPC or mechanic in game may give you specific things that you can do with your Focus in the next BGS cycle. For example, you might have an opportunity to go sailing with pirates, or take a research trip to Tojima with your academic mentor.

Travel: You may use Focus to travel off-island. Travel times over the aether are long, and the home islands of Kithira are far away. If you want to travel back home (or to somewhere similarly distant) to use other BGS skills, you will need to use Focus to do so.

The above list is not exhaustive, but is intended to give you some specific things to do with Focus, and an idea of what you may be able to accomplish. Feel free to be creative!


Three clarifications…

  1. If I already have 10 ranks in gardening, does the extra 6cp worth of professions skills get me 2 more ranks of gardening, because it’s base cost is 3cp per rank, or does it get me 1 rank, because my 11th rank of gardening would have cost me 4cp to buy?

  2. Can I use this 6cp-worth of focus on professions I have not purchased? Can I, as someone who has only purchased gardener as a profession, focus to keep two bees? Or suddenly become a laborer temporarily?

  3. Similarly can I access non-true header skills I don’t have? A) If I have the header, but not the skill such as a scholar who knows ONLY research focusing to perform some experimentation. or B) if I DON’T have the header, such as the same scholar hoping to make some Apothecary vials.

I think I know the sensible answers to most of these, but wanted to primarily ask Question #1, and just make sure about #2 & #3.

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  1. You would get 2 ranks (yes, this is a weird efficiency of swapping focus for skill points in some situations, but it’s more consistent and makes our lives easier)
  2. Yes
  3. Also yes
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