The Shadow of Yesterday Keys

If anyone has played or read this game, I have a couple of questions:

  • When you buyoff a Key, the game tells you cannot have the same Key again. What about Keys such as Key of Love? Does it mean the character can never love again someone? I understand the character can “love” someone whenever the player says so, but we’re talking about earning XP with the significant other. Does it mean that character can never have again a meaningful love in his life and earn XP?
  • Does the Key of Fraternity or Love apply to other Player-Characters?

Are there any good alternative forums where I can pose these questions?

Thanks all.


Good questions!

I don’t know of a better place, so I think you’ve come to the right spot. (There’s a lot of discussion going on on Discord these days, but it’s a much less easy way to get such discussions going.)

The Keys definitely can/do apply to other PCs. Why not? That’s great material! The Keys are basically the players’ way to tell you, the GM, what they’re interested in. So if they want a major part of the game to focus on how PC A is in love with PC B, that’s exactly what it’s for!

As for buying a Key you’ve bought off again, I think it’s a bit of a simplification. We want the buyoff to be significant, and to present a permanent change to the characters. A major shift, dramatically, and for it to have weight, it should have major and/or permanent consequences.

As long as that principle is intact, I can see bending this rule to reclaim a Key once more. There will be some stories and some characters where returning to a bought off Key might feel totally right (especially if lots of time has passed, and there have been major consequences), but generally speaking it’s not of interest, so it’s a good base rule.

I would have ZERO problem with taking a Key like the Key of Love or Key of the Mission or Fraternity or Faith (any key which has a specific subject) multiple times, with different subjects. That sounds great, too!

Ultimately, it’s a question of what you consider interesting as a group. If the players treat it like a boardgame, where they are trying to score the most points, the system might still work, but you won’t be getting the most out of it.

The players should think of the Keys as a way to signal what interests them most about the story and their characters, and the GM/Story Guide should be using the Keys to prep their material. Use each Key to offer an interesting choice to one or more characters; it’s a really efficient and powerful prep tool!

If both sides are doing that, your game will rock pretty consistently.

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the clarification. It doesn’t bother me if a PC has a Key that involves another PC, it makes for good drama.
As for the “buyoff problem”, it was something that I couldn’t wrap my head around because, let’s face it, things change and sometimes they go around to where they were. Case in point:

One of my Players has a character who is a Khale woman and she’s already breaking traditions and going against the wishes of her father. If she buys off the Key of the Tribe and she cannot get the same Key again, it means that although she may create a tribe of her own (say, of amazon women), that tribe will never be as important as her native tribe.

In this game, XP is the fuel so if there’s no fuel, the stories fall a bit flat. Sure, she could have a tribe of her own, but, by virtue of not having a Key linked to the fiction, the story won’t “matter” as much, if you know what I mean. Hence, my problem with certain Keys forbidden to be bough again after a buyoff.

Yeah, I see. I think that it’s up to you or the group to decide whether buying the same Key again for a different subject (in this case, a different tribe) would be interesting, or whether it would make her earlier buyoff feel less meaningful.

I don’t think there’s necessarily a “right” answer. I’d generally welcome it - the whole point is for players to tag such importance character growth moments and to show what they want to focus on going forward, so why not?

If you’re really concerned about the rule, of course, you could just write up a new, custom Key for the new development. Instead of Key of the Tribe, it’s now Key of the Founder, right? Just make it different enough to be interesting, and there you go! It could be a good way to highlight some growth or change in the character’s priorities, as well.

It could be the case that, playing with the rules as written, by turning her back to her own tribe she will be turning her back to every other tribe. Or she could join a new tribe but that wouldn’t be as important as the first tribe. I can also see that. There’s no place like home. :smiley:

I’ll keep playing as is just because I’m leery with fiddling with a game before I see what the designer intended by doing a rule like so and so, but thanks Paul.

Well put. That’s exactly the intention of the rule. Nailed it!

Something like, “abandoning her tribe has changed her so much that, should she ever bring herself to be part of one again, it won’t be the same.” A Key buyoff is a permanent change to the character.

That can read as “you just can’t”, but it could also be read as “let’s use a different Key to represent her new and different relationship to another tribe”.

Making an exception to it when it feels right will not harm the game, however, so don’t stress. If everyone finds it interesting and exciting to take the Key again, why not?

Good luck!

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