Influence is not a commodity. A person holding a L9 influence can use it on any NPC, but not on any Player. If this piece of influence can get a NPC Brigadier to appoint a Brigade Major without fail, why can a PC Brigader not be swayed with the influcence?
Let us consider the background. In this case the Major who wishes the position has gained a level 9 influence (likely from the King). In the case of the NPC, the Major spends the influence, and the Brigader grants him the position. Why?
We must assume that influence is a favour owed to someone. So the Major in reality asks the King (by the influence) to talk to the Brigader. The next time the Brigadier in in the presence of the King (perhaps being summoned there - normally Brigadiers don't spend too much time at court), the King says to the Brigadier "I'd appreciate it if you would appoint the Major to the Brigade Major position". The Brigadier not wanting to go against the King's suggestion, then appoints the Major.
This was not a command (seperate rule change subject see Commands), so presumably the King is now appreciative of the Brigadier doing this task for him, or perhaps the Brigadier had some sort of plan of his own. So when the King asked, perhaps the Brigadier would say "I've been interested in a Minister w/o portfolio position", (being a 7+ with only a +2 for L9 this is not a certain appointment) so the King could reply, "I can suggest that to the Minister". Thus the L9 influence of the Major is effectively transferred to the Brigader.
So why can a player not take advantage of this? They can indirectly in the current rules. If the Brigadier is a player, and the Major another player, but the Minister in this case is a NPC. The Major asks the Brigadier for the posiiton, offering the L9 influence, which the Brigadier asks the Major to apply to the Minister on his behalf, and in doing so he will grant the Bridage Major position to the Major. This only works if the Minister is a NPC, and the Brigadier has something immediate to apply the influence to. The influence for the Major does not expire, so why does the Brigadier need to use it immediately. Now the problem is just removed one step, if the Minister is a player, then the Brigadier needs to Broker an exchange for something that the Minister wants immediately.
The last complication is that, to continue the example, if the Major used the minimum influence, a level 4, then there is likely no way that the Brigadier could make use of that, as they need L5,6 and 7 influences in positions that they are interested in. So unless the Brigader had an extra 4 or 5 influnce lying around to combine with the Major's then his L4 is worthless.
One solution is to make Influence a commodity, and thus transferrable. This transfer can be for a limited valid time (like appointments) or reduced a level (as it is second hand). This solution allows the Brigadier to collect a number of lower level influences used on himself, and then aggregate them to use at a time of his convience.
The main outstanding problem is that influence is not guaranteed, it is a modifier to a die roll made by an NPC, if the PC takes the influence, but doesn't act to the benefit of the other player, then they will consider it unfair, unlike a NPC, where they know it is a die roll. (This issue also comes up in the bartering example above, where the influence is transferred to the minister, but the Brigadier doesn't follow through). The answer to this problem is if the Player does not want to make a decision, i.e. they have no strong opinion on the appointment, then to let the system (GM) decide the appointment based on actual die rolls with the appropriate influence included, all of which is then transferred to the Brigadier in the example.
Another example is negative influence. If in the example above the Brigader did not make the appointment at the request of the King (forgetting that it is automatic, or in some sytems a 1 always fails) then perhaps the King is now displeased with the Brigadier and will now act to block the next influence that he attempts.
Any house rule will need to consider the following:
- Is the influence transferred at the same level? (Same or lower)
- Does the influence have the same expiry as the current one? (Stays the same, always temporary, always permament).
- Does the person get the influence if they act against the request (yes or no)
- Can the GM be used to determine the outcome
- Is there any social stigma (e.g. sp loss, negative influence) for not following the outcome.
Another system is to provide a system of Boons which can be granted by anyone for anything. These can then be combined with influence, or redeemed to the giver (calling in favours) in the future for some compensation.