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My character was a Hardholder, and once his position was threatened, managed to survive a coup, then took to the badlands, leaving his holding behind. He became a Gunlugger, wandering the wastes as a bodyguard to the Skinner that left with him. Eventually, they got tired of wandering, settled down, and one thing led to another and now he's a Hardholder again in the new settlement.

My question is, do the advances that he's already taken in his previous holding matter towards his advancement, either in limiting/enabling what he can take, or towards his new holding?

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No, they don't affect your current Hardholder at all, since you left your old life behind. As the rules for switching playbooks (p. 184) requires you to do, you take with you only the parts of your old life that remain relevant for your new life or are intrinsic parts of your self. As a Gunlugger wandering the wastes, you now have no connection to your old hardhold, and have none of those external elements anymore as part of your character's sheet. If they're still hanging around on your character sheet, they shouldn't be, and if they are, the very first rule of character advancement (p. 178) should wipe them out right now (empahsis mine):

The players’ character sheets […] are both prescriptive and descriptive. […] Descriptive too: when the character’s fictional circumstances or capabilities change naturally, within the character’s fictional world, the player can and should change her character sheet to match.

Or to put it another way, you only still have what the fiction says you still have.

So you are now starting (almost) entirely fresh as a new Hardholder, as if you never were before. I say "almost," because the descriptive rule still applies: If there are any elements of your memory or experience that should apply according to you and your MC, then you get those things, just like that. For instance, if you're back in the region and you used to owe protection tribute, your old liege probably expects you to owe it still, even if you're in a brand-new hold. There are very few parts of a Hardholder's hold that can linger like that though.

What you still have carried over from your old Hardholder sheet is only going to be intrinsic parts of yourself ("Her stats, including Hx, her moves, her improvements, all for sure. Many other things too," p. 184) that became part of your new life as a Gunlugger, and which also survived the transition (via the same "intrinsic self" rule) from your life as a Gunlugger to your new life as a fresh, baby-faced Hardholder.

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Certain advances can only be taken a certain number of times. Are those advances then counted as not taken for the purposes of advancement? –  wraith808 May 2 '13 at 20:03
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Ah, I see what you're getting at. No, they don't count—you've got a brand new playbook and can take that stuff all over again. In fact, you can't take the advanced moves (the stuff below the line, like Retire or Change Playbook) until you've got to your 6th improvement in that playbook. Note that some you maybe can't take anymore at all, such as +1cool if you're already at cool+2. You can collect a lot of cruft on a character this way, but since you will usually leave stuff and moves behind when switching books, it shouldn't get out of hand except when it makes sense fictionally. –  SevenSidedDie May 2 '13 at 20:10
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The answer is of course that it depends on the fiction. I would allow any improvements to attributes (i.e. cool, hard etc.) but none relating to the compound or the gang. If your player had sunk several advances into those areas you could allow him/her to take one free advance in building up a gang or a compoind representing the value of experience.

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