Possibly the worlds simplist Fate magic system?

I think there has been possibly more discussion about magic systems in Fate than anything else so i’m not going to go into a massive study of it or detailed system creation in this post, an internet search will reveal no shortage of inspiration for people in that regard.
So why the post then?

Well, inspired by the “Avatar: the Last Airbender” fate game that my wife ran recently, the excellent “Spirit of Steam & Sorcery” web expansion by Tom Miskey (available here – http://evilhat.wikidot.com/sos-s) plus some other games i’ve played in recently I decided (as an exercise) to see if I could come up with a very simple magic system that would be ready to use and could be used with either Fate Core or Fate Accelerated.
So here it is…

In order to use magic the character must devote one of his Aspects to it mentioning that they are both a spellcaster along with one word that defines their magic style.

Examples: wizard of fire, druid of the earth, sorceror of death.

It also allows them to justify certain actions within the game fiction because of their powers.
For example:
  • The wizard of fire could justify an attack by shooting a fireball from his hands.
  • The druid of the earth could justify adding bonuses to perception by sensing vibrations through the earth.
  • The sorceror of death could add the bonus to recruit a minion, representing them summoning a spirit.
Spellcasters must then also spend 1 refresh on the stunt Spellcaster.

The Spellcaster stunt allows the player character to add a +2 bonus to their dice rolls (in addition to any other bonuses from Stunts/invoking Aspects, etc) whenever using sorcery (that can be described appropriately according to their style) in order to accomplish a task.

    Anything else…?

    This system doesn’t posit the addition of a magic skill (in Fate Core) it assumes that the players will use the appropriate Skill/Approach and that their effort is re-inforced by magic; however a magic skill would be easy enough to add if desired.
    Edit: Christopher Ruthenbeck on G+ was kind enough to point out some errors in the initial post and these have now been amended, he also had issues with the spellcaster Stunt being too powerful given that it allows a +2 bonus for a larger range of actions that is normally permitted. I can see his point, a large part of this system is based on the “Avatar: the Last Airbender” style game we ran where pretty much everyone had some form of magical power so it wasn’t an issue.

    That can said I can see a couple of easy solutions:

    1. Restrict the actions that the spellcasting stunt can perform or split it into a number of Stunts with narrower purviews.
    2. Increase the refresh cost of the Spellcaster Stunt.
    Edit: Paul KieĂźhauer has revealed a far simpler system for magic in Fate that you can look at here – https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/100662698267895582168/112230078537377625576/posts/WkXBEgMcMnA

    Preparing a Player Handout for a Wild Blue one-off

    I was flattered to be ask by theSwamper (of the Youtube RPG brigade) to run a one-off session of fate for himself and Captain Gothnog, theSwamper is going to be running a game of Fate Core next month and is looking to get more of a handle on the rules and so asked if i’d be interested in running a one-off game for himself and Gothnog over the week or so; having watched a number of Youtube videos by both of the gentlemen in question, and having wanted to expand my GM-ing experience beyond my usual circle of players for quite some time (not that there’s anything wrong with my usual players, but it’s a good thing to test yourself and grow as a GM) I was, of course, extremely interested.
    What sort of Fate game should I run?

    This was the first question I asked myself, the only criteria that theSwamper had given me was that it had to be a one-off, it had to use the Fate Core rules (since this was the version of the game that they would be playing) and they would prefer it to be more action-orientated rather than any sort of political thriller or deep investigative scenario. Normally I have to admit that Fate Accelerated would be my choice for a one-off game since I personally find it easier to pick up, however Fate Core is a fine version of the system and one I also use regularly for my Rogue Trader game so I am familiar with both  iterations of the Fate system (since they’re effectively just slightly different builds of the same system anyway).
    This left me with the choice of what setting to run the game in, since it was a one-off crossing multiple time-zones and (as always) anticipating a number of technical hitches and startup problems with the internet/google+ hangouts I didn’t think that going through the setting generation section would be the best use of our time. Flipping through the Fate Worlds books my eyes turned to the Wild Blue setting by Brian Engard, a firefly-esque wild west setting on an alien world where human colonists had driven out the magical Folk who had previously been the indigenous people but then found that they had started to manifest strange powers with each generation; the Queen of the humans created the Wardens, people with powers designed to police other people with powers.
    For those interested you can find my video review of Wild Blue and the first Fate Worlds book here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTQIqUvYd6Q

    Wild Blue works for me on a number of levels, it includes elements of magic and a freeform system for powers that I really like and that isn’t unduly complex, the technology level is also (with a few exceptions) that of the mythic wild west, and thus is easy to grasp for players since everyone has seen at least one western movie, plus it has the Sky Rail, and the image of a steam powered trail on floating rails very much appeals to me.
    The Great Sky-Train Robbery
    In a previous post (available here) I hashed out the bare-bones of a scenario where the players would be attempting to rescue a Sky Rail train (and the citizens on it) from a group of hi-jackers, skimming through this scenario I thought that (with some tweaks) it would make an excellent scenario to run for theSwamper and Captain Gothnog since it should be fairly action packed and should showcase a lot of the Fate rules which, after all, is one of the points of running the game. TheSwamper has been generous enough to say that they do not mind me filming the session to put up on my Red Dice Diaries Youtube Channel when we gen characters and run it next Saturday (14/12/13); obviously this is an introductory game and one designed for the purpose of learning/discussing the rules so there may be more rules chatter than would be normal for a game, i’m really looking forward to running it though and seeing what the guys make of my scenario 🙂
    To give them a flavour of what sort of setting Wild Blue is, I created a small player handout for them to look at (also to give them a chance to ask any questions before the game), the handout is available here:

    Have I been getting it all wrong? (Supernaturals in the Fate system)

    A lot has been made of the fact that Fate is great when you first visualise an end result and then set about creating something using the rules to match your initial vision, rather than jumping straight into the rules and attempting to build something from the ground up, and rightly so, one of the strengths of the system is that the rules set is extremely versatile even without the various hacks and add-ons that are available either for free or online at a low cost.
    Previously when i’ve thought about supernaturals (and in this case i’m talking specifically about supernaturals as player characters rather than as monsters or NPCs which is an entirely different subject) i’ve most often looked at an existing game (in my case generally the World of Darkness series since they’re some of the games i’m most familiar with) and how Fate could be adapted or “hacked” to create a facsimile of the game in question; however there have recently been a spate of posts on the various Fate G+ communities where people have attempting to create versions of their favourite comic/fiction characters (and others) using the basic Fate rules. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how close a lot of these attempts have come to matching their inspiration, and all mostly using the rules as presented in either the Fate Accelerated or Fate Core rulebooks. I ran a one-off game of ‘Mummy: the Curse’ recently since i’ve been dying to test it out and love the concept behind it (my review of Mummy can be found here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrPzZ9ClGyc), now i’ve been away from the World of Darkness rules-set for quite some time, aside from a brief read-through of the updated rules booklet that formed part of the ‘God Machine Chronicles’, since i’ve been moving towards less crunchy and more narrative based systems; whilst the game was very enjoyable and we all had a good time (the background of the game being one of the best i’ve read in a WoD game for a long time) I found going back to the nWoD rules extremely strange and wasn’t completely sold on them.
    This isn’t a post to knock crunchier games, because I think that different systems suit different people and it really bugs me when people damn a system just because it happens to not be ideal for them, simply to say that my thoughts upon running the game were (as they so often are when games have a great background but a rules system that doesn’t suit my style of gaming) “there’s some great stuff in this book but I don’t suit the rules, what system can I use to keep the background but make it more suitable for my style of play?” I’m sure it will be no surprise to any who knows me or reads my posts/watches my videos that Fate Core and Fate Accelerated are my go-to systems when this sort of question comes up; previously I would probably have dived straight into the system and started working out how I could hack it to make a workable version of the ‘Mummy: the Curse’ rules, and i’ve done this previously to produce some workable hacks (my WH40K hack and my (still not completed) Fate of Cthulhu hack amongst them). Recently though i’ve been playing in a Dresden Files game run by a friend of mine and, although we’ve only played a single actual session (the first being taken up by setting/character generation and discussion), one of the things that has really impressed me is how a list of Stunts and Aspect suggestions can be used to construct virtually any type of supernatural within the DFRPG universe, this, together with the recent G+ posts has got me thinking that perhaps i’m taking the wrong approach when it comes to playable supernaturals in Fate.
    For example, here is an example of a vampire “package” that I threw together in about 30 seconds (using Fate Accelerated rules and some ideas from the Fate Toolkit):
    Aspect: Must have one aspect that included the word vampire
    Stunts:
    – (must have, +1 refresh) Blood-addicted: Gives the character an additional hunger stress track of 3 boxes; at the end of any scene where the vampire has used its power it is ‘attacked’ with a strength equal to the refresh cost of the power used, stress inflicted by this is added first to the hunger stress track.
    – (optional, -2 refresh) Vampiric strength: The character gets +4 when Forcefully attacking.
    – (optional, -2 refresh) Vampiric speed: The character gets +2 when Quickly overcoming obstacles that involve movement, the character automatically goes first in combats unless there are other combatants with vampiric speed.
    The blood-addicted Stunt is based heavily on the DFRPG games use of a hunger stress track to track vampiric hunger, and the combined package would costs 3 refresh to purchase (the standard starting amount for a Fate Accelerated character); obviously there is a lot more work that could be done and i’ve not really covered feeding or standard vampiric weaknessed (sunlight, etc) at all in the rules above, but still it’s a workable framework that could be played, created in relatively little time without a vast amount of rules hacking being required.
    Looking at the Fate system in this light it has lead me to wonder whether or not, for my next game featuring supernatural protagonists, it might be an idea to present either a list of Stunts (or some amended Stunt rubrics) to my players and have them create the supernatural characters that they want rather than worrying overly much about whether the rules particularly mirror those present in some other existing game?
    For example:
    One of the main themes of the game “Mummy: the Curse” is that the Arisen start off very powerful but with little memory or context within which to use that power, as time progresses their magical energy (Sekhem) drains away (bringing them ever closer to a return to their death-like sleep) their memory improves, paradoxically, as they gain the memories that might allow them to use their powers more wisely, those very powers ebb away.
    I might create such a creature in Fate Accelerated like this.
    Aspects: 
    – High Concept: Must have mention the word ‘arisen’
    – Trouble: Must mention the word ‘memory’
    – Must have one Aspect that mentions the purpose for which they have arisen.
    I’m not sure at the moment how i’d handle something like the gradual decrease of power, but i’m pretty sure that, given enough though, the Fate system could handle it; if anyone out there has any suggestions please feel free to add them in the comments section.
    Near the start of the year I ran a God Machine Chronicle using the Fate Accelerated rules and that seemed to work really well, although the player characters were only mortals in that game, the GMC game was a tester for when the “Demon: the Descent” game is released (probably in 2014); I think that when this is released, rather than attempt to mirror the rules i’m going to create some demonic powers/Stunts that are thematically similar to the ones listed in the book and then just lift the background from it. I’m also really looking forward to the Dresden Accelerated that is going to released in 2014 (further details here – http://www.evilhat.com/home/fate-core-dresden-files-accelerated/), but until that comes out there’s a lot of potential ideas for supernatural powers as Stunts in the existing DFRPG that can be tapped and the Fate Toolkit offers a lot of advice on making different types of Stunts.

    Keeping Track of Aspects for our Serpents Fall Game

    I’m always looking for ways to improve our online Serpents Fall game (and indeed any game that I run), it occurred to me recently that part of the reason that players might not be as on the ball with Self-compels and using Aspects may be (in part or in full) due to them being unaware of the Aspects that are actually available for them to use.

    It’s my intention, starting from next session to have a document (probably in the same Google Drive where the character sheets are stored) that lists all of the player Aspects and also any scene/NPC Aspects that the player characters are aware of available so that they can simply flick to the document in order to see what Aspects are available for use.

    At the moment the document will look something like this:

    * * *

    Aspects Available

    SCENE ASPECTS

    NPC ASPECTS

    CHARACTER ASPECTS

    • Ozuchi Komodo
      • Last of the Komodo Tribe
      • Those Stygian Shaman will stop at nothing
      • Medicine man
      • Easily assimilates local culture
      • Stygian
      • One day I will return to Stygia and unite my people as the prophecy foretold

    • Horesh Komani
      • Initiate sorceror death-priest
      • Uncomfortable with living energies
      • Destined for sorcerous greatness
      • Skilled with ceremonial obsidian death knives
      • Khemrian
      • It is my destiny to become the most powerful death-priest in Khemria

    • Gunnar Kron
      • Raiding party warrior
      • Murderous reputation
      • Experience raider
      • Warriors instincts
      • Norsican
      • I will redeem my past
    • Captain Benito
      • Cursed pirate captain
      • Cursed to never again sail the seas
      • Lemurian Heritage
      • Stick to the code
      • Member of the Scarlet Brotherhood
      • One day I will take back my rightful place as the Pirate King

    * * *

    It is also my intent to discuss with the players re-wording their Aspects slightly to make them into phrases that could more comfortably form part of a normal sentence, some of them already fulfil this criteria but I think there’s room to make them a little bit more descriptive now that we’re all a little more comfortable with how Aspects work.

    VIDEO RESPONSE – GM ROLE IN RPGS

    Video response to sameoldji’s question about the role of the GM in RPGs.

    Self-Compels in Fate

    After finishing running the third session of our swords & sorcery Fate Accelerated campaign Serpents Fall last night using Google+ hangouts (video link here) I was having a little feedback chat with the players, which is something I like to do (if possible) at the end of every session (and I encourage my players to message me if they think of additional feedback or constructive criticism) since I believe that only by soliciting feedback from your players and others can your game grow and be fine-tuned into the optimum gaming experience for both GM and players. It occurred to me during this chat that there was one aspect of Fate Accelerated that the players hadn’t used a great deal during our three sessions thus far, and that was the use of Self-compels.

    What are Self-compels?

    For those who are not aware the following is what Fate Accelerated has to say about Compels:
    If you’re in a situation where having or being around a certain aspect means your character’s life is more dramatic or complicated, anyone can compel the aspect. You can even compel it on yourself—that’s called a self-compel.
    Basically, if one of your Aspects affects your characters decision making/results in an event occurring that make your character’s life more complicated then the person who has suggested the complication (the Compel) offers you a fate point for accepting the additional RP arising from the complications.
    If a players makes a suggestion for a complication arising from their own Aspects and the GM agrees then, although not explicitly stated in the Fate Accelerated rulebook, I have always assumed that the GM would be the one to award them with a fate point (since giving yourself a fate point out of your own pool makes no sense); this is something I have been using a great deal already in the first session of a Dresden Files RPG game run by a friend of mine (using a pre-cursor to the Fate Core system).
    For example: In the DFRPG session I play a person who has been infected by a red-court vampire but has not killed by blood drinking yet and so he has not fully turned, he has the ability to call on some vampiric powers at the risk of his hunger overwhelming him. My character “Lucky” is an ex-gangster on the run from his family (most of which have now been converted into vampires), he began the game standing on the docks waiting for a boat laden with drugs to come in.
    Since one of the other players was playing a law enforcement officer I compelled one of my own Aspects to say that, because i’d been keeping my head down, there’s things out there my character had been forced not to use the normal channels to recruit his hirelings and had ended up with sub-par criminals, one of whom had (unknowingly) tipped off the police and they were about to turn up and bust the operation. This gained me a fate point and bought me into proximity of another player character; Lucky was able to hide himself in the shadows as the police detained and bought in the boat, at this point I made another Self-compel to say that because my character would not stand to see innocent’s suffer that perhaps as the police boat bumped into the dock one of the policemen would fall overboard and bang his head.
    The GM accepted this Self-compel and my character was forced to reveal himself, diving into the water to save the unconscious policeman (after all the guy was just doing his job). This small scene got me two fate points and was made far more personal (IMO) due to my use of Self-compels.
    However, I have noticed (and mentioned to my players in our feedback session) that Self-compels aren’t particularly used a lot in our Serpents Fall game; now this may be because it is only our third session and some of the players are still very much getting used to the rules, but Self-compels are one of the great things about Fate Core and Fate Accelerated as far as I am concerned so I plan to think about ways to encourage my players to consider Self-compels.
    Why are Self-compels so great?

    Well for a number of reasons, but personally, I enjoy them because they give a degree of narrative control over to the players; rather than just having the GM hand you down the details of a scene, if you have suggested it as a Compel then you gain the ability to negotiate the details of the complicating scene or decision with the GM, it also personalises whatever occurs and you know that it is plot based specifically around your character
    Self-compels also let your GM know what sort of stories and complications you’re looking for when it comes to your character, and most GMs are more than happy to oblige by providing additional scenes tailored to your character since they want everyone to enjoy the game, they are also useful for moving a session along when perhaps the pre-planned plot has stalled or you’ve reached a natural pause.

    Plus it also gains you a fate point allowing your character to really shine when it counts 🙂