RPG Bugbears – Drama!

A not entirely serious bugbear video featuring some musings about drama in the RPG community.

https://youtu.be/xzL-qXKxya0

Fate magic – Aspect based magic

One of the questions that I see pop up more than any in discussions about
Fate is people asking how to implement magic using the system; there are
a number of suggestions and possibilities (I offered one such suggestion in my previous possibly the worlds simplest Fate magic system post); recently I downloaded copies of the 1st and 2nd edition of the Fate RPG out of curiosity to see how the system had evolved, and one thing in particular caught my eye in the first edtion, it was a system for improvisational magic.
Effectively the system allowed you to make a series of choices on a number of tables defining the effects of your spell, this would then give you the difficulty of the roll that you needed to make.
I like the flexibility of this magic but didn’t think it would really work that well with the current iteration of Fate, it occurred to me that perhaps magic could be represented by allowing the spellcaster to create aspects; aspects are used to establish facts within Fate, if you have an aspect saying “fastest gunslinger in the west” then the you are in the fastest gunslinger in the west.
Being able to Cast a Spell
In order to cast any sort of spell the character must have an appropriate
aspect that explains either their magical training or innate talent, this aspect can also be invoked/compelled as normal.
Creating a Spell
Spells are used to create aspects, in order to do this the character has to make a roll using an appropriate response or skill (whether this is a magic skill or an existing skill  is down to you, although Lore would probably be suitable from the Fate Core list).
Each use of magic costs a fate point.
The difficulty of the roll begins at mediocre (+0) and is modified by the choices that the caster makes from the following table.
The scope of the aspect is…
  • Boost (gives the caster a temporary aspect that can be invoked free once and then disappears) +0 
  • Situation aspect (lasts only for a scene) +2
  • Consequence (inflicting harm on a target) +2 (mild consequence) +4 (moderate consequence) +6 (severe consequence) +0 (if the target is a mook) +2 (if the target is a significant NPC) +4 (if the target is a PC)
  • Character aspect +4 (permanent but only applies to one PC or NPC) +0 (if the target is a mook) +2 (if the target is a significant NPC) +4 (if the target is a PC)
  • Game aspect (a permanent fixture of the campaign world) +8
Additional modifers
  • Target of the spell is the caster only -2
  • Spell takes a single action to cast +2
  • Spell takes a scene to cast +0
  • Spell takes a session to cast -2
  • Spell takes several sessions to cast -4
  • Spell requires no components +2
  • Spell requires easy to obtain components +0
  • Spell requires difficult to obtain components -2
  • Spell requires extremely difficult to obtain/unique components -4
This system is only a rough system, and may require some tweaking but it should be workable in a Fate game, although I would suggest having even game aspects having only a limited life-span to prevent your game being overrun by loads of aspects.

 

Combining Tianxia martial art styles with Jadepunk

Tianxia Blood, Silk and Jade is a martial arts action game produced using the Fate Core system from Evil Hat Publishing, I bought a PDF of it recently when it was mentioned by Lloyd Collins (JarlDM) in a Google Hangout; as with most wuxia related Fate purchases my first thought in buying the game was ‘How can I use this in my currently running Jadepunk game?”

If you’re interested in the Jadepunk game you can find videos of all the sessions here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMlEyLAkrE__EfHHAfYIIekLdh4qwJxOK and my review of the system here: https://youtu.be/aMiWg_zTlfg

Unfortunately we were down a player in our last session (due to RL circumstances beyond control) and I didn’t want to continue the main plot with a character missing so I decided to run a flashback, asking the players what element of the setting they’d potentially like to find more about; it was suggested that, since in the present day of the setting we’re approaching the time when the Four Winds martial arts tournament is being held, that perhaps a flashback to a previous tournament might be interesting.
Since we were doing a tournament where a number of bouts would take place, but I didn’t want them to drag on, I decided first of all to use the excellent Jadepunk duelling system which allows quick one-on-one combats to be held using a slightly tweaked version of the contest system in Fate Core, but I really wanted the different martial arts styles and techniques to stand out from each other. While virtually flipping through the PDF of Tianxia I discovered the section on martial arts.
Essentially in Tianxia each character creates a martial arts style by pairing an element with a body substyle so you might have Forest Monkey, Stone Dragon or Lightning Tiger for example; each of these substyles offers a description of how the style looks and gives three Stunts for each of them (so 6 in total for a complete style) as well as a final secret technique that a practitionner can only master once they have all of the other Stunts in their technique.
This is a nice simple way of creating difference between martial arts techniques so I used in the game system and it worked quite well, although I had to make a few tweaks on the fly to get it to work (especially since they weren’t designed to work within the contest framework of Jadepunk’s duelling system).
Below are some suggestions for using Tianxia’s system in Jadepunk, and also notes on using them in a duel:
Element Substyles
 

Forest: A technique where the martial artist adapts to their surrounding and uses it to their advantage.

    • Forest Hides the Beast: A tie in a melee based defence action grants no boost to your attacker.
    • Forest Opens its Paths: If you use explorer to overcome and obstacle with style, you may turn the obstacle into an advantage with a free invocation instead of taking a boost.
    • Leaves Like Razors: When invoking a situation aspect of environment based advantage in a melee attack count as having +2 harmful if the attack is successful (or you gain +2 shifts to your degree of success if in a duel).

Ghost: This style relies on focusing internal energies and flowing effortlessly from attack to defence.

    • Exalted Ghost Body: Gains +2 protective when not attacking that combat turn; in a duel if you use the +2 protective from this technique then you only gain 1 victory and may not succeed with style.
    • Ghost Haunts the Shadow: Gains a +2 on scoundrel rolls to create an advantage based on moving silently or remaining unseen.
    • Ghost Strikes the Spirit: Ignores 1 point of protection when making a melee attack, and adds an additional +1 shift of harmful to a successful attack against a foe who has less martial arts based stunts than you.

Iron: Practitioners of this style make themselves hard and unyielding, taking and resisting enemy blows.

Iron Cleaves the Stone: Ignore 2 points of protection when making an attack to inflict physical stress.

Flesh Breaks on Iron: When you defend against a melee attack with style, you may inflict a 2 shift hit on your opponent instead of taking a boost. In a duel, if you defend with style then your opponent takes a 2 shift hit, in addition to any victories they offset using stress/consequences.

Iron Body, Iron Mind: +2 bonus to create advantages related to resisting or coping with pain, intimidation or fear.

Lightning: Cultivating both speed and power to overcome your enemy.

  • Lightning cross the sky: When you succeed with style on a melee attack you may move 1 zone in addition to gaining a boost, if someone tries to stop this movement you gain a +2 to overcome.
  • Lightning splits the tree: When you succeed with style on a melee attack you may remove an invocation on an existing advantage affecting you, instead of taking a boost.
  • Lightning strikes without pause: You gain a +2 bonus when determining intiative.

Stone: Deliberate and uncompromising action focusing on making the most of the artists natural abilities.

  • Mountain does not fall: You gain a +2 bonus to defend against attempts to create an advantage based on unbalacing, pushing, tripping or knocking over the defender. If an opponents technique allows them to automatically create such an advantage with free invocations then they gain one less free invocation.
  • Stone resists the blow: You gain 2 protection against any physical attack you are aware of.
  • If you defend with style you may remove your first stress box or convert another stress box to 1 lower rather than taking a boost.

Storm: Fluid and unpredictable, masters of the storm styles move quickly between attack and defence to keep their opponents off guard.

    • Storm shakes the foundation: When creating an advantage you may trade free invocations to remove free invocations from another character’s advantage.
    • Storm rumbles in distance: Make a Fighter or Explorer roll with a +2 bonus to create an advantage based on controlling or redirecting momentum.
    • Storm flows around mountain: If a target uses a full defence in combat against you, gain +2 bonus to your next attack against them (whether their defence succeeds or not).

 

 
Body Substyles
 

Crane: Using fluid movement, misdirection and swift movement to overcome their foes.

    • Crane hides in reeds: Add +2 protection when using full defence to defend yourself in combat.
    • Crane sleeps standing: +2 bonus when overcoming physical obstacles by on physical obstruction or poor footing.
    • Crane stuns the carp: If you succeed on a melee attack with style, you may create a stunned advantage on the target with a free invocation instead of taking a boost.

Dragon: Dragon styles focus on a balance of speed and power, borrowing strikes from other techniques; practitioners develop a hissing breathing technique.

    • Dragon rules the fields: When you succeed with style on an attack, gain a boost with a +3 bonus instead of the usual +2.
    • Dragon rules the heavens: Use Fighter instead of Explorer for rolls involving entering zones or preventing others from doing so. If both Fighter and Explorer skills are equal, or Explorer is higher, then gain a +2 bonus instead.
    • Dragon sleeps in the mist: When you succeed with style on a defence you may reduce the the result by 1 to gain +2 protection rating against the next attack in the scene that strikes you, in addition to the normal boost. In a duel you may reduce the number of victories gained by 1 in order to gain +2 on your roll in the next round.

Monkey: A collection of unconventional acrobatic styles.

    • Monkey grabs the peach: Add +2 harmful to an attack where you invoke a consequence that the defender has.
    • Monkey dances in moonlight: When succeeding on a defence with style, you may create a distracting movements advantage with a free invocation instead of the normal boost.
    • Monkey rolls away: When invoking an aspect or advantage during a defence roll, gain +2 protection rating against the attack if it succeeds.

Pheonix: Focus on balance, agility and re-directing the force of an opponents attack.

    • Pheonix beats its wings: If you defend with style you may gain an off balance advantage with a free invocation instead of a boost.
    • Pheonix calls to the heavens: Once per session you may reduce physical stress taken by 2 shifts. If this technique is used in a dual then you may nullify up to two victories scored in a round without actually taking a moderate or severe consequence.
    • Pheonix laughs at the sun: If you succeed at an overcome roll using Explorer or Fighter with style, you may create a situation aspect with a free invocation instead of taking the normal boost.

Serpent: Masters of the serpent style are known for being fast, efficient and ruthless.

    • Serpent bites the hand: If you gain shifts on defence you can sacrifice your action next turn to immediately inflict an attack on your opponent using the shift value of your defense as the attack result.
    • Serpent strikes first: Gains a +2 bonus when initiative is determined.
    • Serpent strikes twice: +2 bonus to rolls to create advantages based on disorientation, distraction or unbalancing against opponents that you have already inflicted stress on in this combat.

Tiger: Tiger styles are about power, ferocity and inflicting maximum damage to your opponent.

    • Tiger moves with purpose: Move at least 1 zone and make an Explorer attack or make an Explorer attack on a target that has just moved into your zone, add +2 shifts to any damage you inflict with this attack.
    • Tiger rends the flesh: When you tie on a roll using Fighter for defense you can inflict a +2 point shift physical attack instead of taking a boost.
    • Tiger rules the jungle: You gain +2 bonus to overcome aspects and advantages based on provocation or psychological manipulation.
This list in no-where near exhaustive, there are additional techniques listed in Tianxia including the mastery level techniques and secret/lost martial arts styles, I highly recommend you give it a look if you’re after some additional ideas for a high action martial arts RPG; the rules are (with a little tweaking) compatible with Fate Core/Accelerated games and I would expect most other games using the rules system as a base.

Skyless City – Session 10 (Flashback) – The Clockwork Parade

We flashback to events before the start of the campaign in our 10th session revealing events surrounding the previous years Tournament of the 4 Winds and also revealing some revelations about our cast of heroes:

https://youtu.be/8u1Nidiob0E

Jadepunk ready made stat blocks

For those of you who may not be aware, i’m a massive fan of the Fate system by Evil Hat Productions in particular Fate Accelerated Edition is the build of the game that is my go to game when wanting to run a quick one-shot or even just a game that players can jump into quickly and enjoy getting caught up in playing the characters they envision rather than getting snarled up in overly complex character creations processes and hundreds of pages of complex rules.
Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE for short) using six Approaches to define the stats of characters (instead of Skills as with Fate Core), choosing to define character less by what they know and what they do but more by how they do it, these Approaches are:
  • Careful
  • Clever
  • Flashy
  • Forceful
  • Quick
  • Sneaky

(If you want to know more about Fate Accelerated you can find details on the excellent SRD site here: http://fate-srd.com/fate-accelerated-fae-menu)

One of the things I love about FAE is that right at the start it gives you six example spreads of Approaches to create six archetypal characters:

  • The Brute:
    Forceful +3, Careful and Flashy +2, Sneaky and Quick +1, Clever +0
  • The All-Star:
    Quick +3, Forceful and Flashy +2, Clever and Careful +1, Sneaky +0
  • The Trickster:
    Clever +3, Sneaky and Flashy +2, Forceful and Quick +1, Careful +0
  • The Guardian:
    Careful +3, Forceful and Clever +2, Sneaky and Quick +1, Flashy +0
  • The Thief:
    Sneaky +3, Careful and Quick +2, Clever and Flashy +1, Forceful +0
  • The Swashbuckler:
    Flashy +3, Quick and Clever +2, Forceful and Sneaky +1, Careful +0

These samples spreads are a great time saving device if you are playing a quick pick up game or you just want to jump straight in, you pick the type of character you want to play, bang on some Aspects and Stunts and you’re good to go.

So you might be wondering why i’m banging on about Fate Accelerated when the title of the post mentions Jadepunk; well recently i’ve been running a Jadepunk game using Google Hangouts for a small group (you can see the actual plays here if you’re interested: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMlEyLAkrE__EfHHAfYIIekLdh4qwJxOK) and it seems to be going quite well, we’re on our ninth session. For those of you who aren’t aware Jadepunk is a game by Re-Roll Productions that uses a slightly tweaked of the Fate rules to tell exciting stories that blend elements of Wuxia, the wild west and steampunk fantasy into a very compelling and exciting setting full of potential for great storytelling; Jadepunk uses a number of Professions rather than Approaches or Skills to define characters:

  • Aristocrat
  • Engineer
  • Explore
  • Fighter
  • Scholar
  • Scoundrel

However there’s one thing that isn’t in Jadepunk that i’d have liked to have seen, yep you guessed it, the example stats spreads that are found in Fate Accelerated Edition; you could argue that they’re not really necessary and (truth be told) I don’t think the game suffers massively from their absence, however they are a handy thing to have access to so i’ve come up with six archetypal character Profession spreads for you to use in your Jadepunk game:

  • The Honourable Warrior/Samurai:
    Aristocrat +2, Engineer +0, Explorer +1, Fighter +3, Scholar +2, Scoundrel +1
  • The Jadetech Engineer:
    Aristocrat +1, Engineer +3, Explorer +2, Fighter +0, Scholar +2, Scoundrel +1
  • The Idle Noble:
    Aristocrat +3, Engineer +0, Explorer +1, Fighter +1, Scholar +2, Scoundrel +2
  • The Sage:
    Aristocrat +2, Engineer +1, Explorer +2, Fighter +0, Scholar +3, Scoundrel +1
  • The Thief/Shadowy Assassin:
    Aristocrat +0, Engineer +1, Explorer +2, Fighter +2, Scholar +1, Scoundrel +3
  • The Pioneer/Explorer:
    Aristocrat +0, Engineer +1, Explorer +3, Fighter +2, Scholar +2, Scoundrel +1