Skyless City: Session 15 – March of the Iron Giants

Our heroes embark on a mission to secure one of the Governors new suits of armour, but can they survive the return of an old ally or will they fall into shadow?

D&D/Pathfinder style FATE hack – Races and Skills

Following on from my last blog post about a D&D style hack for the FAE system (http://wh40krpg.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/d-style-fate-hack-could-classes-be-used.html) where I pondered the idea of using class style descriptors as Approaches for a D&D-esque FAE game this post addresses my thoughts on character races (although species would be a more accurate term) and skills in the game.
This post builds on the idea that the six Approaches would be something along the lines of:
  1. Warrior – rolled for attacking or defending from attack using physical means, taking care of armour, working out battle-tactics, recognising ambushes and initiative order in combat.
  2. Rogue – sleight of hand, stealing things, breaking and entering, deception and also shmoozing and general social actions.
  3. Spellcaster – casting spells (obviously), working out what spells other people were casting, crafting magic items, examining magic items, feats of prestigitation, etc.
  4. Priest – interacting with church/holy order members, researching/recalling information about gods and their followers, making blessings, etc.
  5. Ranger – covers wilderness survival and skills.

Race

The term ‘race’ in D&D tends to actually refer to a different species (ie. orcs, dwarves, elves) all that generally seem not to share a common ancestry, but never-the-less the term race has been widely used in RPGs since the early days. In this hack I would make the characters race a specific Aspect that can be invoked or compelled under specific circumstances.
Some examples using the most common D&D races are listed below:
  • Dwarves – hardy and skill craftsmen with a very traditional outlook.
    • May be invoked when: Calling upon the wisdom of ancient traditions, craft rolls related to stone or metal work, fighting with a hammer, finding your way underground, perception rolls in darkness, appraising gems, stone or metal work.
    • May be compelled when: New innovations or technology are at odds with traditions, faced by their ancient greenskin enemies, when the distrust between dwarves and elves bubbles to the surface, when a dwarves appreciation for precious stones may turn into greed.
  • Elves – graceful and beautiful creatures at peace with the natural world and with magic singing in their blood.
    • May be invoked when: Using magic, moving unseen or finding sustenance/tracking in the wilderness, social interactions with people awed by the elves beauty, using a bow, perception rolls in dimly lit conditions.
    • May be compelled when: Vanity causes them to dismiss the opinions and thoughts of ‘lesser’ races, when the distrust between elves and dwarves threatens to bubble to the surface.
  • Orcs – strong and stubborn creatures raised in a brutal martial tradition.
    • May be invoked when: Assessing the strength/value of armour and weapons, facing down another in a one-on-one combat, perception tests in the dark, tests of raw strength.
    • May be compelled when: An orcs bloodlust overcomes their reason, they are shunned by ‘civilised’ races.
  • Halflings – Clever and capable opportunists with a mischievous streak.
    • May be invoked when: Small size allows them to slip from an opponents grasps, looking harmless allows them to evade notice, tests of manual dexterity.
    • May be compelled when: A halfling cannot resist the urge to cause mischief, a halflings small stature and lower strength causes them problems.
At the moment I would having the following Aspects on the D&D-style hack character sheet.

  • High Concept
  • Trouble
  • Race
  • +additional general Aspects
I think the beauty of having the race as an Aspect (and one of my favourite parts of the FAE/FATE system) is that it is tremendously simple (requiring no real modification of stats), uses the existing mechanics of the game and all the players and GM have to remember is what compels and invokes can be used against racial Aspects; the Aspect Race also encourages the constant using and flowing of FATE points that is at the heart of the system.
Skills

This is something I hashed out in my Cthulhu-FAE hack, instead of bringing in a big list of appropriate skills (which is essentially trying to turn FAE into FATE core, something i’m keen to avoid since I love FAE’s simplicity) skill groups can be represented by suggesting Stunts that provide bonuses in applicable situations.
Looking at the AD&D 2nd edition Weapon and Non-weapon Proficiency model, a few suggestions are made below:
Weapon proficiencies
  • Master of the [insert name of weapon]: The player receives a +2 bonus to rolls made using the [weapon] (for example: A ‘Master of the Sword’ attacking with a short sword would gain the +2).
  • Shield Mastery: The player receives a +2 to their defence rolls when using a shield.
Non-weapon proficiencies
  • Escape Artist: +2 when escaping bonds.
  • Herbalist: +2 to rolls to analyse/use herbs.
  • Professional Lock-pick: +2 to pick locks.

As you can see i’ve not yet put up any rules concerning weapons or armour, my current thought is to leave them nebulous so that they don’t needlessly complicate the system; anyone may have appropriate equipment but only gain a benefit if they have an appropriate Stunt or Aspect.
Likewise with Non-weapon Proficiency Stunts, pretty much any skill from D&D3.5 could be turned into a Stunt just by it granting a +2 in the appropriate field of study or endeavour.

Writing out my NPC details – Part III – Breakdown of Details

As talked about in my previous posts (here and here) i’ve recently been attempted to create personalised and filable index cards to store the NPC details for my FATE powered Rogue Trader game; one of the things that I gave a lot of thought to (and discussed with several people on Google+) was what these index cards should include.
Here is an example (please click on the picture for the full size version):
Picture/graphic

It was very important for me to include a picture or some sort of representative graphic on each of the cards; i’m a firm believer of the adage that “a picture paints a thousand words” and, even if I wasn’t just showing the picture to the players, a graphic would help me get a sense of the NPC and maintain consistency in my descriptions of the NPCs without having to resort to lengthy text descriptions on the card.
Pictures were fairly easy to come across with a little time on Google image search and various Warhammer 40K sites across the net.

NPC name

Obviously important and, since it would be how I would be filing the NPC cards (in name order) I decided to make the name big and bold across the centre of the index card so that as I flicked through them I would be able to find the NPC I wanted with a minimum of fuss.

Aspects

A great piece of advice that I got off Robert Hanz on the FATE core G+ community was to include as much of the character history and description as I could within the Aspects, saving duplicated effort and also creating more interesting Aspects in the process.
In the example card, Rha-Haz has the following Aspects:
  • Praise the Omnissiah! – Reflects Rha-haz’ position as a senior and very devout member of the Machine Cult, could be invoked to provide a bonus to his technical knowledge or the religious fervor with which the Mechanicus view technology.
  • The incautious pursuit of forbidden knowledge would lead to mankind’s downfall – Shows that Rha-Haz is a staunch traditionalist who takes a dim view of experimenting and dabbling with new technologies, he is very much aware of the dangers that such tech could pose to mankind as a species and deems that the risks outweigh the potential benefits.
  • Pak has a great future within the Mechanicus – Rha-Haz recruited Enginseer Pak (one of the PCs) into the Machine Cult and sees great potential within the Enginseer, adopting the role of a father figure/mentor for him.


Stress and Consequences

The standard stress and consequence trackers used in my game, modified by skills, minor characters will only have one or two stress boxes and no consequence trackers; this follows the gamesmaster advice regarding the relative story importance of NPCs as provided by the FATE core rulebook.

Skills

Standard skills used in the game rated from Average (+1) up to Superb (+5); NPCs that were allies or neutral would have roughly similar skill levels to the player characters whereas those intended to provide a long-term threat would be rated slightly higher so that the characters could grow over the course of the campaign to challenge & eventually defeat these foes.

Extras/Stunts

This section of the card was used to include Stunts or any additional information that might be useful for the portrayal of the NPC during the running of the game; in order to portray the NPC of Rha-Haz as an older version of Enginseer Prime Pak (his student) I gave the NPC the same mech-arm and servo-skull Stunts possessed by Pak.
Also, when Rha-Haz had been described previously, he had always been flanked by a number of bio-mechanical servitors who aided him with his tasks; using the mob rules out of the FATE core rulebook I gave the two servitors the following stats:
Aspect – Tech servants.
Skills – Craft (tech use)(+2), Fighting (+1).
1 stress box each (2 total)
Teamwork – +1 to craft/fighting rolls when both working together.

Writing out my NPC details – Part II

Following discussion with Robert Hanz about the differences between Aspects and descriptions when it comes to creating NPC descriptions I decided to have a go at knocking up some customised NPC index cards.

A few of the NPC cards are shown below.

Writing out my NPC details

Having read suggestions on NPC contacts as rewards and note organisation on Rick Stumps blog (http://harbingergames.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/when-is-treasure-not-treasure-npcs-as.html) I decided that it was about time to write up my NPC notes on index cards and file them properly.

How would I note them down?

I decided to adopt the Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) method of writing down NPCs to keep it simple and ensure that the information fit onto the index cards; I would write down a few Aspects and Stunts for each NPC and then give them a number of areas that they were good at (receiving +2 on these rolls) and a number of areas that they were poor at (receiving -2 on these rolls). This method was relatively quick and could always be expanded later if necessary.

Warhammer 40K game: Rogue Trade
The House of Black

Name: Black, Darius
Description: Cousin to Fortunus Black, one of his eyes appears to move independently of the other.
Aspects/stunts: Noble, roving eye.
Good (+2) at: 
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Black, Dominique Decusis
Description: Wife of Fortunus Black, twin to Corith Decusis. Has traditionally shaven head and dislikes the uncouth York Benetec. Marriage arranged by brother, loyal to husband.
Aspects/stunts: Noble, haughty, beautiful.
Good (+2) at: Shmoozing, social functions, commanding.
Bad (-2) at: Keeping temper in check.

Name: Black, Gillam
Description: Uncle to Fortunus Black.
Aspects/stunts: Noble, nervous tic.
Good (+2) at: 
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Black, Macharius
Description: Patriarch of the Black family, appears in his early 50s due to (quasi-legal) life extension treatments, although they have resulted in him having grey hair and yellow eyes.
Aspects/stunts: Noble, longevity treatments, cyber implants.
Good (+2) at: 
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Black, Polaris
Description: Captain of the Lunatic Pandor is a dourly loyal figure who served as Fortunus’ 1st office after Fortunus found him languishing in a bar and helped him clean up. He was promoted to Captain when Fortunus took command of the Venerus.
Aspects/stunts: Noble, ex-alcoholic, fiercely loyal.
Good (+2) at: Command
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Black, Tristan
Description: Cousin to Fortunus Black, exposure to warp following a Gellar field failure resulted in the young mans hair turning stark white.
Aspects/stunts: Noble, touched by warp, ship captain. 
Good (+2) at: Forbidden lore, commanding ship.
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Black, Tullius
Description: Inveterate gambler and 1st officer of the Venerus, distant cousin of Fortunus; never advanced due to his lack of discipline, promoted as a ‘last chance.’
Aspects/stunts: Gambler, noble, blustery, black sheep.
Good (+2) at: Gambling, fighting.
Bad (-2) at: Resisting temptation.

Name: Cortez, Zane
Description: Redemptionist preacher of the Lunatic Pandora; originally priest of the Venerus & was held in stasis due to a teleportarium malfunction until accidentally released by Pak. Now works as Chief Confessor aboard Lunatic Pandora.
Aspects/stunts: Redemptionist, xenophobic.
Good (+2) at: Purging heretics, fiery sermons.
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Criute
Description: Spire Chef on Scelus hiveworld (Decusis system); a muscley shhaven head man who worked his way up from nothing. Down to earth cousin of Dana, enouraged her to join the PCs and better her life. Sends money to support his family in lower hive.
Aspects/stunts: Commoner come good, family man, tough guy with heart of gold.
Good (+2) at: Cooking, fighting. 
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Da Duith Iath
Description: Eldar envoy & goodwill ambassador; androgynous armoured figure assigned to assist PCs with dealing with the Ancient Enemy, took job since, unlike a lot of Eldar, he doesn’t mind humans.
Aspects/stunts: Eldar.
Good (+2) at: Human customs, shooting, stealth.
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Dana
Description: Blind verminspeaker. A young girl who grew up caring for sick mother, eventually discovered an ability to tame beasts. Cousin to Criute, cautiously optimistic about her future.
Aspects/stunts: Psychic, blind, weak, mutant.
Good (+2) at: Commanding animals, first aid.
Bad (-2) at: Physical strength.

Name: Decusis, Corith
Description: Noble ruler of Decusis system (Hiveworld Scelus), lives in glittering hive spire; has ritually shaven head to honour ancestor who joined ecclesiarchy. Mainly concerned with advancing his family.
Aspects/stunts: Noble, diplomatic, paranoid. 
Good (+2) at: 
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Erdman, Proctor.
Description: Ruthless Adeptus Arbites precinct commander; was once an arbites on Paks homeworld, Erdman didn’t approve of Pak being taken into the Mechanicus because he saw it as him evading justice.
Aspects/stunts: Adeptus Arbites, Ruthless.
Good (+2) at: Law, intimidation, fighting.
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Farah, Dorath.
Description: Slimey senator to the Decusis family, the thin wheedling man is mainly concerned with his own fortunes & riding on the coat-tails of the Decusis family.
Aspects/stunts: Noble, criminal connections (Vitanteur syndicate).
Good (+2) at: Flattery, feigning sincerity.
Bad (-2) at: Courage, fighting.

Name: Hardecker, Tacitus.
Description: Planetary governor of Catan II, Tacitus is a grizzled bearded man with a cyber hand & eye who was ‘promoted’ to ruler of the system after being instrumental in repelling cultist/demon forces from an orbital las-battery.He chafes at his retirement & longs for active service.
Aspects/stunts: Military veteran, system governor, retired too early.
Good (+2) at: Commanding, fighting, resources.
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Kiril, Deacon Samuel.
Description: Aged Ecclesiarchy missionary who is a kindly old man seeking to help found an Imperial colony in the Endeavour system.
Aspects/stunts: Old, faithful.
Good (+2) at: Sermons.
Bad (-2) at: Fighting.

Name: Khan, Lorgar.
Description: Word Bearer chaos space marine captain.
Aspects/stunts: Chaos space marine, captain, devout, merciless. Power armour.
Good (+2) at: 

Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Maron.
Description: Cleaner of the murder servitor pens; Maron is a nervous man whose family sold him into service to pay for debts, when he left his mother cried (Confessor Cornelius assured Maron that these were tears of joy at his future service to the Emperor).
Aspects/stunts: Nervous, devout, gullible.
Good (+2) at: 
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Marsters, Huron.
Description: Gun deck officer aboard lunatic pandora, a faithful career military man who despises xenos and mutants.
Aspects/stunts: Xenophobic, faithful.
Good (+2) at: 
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Rha-haz, Senior tech priest.
Description: A serious red robed priest whose face is little more than writhing tech-tendrils and coloured lenses, the mechanically voiced priest recruited Pak into the Mechanicus after realising that the (then) criminal tech showed great promise.
Aspects/stunts: Cold, calculating. Mech arm (can use crafts instead of other skills), Servo skull (can do so at range).
Good (+2) at: Tech.
Bad (-2) at: Emotions, social interaction with non-Mechanicus members.

Name: Vitanteur, Tomas.
Description: Gang leader in the Vitanteur Sundicate.
Aspects/stunts: Gang leader, criminal connections.
Good (+2) at: Criminal activity, violence, intimidation, leadership.
Bad (-2) at: 

Name: Vorl, Rogue Tech.
Description: This robed heretek has ties to the Vitanteur Crime Syndicate, the PCs helped Tomas Vitanteur smuggle him off Hiveworld Scelus (Decusis system).
Aspects/stunts: Rogue tech, criminal connections (Vitanteur syndicate).
Good (+2) at: Tech use. 
Bad (-2) at: 

Cleaning metal armour

I’ve always shied away wearing metal armour at LRP (live-action roleplay) before, partly due to the often high costs associated with such equipment and also due to the fact that my one attempt to wear partial chainmail had resulted in a lot of back pain even with a large leather hero belt supporting much of the weight. However, recently I was lucky enough to be given two pieces of metal armour (shoulder pauldrons and a set of arm bracers) by a couple of friends; as anyone who knows me will tell you, I love free stuff and so determined to give metal armour another go- my excursions to the Outcast system proved an ideal run out for the metal armour.

The armour I was given was pretty rusty when I got it and I did not have time (or the knowledge how) to clean it prior to the event and so I wore it as it was; I had a great time during the event (as detailed in this post) and was able to cope with the weight of the metal armour (although I did end up going to bed early most nights due to fatigue). Whilst at the event I was able to ask a few people there who have experience of metal armour and caring for it (such as CJ Bateman) for any tips and advice they might give me about how I look after the armour.

The process below is based on what they told me and some additional research that I did into the subject.

This is what the armour looked like when I got it – note the rust on it.

Step 1: Removing the Rust

There were two main ways that I had found online to remove rust from metal without have to use specialised cleaning materials; the first was to use white wine vinegar and scouring pads, the second was to soak the plates in diet coke for a few days.

I decided to attempt the white wine vinegar method first; a quick trip to Morrison’s furnished me with the necessary vinegar and scouring pads and I set to work on the armour when I got back.

The vinegar had the effect of making the armour plates take on a slightly duller finish but this didn’t particularly bother me and it was possible to visibly see the rust being removed from the plate.

The armour after the surface rust had been removed with white wine vinegar.
Step 2: Removing any lingering vinegar or rust particles on the surface of the metal
I did this simply using some toilet tissue and gently dabbing at the surface of the armour plates.
Step 3: Polish the metal

In order to polish up the metal a little I purchased some Brasso wadding that I used in a circular motion to bring some shine back to the metal; although it hasn’t restored the former shine to the unrusted sections of metal I believe that this may have been due to some linger rust particles (despite my attempts to remove them), I plan to have another attempt at polishing the plates once it has had chance to dry.
Cleaned up pauldron when I started polishing.
Set of pauldrons, cleaned plates on the right and still rusty plates on the left.
Many thanks to all the people who offered me advice on how to clean and take care of metal armour, I also found the following website very useful: