Shadows of the Century Beta Playtest – Pitch Session

I was luckily enough to picked to take part in the Shadows of the Century Beta playtest by Evil Hat Productions, looks like a real cool game, I’ve just run the Pitch Session (or session zero) for my face-to-face group; obviously I can’t give anything away about the mechanics at this stage but thought I’d let you know about some of the crazy PCs and NPCs we’ve ended up with.

Please note: The version of the game that I’m currently using is a beta playtest version and may change before the final version is released.


Player Characters

A sorceror for hire who was once part of a cult dedicated to safely harnessing portals to another dimension in search of otherworldly wisdom, the sorceror eventually came to believe that the cult hierarchy were using the portals for evil ends and joined our band of heroes, wanting to put right the damage she had caused.

One-man army. An ex-special forces soldier, scarred and injured in the line of duty, he got out of the military and now spends his time as a soldier of fortune trying to help those who can’t help themselves.

The science experiment gone wrong. Originally worked for Hank Scorpio’s organisation but left after a science experiment left her changed and with an almost superhuman ability to communicate with machines, she took the pay-off she received from Scorpio and hopes to use it and her new abilities to help save the world from itself.

Non-player Characters

Joey the Snitch always sniffs all the time as though he has a permanent cold and is very twitchy, often jumping at his own shadow.

The Finger-smith. A legendary thief wanted in 6 countries whose real identity is unknown.

The Dandy. A rich man who sponsors various hero groups, he is willing to pay extravagant amounts of money to have personalised maids and butlers, but insists on washing his own socks.

Granite got his nickname as a child whilst living with his formidable grandmother, he now works as a leg-breaker for the cult.

General Payne is a semi-retired military man who has not seen action for several years and is rumoured to have a glass jaw.

Elizabeth Shadow is an opium runner who is noted for her outré fashion sense, although she refuses to wear furs.

Ed “bro” James the man-mountain enjoys listening to Culture Club and watching the Wizard of Oz.

Daniel Farloe is an alien replicant with is obsessed with new technology.

“Cheese” is the codename of a top undercover government spy who can often be found drinking shakes at a particular diner if you need to contact him.

Helen Richardson. A preppy inventor who seems quite unable to stop babbling.

Mikhail Strebov. A huge man who works at an inn, Mikhails family originally comes from Ireland, however he’s never been able to hold his drink.

Rathma’Gog is a vegan curiosities dealer.

Villains

Hank Scorpio wants to rule the world, he is the owner of a multi-national corporation funded by various shady overseas governments and dictatorships. He sincerely believes he is making the world better, but before you can make a new world, you have to clear out the old one.

The Giant Robot originates on Mars and had travelled to earth to help stop a much greater threat.

There is also a Scientist Studying Portal Technology, he believes it could serve as a source of unlimited energy and even propel mankind to the stars and beyond.


Character generation during the game was fairly simply and didn’t take long, we had great fun following the instructions to create our crazy cast of characters. Looking forward to the first session next week ūüôā

Matters of Fate: Representing the Rules Fairly

Video Version

Audio Version

In this episode we talk a little about the importance of being fair and maintaining consistency when it comes to the rules.
Check out this episode!

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.

Review of Fate Toolkit (video)

Impressions and review of the Fate Toolkit.