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.

 

Mooks – Fate Accelerated GM prep time saver and one of my favourite things about the game.

Please note that in this article I am mainly talking about the mook/henchmen systems out of Fate Accelerated, however Fate Core has a similar (but slightly more detailed system) for the same thing and much of what I say in this article applies to that rules system as well (although the specifics of the actual rules differ slightly).

Recently I was preparing the session notes for my Serpents Fall Fate Accelerated fantasy game that I am running online for a group of friends via G+ hangouts (further details about this campaign can be found in previous blog posts and videos on my Youtube Channel), and I came to the oft dreaded part of the proceedings, generating the stats for the many NPCs to be included in the session. I often find this part of the session preparation fairly arduous and time consuming as I work out what stats the NPC needs to perform as expected; the complexity of this varies from system to system. Many may point out, it is possible to just fudge the stats of NPCs and run them in an improvisational manner, however I tend to prefer having something written down to maintain consistency in the setting.
In my opinion Fate Accelerated has an excellent solution that bridges the gap between improvising and planning the stats of NPCs and this is the section of the rulebook that deals with generating Mooks.
What are mooks?

Mooks are unnamed thugs and monsters that are there to provide a brief distraction for the players, to use up a few of their resources or to act as henchman for the main villain/s of the piece; they would be the stormtroopers in the Star Wars films or the legions of henchmen beloved of so many James Bond villains.
Effectively in Fate Accelerate you create these mooks by coming up with a couple of Aspects for them to reinforce what they are good and bad at and a give them 0-2 stress boxes depending on how tough you want them to be (this is relative, mooks cannot take any consequences and are taken out once their stress boxes are filled, player characters normally wade through them occasionally sustaining a little bit of damage). The only other stage is that you come up with a few descriptions of what the mook is good at and, when this applies, you add +2 to any rolls they make, you then come up with a couple of things they’re bad at, and these things apply a -2 penalty to rolls when applicable, otherwise the mook just rolls at a skill level of +0.
This delightfully simply system allows you to generate all of your background NPCs and henchmen (with accompanying stats) in a very short space of time, it still allows them a narrative impact and allows you to maintain consistency should this NPC (or NPC type) ever be used again; if a henchman should be “upgraded” to a main NPC it is a simple matter to add additional Aspects and full Approaches as you would do for a main character in Fate Accelerated.
Overall it took me about fifteen minutes total to come up with the stats for the mooks that were featured in my recent Serpents Fall game, I have included some of the stats below so you can see what a potential mook looks like:

Wild BoarAspect: Ferocious charge, Blind to pain.Good (+2) at charging, goaring, shrugging off pain, tracking. Bad (-2) at intelligence, resisting provoke attempts.Stress [ ][ ]

Saxon commander (Aedelred)Aspects: For the safety of the village, I fight for honour and my lord, the law must be upheld.Good (+2) at commanding his troops, throwing/fighting with an axe. Bad (-2) resisiting challenges to his honour.Stress [ ][ ]

Please note: The following stat blocks use the group rules from Fate Accelerated, which essentially just involves lumping a group of similar mooks together into a mob and assigning the mob one stress box for every two members.

Saxon warrior group (6)Aspects: Glory & honourGood (+2) at fighting in a group. Bad (-2) at fighting on their own.Stress [ ][ ][ ]

Outlaws (20)2 bands of 10.Aspects: We’ve given all we’re going to, rob from the rich, the woods are our home & shelter. Good (+2) at fighting from ambush/in the woods or when lead by a strong leader. Bad (-2) when fighting against organised opposition.Stress [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]

In conclusion, the system is a great time saving and removes one source of potential stress from the storyteller/GM during session preparation, given that getting a session ready can involved a fair amount of work and plannning, anything to minimise stress has to be a good idea.

Engage Improv Drive, Mook speed ahead!

In my last post about space combat in my Rogue Trader game (http://wh40krpg.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/testing-proposed-narrative-space-combat.html for anyone interested) I talked a bit about using a narrative system for space combat; in my session earlier today however I found that the players moved through the plot I had envisioned fairly quickly and onto a space combat scene which I had not entirely scripted out.
In a moment of inspiration I decided to use the mook rules from Fate Accelerated, given any ships with an advantage in the combat +2 to their attack/defence rolls and giving any ships with a disadvantage a -2 to their attack/defence rolls; each normal sized ship was given three stress boxes with smaller ones being given a single stress box and larger ships being given five. We then just played the attack out as a fairly standard combat with the players rolling for their own and allied ships with myself rolling for the enemy ships.
The system seemed to work fairly well and we got through two space combats in a fairly small space of time, no-one was sat around bored and we paused every now and again to check on the overall tactics of the players and highlight important moments in the combat. We also had a few good compels where one of the ships was allowed to keep fighting in an almost crippled state in return for being boarded and another ship was allowed to remain undestroyed but was forced to withdraw from the fighting.
This seemed to work great and I highly recommend using the mook rules from Accelerated if you ever have a need to improv an encounter in a Fate game.