All About Aspects: Magic Powers as Aspects

Magic Powers as Aspects

We’ve explained the basic formatting for our high concept aspects in one of our previous post, in this post I provide a single descriptions table (that can be used instead of the ones in previous articles) to add aspects concerned with psychic or magic powers.

Please note: This article does not actually provide the rules for the powers, that will be down to whatever system you decide to use (although you can do a surprising amount with skill rolls and invoking/compelling aspects in Fate).

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[RPG] The Forgotten People


Below is a small piece I wrote and submitted to Onyx Path a long while ago, not the best thing i’ve ever written and I heard nothing back about it but thought i’d post it here incase anyone fancies using it, some elements of this were eventually recycled into my Numenera game.

The Forgotten People

“You don’t recognise me do you? That’s okay, you’re not supposed to remember me, no-one does; if you believe nothing else that I say, please believe in two things, that once we were close, very close and that I am not mad.

‘What does this all mean?’ I can see your thoughts written in your eyes and I’m sure that, had the drug I slipped into your tea not already taken effect, you would be saying much the same thing. Don’t be afraid, I mean you no harm, once I have said my piece then you will never see me again and no doubt that this entire business, if you remember it at all, will seem like nothing more than a bad dream.

What does this all mean and how did it start? It started with odd things, small things happening, my online grocery order not being delivered, my driving licence going missing, it all seemed like coincidence at the time and only now, looking back, can I see the road that lead to the world forgetting me.”
A huge mechanism turns behind the skin of our world, directing the destiny of the planet and the human race; vast and unfathomable history clanks forward like a great engine slowly and inexorably turning towards some unknown end. The program that operates the world is not perfect, either through design or some external influence (some say human free will whilst others whisper of renegade fallen programs within the Machine itself), occasional errors or glitches occur in the system; in the grand scheme of things these glitches are a minor occurrence that register as no more than a brief blip on the radar of the God Machine, worthy of only brief consideration and a speedy correction, however to the people and places affected they can be devastating.
It is not known precisely what causes glitches in the system, however, they traditionally have a strange effect on either a person or a place in the world; typically these rare errors are focussed on a single person or a relatively small place, a modest residence for example, although there have been incidents where areas as large as a tower block have been affected.
Glitches – Rules
Supernatural Merit – Glitch (o)
Occasionally people fall through cracks in the God Machine’s programming; normally caused by an incredibly traumatic or near-death experience, the code that defines a person’s place in the God Machine’s grand scheme “skips a track” becoming foreign and alien to the rest of the program. Those people afflicted in this way have nicknamed themselves the Forgotten People or Glitches as their old relationships, friends, lovers and enemies, all begin to fall away from them.
In order to have any glitch related abilities a character must first possess this merit; possession of this merit grants +2 to any subterfuge rolls to avoid detection by the angelic servants of the God Machine or mortals and any such attempts to track them down suffer a corresponding -2 penalty. Glitches also do not show up on photographs or any form of recorded media, however, this merit does place heavy restrictions on the social merits that a glitch may possess.
Forgotten people may not possess the following merits: Allies, Alternate Identity, Anonymity, Barfly, Contacts, Fame, Fast-Talking, Fixer, Hobbyist Clique, Inspiring, Mentor, Mystery Cult Initiation, Resources (above level 1), Pusher, Retainer, Small Unit Tactics, Staff, Status, Striking Looks, True Friend.
Forgotten people may possess any other merits, including supernatural merits, although they may not be transformed into any form of other supernatural; whatever strange processes re-write the code of their being makes them immune to such attempts, for example, a vampire attempting to embrace a Forgotten Person would result in a dead person and a confused kindred (at best).
Glitch Merits
Forgotten People, despite their many disadvantages do have some abilities at their disposal, having a face that is almost instantly forgotten by mortals and servants of the God Machine can prove useful in a number of situations although it hardly compensates for the heartache of looking at a loved one and knowing that they do not recognise you and that their memory has compensated by papering over the crack of your existence as though you never were.
In order to take any of the following merits a character must first have the Glitch merit.
Glitch merit – Forgettable (o)
Mortals have a great deal of trouble remembering specifics concerning the person; anyone who interacted with a character possessing this merit will be unable to remember all but the vaguest details (rough height, weight, gender, etc) of their appearance.
Glitch merit – Hidden in Plain Sight (o)
A Forgotten Person with this merit has been affected to such an extent that, if they stop talking or interacting with a scene, then they seem to fade from the awareness of those around them.
Possessing this merit allows a character to make a wits + subterfuge roll, as long as they do not interact with the scene in any way that draws attention, then anyone wishing to interact with them must gain an equal or greater number of successes on a wits + composure roll, failure means that they simply fail to notice the character. 
Glitch merit – Passcard (o)
With sufficient practice a Glitch can use their alien nature to bypass structures which are otherwise impassable for those still slaved to the God Machine’s program; by spending a willpower point the character can enter Twilight (following the normal rules as outline in the God Machine Chronicles) for the space of a single turn, at the end of the turn they immediately return to their normal state. Whilst not particularly useful in the long-term this ability can allow a character to pass through a wall or a solid barrier, any character who would remain encase or bisected by a solid object when the turn ends is shunted back to their start position and still loses the dot of willpower.
Glitch Merit – Forgotten People Contacts (o to ooooo)
Although they are unable to maintain normal relationships or groups of contacts due to their condition, on the rare occasions that Forgotten People meet they are generally sympathetic and attempt to maintain contact with each other. This merit functions as per the rules for the merit Contacts but represents contact details for other Forgotten People and can generally only be used to provide information of importance to the (small) Glitch community.
Supernaturals and Forgotten People
Supernaturals within the world of darkness (ie. Anyone with a supernatural template or possessing a supernatural merit) is unaffected by the any of the Glitch merits that involve perception or memory; please note that this does not include Angels or other servants of the God Machine since they are part of the program that has rejected the Forgotten People, although curiously Demons, having broken away from their programmed function, are able to perceive the Forgotten.
“I can see your eyelids fluttering, the dose is starting to wear off quicker than I thought; before I go Robert I’m going to put this photograph in your hand, you won’t know who it is and you’ll probably throw it away, but it’s our daughter, it’s Siann, she’s lost out there somewhere just like me, and I’m going to find her, whether you remember us or not.”


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.