Committing to a System

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about why I find certain new systems a little difficult to get into, it takes me a while to pick them up, whilst some older systems (like the OWOD system) are very firmly lodged in my mind; now this might not seem like much of a problem but it can be frustrating, since you tend to hit that point of fully understanding and mastering a new system fairly near the end of a campaign (or at least I do). As someone who hasn’t really tended to run a lot of consecutive games using the same system, by the time I swing around to running the same system again I normally have to brush up on the rules again, whereas with OWOD I went through a period in my student days where I was running and playing in many different games all using that system, so I really had a chance to get into it and learn how it worked.

So why am I rambling about this? Well I’m currently running a Star Wars campaign (you can see the videos of that by clicking here), I’m loving the system but, like most games it takes a little bit of mastering; myself and my players are starting to use the intricacies of the system a little more (we are running session 8 of the game in a couple of weeks), but again I fear we’re only going to hit that sweet spot where we’re all up to speed and really comfortable with the system a little further down the line. This seems a shame, and so I’ve decided that, rather than my normal behaviour, running a single game using the system and then moving on to something else, that when my current Edge of the Empire campaign game finishes (although that won’t be for some time yet) I’m going to follow it by running another Star Wars game. I may decide to run Age of Rebellion or Force and Destiny instead of Edge of Empire since these games use the same rules system, but I definitely want to master the system more.

Call of the Wyld Hunt: Pre-genned Characters

I’m preparing for the Changeling: the Lost one-shot that I’m going to be running in a couple of week; in the game the five players are going to be using pre-generated characters, I’ve just finished creating them, anyone interested can find details below:

  • Blazeblaze

You were once a promising sports star at NYU, the local newspapers called you the “shining light of the football team”; a small ligament injury caused you to briefly lose your edge but some of your team-mates said they’d
scored something to help you get it back so you arranged to meet them at Central Park. Unfortunately it turns out something else has seen your light and it took you and your team-mates to a land of cold and pain where you burned to light the way for inhuman things, somehow you lead some other captives to a way back, they’re your team now.

Blaze character sheet

  • Bones

bonesAs a mortician attached to the NYPD you eventually started to put the pieces together, every 10 years a dozen people disappeare from the blocks surrounding Central Park but it appeared as though someone was covering
it up; you poked a little too deeply and one night as snow began to fall and you investigated one of the disappearance scenes the Horned God came for you, spiriting you away to his land of night where your skills were put to use preparing his kills, some of whom cried out in all too human voices; then one day you found the key to free the burning man from his prison.

Bones character sheet

  • Hare

hareYou used to work in Central Park, sure you’d heard the rumours about how the previous ranger had disappeared almost 10 years before and that they’d been unable to find a replacement, but you loved your job and weren’t going to let any urban legends spoil it. So one night when you heard a sound like
an animal in pain you rushed out only to see a young woman being snatched away but a horned creature sat atop a demonic horse; without thinking you tried to prevent the abduction and were rewarded by being
taken to a land of ice and snow where you became the prey they hunted.

Hare character sheet

  • Sway

swayYou were one of the finest dancers touring with the NY Ballet when one glorious winter night your fiancé popped the question you’ve been waiting to hear just outside the entrance to Central Park; horns sounded in the background and for a moment you thought Mark had hired them, but it was not only Mark who your beauty had captivated, and your new suitor
spirited you both away to a land of beautiful madness. You never saw Mark again but in time you were able to use your whiles to discover the location of the key to help free yourself & some of your fellow captors.

Sway character sheet

  • Wolf

wolfAs a bouncer working outside the clubs in the districts surrounding Central Park you normally knew when to keep clear of trouble, you could almost smell it; you never knew why when you heard the young red haired man being taken that you tried to interfere but the next thing you knew you were bounds and shackled, little more than a hunting hound. Somehow you managed to survive; holding on to your humanity and your sense of
self  until the young man appeared again, now burning like fire and lead
you back to the human world.

Wolf character sheet

Call of the Wyld Hunt

I’ll shortly be running a Changeling: the Lost game one-off (using a streamlined version of the rules); in order to get the players into the mood of the game I created the video below:

Streamlining the WOD: What I learned at UKGE 2015

In my previous post about streamlining the New World of Darkness I talked about condensing skills, this got a lot of interesting comments that make me think about the logistics of it a bit more and whether doing so would make the game too generic/less detailed; those of you who’ve been keeping up with my blogs and video posts will be aware that i’ve recently got back from the UK Games Expo, a large RPing convention that takes place over her in the United Kingdom. During the convention I played in two NWOD games games ran by Amy Williams, one was a mortals based game and the other Werewolf: the Forsaken; both games we very enjoyable and, by necessity due to the time-limits imposed by a convention slots, used a streamlined version of the NWOD rules.

I was absolutely blown away how the few minimal tweaks that Amy made actually made the dice-rolling/rules side of the game far quicker to play and, like any good GM, resolved to steal the ideas to use in my own home games.

So how did the method work?

Well keep in mind that we were playing pre-genned characters in a convention scenario, but basically there were a few things where dice-rolls are normally required that we were just allowed to do without recourse to a roll; the two main examples that jump out in my mind are entering the spirit world and changing shape in the Werewolf game.

I loved this because it not only reduced dice-rolling and sped up the game but it also meant you didn’t have that slightly deflated moment when you’re at a dramatic part of the game and you attempt to do something cool that is in the nature of your supernatural type only to be stymied by a poor dice-roll.

The other thing was that our gifts/supernatural powers were more loosely defined than they would be normally; basically if you had a group of powers that involved manipulating darkness, you’d simply say what you wanted to do and then make a dice-roll, success being based on your result.

One other aspect of the game that wasn’t really used in the tournament was the morallity mechanics, I’d like to keep these in the game somehow but will probably have to put more thought into how to streamline them (if necessary).

Using this method in Future

Okay, so below are my current thoughts for how i’m going to run a streamlined NWOD game:

  • Use existing character sheets with various attributes + skills.
  • Willpower expenditure adds 3 dice to a roll as normal.
  • Health works as normal.
  • Merit dots add to any roll where they are relevant and can be used (rather than the normal effects).
  • Supernatural powers: Players describe the effect they are attempting to achieve based on the purview of the power, they then make an attribute + skill + level of dots in the power roll to determine if they succeed.
  • Supernatural strength stats (blood potency, etc) can be added to rolls to resist the application of supernatural powers.
  • Werewolves can add reknown dots as extra dice to any appropriate rolls.
  • Changes or effects that are inherently part of a supernatural creatures make-up (as opposed to acquired by a power) do not require dice-rolls (ie. werewolves entering the spirit world, changing form).

I’m sure this will require some additional testing outside of a convention to make it work more in a campaign framework, but I think this is a great solid foundation to begin on for building a more streamlined WOD system.

Writing a Werewolf Downtime

One of the things that appeals to me about version 2 of the NWOD Werewolf: the Forsaken is that the emphasis of the game has been placed squarely back on the hunt, something that i’ve always seen as being essential to the werewolf mythos, after all what’s the point in RPing someone who turns into a predator if they then don’t behave like one? Even in books/films where people are struggling against the curse of lycanthropy the struggled is normally spurred on by the damage inflicted during moonlit hunts.

I’m also playing in an OWED MET Werewolf: the Apocalypse game (helping me to cram in as many acronyms as possible) that my friend Dave is running in Derby at the moment; since i’m a bit wooley on the OWOD werewolf background (being more a fan of the NWOD iteration) I went for a Red Talon lupus ahroun.

Red Talons

The Red Talons are the claws of Gaia; they are her rage at the human race given form, or so they believe. The Talons come almost entirely from lupus stock; only in the last few decades have they even accepted Metis that come from Talon-Talon matings.

Lupus Garou

A lupus is a Garou who was born as and raised as a wolf. Many lupus are familiar with Gaia and bear a strong grudge towards humans for their tampering; this frequently extends to HomidGarou.

I did this for a couple of reasons, one was because I didn’t have a lot of free time to be creating detailed backgrounds and meddling around with influences (something i’ve always seen as more appropriate to Vampire: the Masquerade than werewolf anyway) and also because I didn’t want to get too enmeshed in the OWOD werewolf cosmology, I wanted to focus on playing the part of a predator and enjoying the RP that lead to.

Writing the Downtime

Of course I still do downtimes since they add a lot to the game and allow you to get things accomplished between monthly game sessions, but that left me with a quandry, how could I create a downtime that was actually meaningful whilst still keeping the essential character of the wolf-like lupus hunter?

The answer I’ve found is to try and view everything as a type of hunt; I do this by breaking the downtime down into three stages which I have nicknamed hunt, capture and kill.

  1. Hunt (stalking stage)The hunting stage is all about discovering what you want and working out the best way of going about obtaining it; get the scent of what it is that you want to achieve and then make a few quick darts at it to determine the best course of action.Example: If our werewolf has decided to kill a vampire, follow it for a while, then follow who it speaks to, possibly make a few attacks or feints at some of it’s servants to see how the creature responds; when you know how it behaves then you can move onto the next stage.
  2. Capture (closing in)In the capture stage you’ve decided on your best method of approach and begin to carry it out; once you have decided on an approach commit fully to it, throwing all your resources and abilities into it.Example: We’ve discovered that the vampire has a servant that it particularly values, our werewolf stalks the servant and then captures it, leaving a visible sign (possibly a severed limb, some blood or perhaps a note for the more squeamish) for the vampire to find letting it know that it’s servant is in danger unless it comes to the abandoned warehouse at the docks.
  3. KillThis is the climax of the hunt, once you reach this stage continue to commit fully to bringing down your quarry or achieving your aim, however, a wise hunter does not entirely lose their head; look for ways to maximise your chances of achieving your aims but also leave yourself a get-away.Example: The servant is restrained and left in the middle of the warehouse, whilst our werewolf lurks nearby in a spot overlooking the building so that he can see when the vampire arrives; if he has access to such equipment then he may have rigged the area with explosives, if not then simple home-made devices will do. When the vampire approaches he is allowed to rescue the servant (the emotions of the moment will distract him) and then bombarded with explosives designed to weaken/confuse him, the werewolf then closes in to finish the kill personally.

I’ve found that this approach to writing downtimes allows me to still get a reasonable amount done without the character just becoming a human with fur.

Streamlining the WOD: Condensing attributes & skills

One of the things I talked about in my previous post was desire to condense the attributes and skills system of the WOD down to a more manageable form; whilst thinking about this i’ve been looking at the Fate Core skill list:

  • Athletics
  • Burglary
  • Contacts
  • Crafts
  • Deceive
  • Drive
  • Empathy
  • Fight
  • Investigate
  • Lore
  • Notice
  • Physique
  • Provoke
  • Rapport
  • Resources
  • Shoot
  • Stealth
  • Will

I think that this is a very neat list that covers an awful lot of the stuff that people commonly do in RPGs and it’s designed to work well in a number of different settings but i’m not sure if i’ll use it as is for my WOD conversion since I want to keep the feel of the game rather than write a Fate hack.

WOD has always had that whole attributes + skills thing going for it and I want to condense down the attributes as well; I considered using the Power, Finesse and Resistance groupings from NWOD, but to my mind they aren’t particularly evocative of what attributes they cover so i’ve decided to fall back on a more simple grouping cribbed from the old Minds Eye Theatre live-action WOD games:

  1. Physical
  2. Mental
  3. Social

Because I want it to be obvious which skills generally go with what attributes i’m planning to group the skills under their respective attributes (something that NWOD actually does already) – I want there to be a roughly equal number of skills for each attribute.

Below is the list of skills from Vampire: the Requiem along with my notes and alteratons:

Physical skills

  • Athletics – the skill can be kept as is.
  • Brawl – this will be amalgamated into a single fighting skill.
  • Drive – this skill can be kept as is.
  • Firearms – this will be amalgamated into a single fighting skill.
  • Larceny – this skill can be kept as is.
  • Stealth – the areas this covers can be covered by Larceny.
  • Survival – not keen on keeping this skill but unsure what to replace it with.
  • Weaponry – this will be amalgamated into a single fighting skill.

Mental skills

  • Academics – this skill can be kept as is and can cover a wide range of areas, representing more book-learned knowledge.
  • Crafts – this skill can be kept as is, representing more hands-on knowledge; I may look at renaming it, I think this would neatly cover the previous survival skill as well.
  • Computer – this skill can be got rid of and what it covers folded into academics.
  • Investigation – this skill can be kept as is.
  • Medicine – the skill can also be folded into academics.
  • Occult – the occult is an important part of the WOD so i’ll keep this.
  • Politics – the skill can also be folded into academics.
  • Science – the skill can also be folded into academics.

Social skills

  • Animal Ken – I will get rid of this, perhaps it can be covered by backgrounds or folded into the new crafts ability.
  • Empathy – I might keep this since it represents acquiring knowledge about people based on understanding them, rather than actual interaction.
  • Expression – I plan to get rid of this.
  • Intimidation – I want to keep this since, along with socialise it represent the two opposite ends of socialising.
  • Persuasion – I plan to get rid of this.
  • Socialise – I want to keep this as is.
  • Streetwise – I plan to get rid of this.
  • Subterfuge – I plan to get rid of this.

So our finished skill list (after tweaking) looks like this:

Physical skills

  • Athletics
  • Drive
  • Fighting
  • Larceny

Mental skills

  • Academic Learning
  • Hearth Wisdom (renamed crafts)
  • Investigation
  • Occult Knowledge

Social skills

  • Empathy
  • Intimidation
  • Socialise

The list is looking pretty good for a work in progress with almost all the skills that we would need; I may take a leaf out of Fate‘s book and attempt to convert some of the things that had previously been covered as background (resources, haven, etc) into skills that can be rolled rather than static ratings that give you a flat bonus, but i’ll cover that in future posts.

For now i’m pretty happy with the cut-down list, any comments are of course welcome.

Streamlining the WOD: First thoughts

As you may have seen from our previous post I was in a Google Hangout last evening with Marko, Rufus and Chepé; the crux of the Hangout was that I wanted to run a world of darkness game in the future (probably either the V2 NWOD version of Werewolf: the Forsaken or the V2 version of Changeling: the Lost (when it’s released)) but that I feel the rules for the game could do with a real streamlining. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the rules but I don’t feel as though they’ve been majorly altered/re-worked since they were created (understandable since the publisher doesn’t want to alienate their core market) but have just has sub-systems piled on top of the existing rules, making it a little unwieldy in my opinion.

Whilst the discussion on the Hangout turned into something a little more like “how could Fate be used to run World of Darkness“, I very much want to use the core WOD system (or something like it) in a game.

So i’ve decided to create a list of things that I believe will need to be dealt with in my streamlined version of the game:

Things that I want to get rid off

  • Conditions: One of the newer mechanics that I am not that keen on, I love the idea of having conditions that apply to a character and encourage RP but i’m going to be looking for a different way of representing them (perhaps taking a leaf from the Fate aspect system).
  • Humanity/morality score: I’ve never really liked the idea that humanity was tracked on a scale like it is in WOD so i’m going to look for a different way of doing that.
  • Altering the number you need to roll on dice: Certainly in OWOD the GM could alter the number you needed to roll on a dice to make it a success (as well as the number of successes you needed per roll); I don’t think this is as prevalent in NWOD but it’s something I want to get rid of.
  • The massive skill list: One of the things I thing Fate does well, and that i’m taking inspiration from, is that they shortened the skill list dramatically, I think that the list of WOD skills can be condensed down.
  • Merit & flaws: After a suggestion by Marko I think that i’m going to get rid of merits/flaws and have them represented by either something akin to Fate aspects or incorporate them into the background system somehow.
  • Different types of damage: I think this is unnecessary and can be dealt with by just varying the damage level instead or common sense (if a werewolf can’t soak silver damage then just don’t let them, for instance).

Things that I want to keep

  • D10s and the attribute + skill style mechanic: D10s are very much linked with the WOD so I want to keep them and I like the whole attribute+skill mechanic although I may not have it as a dice pool, i’m considering reverting to an attribute+skill+dice roll vs opponents roll/difficulty level style system just to make things a little quicker and less dice intensive.
  • The background system: I love the backgrounds in the WOD, however over they have odd and arbitrary rules attached to them, i’d like to see them incorporated into the dice pool/total; so you might be rolling attribute + skill + background + dice roll.

I’ve also been thinking about the things that i’m going to need to cover in my WOD hack:

  • Supernatural powers: There needs to be some method of representing these that keeps the essential flavour of the powers without unnecessary book flipping.
  • Supernatural weaknesses: Things like a vampires need for blood or a werewolves vulnerability to silver will have to be represented somehow.
  • Morality: Despite me not liking the current rules system, morality is an important aspect of most WOD games and so it will need to be dealt with somehow.

Over the new few weeks/months i’m going to put up a series of posts that discuss my tweaks to the WOD system and hopefully some playtesting as well.

[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.”


Character generation: starting at the other end

I don’t know how you guys out there in internet-land prefer to generate characters for the various different RPGs that you play in, I suspect everyone has their preferred methods and ways of approaching this, whether it is banging all your stats down first or coming up with a personality and building the stats around; it only really occurred to me recently how easy it is to slip into one method of character creation because it is familiar and comfortable, but that trying something a bit different can be an interesting experiment.
So what made me think about this?

Well recently I had the good fortune to be invited to participate in a Demon the Fallen game being run by a friend of mine (anyone interesting in the gameline can find more here), the game is taking place in Seattle and we will be playing the roles of demonic essences freed from the abyss where they have been consigned (with some possible brief intermissions) since the Fall; now freed to return to earth, these monstrous demons protect themselves against the spiritual gravity of the abyss by anchoring their spirits into a vacated human body. Some of the demons find that remnants of the humans memories and personality remain, acting as a bulwark against all the years of hatred, giving them a second chance for redemption.
When it comes to character generation in the World of Darkness I generally start with a broad idea of the character’s personality, then I start working out the stats and refining the idea as I go, starting with their attributes, skills and finally moving onto the supernatural elements of the character (ie. what they have become) before rounding the character off with a few merits and flaws if I think that they are warranted. This is pretty much the standard order of things in the World of Darkness rulebooks and it’s how i’ve done most of my WoD characters in the past.
However this time, I still had an idea of what sort of character I wanted to play, since i’d played a physical character in the last Demon game that my friend Simon had run I wanted to do something different and had set my mind on a more social character; I had a vague idea that he’d be some sort of radio or talk-show presenter, possibly a cunning Devil or Defiler. Instead of starting with attributes and working my way through the sheet, this time it occurred to me that as someone with skills in networking and contacts throughout the business, I would instead start on my characters backgrounds (ie. resources, contacts, influence, etc) and build my character from the outside-in. I found that doing this still resulted in a very playable character at the end, but the mere act of approaching it slightly differently caused me to consider my choices more carefully rather than just banging a load of dots down.
So what did I end up with?

Before he became host to an infernal spirit Max Price was a struggling radio DJ, trying (and failing) to balance the demands of his career as he fought to keep his ailing show on the air and his wife and child. Things came to head when one night he was out with a friend, the friend was nervous because he had to give a best man speech and help organise the wedding and lacked the confidence to do the job justice; trying to be helpful Max had taken his friend out for a drink, they’d done some light recreational drugs (nothing too heavy), when Max received a phone call from his wife saying that she couldn’t take it any more, she had moved out and taken their daughter.
Despairing Max threw himself into the evening, consuming alcohol and drugs without thought or care for the toxic mixture brewing in his stomach; only an hour later as, shuddering, he vomited profusely into the latrine of a sleazy club did Max have time to regret his choices, and then only briefly as a darkness fell over his vision and his heart began to spasm. A few minutes later, She who draws shadows on men’s heart looked out from behind the now burnished red eyes of Max Price at the concerned face of his friend, willing the heart to beat anew; with a new confidence in his honeyed voiceMax said, “I think I know how to help you with your speech.”

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.