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: 

Professions in FATE?

A comment from Marcus Morrisey in response to my previous post about specialised skills started me thinking about professions and how they could be used in FATE or FAE.

I’m currently playing in a short Hunter: the Vigil nWoD that features Professional Training as a merit (and this has been adopted into the core nWoD rules as of the God Machine Chronicles revised rules being published); in nWoD Professional Training is a 1 to 5 point merit that you purchase at character creation, each dot gives you certain benefits related to the profession, including:
  • Appropriate contacts & allies.
  • Experience point breaks on skills related to the profession.
  • Additional specialist skills.
I think that the profession merit could be utilised in FATE and FAE in a number of different ways; a few of them are suggested below; please note these are only suggestions and there are no doubt umpteen more ways that Professions could feature.
Professions as Aspects

This is the most obvious way of using a profession and i’m sure that many characters in FATE and FAE already have High Concepts and/or other Aspects that feature their professions, allowing you to invoke them when appropriate and gain either a +2 bonus or re-roll something when the roll is applicable to your profession.
Professions are reflected this way currently in both the Rogue Trader and God Machine games that I am running.

Professions as Approaches/Skills

Professions could also be represented by a Skill or Approach and could be given a rating/level like any other Skill or Approach; whilst I think this would be fine for FAE (since most of the approaches are quite broad) i’m not sure how well it would work for FATE core and it may lead to a situation where a player is constantly just rolling the same score since they utilise the Profession Skill/Approach for everything.

Professions as Stunts

Professions could also be represented as a Stunt, perhaps adding +1 to rolls and challenges that fall within the purview of the profession; this is a fairly broad scope for a Stunt, however, if each player was allowed to take a Profession Stunt then I don’t see that it would be particularly unbalancing.


FATE core specialised skills

I discussed one method of dealing with specialised skills in my Warhammer 40K FATE hack here :
However, as FATE core encourages the GM to have the players take a more active role in determining the outcome and progress of the story, I also like to discuss the various permutations of the rules with my group before implementing them; last session we discussed how certain skills (such as craft, drive and lore) could be made more specialised without unduly complicating the rules system.

Eventually we hit on the idea that someone would still have their generic skill level (set at whatever level as determined by character generation) in lore, drive or craft and that people without would roll at Mediocre (+0) level as per the normal rules, but that each person with this skill would choose their particular speciality and note it in brackets after the main skills.

For example:
  • Drive (aircraft)
  • Drive (space vehicles)
  • Lore (Imperial Religion)
  • Lore (The Warp)

The speciality functions like an Aspect tacked on to that skill and can be invoked in the normal manner by spending a fate point; this effectively gives the character a small bonus in their area of expertise but only if they’re willing to spend a fate point.
The addition of an extra Aspect tied to a skill doesn’t unduly complicate the rules and my players seemed to find them easier to come up with since the skill already gives some ideas of what to take; it is also an idea that can be used to add some additional flavour to the basic skills list without introducing a shedload more skills or making the rules unnecessarily complex.
For example: Instead of introducing a Medicine Skill in my game there is the Craft (Medicine) ability that functions as per normal Craft skill but allows the expenditure of a fate point to Invoke the Medicine Aspect whenever appropriate.

God Machine Chronicle – The world according to Maggy Pike

IC blog of first God Machine Chronicle Session
Written by Kelly Grimshaw
Reproduced with permission from the author.
Ok so my life didn’t work out the way my parents planned it. By now I should be on my way to professorship of something or other rather than a uni drop-out living in a run down tennament block.

I don’t usually write down stuff diary style its not my thing and to be honest how repetitive is got woken up at stupid past arse end of midnight because someone has run out of weed? 
Well either I am going to have to tone down the strength of my latest batch-not hard being a failed chemist/botanist or I have to face the fact that reality is a lot more f**ked up than being high as a Hindu cow. And I suppose that writing it down may make more sense so here goes…
It all started off normal enough. Kathy had come round for her usual and some of the medical strength for her MS suffers, we were enjoying a quiet smoke when Brian almost knocks the door off its hinges. Luna, a blue Staffy with grey eyes goes bat shit crazy as she is a dog that likes her peace and here stomps bulldog all over that. While I’m calming the mutt down he tells Kathy that Mr Lung- the owner of the local Chinese has had the shit well and truly knocked out of him and Smoky Joe had found him behind the bins- what Joe was doing there is a question that I don’t really want answering to be honest.
I tell her to go while I finish bagging up and I’ll meet her down there.
While I’m blissfully unaware of what’s going on it all cracks off.
I drop Kathy her birthday bag and as I leave a gang of lads are trying to make their way through a locked door. According to one of the lads who visits now and again Mr Lung has been nicking the local feline population and turning it into that nights chef’s special. I tell him how stupid it sounds but high on hormones they still try to get into the take-out. 
I nip round the back and tell Kathy its all clear and we and the lung family wander off back up to hers.
Nothing out of the ordinary for a snow day in the block? Wait it gets better…
When the lads come back followed by a scary looking old man by the name of Jakub it turns out that there was moggy in the freezer. No I don’t mean dressed and ready to cook I mean a cat in a sack in the freezer, fur, teeth, claws the job lot.
While I’m making a brew for everyone the cat defrosts and is apparently live, kicking and ready to disembowel someone for the pleasure.
After the shock wears off I give it a bowl of milk and then open the door- more for our safety than puss’s. I have no idea why but i have the inclination to stroke it as it wanders off- I’m a soft bugger like that and when no one is looking I have been feeding the ones that look a bit worse for wear. THE THING WAS STILL FROZEN! when I pulled my hand away frost was melting with the heat of my skin!
Well I tried to tell them but they took no notice of the stoner until I poked my head out of the door to see if it had dropped dead to find 3 sets of shining eyes staring at me, that is apart from when a man looking like an extra from a western comes stalking up the corridor. They vanish- I don’t mean scatter as cats do when something bigger than them turns up, I mean one blink they were there and the next it was empty space.
The more abled lads go after him- I really am not sure why, if a cowboy with a burlap sack wishes to haunt the corridors then that’s his business.
So I keep Kathy and Jakob company as Mr Hat seems to have spooked her more than she is letting on-oh got to remember to lend Luna to her for a day, sometimes the sound of a dog can scare away unwanted attention.
When they come back they tell me that Miles (Mr hat) is under the impression that the cats of this block DONT DIE!-yep Mr tinfoil believes these cats are Immortal. Not only that but if we go back and see him tonight then he will have proof. I am a vegan and if this includes ritual sacrifice to the great Isis then we are going to have an argument, tin foil protected or not. 
Makes more sense? 
Nope none at all

God Machine Chronicle – Brians Log: Stardate something or other

IC blog of first God Machine Chronicle Session
Written by Simon Webber
Reproduced with permission from the author.
I can honestly say the last few hours have been the most spectacularly crazy-assed hours I’ve had since that stag do in Prague. I’ve only been back in the country for 48 hours, stocked up me home and thanks to this snow, and I mean snow in a biblical context, I couldn’t get my rig back to the yard. So I figured it would be best to empty it of all my kit which I did and I was heading back to the the tower when I saw Joe. He was carrying a chinese.
Now Joe’s a nice kinda of guy, but his idea of a chinese takeaway was not mine. He was literally carrying the man over his shoulder. Beaten he was, proper beaten, within a inch of his life, so he was. Well. I had to share with Joe that the man was in no fit state. Joes a nice lad, but he’s none too bright when it comes to TLC. 
So we like , take this Mr Lueng back to his takeaway after I use my keen skills to determine that he was indeed beaten badly , by metal poles and the like. We took him back home, to his mother in law, and his daughters. Well, We’d hardly been there five minutes and no sign of a black bean chicken, when 6 hoodie youths turned up intent on giving all and sundry of a chinese persuasion a good kicking for nicking all the cats in the area.
Well, I wasn’t having any of that. You see I’d run up to that pretty Kathy’s place, the nurse, and had brought her down to look see at Mr L. Well, I felt kinda responsible that she was there. So I told the little wankers to f**k off off in no uncertain terms, backed up as I was, with a solid representation of future consequences as provided by Smokey joe. In this case, a broken jaw.
Well, that was another mess to clear up, poor Rob, but if you will cheek your Elders, they are going roll up their sleeves and dispense a can of kick ass all over your face. 
You see for some reason or other, this wayward lads thought that Mr L was stealing all the cats and making dishes out of them.We told them there kids that this wasn’t the kind of pussy lads their age should be getting all worked up about. They agreed and ran off. We saw them off and I went back to check the freezer while Joe talked to some old Pole. Mr Yak something or other, I’m bloody terrible with names with few vowels. God I miss Carol Vorderman.
Anyway’s I only opened the bloody freezer to find a satchel with a blooming frozen cat in.
Well. needless to say my first reaction was I won’t be rushing back to buy a chicken and black bean in a hurry, i don’t care if it comes with free crackers.
But even after this reaction I couldn’t help but feel something wasn’t right about this. It kinda reminded me of that episode of Next Gen, when Picard and the crew are duped into working against a governments enemies only to learn the whole thing was as stitch up and the Crew make right on from what they did wrong.
Anyhow, that said. we took that Rob home, little scamp, and settled him down with some of that there weed. Sorted him a pot noodle and we buggered off back to Kathy’s.
So I showed them all this frozen cat in a bag, which didn’t so much as agree with kathy, bless her. She did her rendition of the Exorcist and damn near could have ruined me boots. I was sorry like, as I didn’t think she’d react like that. But anyways, things went even crazier from there, and not in a nice Dr Seuss kinda way.
That there Cat came back to life and scampered off, and there was some fashion challenged mental case who spooked Kathy. I spotted him in the corridor with a bag dead similar to the one we found in the freezer and he matched the description Mr L gave when we asked him about the bag in the same bloody freezer.
So I ask the guy what his bloody game is and he girly slaps me and runs off.
Well you don’t get away with that sort of unsociable behaviour with Brian Best. They don’t call me the bulldog for nothing, you know.
As it happens I hunted him down like Boba Fett horny for a bounty. Joe caught up with me at the mans flat see. Joe knows I am a man of action and we have this mutual respect thing going on. I don’t mind him watching me back, He’s a dependable sort of fellow if a bit blunt, but I keep him out of trouble.
So we barge are way into this Mr Creepy Mc Fatf**ks flat, and by god it looked like the set of Buffalo f**king Bills..
So then there was this keen interrogation, I plied him with some reverse Klingon techniques and he spilled his story like a toddler without a lid on his juice cup.
Fucked up doesn’t even cut it. Undying cats. It’s the honest to goodness story. No doubt there’ll be some ancient Egyptian relic in the basement too, or a stephen king burial ground underneath the flats. I going back to see what proof this lanky puff has and Joe, well, he knows I’m a man of action and he’s coming for the ride too. I like Joe, I look after him.
Anyway, best keep my strength up and get an ice pack for my face. I can’t decide between the culinary delight of a Findus Crispy pancake or that Iceland beef and peppercorn sauce. Either way, I’m chilling out with me strongbow and revisiting me Original Series. Beam me up Mr Scott, it’s all goin Cat shit crazy down here…

God Machine Chronicle – The Secret of Specto Vale – Session 1 Writeup

A huge snowstorm is howling outside the crumbling tower block of Specto Vale in the East Midlands, early 2013 has seen terrible winter weather hit a country ill-prepared to deal with such conditions; the result has been people confined to their homes and roads packed with snow and ice, becoming impassable to all but the sturdiest of vehicles. Several feet of snow have piled up around the base of Specto Vale, the ground floor holding a handful of shops, takeaways and a single public house the Red Lion, after a few weeks all contact with the outside world has been cut off by the constant flurry of white falling from the sky, people have emptied the shops of what little food they still contained and most of the businesses have closed their doors. Up on the 13th floor an old polish gentleman Mr Jakub Bodak makes his way along the dimly lit corridor outside his flat, the mans walking stick tapping its way along the concrete, barely carpeted floor of the building; the floor is quieter than the others, something of a local mythology has built up about the strange folk who make their home on the unluckiest floor of the building, and that’s just the way that Bodak likes it, keeps people out of his businesses. Today however, he has some business of his own with Samuel Carson the manager and owner of Specto Vale who lives (if rumours are to be believed as the sole occupant) of the buildings top floor.

Reaching the limit of the elevator, Mr Bodak is forced to walk up a small flight of stairs from the fourteenth to the fifteenth floor, he is greeted by the overweight, blustered figure of Mr Carson who ushers his tenant into his warm office and offers him a cup of coffee from a bag of fine columbian beans sat on the side; it would appear as though the scarcity afflicting the lower floors has not yet reached the lofty heights of the fifteenth. Jakub expresses his concern that he has heard rumours that numerous people have been ejected from the building due to a slight falling around on their rent, in order that immigrant families can be crammed in to make the management more money; tactful as ever Jakub phrases his concern without mentioning the money aspect but pointing out that such ‘re-allocations’ may damage the sense of community in the building. Still blustering Mr Carson says that he will look into what Mr Bodak has said (although his tone suggests anything but) and dismisses the elder gentleman, saying that he is sure they both have work to do; dissatisfied Bodak returns to his flat.
Joe “Smokey” Thomson is stood out the back of the flats in a covered over delivery area, smoking a cigarette when he hears a strangled cough from behind one of the snow covered skips; investigating he finds the badly beaten body of Mr Lung, owner of the local Chinese Takeaway (one of the many businesses that contributes to Thomson’s monetary income), slumped by the side of the skip. Picking up the injured man Thomson began to head back towards the inside of the building, clods of white powdery snow falling from the injured shop owner.
Brian “Bulldog” Best had finished emptying the cab of his lorry, it had been sat unused in the delivery bay since he had returned from his last job; Brian had been carefully extracting his portable DVD player and a selection of Star Trek DVDs, planning to bed down until the storm had passed. As he turned round a figure carrying what appeared to a be a sack or a bundle of sticks loomed out of the white sleet flurry, slowly resolving itself into the shape of “Smokey” Thomson carrying the injured body of Mr Lung over his shoulder; after some initial confusion Brian helped Thomson carried the injured chinese man to the door of the closed takeaway. Banging on the door and shouting lead to Mr Lungs two teenage daughters and mother-in-law opening the door and helping them bundle the injured Mr Lung inside. Having worked several times as a hospital emergency driver, Brian recognised that Mr Lung appeared to have been beaten several with some sort of implement and that he needed some immediate medical help; remembered that a hospital worker lived on the fourth floor he went off in search of Cathy Williams.
As he passed by the door of Maggy Pike, local hippy and well know purveyor of herbal relief, a familiar smell drifted out from under the door and Brian could hear the voices of Maggy and Cathy talking inside; thinking it a stroke of luck he knocked on the door and was soon explaining the situation to both of the women. Accompanying him to the takeaway Cathy was able to use her emergency medical supplies to stabilise Mr Lung and make him as comfortable as possible, although the elderly gentleman drifted off into unconsciousness. After leaving the herbs that Cathy had purchased for one of her patients behind Maggy left and began making her way back home, she passed by half a dozen young men wearing an assortment of hoodies, one of them carrying a crimson spattered bike lock, luckily none of them paid too much heed to the young Ms Pike, one of them even stopping to ask her about buying a ten-bag. 
Upstairs on the thirteenth floor, Mr Bodak watched the unfolding events from his flat window; picking up his stick Bodak began making his way downstair, but his false leg and age slowed him down a lot.
The youths began to hammer on the door of the chinese takeaway, shouting for them to send out Mr Lung, they began to shout about Mr Lung being responsible for the local cats disappearing and that he was using them in his takeaways. Braced behind the door Cathy and Brian were holding their own when Thomson asked them to open the door; fronting up to the leader of the mob, Thomson warned him to leave and then, when he didn’t respond, smacked the youth in his jaw, the loud sound of a cracking jawbone echoed down the corridor, although Thomson took a crack on his arm as the youth wildly swung his bike lock. Seeing their leader go down so swiftly the other youths lost their courage and turned tail, Thomson carried the injured youth outside and dumped him face down in the snow.
By this time Bodak had made his way down the stairs, both being connected with the old-school criminal element, he and Thomson warily recognised each other and it was clear that Bodak both disapproved of the youths actions and approved of how it had been dealt with. Brian and Thomson picked up the youth with the broken jaw who, through painful clickings of bone, said that his name was Rob Smith and he really believed that the chinese were stealing the local cats; attempting to allay his fears the youth was taken to his flat (a dirty, messy affair), given some pain relief by Cathy and was then warned not to interfere again, Brian telling him that the youth had learnt a valuable lesson.
Returning to the takeaway Brian began to root through the chest freezer of the takeaway, finding it mostly empty aside from a few bags of frozen vegetables and a batter rucksack; with a sinking feeling Brian removed the rucksack and peered inside, a frozen feline with clouded green eyes stared back at him, unmoving from the bottom of the bag. Taking the bag into the main room Brian showed its contents to the others, which resulted in explosive vomiting from the squeamish Cathy, Brian was about to carry the bag away when he felt it twitch and, with a screech, the cat (now seemingly alive) leapt from the bag and quickly disappeared out of the door of the flat. Lung has regained consciousness and seemed entirely surprised when the cat was mentioned explaining, via his daughters interpreting, that the bad was not his, a man in a large duffel coat and a hat had paid him £50 to stash his bag in the freezer.
Following the cat outside Brian spotted a man with a thick coat and wide-brimmed leather hat, the man was carrying a burlap sack that he tried unconvincingly to tuck into his coat; Brian spoke to the man briefly, although when he mentioned cats a look of fear crossed the man’s face and he slugged Brian on the chin before taking off, dropping his sack in the progress. Brian, nursing his jaw, picked up the sack; although it was empty there were traces of what looked like animal fur clinging to the inside of the sack.
Later, whilst escorting Cathy back to her flat, Brian and Thomson spotted the strange animal-napper watching them from the top of the stairs, Brian gave chase and was in time to see the man dive into a flat on the 6th floor. Attempts to verbally convince the man to let him in didn’t succeed until Thomson arrived and made some (thinly) veiled threats, finally persuading the man to let them in. The man’s apartment appeared as though it was decked out for a survivalist apocalypse, tins of beans and dried food were stacked in orderly piles; a large blueprint of the flats covered one of the walls, it was studded with red pins and a long red line connected a flat on the 13th floor to the 15th floor diagram. Miles explained that he had been one of the pest control specialists who had recommended getting cats to control vermin problems in Specto Vale, since then he had fallen on hard times and had moved into the apartments  volunteering to keep an eye on the vermin problem as a favour to the management.
Miles outlined a fantastic tale that the cats in the block appeared to be behaving abnormally, they were watching people and congregating in certain areas; the most fantastic element of the tale was that apparently Miles had seen a number of cats be apparently killed and then emerge unharmed, he had stored one in the freezer of the chinese takeaway apparently planning to return and examine it later. Although initially believing the man to be crazy, Brian found himself thinking back to the supposedly frozen cat and how it had revived once the rucksack had been removed from the freezer; the two men left with Miles promising to show them proof if they returned tomorrow evening.

Space colonies

Settlements in Rogue Trader
Recently Conny Delshagen posted on the Google+ Traveller community about whether anyone had successfully used the World Tamer’s Handbook colonisation rules for Traveller: the New Era; although I don’t really play Traveller at the moment i’m always looking for science-fiction ideas that can be incorporated into my FATE-based WH40K Rogue Trader campaign ‘The House of Black’ which (as of the time of writing) is still running on a monthly basis. Reading the blurb associated with the World Tamer’s Handbook on RpgGeek.com it seemed to focus around star system generation and rules for colonisation; although i’m fairly happy with the Diaspora adapted rules for system generation that I have, setting up colonies and such like was not something that I had covered in much detail. I had previously looked briefly at the colony system presented in Fantasy Flight Games ‘Stars of Iniquity’ supplement but, whilst the system seemed very comprehesive, it was extremely detail orientated and (I believed) too complex to be a worthwhile addition to my RT game; I had switched to FATE to reduce the clunkiness of the rules, so adding in a massively detailed sub-system seemed counter productive.
It occurred to me that perhaps this would be a good place to use the Fate Fractal: for those not familiar with the Fate Fractal (or the Bronze Rule as it is also called in the FATE core rulebook) it states:
“In Fate, you can treat anything in the game world like it’s a character. Anything can have aspects, skills, stunts, stress tracks, and consequences if you need it to.”
I had already used the Fractal to a certain extent when defining my rules for space combat (see http://wh40krpg.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/testing-proposed-narrative-space-combat.html for my most recent post regarding narrative space combat) with the players ship treated as a character (having skills, aspects, stunts, stress tracks and consequences).
What sort of stats would a space colony have?
Taking a tip from my work on space ships I decided that colonies would have five Aspects in order to represent what the colony specialised in an potentially one or two Stunts, the colony would also receive 2 stress boxes and 3 consequences boxes (with the standard 2, 4 and 6 values) in the same way as a character (although additional Stunts could be taken to increase the number of stress boxes).
Some examples of Aspects might be:
  • Primitive
  • High-tech
  • Abundance of natural resources
  • Theocratic government
  • Wise sages

I envisioned that the High Concept Aspect would represent the dominant form of government on the colony and that the Trouble Aspect would represent some sort of challenge or impending danger the colony.
What benefits would players get from visiting a space colony?
In order to make it worthwhile instituting rules for space colonies (although these rules could also be used for space stations and other sorts of bases) it would be necessary to provide some story reason for the player characters to visit them; the most obvious reason for this is to purchase equipment or make repairs to ships/vehicles, etc.
Using the simple model above it would be simplicity itself to make the Aspects of the station affect what objects the PCs can get hold of, they would be able to invoke the colony’s Aspects as they would any other Aspect to improve Resources rolls along with any other actions as appropriate whilst on the space station; for example, if the players are getting a ship repaired at an orbital facility with the Aspect ‘Adeptus Mechanicus workshop’ then they could invoke this to get a +2 to the repair roll. However the reverse is also true that Aspects could be invoked against the players either by the GM or other players; for example if a character tries to get hold of a stub gun in a colony with the Aspect ‘Primitive’ then the GM could invoke this to apply a -2 penalty to their Resources roll.
Colony Maintenance
In any session where a particular colony is featured the GM should roll 4DF and note the resultant number (Aspects may be invoked on this roll as normal), if the result is a minus figure then the colony has suffered some sort of stress and the negative shift should be marked on the stress boxes/consequence tracker as usual (with any consequences reflecting the slow deterioration of the colony, for example: civil unrest).
If the result is a positive then the colony uses the positive shift to first recover from any stress or consequences it has sustained, if there is any positive shift left after this then add an additional stress box to the colony’s total to represent the colony growing.
Setting up a Colony
One of the great things about Rogue Trader is that the player characters are (unlike the majority of humans in the WH40K universe) powerful people with spaceships at their disposal and commanding vast resources; this means that feasibly the player characters may be instrumental in setting up new colonies and bases, any system that I was going to use would need to represent this possibility.
It is my current idea that, when initially set up a colony has only a single Aspect (which should reflect the colony’s initial challenges, no stunts, a single stress box and no consequences boxes); each session after a colony has set up until it has reached the standard beginning colony statistics it should make a maintenance roll (as detailed above), when the colony reaches a total of 2 stress boxes due to growth then it gains the consequence tracker and additional Aspects/Stunts as per a standard beginning colony.
These are just a few ideas at the moment and will no doubt see further development, however, i’d be interested in people’s thoughts/comments.

Psi-Punk review

Recently I saw a post on Google+ from Jacob Wood on the Pen & Paper Bloggers community asking whether anyone would be interested in reviewing a cyberpunk FUDGE RPG; I contacted Jacob and expressed interest and was , as a fan of dark/dystopian settings, soon eagerly flipping through a PDF copy of the Psi-Punk game.
Review

Front Cover and Blurb
Front Cover

The front cover is very visually striking and yet not over complicated, showing two people battling infront of a matrix-esque background of 1s and 0s whilst a blurred face overlooks the scene; on the back of the book is a fairly standard blurb that sums up very well what type of game Psi-Punk is, it reminded me of some of the similar material on the various editions of Shadowrun (hardly surprising since the two games both cover a similar mix of futuristic and more fantastic elements).
Layout
The PDF seemed a trifle slow to load new pages on the version I looked at, although whether this is due to the way that the PDF is put together or my slightly aging computer I can’t say, it didn’t greatly impact my enjoyment of the book though. Using a twin column scheme, the book has a nice, clear layout making it very easy on the eye without some of the odd/barely readable heading fonts that I have seen used in some other RP products recently.
Contents

Game Background
Right, now to the actual meat of the book, the contents; the book begins with the usual introduction of the concept of roleplaying games, a brief run down of what is contained in the other chapters and an explanation of the FUDGE system used by the game; I have a certain fondness for FUDGE given that it was one of the precursors to the FATE system that I currently favour and was the first roleplaying games that introduced me to the idea of using words to represent difficulty levels rather than solely numbers.
This chapter is followed with a brief history chapter, detailing the events that lead to the game world differing from our own; there will be nothing particularly surprising in this chapter to anyone who has playing cyberpunk or occult style games. The game takes place in 2096, 80 years after a psychic called Nathan Hunter escaped from a covert North Dakota research facility and revealed the existence of psychics to the world; psychics were created as a result of military experimentation begun by the Nazis, continued by the Soviets and later by the Americans in the wake of WWII. Although initially outraged by the indignaties heaped on the psychic by the military, the public who once called for their release now find themselves marginalised by those members of society possessing strange powers that they cannot possibly compete with; into this arena steps the company MagiCorp who deal in items and technologies designed to even the playing field. I enjoyed reading this chapter, although there is nothing startlingly original in it and there are some well worn tropes used (nazi experimentation for one example), they were handled well and were written up in a straight-forward way without any unnecessarily flowery language; the brief history tells you what you need to know in the space of a few pages.
There follows a more lengthy description of the world history, seeming to take a fairly Americocentric view of the fture world (although there are smaller sections hinting at activities outside of the National American Union (a future state covering America, Canada and Mexico); this section is a little more stodgy and difficult to digest in my opinion, but persevering with it does give some interesting ideas for games set either during the fictional history or for events influenced by it. The history as a whole is fairly normal cyberpunk fare with the additions of psychics (known as “mentals” within the setting) and technology that blurs the line between tech and magic, huge megacorporations dominate the future society hoarding wealth and resources, keeping them away from the common man; there is a very interesting write-up of how the inevitable world food shortage was dealt with as populations rise, leading to real food becoming a prize commodity and most people subsisting on a nanotech produced Soylent Green styled substance called “nano-food” (thankfully without the main Soylent Green ingredient).
Psi-Punk paints a word where the current social/economic gulf has become vast indeed, the rich and corporate minded are able to afford the luxury of real food and elevate themselves using magical technology from MagiCorp whereas the multitudinous poor are forced to live in squalor often turning to crime as the only real means of supporting themselves; this has given rise to a powerful criminal underclass of gangs, mobsters and ghost cartels (high organised data-thieves) who are occasionally cracked down upon by a corrupt police system. The description of the class divide and the criminal elements of society is very well written and interesting, the only slight flaw IMO is that a number of concepts are introduced before they are explained (for example the concept of ‘Wraith Butchers’, people who murder astral travellers are introduced before any real mention of astral travel is made), however this is a minor niggle at most. The last part of this section focusses on ‘Street Runners’, independent mercenaries for hire, the game suggests that the default party of players would be made up of Street Runners.
Character Creation
The character creation section begins with an interesting discussion of Archetypes, with each one listed receiving a brief write-up and suggestions of how they fit in society; a very interesting diversion from the norm in these sort of games is in some of the titles used to refer to the archetypes (for example: Brenner, the german word for ‘burner’ is used to refer to pyrokinetics), this helps give the game a slightly different feel, hinting at the game slang and language usage without being too intrusive or obvious.
Characters in the system are determined by three primary attributes (body, mind and persona), each of which is then divided into two seperate sub-attributes (ie. strength & dexterity for body); primary attributes are determined by totalling the modifiers of the secondary atttributes – this reminds me somewhat of one of the suggestions for handling attributes in the old AD&D Skills & Powers book; the primary attributes seem a bit unnecessary to me and the book itself even says “On their own, attributes are rarely checked against,” I would argue that the game could have potentially been streamlined a little by removing these primary attributes, although TBH since they are rarely used and are derived from the secondaries it’s not really a massive problem and should have little impact on the actual enjoyment of the game.
The character creation chapter is quite dense with numerous modifiers being used, build points to determine skills and luck point dice being modified by skills; IMO this may prove quite daunting for players or GMs not used to a lot of number crunching and figuring out modifiers, although anyone used to some of the more crunchy systems like D&D3.5 or Pathfinder shouldn’t have a great deal of trouble adapting to it, personally I prefer a slightly more narrative approach, but I can appreciate that there are RPers who enjoy the “crunch” of game rules a lot more than myself.
After this there is a discussion of Gifts and Faults; this should be familiar territory to anyone who plays systems that allow merits and flaws (World of Darkness or Savage Worlds for instance) and allows players to tweak their characters a little using a provided list of merits (that cost build points) and flaws (that gain a person additional build points) whilst personally not a fan of flaws that allow you to get extra points to spend on your character (since I think it can be open to abuse) this part of the section is very clear and well written, I am sure that any sensible GM running the game (ie. one who doesn’t allow overuse/abuse of the Faults) will find this is a useful addition to their game. The book itself very pointedly mentions several times that the GM should be careful not to allow abuse of the Faults system.
Luck points allow the players to either accomplish an unopposed action automatically and with panache, reroll a skill check, reduce the level of injury taken in a combat, to cause a favourable coincidence (with GM approval) or (if they roll a high enough success) to cause a truly extraordinary/astonishing result. I’m a big fan of anything that allows the players to also have a degree of narrative control within a game and take control of their players destinies so I think that Luck points are a welcome addition to the game.
At the end of the chapter there is a very useful character questionnaire that provide 30 questions a player may want to consider when making their character and a summary of the creation process.
Equipment
Chapter three is basically a big list of equipment, vehicles and weaponry for you to tool your character up with, it is fairly comprehensive without being ludicrously detailed and provides additional interest by introducing Gifts, characteristics that can be applied to weapons in order to customise them. There is also a discussion of how magic (items that emulate psionic powers) can be created and how much they cost.
Playing the Game
Psi-Punk uses the standard 4 fudge/fate dice roll (4DF) common in FUDGE, FATE and the various systems that use similar rulesets; a player takes their 4DF (each dice containing two sides marked ‘+’, two sides marked ‘-‘ and two that are blank) roll thems and adds the resulting modifier to their skill or attribute, the final score can be references on the games Trait Ladder to determine whether or not that have succeeded.
In Psi-Punk the Trait Ladder looks like this:
Astonishing +7
Extraordinary +6
Phenomenal +5
Wonderful +4
Superb +3
Great +2
Good +1
Fair 0
Mediocre -1
Poor -2
Abysmal -3
So if you had a skill of Good (+1) and rolled -, +, +, blank then your final score would be Great (+2). I’m a great fan of this system and think that it has an elegant simplicity to it as well as the visual element of the Trait Ladder.
Details of how wealth works in the game (basically an addition to the Trait Ladder) and how to run a combat follow, these sections are well written (if a little dry) and fairly clear.
Psionics and Magic
Chapter five of the books contains a more detailed look at the psionic and magic systems present in the game; in game terms psionics are the ability to control and manipulate your surroundings using nothing more than the power of your mind, whilst magic is a term referring to electronic devices that manipulate energy to produce similar effects to psionics. Psionics are only available at character generation although magic devices can be acquired/purchased in game; psionic powers are linked into attributes and are rolled using 4DF like any other ability, on a successful roll they can generate a number of effets as discussed in the book; a large list of psionic powers and magic devices follows this, there aren’t really any surprises in here but the lists are comprehensive and would certainly allow most players to create the psionic or magic user of their dreams.
Hacking
Always a potentially troublesome element I find in cyberpunk or sci-fi games, chapter six deals with hacking; i’ve always seen this (along with space combat) as a potential problem area in a game because it can result in the exclusion of players not involved with the main action and, although it is possible for a decent GM to jump between two groups, it does result in a somewhat choppier/more disjointed gaming experience. Psi-Punk seems to reduce haxcking to a series of Computer Use and Technical skill rolls which can be modified by equipment used and research performed before hand; it then diverges into explanations of how to psionically hack computer systems and how to manipulate people via social engineering. Psi-jacking functions very similarly to normal hacking, however social engineering switches the various technical rolls for social based skills as the player character attempts to manipulate the target into doing whatever they want; there is also a lengthy explanation of how to control (“jack”) people using psionics.
Whilst I think some of this section is a bit lengthy, it does do a good job of reducing the various strains of hacking down to a manageable level that could be completed without the rest of the player party being forced to sit on the sidelines during a lengthy hacking session (as has happened with some other similar RP games)- this is to be applauded, although I think the number of rolls required could have been reduced even more.

When Worlds Diverge
The seventh chapter of the book deals with the online world of the Net and the mystical world of the Astral Plane that both exist alongside what we know as our world; the net is omnipresent in the form of Augmented Reality (AR) overlays of the real world, this is a concept that I first encountered in RP during reading one of the more recent versions of Cyberpunk and is a great way of bringing elements of this realm into a game session without excluding people who aren’t playing hackers. Psi-Punk does allow people to project themselves into the Net however it does provide for people bringing along passengers, thus very neatly sidestepping the exclusion problem mentioned above, I think this should be applauded and is IMO a great decision by the authors. The discussions of hwo the Net appears, can be used and the various challenges that a player party might face in this realm are very interesting, with security programs being treated as cutdown versions of characters who can attack or otherwise attempt to disable an invading Ghost (hacker).
The Astral Plane appears to be a mystical alternate realm that suitably calm and focussed people can project their consciousnesses into, mechanically it functions much the same as the Net realm save that the unwary traveller may find themselves assailed by magical creatures rather than intruder counter measure programs. I found the inclusion of an Astral Plane a little odd given that, by and large, magic in the rest of the book has been referred to as machinery.
Game Mastering
For me the star of the book is the Game mastering chapter, that contains some great advice on how to plan and run a game, also containing advice for tweaking or excluding the various rules sub-systems throughout the book; it also provides advice and tips on bringing the players into the creation process of the setting and the various adventures something that, as I said earlier, I am a big fan of. The chapter includes some no-nonsense and useful advice on adjudicating difficulty levels, handling the GMs pot of Luck Points and creating NPCs to challenge the player party.
Sample Adventure Brain.Net
The sample adventure that comes with the main book is an interesting one; it deals with an attempt to recapture lost sensations of the past and the cost that people pay when corporate greed and the need to meet deadlines overwhelms the public good. Brain dot net begins with a fairly standard pub brawl style opening that does have a certain nostalgic feel if you’re an old school roleplayer and I feel the adventure is a good introduction to the world of Psi-Punk drawing on selected elements from its history.
Overall Verdict
If you’re looking for a cyberpunk style game setting that combines the numerous different types of dystopian future settings into one and binds them all together with the FUDGE rules system then you can’t go far wrong with Psi-Punk; the rules may be a bit crunchy and unnecessarily bloated in places but the setting of the game is genuinely quite interesting, containing enough oddities and little flashes of originality to make it worthy of consideration against some of the larger RP games of a similar genre. The writing style of the book is clean and concise in the majority and the art, whilst only black and white, is very appropriate to the setting.
Personally i’m quite likely to take the background of the system and convert it to use with the much simpler FATE or FAE systems from Evil Hat productions which, given they are both based on FUDGE, should be quite easy to do; however for just over £10 you can’t really grumble with the sheer amount of material that is crammed into Psi-Punk.

Psi-Punk is available from RPGnow priced at $19.99:
http://www.rpgnow.com/product/114830/Psi-punk

Character sheets for the God Machine Chronicle

Having finished working on the character sheets for my God Machine Chronicle game (run using the FATE system), in preparation for the first actual (post character gen) session i’ve typed up the character sheets in neat and added pictures (chosen by the players).
Thought i’d post them here so people could see the sort of Aspects, Stunts, etc that my players and I are including in our GMC game.

Testing proposed narrative space combat system

As detailed in my previous posts I have been trying to come up with a solution to the problem of lengthy combats leaving certain people out, I decided to ‘test run’ a number of ideas this evening with the results shown below.


***

Statistics

For the examples below the combats pit the Venerus against a Pirate Cruiser, the two ships have to following stats:

  • Venerus (Engine +1, Hull +4, Trade +2, Weapons +3)
  • Pirate Cruiser (Engine +3, Hull +1, Trade +2, Weapons +4)
***
Idea 1


Each player makes a roll for their engines and weapons score and totals the final results together to equal the damage done to the other side, each side then rolls their trade score to represent their attempts to repair their ship and subtracts it from the damage done.
Try 1
Venerus = -1 +6 = 5 dmg done to pirate -5 repair = 0 dmg to pirate
Pirate = +5 +7 = 12 dmg done to venerus -2 repair = 10 dmg to venerus
Try 2
Venerus = +2 +5 = 7 dmg done to pirate -0 repair = 7 dmg to pirate
Pirate = +2 +3 = 5 dmg to Venerus -4 repair = 1 dmg to venerus
***
Idea 2
Each player rolls for their engines, weapons and trade, totalling the rolls and this gives the dmg done to the other side.
Try 1
Venerus = +2 +4 +2 = 8 dmg done to pirate
Pirate = +4 +4 +0 = 8 dmg done to venerus
Try 2
Venerus = +0 +4 +2 = 6 dmg done to pirate
Pirate = +4 +5 +3 = 12 dmg done to Venerus
***
Idea 3

Total up Engine, Weapon & Hull scores and then add a 4DF roll, this gives you the damage done to other side.
Try 1
Venerus = +1 +4 +3 = 8 + roll(+1) = 9 dmg to pirate 
Pirate = +3 +1 +4 = 8 + roll(-2) = 6 dmg to venerus
Try 2
Venerus = +1 +4 +3 = 8 + roll(+0) = 8 dmg to pirate 
Pirate = +3 +1 +4 = 8 + roll(+1) = 9 dmg to venerus
Try 3
Venerus = +1 +4 +3 = 8 + roll(+3) = 11 dmg to pirate 
Pirate = +3 +1 +4 = 8 + roll(-2) = 6 dmg to venerus
Try 4
Venerus = +1 +4 +3 = 8 + roll(+1) = 9 dmg to pirate 
Pirate = +3 +1 +4 = 8 + roll(+3) = 11 dmg to venerus
***

Idea 4

This would be run more like a normal attack roll with each ship making a weapons roll vs the other ships hull roll and the number of shifts being the amount of damage caused.
Try 1
Venerus attack = +3 -1 = 2
Pirate defend = +1 +0 = 1
1 damage done to Pirate
Pirate attack = +4 -3 = 1
Venerus defend = +4 -2 = 2
0 damage done to Venerus
***
All of the ideas proposed so far have their individual merits and flaws, however their main flaw in my opinion is that that they all effectively involve adding a variety of stats together and then adding a dice roll as a randomiser; whilst this has a certain amount of logic to it given that this is how most challenges work in numerous roleplaying games, the various methods proposed above seem to result either in both ships taking crippling levels of damage or barely anything at all.
***

Idea 5

Make the opposing fleet a difficulty level to be beaten as part of an Overcome action:

  • Low quality (ragtag fighters, low tech vessels) +0
  • Medium quality (cobra class destroyer) +2
  • High quality (rogue trade vessels, havoc & hazeroth class ships) +4
  • Superb quality (warships, dictator class, space marine strike cruiser) +6
  • Legendary quality (retribution class, space marine battle barge, vengeance class grand cruiser, mechanicus ark) +8
  • +1 for every additional ship beyond the number of vessels possessed by the players fleet
  • If the players exceed the difficulty then they have forced the enemy to surrender (unless they are particularly zealous in which case they are destroyed), if the player ties on the roll then either the combat ends in a stalemate with both sides withdrawing to lick their wounds or the players win but at a heavy cost.
    If the players win by 3 shifts or more then they have succeeded with style and may choose to destroy the enemy vessels if they wish; however if the players lose then they have been defeated, if they fail by 3 shifts or more then the enemy have beaten them in style and the consequences may be severe.

    Try 1

    Venerus vs 1 pirate hazeroth cruiser.
    Difficulty = +4 (high quality vessels)
    Venerus rolls a -1, adding their weapon skills of +4 = 3
    Not enough to defeat the enemy fleet.
    Try 2
    Venerus vs 1 pirate hazeroth cruiser.
    Difficulty = +4 (high quality vessels)
    Venerus rolls a 0, adding their weapon skills of +4 = 4
    This is a stalemate, so either both sides retreat to lick their wounds or the Venerus wins but at a high cost.
    Try 3
    Venerus vs 1 pirate hazeroth cruiser.
    Difficulty = +4 (high quality vessels)
    Venerus rolls a +4, adding their weapon skills of +4 = 8
    The Venerus has beaten the difficulty by more than +3 and so they have defeated it With Style and can choose to destroy the enemy if they wish.

    Try 4

    Venerus vs 3 pirate hazeroth cruisers.
    Difficulty = +4 (high quality vessels) + 2 (for the additional pirates) = +6
    Venerus rolls a -4, adding their weapon skills of +4 = 0
    The Venerus has lost by more than 3 shifts and so they are at the mercy of the small pirate fleet.

    Try 5

    Venerus vs 3 pirate hazeroth cruisers.
    Difficulty = +4 (high quality vessels) + 2 (for the additional pirates) = +6
    Venerus rolls a +2, adding their weapon skills of +4 = +6
    This is a stalemate, so either both sides retreat to lick their wounds or the Venerus wins but at a high cost.
    Try 6
    Venerus + Lunatic Pandora vs 3 pirate hazeroth cruisers..
    Difficulty = +4 (high quality vessels) + 1 (for the additional pirate vessel) = +5
    Venerus rolls a 0, adding their weapon skill of +4 = 4
    The Venerus and Lunatic Pandora are narrowly defeated by the pirate fleet.
    Try 7
    Venerus + Lunatic Pandora vs 3 pirate hazeroth cruisers..
    Difficulty = +4 (high quality vessels) + 1 (for the additional pirate vessel) = +5
    Venerus rolls a +3, adding their weapon skill of +4 = 7
    The Venerus and the Lunatic Pandora have defeated the pirate fleet.
    ***

    Out of all the ideas that i’ve suggested in this post the final one is the most appealing, reducing the combat to a single test with a difficulty set by the quality of the opposition and modified via fate points, Aspects and Stunts as per normal tests (although this is not reflected in the tests shown above).
    I certainly plan to test out Idea 5 a game situation at some point, the only thing left to be decided on would be how to adjudicate the amount of damage done to the defeated fleet and the victors; although I am half tempted to leave this to narrative fiat.