So what are the group playing?

So after the players had finished discussing their characters I asked them all to think about where they lived; my only criteria for character at the start had been that they must either live in or spend a lot of their time in, the Specto Vale tower block.

At the end of this process we had the following characters:
Brian “Bulldog” Best
A jack-of-all-trades, bar stool philosophising truck driver in his early 40s who works as an internation smuggler and (on his days off) a volunteer hospital driver, however his mouth often gets him in trouble.
Brian spends most of his money on his van and is well known for his ability to keep it running with just sticky tape and hope; his appartment in Specto Vale being something of a man cave with a tv, futons and a few old steroes being the main furniture.
Catia “Cathy” Mizuro
Born in England but with Polish and Italian grandparents, Cathy wanted to become a nurse but washed out because she couldn’t cope with the pressure and stress; using her ability to speak several languages she found work in counselling and administration. A reluctant member of the Residents Association, Cathy spends a lot of time on her computer and is fairly well known amongst tech savvy circles; recently she has begun to become concerned that someone is stalking her.
The money that she makes that doesn’t get spent on booze, drugs and partying is spent on shoes and clothes, her apartment is littered with accessories.
Joe “Smokey” Thompson
A wiry, well-dressed criminal problem solver, Smokey finds himself seen as something of a dinosaur or dying breed by the new upstart criminals that frequent the estate, despite being well connected the world seems to have moved on and left him behind. Still, Smokey’s reputation for ruthlessness and getting the job done means that he still finds work; when not at work he lives in a minimalist apartment miles from Specto Vale overlooking a park.
[ Unnamed ]
A failed chemist an student of horticulture, the young hippy turned to selling recreational drugs in order to fund her lifestyle; despite finding it sometimes difficult to get people to take her seriously, she has become well known amongst certain circles in the tower block. She lives in a flat where the majority of kitchen space is utilised for growing weed and only regular donations to the supervisor ensure that her flat is left alone.
[ Unnamed ]
Something of a local legend amongst the younger residents of Specto Vale, the old Polish man who lives in the dark apartment on floor 13 is something whispered about by children in hushed tones. Still, the man is a professional with connections to the mob and he deliberately cultivates a reputation to keep people away from him (even going so far as to remove the corridor light bulbs on his florr).

Character Generation for God Machine Chronicle game

We’ll myself and the other five players for my God Machine Chronicle game met up last night to define some more details about the setting and create characters ready for the first actual session on 05/07/13; this was my first experience of using the Game Creation advice chapter from the FATE core rulebook so I was interested to see how it would go.

Designing the Setting
You might ask why I needed to design the setting when (if you’ve read some of my earlier posts on this subject you’ll know that) I’d already specified that the game was going to be local scale and take place in a fictional East Midlands council block called Specto Vale? Well I’d left the setting of the game world fairly loosely defined, of course I had a few ideas kicking about that I wasn’t immediately going to reveal to the players (since part of the idea behind a God Machine Chronicle game, and indeed any World of Darkness game is discovering the horror behind strange occurrences) but I wanted to get the players involved in coming up with some of the other setting elements. The rationale behind this is simple, if players create parts of the setting then they are invested in it and are more likely to be interested in it.
Setting Issues
Following the guidelines in the FATE corebook we decided to come up with a couple of current issues (that already exist within the setting) and a couple of impending issues (problems or concerns that have just started to make themselves known). After a bit of head scratching and discussion we arriving at the following:
Current Issues


  • Organised crime.
  • Racial tension.
  • Milk/local cats going missing.

Impending Issues


  • Residents being evicted.
  • Potential demolition/repurposing.
I wrote these issues down on index cards as we discussed them and, during the discussion, any interesting people or places that we mentioned were also added onto there own cards; we ended up with a stack of about 15 or so cards at this stage, including concepts and things such as:
  • Crime/racial tension.
    • Eastern europenas.
    • Tension between long time residents and influx of immigrants.
    • Graffiti tagging, racial slurs.
    • Conflict between new/old criminal elements.
    • Flags hanging from balconies.
  • Evictions.
    • Manager evicting housing association people to cram in the more profitable immigrants.
    • Residents association pettitions.
  • Missing milk/animals.
    • Escalating problem.
    • Has been reported- no action taken.
    • Connected with crazy cat lady?
    • Connected with chinese restaurant?
  • Residents association.
    • Do-gooders.
    • Door knocking Christians.
    • Leaders of the local scout movement.
    • Community events.
  • Crazy cat lady.
    • See the character from The Simpsons.
  • The manager.
    • Conservative MP.
    • Similar to the fat hacker from Jurassic Park.
  • Eastern European Immigrants.
    • Wage slaves.
    • 500 to a flat.
    • Right wingers (organisation).
      • Owner of the Red Lion, won’t serve them.
    • Illegal immigrants.
  • New criminal element.
    • Youth criminals/new blood.
    • Gangsta wannabees.
    • Chavs.
    • “Attack the Block.”
    • “Kids.”
  • A stalker.
    • Huge coat and hat.
    • Scary male.
    • Hangs around.
    • “1 Hour Photo.”
    • “The Watcher.”
    • “Mine Hunters.”
    • Infatuation?
  • Old polish criminal element.
    • Dying breed.
    • Boris the Blade – “Snatch.”
  • A man smuggling in immigrants.
    • Bartek Prusees.
    • Bringing in Polish Immigrants.
    • New blood.
    • Scarred, tattooed villain.
      • Danny Trejo.
      • Robert Kcvepper.
    • Nasty piece of work.
  • Newsagents/bargain booze.
    • Asian man running shop.
    • Illegal poker nights in back room.
    • Dodgy cigs, bootlegged booze, misc cheap meat.
  • Chip shop.
    • Legitimate family business.
    • Old patriarch.
    • Always open.
    • Once a week does free meals for homeless.
  • Red Lion pub.
    • Plastic, sticky floored pub.
    • Known rough pub.
    • Boarded up window.
    • Cig machine with no cigarettes.
    • Mesh over bar.
    • Man who knows a man.
    • Old man drunks.
  • Chinese takeaway.
    • Cat meat?
    • Human meat?
    • Sex trade cover.
  • Young prostitute.
    • Taken under wing of older prostitute.
    • Likes older men.
  • Older prostitute.
    • Over 50.
    • Doing it to put her daughter through ollege.
    • Cougar.
    • Has a thing for old Polish men.
We then started creating the characters; it took a little while for people to get the idea of Aspects, but once the ball had started rolling most of the players seemed fairly comfortable with the concept, Stunts were a lot easier to explain.
After some discussion and noted down of stats we ended up with the following character concepts:
  • An eccentric old shut-in with ties to the Polish mob.
  • A multi-lingual hospital worker and self-confessed ‘Lambrini Girl.’
  • A young female ex-chemist turned drug dealer.
  • A jack-of-all-traders bar stool philosophising lorry driver.
  • A wiry criminal problem solver.
Following the creations of concepts we moved on to creating links between the characters; I asked each person to come with an incident in their character’s life and link two of the other characters in with it. This section of the character genning was very good fun as the players discussed things between themselves and began filling in some more detail about theirs and other people’s characters.
  • The criminal problem solver: Hired the truck driver to retrieve a shipment of drugs from Eastern Europe (via his contact the shut-in) in order to provide them to the dealer.
  • The truck driver was approached by the problem solver to move some of the drug dealers supplies up north as a favour, he was injured whilst on the job and trying to effect a minor repair to his lorry and get chatting to the hospital worker whilst in the waiting room.
  • The drug dealer was providing the criminal problem solver with a cut from her dealing, she knows the truck driver as the “pick up man; she frequents the same chip shop as the shut-in and has spoken to him a couple of times.
  • The shut-in has chased away the stalker when he was following the hospital worker.
  • The hospital worker was feeling sorry for a patient in pain and, knowing that there was a dealer living in the same block as her, bought some weed for the suffering patient; she bumped into the criminal problem solver (who was there to pick up his cut) whilst she was there.
So how did the character generation session go overall?

Overall I thought the character/game creation session went extremely well; it took a few minutes for the players to wrap their heads around some of the elements that are most different IMO from standard roleplaying games (Aspects for example), however, once this hurdle was out of the way and I had explained to the group that the best Aspects were those that could be used in a positive way but that also suggested elements of plot or complications that could occur this progressed fairly rapidly. It was extremely gratifying to see all of the players getting excited by their characters and talking about how they were connected and what parts of the setting would most influence their characters.

In total the character generation probably only took us an hour of so, even with me explaining some of the concepts and going through how some of the FATE rules worked; the rest of the time was spent elaborating on various plot elements and discussion of the game setting.
So to sum up I have a stack of index cards full of interesting plot pointers and things that capture the players imagination, five very interesting and different (but connected) characters and several interesting threads (such as the missing milk/animals, the stalker and the crazy cat lady) with which to draw the characters in to the machinations of the God Machine.
Really happy with how that turned out and can’t wait to run the first session in a couple of weeks 🙂

Simplifying space combat in my Rogue Trader hack

Having spent an awful lot of time recently working on my FAE NWOD hack i’ve been going to great lengths to keep the rules as simple as possible, capturing the feel and mood of the World of Darkness without bolting on loads of unnecessary additional rules and sub-systems that would slow the game down without really adding all that much to it; as well as the character generation session for my God Machine Chronicle FAE game this weekend i’ve also got another session of my Rogue Trader FATE game on Sunday (not to mention playing in a Pathfinder game that a friend is running on Saturday) and so i’ve been leafing through my hack rules in advance of the session.

The plan for the next game has always been to include a couple of space fights in them; since we changed to using the FATE rules we haven’t really gone in for any big space combats as we adjusted to using the new rules and it’s about time IMO that we test drive the hack rules for space combat. Originally the space combat rules in my hack were very much based on the Diaspora rules with a few tweaks and alterations by myself; the players have a number of build points which they use to purchase skills, aspects and stunts for their ship with each ship having multiple stress tracks and various other bits and pieces. Although I was quite pleased with it when I first finished writing up that part of the hack, looking at it now the rules really do seem a little bit over the top and more suited to a strategic wargame or miniatures game rather than a narrative-based RP game.

With that in mind I decided to dust off the rules and see if I could simplify them using some of the lessions that i’m current learning from Fate Accelerated Edition.

Ship Construction

The first step, I decided, was to throw out the notion of variable build points (based on vessel size) to create a ship and the use of multiple stress tracks. I decided that i’d give the ships some basic skills (the words in blue show the skills that players can use instead if they are crewing that section(if applicable)); the players can pick one at Great (+4), one at Good (+3), one at Fair (+2) and the remaining one at Average (+1).

  • Engine (drive(spacecraft)) – used to make maneuvres and initiative rolls
  • Hull (crafts(tech use)) – used in defence and affects stress tracker
  • Trade (resources) – used for trading and maintenance
  • Weapons (shooting)– used to make attack rolls
These skills would receive a set number of levels to be allocated between them (as character do when they are created), each ship (regardless of size) would receive a number of Stunts and Aspects; larger ships could be achieved by taking a higher Hull Skill, this would add additional boxes to the ships Hull Stress tracker in the same way as Physique does for characters.

Ships would have a refresh of three fate points, deducted by 1 for everyone stunt beyond the first that was taken, they would also receive 5 Aspects (as with normal FATE characters).

By default the ship would receive 2 stress boxes and 3 consequences boxes (with the standard 2, 4 and 6 values) in the same way as a character.

  • If the Hull skill is Average (+1) or Fair (+2) then one more stress box is added.
  • If the Hull skill is Good (+3) or higher then two more stress boxes are added.
  • At Superb (+5) or higher an additional mild consequence slot is added.

Stunts could be purchased in the same way as FAE or FATE allowing the characters to justify under what circumstances they would receive the bonus; one that I was going to give them was the following (since it has been established that the ship has this bit of tech).
Stunt – Teleportarium

Once per game as long as the ship is in the same system it may move up to 10 people to another place in the same system from the ship, or back onto the ship.

Another stunt that would like possesses by the flagship of Admiral Blacks fleet is:

Stunt – Large ship

This stunt adds an additional stress box to the ships character sheet.

Combat Zone Layout

I decide to use three zones for space combat (that I would represent on the table with index cards) with a single ’empty’ card represent the vast emptiness of space and the other two each containing something related to the systems aspects. For example: if the combat took place around Catan Prime then there might be an asteroid in one zone and a burning world.

These elements will be Aspects in their various zones and function as normal Aspects, for instance someone could spend one of their fate points to gain a +2 to a defensive hull roll because they are taking cover behind the asteroid.

Ships would only be able to fire/engage with enemy vessels in the same zone but would be able to move between zones freely on their turn as per the FATE rules, possibly with a roll if there was some sort of impediment to movement (like an asteroid belt or something similar).

Music for my GMC session

Although tomorrow’s (21/06/13) session is for the players to run through the generation process with me and help create links between the characters, NPCs and other setting elements I have already been thinking about appropriate music that could be played in the background of the generation session and then continued through into the game proper. I’ve never really made a great deal of use of music beyond having a couple of quiet tracks playing in the background since I normally prefer not to be fiddling around with music tracks on the computer when I could be describing the action of a game, I also find that if I don’t keep track of where the music is then it’s possible for a tense IC situation to be ruined when the track abruptly changes to something less suitable. On the opposite side of the scale though i’ve played in tabletop RPG games where music has been used to great effect; the main proponent of this (at least in games I have played) has been Simon Webber who normally has a speaker rig and extensive collection of soundtracks that he knows very well and uses to the benefit of his game sessions whenever he runs something.
One of the things that Simon does very well in his sessions is varying the tone and pacing of his descriptions so that it fits with the current music that is playing, normally queuing up some appropriate tracks at the start of the scene and then tailoring his prose to fit in with the pace and mood of the music. Another aspect that I have quite enjoyed is the use of certain music pieces to act as ‘theme tunes’ for certain NPCs or plot elements that are going to recur during the game; as soon as one of the recognisable theme tunes starts it give you the player (although not your character in most cases) a feel of what is going to occur and (if the music belongs to a major villain who has not yet made himself known in the present scene) can result in a lot of tension and atmosphere as you wait for the other shoe to drop and for the villain to make their inevitable appearance.
I’ve really enjoyed creating my fake hack for my God Machine Chronicle game and would like to make it a memorable experience for the players; given that the game has a fairly small focus and is only slated in for 4-5 sessions worth of play I want to pull out all the stops in order to make the game as exciting and gripping for my players as possible, both so that the game sticks in their minds and to get some enthusiasm up for their participation in a Demon: the Descent game or Mummy: the Curse game that I play to run later on (probably using my FAE hack). During the game I intend to make extensive use of index cards to track things like Zones, Aspects and NPCs, mainly because they are easy to reference, move about and relatively simple to transport along with my printouts of the quick reference sheets and the character sheets that I have designed for the game; it occurred to me that it would be very easy to note down a specific track or music on the index cards should an NPC, Zone, etc deserve their own ‘theme-tune.’
I’ve been building up a fairly respectable collection of soundtracks for a while, however I always think it’s good to get some additional ideas and so I put out the question on the G+ Game Master Tips community. A number of interesting suggestions were made:
I investigated the suggestions more closely and tagged several for future use during this (and other) RP sessions, particularly I found the Two Steps from Hell youtube channel extremely interesting with some great atmospheric and oppressive music on it that would be eminently suitable for use in a World of Darkness game. 
When I got home from work it was time to fire up my copy of media player and begin trawling through the collection of soundtracks that I have built up; since the settings of both the God Machine Chronicle and Rogue Trader are fairly dark I decided to compile a single list for both games and jot down locations and names of tracks that might be suitable.

First on my list was the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack, which had a good mix of eerie acoustic stuff and pounding drumbeats that would work well for the science fiction genre and also for the industrial modern era of the NWOD. I trawled through a number of other soundtracks (including the Final Fantasy Movie soundtrack, Terminator, Interview with a Vampire and others), creating a number of playlists:

  • Calm/serenity
  • Chase
  • Choral
  • Combat
  • Drifting in space
  • Generic industrial
  • Horror
  • Madness
  • Military/marching
  • Posh/upper floor
  • Realisation
  • Romantic
  • Sorrow
  • Space combat
  • Suspense

I also picked a few random tracks because I thought they fight in well with the idea of the God Machine or a particular concept in WH40K.

Hopefully this will give me a fairly decent selection of tunes to use as background in my game.

FAE character sheets for God Machine Chronicle

Although my NWOD Hack for FAE isn’t complete i’m going to be holding the character genning session for my game on this Friday (21/06/13 as of writing), handily because this short campaign doesn’t involve the players portraying supernatural creatures I only need the basic rules that have already been decided on in order to run it and can continue to work on the supernatural rules at my leisure (i’m hoping that the FATE toolkit comes out soon since there are some intriguing ideas that have been mentioned that may work well with my hack).
The character sheet is available here in Excel format (i’d recommend downloading the spreadsheet to your machine since it seems to look a bit poor when viewed preview mode.
Below is the initial summary of the game that was made available to the players:

***
The chronicle takes place in the Specto Vale block of council flats in the east Midlands; built in the late 19th century to help alleviate the housing problems caused by the Second World War and as a potential future model of urban living the shortcuts taken by the construction crews quickly became evident as cracks both material and social began to rise to surface amongst the community, culminating in the late 1960s when five apartments collapsed killing the occupants.

Hastily repaired the tower block was pressed back into service, although most of the more affluent members of society had fled, making it a haven for less desirable members of society, students and people of low income; crime and drug use has steadily risen in the early 2000s and many unemployed were transferred to the cheap, badly maintained Specto Vale block. A fierce sense of community has built up amongst many people in the block, leading to a rise in youth gangs who haunt the underground car park and the now almost deserted open spaces that designers once touted as proof of modernity, leaving some residents huddled in their homes fearful of what stalks the corridors of the block.

Outwardly Specto Vale seems just like any other block, limping along and slowly rotting from within, or does something more sinister lurk behind the decay?


***

Morality as Consequences in FAE

Last night and during my lunch hour today i’ve been thinking about the best way to represent morality within my NWOD hack; since all of the games feature some sort of morality (generally represented by a Hierarchy of Sins that causes moral degeneration of the character when it is transgressed against) and a struggle to prevent it from sliding down to a point where the character becomes a monstrous NPC that dances at the whims of the GM, it doesn’t seem inappropriate to say that the descent of morality is a major theme within the entire gameline. The various Morality systems within the different game lines have been given different names, whether it’s the Humanity of Vampire: the Requiem, Wisdom in Mage: the Awakening or Clarity in Changeling: the Lost but broadly they function in the same way, building on the mortal system of morality provided in the core NWOD rulebook to track a characters decline or fall.

I originally considered added an additional Stress Tracker where a character would sustain Stress when committing “sins” as a method of tracking a character’s degeneration, however this wasn’t particularly interesting as far a the story goes and didn’t really take into account the individual tweaks on the morality system that were applied to each supernatural.
Currently my favourite alternative to the Stress Tracker system is the addition of a set of Morality Consequence boxes that function in most ways like the normal set of Consequence boxes as detailed in FAE, however when a character commits a sin from the reduced Hierarchy of Sins (as shown below) they automatically acquire a Morality Consequence, the strength of which is related to the “sin” committed.
Hierarchy of Sins

  • Injury to another, theft – mild morality consequence.
  • Arson, manslaughter – moderate morality consequence.
  • Murder or other heinous acts – severe morality consequence.
Morality consequence boxes and normal consequence boxes can be used for this purpose and, if all the boxes of the listed level are full then the damage bumps up to the next level. For example: If a vampire steals from someone and both his Mild Consequence boxes are full then the consequence becomes a Moderate Consequence (and if they are both full then it gets bumped up to Severe).
Anyone who gains a morality consequence when their list is already full has fallen to such a state of degeneration that they are no longer suitable for play as an player character and become a particularly monstrous NPC. After thinking of this idea I wondered whether or not this was a little harsh considering that there are only three Morality Consequence boxes on the tweaked sheet that I have been working on, and I toyed with the idea of adding additional boxes; however some re-reading of the FAE rulebook lead me to realise that the recovery rate of Consequences is fairly rapid:
  • Mild consequences – clear at the end of the scene.
  • Moderate consequences – clear at the end of the next session.
  • Severe consequences – clear at the end of the scenario.
Looking at the recovery times I think that it is not unreasonable that a creature who goes around committing “sins” willy-nilly will quickly burn through their consequences; although I did decide that allowing the normal consequence tracker to also ‘soak’ Morality Consequences was probably a wise move (although Morality Consequence tracker can only be used to ‘soak’ consequences from Morality.
I’m eventually planning to tie blood hunger and other such concepts into the two Consequence trackers.
A link to my WIP character sheet for the hack can be found here.
 

Thoughts on my FAE World of Darkness hack thus far

This is the first in a short series of blog posts detailing the thought processes behind the creation of my FAE World of Darkness hack.

  • Establishing the Basics

First thing I needed to do when I began work on the FAE nWoD hack was to detail how much the hack rules were going to adhere to and deviate from the basic rules of the Fate Accelerate Edition.

  • Aspects
I definitely wanted to keep the High Concept and Trouble Aspects discussed in the FAE rulebook, however I also decide to implement a Type Aspect that would either be the appropriate type of supernatural (vampire, werewolf, etc) or simply ‘human’ if the character was playing a mortal; the idea behind this was that it could be invoked when appropriate and also it could compelled by opponents when the characters type was a disadvantage. For example, if a werewolf was wrestling against a human, it wouldn’t prove unreasonable IMO to compel them based on the fact that a human is physically weaker than a werewolf.
Typically in WoD games the various supernaturals are divided into social groupings that impact on the powers and abilities that the character may possess; variously know as clans, tribes, etc the different types have been nicknamed Splats by many different people in the RP community. I decided that there should be a Splat Aspect that would be based on the characters clan, tribe or whatever.
For example: The Mekhet clan are shadowy occultists who take additional damage from sunlight due to their affinity with the night, therefore their Splat Aspect is Master of the Shadows.
Obviously humans don’t have a Splat Aspect as such and therefore they effectively have more freedom with assigning this Aspect, I quite like the fact that humanity is more versatile and free to choose its own destiny whereas the various supernaturals are, to a certain extent, defined and limited by their curses/blessings. 
  • Approaches

I decided early on that I didn’t want to alter the existing Approaches listed in the FAE rulebook, since they cover a broad range of approaches and would be easy for a group to understand; however the loss of morality and the struggle against the darkness within is (for me) a fundamental aspect of the World of Darkness and therefore I needed to find some way to represent this.
Condensing the Hierarchy of Sins table from the nWoD corebook I needed and assigning difficulties to the various sins was fairly straight forward, however I needed something that could be used to test against the difficulty and none of the existing Approaches really seemed to cover it, so I added in a Humane Aspect. Whilst tinkering around with this mechanic, I decided that I would also need some measure of how inhumane a character was so that things such as Predators Taint could be judged.
Predators Taint in the Requiem corebook is when two vampires meet their beasts react to each other, the vampire with the highest blood potency feeling violent/angry and the vampire with the lower blood potency feeling fear and the desire to flee; i’ve chosen not to focus so drastically on blood potency in my WoD hack, but still wanted to keep the Predators Taint (as a cool mechanic), so I needed something else to measure it by. I eventually settled on adding a Bestial Approach, but it seemed ludicrous that one could have a character who was very humane and yet also very bestial, therefore I decided that the player would be able to give Humane and Bestial Aspects any score from +1 to +8 that they wished as long as the two of them did not add up to more than +8; any additions to one score would subtracts from the other, meaning that a character could try to achieve a balance or could focus on one to the exclusion of the other.
  • Stunts

I left the Stunts pretty much as written in FAE although I did decide that a number of the various supernatural powers would be represented by Stunts.
However, I did decide that some Stunts in the game would be activated without spending fate points, for instance, vampires would replenish their Physical Stress boxes by feeding, and would gain physical stress by activating their discipline powers (representing them burning through the stolen blood in their bodies).
  • Stress Tracks

Looking at FATE core I borrowed the idea of having multiple Stress Tracks, the original Stress Track (that I renamed the Physical Stress Track) and then a second one that I named the Mental Stress Track; since I wanted to keep track of a characters dwindling morality it was necessary to have some sort of stat that could be depleted and “healed” as morality increased and decreased, stress tracks seemed the natural fit for this.
Near the end of my first draft it seemed obvious to me that I could borrow another idea from FATE Core, that of tying Stress Tracks into certain abilities, in this case the Bestial and Humane Approaches tying into Physical and Mental Stress Tracks; meaning that more Humane characters would have a greater resistance to mental stress whereas those given more to their bestial natures were less focused on the mind but more likely to master their own physicality.
  • Crumbling Integrity
As i’ve said earlier, one of the main parts of the WoD that has always appealed to me is the struggle against the crumbling of morality in the face of the cruel gameworld; i’d already worked out that I wanted to model the loss of integrity/humanity using the Mental Stress Track and had composed a Hierarchy of Sins with difficulty ratings on it, it was easy to assign rules that a player must test only when the difficulty rating of the sin was lower than their Humane Approach and that, if they failed, the character would take Mental Stress equal to the degrees of failure. The Stress could be dealt with as normal by filling in stress boxes or by accepting Mental Consequences.
Originally, in my first draft I accidentally wrote that an Integrity test was only required if the sin was ‘higher’ than the characters Humane Aspect, however Julius Müller was kind enough to point out the error after reading the initial draft so that I could correct it.
  • Vampires

Vampires seemed like a natural first supernatural to tackle since, love them or hate them, Vampire was always the flagship of the World of Darkness gamelines (in both its iterations).
  • Spending Blood and Feeding

One of the first things I decided was that I didn’t want to introduce an additional Stress Track or measure to track the amount of blood in the vampires system, that seemed to introduce more complexity that was necessary; eventually I settled on using the Physical Stress Track to measure blood, with vampires incurring physical stress as they activated their disciplines and when they woke in the evening (to represent blood spent) and ‘healing’ physical stress when they fed.
  • Diablerie

In the core game Diablerie allows you to drink the soul of another vamprie when you have them at your mercy, drinking some of their power in return for consuming their soul and damaging your own humanity in the process. Given that most powers are going to be based on Stunts I decided to allow the diablerist to steal a Stunt from the (now)deceased victim at the cost of taking mental stress (since devouring someone’s soul takes a heavy toll on you).
  • Predators Taint

The mechanics of Predators Taint have already been discussed above, the actual effect was largely left to the players and GM as a narrative device.
  • Blood Bonding
In the World of Darkness a vampire can feed someone their blood three times in order to bend the victims will to their own, gaining an additional Aspect called In the Thrall of [name of vampire whose blood you drank] quickly took care of that.
  • Sunlight
Sunlight is one of the major banes of the vampiric race, it beats down relentlessly on the kindred like a punishment from God, burning the unclean flesh of the kindred. I thought that the best way for me to represent this would be to have the sun launch an attack on a vampire for every turn they remained in the sunlight, with the strength of the attack varying depending on the strength of the sunlight that they were exposed to.
  • In Conclusion

I’m pretty happy with the WIP hack up to now, there’s still a fair bit of work to be done on it, Stunts to be created and (potentially) other supernaturals to add into the mix. The very active G+ fate community has also provided some interesting suggestions:
  • Drew Hamblin suggested using Humane and Bestial as the only two Approaches; I personally love this idea, but I think it would be a bit too vague for some.
  • Todd Grotenhuis suggested using Conditions to represent the hunger of an ill-fed vampire, unfortunately Conditions are part of the FATE toolkit and I don’t have that yet; i’m definitely planning to have a look at it when the toolkit becomes available to the public.
  • Paul Vencill mentioned that the Humane and Bestial Approaches may only really be suitable for Vampires and Werewolves and may not work as well for other supernaturals – this is definitely something that i’ll be putting more consideration into as I expand the hack to include other supernaturals. Paul also raised a very good point that perhaps I was cleaving a bit too closely to the rules of the World of Darkness when perhaps I should be looking less at the rules and more at keeping the themes of the games, this will definitely be kept in mind as I rework the hack.
The current WIP hack is available here.

Musings on Fate Accelerated Edition

I’ve been recently considering using some version of the FATE system to run the God Machine Chronicle World of Darkness game that i’ll be starting in a week or twos time (i’ll be putting up a post about the GMC game separately at  some point in the near future); having become increasingly non-plussed at the more complicated rules systems inherent in many roleplaying games and given my recently switch to using a slightly adapted version of FATE core rules for my Rogue Trader game (there is a post on that here and my FATE hack is available for download here) I started considering using some version of FATE to run a world of darkness game.

Obviously a world of darkness game involving the various supernatural strains that populate the game world would require some sort of consideration for the various powers and abilities of the different creatures; luckily for me my GMC is a short-term (4 or 5 sessions only) that is going to feature entirely mortals and so this isn’t a hurdle that I need to handle at the moment (although several individuals on the various G+ communities have been extremely helpful). Adam Boothroyd suggested that I might want to have a look at Fate Accelerated Engine, a streamlined version of the FATE core system.

Size
Looking at FAE the most immediately obvious difference between it and FATE core is the size of the two PDFs, with Core weighing in at 300+ pages and FAE only being about 50 pages in length; skimming through the book it seems that a lot of the stuff that has been trimmed is the abundance of GMing advice that has been provided in the Core book, this is understandable and the FAE book itself isn’t shy about pointing out where you can locate stuff in its parent tome. 

Approaches
Another major difference is that, unlike Core, FAE eschews the use of the more common skills present in most RPGs, instead positing the use of six approaches describing the manner that characters approach an action with rather than a specific skill (for example, instead of looking at your Fighting skill you might look at your Forceful approach).

The six approaches described in the game are:

  • Careful
  • Clever
  • Flashy
  • Forceful
  • Quick
  • Sneaky
    They are rating from 0 to +5 using the FATE ladder in the same manner as skills in the Core.
    Aspects
    Aspects work pretty much in the same way as the Core system with one Aspect being chosen as the ‘High Concept’ to sum up the character and the other representing some sort of ‘Trouble’ that throws up challenges in the character’s life. Aspects can be invoked by the player by expending a fate point to either give them +2 to a roll or to completely re-roll their original result, as long as the action fits in with the Aspect in question; for example if the player had Aspect ‘Crack shot with a pistol’ then he could invoke it to give him an advantage when making a trick shot with a pistol.
    Players and other people can also compel Aspects to add complications or twists in the game plot; this is the main way of earning fate points within the system.
    Stunts
    Stunts work similarly to the way that they do in the Core game with the exception that skill swapping stunts are no longer part of the picture. Two types are stunt are posited in the game system:
    • Stunts that give you a +2 bonus in certain situations
    • The second type of Stunt allows you to make something true, do something cool or otherwise ignore the rules in some way.
      The explanation of what Stunts can accomplish is extremely clear in FAE and should be easy to explain to people unfamiliar with the rules.
      Gamemastering Advice
      The Gamesmaster chapter that is offered in FAE is extremely concise, but very useful; the advice on creating opponents suggests giving them a +2 bonus to things that they are good at and a -2 penalty on things that they are bad at, a couple of aspects and a couple of stress boxes, this is an extremely simply way of defining the opponents that can be done without the GM having to agonise over Skills and Stunts.
      There are some other differences, such as FAE only using one stress track but the majority of differences have been covered by the points above.

      Overall I think that FAE is an extremely worthy addition to the FATE school of products and it is certainly one that i’m planning to use for my God Machine Chronicle; I think that FAE would certainly be a good alternative for a game where you want to get started quickly or have to introduce new people to the FATE rules system. The two systems are also very compatible and, with a little tweaking, I find it hard to imagine how anything designed for FATE Core wouldn’t be usable with FAE.

      A highly useful RPG that I look forward to trying out 🙂