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Tone Milazzo
Punching out code until I can punch out fiction for a living.
Punching out code until I can punch out fiction for a living.


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Below is the first draft of my rules for Agencies, Reputation Stress and Morale Stress. This is written for an espionage game, but I think it could work for any game where the players are on adventures because of their job; cops, organized criminals, the staff of a wizard school, etc, by changing what happens when they are 'taken out'

I was beginning to think this was unnecessary and could be handled with role-playing. but this Animated Spellbook on Honor scores encouraged me to keep it:

Any thoughts?


Reputation Stress

You’re only as good as your reputation. Failure to complete missions, fraternization with enemy agents, financial difficulty or criminal activity, excessive calls for support, all of these can damage an agent’s reputation. Characters can also take reputation stress from attacks, misinformation campaigns designed to slander the character.
The number of Reputation stress points is determined by the character’s Contacts skill. Average(+1) or Fair(+2) gives you a 3 point stress box. Good(+3) or Great(+4) gives you both 3 and 4 point stress boxes. Superb(+5) or higher will give you the two additional stress boxes, plus a second minor consequence slot.
Every time an agent calls their agency for extra assistance it costs a Reputation stress point. Support promised at the mission briefing which will be delivered without stress. If the agent needs an additional helicopter mid-mission to evacuate an unexpected half-dozen civilians to fulfill a promise made to an informant, that will.
Agents can mitigate this stress during the briefing by proposing “what if” situations and getting their agency to commit to supporting actions. The agent attempts to creating an advantage with Rapport, the difficulty is determined the reasonableness of the request. Asking the CIA for an inflatable raft in case the agents need to escape down a river is difficulty 1 or 2. Asking the DIA for a Marine expeditionary unit to be on standby on a hunch is difficulty 12. If the agency is suffering from Morale consequences, the GM can invoke them to deny commitments of support.
Agents recover from stress very slowly, one stress box per session or with the completion of a successful mission. They recover consequences even slower. Mild consequences will linger around for an entire scenario, moderate consequences for a campaign arc, and severe consequences never recover, becoming a permanent stain on their image that can only be worked off with role-playing.
When an agents Reputation starts to suffer consequences, it inhibits their agency support. Mild consequences will result in reduced support from the agent’s agency for a scene. Calls for help or information won’t be answered or delayed. A minor consequence will last the whole session, and may result in the agent being called home early or promised support withdrawn. A severe consequence will cause an agent to be pulled from the field entirely for debriefing and retraining. A player has the option to take an Extreme Consequence just as they can for other kinds of stress. This will result in a permanent stain on their reputation for the rest of their career.
An agent with no stress or consequences left to buy off the shifts of a hit is taken out. The agent has been burned, no longer in employ of their agency and considered persona non grata. More than likely, the entire paper trail of their existence will be erased by their House.
A burned Player is still playable. They lose the Reputation stress track and gain the aspect Burned. A burned American agent won’t have a legitimate identification of any kind and will be forced to live underground off their skills alone. The agent’s former employer will take steps to assure the burned reputation will follow the agent wherever they go, making even criminal employment difficult to find.
Burned agents either fade off into complete obscurity, or spend the rest of their lives trying to salvage their reputation. Sometimes they succeed.

Extra: Agency
The GM should assign the players a number of aspects, skills, and stunts to build their agency. An agency that only consists of the player characters can have Resources, Contacts, and Lore that the players can access. Much larger organizations such as the FBI, or NSA will have other skills such as Burglary, Investigate, or Notice to handle out-of-session operations.
Contacts and Resources represent the limits of an agency's support.

Morale Stress
Morale isn’t a measure of happiness within an organization. Though that can be a factor. It’s the measure of how effective the organization is at executing its directives. If an agency’s internal functions are disrupted, has its budget slashed, is politically embarrassed, of fails to perform too many missions, its staff and agents will loose the will or ability to perform their functions. Limiting support provided to agents in the field.
The number of Morale stress points is determined by the agency’s Resources skill. Average(+1) or Fair(+2) gives it a 3 point stress box. Good(+3) or Great(+4) gives it both 3 and 4 point stress boxes. Superb(+5) or higher will give it the two additional stress boxes, plus a second minor consequence slot.
Consequences effect function and like other forms of stress should reflect the source. If too many missions fail, the agency could become Cautious and command will begin to second guess the player’s decisions. If all if its facilities become compromised, the Enhanced Security will slow down or stop access. If the agency is out of favor with elected officials because of some political misstep, agents could be required to pass all gathered information thorough congress because of a House Chair with a Grudge.
Like an agent’s reputation, Agencies recover from stress very slowly, one stress box per session. And from consequences even slower. Mild consequences will linger around for an entire scenario, moderate consequences for a campaign arc, and severe consequences never recover except under extreme circumstances such as restructuring and often become defining aspects of the agency. Recovering the consequence also requires an action by the agency, ideally one that puts the players on a mission.
Morale stress can accumulate very quickly. This can lead to more failed missions as support is withheld. Beginning a downward spiral as consequences to stack, further crippling its effectiveness.

Thanks everyone for the feedback so far. I originally posted this one as a question, in a setting were all psychics have mental disorders, how to dictate that in the rules. David Bayliss pointed me to Extras, which I'd previously ignored because they seemed unbalanced. But I took another look at them and I think I have them worked out to my satisfaction.

These psychics are barely in the league with even the weakest superheroes, but creative players will find a wide range of possibilities here. Also, when I was trying to write these powers up for Savage Worlds it gave me nothing but headache. Fate Core was smooth as silk.


All Psychics, no matter their abilities or power level, take the following Extra:

Extra: Psychic

Permissions: Two aspects; one reflecting a psychic ability, one for the related mental disorder.

Cost: One or more stunts relating to the psychic’s ability.

Psychics can use Psi Training instead of other skills when applying their psychic stunt or aspect. For example, a telekinetic with mediocre Fighting and good Psi Training could throw a chair at an opponent for an attack with a +3 instead of +0.
In the world of ESPionage, psychic powers tend to be specialized, represented by narrow stunts instead of broadly defined aspects. Psychics can push the range of their abilities by evoking their psychic aspect and spending a Fate point. For example, a telekinetic who normally can only use his power to throw punches at remote targets can spend a Fate point and use his power to catch a set of keys before they fall overboard.

Many low power or simple psychic abilities can be represented by a single stunt:

Fists of Fire. A pyrokinetic can generate fields of heat and fire around their hands for a +2 bonus to attack with Fighting.

You Seem Trustworthy. This empath can convince people, even complete strangers, to lend them money or other property with only a promise that it will be returned. +2 to Rapport for these purposes.

Tactile Telekinesis. When using her body to move things this telekinetic can assist with her mind. +2 to Physique rolls to overcome or create an advantage with acts of strength.

Human Watch. Psychic always knows what time it is.

More sophisticated or powerful concepts might require a stunt tree:

Flame Throwing. Requires Fists of Fire. Pyrokinetic can attack a target in the next zone with Fight if they have an unobstructed line of sight.

Burn! Requires Fists of Fire. When an attack succeeds with style the target gains the aspect On Fire, and takes one stress a round until put out.

Fight with Force. Requires Tactile Telekinesis. Telekinetic has had extensive hand-to-hand combat training with their power. With a successful Psi Training roll at the beginning of a fight character gains a +2 to Fighting for attack and defense.

You Seem Really Trustworthy. Requires You Seem Trustworthy. An additional +2 to convince anyone to lend them money or other property.

The most powerful Psychics might require another Extra. Unique to the character, this Extra’s permission is always the Extra (Psychic). The powers in this extra should be thematically consistent with each other and with power of their Psychic. The GM should work with the player to create an extra that’s powerful, but limited in its application.

Extra: Agent 97:4’s Electrokinesis

Permissions: Extra (Psychic)

Cost: 2 stunts

Once per session, if Agent 97:4 eats a page from her Bible, recites Psalms 97:4, and spends a Fate point she activates her electrokinesis for a scene. This adds +4 to her attack when Fighting and a free attack of opportunity against any hand-to-hand attacks or attacks made barehanded or with weapons made of conductive material.
She can make an attack on anyone in her zone or the next through conductive material, like copper or water.
While in this state, she gains the aspect No Mercy for the Cruel.

Extra: Isaac Deal’s Passive Knowledge Telepathy

Permission: Extra (Psychic)

Cost: 2 stunts

Isaac can use the skills of anyone in his zone, or neighboring zones. The exceptions being skills that depend on physical assets; Contacts, Physique, and Resources. Whenever Isaac makes an applicable skill roll, his skill rank is equal to that of the highest rank of any person in this area.
He can also spend a Fate point to invoke an aspect or skill based stunt of anyone in this area. Isaac’s power doesn’t give him foreknowledge of what stunts, or aspects are available to him without attempting a skill role. If he tries to invoke or use an aspect or stunt that doesn’t exist in this area he loses the spent Fate point without benefit. If there are multiple characters with applicable aspects, Isaac can invoke them all with a Fate point for each. Put Isaac in a room full of the finest chess players and he becomes an unbeatable chess master. Put him alone in a room with a chess-playing computer, he doesn’t stand a chance.
Isaac can’t use this ability to access specific, personal information from mind in this area, like phone numbers or combinations. Of if he’s depressed. He also picks up knowledge based trouble and negative aspects which the GM can compel against him.

I'm developing a psychic espionage setting where psychic powers are subtle, specialized, and sometimes sloppy. As part of that, here's my write up for a new skill Psi Training. What do you think? Is this necessary, or could I get the same effect from an aspect and supporting skills and stunts?

Psi Training is used to by both psychics and non-psychics to detect, analyze, and resist psychic powers. Psychics can use this skill to control their power. Psi cannot be used without at least an Average rank.
Psi powers are invisible and undetectable, even by other psychics. But psychic influence produces physical and behavioral ticks and side effects on subjects that can be recognized. For example; the strange twitch in a guard’s eye may be a sign they’re being mind controlled. These ‘tells’ vary widely in effect and scope.
Psi Training also allows the operation of psychotronic devices. Or the creation or repair of these devices with Craft.

Overcome: Used to resist or remove psychic obstacles placed on a mind. The character has to be aware of the obstacle if they’re going to overcome it. Either by self-assessment (Notice or Investigate) or being informed by a third party.

Create an Advantage: Like Investigate, using Psi Training to create an advantage usually requires time and research to exploit a psychic’s weakness, or their strength.
Briefing a potential subject on the effects and tells of a psychic can provide them with some protection. Even those without the skill. For example; the guard on a psychic prisoner is informed if his eye begins to twitch he’s under attack. He can evoke the aspect “Briefed on the Prisoner” to defend or resist.

Attack: Those without psychic abilities or a psychotronic weapon cannot use Psi Training to attack.

Defend: Whether on not a character is aware they’re under psychic assault. Psi Training can be used to defend against mind influencing powers instead of Will. Or against biokinetic effects, like pheromones, instead of Physique.

Psi Training Stunts
Poker Face. A psychic defense technique. Poker Face requires the defender to recite a series of words they don’t understand or which are otherwise without meaning. For example, a song in a foreign language or a string of nonsense words. It takes an action to put up the defense and the character must continue speaking to maintain it.
Obviously this limits actions the character can perform concurrently. Nothing that requires speech can be attempted without dropping the defense. The concentration is distracting. In physical conflicts, an opponent can compel a character using poker face for an advantage. Only Cards with passive abilities can Defend and use their psychic abilities at the same time.
An active Poker Face provides a +4 advantage to resist mind influencing powers.

Subvocalized Defense. Requires Poker Face. Character is well practiced with their poker face and can apply it by thinking the words instead of speaking out loud and can even engage in light conversation.

Astral Discipline. Astral projection is very difficult, even for the trained. This character is an experienced astral projector. +2 for actions controlling their incorporeal form.

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If you're in San Diego, I'll be running a Fate Accelerated one shot at GamerConSD on Saturday. It's "Weekend at Bernie's" set in a wizard's tower. When the wizard dies it's up to his apprentice, familiar, cooking demon etc to keep the business running.

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Do you think a Tradecraft skill would be useful for an espionage setting? Or is it redundant with the existing skills?

Tradecraft being the wide range of techniques and methods spies use to perform a mission. From operating hidden communications equipment to breaking codes, or arranging dead drops, and handling other agents. Many of these actions are covered by existing skills, but some aren't.

Comparable to Lore, or the Information skill from Crimeworld, Tradecraft wouldn't have Attack or Defend. Tradecraft would allow a PC to Overcome obstacles, or Create Advantages for other skills and do all kinds of cool spy stuff without burning up their Fate Points by invoking their "Spy" aspect.

Since Tradecraft's applications are so broad, I'd be worried the PCs could use it to bulldoze though all opposition by creating advantages on the fly. So maybe Aspects created with Tradecraft can't be invoked in the same scene they're created.

For example: If the PC wants to boost their Shoot with Tradecraft, they have to scope out the scene beforehand to prepare the assassination. Or if they wanted to boost their Drive to escape the scene, they'd have to study a road map of the area beforehand.

This would emphasize preparation. The character can fall back on their "Spy" aspect for last minute invocations.

What do you think?

I'm developing a low-powered-psychic, espionage setting for publication. Where all psychics have a mental disorder but not everyone with a mental disorder is psychic.
My first thought was make the mental disorder a part of the psychic power's Aspect. But that feels clunky. Especially if the power is very specific like, "Empathically creates hate in people when talking to them and also has an addiction disorder toward alcohol." Also, some powers might be better represented by stunts.
I don't want all the psychic characters to have to use their only Trouble for this, and I'm not sure they should be required to use an Aspect for it either.
What if talking a psychic Aspect or stunt required taking a second Trouble? Does that sound reasonable?

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Hello everyone,

I'm running my first #fae game, a single session fantasy for GamerCon. It's Weekend at Bernie's set in a wizard's tower in "Renaissance Italy". I've never run Fate before, played it once. Also, I'm trying for a more improvisational GMing style so I don't have any endings prepared. I'm looking for feedback on this write up. Link to the comment-able Google Doc below.

1. I don’t want the PCs to cooperate too much. So I gave each of the PreGens a Secret Aspect which I hope will result in conflicting agendas.
2. I can’t think of a Stunt for Scopa the broom golem and the thief. I’m open to suggestions.

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The Android version of Texts From Jesus is finally catching up!
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