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Michael Cambata
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I've been thinking of a minor mechanic change, and I'm curious what people think of it. I've used similar things as house rules before, and it's not a major change from the RAW, but I'm trying to codify it so if a player asks, I can explain the house rule.

Basically, I want to be able to ask for overcome rolls during conflicts without taking up the entire turn. Like if someone's rushing across a rickety bridge to attack an enemy, I feel like it's boring and just slows things down to say "okay. This turn, roll to see if you can cross the bridge. Next turn, attack." But I feel like, alternatively, it's fine to have them roll to see if they get across, fall into a rushing river, or get across at a cost, and then take whatever action circumstances allow afterward. That makes things exciting, without effectively eating up a turn.

But on the other hand, if a character is stuck under a pile of rubble or tied up or something, they should probably need to take their whole turn to get free. Otherwise, doing things like that to enemies gives too little benefit.

So I think my house rule is: rolls to overcome, during a conflict, only use your turn's action if you're trying to remove an aspect or if other special rules apply. So getting out from rubble gets rid of the "buried under rubble" aspect, but since running across a rickety bridge leaves the bridge's aspects in place, it adds risk of failure but doesn't take an action. Similarly, doing something like putting out a fire would take a turn (at least!), since it's removing an "on fire" aspect. But knowing where to step during a fight in a burning building wouldn't take a turn. It would just complicate things if a character fails.

Moving a far distance takes an overcome action by he RAW, but since that's specified, it doesn't fall under this house rule.

Does that seem like it would work? Are there unintended consequences that I'm not considering? Is it totally unbalanced?

Thanks!

I just read Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness... and I finally get it.

No, I haven't gone mad from unspeakable knowledge. Rather, I finally get why so many modern Lovecraft adaptations turn his stories into action pieces, or modern-style giant monster stories. Before, when I had only read a few of his short stories, it always seemed like an odd direction to take stories about strange, alien horrors that humans can barely wrap their minds around.

But At the Mountains of Madness isn't that. It is a horror story, but it's also hard science fiction. It reminded me, more than anything else, of an Arthur C. Clarke story: a more pessimistic take on something like 2001 or Childhood's End (though of course, if there's any inspiration there, it probably goes from Lovecraft to Clarke rather than vice versa).

It also helped me understand why the word "mythos" gets used for Lovecraft's characters. I knew he seeded references throughout his stories and let other authors do the same, but this story really wrapped those together into some coherent legends. And it makes me want to see more; I want to see the world-shaking wars between the Elder Ones and Cthulhu's armies, or the invasion of the Mi-Go. I want to see the shoggoths rise up and plot their revenge, before falling into a dark age themselves (though ideally through a more sympathetic lens than Lovecraft would likely provide). Heck, I want to see what happens when more steeled humans, maybe soldiers or investigators, have to work together to stop a lone remnant of Lovecraft's terrible past.

And so, I finally get the Eldritch Horror board game, or the Call of Cthulhu sessions that end with everyone loading up on dynamite and readying themselves for a suicidal encounter with something terrible and deadly. I get why so many people want to catalog Lovecraft's creations with statistics and images, because that's exactly what this story's characters were doing.


Not that there isn't a place for the weird, unknowable horror of Lovecraft. My first exposure to his work was The Colour Out of Space), and I still love that story. But previously, I kind of thought that giving concrete images and abilities to Lovecraft's monsters, then sending people in to fight them, was missing the point. Now, though, I totally understand. There's another style of his work that I hadn't seen before, and it fits that perfectly.


But yeah. I read a good book, and now I have a new appreciation for a certain style of derivative works. :)
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An attempt at adapting an Exalted setting element to Fate: anima banners.

In Exalted, the (demigod) player characters have an aura which flares up as they use their powers, identifying their true nature to nearby observers. It usually shows up when the characters exert themselves, tapping into huge reserves of power.

I could just handle it as a compel on the character's high concept aspect, but I like the idea of the players themselves deciding when their aura flares up. So here's a solution, written as an Extra.

Extra: Anima Banner.
An Exalted character begins every scene with three free invocations of their "Anima Banner" aspect. Each time one of these invocations is used, the banner changes to "Glowing Anima Banner" (becoming visible), "Burning anima banner" (making close-range stealth impossible), and "Bonfire anima banner" (lighting up the sky for miles around).


Now, a possible +6 bonus, even once-per-scene, is huge. But I think it might help create cool, dramatic scenes, with moments like an Exalted warrior struggling to fight off a gang of bandits, before deciding to reveal himself and bursting with light as he single-handedly takes them out.

And if Exalted antagonists (or other supernaturally-powered opponents) also get that extra, it lets them match the PCs, flaring up their own auras as they get into fights... provided they're willing to alert everyone else to their presence.

My gut feeling is that it would work, and give a nice shonen action feel to conflict scenes (including social scenes, if they're using their aura as an intimidation technique). But I'm curious what everyone else thinks, and if they see any issues with it.

I had a minor idea for Fate's Aether Sea setting. I figure I'll post it here, in case it inspires anyone else too.

I just read through the supplement today, and I'm really liking it. Considering running a campaign with it at one point. But while I enjoy the Firefly-esque focus on a bunch of people coming from one world, the setting felt, to me, like it was missing something that a classic gamey fantasy setting needs. So I decided to add dungeons and dragons.

No, really. Jokes aside, I wasn't just trying to copy D&D. But when thinking of things that I was missing in the fantasy-in-space setting, I realized that I wanted dangerous, powerful dragons and ancient, mysterious ruins. So here's how I'd add those in.

Dungeons rely on ditching the concept that Homeworld is the only one with intelligent life. Life is rare, but not unheard of. The problem is that the magic required to make an aethercraft is really, really hard, and destructive magic is comparatively easy. In most cases, a world's population will wipe itself out in magical wars before developing aethercrafts (and Homeworld only narrowly escaped the same fate).

Worlds that once contained intelligent life are full of crumbling ruins and monsters who stalk their post-apocalyptic landscapes. They're often full of (relatively) unguarded magical artifacts, and sometimes inspire new insights into magical theory. But setting foot on such a world is absolutely forbidden by the Hegemony. They're quarantined, like plague zones, and not without good reason. A few SCU stations were entirely destroyed when early aethernauts brought back artifacts from world-ruins.

So far, only one other planet has generated life with the ability to fly through the aether. That world, a rough and unforgiving place, is the home planet of the dragons.

The reptilian ancestors of dragons learned how to weave magic into their own bodies, and managed to turn themselves into nigh-immortal behemoths who can fly through the aether unprotected. Dragons have no equivalent to the Hegemony, and the loosely-defined "Draconic Quadrants" are ruled by powerful, but constantly warring, familial clans.

Trespassing on a dragon's world, or visiting one at all without official dispensation, is illegal within the Hegemony. But unlike the world-ruins, the Hegemony doesn't quarantine them completely; royals and their agents regularly trade with the dragon clans. They're just careful to avoid getting dragged into any of the inter-dragon wars.

I know the setting's great as it is, but I felt like adding a little mystery while trying to keep the core of it intact. What do you think?

Question for the people here: do you ever find that Fate Core starts to get samey in a long campaign? What do you do (or suggest) to prevent that?

I like Fate Core a lot, and I've run a few campaigns in it (and in F:AE). But usually, as it progresses, things start to feel really similar. Even when the situations change up, I start to feel as if they just feel like "a challenge," or "a conflict," without too much difference between them.

But I usually run games with much crunchier conflict resolution systems, where different characters' traits are treated with different mechanics. I like Fate's streamlined mechanics, but it's possible I haven't adapted my GM style to it entirely.

So... what do other GMs do to keep their conflicts, challenges, and contests fresh during a campaign?

And since I've only run games in Fate Core or Fate: Accelerated so far, do setting-specific supplements help with this?

Thanks!

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I'm curious: What do people think of episodic or serialized interactive fiction?

Personally, I like serialized storytelling (like TV shows and comics), and I'm wondering how well that model can apply to IF. Telltale has sort of done a high-budget audiovisual version with its recent (post-Walking Dead) games, but those are notorious for false choice.

And yet, I can't think of how to give real choice in an episodic game, without the possibilities growing out of control. But maybe I'm approaching this wrong.

Maybe CYOA-type games aren't best for an episodic series? Maybe it's better to go with old-school exploration/puzzle games (Though those aren't my favorite)? Maybe give the players some meaningful system to engage with other than "choose what to do" (sort of like how Phoenix Wright games handle cases, or most JRPGs have linear stories with playable combat)?

What do you all think? Are there good examples to look at? Thanks.
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I'm curious: What do people think of episodic or serialized interactive fiction?

Personally, I like serialized storytelling (like TV shows and comics), and I'm wondering how well that model can apply to IF. Telltale has sort of done a high-budget audiovisual version with its recent (post-Walking Dead) games, but those are notorious for false choice.

And yet, I can't think of how to give real choice in an episodic game, without the possibilities growing out of control. But maybe I'm approaching this wrong.

Maybe CYOA-type games aren't best for an episodic series? Maybe it's better to go with old-school exploration/puzzle games (Though those aren't my favorite)? Maybe give the players some meaningful system to engage with other than "choose what to do" (sort of like how Phoenix Wright games handle cases, or most JRPGs have linear stories with playable combat)?

What do you all think? Are there good examples to look at? Thanks.

So after watching X-Men: Days of Future Past, I found myself thinking about superhero rules in Fate Core again. In particular I was wondering if it would be possible to build Magneto as a starting PC without any complicated extras (beyond some custom stunts). Not just "guy with magnetic powers", but who can move entire bridges or buildings if he puts enough power into it.

It turned out to be easier than I expected. Though I should note that Magneto might be a terrible PC in a superhero game. Not because the mechanics make him overpowered, but because he's very much a villain.

But anyways...

Fate Core character sheet: Magneto

ASPECTS
High Concept: Charismatic Founder of the "Brotherhood of Mutants"
Trouble Aspect: Has Allowed Hatred to Define Him
Aspect: Like a Force of Nature, as Long as Metal is Present
Aspect: Paranoid from a Life of Horrors and Betrayal
Aspect: Truly Cares for Mutants, but Views Humanity as Inferior

SKILLS
Great (+4): Physique
Good (+3): Shoot, Will
Fair (+2): Provoke, Contacts, Athletics
Average (+1): Drive, Deceive, Crafts, Rapport

STUNTS
Master of Magnetism. (Costs 2 stunts) +2 to create an advantage or overcome obstacles with Physique, if the action involves moving metallic objects.
Magnetic Force Field. When defending against metallic attacks (such as bullets or metal weapons), you may defend with Physique.
Uncanny Leadership. +2 to create an advantage with Rapport when aiding or persuading another mutant.

REFRESH: 2

NOTES
Magneto's control of metal and magnetism are represented with his third aspect: Like a Force of Nature, as Long as Metal is Present.
It being true means he can do the following things:
He can use Physique and Crafts to manipulate metallic objects outside of his reach, and move them without being constrainted by the leverage of a human body.
He can use Shoot to throw metallic objects at his foes.
He can use Athletics to fly, by manipulating the Earth's magnetic field around himself.

Assuming that lifting, say, the Golden Gate Bridge is a Legendary (+8) task in an X-Men campaign, or maybe a +10, Magneto could pull it off. It wouldn't be trivial by any means, but he could do it.

I'm not sure how helpful example character sheets like this are, but I figured it couldn't hurt to share it here after I made it. What do you all think?

I've been messing around with some possible rules tweaks to run Exalted in Fate Core.

One of the "cool things" I want to emulate from the setting is how anima banners work. Basically, the Exalted have deep reserves of energy that they can draw upon to supercharge their own abilities, but using too much causes a bright aura to flare up around them, marking them as Exalted.

I wrote down some preliminary rules for having that work in Fate Core, and I'm wondering what everyone else thinks about them.

The Anima Track
The anima track is a new stress track, which every Exalted character has. It works like normal stress tracks, but whenever it gains any stress, there's a visible effect, which hints at the Exalt's true nature. How brightly it flares is usually up to the player, but massive flare-ups make sense for things like consequences.

Most of the time, the anima track can't be attacked by enemies. Instead, the player deliberately causes (or risks) stress to their anima track, in order to use powerful stunts.

Besides that, there's one major rules difference between the anima track and normal stress tracks: any consequence caused by anima stress starts to recover as soon as the character gets a chance to rest. The consequence still lasts, but no roll is required to start its recovery.

Essence Overwhelming [Cost: 4 Refresh]
This is probably going to be the most common stunt to manipulate the anima track. It's basically a tweaked and simplified version of evocation from the Dresden Files RPG.

Choose two skills associated with your character’s caste. These are your “overwhelming” skills.

When using one of your overwhelming skills, you may choose your result, instead of rolling for it. However, you must, immediately after, roll that skill. If you don’t meet or exceed the result you chose, you take stress on your anima track equal to the difference between the two.

The number you choose cannot be greater than your rank in that skill + 20 (but even approaching that number is almost guaranteed to cause several consequences for your character, or end with them being taken out).

You may add one more overwhelming skill at the cost of 1 refresh, and that one doesn’t have to match your caste skills. However, you can have no more than three overwhelming skills in total (This is to prevent players from putting all of their refresh into this one stunt).


Does that way of doing things look like it could work?

The Fate System Toolkit has gotten me thinking about modes, and I'm wondering about a possible use of them for superhero games:

Basically, the rules for character creation still apply: pick three modes, and then have 7 points of skill upgrades. But instead of having the suggested amount of 4-8 modes available, provide one mode for each superpower or profession that's likely to come up in-game (Of course, some superpowers aren't going to be accounted for, but custom modes can be created for those characters just by picking the right skills and grouping them together).

For example, Iron Man might have the following three modes:
Gadgeteer +3 (Crafts, Resources, Lore, Shoot)
Power Armor +2 (Move, Physique, Fight, Shoot)
Businessman +1 (Contacts, Rapport, Resources, Provoke)

Those three modes all represent pretty common archetypes in superhero comics, and so his player could just pick them from a list of those.

Characters with unique or uncommon powers, which might not exist in the list, could build a custom mode. Firestorm, for example, can manipulate the atomic structure of objects, to transmute them into other things, fire bursts of radiation from his hands, make himself stronger, and (somehow) fly. So he could have a custom mode like:
Matter Manipulation +3 (Crafts, Shoot, Physique, Move)

And for characters with the same basic power, stunts and aspects can help differentiate them. Captain America and Thor might both have a "Superhuman Warrior" mode at +3, but they'll probably use their skills pretty differently in-game.

I'm mainly worried that adding so many modes is going to complicate character creation. In the toolkit, it seems like their stated purpose is to simplify choosing skills, and this... doesn't do that. But on the other hand, I really like the idea of building superheroes out of their component archetypes. It seems (to me, at least) like a happy medium between choosing individual skills, and removing skills entirely in favor of approaches.

But what do you guys think?
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