Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Urban Fantasy: The Supernatural Part 1

With the character aspects and the skill list, I've got the high school part of the setting covered. What remains is the supernatural. That needs to be defined in order to give the players some ideas what kind of characters they can play.

I've already defined that you need a high concept aspect that describes the supernatural side of a character in order to access special abilities. Those special abilities are modelled as Extras in FATE Core. I don't want to go the route of the Dresden Files RPG, because as much as I love the setting and the rules, I think the supernatural powers are very complex. Especially since a good part of people I am playing with qualify as "casual gamers" according the Robin's Laws of Good Game Mastering. So, I want to have something straight forward that doesn't need many rules behind it. Essentially, everything a player needs to know about his character should fit on his character sheet (i.e. the Extras box).

Before defining possible creatures, I want to have some example powers I can assign to them. After mulling this over, I came to the conclusion that some Extras will be modelled by additional skills that you can just add to your skill pyramid. Other Extras will cost in Stunts. But I would prefer each Extra to cost at maximum one Stunt instead of many to keep the math down and flexibility high.

Anthevôke (stunt)

This stunt is named as homage to Steve Berman's Trysts anthology. It basically describes Psychometry, the ability to read the history of an item just by handling it. This allows the character to use Research to create an advantage on an item. If the anthevôke spends a FATE point, he can use the item as intended for a scene, even without the fuel the item usually needs to run. After that scene, the item is broken and needs to be repaired with Crafts.

Beast Shape (stunt)

The character can take on the shape of an animal or in some rare cases animals. This costs a FATE point and lasts for the rest of the scene. While in animal shape, the character gains a new and separate great (+4) skill column. The skill column contains four of the skills Athletics, Fighting, Notice, Physique and Stealth. The skills replace the normal rating a character has in these skills. Common shapes and their suggested distribution are:
  • Cat: great (+4) Stealth, good (+3) Athletics, fair (+2) Fighting and average (+1) Notice.
  • Murder of Crows: great (+4) Notice, good (+3) Fighting, fair (+2) Athletics and average (+1) Physique.
  • Raven: great (+4) Notice, good (+3) Athletics, fair (+2) Stealth and average (+1) Fighting.
  • Wolf: great (+4) Fighting, good (+3) Athletics, fair (+2) Notice and average (+1) Stealth.
Note: Of course these are just suggestions and the player is encouraged to work with the game master to come up with a reasonable skill column.

Note the Second: The beast shape might change your Physique, thus changing your physical stress track!

Clairvoyance (stunt)

Once per session, the clairvoyant can enter a trance and divine the future. The player can place an aspect on the game session that can be invoked once for free.

Claws & Fangs (stunt)

The character can grow vicious claws and fangs. The character gains Weapon:2, when growing those claws and fangs.

Elemental Control (skill)

The character can control one element like fire, air, water, cold and so on. The Extra is treated as a skill that is called like the Element it controls (i.e. "Fire", "Air" or "Cold"). Element control skills cannot be used to directly overcome obstacles, but they can be used to create advantages or to attack. The can also be used to defend against opposite elements or by stopping mundane attacks with their element.

Opening (skill)

The skill Opening can be used to open locked doors and containers without needing any keys. It is a hommage to Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.

Pass Walls (stunt)

The character is able to pass through solid walls, through floors and even into rock. No roll is necessary, but the character takes two mental stress for each wall he passes through.

Seven League Stride (stunt)

By apparently walking straight into a wall or a shadow, the character can teleport to another location within one day travel of his current location. The player needs to spend a FATE point to use the Extra. The ability might also be called Shadow Walking.

Supernatural Endurance (stunt)

The character gains two more physical stress boxes. Supernatural toughness is treated as an Extra, because it shouldn't be available to just anyone; only those touched by the supernatural may have extra endurance.

Wallwalker (stunt)

The character is able to walk on walls and even ceiling without much effort. He can easily bypass ground-based or height-based obstacles while doing so, thus requiring no roll to overcome the obstacle.

Wings (stunt)

The character can literally grow wings. While flying, the character can move more swiftly (two zones instead of one per exchange) and ignore ground-based and height-based obstacles.

Wizardy (skill and one or more stunts)

Wizardry is a special case. It takes a special skill to use that the player can call either Wizardry, Sorcery or Witchcraft. The skill becomes part of the skill pyramid. But he also needs a stunt to practice Witchcraft. That stunt lets him use Witchcraft instead of any other skill to overcome obstacles. In its basic form, it cannot be used to create advantages, attack or defend. Wizardry is very flexibel, because it can be used instead of any other skill. Therefore, it can only be used once each scene. Each additional use causes two mental stress. Successes with major costs and ties should create additional mental stress or consequences, representing the exhaustion the character is pushing himself to.

A sorcerer can take additional stunts to improve his performance with Sorcery:
  • Abjuration: The character can use Wizardry to defend himself against attacks instead of Athletics or Will. This counts as a normal use of Wizardry, except when defending against a Warlock. Abjuration can be used as many times as the character wants to defend against attacks made with Wizardry without causing mental stress.
  • Enchantment: The character can use Witchcraft to create advantages that may even be used by other characters. They follow all the rules of advantages after they have been created. Enchanting still counts as using Sorcery.
  • Ritual: The character knows one reliable way to use her Wizardry to produce  a result. This ritual needs to be agreed on with the game master and doesn't count as a use of Wizardry anymore. It still can only be used to overcome an obstacle.
  • Warlock: The character can use Sorcery to attack.The opponent defends either with Athletics, if the attack can be physically dodged, or with Will, if the attack is mental. The warlock decides, if he wants to do physical or mental damage.
Note: Wizardry is closely modelled on the FreeFATE version of the ability.

That's it. My initial package of powers for Urban Fantasy. I am not sure about the pricing for some of these. Maybe Beast Shape needs to cost two stunts instead of one... Feedback is welcome.

Next we are looking at some of the beasties that could populate the setting.

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