Fate Core Vampire 1: Starting Point

I’ve been running an online Vampire the Masquerade game using my Fate Core hack for a few months now, and I think it is working really well. My idea was to playtest the hack and then put the rules up on this blog for anyone to use. If I’m someday blessed with more free time it might even become a document all to itself, instead of my notes and a half dozen blog posts. But we’ll see. I’m adding a blog category, Fate Core Vampire, for anyone who wants to see just posts related to this hack.

Starting Principles

For any hack, I like to have in mind, and state right at the top of the page I’m using for notes, what my goals are in succinct form. In this case, I wanted to run Vampire the Masquerade online for my friends. I’ve used the standard OWoD rules for this more than once, and while it can be fun, it is also clunky and slows down dramatically during conflicts, right when you’d prefer tension to be high. So I decided to try to use Fate Core, knowing that there will be some wiggle room between the core themes of Fate Core as a system and Vampire the Masquerade’s World of Darkness as a setting. I knew, going in, that this would probably lean a bit toward Superheroes With Fangs, but given the limitations of online gaming and what I knew of my friends, this was likely to be OK.

First, there would need to be a system for hunger and hunting that would place these things things at the center of the game. I toyed with the idea of another stress track, specific to hunger, or maybe to one’s Humanity or Path score, but instead just left the two standard stress tracks.

Next, I would have to model all of the various Vampire Disciplines as well as the various Backgrounds, almost certainly as Stunts and Extras of course, and for this I took some cues from Venture City, the cyberpunk supers setting for Fate Core, and how that game handled super-powers.

Other things I had in mind that I needed to decide how to model if possible: mind control from things like Dominate, aggravated damage, Humanity and Path development (including decay), and the three kinds of frenzy.

Step One

Once I sketch out my first thoughts, the first thing I often do for a Fate Core hack is to create a custom Skill list. Since the Skills are the main way the players interact with the game, a custom Skill list goes a long way toward the end of setting design and laying out some themes for the game you want to run. Here is the custom Skill list I came up with for Vampire, as well as, in parentheses, the Fate Core Skills these replace, or the Vampire abilities that they replace:

Athletics, Charisma (Provoke, Rapport), Contacts, Drive, Empathy, Expression (some Craft), Fight, Investigate, Knowledge, Manipulation (Deceive, Provoke), Notice, Occult, Physique, Resources, Shoot, Stealth, Streetwise, Survival (Animal Ken), Tech (some Craft), Will (20 total)

I brought over Charisma and Manipulation from the social abilities of Vampire. Lore got split into Knowledge, to cover most mundane knowledges, and Occult, to cover the supernatural. I also added Streetwise, key to the World of Darkness, as well as Survival to cover Animal Ken as well. Craft got split into Expression and Tech. And there you have it.

Hunger and Hunting

It took me a while to hit on this idea, but it was always a priority. This being Fate Core, I keep it simple. Each evening when a vampire wakes up, they wake up hungry. It’s the first thing I say to them as the night begins. I want it to be an incessant reality, and even boring and repetitive as they go through night after night. You wake up hungry. You wake up hungry. You wake up hungry.

In this case, “Hungry” is a minor condition that they take immediately upon awakening. The only way to treat this condition is through hunting, and hunting requires two Skill rolls, both against an obstacle of +2. I ask them how they go about hunting, and then we figure out the Skills that work best for that. Using Disciplines makes it take less time, or makes it somewhat more safe, depending on the circumstances (Dominate, for example, is great for hunting, but not a fail-safe).

Hap hunts with money, using Resources to find a prostitute who’s willing to indulge him. I also have him roll Empathy to make sure it’s the kind of prostitute who also won’t talk about what happens. (Or it could be Manipulation to threaten, etc.) Patrick hunts with Dominate, but I still have roll Notice or Empathy to make sure that the person he’s Dominating won’t be missed, isn’t highly willful, etc. Ash hunts with sex, so that’s usually an Empathy roll to find a likely dance partner and Charisma to seal the deal. Ellis tries to hunt from people who deserve it, so that’s Streetwise or maybe Notice and then Fight.

If they succeed, the minor condition is treated and goes away at the end of the hunting scene. If not, it stays, or they succeed with a concession, etc. If they go to bed hungry, they wake up “Hungry” again, but this time, it’s a moderate condition. Their roll to treat it is against an obstacle of +4 now, and it’s a real problem.

Oh, and you can always treat the “Hungry” condition by killing someone and draining all of their blood. Because of course.

Next: Character Creation in Fate Core Vampire

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