Star Wars using Fate Core

With Fantasy Flight phasing out tabletop RPGs, I thought I’d post the notes for a Fate Core campaign I ran a few years ago – Fate Wars: The Requel. This was before The Force Awakens came out, and we were basically reworking the prequel storylines with new main characters and stories that weren’t awful nonsense. This being a tabletop RPG, they were instead delightful nonsense.

Starting Aspects

  • High concept: as usual in Fate Core
  • Trouble: also as usual. Following Order 66, could include Force Sensitive
  • Species: not just your species but the kind of example you are of that species
  • Connection: this can be a connection to an organization, a movement like the Rebellion, or another individual. This Aspect can be left blank until play begins
  • Obligation: this Aspect can also be left blank until play begins. Your Obligation might be an outstanding debt or a bounty-hunter marker, a life-debt, etc. Something that connects you to someone or something else whether you want it to or not.

“Force Sensitive” can be a Connection Aspect, or included in another aspect like Species or even Trouble depending on when in the Star Wars timeline you are playing. But in order to Use the Force via Extras listed below,  you have to have Force Sensitive somewhere in your Aspects list.

Character Parameters

  • 3 Refresh, and Fate points are of course Destiny points in this
  • 3 Stunts
  • 1 Extra
  • Max Skill +4, and Skills are in a pyramid
  • Base of 2 physical stress boxes, 2 mental stress boxes, and 3 consequence boxes

Custom Skill List

Athletics, Blaster, Contacts, Deceive (includes Stealth), Empathy, Fight, Investigate, Knowledge, Mechanic (replaces Repair), Notice, Physique, Pilot, Provoke, Rapport, Resources, Scoundrel (replaces Burglar), Will

Stunts

These are eample Stunts that I handed out to the players. Of course they could take them directly from the Fate Core book, or come up with their own according to basic Stunt parameters.

Athletics (run, jump, swim, balance)

  • Acrobatic: You can roll Athletics to overcome an obstacle that would normally require Physique.
  • Aquatic: You are a member of an aquatic species, and this grants you a +2 to Athletics rolls used to swim or maneuver in water. Ex: Aqualish, Mon Calamari, Nautlan, Rakatan, Selkath.

Blaster (shoot things)

  • Covering Fire: You spend a Destiny Point and can use your Blaster skill to create a passive obstacle to everyone in an adjacent zone. They must roll Athletics or Notice and exceed your Blaster skill to enter your zone. Until you’re out of ammo.
  • Gunner: You gain a +2 to use your Blaster skill when acting as gunner on a starship or using another type of large, fixed-point weapon.
  • Shoot First: You gain a +2 to your Blast roll if it is the first attack in the conflict

Contacts (locate NPCs that the player gets to name and create)

  • Power Player: You receive a +2 to Contacts rolls made to find someone among the aristocracy
  • Scum and Villainy: You receive a +2 to a Contacts roll made in a location frequented by the dangerous and the desperate.
  • Your People: +2 to Contacts rolled to find an NPC who is of the same species. Humans can only take this Stunt if the game takes place in the Outer Rim.

Deceive 

  • Pull up Your Hood: You gain a +2 when rolling Deceive to avoid notice.
  • Uh, We’re Fine Here…How Are You?: You gain a +2 to Deceive when attempting to impersonate someone.

Empathy 

  • Your Feelings Betray You: You can roll Empathy to create an advantage by placing a condition on your target describing emotions they are trying to hide. They can resist with either Deceive or Will.

Fight (assumes you are fighting unarmed or have a simple weapon handy)

  • Deflection: A Jedi or Sith can use Fight to defend against most kinds of blaster bolts as long as they are wielding a lightsaber.
  • Good Against Remotes is One Thing: You receive a +2 to Fight when fighting droids.
  • Jedi/Sith: You must also have a Force-sensitive Aspect. This Stunt allows you to wield a lightsaber as an Extra.
  • Madclaw: You possess a natural weapon that is taboo to use, but if you do, it functions as a weapon with a rating of 2 (Selkath, Trandoshan, Wookie)

Investigate (track fugitives down, read tracks of your prey, discover clues at a crime scene)

  • Bounty Hunter: You receive a +2 to track your prey in an urban environment.
  • Slicer: you gain a +2 to use Investigation to crack computer codes and slice computer systems.
  • Tracker: You receive a +2 to track your prey in a natural environment.

Knowledge (history, culture, worlds)

  • I’ve Seen A Lot of Strange Stuff: You can use Knowledge in place of Rapport when dealing with obscure aliens and cultures
  • Jedi Archives: You can roll Knowledge instead of Contacts to make contact with another Jedi (or Sith in some time periods).
  • System Chart: You get a +2 to Knowledge rolls regarding a specific star system.

Mechanic (build things and fix things and sabotage things)

  • Override: You can use Mechanic to make an attack against a droid in order to temporarily take control of it (instead of deactivating or taking it out). Normally the droid has one stress box and a core skill at +2. Once the stress box is filled, the droid is either taken out or reverts back to its previous programming.
  • Repair on the Fly: You can make a Mechanic roll to repair damage or malfunction even if you do not have the proper tools or time to prepare.

Notice 

  • I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This: you receive a +2 bonus to Notice rolls to detect an ambush.
  • Only Stormtroopers are So Precise: You can use Notice instead of Investigate when analyzing a crime scene.

Physique (strength and endurance – shrug off blows, lift heavy things)

  • Gut it Out: When you would normally take mental stress, you can spend a Destiny Point and instead take physical stress.
  • Let the Wookie Win: You can roll Physique in place of Provoke in order to intimidate.

Pilot (used for all types of vehicles – unfamiliar craft have the aspect “unfamiliar controls”)

  • Astrogation: You can use your Pilot skill, instead of Lore, to plot a course through hyperspace.
  • I’ve Made a Few Modifications: Anyone but you who tries to pilot your ship is at a -2 disadvantage. Anyone who tries to sabotage your ship must roll against a passive resistance equal to your Pilot skill.

Provoke (intimidate, seduce, taunt – get the emotional reaction you want out of someone)

  • Nerf-herder!: When you use Provoke to taunt someone, you gain a +2 to your roll if you add in a colorful insult.
  • Your Reputation Precedes You: When you first enter a social situation, you can spend a Destiny point to place an aspect on the scene: My Reputation Precedes Me.

Rapport (get along with people and get them to trust you, performance)

  • Another Round: +2 to Rapport when drinking with others.
  • Nice Guy/Nice Girl: You use Rapport rather than Provoke to seduce someone.
  • Veteran: You gain a +2 to Rapport rolls with other soldiers, even if they are on the other side.
  • Virtuoso: You can use Rapport through art to make friends and influence people.

Resources (money solves a lot of problems, but not all)

  • Hiring: Instead of Contacts, you roll Resources to find an NPC who can help you.
  • I Don’t Know, I Can Imagine Quite A Bit: You get a +2 to Resources rolls to buy big ticket items, +5 or higher
  • Money Talks: You can use Resources in place of Investigate when making bribes to get information.
  • Noble Title: You can roll your Resources in place of your Rapport when among other nobles, powerful politicians, generals, etc.

Scoundrel (covers larceny, stealth, and general law-breaking)

  • Kessel Run: You can use your Scoundrel skill instead of Pilot for the purpose of evading other ships
  • Real Quiet-Like: You gain a +2 bonus on Scoundrel rolls to sneak up on someone.
  • Smuggler: Your Scoundrel skill counts as passive resistance to any roll to locate hidden compartments or contraband on your ship.
  • There Aren’t Enough Scoundrels in Your life: You can use Scoundrel in place of Provoke for the purpose of seduction.

Will 

  • Set in My Ways: +2 to Will rolls made to resist changing your mind or being convinced of a new course of action.
  • Strong-Minded: You gain a +2 to Will rolls to resist (choose one of) Force-based attacks, Deceive, Provoke.
  • Unyielding: When you would take physical stress, you can spend a Destiny Point and instead take mental stress.

Extras

Armor 

  • Light armor, like basic stormtrooper armor subtracts 1 from damage dealt by Blaster, Fight and Physique. (Cost 1)
  • Heavy armor, like Mandalorian armor or elite stormtrooper armor, subtracts 2 from damage dealt by Blaster, Fight and Physique, but it also has the aspect “Cumbersome.” (Cost 2)

Lightsabers

  • A basic lightsaber constructed by a new Jedi Knight adds 2 to the damage rolled using Fight. It also enables a Jedi to use Fight instead of Athletics to defend against blaster fire (with the Stunt). (Cost 2)
  • An advanced lightsaber, like a double-bladed model or with special focusing crystals, adds 3 to the damage rolled using Fight. (Cost 3)

Use the Force

Use the Force is essentially a list of special Stunts for Force-sensitive characters. All of the following Cost 1 each.

  • Force Defense: adds +2 to Will rolls to defend against Force attacks
  • Fore Leap: spend a Destiny point to leap from one zone to another
  • Force Sense: enables you to use Empathy to detect other Force-sensitive characters, even at a distance
  • Force Sight: spend a Destiny point and add an aspect to a scene in the future or see and hear a distant location
  • Lightning: spend a Destiny point to use Will to deal damage for a scene (must have a Dark Side aspect)
  • Meditation: spend a Destiny point to erase one negative consequence or clear your mental stress track
  • Mind Trick: enables you to use Will in place of Deceive against the weak-minded
  • Suffocate: enables a Force-user to roll Will to damage from a distance, as well as impose the condition “suffocating” (must have a Dark Side aspect)
  • Telekinesis: spend a Destiny Point to use Will to lift or throw objects rather than Physique, including more than one at a time with a simple push or pull
  • Telepathy: spend a Destiny Point to speak to someone’s mind directly for a scene

Vehicles

  • Terrestrial Vehicle: like a swoop bike, speeder, or similar vehicle, seats one to three and hovers over the ground but cannot rise more than a meter or two. May also get around by other means, like on mechanical legs or underwater. (Cost 1)
  • Individual Starship: most starfighters are in this category, like X-wings and Tie-fighters. Has shields, a weapon system, but no hyperspace capability. (Cost 2)
  • Freighter: more modest weapons than a star-fighter, but has hyperspace capability. Can hold cargo, or a crew of up to a dozen. (Cost 3)

Weapons

  • Blaster Rifle: adds 1 to any damage rolled using Blaster (Cost 1)
  • Bowcaster: adds 2 to any damage rolled using Blaster (Cost 2)
  • Grenades: either add +3 to damage dealt with Athletics, with boosts spent to hit more than one nearby target, or impose a condition on everyone in a zone, such as “deafened”, “stunned”, “blinded”, etc. (Cost 2 to carry 1 or 2 grenades on your person)
  • Repeating Blaster: Requires a Physique of +3 or a tripod to wield effectively, adds 2 to any damage rolled with Blaster. Boosts can be spent to hit additional targets (Cost 2)
  • Thermal Detonator: adds +5 to damage dealt with Athletics, with boosts spent to hit more than one nearby target. (Cost 3 to carry a thermal detonator on your person)
  • Vibroblade: adds 1 to any damage dealt with Fight

 

RPG Mechanics Round-Up #14: Fate Core/FAE

Player Ideas as Self-Compels

Many GMs love using the ideas that players come up with during play. Sometimes the thing that players think is going on is more interesting than what you had in mind, so you just steal that idea. I like this as an overt system in Fate Core – the player comes up with an idea, and the GM can hand them a Fate point in order to make it true. “I hope there aren’t ratmen on the other side of that door…”

Tag Aspects to Help

In many versions of Fate Core, you have three Aspects that are for your character alone and two more that connect your character to the others. I like the idea of using those connective Aspects when helping those characters, letting you spend a Fate point to grant them a +2 on their test.

Aspects: Switching Between Worlds

I like the idea of a Fate Core game where the characters are switching between two worlds – maybe alternate realities, or maybe a mundane world and a fantasy world, etc. The fun would be designing Aspects that are beneficial in one world and that are a liability in the other. Another challenge would be in Skill selection, as there should be Skills that are useful in one world and not in the other – not a general Skill like Lore, but maybe Arcana for the magical world and Education for the mundane one.

Fate and Helping Dice

I like making systems more concrete at the table, using fiddly bits where I can. For helping in Fate, I like the idea of passing the player you are helping one of your own dice (especially since Fate Core dice sets tend to be distinctive colors) that they put on a “+” before their roll. So they end up having a total of five dice to combine.

D&D Using Fate Dice

DnD using Fate Core and Fate Dice. Ability score = DC for everything. Advantage is a + and disadvantage is a -. You would have a much worse chance of doing much worse or much better than your score, and obviously would never be more than +/- 4. But it’s an interesting idea, to me at least, and would result in much more reliable/predictable success and failure and far less swinginess in results.

It occurred to me that since D&D ability scores are from 3 to 20 and DCs tend to be in the 10 to 20+ range with 5E’s bounded accuracy, you could actually use Fate dice for D&D. Get rid of the ability score bonuses and just use the straight ability scores, and you can roll Fate dice versus the given DCs. There would need to be some adjustments made, and there would be more rolls that are simply impossible. It may very well be too much of a spread, but it would be interesting to try out I think. Just set the DCs based on a sense of how good someone would have to be to do these things. Proficiencies could let you set one die to a + before you roll. Advantage could let you set another die to a +, and disadvantage make you set one to a -, and if they cancel out you just roll.

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RPG Mechanics Round-Up #12: D&D Again

Time = XP

In D&D and similar experience-driven systems, xp roughly represents time spent playing. This is true when WotC says that Adventure League standards should be about 4 hours to level to 2nd, and then 8 hours to 3rd and the same for 4th, etc. This is what it has always meant, and the way it functions is to incentivize certain behaviors and play styles.

Why not just have XP = time played? This would work equally well for your home game as for organized play, and would work better than every system for leveling in organized play I’ve ever heard of. It would be easy to track across games, including for players and DMs without consistent play-groups.

This system can be hidden behind a milestone leveling system, and just have milestones equal X time played. Honestly, it’s what most DMs and GMs who use a milestone system are doing anyway, and is the thinking behind xp going back to the beginning. In terms of design, experience points are a reward for the player, so why no reward the players for their time? This would also unhitch xp from certain behaviors. So PCs would not need to go out and kill things and take their stuff. They would level just the same for RPing, or shopping in town, or exploring new places, or doing upkeep on their holdings. They can do whatever they find to be fun in game.

Yes, this drifts D&D significantly from its design, but I don’t think that’s a problem.

Using 5E Exhaustion More Often

Exhausting is an interesting mechanic, and almost never gets used in games of D&D 5th Ed I run and in which I play. I think it was used for the fist time in the 10th session of our current home game, and it was funny because I was the only player who even knew about exhaustion rules. So here a few other times to engage the exhaustion rules, imposing a level of exhaustion for each of the following:

  • When you are dropped to zero hp, even if immediate raised back up (i.e. by Healing Word)
  • When you take damage in excess of a threshold (maybe that threshold = 2x your Constitution score) to represent a sudden, significant injury
  • When you roll a 1 on a saving throw
  • When you fail a high-risk skill check, but the DM wants to let you fail forward (you miss an Athletics roll to jump a chasm, so the DM says you cling to the far side and drag yourself up, but it costs a level of exhaustion)

Healing Potions

As written, healing potions in 5E restore 2d4 +2 hit points per level of potion (i.e. 4d4 +4 or 6d4 +6). Why not have a healing potion instead restore 2 hit dice +2 for each level? This would mean that higher-hp classes like Barbarians would benefit more from a healing potion. As it is, past level 1 or 2 a barbarian won’t want to use an action to restore 7 hit points on average, and higher level barbarians who have more powerful potions won’t bother using them either because they’ll make such a small difference.

  • Healing potion: 2 hit dice +2 restored
  • Greater healing potion: 4 hit dice +4 restored
  • Superior healing potion: 6 hit dice +6 restored

Stolen Skill Challenge Idea

This is an idea my friend Brett, who is our current DM, stole from another DM, and I’m stealing it as well. The idea is that for shared skill challenges (like the ubiquitous Dexterity (Stealth) checks made to let the party sneak around), you set a total that they have to hit with their rolls.

  • Relatively easy challenge: 10x number of characters
  • Opposed challenge: passive score x number of characters
    • Ex: if the PCs are all trying to sneak past a guard, and the guard has a passive Perception score of 14, then their Dexterity (Stealth) rolls would have to total more than 14x number of PCs
  • Normal (?) challenge: 12x number of characters
  • Really challenging: 15x number of characters or higher

Fate Core Vampire 5: Mechanics

Fate Core Vampire 5: Mechanics | >unfinished

For my other Fate Core Vampire posts…

Mechanics

This is, obviously, a catch-all for things I haven’t covered yet but which come up in game. As always, I’m trying to strike a balance between Fate Core mechanics and Vampire the Masquerade themes and “feel” for lack of a better word.

Advancement

At the end of each session, PCs can either add or change an Aspect or swap the position of two adjacent Skills on their pyramid. PCs cannot change a high concept Aspect without GM approval.

When an Issue is resolved in the story, that marks a minor Milestone. At each minor Milestone, every PC gains a bonus Skill at +1. If they already have the maximum number of Skills at +1, they can move one Skill from +1 to +2, and on upward as appropriate. After 5 minor Milestones, this will result in a Skill being raised from +4 to +5.

Blood Bonds

To be blood bound to someone is to lose a part of one’s self and be subsumed by one’s domitor. If you are blood bound, erase one of your Aspects (besides your high concept or clan flaw Aspect) and replace it with “Bound to X” with your domitor’s name. This Aspect counts as a consequence that your domitor can tag at will without spending a Fate point, but otherwise functions as any other Aspect – mostly for compels of course.

If you ever break the blood bond, you can replace it with a new Aspect.

Fighting

Because vampires are vampires, they can normally defend against bullets with either Athletics or Physique.

Aggravated damage is a possible moderate or severe physical consequence. Vampires cannot use Physique to defend against damage from Protean claws, fangs, fire and sunlight. Fire and sunlight deal double damage to vampires, causing as much mental stress as physical stress.

In order to bite in close combat, a vampire must first grapple her prey with Physique. She then bites with Fight, and her fangs do +1 damage

Frenzy

A vampire can always choose to frenzy rather than take a mental consequence – a brief frenzy in place of a minor consequence up to a severe frenzy to avoid a severe consequence. While frenzying, the GM can compel the character without offering a Fate point, but the player still has to spend a Fate point to resist the compel. There are still the three types of frenzy – fear, hunger and rage – which will color the kinds of compels the GM can offer.

When you frenzy, clear all physical stress. During the frenzy, you also have armor 1 and your melee attacks deal 1 additional damage.

During your frenzy, if you drink blood this can still let you ‘treat’ a hunger-related consequence.

When a character is ‘taken out’ with mental stress, she frenzies against her will. Obviously, this frenzy will always be a severe one. This is why “riding the wave” can be preferable to some vampires, especially if they are less concerned with doing horrible things.

After a session in which you frenzied, you might want to change an Aspect to reflect what happened, or reduce your Empathy or Will and raise another Skill in its place.

Hunting

As described previously, my current system for hunting calls on the players to make two Skill rolls in order to be successful. If they succeed with a cost or concession, it is often related to breaking the Masquerade or possibly encountering danger or a rival. Often, the first Skill roll has to do with finding their prey (Empathy, Notice, Streetwise) and the second has to do with how they get them to do what they want (Charisma, Fight, Manipulation, Resources, etc.)

Each night they wake up “Hungry” and must hunt against an obstacle of +2 to treat that minor consequence. If they are already Hungry and wake up the next night, the hunger becomes a moderate consequence, and they must hunt against an obstacle of +4. If their hunger becomes severe, the obstacle becomes a +6, and they are almost certain to kill someone, because if you kill someone and drain all of their blood, that is one surefire way to clear all hunger consequences.

Kindred Society

Any given Elysium will have at least a couple of Aspects. One of them is based on who the Keeper is, and the other is based on the location itself.

Every Sabbat pack has a reputation Aspect that applies to other Sabbat as well as any non-Sabbat who have the misfortune to have heard of them.

It’s hard to get the attention of powerful elders and influential Kindred, especially without the help of a Harpy or other socially connected vampire. Vampires are secretive and understandably paranoid. Some sample Contacts difficulties:

  • +2 the Prince’s Seneschal, your local Sabbat bishop, a Harpy outside of Elysium, your Clan Whip, a Black Hand cell in your city, an Anarch or Independent, or any vampire outside your Sect who is in your city
  • +3 a Black Hand cell leader, an Assamite for hire, a member of the Archbishop’s pack, your Clan Primogen,
  • +4 the Prince, the Archbishop, one of the Primogen outside your own Clan,

The enmity clause: if you fail in a Contacts roll, you might end up finding just the right kind of person, but unfortunately, this particular person doesn’t like you

Recovery and Regeneration

Vampires are assumed to always be slowly regenerating dead tissue and healing injuries. Blood is often required to ‘treat’ physical consequences, however, and can also help with hunger-related mental consequences of course. (Hunting to treat a minor consequence is against a obstacle of +2; to treat a moderate consequence is against a +4, severe is +6, etc.) We’ll use a somewhat simplified version of the recovery rules in Fate Core.

  • At the end of a conflict scene, clear all stress boxes.
  • At the end of a scene, clear any minor, treated consequences.
  • At the end of the session, a treated severe consequence becomes moderate, and a treated moderate consequence becomes minor.
  • Untreated consequences stay where they are.
  • As in the core rules, some consequences are treated other than with blood – with Empathy, Knowledge, etc. Whatever makes sense for the consequence.

Ritae

Function like necromantic and thaumaturgic rituals. Sabbat pack priests should probably spend one Refresh to get an Extra representing their knowledge of the basic Ritae.

Spending Blood

In a recent game, I let a player spend blood by making their character more hungry (minor consequence upgraded to moderate) in exchange for having a +2 on Athletics, Fight or Physique rolls for the scene (player chooses one).

Staking

Like, torpor, staking is an option for “taken out” in a conflict between vampires, as long as one of them has a stake handy. If the player hasn’t mentioned carrying the stake, then she can spend a Fate point to declare that she remembered to bring one. Either she can use the stake to deal physical stress until her victim is taken out, or she can beat the vampire into submission and then stake her to take her out. As a weapon a stake is awkward, and so grants no damage bonus.

Torpor

Torpor is one option for “taken out” in a conflict between vampires, and therefore might happen more often than normal. A vampire who is fed vampire blood awakens from torpor relatively quickly – and is also now one step blood bound to whomever woke them. Otherwise, the higher the vampire’s Will the sooner they will come out.

And that’s it for now. I’m really enjoying my online Fate Core Vampire game, and using the rules I’ve posted, you can run your own. As always, comments welcome.

Here are links to all of the posts