Mage the Ascension: PbtA Hack

mage card

This is not by any means a fully-formed idea, but it’s one that I kind of like. In a way, it’s interesting to  take a push-button mechanic like the core mechanic of PbtA and apply it to an open-ended, flexible game like Mage the Ascension. What buttons do you include? What must those buttons do? 

Design Goals

I want to focus on the flexible but costly nature of Awakened magic. I see mundane things being handled through conversation more often than rolls, to keep the focus on magic. There needs to be a harm mechanic and a Paradox clock – let’s say you are at -1 per harm taken. A certain points on the Paradox clock, the ST makes a Paradox move. As with my Fate hack, I’ll boil the Spheres down to seven: Correspondence, Forces, Life, Matter, Mind, Spirit, Time (eats Entropy). Prime can be cut because it is mostly concerned with meta-magic. Each Tradition is its own playbook. This is a work in progress

Character Creation

Distribute 3 +1s between the seven Spheres. You have -1 in any Sphere without a bonus. Circle one and describe your Avatar (Dynamic, Entropic, Pattern, Primordial). Choose your true Nature. Describe your Sanctum. Circle an advantage (things like a Node maybe). I can see different playbooks having different things to circle or choose – acolytes, thin places, cool gadgets, turf, etc. 

General Mage Moves

When a Mage does something mundane but dangerous or costly, roll +0.

  • On a 10+, it goes as well as it could.
  • On a 7-9, you succeed but there is an unexpected cost or problem – choose one of the following: 
    • You lose or damage something of value – the ST will tell you what
    • The cost was more than you expected – the ST will tell you what the additional cost is, including a favor or a debt owed forward
    • You succeed, but someone else pays the price. The ST will tell you who
  • On a 6-, the ST can make a move. Any resources you used in the attempt are damaged or lost.

When you use your magic to shape reality, describe your rote or procedure and roll +Sphere. The ST will tell you which Sphere applies if there is any question.

  • 10+ and you get what you wanted.
  • 7-9 and pick one mishap, otherwise you get what you wanted.
  • 6- pick three mishaps, otherwise you get some version of what you wanted. Or, you can flinch, distance yourself from your Avatar, and cancel the effect. You take -1 forward to magical effects you attempt, but the effect fails without other consequences. (With a 7-9 you can always mark Paradox to avoid other mishaps.)
    • Mark Paradox
    • The effect is not under your control
    • You draw unwanted attention
    • There are unintended consequences (ST move)

When you use your magic to inflict harm, describe your rote or procedure and roll +Sphere. The kind of harm will depend on the Sphere used, but harm is harm.

  • On a 10+, you inflict 1 harm in the way you intended, and have +1 forward to inflict further harm.
  • On a 7-9, you inflict harm but must mark one mishap from the Sphere move.
  • On a 6-, you inflict harm and also take harm in return.

When you use your magic to defend yourself against magic, roll +Sphere using the Sphere against which you are defending.

  • On a 10+, you stop the magical effect from affecting you and can choose one:
    • You turn it back on the attacker, or
    • You can protect a group, or an area, from the effect
  • On a 7-9, you stop the magical effect from affecting you
  • On a 6-, you are vulnerable to the effect (the ST makes a move)

When you improvise magic to defend yourself against magic, roll +Sphere using any Sphere, describing how you use that Sphere creatively (use Correspondence to defend against Time for example). 

  • On a 10+, you stop the magical effect from affecting you
  • On a 7-9, you stop the effect from affecting you, but there is a cost. Choose one: 
    • You take -1 to Sphere moves going forward
    • The effect strikes a nearby ally or innocent bystander – the ST will choose who
    • You lose access to that Sphere until you have time to rest and meditate
  • On a 6-, the effect hits you full force

When you improvise magic to affect reality, describe the improvisation and roll +Sphere. 

  • On a 10+, you get the effect you wanted, but pick one: 
    • The ST tells you one strange side-effect
    • The magic affects one additional object or person of the ST’s choice
  • On a 7-9, the magic affects the wrong person or object – the ST will tell you who, or what
  • On a 6-, the ST makes a Paradox move

When you meditate at a Node, roll +0, or +1 if it is a Node where you are expressly welcome, or +2 at your own Node.

  • On a 10+, you are suffused with Quintessence and take a +1 forward on Sphere moves.
  • On a 7-9, you are suffused with Quintessence and take +1 forward on Sphere moves, but the Node is depleted and no one can draw from it until it regenerates.
  • On a 6-, the Node is depleted and must regenerate.

When you use your magical perceptions, choose a Sphere in which you have at least a +1. The ST will describe what you perceive through that Sphere.

  • All: you can sense the residue of powerful magic enacted recently – the more powerful the effect, the longer its residue lasts
  • Correspondence: you exact physical location; precise distances from one object to another; the presence of a portal to another location
  • Forces: ambient mundane energies (electromagnetism, heat, etc.); see using another spectrum (ultraviolet)
  • Life: the health and general condition of living things nearby, your own health and condition in detail, 
  • Matter: material composition of nearby objects; properties of unknown substances; potential or chemical energy stored in an object or substance
  • Mind: whether there are nearby minds; whether someone is awake or asleep or in a coma; basic emotional state of those around you
  • Spirit: thickness of the local Gauntlet; nearby ghosts or spirits; whether a nearby creature has a soul (i.e., could reveal an android)
  • Time: exact time (including the ability to set an internal alarm); any nearby disturbances in time

When you use mundane means to escape danger, roll +0.

  • On a 10+, you escape! Describe how. Also, choose one:
    • Your attacker leaves you alone for now, or
    • You can help your allies escape too
  • On a 7-9, you escape, but your attacker has not given up.
  • On a 6-, the ST makes a move.

Tradition Moves

I decided that each Tradition should have at least one signature move. These are what I came up with:

When an Akashic fights mundane people with her hands, roll +1.

  • On a 10+, she defeats even a large number of mundane people she’s fighting in flashy fashion. The player describes how she prevails.
  • On a 7-9, she defeats even a large number of mundane people, but takes harm in return.
  • On a 6-, she got herself in over her head. She takes harm and things escalate – the ST says how.

When a Cultist of Ecstacy seeks insight in a trance, roll +1

  • On a 10+, she can ask the ST up to three questions about herself.
  • On a 7-9, she can ask the ST one question about herself.
  • On a 6-, she gets a glimpse of a hard move the ST is going to make.

When a Dreamspeaker is solving a problem in her home territory, roll +1.

  • On a 10+, her knowledge of her land enables her to solve the problem.
  • On a 7-9, her knowledge of her land enables her to solve the problem, but the cost in time or materials is greater than she expected.
  • On a 6-, she has revealed a problem she didn’t know about before, or a problem she knew about is worse than she thought.

When an Etherite uses technology in an unusual way, roll +1.

  • On a 10+, the technology works just as the Etherite wanted.
  • On a 7-9, the technology works but there is an unintended complication. The ST will say what it is, or you can offer a suggestion.
  • On a 6-, the technology doesn’t work as intended, and there is a complication on top of that (the ST makes a move).

When an Euthanatos kills a mundane person, roll +1.

  • On a 10+, you kill the person exactly as you planned and get away with it.
  • On a 7-9, you kill the person, but draw the attention of either mundane authorities or a supernatural creature.
  • On a 6-, you kill the person but the ST can make a hard move.

When a Hermetic speaks lore, roll +1.

  • On a 10+, the lore you speak is true and helpful.
  • On a 7-9, the lore you speak provides a helpful hint for the situation at hand.
  • On a 6-, the lore you speak reveals a new problem.

When a Hollow One tries to make a connection on the street, roll +1.

  • On a 10+, she finds just the person or information she needs.
  • On a 7-9, she finds the person or information she needs, but there is a cost. The ST will say what it is.
  • On a 6-, she’s made someone angry, or drawn unwanted attention, and didn’t find what she wanted. Or, she found what she wanted, but it’s much worse than she thought.

When a Verbena uses natural medicine, roll +1.

  • On a 10+, she is able to heal using mundane means.
  • On a 7-9, she understands what is wrong, but it will require awakened magic.
  • On a 6-, it is much worse than she thought – the ST will say how bad.

When a Virtual Adept is solving a problem using a digital device, roll +1. 

  • On a 10+, it functions exactly as the Adept needed it to.
  • On a 7-9, the device functions as the Adept hoped, but she has pushed her luck and used up resources or drawn unwanted attention.
  • On a 6-, she draws unwanted attention and the device fails.

ST and Paradox Moves

Your Avatar is displeased, or detached, or distant. -1 ongoing to all magic. You are plunged into Quiet. You have drawn the attention of the Technocracy. You have drawn the attention of the Nephandi. You have drawn the attention of a Marauder. You have drawn the attention of mortal authorities. Echoes of your magical effect follow you, causing problems. You are marked by your magic in a way that is visible to everyone who meets you. There is lingering harm that will fall on you (or someone near you or connected to you) the next time you try to use magic. You are cursed and everyday things will go wrong in embarrassing ways. 

Mark XP

When you get a 6- result; if your relationship with your Avatar deepened; if you expressed your true Nature; if you learned something new and amazing about the world; if your life was in danger. Every time you get nine xp you advance.

Advancement

Increase one Sphere bonus by one; or circle a new advantage; or reset your Paradox clock to zero; or mark a new option on your playbook. Will there be enough moves to warrant choosing a new move at advancement? Not sure.

Well, there it is. That’s what I have for Mage the Ascension, Powered by the Apocalypse.

 

Fate Core Vampire 5: Mechanics

/tg/ - Traditional Games

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.

Fate Core Vampire 4: Disciplines

Image result for vampire the masquerade disciplines

Disciplines

Of course the majority of the work I had to do for this Fate Core hack of Vampire the Masquerade was to adapt the vampiric Disciplines to Fate rules. Many thanks to Venture City, the setting book that presents Fate Core rules for cyberpunk superheroes, and which I had in mind as I did this work. In brief, each level of each Discipline is an Extra that costs 2 refresh. My goal, therefore, was to make each level of each Discipline better than an Extra or Stunt the character might take, keeping in mind the principles of Fate Core Extra and Stunt design.

Animalism

A character with any levels in Animalism is no more offensive to animals than a human would be.

  1. Feral Whispers: use social Skills, or Survival in place of social Skills, when dealing with animals.
  2. Quell the Beast: use Empathy to treat Beast-related conditions, or to bring someone out of a frenzy if you are able to touch them.
  3. Subsume the Spirit: use Empathy to place your consciousness inside an animal.
  4. Taunt the Caged Beast: (Elder) roll Charisma vs. Will to force your victim to frenzy.

Auspex

A character with Auspex receives a bonus to perceive Obfuscated characters equal to +1 per level of Auspex. 

  1. Heightened Senses: when activated, you gain a +2 to Notice rolls, but risk physical stress from loud noises, bright lights, etc.
  2. Aura Perception: use Empathy to read emotional resonance and Aspects of people, places and things.
  3. Telepathy: roll Investigation vs. Will to read thoughts and answer one question per level of success. (Ex: succeed by +2 means 2 questions)
  4. Mirror Reflex: (Elder) use Empathy in place of either Athletics or Fight (choose one) in combat for the purposes of defense.

Celerity

A character with Celerity who success with style in combat can use that boost for an additional action. 

  1. Basic: +2 to Athletics for speed and physical defense. Once taken, this ability is always active.
  2. Intermediate: an additional +2 to speed and physical defense, and it costs one Fate point to activate this or any higher ability for a scene.
  3. Advanced: another +2, for a total of +6.
  4. Flower of Death: (Elder) Make one melee attack against every opponent in your zone.

Chimerstry

You can use Chimerstry to create small, incidental illusions at will, but only as color. 

  1. Fata Morgana: roll Expression to create a single illusion for a scene. When someone interacts with it directly, they must roll their Will vs. your Manipulation to see through it.
  2. Permanence: spend a Fate point to make an illusion persist even after you leave the zone, though the illusion itself remains in the zone.
  3. Horrid Reality: you can roll Charisma to deal physical stress to a single victim through your illusion. Costs a Fate point if you have not already spent one on Permanence. The victim can defend with the Athletics or Physique, or Will if that is higher.
  4. Shared Nightmare: (Elder) Horrid Reality affects everyone in a given zone.

Dementation

Characters with Dementation can count on being able to “fail forward” on mental or social rolls with the consequence of temporarily worsening derangements. 

  1. The Haunting: roll Manipulation +2 vs. your victim’s Will to deal mental stress, which takes the form of hallucinations for one scene.
  2. Eyes of Chaos: roll Occult to understsand any complex system, taking the place of Investigation or sometimes even Empathy or Knowledge at the ST’s discretion.
  3. Total Insanity: roll Will vs. Will to attack everyone in your, dealing mental stress.
  4. Personal Scourge: (Elder) I don’t have rules for this yet, actually.

Dominate

Dominate enables a character to create an advantage through conditioning. This requires at least one scene of threats and abuse, and the advantage is “Conditioned to X” where X has to be something relatively specific (not just “obey.”)

  1.  Command: roll Manipulation +2 vs. Will to issue a single, terse command. If the victim resists, she takes mental stress. Victims resist at +2 against any commands that would mean personal harm or violating their core morality. Suicidal commands automatically fail.
  2. Forgetful Mind: roll Charisma vs. Will to rewrite a victim’s memories, starting with the most recent scene and going back further with greater degrees of success.
  3. Possession: roll Manipulation vs. Will to take over a mortal’s body.
  4. Mass Manipulation: (Elder) Command and Forgetful Mind can be used against everyone in your zone. Roll against the highest Will, or default to +2.

Fortitude

Any character with Fortitude can use Physique in place of Athletics to defend against physical attacks. 

  1. Basic: grants armor 2 against physical attacks.
  2. Intermediate: +2 bonus to Physique when used to defend.
  3. Advanced: provides an extra moderate consequence slot.
  4. Elder: spend a Fate point to cancel out all damage from a single attack. In addition, when you successfully defend with Physique, you destroy the weapon that struck you.

Necromancy

I’m going to mention, but skip, Necromancy and Thaumaturgy here and probably have those in a future post, since there are multiple paths and rituals to consider.

Obfuscate

You gain a bonus of +1 per level of Obfuscate to resist being seen by someone with Auspex. In addition, you can attempt to disappear when observed by spending a Fate point and rolling Stealth vs. the highest Notice score of all those observing you. Failure inflicts mental stress.

  1. Unseen Presence: you can turn invisible if unobserved. Roll Stealth vs. Notice to interact with your environment and remain invisible.
  2. Mask of a Thousand Faces: roll Manipulation vs. Empathy to disguise yourself as someone else.
  3. Cloak the Gathering: you extend your powers to one ally per degree of success (1 ally per +1). Costs one Fate point.
  4. Old Friend: (Elder) (V20 pg. 187) Haven’t written this one out yet.

Obtenebration

Shadow Play: a character with Obtenebration can use Occult to create an advantage related to manipulation of shadows.

  1. Shroud of Night: spend a Fate point to summon a cloud of writhing darkness that is a +4 barrier to all Notice checks in and through a given zone. OR Shroud of Night: spend a Fate point to summon writing darkness to fill a zone. That zone has the Aspects Dark and Suffocating, both of which you can tag once for free.
  2. Arms of the Abyss: roll Will vs. a difficulty of +1 to summon tentacles of shadow. Each boost grants an additional tentacle. The tentacles have a Physique of +3 and Fight of +2 and three physical stress boxes.
  3. Tenebrous Form: spend a Fate point to transform into a tentacled shadow monster for one scene. You can use Occult +2 in place of Fight for melee combat, and your tentacles do 2 damage. If you succeed with style, you get another attack. You also gain +2 to Charisma rolls to frighten others.
  4. Shadow Twin: (Elder) spend a Fate point to animate your shadow to rise up and fight for you for a scene. It has one Skill equal to your Occult and two Skills equal to your Manipulation. Both you and your shadow can act each turn.

Potence

Physique maps to Strength in VtM pretty well. Check out V20 pg. 261 for example feats of strength. 

  1. Basic: +2 to Physique for raw strength, and +1 to damage when unarmed or using a melee weapon.
  2. Intermediate: +4 to Physique and +2 damage.
  3. Advanced: +6 to Physique and +3 damage.
  4. Thunder Clap: (Elder) bring your hands together to create a shock wave that attacks everyone in your zone. This attack uses your Fight Skill and retains the +3 weapon damage from your Potence.

Presence

Awe: +2 to Charisma when you are playing to a crowd.

  1. Dread Gaze: you reveal your vampiric nature for a moment, and roll Manipulation +2 vs. Will. If you succeed, your victim must flee your presence or take mental stress.
  2. Entrancement: spend a Fate point and roll Charisma +2 versus your victim’s Will. If you succeed, they see you as a close friend and ally for the duration of the effect:
    • +1 one hour, +2 one night, +3 one week, +4 one month, +5 one year.
  3. Majesty: when someone in your zone or an adjacent zone attempts to inflict stress on you, they must first roll their Will vs. your Charisma. If they succeed, they can act next round. They can only act on the same round if they succeed with style and use the boost to gain another action.
  4. Summon: (Elder) roll your Contacts +2 versus your victim’s Will. They must either come to you as quickly as possible or take mental stress equal to your degree of success. If the roll fails, you cannot summon them again for the rest of the night.

Protean

At any time, you can activate Eyes of the Beast. Your eyes glow red-orange, but you also eliminate any penalties or obstacles due to darkness. Protean also makes it a bit more difficult for a Werewolf to sniff out your Wyrm-taint.

  1. Feral Claws: your unarmed attacks gain +2 damage which cannot be resisted with Physique unless your victim has Fortitude. (Currently I have no aggravated damage rules)
  2. Earth Meld: spend a Fate point and you can meld into any patch of ground you can find and sleep there for the night.
  3. Shape of the Beast: you can shapechange into a wolf or a bat. In bat form, you can fly and gain +2 to Athletics to fly and +2 to Notice for hearing. In wolf form you gain +2 to Athletics for running and +2 to Fight when biting, and your bite does +2 damage (not cumulative with Feral Claws).
  4. Earth Control: (Elder) you can now swim through the earth after your are Earth Melded, at about the same speed you could swim through water. Obstacles like metal, water and concrete stop your movement.

Quietus

At any time, you can spend a Fate point to add “Silence of Death” as an Aspect to a scene. It also grants you one free invocation. 

  1. Scorpion’s Touch: you take 1 physical stress (which heals at the end of the scene) to increase the damage of any bladed weapon by 2 for the scene.
  2. Dagon’s Call: for a scene after you touch your victim, you can spend a Fate point to initiate attacks against her. You roll your Will vs. her Physique, dealing physical stress as she drowns in her own blood.
  3. Taste of Death: you can use Shoot to split caustic blood at a target up to one zone away. This spit deals 4 damage.
  4. Poison the Well of Life: (Elder) spend a Fate point to poison a mortal’s blood so that any vampire who drinks from her suffers 6 physical stress, which can be taken up with the “Poisoned” consequence.

Serpentis

Tongue of the Asp: at any time, you can extend your forked tongue out of your mouth up to about eighteen inches and use it as a +1 damage weapon or to drink blood, just as you would use your fangs.

  1. Eyes of the Serpent: you can temporarily paralyze any mortal who meets your gaze. If threatened or attacked, the mortal can roll Will vs. your Charisma to break free, and she gets a +2 to this roll if she takes physical or mental stress.
  2.  Form of the Serpent: your skin provies armor 1 against physical stress and your bite deals +2 damage, and can be fatally poisonous for any mortal. You can also fit your slithery body through any hole that your head can fit through.
  3. Heart of Darkness: you remove your heart and hide it somewhere in a canopic jar. This provides you armor 2 against mental stress, immunity to staking, and one Hell of a liability.
  4. Heart Thief: (Elder) roll an attack using Fight vs. your victim’s Physique. If you succeed with style, you come away grasping their heart in your hand. Regardless, the attack deals physical stress.

Temporis

Any vampire with Temporis has an perfect internal clock, and can set multiple mental alarms.

  1. Recurring Contemplation: roll Manipulation vs. Will against a victim in your line of sight. If successful, you place them in a recurring fugure where they experience the same few minutes over and over again, until the scene ends or they are interrupted by something dramatic.
  2. Leaden Moment: spend a Fate point and roll Occult vs. Will to freeze a living target (objects are much easier). For one round per degree of success, they remain frozen in space and time.
  3. Clotho’s Gifts: spend a Fate point and roll Occult against an obstacle of +0. You automatically gain an additional action this round, as well as one more for every boost. Next round, if you spend another Fate point, you get the same number of bonus actions again.
  4. No Elder version for this yet.

(Skipping Thaumaturgy for now)

Vicissitude

You can roll Expression to impose a temporary change in appearance on a restrained or willing victim, or on yourself, for a scene.

  1. Fleshcraft: spend a Fate point and you can use Knowledge in place of Fight for one scene, twisting your opponent’s flesh. Your attacks deal +2 damage.
  2. Bonecraft: spend a Fate point to deal +3 instead of +2 damage using Knowledge in place of Fight. You can also alter yourself to deal +2 damage unarmed for the duration of the night, adding bone-spurs and so on. Lastly, you can make longer-lasting alterations on willing subjects, taking points of Physique and making them into armor or damage bonuses.
  3. Horrid Form: spend a Fate point to assume your Horrid form, gaining armor 2 against physical stress, +2 to Physique, and +2 unarmed damage from claws.
  4. Chiropteran Marauder: (Elder) as above, but you are also able to fly using Athletics, and strong enough to grab someone with your feet and carry them through the air.

Visceratika

Skin of the Chameleon grants a Gargoyle a +2 to Stealth when seeking to avoid being seen.

  1. Scry the Hearthstone: the Gargoyle spends a Fate point and can use Notice to detect anyone moving in a single building for up to one night.
  2. Bond With the Mountain: just as Protean’s Earth Meld, but applies to stone and concrete.
  3. Armor of Terra: the Gargoyle gains two additional stress boxes (for 5 total before Physique is taken into account) as her body hardens to stone.

Next Up: Necromancy and Thaumaturgy in Fate Core Vampire post 4.5

Fate Core Vampire 3: Stunts and Extras

Gangrel Clan from Vampire: the Masquerade | Vampire ...

Between Aspects and Skills on one end and Disciplines, which are a special case in Extras on the other end, there are the Stunts and Extras, both the ones you’d expect in a Fate Core game and others that are specific to Vampire the Masquerade.

Merits and Flaws become Aspects, Stunts and Extras

As mentioned previously, Flaws from Vampire the Masquerade make excellent trouble Aspects. Here is what I think is a particular juicy list: Thin-Blooded, Dulled Bite, Child, Monstrous, Smell of the Grave, Vulnerable to Vampire Banes, Soft-Hearted, Lunacy, Guilt-Wracked, Rival Sires, Hunted Like A Dog, Sleeping With the Enemy, Clan Enmity, Probationary Sect Member, Cursed, Beacon of the Unholy, Mistaken Identity, Recruitment Target, Eerie Presence, Dark Fate. Any of these can be rewritten slightly, or just used as-is if you’re in a pinch. 

I didn’t go ahead and create Stunts for every Skill, since the ones in the Fate Core SRD work perfectly well, and there is plenty of flexibility to make up your own. I did adapt some Merits to become Stunts, however. Note that, in contrast to the Disciplines, most of these have not been playtested, and some might reference rules I haven’t talked about yet. But you’ll get the idea.

General Stunts

Blush of Health: spend a Fate point to appear alive for one scene. You get a heartbeat, basic biological functions, can sweat, respond sexually, etc.

Calm Heart: you gain one extra stress box on your Beast stress track.

Eat Food: unlike other vampires, you are able to eat food without much discomfort, though you do have to vomit it back up later on.

Eidetic Memory: spend a Fate point to perfectly recall the details of a specific scene. With the ST’s consent, you can use this ability to add an Aspect that you had previously noticed and are just now recaling.

Elder’s Ear: you have access to an elder – perhaps a Prince, or Primogen, or Bishop – in your city. This person will meet with you if you ask, and may provide information or protection.

Friend of the Underground: you are not a Nosferatu, but you have their respect, or at least their tolerance. You can use the sewers and similar systems to move around the city, as long as you don’t interfere with their plans.

Harmless: your Charisma rolls to convince someone you mean no harm are at a +2.

Healing Touch: you do not need to lick wounds made by your fangs to heal them, but can do so with only a touch.

Herd: Choose when you select this Stunt. You can now hunt socially using Contacts instead of Empathy and Manipulation once per night – if you do it a second time, you have to spend a Fate point.

Humane: you gain an additional mental stress box, but you cannot choose to ignore a consequence by frenzying.

Inoffensive to Animals: you may or may not have levels of Animalism, but you do not provoke animals the way that other undead do.

Languages: choose up to 3 languages in addition to English and perhaps one other native tongue in which you are fluent. For ancient languages, use Knowledge or Lore.

Light Sleeper: rolls to awaken, or remain awake, while the sun is up are at a +2 for you. (This might be Notice or Will)

Precocious: at the end of a session, you can switch the places of two Skills instead of one.

Unbondable: you cannot be blood bound. This is clearly a big advantage, and could also be quite a problem. Tremere must pay 2 refresh for this Stunt. (Obviously, this would be a problem for a Sabbat member trying to participate in Ritae)

Contacts Stunts

Harpy: you are one of the Harpies of the Camarilla in your city, meaning you get a +2 to roll to contact Kindred and have contact information for many influential vampires in the city.

Influence: in one particular area of influence, you get a +2 to all Contacts rolls. Examples include academics, media, occult and underworld.

Mentor: you have a more experienced member of your Clan, perhaps even an Elder, who has taken it upon herself to teach you the ways of the undead.

Mole: you have a spy planted in an opposing faction who feeds you information.

Retainer: you have the services of a loyal, blood-bound Ghoul. You Ghoul is Good at one thing, Fair at two things, and has one notable weakness that you define, or let the GM define.

Spirit Mentor: same as above, but your mentor happens to be a ghost.

Manipulation Stunt

Alternate Identity: you have a well-established alias, and receive a +2 to Manipulation rolls related to maintaining the alias.

Occult Stunts

Oracular Ability: at risk of your sanity, you can roll Lore once per session to place an Aspect on a scene (or more than once, if you spend Fate points). This Aspect must have to do with fate or foreboding, and may not be used in the way you intend…..An Aspect placed this way provides the usual free first invoke for you.

Scholar of Enemies: you can choose one opposed faction in the WoD, and you gain +2 to Occult rolls pertaining to these enemies. Examples include Garou, Sabbat, Camarilla, Hunters, etc.

Resources Stunt

Haven: over the years, you have sunk a lot into various havens throughout the city. When upgrading or repairing them, you get +2 to your Resources roll.

Streetwise Stunt

Black Market: you can use your Streetwise score in place of Resources when working black market connections.

Will Stunt

Magic Resistance: Will rolls made to resist Thaumaturgy, and similar powers, are at a +2.

Backgrounds become Extras

Armored Vehicle: an enclosed vehicle with armor 4 against firearms and armor 2 against everything else.

Custom Vehicle: something like a drift racer, crotch rocket, haven RV, etc.

Assault Weapon: full-auto AK, M-16, etc. Deals +2 damage, and can be used against everyone in a zone

Ancient Sword: blood-forged, runic, meteoric – deals +2 damage and can be used against spirits

Elite Haven: (cost 2) you have a bunker or a penthouse or a whole fortified corner of the sewer system that is all yours. This haven comes with a basic staff, if appropriate, and two other special features that you determine when you take the Extra or in-game.

Gang/Muscle: your character has access to a group of violent, unruly types who can serve as enforcers. She still has to convince them to do what she wants, and they are not Seal Team 6, but she has about a half dozen tough, armed mortals to back her up when needed. The whole gang has 6 stress boxes and a +2 to Fight.

Ghoul: your character has been granted permission to bind one Ghoul. This NPC has a +3 in one Skill and a +2 in two others, has Basic Potence and is blood bound to your character.

Haven: you have a better haven than your Resources would indicate. When using your Resources to upgrade your haven or decide what features it has, you get a +2 to the roll.

Hunting Grounds: your character has been granted special hunting grounds in the city. Their maintenance is her responsibility, but they make hunting significantly easier. And as far as Camarilla rules go, on her turf she’s in charge. Each night when you first hunt in your own hunting grounds, you can reroll one dice roll.

Nightspot: your character owns and controls a nightspot, like a strip club, bar or nightclub

Shared Haven: (need to come up with rules for multiple PCs spending an Extra on a shared Haven)

Title: You can use Title in place of your Contacts or Charisma when dealing with other vampires. Your Title also brings other benefits and responsibilities as determined by the GM.

  • (cost 1) Harpy, Whip, Deputy, Pack Leader, Pack Priest, Black Hand
  • (cost 2) Primogen, Bishop, Sheriff, Alastor, Baron, Scourge
  • (cost 3) Archbishop, Prince
  • (cost 4) Regent, Justicar

Alternately, every Title costs 1 refresh, because higher ranks will also mean more powerful foes and more difficult challenges. 

Next Up: Disciplines. 

Fate Core Vampire 2: Character Creation

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Aspects, Skills and Stress

Fate Core Vampire uses the standard five Aspects for Fate Core. The high concept for a Fate Core Vampire character must include their Clan or Bloodline, and at every step this hack of Fate assumes the backstory and color of Vampire the Masquerade. Next is the trouble Aspect, which could be one of the Flaws from Masquerade, or is otherwise related to the character’s Clan. In character creation for this playtest game, I asked the Brujah’s player, for example, what makes her angriest. I asked the Gangrel what his character’s primal mark was. And so on.

Third is the mortal Aspect, something connected to the character’s life before they were Embraced. This is another good source for compels, and also for use to represent any competency that the character might have had in her mortal life. The fourth and fifth slots can be left blank, or filled with any other kind of Aspect the player wants.

Neonate characters begin with a maximum Skill of +4 in their Skill pyramid and they also start with 3 physical and 3 mental stress boxes, as their undead bodies and minds can endure more punishment than morals can.

Disciplines and Refresh

Neonate characters begin with 5 refresh and with three levels of Clan Disciplines. This already  means they are more formidable than their Vampire the Masquerade counterparts, as we’ll see, because in this hack there are only four levels of each Discipline, and the fourth level is reserved for elders only. So three levels in this system is intended to be about equivalent to five dots of Disciplines in VtM. Each extra level of any Discipline, in-clan or out of clan, costs 2 refresh – it is basically an expensive Extra.  So at most a Neonate might start play with 5 levels of Disciplines and 1 refresh, and 3 of those Discipline levels will be in Clan Disciplines. The exception to this is is for Caitiff or Pander, who can take their first 3 levels in any Disciplines as long as the ST agrees.

As usual, players can also spend their characters’ refresh on Stunts and Extras, which I’ll cover in the next post of this series.

Elders and Others

Mortal characters have +3 as their maximum Skill, and two Stunts or Extras. If they are a Ghoul, then they also have Basic Potence and an additional physical stress box, for a total of 3.

Elder characters, such as Primogen or Bishops, have a maximum Skill level of +5 in their pyramid, 6 levels of Disciplines and 3 refresh.

Ancient characters, like Princes, Archbishops, and other powerful elders, have a maximum Skill of +6, 9 levels of Disciplines, and 1 refresh.

Next Up: Stunts and Extras in Fate Core Vampire

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