Monday, February 25, 2013

WPW Hack: Club Babylon Part 3

This post takes a closer look at the setting. I am still struggling with parts of it. It is suppossed to be a rundown part of the city where beings from fairy tales have appeared. As I discovered this is somewhat similar to the Borderland Series (which I haven't read yet) and decided go in the general direction of that.

Fairyland (or whatever you want to call it) is touching our world in that neglected part of town and monsters start crossing over. They take on the guises of the modern world while still retaining their powers and appetites from fairyland. They are disguised by the refusal of people to see the truth of the aggressive biker gang (they are goblins), the creepy janitor (he is an ogre) or the head of the modelling agency (a medusa). But not all monsters are repulsive, some are terribly beautiful and alluring. But all of them are dangerous to the unprepared mortal.

But the people living in this part of the city aren't defenseless. At around the same time the connection to Fairy formed, longtime clubbers at Club Babylon suddenly found that they possessed a special kind of magic that levels the playing field with fairy tale monsters. Some have taken the fight to the street and protect the neighborhood, but others have become enticed by the monsters. Possibly to gain acceptance or lash out at the world around them.

In my mind this part of the city has the following three aspects:

  • Abandoned and neglected
  • Beauty in the most unlikely of places
  • At the border of the Otherworld

The assets are: Great /(+4) Dangerous, Good (+3) Bitchy and Fair (+2) Sensitive.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

WPW Hack: Club Babylon Part 2

This post is about creating characters for the Club Babylon setting. You are all longtime regulars at the somewhat seedy, yet also strangely magical Club Babylon. Your life might not be the best, but you come to Club Babylon to forget, to meet old friends and to do your own kind of magic.

Your Aspects

Who are you really (Mikky Ekko)? In White Picket Witches this is your canon aspect; in FATE Core it would be your High Concept. Write down in two to three words what your character is about. Are you a "Single Mom", a "Hard-Working Lawyer", a "Overworked & Underpaid Waiter", a "Closeted City Official", or someone else entirely?

Getting nowhere (Magnetic Man feat. John Legend)? Well, this is really your Trouble aspect or rather Tragic Flaw in White Picket Witches lingo. Your life is stuck. Others have moved on. Why do you keep coming back to Club Babylon? What do you hope to find here? Who or what are escaping from? There is a reason why a thirty-something (or older) person goes clubbing, while his friends lead well-adjusted lives with double-income, 2.1 kids, a cat and a dog. What drives you to come to Club Babylon on so many nights?

Who's That Girl (Eurythmics)? This is your Casting aspect. Either pick an actor in a certain role that you'd like to pattern your character on, or give a short type description. Basically, pick the aspect as you would do in White Picket Witches.

Who loves you (Alannah Miles)? There is a person in your life who loves you. Tell us about him or her. This can be any kind of love. Chaste love, love for their child, love for their parent. Carnal lust for you. Romantic love. Unrequited love. Love grown cold. What is your relation to them?

Sex and Violence (Scissor Sisters)? The darkness of fairytale monsters has come to roost in your city. Why do you fight them? Have they taken something from you? Someone? Do you protect your neighborhood? What motivates you in your fight against monsters that no one will believe in anyway. Or is it just the opposite? Are you attracted to them and their dark powers? What do you want from them? Have they lured you with promises of wealth, power or love? Do you lust after them?

Your Assets

For Club Babylon I am using the following seven assets:

  • Bitchy (replaces Treacherous)
  • Brilliant
  • Butch (replaces Powerful)
  • Dangerous 
  • Fabulous (replaces Classy)
  • Sensitive
  • Witty (replaces Savvy)

The replacement assets function pretty much as the ones they replace.

In addition, you get an eighth, magic asset. The magic asset describes the kind of magic spending so much time at Club Babylon has infused you with. Currently there are three kinds of magic that'll be described in a later post in some more detail:
  • Butch Wizardry: The magic of inner power and outward strength.
  • Gay Glamour: The magic of illusion, make-believe and enchantment.
  • Transvestite Sorcery: The magic of change and transformation.
Each character receives one asset at Great (+4), one at Good (+3), one at Fair (+2) and one at Average (+1). One of the four assets chosen must be the magic asset. All other assets begin at Mediocre (zero). The magic asset is used to activate your spells.

Antagonists

Antagonists are build like in White Picket Witches. Possible antagonists include the urban developer who is secretly a well-off goblin, the iconic Troll under the Bridge (of course), rivals from the Club, rival lovers, jealous exses, goblin gangs, an ogre groundskeeper, or an urbane and handsome devil who's deals are just too good to refuse. Maybe a sluagh is whispering secrets into the wrong ears or the sidhe turned out to be beautiful and terrible. 

Hangout

A hangout is the favorite place of your character. Where does he spend his time away from Club Babylon? A hangout is created like a Place of Power with a leitmotif and three assets. Here the Face-Offs happen. These are the places intimately connected with the characters. Some of their magic has become part of the place. Here, the magic of a character is at it's full strength. Here she can face the monsters invading her district. The leitmotif can be invoked once for free in each scene a character spends at "his" hangout. But don't forget: like Places of Power, a hangout should be easily accessible to others. It could be a street corner, a favorite coffee shop, the comic store around the corner, a small city park or something else entirely. One additional hangout is shared by all players: Club Babylon.

Club Babylon

Leitmotif: The Invisible Light (Scissor Sisters)
The players get to choose the three assets and their ratings. I'd recommend the place to be at least Fabulous and Witty. But it's your club now. You tell me where your characters spend their late nights.

Next: A closer look at the city, the darkness and the monsters hiding there.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Monsterhearts: Cardiff, Wales, Episode 1

Yesterday, we played Monsterhearts via Google Hangout. We had four characters: Merrill the Witch, Morrigan the Ghoul, Lucian the Serpentine, Mattieu the Selkie. For the player of Lucian it was the very first role-playing game ever (cherish that memory, no game is like the first game).

The strings were distributed among the non-player characters and player characters. The ones between the characters were:

  • Lucian watched Morrigan come back to live.
  • Mattieu watched Merrill rummaging through Graham's stuff and kept quiet about it.
  • Mattieu had seen Lucian swimming.
  • Mattieu knew that Morrigan had taken his pelt and stuffed into her locker.

We took most of our time designing the class room together. Our GM had prepared great questions to get us thinking about the home room and the other students. We decided to set our game in Cardiff, School had started two weeks ago and already two girls (Carmen and Erica) from the class had gone missing. Our home room was Geography class taught by Mr Gilles.

Merrill was heading for class with Lucian who was followed by Thomas carrying Lucian's bag. On their way, they witnessed a confrontation between Merill and Felix. Felix had a thing going for Meral, a devout moslem girl from Pakistan. But it wasn't exactly romantic, rather a bit creepy and he was leaning in on her. Merill  decided to step in and teach him a lesson, when she saw him. First she kept steady as Felix told her to go away and bashed her into the locker, then she tried to fight back, but was stopped by Mr Gilles. He thought she was the guilty party and ordered after school detention. She challenged him and implied that he was tolerating girls being victimized. The other students saw her as being pretty furious and Mr Gilles was a bit uncertain that he had done the right thing.

Meanwhile, Lucian was getting a call from his father Mandrake. He practically ordered his son to run for class presidency.

Morrigan had already arrived in the class room and her former BFF Ed tried to talk her into another game of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. She shut him down immediately and he looked quite afraid of her - not knowing why.

In the corridor, Mattieu was also heading for class together with Amanda, a friendly face who had helped the Selkie find his way around school. They talked about throwing a party at the beach in the evening and Mattieu noticed Thomas standing behind Lucian. He pointedly addressed him first and invited him to come to the party, telling him he could "bring Lucian too" - visibly snobbing the Serpentine to turn on Thomas who everyone was suspecting of being gay. Thomas looked pleased (and Mattieu got a string on him).

Meral was now completely exasperated, stormed into the class room and cursed loudly about men while sitting down. Morrigan, who was sitting behind her, leaned forward and tried to find out what was going on. She noticed that Meral was in reality afraid of Felix.

Merrill came in and sat down at her desk next to Meral. She asked Morrigan, if she wanted to go to the party. Morrigan said yes. Then Ed asked Morrigan, if he could go to, and she shut him down again.

Then Mattieu and Amanda entered. Mattieu jumped barefooted on a table and told the whole class that they were invited to a beach party in the evening. Mr Giles didn't approve of him standing on the table though, and ordered detention as well. He was to help Merrill cleaning tables. Mattieu went to his desk and set down sullenly.

Mr Gilles started class. At first there was the business of electing a class president. Graham, the straight-A student, volunteered (as each year since 5th grade). But this time he was challenged. Mattieu had asked Amanda about class presidency which described in most boring terms, only to suggest to Mattieu that he should run as a candidate. Mattieu, being the clueless Selkie that he is, volunteers for the office. Lucian tries to get Thomas to nominate him, but Thomas just gives Mattieu a quick glance and does nothing. Meanwhile Morrigan denigrates the office, prompting Mattieu to nominate her. Meral nominates her then as well. Lucian is forced to volunteer himself for the office. Mr Gilles postpones the election to give everyone a chance to evaluate the candidates. Mattieu mentions that he's going to throw a party. Mr Gilles asks him, if he seriously expects to get votes that way.

Then a rather tedious and boring geography lesson starts. During the short break a lot of things happened. Lydia, the mayor's daughter, and her boyfriend Matt, the coolest kid in school, approach Lucian to offer their votes, if Lucian does them a favor. He doesn't really comply with that, leaving two votes up in the air.

Mattieu tries to talk John, a big and not very bright football player, into getting him some beer for the party. He succeeds, but John asks him to lay in a good word for him with Amanda. The Selkie doesn't really know what texting is, but promises to see what he can do. Actually, he recommends that John should Amanda and him on the beach next morning for surfing. But John doesn't care about the morning, he wants tonight. Whatever Mattieu needs to promise to get the beer.

Merrill urges Graham to fight for the class presidency. But Graham suddenly throws a fit and a note pad, shouting that he had enough of this. He doesn't want to run. The note pad is thrown with a such force that it hits Marcel's coffee cup and spills coffee over him. Marcel suddenly breaks down crying. It is all a bit too much for him. Well, up to the summer holidays, Marcel used to be Marcy. Now he calls himself Marcel and wears boy's clothes.

Morrigan senses fear in the boy and goes over to him. Mattieu is watching her intently. Morrigan just shouts: "It's only some stupid office. Stop making such a fuss about this!" (unfortunately Morrigan can't call people on their shit, because she doesn't have that adult move). Then she kneels down beside Marcel and tries to calm him down by offering her affection. She is as surprised as the rest of the class when Marcel kisses her.

Notes: This was planned as a one-shot, but we barely got started exploring the setting we had created. Creation was a lot of fun and I for one would love to see the story unfold further. Oh, in case you are wondering: I was playing Mattieu the Selkie.

Note the Second: If you are waiting for the second part of Club Babylon, I am sorry to keep you waiting. But Club Babylon is hitting pretty close to home and I find it very difficult to write and do the setting justice. Character Creation needs a serious rewrite before publication on the blog. But it will come, probably on the weekend.

Monday, February 18, 2013

WPW Hack: Club Babylon Part 1

Painted whores, sexual gladiators, fiercely old party children,
All wake from their slumber to debut the bacchanal.
Come to the light! Into the light! The invisible light.
Scissor Sisters, The Invisible Light

Somewhere in a big city, sometime in 21st century, in a dark and deserted back alley lies the entrance to Club Babylon. Down a short flight of stairs into the basement, a ten dollar bill pressed into the hand of short-statured, aging drag queen Regina and off you go into a seedy establishment that had it's heyday probably in the late 80ies, early 90ies. The regulars surely look like they've been here since then. They've aged with the club and yet, they still come here. 

You are one of the regulars at Club Babylon. Maybe you are not going each and every night, but you come here at least once a week. Here you are among your oldest friends. Aged partygoers, some in jeans and t-shirts, some in leather, others in full drag; gay, lesbians, transgender and their friends. You are here to capture the old magic of your youth again.

After midnight, Regina turns up the music, the strobed lights and the dancefloor becomes a stage for the dancers, each one of them fabulous and unique in their own way. A sense of community pervades Club Babylon and the atmosphere of lost glamor works its own charm on the guests. Regulars like you command a strange and wonderful magic of your own: the sparkling magic of Glamour, Butch wizardry and sweet Transvestite sorcery. That which makes you different, makes you strong.

Club Babylon is a peculiar haven of light in a run-down part of the city. The shadows and darkness of neglect are falling and with them come the creatures of the night, the scavengers of human society, dangerous monsters from myth and legend that remain hidden from the human eye. Only your magic penetrates the guises of the goblins, ogres and trolls that feed (sometimes literally) on the humans in the shabby parts of the city. Despair and lost hope are their meals, and sometimes they add meat and bone to the stew.

But you are fighting back. You protect the part of town that is yours from night's predators!

Next up: Character Creation.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Actual Play Report: Hollowpoint in 43 A.D.

Yesterday, I played in my first game of Hollowpoint. It was a hack based on 43 AD. We played legionnaires of the Ninth Legion tasked with finding out what was hidden in a system of caves and report back to our prefect. The leader of our small unit was Lucius with long hair and a big axe (should have been a clue that he wasn't an upstanding Roman citizen after all), Mercator (a shady person who refused to wear his armor proudly), Vibius (a rather ordinary legionnaire) and Cornelius (a blood-thirsty legionnaire who delighted in killing Celts).

First we more or less stormed into a village of the Bracari and tried to find someone to give us directions to the cave system. While Lucius and Cornelius terrorized the villagers, Mercator posed as a native being harrassed by a Roman (V.). Mercator found a sympathetic ear and got them to tell him how to reach the cave. Also, he found out that degenerate, cannibalistic humans lived in the cave.

After leaving the village, we travelled to the caves. They were cramped tunnels leading into the very earth. Lucius, a giant of a man, was a bit uncomfortable in the small tunnels. We had to fight our way through waves of the degenerate tribe, while Mercator was looking for a way into the throne room of their chieftain. When we arrived there, Lucius wanted to attack the chieftain alone, but Cornelius assisted him. Mercator found a woman chained to the wall. Cornelius and Lucius defeated the chieftain and Mercator freed the captive.

She told us that the chieftain had made a deal with a Roman. A Roman with a distinctive strand of white hair. A description that matched our prefect. We took her with us and returned to the surface. Our commander Lucius was gravely wounded and revealed to us that the woman we had freed was his wife. Now he wanted to take her farther into tribal lands instead of returning to our oppidum. Cornelius was shocked! A traitor in our midst. He ran the Celtic woman through with his pilum accusing her of witchcraft and having enscorcelled Lucius. Enraged, Lucius wanted to choke Cornelius to death. From the hills, Celtic warriors with woad-painted faces suddenly stormed our position. Cornelius mercilessly cut down the traitor, then turned to face the warriors. Mercator died under the assault of the fierce Celts, revealing a faded tribal tattoo that identified him also as a Celtic sympathizer. Cornelius ordered Vibius to retreat, but instead, he threw a pilum at Cornelius' back. Wounded, he had to watch helplessly as Vibius was killed by the Celts for his misplaced loyalty to his dead comrades.

Cornelius escaped to the oppidum, carrying the secret knowledge of the prefect's betrayal with him. In the camp, he reported back to the prefect explaining about the two traitors Lucius and Mercator, how they all had fought and won against the degenerate tribe. But of course he omitted the hints of betrayal by the prefect. The prefect ordered Cornelius to be whipped as punishment for abandoning Vibius and retreating.

Meanwhile a legate has arrived at the oppidum to inspect the troops, Aponius Gavius Sulla. He was accompanied by his trust bodyguard Falco. Aponius had met Cornelius at a bacchanal back in Rome, so it was only natural that Cornelius sought out the legate as soon as he was free to roam the oppidum again. He asked for an audience and Aponius graciously granted his wish, mostly asking Falco to talk with Cornelius. Then the legate commanded Cornelius to take Falco and Ignatius, an other legionnaire, to gather evidence on the prefect.

Aponius met with the prefect suggesting a small feast to be held in the evening down by the river. There he entangled the prefect with words and distracted him, while Falco, Ignatius and Cornelius talked with the night watch. The watch confessed to having let someone leave the oppidum at night, but hadn't seen who it was. But he had acted at the order of his optio. The optio confessed quickly. The three legionnaires brought the optio to the feast. Commanded by Aponius, he confessed to letting the prefect out of the gate. That was enough. Aponius commanded Cornelius and Falco to take the prefect outside the gates. Once there, Cornelius implied to the prefect that it would be honorable to fall into his own sword in order to protect the honor of his family. The prefect begged Cornelius not to tell anyone about his dishonor. Cornelius agreed not tell anyone about his shame on this day.

After the prefect had committed suicide, legate Aponius took over his post as leader of the oppidum. Cornelius received a commendation for his efforts. Falco, already being the right hand of Aponius, didn't request any additional reward, of course.

Note: The prefect is not named in this account, since Cornelius of course kept his promise.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

WPW Hack: Fate, Blood & Sevens Sins Part 3

Welcome to the third (and most likely last) part of Fate, Blood & Seven Sins. This post discusses some random bits and pieces that go beyond the character & setting creation and powers stuff.

Vampire Healing

The description of Bo from Lost Girl in FATE Core stats finally gave me an important idea: how to handle healing based on drawing life force, blood, etc. from another being. I am going to use something similar for vampires.

A vampire is (only) able to heal consequences by inflicting consequences of equal or greater severity on someone else. Then she spends a FATE point to heal her own consequence. Nameless NPCs can only be used to heal mild consequences.

Alternatively, the GM can rule that all consequences downgrade by one level of severity at the beginning of a game.

Dominance & Submission

Vampires are predatory, territorial creatures. When they meet, they try to establish a pecking order. This can be either handled by a single overcome role with Age, or you can enter special Face-Off. In that Face-Off, the only Asset that can be used to attack and defend is Age. Whoever wins the conflict gets a special Dominance aspect. Each character can only have one Dominance aspect. If a new one is gained, the old one is erased.

Turf War

Vampires defend their territories, but they also like to acquire more. Turf War represents a way to do that. When a vampire declares a Turf War, he first has to spend a FATE point to change the Leitmotiv of the turf owned by another vampire (according to the rules in White Picket Witches). Then he has to announce his claim on the territory and initiate a Face-Off against the current owner. But this Face-Off is rather ritualized. It is up to the gaming group to decide if that ritual carries over into the fiction or not. The attacker has to attack alone. After all, there is only turf to go around. The defender can ask her allies to join her. In a Turf War, the GM uses the turf to attack the challenger. A place will fight subtly against the change of ownership. If the attacker succeeds in the Face-Off, he gains the turf and may switch out any one Asset of the place and select a new Leitmotif. He doesn't gain a new intent aspect. If the owner of the place concedes this Face-Off, she gets to keep her territory, but the attacker gains an intent aspect and a dominance aspect against her. She may subtly twist the wording as usual. If the defender wins the Face-Off, she gains an intent aspect and a dominance aspect against the aggressor.

A vampire may have as many turfs as her Age indicates. When a vampire looses her last remaining turf, she can create a new turf upon reaching the next significant milestone. Until then, her Pride is penalized by -2.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

White Picket Witches: The Hangout Game Part 1: Setup

Yesterday, I started the White Picket Witches game with members of my regular gaming group via Google Hangout. We are using Hangout to accomodate a couple of players who are out-of-town, but still want to play. I am planning on having an offline component to the game as well, but let's see how that goes.

After a lot of technical issues with computers, connection and microphones, we finally started designing three of the Five Families. The players and I felt, it would be good to leave the other two families for players who'd be joining later (either online or offline). The three families are the Davenports, the Hargroves and the Pierces.

Note: Aspects were done in our native language, so they might not translate their whole intent into English. I am trying to find an equivalent translation that at least carries some of the double meanings attached to the aspects.


The Davenport Family

We quickly decided that the Davenports had something to do with the port of the island... namely the airport.  Sometime in the 20th century, there was a landslide that buried the harbor. It was located at the bottom of the cliffs that surround most of the island. Now the only regular access to the island is the airport. It's built on land graciously donated by the Davenport family.

Aspects:
  • Everyone ends up with us.
  • Pillars of the community
  • We can afford that
  • We show you the ropes
Magic: Breath Work

The Hargrove Family

The Hargroves are connected to the island in mysterious ways. They serves as guardians in the literal and figurative sense and have a close connection to nature. Also, they are a large and willful family.

Aspects:
  • The Guardians of the Isle
  • Animals are our friends
  • Firm as a rock
  • We are a stubborn bunch
Magic: Muscle Work

The Pierce Family

The Pierce are the traditional parish priests and perform other functions related to the church and community. Probably because they don't take bullshit and are always looking (and talking) about the truth of a matter.

Aspects:
  • Nobody likes us
  • We love the truth
  • We only want your souls
  • We bestead the sinners
Magic: Bone Work

After that we started with the creation of the characters. But they aren't finished yet, I am going to post them, when we are finished. So far we have ideas for Felicia Davenport, a tour guide and history buff; Gail Hargrove, a deputy trained in a big city; and William Pierce, the sole professional photographer on the Island.

This doesn't read like much, but we spent almost two hours coming up with this stuff. It was great fun to do this together as a group.


Monday, February 11, 2013

WPW Hack: Fate, Blood & Seven Sins Part 2

This is the second part of my vampire hack for White Picket Witches. This time it's about vampiric powers. The powers are all activated by successfully rolling with Age, usually against a difficulty of Great (+4). The difficulty represents that all vampires have access to the same powers, but older vampires are generally better at using the power of their blood than newly made vampires. The younger ones have to work harder (read: expend FATE points, set up scene aspects or boosts) to make their powers actually work.

Vampiric power often resides in the blood. To emulate this, a vampire character can take a consequence and apply the number of stress usually mitigated by the consequence as a bonus to his Age roll. As a consequence he should take an aspect that alludes to her being hungry, starving, thirsty or worse.

One important note: vampiric powers are inherently nocturnal. They do not work in daylight as long as the sun is in the sky. Your vampire may not burn in the sun, but he is weakened and cannot use his Age score.

Slight change: In the last post, I stated that each vampire starts with one extra at no cost. I think, all vampires should start with two extras at no cost. Simply because Age can't be really used to attack, defend or create an advantage.

Also, the powers listed here are just suggestions. If you or your group comes up with any other ideas, just take those.

Animal Magnetism

The vampire exudes predatory sexuality and lust. By succeeding on an Age roll at Great (+4) or better, he gains a +2 bonus on all rolls with Lust to Overcome or Create Advantages for the rest of the scene.

Claws & Fangs

The ability to grow claws and fangs is a staple of vampire literature. The wounds they inflict in physical combat become more serious. If they succeed on an Age roll against difficulty Great (+4) or better, the vampire grows claws and/or vicious fangs that inflict an additional two points of Stress (as Weapon:2) for the rest of the conflict.

Cold Commands

Some vampires can command lesser creatures to follow their very commmands. Whether by voice or eye contact, if you succeed with Age against a difficulty of Great (+4) or better, you can hand over a FATE point to a player character or non-player character. You ask them to take an action (Overcome, Create Advantage, Attack or Defend) that can be accomplished with one roll. If they take the action, they get to keep the FATE point. If they don't, the FATE point goes to the turf.


Dark Rebirth

This power is a nod to all the sequels where the vampire defeated previously returns. At the end of the session in which a vampire with this power was destroyed, the player rolls the Age of the character. If she succeeds at a Great (+4) or better roll, then the vampire returns from the grave. He looses the power and regains one refresh. The Rebirth power may only be bought again when the next major milestone has been reached.


Daywalker

Your character has achieved a remarkable feat: she can walk in daylight and still access some or all of her vampiric powers. At dawn she rolls Age against Fair (+2) difficulty. For each two points of shift she achieves on the roll, she can designate one of her powers to be useable during the day.

Dreams & Memories

Some vampires are able to project their thoughts into another person's mind. With Dreams & Memories, a vampire can reach into the very core of another being. If this done by telepathic command, sharing their dreams or whispering into their ear is up to the group or even the individual vampire. By succeeding on an Age roll at Great (+4) or better, they are allowed to change one of the aspects of their victims. This can be either the Canon Aspect, the Mortal Days, the Vampire Nights, a Consequence or the Intent Aspect. They are allowed to add or change up to two words of the aspect. The change remains in effect until the character rests the next time.

Heightened Perception

If the vampire succeeds at a roll with Age at Fair (+2) or better, then his senses become very acute for the rest of the scene. He get a +2 on any rolls involving the five senses, but his Defense against loud noises or other forms of sensory overload is reduced by two points.

Hypnotic Voice

The vampire can use his voice to confuse his opponent in a Face-Off. He makes it difficult to concentrate and retain cohesive thoughts. If he succeeds at a Great (+4) or better roll with Age, he can ignore two points of stress generated by a verbal attack (like Armor:2 against non-physical attacks).

Mind Reader

Some vampires are adept at reading another's thoughts and memories. If the vampire succeeds at a Great (+4) or better roll with Age, she may ask another character one question that can be answered with yes or no. The other character must answer truthfully. The truth being as he knows it.

Mists & Shadows

The Legendary (+8) Dracula was capable of transforming his body into an insubstantial mass of fog or shadow. This power allows a vampire to do the very same thing. If they succeed on a roll with Age at Fantastic (+6) or better, they turn into a wraith-like mist or shadow. For the rest of the scene, they cannot be attacked physically anymore, but sunlight will burn the vampire to ashes. Also, it is hard to notice the vampire, requiring a roll of Great (+4) or better. This power is beyond most fledgling vampires.

Renfield

This power can be turned on a nameless NPC. By rolling Great (+4) or better on an Age roll, the vampire turns the nameless NPC into a Fair minion (see FATE Core). The minion gains a name and an aspect. If it is taken-out or overcome, the vampire looses any influence over him. When a Renfield survives his first session as a vampiric minion, the power can be used on him again and turn him into a Good minion. A vampire can have no more minions than his Age.

Shapeshifter

By succeeding on an Age roll at Great (+4) or better, the vampire can turn herself into a bat or wolf. She can choose the form at the moment of transformation. Her canon aspect changes into an appropriate aspect. As a bat she gains the Wall-Walker power (by virtue of being able to fly) and as a wolf she gains the Claws & Fangs power.

Swarm Shape

Some vampires can turn into a whole swarm of bats, rats, cats or spiders. This power emulates this. The vampire succeeds in a Great (+4) or better roll to affect the transformation. A swarm can either completely escape the Face-Off (without the initiator gaining the intent based aspect) or can be used to get additional stress boxes (one per shift generated). The player can choose which effect to gain upon transformation.

Ultra-sonic Scream

An ability that may point to bat-like ancestry. If the vampire succeeds at an Age roll with Great (+4) or better result, any shifts generated are applied as stress to any and all creatures involved in the Face-Off.


Vampiric Resilience

Most vampires are hard to take down. Resilience is the power that emulates that. On a Great (+4) roll with Age, the vampire can ignore two points physical stress from each blow (like Armor:2) for the rest of the scene.

Vampiric Strongness

The antiquated word describes the vampire's knack for supernatural strength. When a vampire rolls Great (+4) or better with Age, he gains a +2 bonus on any rolls related to raw strength for the rest of the scene. This bonus also extends to any and all physical attacks made with the sin of Wrath.

Vampiric Swiftness

Vampires are shown as being incredibly swift. On a Great (+4) or better roll, they get a +2 bonus to Defend against physical attacks in a Face-Off for the rest of the scene.


Wall-Walker

The vampire can walk on ceiling or scale walls with ease. If she succeeds at a Greater (+4) or better roll with Age, she can ignore ground-based and height-based obstacles to movement for the rest of the scene.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

WPW Hack: Fate, Blood & Seven Sins Part 1

I just love Vampire: The Requiem. It's my favorite game and I usually gm at least a short chronicle each year. All of them set in the same setting, a small city in Northern Germany. On and off, I've been running the game since November 2004. I am looking for a way to marry the FATE mechanics with my setting. Now, White Picket Witches may have given me the right tools.

In the Requiem Chronicler's Guide there was a hack called "Monsters Garage" that stripped the vampiric experience down to a few essential components. They also did away with skills and instead focused on how you do things not what you do. The focus was on employing the seven deadly sins of envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, wrath. This matches up perfectly with the seven assets used by White Picket Witches. So I am going to use the seven deadlies as the Assets of the game. But let's dive in from the beginning.

Setting Considerations

The game assumes that vampirism is transmitted by blood, as seen in Vampire Diaries, True Blood or Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. It is up to the gaming group to determine when the blood has to be transmitted and which additional steps (if any) have to be taken to complete the transformation into a vampire (e.g. being dead, dying, having to bury out of the grave, etc.)

Also, I am going to assume that vampires gather, be it as packs, covens, clans, bloodlines, a complete undead society with elaborate rituals and rules, gangs, nests, broods, whatever. This will provide the social dynamic. It is up to the GM and players to define this.

Thirdly, I am assuming that vampires require blood to survive. This will be expresses as an Extra and limitation that all vampires share: they can only heal a consequence by inflicting an equally bad or worse consequence on someone else. Stressing-out nameless NPCs is sufficient for recovering mild consequences, but nothing more serious. A vampire can use another vampire to recover consequences.

Your Aspects

Core Concept: This works similar to the canon aspect of White Picket Witches and the high concept aspect of FATE Core. In two to three words, tell the audience who you are. Are you the Trusted Bodyguard, a Ruthless Drugdealer, the Elderly Executive, an Ancient Relic, the Dedicated Elementary School Teacher, a Suave Tattoo Artist, the Curious Archaelogist or a Famous Radio Talkhost?

Weakness: Vampires have weaknesses as varied as the genre. Some are repelled by crosses, some are vulnerable to sunlight, others are prone to violent rage or hurt by silver. Pick a weakness for your character. Something that will impair her when confronted with it. Put it in an aspect. Not all vampires are created the same.

Casting: How do you imagine your character to look like? You can pick a particular actor (even in a particular role) or just cast your character as a "-type". The purpose of this aspect is to visualize the character in three to five words.

Mortal Days: Who were you as a mortal, back in the day when you could still walk openly among humans? What was the life that was stolen from you? This aspect can be about family or friends, habits, occupations and what not. It should solidly connect you to other humans.

Role in Vampire Society: Even though vampires are predators, they connect to other vampires. This aspect describes your role in vampiric society. Are you a newly converted vampire? The advisor to your broodmaster? The ruler of a respected house or lineage? An enforcer of laws?

Your Assets

Your assets are the seven deadly sins: envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, wrath. In this game, you express your actions by describing which sin you are committing in order to get what you want.

As an additional asset you get Age. The asset describes how experienced you are in using your vampiric powers and how powerful you are a vampire. A newly created fledgingly starts with Average (+1) Age, while an ancient vampire alive back in Roman times might have be of  Fantastic (+6) or Epic (+7) Age. Most vampires created since the Middle Ages range between Great (+4) Age and Fair (+2) Age, if they have been around since before WWII.

The group may decide to limit Age to a certain bracket or even require all player characters  to start at the same Age.

Age is rolled, when you are activating your vampiric powers.

Since I don't like spreading points around bit by bit, each player will be able to have one asset at Great (+4), one at Good (+3), one at Fair (+2) and another one at Average (+1). The assets include the sevens sins and Age. At least one of the values has to be put into Age.

Refresh, Stunts and Extras

Each character starts out with one free stunt, three refresh and one extra. Additional stunts and/or extras can be taken by reducing refresh. Stunts can either be invented using the guidelines in FATE Core or by applying an existing stunt to one of the seven sins.

I will provide a short list of extras based upon vampiric powers in one of the next blog posts.

Antagonists

Antagonists are built like in White Picket Witches. Possible antagonists include the vampire who made you, the vampire you created, a rival vampiric gangleader, mortal authorities, competitors for your turf, the usual vampire hunters, other supernatural creatures like werewolves, ghosts, demons or even the devil himself. Just look to the genre for inspiration.

Turf

Each player designs at least one turf. An area her character owns in the world of the vampires. Her hunting grounds, her lair, a place she likes to spend time at or a meeting place for others of her kind. Also, the group should probably design at least one or two turfs that are shared by more vampires, where they can meet, greet and plot.

Turfs are designed along the same rules as places of power. They have a leitmotif, and get three assets (read: sins) assigned. In a given scene, when a vampire is on his own turf, he can invoke the leitmotif once for free (very cool idea by Rob Wieland for The Phaser Chase).

Okay, that's the basics. Next time I'll talk about vampiric powers and then there is this idea about Turf Wars.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Methods for Shared Setting Building

The various FATE games thrive on communal setting building. It seems to be hard-wired into the mindset of the game. Today I'd like to take a look at the different methods out there.

FATE Core

The group selects two issues and turns them into aspects, then creates a couple of NPCs to attach as "faces" to the issues, and after that creates some important locations and their faces. The Dresden Files RPG works similar, as it served as the blueprint for that method.

Diaspora

Each member of the group rolls up some game values for a system or two in the local cluster, then assigns aspects to the systems and connects them to the other systems.

Starblazer Adventures/Legends of Anglerre

Everyone marks a small circle on a piece of paper, then lines are drawn from the circle to the nearest edge of the paper. This partitions the map into sectors, city quarters or large natural features. Then everybody again places circles inside the map partitions. Each area and each circle gets a name and an aspect. Instant map of the game area with aspects and names.

White Picket Witches

Each player creates a Place of Power defined by a Leitmotif (basically a theme song) and assigns three of the seven Assets of the game at Great, Good and Fair level to the place. Name the place and you are good to go.

That's a very quick rundown of the currently available methods as starting place to create my own (or decide which one I like best). I admit that I am partial to the White Picket Witches method.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Invisible Light

Sometimes you realize you are not only late to the party, but that the party is already over. About two weeks ago I discovered the Scissor Sisters. More specifically this:


Yesterday, I finally realized why the voice reading the final lyrics sounded so familiar: Sir Ian McKellan was reading them. Yes, sometimes I am really stupid that way.

I so want to turn this into a FATE hack. It reminds me a bit of the old Frankie Goes to Hollywood song "Welcome to the Pleasuredome".


"Babylon,
Where bricks of mortared diamonds tower,
Sailor's lust and swagger blazing in woman's beams,
Whose lazy gaze penetrates this sparkling theater of excess and strobed delights,
Painted whores, sexual gladiators, fiercely old party children,
All wake from their slumber to debut the bacchanal.
Come to the light! Into the light! The invisible light."

Only I don't have any idea how to do this. I don't even know, if I got the lyrics right. And probably no one is going to want to play the resulting game with me.

Somehow, I visualize this as an old, rundown club dating back to 80ies, visited by aging drag queens, younger (but not young) hypersexualized leathermen, older gay men and their friends hanging out and dancing   in the flashing lights. Yet, after midnight, a bacchanal starts. The club works its own magic. The men and women visiting the club each having paid their price to partake of a special kind of magic. Something that recharges at the club and carries them through the day. But each night, they are drawn back to the dingy club, meeting the same old crowd and feeling strangely at home. They are of the night and know about the strange dangers lurking in the backstreets of downtown. Guardians against the darkness.

As the face of this club I visualize:

Reginald "Regina" Frazier
Canon aspect: Aging drag-queen bouncer
Tragic flaw: Sucker for a handsome face
Casting aspect: Peter Dinklage in drag
Further aspect: A Heart of Gold
Further aspect: The Babylon is my life's work

Assets: Great (+4) Classy, Good (+3) Dangerous, Fair (+2) Sensitive
Stunts: "Tell me your story" (+2 on rolls with Sensitive to get people to open up)

Note: I used White Picket Witches to do the aspects and stats, because that's the quickest way to do them at the moment.

Don't ask me all where this is coming from. I should probably watch less "Lost Girl" and try to catch more sleep.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

White Picket Witches am Gratisrollenspieltag

My first game of White Picket Witches took place at the Gratisrollenspieltag event in Nuremberg. It was a sort of convention game atmosphere. When I first arrived at Ultracomix around 11:00 am, there were about half the tables reserved for events of the Gratisrollenspieltag and half for the regular Magic games happening on Saturdays. A demo team from Ulisses Spiele, German publisher of Pathfinder and Das Schwarze Auge, had set up shop on a good part of the tables. But there was a game of Star Wars: The Edge of Empire scheduled as well as my FATE game.

At first I thought, I would end up with no participants, but a curious gamer who already knew the Dresden Files RPG stopped by the table and we got into talking about DFRPG and the difference to White Picket Witches. Then two other gamers joined who had only played D&D, Shadowrun and so on. The three guys quickly decided on characters while I explained the game to them. They picked Caleb Gifford, Zachary Grant and Linda Gardner. We completed the characters and then went on to create three places of power, a witch hunter as an antagonist and some more facts on the three families present.

The FATE beginners picked out surprisingly good aspects for the game and understood FATE rather quickly.

The three places of power were:

Gifford Mausoleum
Leitmotif: The Phantom of the Opera
Great (+4) Dangerous, Good (+3) Powerful, Fair (+2) Classy
An imposing edifice that serves as a monument to the dark power of the Gifford family.

Moon Island Hospital
Leitmotif: The theme from emergency room
Great (+4) Sensitive, Good (+3) Savvy, Fair (+2) Brilliant
A place where the ability to emphasize with patients and improvisation carries the day as oppossed to any brilliant medical training.

Seven Oaks
Leitmotif: Rococo music with strings and flutes
Great (+4) Classy, Good (+3) Powerful, Fair (+2) Sensitive
A majestic clearing throbbing with the power of the earth and nature

Veronica Allen
Canon aspect: Rich, arrogant witch huntress
Tragic flaw: Morbidly clean
Casting aspect: Blonde bombshell
Further aspect: Judicial power
Further aspect: Carrier of the Mystic Cross

Assets: Great (+4) Classy, Good (+3) Powerful, Fair (+2) Brilliant, Average (+1) Dangerous.
Stunt: Money talks on Moon Island (same as Felicia Gifford).

Her aspects were created by the players, the assets and stunts by me.

The game opened with the characters meeting at O'Malleys, a local Irish pub. They bantered a bit about old times before getting serious about the metaplot (someone had opened the family crypts and disturbed the rest of the dead). Especially Caleb taunted Linda about her fear of graveyards and the darkness. Nevertheless, they finally decided to head over to the graveyard and examine the tombs at night. They ended up going first to the Gifford mausoleum.

They used a hidden entrance, as to escape notice by the gang of goths hanging out in front of the mausoleum, but nevertheless one of the kids followed them inside. They discovered him and chased him off. After that there was a short Face-Off between Caleb and Linda about her fear of the dark. Caleb clearly wanted to intimidate her and won, gaining the intent aspect of "Linda is such a crybaby". Linda's player conceded the Face Off and got to add "sometimes" to the intent aspect.

Afterwards, Caleb discovered that the oldest sarcophagus had been brutally opened and the bones were disturbed. But via Create an Advantage he discovered an Ancient Dagger had been left behind.

Then the group went on to investigate the Gardner and the Grant crypts. Both crypts had been disturbed. Always the oldest grave opened. The group retreated to the Grant mansion to mull things over. Zachary hit the books in his family's library and discovered that the founders had been burried with a piece of a Mystic Cross bane to all witches. Apparently whoever was behind the graverobbing intended to recreate the cross.

At that point, I decided to move things to the conclusion of that short 4-hour convention game. They got a mysterious call asking them to meet the caller at Seven Oaks, if they wanted the cross back.

Final Face-Off at Seven Oaks. A hooded figure carried the cross and attacked the group with its powers (area attack invoking the "Carrier of the Mystic Cross" aspect). Then all hell broke loose. Caleb repeatedly attacked with his Bone Work magic skill, Linda tried to convince the assailant of the purity of magic and nature, and Zachary went for the cross. Seven Oaks mostly ended up attacking Caleb Gifford for bringing his dark magic to bear on a place of nature, in the end almost swallowing him in the earth. The Face-Off turned into a rather long conflict, because Linda initially failed an important roll and decided to succeed at serious costs bringing in reinforcements for the hooded assailant. Finally, the hooded assailants conceded rather than risk to be taken out.

The players had fun at the game and the dynamic between the three characters was very interesting. Everyone had a good time.

Notes: I goofed up at the final Face-Off, dragging it out unnecessarily. Instead of having two contenders, I allowed all three players to perform attacks. If only Caleb had attacked and Zachary and Linda playing support, the conflict would have ended much earlier. Also, the FATE points dried up rather quickly in the final conflict. Usually, I don't have issues getting the FATE points flowing, but with unfamiliar players and a new hack that got a bit difficult. Even though, we had flashbacks that I didn't mention above. They worked well, but it was a bit hard coming up with the appropriate stories.

After the game, I took some time to explore the store and ended up buying lots of comic books (The Caste of the Metabarons and a new series called Nosferatu). All in all a fun day in Nuremberg.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Changes

I used to have another blog called "Beyond the Drowning Woods" that I started back in 2011 in order to work on a setting for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, the Weird Fantasy Role-Playing game by James Raggi. The game never happened, but I kept posting to the blog and kept thinking about the Drowning Woods.

Now, I've started another blog called "Wings of FATE", which is the blog that used to be here. Yesterday I decided that it's being merged with "Beyond the Drowning Woods" into "Fate of the Drowning Woods".

I am not that tired of 21st century RPGs as I thought I was about one-and-a-half years ago. FATE Core actually helped me to realize that.

Okay, onwards and welcome to readers heading here from "Beyond the Drowning Woods".

White Picket Witches: Prepared Characters

Yesterday, I gm'ed my first game of White Picket Witches at the Gratisrollenspieltag (German Free RPG Day). The game itself will be described in an upcoming blog post. Here I'll just show which characters were prepared for the game. I did six characters for three families and gave them two aspects (childhood and heritage), one stunt and one spell each.

Clayton Gardner

Childhood: Knows Moon Island like his back pocket
Heritage: The simple cousin from a family offshot
Stunt: Lie Whisperer (as seen on page 113 of FATE Core preview)
Magic: Muscle Work, Spell: Animal Form (Collie; Simply adorable, a truly good nose, "That smells delicious", Dogged, Soft and cuddly)

Linda Gardner

Childhood: The sweetest girl of the Five Families
Heritage: Grandmother's darling and her best student
Stunt: Always Making Useful Things (as seen on page 107 of FATE Core preview)
Magic: Muscle Work, Spell: Deepest Healing

Caleb Gifford

Childhood: Gets away with murder
Heritage: The black sheep of a black herd
Stunt: Word are Weapons (+2 to Treacherous when you attack an other character verbally in order to harm).
Magic: Bone Work, Spell: Curse

Felicia Gifford

Childhood: The burden of responsibility
Heritage: Heir Apparent of the Gifford Estate
Stunt: Money Talks (as seen on page 129 of the FATE Core Preview)
Magic: Bone Work, Spell: variation of Dead Men's Tales granting a scene aspect instead of a boost.

Victoria "Vicky" Grant

Childhood: The only girl on the Lacrosse Team
Heritage: My father was the parish priest of Moon Island
Stunt: Roll with the Blow (as seen on page 102 of the FATE Core Preview)
Magic: Breath Work, Spell: Purifying Light (A Great or better roll can create an advantage against a monster associated with night and darkness).

Zachary "Zac" Grant

Childhood: The little mischief
Heritage: Always the baby brother of the Grant family
Stunt: Always a Way Out (as seen on page 103 of the FATE Core Preview)
Magic: Breath Work, Spell: Mythical Conveyance

The players will be able to pick the Canon aspect, the Tragic Flaw aspect and the Casting aspect. Then they get to distribute a Great (+4), a Good (+3), a Fair (+2) and an Average (+1) value on their Assets. One of the assets has to be the Magic Asset. This gives them one point more than the White Picket Witches default build, arranged in a column. Because I think, distributing 8 points accross 8 Assets will end up with some fairly generic distributions in the Average to Fair range.