Saturday, June 22, 2013

FAE with Aspects and No Approaches

Just a short article today on using FAE without approaches. The idea of FATE with just aspects and stunts has been floating around the internet for some time. Taking FAE as a basis this could be accomplished quite easily, by removing approaches from the game. Instead, each character aspect gains a rating:

  • High Concept: Good (+3)
  • Trouble: Terrible (-2)
  • All other aspects: Average (+1)

When you are asked to roll, you select the appropriate aspect and roll with its rating. If your trouble applies, you have to roll at terrible (-2). FATE points can be used as usual to invoke and compel aspects. So, if you are rolling your " Sole Mage-Priest of the Moon Goddess" aspect at good (+3), you can still invoke the same aspect to get an additional +2 to the roll. You can even invoke your trouble aspect, in case you think it'll help.

Stunts templates will drop the approach from their wording and it is probably a good idea to limit the circumstances in which it applies some more, as without approaches stunts become more broadly applicable. Thus the stunt template for the +2 bonus would look like this:

"Because I [describe some way that you are exceptional, have a cool bit of gear, or are otherwise awesome], I get a +2 when I [pick one: attack, defend, create advantages, overcome], when [describe a circumstance]."

Milestones will also change a bit:

  • Minor milestones allow you to switch the ratings between two aspects as long as it is not your high concept or or trouble aspect instead of allowing you to switch ratings between two approaches.
  • Significant milestones allow you to raise the rating of an aspect by one, as long as it is not your trouble aspect. No aspect may be raised to a higher rating than the high concept aspect. The high concept aspect may be raised as high as superb (+5).
  • Major milestones will remain unchanged. 

In FAEntasy I could see this hack working. The high concept aspect and some other aspects are based in your classes. Thus, getting rid of approaches will tie your character concept to a rating, kind of like the approaches as classes that I initially proposed.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

FAEntasy: Magic

Finally, we are getting to another interesting bit of the rules. As a means of diving into the mechancis, I am going to tackle the five questions that the magic toolkit tells us to ask of magic. As source material, I'll consider the original game and include some comments on Old School+ games.

Note: FAEntasy assumes you are using the red dice and blue dice rules for weapons and armor from the FATE Toolkit. Why? Because I think it is cool.

1. Tone: In the original source material, magic is neutral force that can be used for good and evil. Usually this is reinforced by having a neutral goddess (or rarely, god) present in the setting. Magic is also usually divided into divine magic available to clerics and arcane magic available to wizards and their like. In some Old School+ games, arcane magic is portrayed as a source of chaos, while divine magic is seen as a force of order or law. In FAEntasy the tone will determine how you cast your magic. Are doing it carefully like a cleric (or druid), flashy like a bard, forcefully like a sorcerer or clever like a wizard?

2. Costs: Magic is tiresome, slowly wearing the wizard out, until he can't cast anymore spells. At least the associated fiction talked about magic in those terms. In game terms, the wizard or cleric ran out of spells sooner or later. For FAEntasy, this means that casting spells and using magic causes stress (and maybe consequences). For now lets say: each spell causes the caster exactly one stress. This may not seem like much, but remember: there is oly one level-1 stress box.

3. Limits: Arcane magic usually cannot heal people, but is devastating when attacking. Divine magic on the other hand is quite handy for healing people, damaging and destroying the undead or protecting someone from harm, but not as powerful on the attack. These limits translate into a number of rules for FAEntasy magic:

  • Arcane magic cannot restore consequences.
  • Divine magic can restore consequences or rather speed-up healing. With a Fair (+2) result, a cleric can completely heal a mild consequence. With a Great (+4) result, she can turn a moderate consequence into a mild consequence. With a Fantastic (+6) result, a severe consequence can be turned into a moderate consequence. Successive castings can heal grievious consequences.
  • Divine magic can resurrect people, but it is Legendary (+8) difficulty and the cleric will take an extreme consequence twisting one of his aspects, except the hight concept aspect.
  • By taking additional stress, an arcane mage can turn normal fate dice into red dice when directly attacking with his magic. The maximum number of dice he can swap is equal to his casting approach.
  • Clerics can only do that, when attacking the undead.
  • By taking additional stress, any spellcaster can turn normal fate dice into blue dice, when directly defending against an attack that causes stress. The maximum number of dice he can swap is equal to his casting approach.
  • Apart from these rules, magic can be used to either create an advantage, overcome an obstacle, attack or defend according to the normal rules for the four actions in FAE.

4. Availability: Magic is usually not part of everyday live. But there are temples around and wizards for hire. So you can expect at least a couple of spellcasters to be part of an adventuring party, but hiring one is still not cheap, depending on services requested. I'd suggest at least a Great (+4) difficulty when seeking help at a temple or tower. The more difficult the magic sought, the higher the difficulty goes.

5. Source: Here some campaigns diverge wildly. It could be planes of negative and positive energy, an invisible web of power stretching over the land, growing things,  pure chaos, the gods & deities or your own inner conviction.

This is it. These are the basic rules for FAEntasy magic. In the coming posts I am going to elaborate further on divine and arcane magic.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

FAEntasy: Races as Aspects & Stunts

The fantastic races will be done mainly as aspects. Below you'll find some quick and handy description of the races. Each race contains some ideas on invoking the race for a bonus or reroll. Those ideas can easily be turned into stunts to make them available more often and more reliably, but they don't have to. In terms of FATE Core Extras, each race is an extra with an aspect as permission. Usually, this aspect should be part of your high concept. Yes, that means that for some invokes you'll have to decide, if you want to lean on your class or your race. Remember that each aspect may only be invoked once per roll.

Hint: You might want to have other aspects relating to your race and/or class, so you can gain a bigger benefit out of them.

Note: These are just examples to get you started.

Dwarven Aspects

  • Invoke to defend against poison or magic, to detect odd and unusual things about stonework, to attack or defend with axes, to attack or defend against orcs, goblinoids or giants, when appraising or crafting objects.
  • Compel when confronted with orcs, goblinoids or giants, to argue with an elf, when outdoors, to covet gold and other riches.

Elven Aspects

  • Invoke to see in the dark, to attack or defend with swords, to attack with bows, to defend against enchantments, to notice things, to remember events from a hundred years ago.
  • Compel to defend the forest, to feel and behave superior to humans, to get into an argument with dwarves, to take the long view on things.

Gnome Aspects

  • Invoke to see in the dark, to defend against illusions, when small size is a benefit, to attack and defend against kobolds and goblinoids, to listen well, to defend against giants, to craft illusions, to brew potions.
  • Compel when small size is a disadvantage (and other gnomish stuff, never cared much about them).

Half-elven Aspects

  • Invoke to see in the dark, to defend against enchantments, to notice things, to get along with others, when being an elf or human is an advantage.
  • Compel for feeling as an outcast from humans and elves, to be subject to prejudice from humans and elves, to react badly to those prejudices, when being an elf or human is a disadvantage.

Half-orc Aspects

  • Invoke to rage against your enemies, to be a hulking brute, when being an orc is an advantage.
  • Compel when in polite society, when confronted with prejudice, when being an orc is a disadvantage.

Halfling Aspects

  • Invoke to to see in the dark, when small size is an advantage, to be fearless, to do sneaky stuff and thievery (it took only one halfling to ruin the reputation of a whole race), to remain hidden and unseen.
  • Compel when leaving the characters comfort zone, for breakfast, when small size is a disadvantage.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

FAEntasy: Options for Aspects & Approches

Edit: I am not doing a third post on aspects, as I consider that overkill and want to get on with the design. But +Paul Vencill over at G+ had a nice idea about the aspects and representing "classes". He suggested that each "class" should take up an aspect slot in case of "multi-classing". I want to include something like that. Also I forgot to mention something about the other aspects in the post.

Okay, I read some interesting comments on my approaches for FAEntasy. One reader even said: call them classes instead of approaches. Another one insisted that the way the approaches are worded, they enforce multi-classing as a default. Yet the next suggestion was to use the six common attributes as approaches (but that's already been done over here).

Approaches in FAEntasy are not classes. First, they do not include everything that is necessary to form a class (e.g. Fighter covers only close combat, whereas Ranger covers ranged combat). Second, even a Good (+3) Thief may know a thing or two about the campaign world (which could be covered with Bard or Wizard).

Anyways, here is another option to use Approaches and Aspects that is closer to standard FAE:

Aspects for a game inspired by Old School+

  • High Concept: Your high concept ideally includes your class (and race, if you are anything but a plain human). The possible classes could be (but are not limited to): Fighter, Ranger, Barbarian, Paladin, Cleric, Druid, Monk, Wizard, Specialist Wizard, Sorcerer, Thief, Bard or Assassin. You can even cover a multiclass in your high concept (but you have to take an additional aspect for each additional class you want to cover). If you want to be a spellcaster, be sure to mention Cleric, Druid,Wizard or Sorcerer in the hight concept. More on that in the post about magic. Examples are: Dwarven Knight of the Nether ReachesWoodland Ranger of the SkogurhörmulegurThe Thief Who Stole the Elven Juwel, Elven Ranger sworn to the Queen, Sole half-elven cleric/mage of the Moon Godess.
  • Trouble: Works identically to FAE. This aspects serves to propel you into adventures and make your live really interesting. Examples are: Outcast from the Woodland RealmHunted by Ragnar the BlackenedOrcs have taken everything from me!
  • Alignment: This one is new. Basically you select one of the nine alignments (Lawful Good, Neutral Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Neutral, True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil or Chaotic Evil). The fun thing: in FAE, the GM can compel you to act in accordance with your alignment and it gets you FATE points. Don't forget to self-compel!
Beyond the initial three aspects, it's up to you, if you want to fill your remaining two slots on the spot or you want to wait until an aspect suggests itself to you. Unless your high concept mentions a multiclass.


When you multiclass, you have to relate one aspect to each class that you are taking. Of course, this can include the trouble aspect. Thus, you are limited to a maximum of four "classes". Also, since the additional classes have to be mentioned in your high concept, you can add additional classes either at the beginning of the game or later on at major milestones when you are allowed to change your high concept.

Approaches for a game inspired by Old School+

Surprisingly, they stay the same as in standard FAE. In fact, there is no change at all. The "old-schoolness" is completely bound up in your aspects. The beauty: you can play FAEntasy right out of the box, no need for a fancy new character sheet. You simply grab your favorite FAE character sheet and you are good to go.

Okay, what do you think? Which way do you like more? The one outlined above or the one previously described?

Monday, June 17, 2013

FAEntasy: Character Aspects

Okay, I am itching to write about magic, but first I need to settle aspects. Also it is rather uncomfortably hot over here, so I am going to keep it short. The character aspects will of course include:

  • High Concept: Ideally, the high concept ties into your highest approach. Indeed, in order cast spells, your high concept aspect must tie into the appropriate approaches (Cleric and/or Wizard). If your have an average (+1) or higher approach as Cleric or Wizard, but your high concept doesn't indicate that you are a spellcaster, you will have knowledge about arcane and/or divine magic, as well as all the other abilities associated with the Cleric or Wizard approach, but you won't be able to cast spells. Otherwise, the high concept functions identically to FAE. It describes what your character is about at his or her core. Examples are: Dwarven Knight of the Nether Reaches, Woodland Ranger of the Skogurhörmulegur, The Thief Who Stole the Elven Juwel.
  • Trouble: Works identically to FAE. This aspects serves to propel you into adventures and make your live really interesting. Examples are: Outcast from the Woodland Realm, Hunted by Ragnar the Blackened, Orcs have taken everything from me!
  • Alignment: This one is new and basically you select one of the nine alignments (Lawful Good, Neutral Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Neutral, True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil or Chaotic Evil). The fun thing: in FAE, the GM can compel you to act in accordance with your alignment and it gets you FATE points. Don't forget to self-compel!

Beyond those three, it is up to you, if you want to fill the remaining two slots at the beginning of the game or if you want to wait until an aspect suggests itself to you.

As an additional treat, I am adding the character sheets for FAEntasy.

FAEntasy plain character sheet
FAEntasy form-fillable character sheet

Thanks to +Paul Kießhauer for his idea on having a spellcaster approach without being a spellcaster.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

FAEntasy: Approaches

Okay, in my last post, I mentioned something called "FAEntasy" which is the working title for my hack of FAE with old school gaming. I love the old school renaissance (short: OSR), as my articles on the Drowning Woods show. But most OSR games don't have that many "fiddly bits" as one of my players called them. Especially my favorite Old School+ game: Lamentations of the Flame Princess. One solution to that issue would be using FAE (FATE Accelerated Edition, in case you are wondering). Since FAE is already using the Open Gaming License (OGL for short), it becomes part and parcel with a lot of old school inspired gaming in form of the SRD of the third edition of the oldest fantasy RPG on the planet.

This is my attempt for hacking FAE into a FAEntasy game recognizable to fans of old school gaming.

First, I am going to replace the six approaches with classes (kinda like BareBones Fantasy). I will still call them approaches, but change their name and function. The new class-based approaches are:

  • Bard: The way of word and song. Making a good impression, getting people to react favorably to you, finding your way around respectable society.
  • Cleric: The servants of the gods. Nurturing and healing with words of wisdom. But also smiting the undead and casting spells in the name of demigods and deities.
  • Fighter: The warrior who wades into battle, swinging his sword, smashing his enemies with knowledge of war and tactics.
  • Ranger: The scout and woodland archer. Knowing how to use ranged weapons, how to survive in the wilds, how to hunt and track enemies.
  • Thief: The ultimate urban survivalist. Sneaking and hiding, attacking from the shadows, knowing your way around the seedy underbelly of the cities. Fencing stolen goods aquired illegally.
  • Wizard: The sage who knows spells and secret knowledge. Also called warlock or sorcerer, magic-user or mage. She wields the arcane might that permeats the world.

Each player will start of with one Good (+3), one Fair (+2) and one Average (+1) approach. The all other approaches will remain at Mediocre (+0).

Why these six? Well, I figured that a combination of them can be used to build other classes like the assassin (Fighter/Thief), the druid (Cleric/Ranger), the barbarian (Fighter/Ranger) or the paladin (Fighter/Cleric).

Something awesome...

I just have to show off those

Playing FAE

Yesterday, at the FreeRPG I've GMed FAE (FATE Accelerated Edition) at a not-so-local game store. It went quite well. Here are my observations from the game (and some other FAE game I did via G+ Hangout).

  1. Using methods works quite well, since it gets players to describe how they employ their approaches, thus automatically adding descriptions to the game. Yes, of course they are trying to justify their best approaches. But to me that's a feature not a bug. Gets players thinking about their actions and describing them.
  2. I've got a hard time coming up with mooks on the fly. I think, I need a book of mooks or a mookipedia of some sorts. A place where I can describe mooks that may show up in advance (depending on genre).
  3. Stunts that are directly affecting attack or defense rolls should be limited. At least for the NPCs.
  4. Also, while designing pre-gens for a convention game, I've got trouble coming up with good and interesting stunts. I also may need to create a reference here. Maybe based on FATE Core's stunts as a quick go-to-list.
  5. I've got trouble coming up with non-physical conflicts in FAE. This needs to be addressed.
  6. Conflicts seem to drag on in FAE. Yesterday a battle between three PCs, five groups of mooks and two main NPCs dragged on forever. Forever was around 2-3 hours. I am thinking about implementing my stress-free FATE hack into a FAE hack.
  7. For running a fantasy game, adding weapon rules might be a nice idea. This could at least speed up physical conflict. Alternatively, add a new stunt template to FAE that describes weapons and armor that are special or integral to a character.
  8. When playing FATE Core Fantasy, I usually add a special boost called "Loot" to the game. Loot can be used to boost the resources skill for buying things. I've yet to figure out how to add loot to a FAE game, since resources don't map to an approach (I could imagine someone spending money in a flashy way, or someone doing clever haggling, or spending his money carefully... hm.. got my answer it seems.)
  9. Also, when statting PreGens never assign a Fair (+2) Forceful approach to a spindly Eunuch for being headstrong, rather give him a stunt... Or compel him more often not to attack forcefully.

All in all, FAE is fast becoming my got to game for convention play. Easy to prepare, easy to explain, and working well in-game.

Expect some mooks, stunts and more musings on FAEntasy soon.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A bunch of Charakter Sheets for FATE Accelerated Edition

Okay, these two sheets are in German. They are the plain and formfillable version of a FAE character sheet.

Plain German FAE character sheet
Form-fillable German FAE character sheet (saveable in Adobe Reader XI and higher, I guess)