Monday, July 22, 2013

Fate, Blood & Seven Sins: Humans are Fragile

Today, I was browsing through the FATE System Toolkit and discovered the section on scaling the stress tracks. Then it suddenly became clear what I need to do. Humans don't have stress tracks at all. If they are Supporting or Major NPCs, they take consequences right from the start. If they are mooks, they are taken out immediately. In FAE a mob of mooks would have a standard stress track. In FATE Core mooks would still get the supporting bonus. But if they take even a single point of stress, they are taken out.

Vampires on the other hand will have stress tracks, and probably complications acting as a blood supply, as suggested by one comment. Not sure how to go about this. The stress track of course represents the ability to shake of minor (and not so minor) damage. The complications will power the stunts and allow the vampires to get additional bonuses for physical feats.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fate, Blood & Seven Sins: Continuing the Work

I am starting to itch for my go-to-game Vampire: The Requiem, when reading "Reap the Whirlwind", the FreeRPG Day starter kit for Vampire: The Requiem 1.5 called "Blood & Smoke: The Strix Chronicles". But I don't really care for the rules update in God Machine Chronicle. It seems to be a bit excessive compared to the leaner versions of Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem. Also, I have a long-running chronicle (8.5 years) that shouldn't have a radical switch of rules after such a long time.

But then I remembered my first steps with Fate, Blood & Seven Sins. Back then it was based on White Picket Witches, but before my first playtest I switched to FAE. The first playtest was ho-hum. The player feedback was: you didn't notice that you were a vampire. The playtesters had a lot of experience playing vampire, and the said there should probably be some mechanic to remind you who you are. They said, there was no blood pool of any sorts, nothing to really get you to hunt for blood at all. Something they think is very elementary for the vampire experience. A bit disheartened, I put the design away to be pulled out later. Now I feel later has come around.

Today, I re-read Duncan Bain's blog post on The Thirst by accident. My game needs something similar as the Thirst. Maybe something called the Hunger, which would be nice since there is a vampire movie with Bowie, Sarandon and Deneuve by the same name.

Also this got me thinking. In his Shadowrun 2050 hack for FATE Core, Rob Wieland calls out stunts as spells or as cyberware. In my first attempt, I created the vampiric powers close to the spells from White Picket Witches. But since the stat I associated with these spell-like powers was Age, the players kept failing their activation rolls. Therefore, I am thinking of doing it differently this time. Maybe I'll call out certain stunts as "Powers" or "Dark Gifts" or something like that. These stunts emulate the supernatural powers, work like real stunts (i.e. no activation roll) and you get to have a maximum of Age+X of them. But because you are a vampire, you have to take at least two. Not sure about their power level though. If they work on the same level like regular stunts, they won't feel very vampiric. One way would be to rule that mortals do not get to take any stunts in this game, thus de-powering them compared to vampires. Another way would mean stronger stunts. Stunts that don't balance with other stunts. But I am not so sure I like this. Having only vampires (and maybe other supernaturals) with stunts creates an immediate divide between ordinary humans and vampires. Also, I can still keep the traditional stunt structure in place... hm... on the other hand, the Extras chapter in FATE Core nicely details how stunts can be double or triple-strength. Need to do some more thinking on that. Suggestions welcome.

The next thing to consider: standard vampiric powers as portrayed in popular TV series like Vampire Diaries or True Blood should be baked into the character from the beginning. Things like supernatural strength, speed and resilience (except towards sunlight) should be available to any vampire. Maybe relative strength based on Age, as this seems to be a common denominator when watching or reading about them in a modern context. Using those abilities might kindle the Hunger (much like described in The Thirst). Still need to decide how Age plays into this, how Hunger is handled (e.g. as separate stress track, as mental stress or something else, but stress seems to be a good way to do this).

The last item to consider is mythology and origin. With Vampire City there is already a game out there that allows you to custom build your vampires, their origins, the social structure and so on. Then, there is Vampire: The Masquerade. One of the strongest aspects of that setting was the involved and complex mythology surrounding the Kindred, as well as the easy to grasp war between two vampiric groups. When looking at Vampire Diaries and True Blood, then personally I found the stories involving the origins very fascinating. Same with reading "The Queen of the Damned". In the end I am torn between creating a toolbox that can be used to create a variety of vampire settings or creating a firm background on what it means to be a vampire in my game.

Expect to see some solutions to various quandaries I've pointed out in the not too far future.