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Author Topic: FATE Core - Witcher game design musings and questions  (Read 819 times)

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Online Cassandra LeMayTopic starter

FATE Core - Witcher game design musings and questions
« on: March 31, 2015, 11:58:28 AM »
I am in the middle of contemplating running a system game using the FATE Core rules. While I know a few people to ask for advice on some of the aspects I have to consider, I figured it would be best to open up my questions and musings to comments from everyone. Having everything in one thread might not be such a bad idea either. So here we go:

What I have in mind is a game based on the Witcher stories by Andrzej Sapkowski, or more specifically the short story collections The Last Wish and Sword Of Destiny and set in a different part of that world. I don't want to deal with all the continuity of the Nilfgaard war and all that, so it will basically be a generic (if somewhat gritty) medieval setting with magic, monsters, and witchers.

I think the basic FATE Core rules would work well enough for that, as written, with a few small changes and some Extras added to account for magic and the witcher abilities. My current thinking is I need to cover three or four things:
- General changes to the system
- Magic
- Witcher abilities (including Signs)
- Alchemy (maybe)

General changes / adjustments:
Drive needs to be replaced by Ride. I might drop the Resources skill completely, as I don't see all that much use for it in a game of wandering monster slayers and adventurers. Playing the money game is something I don't really see coming up that much and being more a storytelling tool, so I figure it doesn't need to be a skill. If a character really wants to address this, they can use one of their aspects to proclaim that they are a Wealthy Landowner or Rich Merchant or Always Strapped For Cash.

Magic:
I feel that some of the magic shown in the stories is beyond what a PC should have. A PC who can turn a wagonload of people into frogs with but a gesture is a bit much, compared to other characters, but I don't want to keep magic out of the players' hands completely. I don't want to burden the game with too many rules either, so magic should be somewhat flexible and based on existing skills.

My idea right now is to use an Extra that's pretty much like the 'Collegia Arcana Magic' Extra presented in FATE Core (p. 275):
- To use magic, a character needs an aspect that reflects they have been trained in magic.
- Magic uses either the Will or the Lore skill, depending on the character concept.
- Since pretty much everything in FATE can have aspects, the magic Extra needs to be defined by three aspects negotiated between the player and the GM: Two aspects that reflect what the magic can do, and one aspect that reflects a limitation or requirement of the magic. E.g., a Crusading Priest might use Will for his magic, which is good for Repelling Evil Spirits and Smite Foul Beasts, but he needs to Present A Holy Symbol to make his magic work.

Witcher abilities:
Now here it gets a bit tricky (far as I can see right now). Witchers need to be very good at what they do, but they are not superhuman, just very, very good at their specific job. Or at least until they boost their powers with some potions. But. for basics I figured that maybe Witchers should not have more skill points than other characters, but rather spread them differently. So my idea is that everyone uses the skill pyramid:
  4
  33
  222
  1111
but a Witcher would use a skill column for their starting skills:
  44
  33
  22
  11
Both add up to 20 skill points, but the Witcher has a narrower focus. To emphasis that focus I would also introduce a requirement that the Witcher has to take the Athletics, Fighting, Physique, and Will skills at character creation and take at least one of those skills at +4 and one at +3.

Where I am less certain or somewhat undecided are some special witcher abilities.
- Signs are not a problem. That's just a limited magic that is Instantaneous, Always Noticeable, and Requires Hand Gestures, based on the Will skill.
- Witchers are long lived. Not a problem, as the game is not supposed to span several decades or even more.
- Special senses: Seeing in the dark or not being blinded by bright lights could be represented by a stunt, but do I want to require taking a certain stunt with a certain Concept or not?
- Superhuman reflexes or strength are represented by high skill levels up to a point. Right now I have no solid idea how to handle potions and their effects/benefits because they can give a boost to abilities that a witcher would already have at a high level.

Okay, Potions: They give a temporary boost. They are exclusive to witchers, because no one else has the toxin tolerance/resistance to survive imbibing them. If they are exclusive to witchers, perhaps they should be an extra available only to this one concept? That looks like a good starting point, but how do I account for a witcher having only a limited supply of them, each one granting a boost to a specific skill, but many different potions/boosts being available?
Perhaps by making it a Create An Advantage use of the Physique skill? If you are healthy and strong enough to survive the potion it will grant a benefit, which may perhaps be expressed as an Advantage, but if I go down that road it may need to have some limit built in, something that drives home that it's not something that can/should be used all the time.

Okay, so we are looking at something that needs to be reserved for special situations but provides a significant advantage. That actually sounds like spending a Fate Point. You might not do that often, but it provides a good bit of an advantage. So maybe it should be an Aspect that can be invoked?

One problem I run into whenever I think about how best to deal with a witcher is how much I want to press a character like this into a certain set of rules, i.e. how many stunts, extras, aspects it should really take to play a witcher, and if making too many requirements, asking for too many stunts and such to be taken, takes away from the creative freedom a player should have with his character.

And that's how far I've got so far. Any thoughts, critique, opinions, suggestions, anyone?

Online Cassandra LeMayTopic starter

Re: FATE Core - Witcher game design musings and questions
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2015, 05:40:12 AM »
I've been thinking about Potions and the boosts they should give a bit more and came up with something that might work (or not). But since I never played FATE before I would certainly elcome any and all feedback and critique.

So, what potions should primarily do is give a boost to the physical abilities of a character who imbibes them. Increased strength or endurance, faster reflexes, keener senses, and so on. All of the basics are covered by skills, so I guess drinking a potion should have about the same effect as a stunt, something akin to a +2 boost to a skill perhaps?

And since I want the use of potions to be limited how about introducing a new stress track for side effects that kick in once a potion has worn off? A simple potion might grant a +2 bonus to a skill for one scene, a more complex one two +2 bonuses to different skills, and the strongest ones a +2 to three different skills. If a consequence is already used you can't take that kind of potion without knocking yourself out. The one exception to the rules I might make here is that a witcher character can make the roll to start recovering from those consequences himself, using the Physique skill.

But now I am wondering if this should be something any Witcher gets automatically (requiring only a certain concept for access to this Extra), or if it should have another cost, like a point of Refresh.

Any thoughts, anyone?

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: FATE Core - Witcher game design musings and questions
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2015, 05:02:33 PM »
There are rules in the Dresden Files (Fate system RPG) for potions, and for magic as well. Have you had a look at those rules? They may already be close to what you want.

Online Cassandra LeMayTopic starter

Re: FATE Core - Witcher game design musings and questions
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2015, 11:45:04 PM »
There are rules in the Dresden Files (Fate system RPG) for potions, and for magic as well. Have you had a look at those rules? They may already be close to what you want.
Nope, haven't looked at that yet, as I am fairly new to FATE and not into Dresden Files, but I'll see if I can get my hands on it and check it out. Thanks for the pointer.  :-)

My own ideas for potions are too complicated anyways, I think. Take a bonus and take a consequence should be enough; no need to make a scale for different bonuses related to different level of consequence I guess.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: FATE Core - Witcher game design musings and questions
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2015, 05:56:50 PM »
IIRC, the Dresden Files have potions and spells work pretty much the same way. Effectively the potion is a spell in a bottle. The advantage is it's already there, and the wizard can have taken their time making it. The disadvantage is you can only brew so many potions at a time, and you lose the flexibility of spontaneous spell casting.