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Author Topic: Epic D&D in Fate: Fiendish Usurpation  (Read 588 times)

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Online VonDoomTopic starter

Epic D&D in Fate: Fiendish Usurpation
« on: May 01, 2015, 01:56:08 PM »
Fiendish Usurpation
Epic D&D in Fate Core/Fate Accelerated

The Basic Premise

The players portray powerful fiends who, through cunning, might and sheer tenacity attempt to carve out a place for themselves. This would require the game to revolve mostly around character agenda (more so for the second proposal since demons don't really have the obligations to be roped into that devils do and have the luxury to be more overt about what they're doing).

I love high-powered Dungeons&Dragons. However, when things reach past a certain level and even into Epic (or Mythic, for Pathfinder) Levels, it becomes a convoluted mess. Characters with so many different abilities that it becomes almost impossible to keep track of them all, never mind GMing entire encounters based on that level and challenging those characters in combat.

The thing is, I don't really care that much about combat and the mechanics going into it. I care about narrative, about strong character portrayals and writing. Characters with great power, motivation and personal agenda are a treat and a system as complex as D&D weighs things down unnecessarily in my opinion. A battle of epic proportions betweem two master sorcerers that lasts a day and a night is great! As long at it's done in two or three posts narrating the entire encounter, not lasting for months in real time. Hence my idea.

The proposal below could work in Fate: Core, FAE or modifications thereof. I know of at least one house-ruled modification that specifically attempts to convey a D&D-esque style, Killershrike's Fate Pathfinder that adds 'capabilities' to FAE characters to represent certain class types.

Proposal #1: Devils

The characters are the cream of the crop that can be found in the Nine Hells: the nobility of Baator. Unique devils, beholden only to a very select few who outrank them and, of course, the Archdevils. It is the most dangerous game to attempt to usurp an Archdevil -- one might as well attempt to attain divinity itself, it is so difficult a challenge.

Only through exceptional cunning, guile and lots of preparation could such a feat ever be attempted. And that is exactly what this variant would involve - fiends, so powerful that elsewhere entire high-level campaigns would revolve around thwarting their machinations, consolidating their resources and power, scheming to increase it, attain ancient artifacts and perhaps even as mentioned above the spark of divinity. All with one ultimate purpose: to rule hell itself.

Proposal #2: Demons

In some ways a similar premise, yet very different: demons are by nature disorganized and chaotic. To rule over the endless Abyss is not an endeavour that can ever be realized. But to attain the rank of Demon Lord and take other Abyssal layers through conquest and tenuous agreements is certainly possible. Brute force might work, but again, there are always bigger demons. Cunning, guile and diplomacy can make a difference even amongst the Tanar'ri, as long as it's backed by sufficient might.

With a focus on narrative rather than statistics, it's certainly a lot more feasible to play characters at such lofty heights. Without a level progression, it's entirely possible for story-based leaps in power to occur without difficulty - in Fate, it simply means that the things that actually challenge the characters are dialed up to a new level and a couple Aspects are rephrased. From 'Evolved Pit-Fiend' to 'Demon Lord'. From 'Unique Devil' to 'Duke of Nessus', from 'Hellfire Channeler' to 'Hellfire Incarnate' and so on. I'd encourage customized over generic titles. 'Unique Devil' is very generic for something unique, after all.

I see both proposals as having the potential for heavy planar travel: a trip to Sigil to make contact with a foe on the opposite side of the iconic Blood War and talk of mutual benefit. Reaching into the material plane to empower a cult, gain powerful minions (through corrupting, hiring, copulating, whatever strikes your fancy), secure powerful magic or destroy up-and-coming heroes -- or be summoned and forced to serve (or overpower, or trick) in turn. Kidnapping an angel and presenting their tortured form as a piece of art at the next feast. The possibilities are endless.

So what am I looking for? First, of course, interest. If either or both of the two interest you, please state which it is and order of preference.

Second, a GM. Someone who values strong writing, chooses players and characters carefully and is willing to run a long-term campaign of epic proportions.

The very nature of the premise dictates that characters are thoroughly and irredeemably evil, but it's important not to drift into cartoonish or the often quoted 'stupid evil' territories. Characters selected need to be able to cooperate without constant fear of backstabbing at even the smallest window of opportunity. That common basis of mutual cooperation could be based on a written pact, a strict inter-character hierarchy to prevent conflict, simply mutual interest and a common ability to see the long game over short-term benefit.

That is not to say that characters shouldn't attempt to gain advantages over the others 'just in case'. But any actual betrayals that fiends wouldn't shrug off as the equivalent of friendly ribbing should be discussed well in advance and not a common occurrence.

Character Concepts

I have character proposals readied for both scenarios. Those are prior versions of the characters (Malphas' writeup has considerable less detail and is much older) and would be adjusted accordingly.

Vizaresh, the Abyssal Tyrant

Vizaresh, the so-called tyrant.  He would make a fine devil, if he could but recognize any law save his own. A brutal, cunning creature whose every movement, whose every breath demands: be afraid. Submit. Where this nightmare of a warrior walks, fear and oppression reign supreme.

Vizaresh fancies himself an abyssal noble, a warlord to whom obeisance must be given; though abject terror serves as a suitable substitute.

He expects all agreements with his person to be upheld and will even pretend to a degree of honor, until he grows bored with it or expediency requires otherwise. Those who are foolish enough to trust an agreement with him without supplying either a good reason for him to uphold it, or the power to make it more prudent to avoid unnecessary enmity, usually find themselves betrayed at the worst opportunity. He makes an effort to keep the appearance of honor, though, as one of his greatest pleasures is to manipulate both ambitious mortals and even devils into agreements that he intends to betray from the very beginning.

His own followers are usually save from these fickle habits, though repeated incompetence, insolence or treason are met with swift, creative and unusual punishments.

Though Vizaresh is perfectly capable of curbing his massive ego and treading carefully when dealing with equals and those more powerful, there is always the distinct impression of hatred seething beneath his twisted form. He abhors the notion of submitting to another, or even of recognizing anyone as his equal; his cruel treatment of his lessers after having been forced to do such is the stuff of nightmares. When dealing with equals, he prefers to put on the polite manners of a noble, but a constant distaste remains -- sometimes hidden, sometimes apparent -- within his words.

His greatest desire is, of course, to stand above all -- he would see even that arrogant, grand-standing Archdevil-God Asmodeus bow before him. However, to reach such power in the mad scramble most lesser demons would attempt is beneath him. Vizaresh intends to play a longer game. Gain what power there is to have, establish a firm hold in the material plane and consume, twist and corrupt until he can eventually unleash such chaos and terror upon the realms that none shall be able to tell even Mount Celestia itself from the deepest gash of the Abyss!

Vizaresh presents a dreadful visage to friend and foe alike, clad in a fearsome black armor the likes of which few have ever encountered. Solid plate steel above, heavy chain beneath, there is no spot that isn't heavily reinforced. His helmet, a tight head-shell with twin horns sprouting where his ears would be and curling back, only leaves the demon's chin visible, revealing that there is indeed a fiend inside the armor. What little there is shows tough grey skin, almost human lips and sharpened teeth.

He surveys his surroundings from thin eye-slits that glow with and constantly leak wisps of baleful energy, the colour of which changes depending on his mood. Beneath lies a powerful breastplate that features a reinforced protrusion to cover the neck and two pauldrons to protect the shoulders. The main chestpiee has silver ornamental engravings and, at its very center, holds the tiny skull of a goat, or perhaps a goat-like demon. Beneath that, Vizaresh's legs are protected by laminar cuisses, multiple layers of plate overlaid above chain. Between each layer burns the same power that lights up his eyes. His knee guards hold the form of a dread knight's helmet, the ornamental eyes glowing with yet more of the same, adding further to the quiet menace of the armor.

Even otherwise unarmed, the powerful gauntlets around his hands sport wicked claws that could shred steel with ease. His preferred weapon, however, is a giant blade that, unlike many weapons of this size, looks razor-sharp and is reinforced with extra steel in the middle, sharp spikes protruding to the side to give more stability and a malicious bite. The grip features the same ornamental skull as seen on the chest-piece, though it is much larger.

To complete the ensemble, a tattered black cloak hangs from his shoulders, torn from battle and the punishing winds of the Abyss.

When Vizaresh moves, he does so with menace and dark purpose, accompanied by the chinking sounds of his armor. It seems a testament to his skill that such a heavy burden does not impede his movement in the slightest, revealing surprising speed despite his heavy form, when he has to.

The tyrant's voice is very deep and a little rough, but still within the range a mortal might produce. It has a level of sophistication to it, his enunciation appropriate for the aristocrat he aspires to be.

Malphas Fiendbreaker
Malphas, Duke of Hellfire

Quote:  “Breaking a tanar’ri requires power; a devil, skill. Breaking an angel … oh, sweet music.”

For a minor noble, who is best remembered for having spent ages upon ages in the Blood War, Malphas seems quite well-centered and in control. Few remember that he was once a Duke himself, his disgrace forgotten by all but a very few. He is a calm devil, self-controlled and undeniably charming; one might compare him to the eye of the storm, surrounded by destruction and great calamity, but a steadfast and quiet center to which those caught in the storm find themselves drawn.

He is a creature of practicality, though of course still bound by the rules and laws of hell. One might consider him exceptionally merciful for a devil, for he rarely if ever stoops to dispatching minions or retainers simply for the pleasure or satisfaction of it, even if it would provide some gratification for their failures. He hates wasteful behaviour, and to dispose of something that may still have its uses is something he finds extremely distasteful. On the other hand, if continued incompetence outweighs the benefits he gains, he wastes little time in exacting punishments.

He has a fondness for breaking demons and making obedient slaves of them, which has earned him the nickname of Fiend-Breaker.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2015, 11:15:22 AM by VonDoom »

Offline Kunoichi

Re: Epic D&D in Fate: Fiendish Usurpation
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2015, 05:10:32 PM »
Expressing interest in this game.  I once posted an interest check thread for a similar concept using D&D 3.5 rules, and while I don't have much knowledge about the Fate rule set, I'd certainly love to get to play in a game like this one.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Epic D&D in Fate: Fiendish Usurpation
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2015, 05:12:23 PM »
I'd be interest as a player, doubt I'd be able to GM it unfortunately, don't know FATE well enough

Offline Kimmy

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Re: Epic D&D in Fate: Fiendish Usurpation
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2015, 11:13:48 AM »
This concept is just beautiful. I must admit I prefer demons, but there is something in the strictness of Hell that makes it unwavering irresistible as well. Fate is a really simply system but I've had the pleasure of running it, let alone with mods. So I doubt I'd be a suitable GM. But I could spin up a character for either concept so easily... I do hope we can unleash the inner evils of the other worlds. ^_^

Online VonDoomTopic starter

Re: Epic D&D in Fate: Fiendish Usurpation
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2015, 12:54:27 PM »
Fate Accelerated and Fate Core are both really easy to learn, the most difficult part to it is that you really need to rethink how you approach things, since the mechanics are far more tied into the narrative than your standard dice-based game.  :-)

I have a brief explanation for how to make a character in Accelerated that I posted for a Corruption of Champions thread (another game request of mine), if anyone is interested. The rules are freely available online, though.

Offline Mantis Shrimp Prime

Re: Epic D&D in Fate: Fiendish Usurpation
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2015, 07:25:29 PM »
Needs more Yugoloths.