War of Ashes RPG: Extras, Extras! – Part 3: Equipstuff

As I work on the system portions of the War of Ashes RPG I’m writing for Evil Hat Productions, I’ve reached the sections that are not ready just out of the box in the Fate Accelerated system.  In Fate parlance, these are the Extras, used to model some special features of the setting like magic, superpowers, advanced technology, etc. Part 1 of the discussion focused on magic and Part 2 on miniatures combat.

Also, if you concluded from the title that I’m a fan of the game HOL (Dirt Merchant Games), then you are correct. First print run copy, baby!

Elvorix GeneralToday I want to think a bit about gear: weapons, armour, and other useful stuff. Bear with me, it’s going to be a tad haphazard as I muse about loosely related concepts.

Weapons and Armour Ratings

Since we have a setting where it makes a big difference whether you hold in your hand a sword, a two-handed battle-axe or a potato peeler, I want to use some rules for equipment, and particularly weapons and armour. Once again, they will be completely optional; if worrying about armour rating versus weapon rating is not your cup of kogg, you can go right on with the basic rules for Fate Accelerated and live a happy, productive life.

I think the “Weapon and Armor Ratings” from Fate Core (p. 277) work well as a basis for the optional rules. I picture weapon ratings being about one point higher, on average, than armour ratings. Building from the examples in Fate Core for the equipment available in Agaptus:

  • Weapon:1 means a sap, or a broken bottle or other improvised weapon; Armour:1 is padded clothes, mostly used by the town watch and some ordinary infantry.
  • Weapon:2 means knife, dagger, truncheon, etc. Armour:2 is padding and mail.
  • Weapon:3 includes swords, axes, maces, and other one-handed weapons. Armour:3 is mail and plate, mostly used by Elvorix and Vidaar officers and by Jaarl elite troops and officers.
  • Weapon:4 covers large two-handed melee weapons, primarily used by large creatures like Nhilde and Marhn trolls. Armour:4 is the tough hide of certain creatures and really old Kuld.

So most warriors would be wearing Armour:2 but wielding Weapon:3. Brigands would be wearing Armour:1 and using Weapon:2 and Weapon:3.

Equipment “Slots”

Vorix skirmisherFred Hicks suggested stunt-based gear mechanics attached to specific locations:

So, suppose we were to decide that WoA’s a game where gear should matter. Here’s the thought I had: FAE’s gear is pretty much always either color or stunts. So what if your free stunt slots had *locations*, and you had to have the right piece of gear in order to put a stunt in a given slot? Example:

Suppose the gear stunt slots are: Head, Chest, Hands, Legs (implying 4 free stunt slots). You might take the “Sword and Board” stunt in your Hands slot to get a +1 when forcefully attacking with your sword and shield in hand, and a +1 when carefully defending, or what-have-you.

So, then, suppose that you could actually pick up other gear that’s suited for the Hands slot. You can’t use that gear’s stunt unless you equip the gear; so while your Hands slot would have more than one option, you’re only likely to have access to one option in a given fight.

All non-gear stunts would be the kind that costs you refresh, and would represent your innate specialized capabilities. Or, you could forego your ability to ever equip something in a particular slot in order to take an innate capability for free. Like, imagine the wizard who puts his spells in all those free slots and that’s why he’s wearing cloth. Or the monk whose barehanded martial arts technique lives in his hands slot.


(You could also keep those gear slots locked until you “level” or what-have-you; someone who starts out without a Hands slot would be limited to using basic weaponry that doesn’t give a stunt benefit.)

I like the idea—it was one of the things I liked in D&D 3.x for some reason, but I’m still musing on how to implement it. First, it’s pretty easy to conceptualize for object you carry, but I’m trying to picture how you’d ever have armour that protect your arms if you need to equip weapons in the same slot.

Second, I would like every one to have at least one innate ability because I think this type of stunt, along with aspects, makes the characters truly special. But someone in full armour and carrying weapons (possibly in their shirt sleeves…) would have no slots left for innate stunts. Sure, I could add more stunt slots, but three was already a lot for a gritty setting, now we’re at four and talking about adding more… And what happens to the Refresh? Do we drop it to 2 to start with four stunts?

One thing we could do would be to make some or all equipment stunts less powerful, giving the equivalent of a +1 shift instead of a +2 so you could have stunts that are worth essentially half a point of Refresh, two-for-the-price-of-one sort of bargain. Any thoughts?

Ships and Other Big Stuff

The setting has a piratical quality to it, what with all these islands, invading fleets, etc. so I fully expect sea-based campaigns or at least adventures. I plan on having a short section on how to design ships in Fate, based on the short overview in Fate Core (pages 286-287) and the Fate System Toolkit (pages 170-172), including group vehicles where you can pool your assets to create a ship that becomes a supporting character.

I’ll include builds of a few example ships and a discussion of ship-to-ship combat, something that has been a problem in many systems including AEG’s 7th Sea, Margaret Weis Productions’ Serenity RPG, etc. However, I think that thanks to the fractal rule in Fate, it should work fine here.

(The rule subset can also be used to create important locations such as a team HQ.)


Credits: Art ©ZombieSmith 2012-2013, used with permission.

10 thoughts on “War of Ashes RPG: Extras, Extras! – Part 3: Equipstuff

  1. I’d originally been thinking of equipment sans Armor and Weapon ratings as that feels like it’d be double-dipping with the equipment-as-stunts concept. (Two sources of bonuses centered around the efficacy of equipment happening simultaneously.) I suppose you could use Armor and Weapon ratings *as* the produced effect of stunts, but I was thinking they’d be unnecessary.

    I think I must have communicated my idea poorly if you’re saying this: “I’m trying to picture how you’d ever have armour that protect your arms if you need to equip weapons in the same slot.”

    There’s no hit-location system in action here, right? So “armor that protects your arms” isn’t really a concept that needs to apply here. Here’s probably how I’d break down the equipment slots, with a goal of providing five total.

    Head (1 slot)
    Body (1 slot)
    Hands (2 slots)
    Feet (1 slot)

    Something like that.

    Body slot might have a stunt like “Chain Mail: +2 to Forcefully Defend against physical attacks” (tho that might get finessed to a narrower circumstance)

    Hand slots would let you get a big two-handed weapon stunt (taking up both slots but providing four shifts of benefit, or some other two-stunt compound effect, like a +2 attack effect plus a once per session effect), or you could go “sword and board” with a weapon stunt plus a shield stunt. Or you compress Hands to one slot, and make sword and board = +1 attack/+1 defend with appropriate approach-adverb applied, etc.

    But regardless I’m not sure I’d fit the weapons/armor ratings concept in at the same time. In a FAE game I’m left thinking that might feel like too much stuff happening in the same space and possibly in conflict with one another.

    1. “I think I must have communicated my idea poorly if you’re saying this[…]” Fred, never underestimate my capacity to be dense as a brick. That said, I wasn’t even thinking of hit location tables, but still in terms of fiction versus specific rule descriptors (if nebulously.)

      Maybe we could present multiple options with a discussions of their pros and cons? (A) Don’t do anything different from regular FAE. (B) Weapon and armour ratings. (C) Equipment-as-stunts.

      Also, I forgot to paste it here but I was talking about different types of damage to narrow the stunts (blunt, slashing, piercing, etc.) I have a blurb in the online draft document.

      Any thought on the idea of half-cost, half-power equipment stunts? Too fiddly?

      1. Well, the idea with the equipment slots was that they’d correspond to free stunts; they don’t have a cost so much as they use the slot where the equipment’s positioned.

        That said you could certainly make them half-power; tho if you’re planning for equipment to offer once-per-session benefits, you’ll need to figure out what a half-power effect of that style looks like.

      2. I was thinking a once-per-session benefit would be a full-cost stunt. The rule would be pretty simple: getting a +1 in narrow circumstances in half-cost. Getting a +2 or a larger once-per-session benefit is full cost. My inclination would be to offer half-cost stunts only for equipment.

        You could equip two half-cost stunts in the same slot if they make sense. For example, two rings, or a ring and a gauntlet, or two one-handed swords, etc. but not 2 two-handed axes (two-handed weapons would not make much sense as half-cost stunts anyway.)

        That would eliminate the need for two “hands” equipment slots too.

      3. One challenge is that the ratings would convert better to and from Shieldwall and presumably the upcoming Shieldbash, while stunts are more fun and fit better with Fate.

  2. I’m not sure I like the Equipment Stunt idea. That sounds like it could be prone to Munchkining by devious players. Especially if you can switch out stunts, say the Hand slot. A devious player could make a once per session stunt that lets him defeat a major foe. (“I equip my vorpal sword into my Hand slot this action.” Next round, “My vorpal sword goes snicker-snack and I behead the ancient Kuld chieftain!”)

    As for pirate ships, I’d say treat them like characters. You might give each player a number of “Points” for part of the ship: A point can be an aspect or placing an approach at a certain level.

    Or, they can have a “mook boat” that has two aspects, High concept and trouble, and two Skilled traits and two bad traits. For example:

    “The Gouda-nuff”
    Aspects: Fast sloop with a strong keel. Bad at tacking against the wind.
    Skilled: Ramming, Runs with the wind
    Bad: Cover from weapons fire, Being Watertight

    The approaches could be used to aid the PCs in different ways. A ship with a Good Sneaky approach gives a +3 to slipping into a bay unseen at night.

    Or a ship with an Average Forceful gets a +1 to defend against a ramming attack.

    The ship’s aspects can be tapped by the appropriate PC. The Ship’s Helmsman could tap the “Dances across the waves” aspect to help control the ship in a storm. And marine could tap “Strong hull, proof against arrows.” to get a +2 defending against a fusillade of arrows.

    Some things to think about.

    1. Equipments as stunts: Only if the GM allowed you to define a stunt that lets you chop a head off at no other cost. I don’t think it’s a problem in that sense.

      Ships: Pretty much like that, except no skills since it’s FAE. A ram or excellent rigging would be under the aspects.

      1. Well, Mook ships are like Mooks in FAE, they have two aspects, two things they are good at (+2), and two things they are bad at (-2). They may or may not have stress boxes, normally on average just 2 or 3.

        For “Character” ships, I’d just use a FAE character sheet and stat it out like any other FAE character.

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