The Expanse in Fate: NPCs

Continuing from my previous post: let’s look at creating some GM characters. This is a spot where Fate really shines for me, making my life easy as the game moderator. You see, while it’s true of any role-playing game, Fate is one of the few that openly acknowledges that adversaries don’t need to be statted the same way as player characters. At all. They don’t even need to use the same skill list. For example, here is a way to make very minor antagonists, a.k.a. mooks:

  1. Make a list of what this mook is skilled at. They get a +2 to all rolls dealing with these things.
  2. Make a list of what this mook is bad at. They get a −2 to all rolls dealing with these things.
  3. Everything else gets a +0 when rolled.
  4. Give the mook an aspect or two to reinforce what they’re good and bad at, or if they have a particular strength or vulnerability. It’s okay if a mook’s aspects are really simple.
  5. Mooks have zero, one, or two boxes in their stress track, depending on how tough you imagine them to be.
  6. Mooks can’t take consequences. If they run out of stress boxes (or don’t have any), the next hit takes them down.

This method is found in the Fate Accelerated Edition but used widely throughout the Fate range of implementations. It works very well for the lowest category of speedbump adversaries, dangerous mostly when in numbers or as impediments to slow the PCs down and let the real target escape. For example, I give you the hooligan:

But thanks to PK Sullivan’s no-skill character creation from The Three Rocketeers and the nifty work Fred Hick did on Evil Hat’s character sheet for Roll20, we can leverage another kind of minor character, a little more powerful and versatile but still super-easy to create and to handle. In this method, we don’t give our minor character any skills at all; instead, what they can do depends on what aspects they can bring to bear. The character’s high concept is worth a +2 on the roll; every other applicable aspect gives a +1.

For example, here is a gang boss that I want taken a bit more seriously, so I gave him more stress boxes and a condition. I selected “Rollable Aspects” in the sheet settings and, as an example of use, I just selected a couple of aspects that would be applicable to the next roll. You can see that the sheet calculates the roll bonus and indicates it as the bottom of the Aspects section.

Note that if you give stunts to a character built on rollable aspects, you can still have these be bonus-granting stunts: the character sheet will also recognize that it needs to add the bonus to the marked aspects’ total.

Finally, there are the more important GM characters, the ones that will get detailed skills, stunts, conditions, etc. They are comparable to player characters, but they still don’t necessarily need to be created the same way. For example, we can greatly simplify the list of conditions because our spotlight will not stay on GMCs very long, compared to our PCs.

Here is, as an example, the mighty Chrisjen Avasarala as re-created based on her AGE System character sheet from The Expanse RPG:

Hm, this post is long enough for today. We’ll continue with ship construction in the next post.

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