War of Ashes RPG: Extras, Extras! – Part 4: Ancient Wonders

Snow skirmish among Ancient ruins

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; Part 2 (and a smattering of related posts) on miniatures combat; and Part 3 on gear and equipment.

Today I want to think about the lost knowledge and technology of Ancient Sentians.


In the history of the world of Agaptus and the War of Ashes, many centuries ago the Sentian people reached high levels of knowledge and technology, at least compared to their descendants. The Sentians were ruled by scholar kings and built great capitals, roads, monuments, and temples; but then the Kuld hordes arrived from the north and the Sentians had to create a warrior class. When the Kuld were repelled—for good, they thought, though they were wrong—victorious General Vidaar and the military caste, fearing obsolescence, seized power from the scholars and destroyed every shred of writing, knowledge, or education they could find. Thus the knowledge of the Ancients was obliterated, though not the marvels they had left behind.

Eventually, the military faction was tricked into leaving and became the Vidaar nation; while those left behind to rebuild, painstakingly trying to reconstruct lost knowledge, became the Elvorix. Both factions are descendants of the Ancient Sentians, but neither can equal the feats of architecture and engineering left behind. Continue reading “War of Ashes RPG: Extras, Extras! – Part 4: Ancient Wonders”

War of Ashes RPG: Manoeuvres, Continued

Following up on the post on manoeuvres from a few days ago, here is the illustrated version of what I’m thinking (go read the other post first or this one won’t make any sense).  Note that they have been rephrased in the captions, and example grid-based stunts are now each linked to a different approach—three are attacks, and three defenses.

Zathras is used to being beast of burden to other peoples’ needs. Very sad life. Probably have very sad death, but at least there is symmetry.

The Basic Manoeuvres

Push: When you run into melee by running 2 spaces and succeed in an attack, you can push the opponent back up one space at the end of your action, to any of the three spaces in your front arc. At your discretion, you can end in the same space or only the opponent can be pushed.

Continue reading “War of Ashes RPG: Manoeuvres, Continued”

War of Ashes RPG: Manoeuvres

k unit with ylarf

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. This is a follow-up to Part 2: Miniatures Rules. Is this Part 2B, or not 2B? That’s the question.

EDIT: Slightly updated versions of the proposed manoeuvres are illustrated in a new post.

I’ve been thinking about the grid question (see Part 2). Unlike the physical features represented on a map—hills, buildings, furniture, etc.—grids do not represent anything “real”; they provide an indication of scale where each increment is roughly a character’s length. How can we use this to provide tactical options in Fate without invalidating any of the cool stuff characters can already do? Here are some thoughts.

Note: This is extremely preliminary. I know I’m going to tinker with these ideas. If you have feedback to offer, I love it! But I’d prefer if you didn’t tell me “This is useless because you can already do X without resorting to manoeuvres,” but instead suggested “You could do this manoeuvre better by doing Y, making it consistent with existing rules.”

Manifesto: I don’t want to create rules that take the form “You must be in this particular square or hex to do ___.” These are prescriptive or proscriptive, while Fate is all about giving you tools and letting you build what you want with them. Any miniatures and grid rules I provide in the War of Ashes RPG must be optional and allow you to do more with the game fiction—never add limits to the game fiction. They are a “Yes, and…” or sometimes a “Yes, but…”—never a “No.”

Dungeon map exampleIn addition, the Fate system already provides you with the wherewithal to do just about anything we’ll discuss here; I’m sure if you’ve used Fate to play out combat, you created fiction that included flanking, pulling, pushing and shoving, backstabbing, etc. What the rules I’m working on would provide are little pre-built uses or extensions of the existing rules that come up regularly in play and can be reused over and over consistently.

This also means that if you are not in the “right” square or hex to use a particular manoeuvre but you have a good idea that is supported by the fiction, you can still attempt your idea using a Create an Advantage action as normal. The manoeuvre rules take away nothing of your existing capabilities.

So here’s the draft version.  But first, just as a reminder, here are some of the things you can already do in Fate to make your actions cool and cooler:

  • Obviously, you can succeed at an action normally.
  • You can succeed at a price (negotiated with the GM).
  • You can succeed with style and get extra benefits from the action, such as creating a boost.
  • You can pay one fate point to activate an aspect and get a re-roll of the dice or add +2 to your result (often in order to achieve success with style).
  • You can, if you are in the right narrow circumstances, use a stunt to get a +2 or other special benefit. You already “paid” for the stunt, which is worth one Refresh point.
  • You can, if the GM agrees, pay one fate point and “borrow” a stunt once.
  • You can use an action to Create an Advantage and use the free invocation or boost you (hopefully) generate next turn.
  • You can get a +1 bonus from another character who forgoes their action to help you.

Grid-Based Manoeuvres

The manoeuvres can be activated by any character who succeeded (or succeeded at a cost) at the action described and pays one fate point. If you succeeded with style, you can opt to use the manoeuvre without paying a fate point instead of gaining the normal benefit of succeeding with style.

Example: Uthara succeeded with style with her attack, so she could choose to reduce damage by one point in order to generate a boost as part of the normal attack rules; or she could decide to do normal damage and use a manoeuvre to pull her opponent with her.

Most manoeuvres allow your character to move to a more favourable location (e.g., higher ground, better footing, adjacent zone with different aspect) or move an opponent to a less favourable location (difficult terrain, adjacent zone with dangerous aspect.)  Spaces can be squares in a rectangular grid or hexes in a hexagonal grid.

Push: Because I ran into melee by running 2 spaces and succeeded in an attack, I can push my opponent back up one space at the end of my action, to any of the three spaces in my front arc. At my discretion, we can end in the same space or only the opponent can be pushed.

Pull: Because I succeeded in my melee attack, I can move and pull my opponent with me one space to any adjacent location at the end of my action.

Charge: Because I ran into melee by running more than 3 spaces and succeeded in an attack, I can push my opponent back up two spaces in a straight line at the end of my action and we both end in the same space.

Knockback: Because I succeeded at a melee attack with a heavy weapon (e.g., two-handed mace), I can knock my opponent back one space to any of the three spaces in my front arc at the end of my action. We end the action in two different spaces.

Footwork: Because I succeeded in my melee attack, I can move one space to any adjacent location at the end of my action, even if it means temporarily breaking from melee.

Move-Through: Does not require expenditure of one fate point. With a success when I Carefully overcome, I can move through a space occupied by someone engaged in melee without needing a defense roll. [It’s just a regular action but included here for completeness.]

Full Defense: Does not require expenditure of one fate point.  Because I spend this exchange only defending, I get +2 to all defense actions in the exchange. [From Fate Core but included here for completeness.]

Full Attack: Does not require expenditure of one fate point. Because I disregard my own safety, I get a +2 to attack but -1 on all defence rolls this exchange.

Grid-Based Stunts

Sometimes there is something you could do in combat that would make good use of the grid, but it’s not something just anyone should be able to do any time; they’re more reflections of your character’s special abilities or training; or it’s something that would not take place after an action, but as an action. For these, we can have grid-based stunt descriptions. The down side that if you’re not using a grid for a particular scene, the stunt loses effectiveness.

Examples of such stunts might include:

Backstab: Because I am stealthy, I get a +2 to Sneakily attack when I’m in a space adjacent to an opponent but not in his front arc.

Berserker Charge: Because I am a berserker, I get +2 to Forcefully attack when I run at least 3 spaces straight at the opponent in order to engage in melee.

Back-to-Back Defense: Because I trust [name] implicitly, we both get +1 to defence actions this exchange when I am fighting back-to-back with him or her, either in the same space or in adjacent spaces.

Shield: Because I am trained to defend the weak, I give somebody else in the same space or an adjacent one +2 to all defence actions in the exchange when I spend this exchange protecting them.

Back Against a Wall: Because I fight like a cornered badger, I get +1 to all defense actions this exchange when I have cover on at least one side in an adjacent space.

Note that if player and GM agree, you can borrow such a stunt for 1 fate point anyway. Conversely, if you tend to use a certain manoeuvre a lot and the GM agrees, you could decide to “buy” a manoeuvre as a stunt with one refresh point or when reaching a suitable milestone. In that case, the description may require a little rewording to turn the manoeuvre into a stunt.

Credits: Photo © ZombieSmith 2012-2013, used with permission. Map by Sophie Lagacé 2012, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

War of Ashes RPG: Scribbling Furiously

Still musing on Extras as I work on the War of Ashes RPG for Evil Hat Productions.  The last couple of days’ feedback on Parts 2 and 3 from various social media venues has been tremendously useful, so thanks everyone!

Following up on the discussion from Part 3: I think I’ve got the weapons and armour ideas pretty much hammered down, at least for an alpha draft; I’ve laid them out as three options, from most cinematic to grittiest, giving the pros and cons for each so GMs can tailor to their own campaign. (You know I love toolkits, right?)

Now I’ve gone back to doodling about maps and grids, continuing the wandering thoughts from Part 2. I’m starting to get some ideas but they probably won’t be in shape to post today, so I thought I’d share what Stage 1 of the process looks like! Here are a couple of pages from my notebook. It’s messy, but at least these particular pages are written in only one direction…

Scanned notes: Grid combat, p. 1Scanned notes: Grid combat, p. 2

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.

War of Ashes RPG: Extras, Extras! – Part 2: Miniatures Rules

Playing Shieldwall
The War of Ashes RPG creative team at play. From left to right: Karen, Sean, Sophie, Anthony.

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.

I think I’m going to skip the discussion of Ancient technology for now because (A) it’s probably going to be a list of examples built on aspects and stunts which should be relatively straightforward to build, and (B) I’d like to keep it mysterious.  Today, let’s talk about the issue and challenges of miniatures combat.

Why Miniatures?

Zone map example from Fate CoreInstead of using fixed measurements, for example to describe the range of a particular weapon or the distance a character can run in one action, the Fate system uses a relatively abstract yet narratively consistent approach to combat and movement based on zones. In essence, rather than limiting how far in measurement units you can get in one unit of time, or how far you can shoot, then applying penalties for local conditions like terrain or visibility, it skips the math and looks at local conditions to establish how far you could move or shoot.

This method is also part and parcel of Fate‘s fractal approach, since it allows re-scaling; if you change the time unit, or the size of the map, or both, then per force your zones are going to change too, while necessitating no change to the rules describing how things work.

So why are miniatures necessary or even useful if you don’t have to measure anything? Why would we want to have them? (Yes, I know that for a lot of gamers, to ask this question is sacrilegious. Bear with me, I’m working my way through the Fate Golden Rule: Decide what you’re trying to accomplish first, then consult the rules to help you do it.)

Armies advancingVisualising the action. Having a scaled-down model of the scene helps the gamemaster define zones, the players understand what is going on, and the entire group stay on the same page as the events unfold.

Adjudicating movement and manoeuvres. Even with adjudication based on the fiction being created as the game progresses rather than on arbitrary numerical values, it helps to see what is going on in order to decide whether Ragnar can actually move past Salvia, or whether the balcony railing provides any cover against Goomba’s ranged attack.

Surrounded Guldul riderSuggesting actions and supporting tactical decisions. Just as the GM gets a better idea of what is possible, being able to see the action suggests to the players some of the cool actions their characters might take. Ooh, yeah, there’s a mezzanine level! That begs for someone to vault down and swing in from the chandelier, doesn’t it? Hey, Frigga is boxed in by those Kuld—but they have their backs to Marko!

Handling minisTactile and aesthetic enjoyment. Displaying a lovingly crafted and painted diorama of a scene, complete with buildings, landscaping, and miniatures, is fun. It’s visually exciting, it focuses the attention of the players who might otherwise be checking their Facebook stream or playing Angry Birds until it’s their turn to act, and it’s a matter of pride for hobbyists. If you walk into a gaming store or a convention and among the many tables there is one topped with a colourful miniatures battle, you’ll want to at least peek, won’t you?

Moreover, the miniatures combat system for which the setting was originally developed, ZombieSmith’s War of Ashes: Shieldwall, offers an array of colourful, zany, attractive minis. I’ll be damned if I pass up an opportunities to use them for my RPG!  ^_^

Mini-game with its own rules. (Gamist enjoyment) Some people just love the game-within-a-game part of miniatures combat for its own sake, not just as visual support for the fiction; they want rules that are consistent, challenging, and provide suspense and tactical opportunities.

Troll CombatSimulating the “real life” flow of battle. (Simulationist enjoyment.) For some gamers, it’s not just about visualising but experiencing the action, and they want rules that will make this feel as “real” as possible.

Supporting specific stunts and rule fragments that make characters cool. While you can design all your fiddly rules bits so they never actually require miniatures combat, having the option opens new possibilities in play.

Connecting with a beloved tradition. Roleplaying games were born from miniatures wargaming 40 years ago, and several have remained close to these origins. For a lot of gamers, having a chance to reconnect to this tradition while using Fate’s modern, elegant system is a treat.

Connecting with other games in the same setting. This is specific to War of Ashes, but since there is already a mass combat game using miniatures, and a skirmish game coming out in May 2014, having a bit of continuity between the games seems appropriate.

An aside: I made a few notes regarding “gamist” and “simulationist” enjoyment; along with the term “narrativist”, they refer to a theory of gaming styles put forth by Ron Edwards on The Forge forum back in 2001. I’m not overly fond of the discussions the theory has sparked nor of the specific terminology it uses, but I recognize that different people look for different things in games. I want to provide opportunities for fun for these differences. I know some argue that you should concentrate on just one, but I respectfully disagree. Since Fate has a lot of bits to support “narrativist” enjoyment, I’m trying to pay a little more attention to the other two for a moment.

We may not be able to scratch all these itches equally, but at least now we know what we’re looking for and why we want to offer some rules to work with miniatures. These rules will be entirely optional, you will still be able to play by simply scribbling conceptual zones and placing an X for each character if you prefer.

To Map or Not to Map?

drdd_20120111 Poster Map , Wizards of the CoastMiniatures being a visual representation, they work well with maps. And maps make it easy to delineate zones, so I know I want to be able to use maps, and I should discuss them in these rules.

Fate's Wheel barIn some games, particularly Dungeons & Dragons and its family of games, maps are marked with squares, each representing a 5 ft x 5 ft, 6 ft x 6 ft, or 2m x 2m area; many other games use a hexagonal pattern instead, again with about the same scale.

In games where movement allowance and range are provided as absolute measurement, this is important because it provides verification of scale to allow the GM to adjudicate the rules. In addition, many such game systems have developed rules (feats, special abilities, spells, manoeuvres, ranged weapons, etc.) that provide effects which rely on the presence of these markings for interpretation. For example, can your rogue move into this square and perform her special attack?

A while ago, Evil Hat’s own Fred Hicks came up with a concept for using grid maps with Fate. But to be honest, I’m not terribly excited by most games which have rules on what a character can do based on a map grid—generally referred to in my gaming life as “square-dancing.” One thing I love about the Fate system is that it’s about your ideas, not arbitrary rules. So I need to find ways to use maps that are tactically satisfying but don’t negate the qualities I love in the system.

That said, yes to maps: they go well with minis and they let you use some of those props you’ve been saving for a special game. I just haven’t decided how much I’ll use the grids. (Suggestions welcomed, as usual.)

Tomorrow: More thoughts about miniatures combat, and gear!

Credits:Photos by Edmund Metheny 2013, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 (Creative Commons  Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike). Zone map from Fate Core, Evil Hat Productions 2013. Grid map from Haunted Temples Map Pack, Wizards of the Coast 2012. Hex map by Sophie Lagacé 2012, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

War of Ashes RPG: Extras, Extras! – Part 1: Magic

Jaarl PopioAs 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.

Let’s check some of the features we’d want to model that way for the world of Agaptus:

  1. Magic, of course.
  2. Strange technology or knowledge of the Ancients.
  3. Mass warfare, and the connection with other games set in the War of Ashes universe.
  4. Equipment.

I’ve been re-reading not only lil’ old Fate Accelerated but also Fate Core, Fate System Toolkit, and a number of implementations of the Fate system in various books and online to collect and compare good ideas. As usual, I’m jotting down ideas here so I can refer to them later, to clarify my own thought process, and to solicit your suggestions, questions and comments. Today, let’s talk about magic and the gods.


Magic in Agaptus is in many ways more trickery and taking credit for fortuitous success than actual arcane workings; after all, no one wants to see the gods show up up too close. Priests mostly try to pretend to do magic without actually attracting attention from the gods, whose appearance is dangerous even to their devotees.

Why even have it, then? One: it works. Sorta. Sometimes. It’s not much, but in battle it can make all the difference. Two: the gods get very, very touchy when you neglect them and they react badly. Then it’s not ambiguous, two-edged, or risky at all: it’s all bad.

Think of Agaptans as pets, and the gods as their owners. There’s not that much communication going on, and every once in a while the owners remember to put some food down, but all too frequently they completely misunderstand whether you wanted the litterbox cleaned, more water, or walkies. But pee on the carpet or ignore them for too long, and oh boy! It might be off to the pound with you. Or worse.

Priests’ objectives, then, are to minimize the amount of actual god involvement in mortals’ affairs while maximizing the satisfaction of their flocks and patrons. They try to do just enough actual magic and no more, covering the rest with a mix of sooth-saying, show-boating, quackery, and blind luck.

The Basics

Using the five factors discussed in the Toolkit (pages 77-79), magic looks like this:

Tone: Something with opinions. Magic is generally “divine” in origin, and the gods are arbitrary and cantankerous. Different magical traditions also have very different dogma on what magic is or should be.

Cost: The first cost is training; there is also definitely a risk associated with working magic. Too good or too bad a job will attract the Divine Gaze, something that can get you incinerated on the spot. Just plain failure will of course disgruntle the people and the authorities.

Limits: Each variant works within a set of limits; effects (counterfeited or real) are accomplished through rituals. These are mostly used to encourage and motivate troops on the battlefield.

  • The Elvorix use animal sacrifices to convince the populace that their deity has noticed them and blesses their endeavours. These sacrifices double as flaming shock troops when the ylark (large cattle) are set on fire and pointed at enemy troops,
  • The Vidaar primarily use augury through the interpretation of cheese and the occasional drunken party to “interpret” the will of their deity, Akka-Maas. The moldy cheese also doubles as ammunition for the stinkiest artillery ever.
  • The Jaarl carry large chunks of Sacred Stone from Murmadon which they use to power their rituals, but invoke no god.
  • The Kuld1 use rituals based on the subtle scents they regurgitate to interpret the will of the Source.

Availability: Requires training, and some individuals are more gifted than others, just like some have talent for music or art. In addition, all Jaarl can sense the presence of Sacred Stone, as do trained Elvorix and Vidaar priests.

Source: The source of Elvorix and Vidaar magic—at least when it rises above trickery—is divine power, whatever that is. An additional wrinkle for the Jaarl: their power comes through sacred stone, though it comes from from their god, at least in theory. You could say the stones are the proximal source and the god the ultimate source.

Nuts and Bolts

Risk: The probability curve of Agaptan magic roughly matches that of Fate: a fairly tight variance around the average expressed as a generic “Trust me, it worked” result. To either side, long tails represent rare but spectacular success or failure. This can be well represented by the Fate ladder.

Of the examples of magic systems examined in the Toolkit, the one that most resemble our power level is the one presented in “The Subtle Art,” pages 101-107. However, we are not using skills as in Fate Core but the Fate Accelerated approaches here; sure, we could add a new Magical approach, but that special status does not match very well with the low-key quality (and perhaps uselessness) of most magic rituals.

Limits: We know we’ll require a permission, which will be reflected in an aspect; this will usually (but not obligatorily) be the high concept. Like in “The Subtle Art,” we’ll use a list of rituals which priests can pick from to call on specific effects.

It’s doesn’t seem appropriate to require a Refresh cost or use a power point pool for an ability that we envision as providing no tangible, or at least provable, benefits most of the time.

However, we may create magic-related stunts that characters can add as normal (first three are free, additional ones cost Refresh) which will pump up the result of specific rituals. This brings its own cost since it will increase the likelihood of high results which in turn will be reflected on the Divine Interest stress track (see separate discussion below).

Effects: Most of the time, the effects will be handled as fiat (see the discussion in Toolkit pages 143-145). On an unusual success or failure, we may add aspects or even stunts. In addition, spectacular success or failure will be reflected on the Divine Interest stress track.

Kuld worshipping the SourceDivine Interest

Divine Interest and its stepped-up version, the Divine Gaze, are concepts found in the War of Ashes: Shieldwall miniatures game (ZombieSmith). To model this, I’m planning to use an additional stress trackFate Accelerated characters only have one stress track rather than Fate Core‘s separate tracks for physical and mental stress, so that will not badly clutter the character sheets.

A new stress track suggests that there should be:

  1. specific triggers causing the stress,
  2. points in the story for the boxes to be cleared,
  3. ways to clear them sooner by doing certain things or at a cost,
  4. one or more consequences, and
  5. effects attached to filling all your boxes (being “taken out.”)

Examples of things that would cause Divine Interest (i.e., cause you to check stress boxes or take a consequence) include:

  • Rolling +4, +3, -3, or -4 on the dice.
  • Obtaining a Fantastic (+6) or better result. (Break point may change based on playtest result.)
  • Obtaining an Abysmal (-4) or worse result. (Break point may change based on playtest result.)
  • Certain costs associated with magical stunts.
  • Being associated with someone who takes a consequence or who fills up their own stress track and is “taken out”. For example, you might get a point of Divine Interest stress when the priest in your party takes a Divine Interest consequence (e.g., “Marked by Ilunus“) and you might take two if they are “taken out” and thus singled out by the god for a special demonstration of interest.

1 Yeah, that’s new as of this week: we’ve decided to add the Kuld as a player faction. Since I love the models, this makes me happy. Return

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