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Archive for June, 2013

“So, Jon Snow is a level 4 Fighter and 3rd level Bastard?”

Doesn’t matter! In FATE Core characters are mechanically defined by their Skills and Talents (Talents/Stunts to be discussed later). Much more importantly, they’re defined by their Aspects.

Aspects are true descriptive phrases that can give power to the character’s actions, suggest complications to reaching their goals and enable players to add more detail to the story. They do this whenever a player chooses to spend or accept a FATE point – which is a unit of player currency used to activate Aspects that describe the setting, objects and characters in the story.

“How the hell does this weird story-fate shit work?”

Like this:

Tyrion Lannister is imprisoned in a Sky Cell under Lady Arryn’s keep. He wants to overcome Mord the Jailer’s suspicion and get a message to the lady. His player (Ron) gets a 1 result with his Impress skill versus the 3 Mord (Gamemaster character) got to defend with his Discipline skill. That’s a FAIL!

tyrion_and_mordBUT, there’s an Aspect in the setting which says A Lannister Always Pays his Debts. Everyone has heard of this Aspect – its almost their house motto! Ron explains to the Gamemaster as Tyrion explains to Mord: “I am a Lannister and A Lannister Always Pays his Debts, SO if you deliver my message I will OWE you GOLD!”

Ron pays the Gamemaster a FATE point to use or Invoke this relevant Lannister Aspect. The GM accepts the point since the Aspect can reasonably help in this case. Now, Ron can either re-roll or add +2 to his effort to Impress – he chooses to add 2 to the original 1 result.

Tyrion-Mord-tyrion-lannister-22920725-500-255The 3 Impress now ties Mord’s 3 Discipline. When you’re trying to overcome something and tie, you overcome with a minor cost. Mord will deliver Lannister’s message, but Tyrion will have to give Mord his purse and be broke for a little while.

The Gamemaster could Invoke another relevant Aspect to raise Mord’s defense. Anyone can invoke any relevant Aspect once per roll. Maybe the Jailer has a belief Aspect that Prisoners Always Lie! He doesn’t, and beating Tyrion would just block this interesting turn of events. The dwarf wants to CONFESS?!

That’s how Aspects when Invoked give power to a character’s actions, BUT they can also complicate a character’s life when used against them or Compelled:

Tyrion is to have a Trial by Combat to prove his innocence against the accusation that he plotted to kill Brandon Stark. Ser Egan of the Vale will fight for his Lady Arryn but doesn’t want dwarf blood on his shin guards. Lannister needs a champion now!

800px-Tyrion_on_trialThe Gamemaster turns to Kobe, the player who is playing Bronn the Sellsword. “Kobe, Bronn has the Aspect Have Gold, Will Kill, which implies you’d decide to fight for the dwarf. This will go wrong when you become known as a Lannister Lap-dog?” The GM offers Kobe a FATE point to Compel Bronn to accept this.

Kobe could buy off the Compel by not taking the FATE point and giving the GM one of his own. He feels Bronn would rather watch the imp fight the knight. Maybe they’ll be fair and have Tyrion fight a couple of hungry dogs instead?

The gods have smiled on the little lord though. Kobe spent all of Bronn’s FATE points fighting Hill tribesman on the road to the Vale.

Kobe must accept the Compel and take the FATE point to have Bronn fight for Tyrion and take a side in the upcoming war, which complicates his life by cutting potential clientele in half at least! Then again, helping the dwarf could start him on the road to riches.

BronnFEEYou see now how Aspects can create interesting plot twists and earn you more FATE points to empower characters later. Since they’re true statements, Aspects can also allow you to add details to the story – possibly new Aspects.

Tyrion and Bronn are ambushed and surrounded by Hill tribesmen. Usually Lannister would throw money at a problem like this, but their leader Shagger ain’t interested in gold – proving their barbarity. On the bright side, the dwarf gave his purse to Mord so he doesn’t have any.

514420-episode_08_14_superRon, playing Tyrion, offers up a FATE point. “Tyrion has the Aspect A Lannister of Casterly Rock the Richest House in Westeros, which implies that he has access to the greatest smiths in the realm. So, he would have beautiful jewelry – like a gold lion’s head ring worth more than everything this tribe owns. I want to add this as an Aspect.”

Ron could’ve rolled Wealth to Create an Advantage to make the new Aspect, but he gave his money away. The GM accepts the FATE point and a new Aspect Beautiful Lion Ring is created with one free Invoke. Basically, Ron transferred the power of his FATE point into a piece of the story.

Tyrion-and-the-Hill-Tribes-500x261Next, Ron sets up a deal: “Tyrion offers to give the Hillsmen REAL steel so they can conquer the Vale of Arryn.

” I’m spending the free Invoke of Beautiful Lion Ring to let me roll Wealth even though I’m broke right now. It proves the quality of Lannister smiths and our riches.”

The GM and the other players agree.

“Sweet! I’ll roll Wealth to Create Advantage … I got a 5! Know what – I’ll spend another FATE point to Invoke A Lannister Always Pays his Debts to further assure them. Now, I’ve got a 7!”

Shagger has a Discipline of 1 (barbarians – you know), SIX less than the 7 Wealth. Ron succeeds with style – TWICE!

The dangerous scene Aspect Surrounded by Hills Tribe Killers is changed to Hills Tribe Killers Fight for the Half Man on Credit – and he has THREE free Invokes with this Aspect!

Tyrion-and-hill-tribes-house-lannister-29623879-1920-1080This is way that Aspects are used in FATE Core, my favorite table-top RPG.

Does this make sense? Remind you of other cool RPGs? Share.

BTW, there were some season 1 spoilers in this.

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“Alright, you’re characters have fought hard in the Riverlands but now it’s time for some fun festivities.” announced the game master.

“The King’s uncle, Lord Tully, invites you to attend his wedding to one of Walder Frey’s daughters at the Twins. Hopefully, the union will restore strength to the army of the North!”

The players look at each other with absurd faces. GAME OF THRONES OVER, MAN!

The worst part about running in the setting of a great story is the damned great story! Thanks Mr. Martin for your beautiful art, which has sparked my own creativity – now, get the hell out the way.

A Song of Fire and Ice is still being composed and I don’t want it to drown out my own li’l melody. I can’t really add on until it’s done and I don’t want to tarnish such a saga. The future is still in motion – like Yoda said while he popped open a can of Pepsi to earn Lucas another few million dollars.

This leaves us the rich history of Westeros, where only a few nerds such as myself have delved.

Option 1 – FATE of the Dragon Throne

A hundred years before Danerys married Kharl Drogo, King Aegon Targaryen IV, the worst king in the history of Westeros, legitimized his bastards on his deathbed. This created dozens of heirs in royal line. Shortly after, one of his royal oopsies made a play for the throne. It becomes known as the Blackfyre Rebellion.

The events are far enough from the series to have narrative freedom, but still feel like GoT. I didn’t make this up. I read this in the Hedge Knight series. George R. R. Martin is spilling over with fucking talent.

A game requires conflict and this is a good one. Player characters need a Trouble or Struggle to define themselves against. Daemon Blackfyre is this great warrior with lots of charisma. The crowned king Daeron Targaryen is a bookish administrator trying to focus on fixing the damage his father did. Uber jock versus Super nerd on an epic scale!

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Nerd.

The players I have lined up are mostly unfamiliar with the setting. A few think of GoT as “D&D with lots of talking”. There’s only a little magic in Westeros and few other tropes of medieval fantasy games. How can I run GoT AND fulfill comfortable expectations?

Option 2 – FATE of the Seven Lands

Six THOUSAND years before the death of King Robert of the House Baratheon – ruler of the First Men, the Andals and the Rhoynar, the first Andals conquered the Vale of Arryn. They brought with them the Seven Gods and steel to the wild spirited First Men with their many Old Gods. The invaders aim to spread the Faith to the seven lands of Westeros, civilize hundreds of clannish kingdoms and destroy the wierding powers of the Great Weirwoods with their inhuman keepers.

Whether the players play First men, Andals or whatever else, this mythic age holds only potential. I see it as sort of GoT with classical Roman flavor. The Andals as the Romans battle with their steel spathas ringing against bronze scale armor of the “barbaric” First men.

Add in the Crusades with the themes of old tradition versus alien ideas.

This is a vaguely detailed setting in GoT’s past where there was magic and sorcery. This is where the supernatural powers that Brandon is learning about were much more common. The Children of the Forest used dark magic to destroy a peninsula! Snarks and Grumpkins REALLY do prowl the dark woods doing evil faery tale shit! Dire wolves? Dire bears, boars, mammoths, dire EVERYTHING!

orcmountWhich would you choose? Why?

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My gaming imagination has been recently rekindled … actually, has been set a FUCKING BLAZE with the release of the FATE Core Role-playing Game by Evil Hat Productions.

“Why is the hat evil?” Doesn’t matter – focus!

“What’s a Role-playing game?” This.

“… … that’s weird.” Check ya later.

“Cooooool!” Keep reading.

FATE Core takes awesome ideas like When You play the Game of Thrones, You Win or You Die and makes it a game Aspect that shapes the whole story, one scene or the fate of a single character.

Obviously, I want to run a game in this setting and have sketched out some ideas.

Skills – I need to make these tie in to what the characters in Game of Thrones go through and excel at so the players can feel like they’re in a book or on the show. Couldn’t/Wouldn’t represent the sex, but came up with these:

Physical Skills

Agility, Aim, Conceal, Endure, Fight, Muscle & Ride

All self-explanatory. Endure and Strength are separate. Tyrion can’t lift a boulder like Hodor (Muscle), but could drink him under the Wall (Endure).

Social Skills

Command, Console, Deceive, Impress, Intimidate, Mock & Wealth

When he learned of his father’s death, Jon Snow would’ve become a traitor to the Knights Watch. Good thing Samwell had Console to help his grief.

Since Aspects are true, Deceive attempts that contradict obvious Aspects always fail.

Tyrion tries to Impress upon Cersei that they need to work together, yet all she does is Mock him.

Mental Skills

Aware, Connections, Consider, Lore, Medicine, Search & Will

Aware is used for perceiving your surroundings – so it can defend you against concealment. It can also help you see past some deceitful tricks that rely on misrepresentation.

Connections is the ability to know the right people for the right purpose. Lord Varys and Lord Baelish use this to gain secrets from their spiders and little birds. Does this eunuch really have a gash down there? To learn who’d know, roll Connections against a HIGH difficulty.

Consider represents the ability to deduce subtle details. It helps you unravel a deception or look beyond a shallow impression. It can oppose Wealth to help you reach a fair deal.

Will is defense against Intimidate or Mock, that’s why they call Tywin Lannister “Ole Will Face”.

Lore is recalling anything you could’ve read in a book or heard around a camp. The more obscure or secret the fact the higher the difficulty of the roll. It covers rumors, legends, actual history or even trivia – like Catelyn Stark’s recipe for lemon cakes or the number of relatives Queen Cersei has slept with (at least two).

What a I missing? Lock-picking? Use Consider.

What do you think? This is a good time to share.

stark1LOW Aware skill.

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