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d6 FATE

The dice bot on IRC that we’re using doen’t have FATE dice. *sniffle* So, instead of having to translate d6’s into FATE dice I’m going to go with one the alternate die methods in the FATE rules. We’re going to be using pools of d6’s.  Here’s the rules.


Six-sided dice(d6) have a lot of advantages for gaming. They’re easy to read,  easy to count, stackable and, most importantly, when there’s a need, they can be rummaged from a couple of old board games. They also can be used very easily – there’s no need to explain what these funny plastic shapes are, or what them mean. Most people are already pretty comfortable with the idea of rolling a few dice and adding them together.

When playing Fate with D6 rules, a lot of elements remain the same. The ladder is still in place, but it now has new values assigned to it. Rather than rolling four Fudge dice and adding the value of the adjective, just roll the number of six-sided dice associated with the adjective.

8d       Legendary
7d       Epic
6d       Superb
5d       Great
4d       Good
3d       Fair
2d       Average
1d       Mediocre
2*       Poor
1*       Terrible
0**      Abysmal

* – Poor and terrible scores are the same as if the player had rolled 1 die and it had come up showing a 1 or a 2. However, the die is considered to be “on the table”, so aspects can be used to change the die.

** – An abysmal score means there is no chance of success at all. The GM may allow the player to spend an aspect to put a die on the table (which will be treated as if it had rolled a 1), which then allows it to be treated as a
terrible skill (above).

Static Difficulties

Difficulties are measured in steps of 5, with the goal being to roll a total that matches or exceeds the difficulty target number (TN).

1 – Poor difficulty
3 – Mediocre tasks
7 – Average tasks
10 – Fair Tasks
14 – Good Tasks
17 – Great Tasks
21 – Superb Tasks
24 – Epic Tasks
28 – Legendary Tasks

Dynamic Tasks

The difficulty of a dynamic task will almost always be the total of the opponents die roll.

Modifiers

It’s easy to add bonuses and penalties to d6 rolls, and there are numerous ways to do it. For Fate, bonuses and penalties are applied as “Bonus Dice” and “Penalty Dice”; for instance, a “+1” modifier becomes one bonus die, while a “-1” modifier becomes one penalty die. Bonus dice are added to the total number of dice rolled, but do not change the number of dice counted. This means that if a player is rolling 3 dice, and gets two bonus dice, they would roll 5 dice, but only count the best 3. Penalty dice work the same way, except the player must count the worst dice. Bonus dice and penalty dice cancel out, so a player should never be rolling both at once.

Modifiers can be applied for a number of reasons. Low quality tools or a lack of tools might add a penalty die (or dice) while having high quality tools may grant a bonus. Similarly, doing a task quickly might cause a penalty, while taking the time to be careful might grant a bonus. Distractions might be penalties, while extra resources on hand may provide bonuses.

Aspects

Aspects are maybe used in Fated6 to do one of 2 things:

1. Turn a single d6 into a 5

or

2. Reroll all dice

It’s important to note that all dice are considered to be on the table for purposes of bonuses and penalties. Thus, if a character with an Average skill rolls with a penalty die rolls 2,2,4, he can check off an aspect to turn the 2 into a 5 to make the result 2,4,5, but he will still need to chose the two worst dice (the 2 and 4). Mind you, in this case, invoking the aspect has changed a result of 4 into a 6, enough to make a difference in many circumstances.

Fate Points

In addition to the dramatic uses of fate points, the mechanical benefit is to add 1 more die to a roll. While auctions are an option, no more than 1 fate die can apply to any single roll.

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I created a character sheet for use in my Fallcrest campaign.  It’s not a towering work of staggering genius or anything but it is functional for what we need.  I created the sheet in OpenOffice and exported it as a PDF.  Have fun with it.

Fallcrest Character Sheet

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I’m looking at a fairly standard fantasy campaign here.  I expect combat and social conflicts to play a fairly large role as well as magic.  I took General lists in most categories and then a more specific list in Combat and broader lists in a couple of areas.  Magic is covered in more detail here.

Academic

  • Languages
  • Lore
  • Research
  • Teaching

Artistic

  • Art
  • Singing
  • Acting
  • Play Instrument

Athletic

  • Acrobatics
  • Climbing
  • Endurance
  • Jumping
  • Running
  • Swimming

Combat

  • Bows – Bows, Crossbows
  • Brawling – Improvised weapons
  • One Handed Edged – Swords, Knives, Axes
  • One Handed Blunt – Maces, Clubs
  • Polearm – Halberd, Spetum, Staff
  • Shield – Facility with a shield – grants an additional +1 if used as skill for an all out defense
  • Thrown – Knife, Shuriken
  • Two Handed – Two-Handed Sword, Greataxe
  • Unarmed Combat – Boxing, Wrestling, Martial arts
  • Mounted – Lances, Swords, Horseman’s Mace, Axe

Criminal

  • Fence
  • Forgery
  • Hide
  • Lockpicking
  • Pickpocketing
  • Sneak
  • Streetwise

Magical

  • Evocation – Creating elemental forces out of literally nothing.  Very flash-bang sort of stuff.
  • Summoning – Taking creatures or objects from somewhere else and bringing them to the caster.
  • Divination – Knowing things or sensing things through mystical means.
  • Necromancy – Animating dead things and manipulating the forces of death.
  • Enchantment – Spells affecting the thoughts or emotions.
  • Healing – Curing diseases, healing wounds and otherwise aumenting or strengthing the body.
  • Abjuration – Protective or augmenting spells.

Perception

  • Awareness
  • Observation

Professional

  • Read/Write
  • Cooking
  • Healing
  • Smithing
  • Riding
  • Stonecutting
  • Woodcrafting

General

  • Bluff
  • Contacting
  • Charm
  • Intimidate
  • Lie
  • Seduce

Survival

  • Herbalism
  • Hunting
  • Survival
  • Tracking

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Magic for the Fallcrest Campaign

For my Fallcrest fantasy campaign I wanted a magic system that was flexible and meaty enough that the players would enjoy fiddling with the bits of the system.  I didn’t want to make it too difficult or have too high of a handling time though.  What I’ve come up with is sort of a combination of Improvisational Magic and the Stunt system.

Spellcasting characters must have at least one Aspect indicating how they came by their magical talent.  This can be a mystical order of wizards or simply having some fey blood in the character’s lineage.  Generic “Magical Talent” or somesuch is not allowed.  The Aspect needs to be descriptive and tie into the setting somehow.  A character can have more than one magical Aspect if they want.

Spellcasters also need one or more magical skills.  Magical skills determine what kinds of things the caster can do with magic.  Someone with the Summoning skill can’t use magic to heal someone.  Of course, a caster with Healing isn’t going to be summoning a flock of wild grues to do his bidding.  A list of possible skills for this particular game is below.  More can be added.

  • Evocation – Creating elemental forces out of literally nothing.  Very flash-bang sort of stuff.
  • Summoning – Taking creatures or objects from somewhere else and bringing them to the caster.
  • Divination – Knowing things or sensing things through mystical means.
  • Necromancy – Animating dead things and manipulating the forces of death.
  • Enchantment – Spells affecting the thoughts or emotions.
  • Healing – Curing diseases, healing wounds and otherwise aumenting or strengthing the body.
  • Abjuration – Protective or augmenting spells.

To produce a magical effect in the game a character must cast a spell.  There are two types of spells: Improvisational Spells and Researched Spells.  Improv Spells are a little more difficult to cast and require checking off an Aspect box to cast but can essentiall have any effect that the player can conceive (and roll well enough for).  Researched Spells require a skill slot be used for them and they only do 1 thing but they are easier to cast and can be used for a FATE point.  More about the two types of spells later.

All spells have the following characteristics: Range, Scope, Effect and Duration.  The more powerful the spell is in terms of these characteristics, the harder it is to cast.  After the spell is described and penalties for each characteristic determined, add up the penalties and apply them to the Ladder and that is what the player has to roll for the caster to succeed in casting the spell.

Range:

  • Personal (+0)
  • Touch (+1)
  • Line of Sight (+2)
  • 1 Mile (+3)
  • 10 Miles (+4)
  • 100 Miles (+5)
  • Same Plane of Existence (+6)
  • Other Plane of Existence (+7)

Scope:

  • Nothing or No One (+0)
  • Personal or 1 Person (+1)
  • A Room or Small Group (+2)
  • A Building or Medium Group (+3)
  • A Town or Large Group (+4)
  • A Region  (+5)
  • A Continent  (+6)
  • The World  (+7)

Effect:

  • Scratched (+0)
  • Clipped or impose -1 penalty (+1)
  • Hurt or impose – 2 penalty (+2)
  • Injured or impose -3 penalty (+3) 
  • Fully Transformative or Taken Out (+4)

Duration:

  • Instantaneous  (+0)
  • 1 Exchange (+1)
  • 1 Scene  (+2)
  • Hours  (+3)
  • Days  (+4)
  • Months  (+5)
  • Years  (+6)
  • Forever  (+7)

There are also some miscellaneous modifiers that can be applied.  Most of these make the spell more costly, inconvenient or time consuming to cast but lower the difficulties accordingly.

Casting takes:

  • An Instant  (+1)
  • An Exchange  (+0)
  • A Scene  (-1)
  • Hours  (-2)
  • Days  (-3)

Spell requires:

  • Nothing  (+1)
  • Common, portable components or noticable gesturing/chanting (+0)
  • Uncommon/costly components  (-1)
  • Extremely costly/rare components  (-2)
  • Components are consumed  (-1)
  • Inconvenient location or timing  (-1 to -3)

An Example: The Wizard Lock Spell

This spell magically protects a locked door or portal, making it harder to pick the lock or force it open.  Anyone attempting to open/force the door has a -1 penalty imposed on their roll.

  • Range: Touch +1
  • Scope: 1 door +1
  • Effect: -1 penalty +1
  • Duration:  Hours +3
  • Misc: A Scene to Cast (-1); Small Iron Ring/consumed (-1)

This spell has a total difficulty of +4 and therefore requires a Superb spellcasting check using the Abjuration skill or some other appropriate skill.

Researched vs Improv

The explanation above describes Improv spellcasting.  The player simply decides what effects he wants and then calculates the cost, checks off an Aspect box and rolls the dice.  However, there is a way to cast spells with a slightly easier difficulty and without having to check an Aspect box.  This is called researching a spell.

Anytime a player has a skill point to spend, he can decide to spend it on creating a researched spell instead.  He simply creates the spell as normal and marks it permenantly on his character sheet.  The difficulty to cast this spell is now 1 less than the spell would be via Improv.  Also, the spell can be cast by either checking an Aspect box or spending a FATE point.  A player can buy the spell with additional skill slots and buy the difficulty down by -1 for each slot spent.

So, the Wizard Lock spell listed above would only cost 1 FATE point and require a Great spellcasting check to cast.  An additional slot would knock the required check down to Good.

Researched spells can be “forgotten” and the skill points used on normal skills or on another researched spell at the end of any story arc (ie obtaining a new Aspect) or any other dramatically appropriate point.

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Organizations in FATE

I did not create these rules.  I got them off the FATE Wiki.  I’m posting them here for ease of reference.

Constructing Organizations with Fate

Organizations are built in much the same way that character’s are, with both aspects and skills, albeit from somewhat different lists. While it is possible to build organizations in a phased manner, unless multiple organizations are being created at the same time (such as for a conspiracy game, see below) there is little real reason to do so. GMs are encouraged to make use of the pyramid cheatsheet.

Organizations should be built on the model of 1 aspect per 4 skills, though “freebie” aspects may be appropriate.

Organization Aspects

As with characters, aspects reflect the nature of the organization. It should be possible for someone to read the list of aspects and get a sense of the nature of the organization. As such, organization’s aspects should usually encompass the scope and nature of the organization.

The scope of the organization can encompass a number of elements, like the size of the membership or how far-reaching the organization may be. Scope is not synonymous with influence, that’s covered by skills, but it is complementary. Scope is rarely measured precisely, but as a rule of thumb it correlates with how many areas of influence (see the influence skill, below) the organization extends to on a roughly 1/1 basis. Scope also sets the default difficulty for many internal activities, especially of an administrative nature. If cope is not clearly implicit in the aspect, assume it to be equal to the highest ranking aspect.

Other aspects should give insight into the nature of the organization, and are things like Sub-Genius, Criminal or Mercantile. These aspects should give a sense of the sort of activities the organization pursues, or what manner of philosophy it follows.

These are not the only aspects an organization may have, but they are the most common. Other aspect may reinforce skills (“Conspiracy” or “Rich”) or may be something else entirely.

Using Scope

In a setting spanning a tightly packed continent, the GM decides there are six major areas of influence: the five main nations and a sixth for “The Wilds” existing at the western end of the known world. In creating the main church for the setting, the GM decides to give it a large scope, represented as

One True Church ΟΟΟΟ

That’s an Epic scope, and it means that the church can be found represented almost anywhere in the setting. However, that means that all administration rolls for the church at large have a default difficulty of Epic.

Organization Skills

Skills measure those things the organization can do, such as exercising influence or drawing upon resources. While there are only a few skill types that an organization may take, they are much like knowledge skills in that they may be taken multiple times to specify the area of use. So an organization might have :

Influence (England)
Influence (France)

Organization skills have very specific uses, and as such cannot be freely substituted for each other. As such, if an organization has a great deal of influence, and wants to use that influence to secure resources, that should be represented by a resources skill (or can default to mediocre).

In general, organizations are bound to the same rules regarding the skill pyramid that characters are, though the GM may grant exceptions for special cases.

The usual skills for organizations are as follows:

  • Control (Region) – This represents how much overt control the organization holds over a given area, usually in the form of institutionalized rule.
  • Sway (Region) – Sway represents non-institutional power over a given area, be it due to respect, fear or any other appropriate motivator. Like control, sway is obvious, and it does much which control does. However, it is less effective than true control, and as such it is at a -1 to all actions. Comment: Why take Sway instead of Control?  The single biggest difference between sway and control is one of responsibility. Control is appropriate for ruling bodies and the like, who are tied to the region they control. In contrast, sway provides some amount of power, but it does not carry the responsibility to the region which control does. The penalty on Sway and Influence is also somewhat deceptive. The same effect could have been achieved by making them difficult skills (q.v.). However, that would have made it harder to fill a skill pyramid, so we opted for the current model.
  • Influence (Region) – This represents how much secret sway the organization has. Practically speaking, this works in the same way sway does (albeit at -2 from control), but unlike sway (which is obvious) there is no obvious tie back to the organization
  • Information (Region) – This skill represents knowledge of current events in appropriate areas, and is most appropriate for organizations with decent intelligence and espionage arms.
  • Arms (type) – Many organizations have access to a number of rough and ready individuals willing to do (or prevent) harm on command. Because these rules are for organizations (rather than nations), the main differentiation is one of quality. A given arms score represents one military aspect of an organization, so if an organization has more than one military arm, more than one skill is appropriate.
  • Resources (type) – The type is usually money, but sometimes an organization has a great deal of some other sort of resource, like a trade commodity or a particular type of service.
  • Unity – This measures how unified the organization is with higher unity meaning less internal strife. High Unity organizations tend to be more stable.
  • Administration – The larger an organization is, the more of its resources it needs to commit to keeping itself in order, and this skill measures how effectively that’s done.
  • Communication – The other side of the coin is communication, which is a measure of how effectively a message may be communicated within the organization. For a small organization, this skill may be entirely irrelevant, but for a large organization, it can be critical. This skill is also highly complementary to high information skills.

Special Skills

Many organizations will have at least one special skill which represents something peculiar which that organization does which others may not. These special skills could be almost anything, depending on the nature of the setting and the organization, but some of the more common types include:

  • Magic – The organization has access to some manner of arcane arts, be it the blessings of the priests or ties to ancient secrets. This generally means the organization has access to spellcasters of some stripe or another, and the skill represents their quality and type. Much like arms, if the organization has access to multiple types, multiple skills are appropriate.
  • Assassination – The ability to quietly make people dead. Naturally, this is illegal pretty much everywhere, and had best be accompanied a great deal of secrecy.
  • Secrecy – This is a measure of how hard it is to find things out about the organization and (at higher levels) whether or not the organization exists at all. Whether this secrecy is an intentional conspiracy or merely the result of extreme obscurity can be determined at creation.
  • Reputation – The opposite of secrecy, this is the public face of an organization insofar as it may deviate from the reality. Most organizations have an implicit reputation based upon their aspects and activities, but it is possible to put on a “false face”, represented by this skill.
  • Lore – The organization has access to a large body of knowledge of some sort (as with arms: multiple lores mean multiple skills), and it’s generally implicit that this is knowledge that may be hard to come by under other circumstances.

Holdings

It is also possible for an organization to spend skill points on holdings, such as safe houses or strongholds. The rules for these are similar to the rules for items, with each skill ranks translating into some sort of quality for the holding. Possible qualities include:

  • Fortified – The holding is protected in some way.
  • Hidden – The holding is difficult to find.
  • Isolated – The holding is far from civilization.
  • Ornate – The holding is impressive to behold
  • Big – The holding is extensive
  • Magical – The holding is magical in some way. This may be useful (it’s a node of power) or decorative (it floats over a volcano’s caldera). In general, if the magic provides some additional benefit (like defensibility), other qualities should be purchased.

I’m Going Mobile!

The first thing that may occur to a reader is “What about mobile?”.It sounds like a great quality – sorcerers with crawling towers and the like seem like a pretty cool option. And it’s true, the system supports this (as well as “flying”, “alive” or “invisible” or a myriad of others), and in fact, we encourage their use with the simple caveat: do so sparingly. Nothing makes things like this bland faster than overuse.

In general, this shouldn’t be a problem since the GM can use their own standards, but if you’re running a conspiracy game (see below) it’s worth putting some limits on these things, even if they are increasing costs Invisible could be treated as buying 3 or 6 ranks of “hidden” or a sufficiently different quality, like mobile, might simply cost 3 or more ranks.

Alternately, the qualities could be on a scale – 1 quality of Mobile might allow very slow movement, or only movement within very limited bounds, and many more ranks may be required to make the holdings really powerful. As ever, this balance is a matter of taste, but it’s important to stay aware of this element.

Example: Creating an Organization

The Church of Saint Agnes (CSA) is a small militant order within the Quintarian church, dedicated to a warrior-priestess who martyred herself to protect a cloister of monks. CSA followers generally make themselves available to Quintarian priests travelling to dangerous destinations.

The CSA is a very minor sect, so they’re being built with only 3 aspects. Because they’re a sect of a larger church with no real influence of their own, scope aspects don’t seem appropriate. Instead, 2 aspects of “Quintarian” represent their tie to the mother church, while a single aspect of “Militant” reflects their flavor. A quick look at the aspect cheatsheet says that’s 5 Averages, 2 Fairs and a Good. Because the pyramid only technically needs 3 Averages, that means 2 ranks could be put into holdings without breaking the pyramid.

With that in mind:

The Good obviously goes into Arms to represent the Templars of the church.  They’re fairly well organized and well funded (it’s a popular charity for soldiers) so Administration and Resources (Money) are Fair.  At Average are Sway: Beve, Communication, and the special Skill “Charity”, which represents the good works (and subsequent good will received) the church pursues. The two remaining ranks are spent on chapterhouses in the Cities of Beve and Anas, with Beve being their main house (Thus the Sway).

The final write up looks like:

Aspects:

  • Quintarian ΟΟ
  • Militant Ο

Skills

  • Arms: Templars (Good)
  • Resources: Money (Fair)
  • Administration (Fair)
  • Sway: Beve (Average)
  • Charity (Average)
  • Communication (Average)

Holdings

  • Chapterhouse: Beve (Fortified)
  • Chapterhouse: Anas (Fortified)

Using Organizations

Once play has begun, there are several benefits to having stats for organizations. It provides a good baseline for what various organizations may know and what their interests are. It also provides an excellent shorthand for dealing with NPCs from that organization. If the Knights of Anton have Arms (Knights) at Good, then Joe Nameless Knight can probably be considered to have a “Good” in appropriate military skills.
Additionally, it provides a nicely abstracted way for organizations to come into conflict with one another and to resolve it with a minimum of headache. How likely are Walsingham’s spies (Information (France): Good) to find out about John Ballard’s Jesuit Conspiracy (Secrecy: Fair) to assassinate the queen? Easily determined!
For games which use an “off season”, organization statistics can also be used to represent and resolve longer term conflicts. Organizations may even have their own wound track for GMs wishing to concetrate on this element.

The Conspiracy Game

One interesting option for using this system is as a preamble to another game. Allow each player to construct an organization in a phased fashion, and allow the interactions of the organizations and the choices of the players establish some of the backdrop of the setting. The play of this is simple enough, but a few complications can spice it up:

Disallow player from making subsequent characters with membership in the organization they created.
At the end of each phase, have each player secretly write the name of the organizations closest ally or greatest enemy among the group. The GM looks at these secretly, and whenever there is a matchup (including enemy to ally!) add an aspect to each organization called “Connection to <name>”. This means the two groups compliment each other well, but are also vulnerable to each other. After all, in a conspiracy game, what is an ally except an enemy who has not yet shown his stripes?

Option: Nations

It’s easy to see that this thinking could be translated into tracking nations, kingdoms or other political holdings (which will be collectively referred to as domains). And There’s no reason not to, but a few considerations are appropriate. There are a few more complexities that enter the picture when dealing with a kingdom or duchy, things like borders, physical characteristics and armed forces. Most of these things can be handled by adding additional aspect types and redefining existing ones.

Scope translates into the physical size of the domain, from a humble fief Ο to a continent spanning empire ΟΟΟΟ. And here’s the real trick: Do not bother to even try to balance this – Scope is hugely important in this regard, and in general a domain of a given scope will barely notice the goings on in a domain just 2 steps smaller. When dealing with nations, simply determine how big the scope will be before anything else. Subsequent aspects, like Size and Army, might differentiate between same-scope domains, but otherwise, scope is generally going to tell. As a rule of thumb, the scope of a domain represents how many regions it contains, for purposes of skills.

Borders are aspects. Like scope, they provide no skills, but they are important to have. Similarly, if the domain is in a chain of fealty, aspects for those above and below are appropriate freebies.

Other Aspects: Aspects of dogma and specific resources (army size, geographic features) are the aspects a domains built with (and which differentiate them from other domains)

Skills work the same as they do for organizations, though some (like secrecy) are rarely appropriate. Skills like control are not implicit in creation, so it’s strongly suggested that the ruler or rulers rank those skills quite high. Holdings are an excellent way to represent points of interest within the domain.

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