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Aspects

  • Guild Mage: Great   ΟΟΟ
  • Staff of Storms: Fair   Ο
  • Bookworm: Good   ΟΟ
  • Survivor of Bloodspear Invasion: Fair   Ο

Skills

  • Divination: Good
  • Read/Write: Average
  • Lore: Great
  • Summoning: Fair
  • Observation: Fair
  • Languages: Average
  • Teaching: Fair
  • Research: Good
  • Abjuration: Fair
  • Enchantment: Fair
  • Herbalism: Average
  • Riding: Average
  • Polearms: Average
  • Evocation: Average

Extras

  • Staff of Storms: 2 levels:  ΟΟ

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

Map of the Nentir Vale

Map of the Nentir Vale

Fallcrest lies near the middle of the broad borderland region known as the Nentir Vale. The vale is now mostly empty, with a handful of living villages and towns scattered over this wide area. Abandoned farmsteads, ruined manors, and broken keeps litter the countryside. Bandits, wild animals, and monsters roam freely throughout the vale, threatening anyone who fares more than few miles away from one of the surviving settlements. Travel along the roads or river is usually safe — usually. But every now and then, travelers come to bad ends between towns.

The Nentir Vale is a northern land, but it sees relatively little snow — winters are windy and bitterly cold. The Nentir River is too big to freeze except for a few weeks in the coldest part of the year. Summers are cool and mild.

The “clear” parts of the map are covered in mixed terrain—large stretches of open meadowland, copses of light forest, gently rolling hills, and the occasional thicket of dense woodland and heavy undergrowth.

The downs marked on the map are hilly grassland, with little tree cover. The hills are steeper and more rugged, and include light forest in the valleys and saddles between the hilltops. Interesting locales in the Nentir Vale are described below.

Fiveleague House

Fiveleague House is more properly known as the Fiveleague Inn. It’s a strongly built innhouse surrounded by a wooden palisade. Fiveleague House caters to travelers and merchants coming or going from Hammerfast, a day’s journey (five leagues) farther east. The proprietor is a big, bearlike human named Barton.

Gardmore Abbey

The Gardbury Downs take their name from this striking ruin, a large monastery that has lain in ruins for almost one hundred fifty years. The abbey was dedicated to Bahamut and served as the base of a militant order of paladins who won great fame fighting in Nerath’s distant crusades. As the story goes, the paladins brought a dark artifact back from a far crusade for safekeeping, and evil forces gathered to assault the abbey and take it back. Extensive dungeons are rumored to lie beneath the ruins, which might still conceal the hoarded wealth of the old crusading paladins.

The Sword Barrow

This large burial mound stands near the middle of the Gray Downs, a desolate region. The old human hill-clans who lived in the Vale raised the barrow centuries before civilized folk settled in Fallcrest. The hill-folk are long gone, but their grim barrows remain. The Sword Barrow gained its name because scores of rusted blades of ancient design are buried around its edges, blades pointing inward; a visitor can turn up several in a few minutes of looking around.

Hammerfast

A dwarven hold cut from the rock of a deep vale in the Dawnforge Mountains, Hammerfast is the largest and wealthiest town in the region. The Trade Road runs through the citadel gates and continues eastward beyond the Dawnforge Mountains. Hammerfast is governed by a council of masters, each the leaders of one of the town’s powerful guilds. The current High Master is the leader of the merchant guild, a dwarf named Marsinda Goldspinner. By reputation, the dwarves of Hammerfast look to their own first and don’t give away anything for free, but they are honest and industrious.

Harken Forest

This large woodland stretches from the Nentir River to the mountains and extends for miles to the south. It separates the Nentir Vale from the more populous coastal towns of the south. A goblin stronghold called Daggerburg lies somewhere in the southwest reaches. The goblins sometimes raid the river-traffic moving along the Nentir or send small parties of marauders to Harkenwold’s borders.

A wood giant tribe known as the Gnarlybough Clan roams the eastern portions of the forest. They occasionally trade with the humans of Harkenwold and keep an eye on travelers along the old King’s Road. They have a long-standing feud with the Daggerburg goblins, and the goblins tend to keep to the western parts of the forest to avoid swift and deadly giants. However, the goblins are growing more numerous and have become bolder in recent months.

Harkenwold

Half a dozen small villages lie along the upper vales of the White River. Together, they make up the Barony of Harkenwold — a tiny realm whose total population is not much greater than Fallcrest’s. The people of Harkenwold are farmers, woodcutters, and woodworkers; little trade comes up or down the old King’s Road.

The ruler of Harkenwold is Baron Stockmer, an elderly man who was known for his strong sword arm in his youth. He is said to be a just and compassionate ruler.

Kalton Manor

Back in the days when Nerath was settling the Nentir Vale, minor lords in search of land to call their own established manors and holds throughout the area. Kalton Manor was one of these, a small keep raised by Lord Arrol Kalton about two hundred years ago. Lord Arrol intended to settle the lower vale of the White River, but it was not to be — monsters from the Witchlight Fens drove off the tenants Arrol had brought with him. At the end, Arrol and a handful of his servants and family lived alone in a half-finished keep slowly falling into ruin until they disappeared as well. Stories tell of hidden treasure — the old Kalton fortune — hidden in secret chambers beneath the ruined keep.

Keep on the Shadowfell

Long ago, soldiers from Nerath built a strong fortress to protect the region from the threats to its people. The old keep lies in ruins now, though it is rumored to be a goblin lair.

Kobold Hall

Like Kalton Manor, the wreck now known locally as Kobold Hall was the estate of a minor lord who came to Nentir Vale to establish his own demesnes. Ruined during the Bloodspear War, the old castle has been abandoned for almost a century. Kobold tribes from the Cloak Wood now lurk in its depths.

Nenlast

This tiny human village lies at the east end of Lake Nen. The folk here make a meager living by trading smoked fish to the dwarves of Hammerfast. They also deal with the Tigerclaw barbarians of the Winterbole Forest. When the wild folk choose to trade, they come to Nenlast to barter their pelts and amber for good dwarven metalwork.

Raven Roost

This small keep stands at the southern end of the Old Hills. Once it was the seat of a small manor, but it fell into ruin long ago and has recently been taken over by a gang of bandits.

Ruins of Fastormel

Once a prosperous town on the shores of Lake Nen, Fastormel was destroyed by the Bloodspear orcs and has never been resettled. The town was ruled by a Lord Mage (the most powerful wizard in town claimed the ruler’s scepter), and the Mistborn Tower of the last Lord Mage still stands amid the ruins of the town. The tower is shrouded in a strange silver mist that never dissipates, no matter what the weather would otherwise dictate.

The Stonemarch

A rugged land of stony hills and deep gorges cut by white-rushing rivers, the Stonemarch is home to tribes of dangerous humanoids and giants. Orcs, ogres, giants, and trolls haunt the farther reaches of these barren lands. Fortunately for the residents of the vale, the monsters rarely come east over the Cairngorm Peaks.

Temple of Yellow Skulls

The ruins of an evil shrine stand in the middle of these desolate hills. Legend tells that a rakshasa prince summoned demons to this place and bound them to his service by imprisoning their vital essences in gold-plated human skulls. None of these have yet been recovered from the ruins, but the story persists.

Thunderspire

This striking peak is the largest of the Old Hills. Merchants passing along the Trade Road sometimes take shelter here.

Winterhaven

Hard under the Cairngorms at the west end of the Nentir Vale lies the remote town of Winterhaven. Like Fallcrest, Winterhaven is a small town surrounded by a few miles of farmland and pastures.

Fallcrest

Map of Fallcrest

Map of Fallcrest

Fallcrest stands amid the Moon Hills at the falls of the Nentir River. Here travelers and traders using the old King’s Road that runs north and south, the dwarven Trade Road from the east, and the river all meet. The surrounding ridges shelter several small valleys where farmers and woodsfolk live; few are more than six or seven miles from the town. In general the people outside Fallcrest’s walls earn their living by farming or keeping livestock, and the people inside the walls are artisans, laborers, or merchants. People with no other prospects can make a hard living as porters, carrying cargo from the Lower Quays to the Upper Quays (or vice versa).

Population: 1,350; another 900 or so live in the countryside within a few miles of the town.

Leadership: Lord Warden Faren Markelhay

Government: The human noble Faren Markelhay is the Lord Warden (hereditary lord) of the town. He is in charge of the town’s justice, defense, and laws. The Lord Warden appoints a town council to look after routine commerce and public projects.

Defense: The Fallcrest Guard numbers sixty warriors, who also serve as constables. Moonstone Keep is their barracks. The Lord Warden can call up 350 militia at need.

Demographics: The people of Fallcrest are mostly humans, halflings, and dwarves.

Economics: Fallcrest imports finished goods from the larger cities downriver and ironwork from the dwarf town of Hammerfast, and exports timber, leather, fruit, and grain. It also trades with the nearby town of Winterhaven.

The surrounding hills hold several marble quarries that once produced a good deal of stone, but the area has little demand for ornamental stone these days, and only a few stonecutters still practice their trade.

Inns: Nentir Inn; Silver Unicorn. The Silver Unicorn is pricier and offers better service; the Nentir Inn sees a more interesting clientele.

Taverns: Blue Moon Alehouse; Lucky Gnome Taphouse; Nentir Inn taproom.

Supplies: Halfmoon Trading House; Sandercot Provisioners.

Temples: Temple of Erathis; Moonsong Temple (Sehanine); House of the Sun (Pelor).

History

Up until four centuries or so ago, the Moon Hills and the surrounding Nentir Vale were thinly settled borderlands, home to quarrelsome human hill-chieftains and remote realms of non-humans such as dwarves and elves. Giants, minotaurs, orcs, ogres, and goblins plagued the area. Ruins such as those on the Gray Downs or the ring-forts atop the Old Hills date back to these days, as do stories of the hero Vendar and the dragon of the Nentir.

With the rise of the empire of Nerath to the south, human settlers began to move up the Nentir, establishing towns such as Fastormel, Harkenwold, and Winterhaven. A Nerathan hero named Aranda Markelhay obtained a charter to build a keep at the portage of the Nentir Falls. She raised a simple tower at the site of Moonstone Keep three hundred ten years ago, and under its protection the town of Fallcrest began to grow.

Over the next two centuries, Fallcrest grew into a small and prosperous city. It was a natural crossroads for trade, and the Markelhays ruled it well. When the empire of Nerath began to crumble about a century ago, Fallcrest continued to flourish—for a time.

Ninety years ago, a fierce horde of orcs known as the Bloodspears descended from the Stonemarch and swept over the vale. Fallcrest’s army was defeated in a rash attempt to halt the Bloodspears out on Gardbury Downs. The Bloodspears burned and pillaged Fallcrest and went on to wreak havoc all across the Nentir Vale.

In the decades since the Bloodspear War, Fallcrest has struggled to reestablish itself. The town is a shadow of the former city; little trade passes up and down the river these days. The countryside for scores of miles around is dotted with abandoned homesteads and manors from the days of Nerath. Once again the Nentir Vale is a thinly settled borderland where few folk live.


Fallcrest

  • Frontier City  ΟΟ
  • Battlescarred  Ο
  • Fortified  Ο

Moonstone Keep  Good
Control  Fair
Arms (Fallcrest Guard) Fair
Resources (Treasury) Fair
Administration  Fair
Arms  (Militia) Average
Resources (Quarries) Average
Communication Average
Magic (Mage Guild) Average
Information  Average

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

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.

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.