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Using D&D Monsters In Fate Core

There are a lot of settings that need good monsters: medieval fantasy, modern horror, post-apocalyptic science fiction, space opera, and even super hero to name a few. Monsters are a huge part of our mythology, and as such they can be found in just about every game.

Fate Core does not have its own monster manual because it is a generic system that can be easily applied to any genre we want to play in. So where do we get our ideas for monsters? Well there are plenty in Fate-based games: Dresden Files, Atomic Robo, and so on. But you can also pull them from other sources. My personal favorite place lately has been the D&D monster manual.

d and d fate core

Why D&D?

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Making Things Scary

Horror is not my particular genre of choice. I enjoy my sleep, and I dislike anything that might give me nightmares and keep me awake. Moreover, my style of GMing is to empower the players to tell their characters’ stories and allow the possibility of success in everything that they try.

But just like every other type of story, there is a time and place to make things scary. Characters can have powerful moments when they are helpless. The world can seem more real when it is twisted. And you really do find out who you are and what you are willing to sacrifice when death stalks the character that you have put 3 years of love and development into.

So for those of you that want to have some scary moments in your campaign, or a scary campaign as a whole, here are our 3 tips to make your roleplaying game scary.

Start With Normalcy

normal family

“Oh, Timmy.”

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The Power That’s Inside (Pokémon Fate)

This is a simple Pokémon Fan Fate adventure designed for 2-4 players early in their adventures. The story works best for low-level characters that have not yet acquired a full set of 6 pokemon nor any individual pokémon having more than 2 stunts and 12 skill points. See our previous post for more details on how our Pokémon Fan Fate game works.

Who’s That Pokémon?

The PCs start at a morning breakfast in their own campsite out in pokémon wilderness. Roleplay a little bit with the players to see how they start their day. Then have everyone roll a Notice (2) check. Those that succeed will notice a nearby shrubbery twitch with something inside that teleports away in a flash. If no one succeeds, have them see the flash of teleportation as the pokémon steals a hat or backpack or other personal possession.

If someone succeeded with a 4+, they can see that the pokémon only teleported to another bush a short distance away and that it is relatively small (about the size of a Pikachu). Otherwise have everyone roll a Survival (3) check to track the pokémon. Once they find it, following its teleportation flashes as it flees from bush to bush is easy enough.

The fleeing pokémon is a Frail Psychic Abra (Shy Teleporter): Attack 0, Defend 1, Special 1, Speed 2, and Evade 3. Teleport – Requires a Psychic aspect. For this pokemon’s movement movement, you may ignore barriers to instantly move a number of zones equal to your special. If attempting to bring others, roll a Special check with the difficulty equal to the number of characters you teleport with.

This wild Abra uses Evade to dodge attacks and pokéballs while it is running since it is not engaged in combat. Identifying the Abra while it flees is a Lore VS Evade check, with the Abra receiving a +2 while it is hiding (Staying Out of Sight is the temporary aspect). When the group finally catches the Abra or gives up on it, start the next scene.

You Fell For It

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Do You Want to Be the Very Best?

Have you heard about the new app called Pokémon Go yet?

<insert slowpoke image>

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Seriously though, this game is grabbing hold of a LOT of people’s inner childhood and pulling it back into the light. It is having a profound impact on our local geek culture as well. People getting caught up in the app are also reaching out to other pokémon-related hobbies: electronic games, board games, cosplay, anime marathons, and toy collection! So why not snag some new RPGers?

slopoke

We previously talked about making a pokémon Fate Core world in Gotta Catch Them All. All the basics are there for you to make your own Pokémon Fan Fate game. But today we want to talk about how to reach out to fans of the app that might be new to the RPG.

How to Sell Your Game

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Welcome Pokémon Trainers

Pokémon Go has managed to do what no game has ever done before. It is getting people out into the world, visiting places of historical significance, and socializing with strangers in person (far away from the TV or computer). It is an amazing achievement for a game, and a wonderful opportunity that many people are taking advantage of! But sadly some people are also squandering this opportunity.

Kids and adults that have had no interest in museums, churches, or memorials are now begging to go to these places. They are meeting together and talking about them, organizing group outings, and even making plans to spend all day there. And yet some of these locations are either ignoring the people that come or flat out barring them from entering.

People Want In

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Classes Do Not Define Us

I ran a one-shot a while back with D&D 5th edition, and we had a last minute player ask if he could join in. There was only one pregenerated character left, so I told him that as long as he did not mind playing that character then he was welcome to join us. He looked at the character and said “I don’t really like to play barbarians. I like to roleplay conversations without slobbering over everyone and actually think before I hit things.”

A couple of other players supported this view by stating that they had not wanted the barbarian either for this reason. I asked to see the sheet. The character had a Charisma of 12 and an Intelligence of 11, so slightly above average for both. Not a mindless animal by stats standards. And the character had the artisan background, so they were very creative and easily plugged into high society. But everyone seemed to have this idea that all barbarians drool and kill anything that moves and cannot ever have a conversation with anyone.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to watch a barbarian rage and smash things. Especially when that barbarian is a gnome or goblin taking on a hill giant! And the purpose of a class is certainly to give you benefits towards a certain style of playing (or in this case, combat). But class is only one part of a character, and not even the most important part of a character’s personality in any game I have yet played.

What You Are Good At

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Solo Fate Adventure: The Fata Morgana (CYOA)

I’ve been doing a lot of work this week on a game over at storynexus.com, and my brain is locked in Choose Your Own Adventure mode. So instead of a helpful blog today, we just have a fun little science fantasy story game for you to read through. Like any CYOA game, don’t try to read it start to finish. Instead, start at the beginning and when you make a choice that tells you to skip to another paragraph, go directly to that paragraph to resume reading.

During the game, you may be told that you receive achievements or acquire helpful gear. If you are told to make note of such things, write them down or simply remember how your story is progressing. If you come across a choice that requires an item or story element that you do not remember receiving, do not choose that option. Otherwise the story will not make much sense.

You will need a fate die (or coin) to play, as some choices require a roll. + is a success, and – is a failure. If you roll a blank face, you succeed on an EASY challenge but fail on a HARD challenge. The game is more fun if you do not cheat and just decide to succeed at everything without rolling a die. Also during this game you can gain Fate Points, which you can spend to change a single failed roll to a success.

Twine Version

THE BEGINNING

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Character Discovery With AGE

It has been a long time since I had a chance to play the AGE system by Green Ronin Publishing. I love, and often recommend, the Dragon Age game as a great introduction to roleplaying games. The standard Fantasy setting is also amazing, and anyone interested in the Titansgrave adventure that Geek and Sundry does on Tabletop would certainly enjoy that futuristic fantasy setting as well.

The dice mechanics are simple, the stunts system actually supports roleplaying in an easy way to learn, and the character creation takes only 15 minutes once you know what you are doing. Actually, it is more of a character discovery than a character generation because so much of it is based on random rolls and then making limited choices based on those results. I’m really hoping that the Sentinels Comic RPG does something similar, but that’s another blog post entirely.

Last week we did a blog post called Making A Character You Want To Play that talked about converting your vision of a great character into the actual character sheet. Then we expanded on that concept in Better Characters, pointing out how to make sure your character would be enjoyable to play for multiple sessions. Previously, we also looked at playing Pregenerated And Regenerated Characters and talked a bit about making a character your own while being true to that character.

But while all of these topics have touched on Character Discovery, we’ve never actually addressed it in and of its self. So let’s talk about that now!

What Is Character Discovery?

Discovery is a big appeal to RPGs, especially since the only limits to a game are imagination and continuity. The more we play, the more we discover about the world and its inhabitants. We also learn about ourselves, and the characters that we create, as they interact with the story and the world.

Character discovery is not just for the rest of the party to discover your character’s secrets, habits, and moral alignment. The player that is controlling the character and making all the decisions for them is also discovering more and more about their character as they play. You learn which virtues they will stick with, what lines they are willing to cross, and what will ultimately change them as they are tested time and again in the campaign.

Have you ever played with someone that wants to skip the character creation process and just play a pregenerated character? You might expect them to just be in it for the combat scenes, but then you find that they are more interested in the story of their character than actually succeeding checks? Or maybe you have even been that player yourself. We would expect someone that is so deeply into their character development to be more interested in their creation, but many creative players don’t want that sort of control. They want that part done so they can skip ahead to discovering their character.

Getting To Know Your Character in Creation

Fortunately, the AGE system provides a nice alternative that can make everyone happy. You roll your stats, social class, and racial traits. You choose your character class, class traits, and race from a limited selection. The personality, goals, and ties are yours to choose from with no real limit. And sure, different GMs may allow different amounts of freedom with choices rather than rolls, but if you are interested in discovering a character then I highly recommend you design them per the rules.

You get your first glimpse at the character when you roll stats. This will show you a basic idea of how strong, fast, smart, perceptive, enchanting, and charismatic they are. So you make your first choice (character race) and get a little better focus on your character with all the things that go with that race. Then you make another roll for racial traits, then another decision, then another roll, and finally you are ready to pick your class.

Now you may have a character class in mind with your concept going into the character creation, but by the time you actually get to choosing a class you have an idea of what your character’s capabilities will be, which means that by this point you will start to see a personality. Do you want to play a spellcaster even if your magic is low? Then you will have to ask yourself why they are not as skilled as others. Do you want to play a rogue despite the high magic score? What makes them so powerful in magic if not the ability to cast spells?

By going back and forth between rolls and decisions, the AGE mechanics encourage reactions to unexpected (Discovered) results. You interpret the dice results and move forward, learning enough about your character to discover their base personality. But of course, you are not done discovering your character yet. There is more to learn in the actual adventure!

Character Discovery in Gameplay

Since there are only 3 classes, character uniqueness is going to depend on personality and playstyle. This is exactly the sort of thing that players who thrive on discovery want, even if they sometimes don’t know it yet. You try your first combat and find what does and does not work, and it teaches you what your character favors as well as how combat-capable they are. So once again, you react to dice rolls and interpret the results into a decision about your character’s personality.

The same works for social encounters. You may roll wonderfully for haggling and discover your character is a penny pincher. You may also roll terribly on a flirt check and discover that your character is hopeless. In this early game, you learn from the mechanics who your character is and push them to discover more capabilities. The character levels up and gets more distinguished, until you can hardly believe that 2 characters came from the same starting class.

As a character fleshes out, and most of their personality is discovered, the method of discovery shifts more to the story its self. Decisions are made, sacrifices are necessitated, and complexity reveals itself. Dragon Age is especially good at encouraging tough choices for a character. Do you use the magic seed to save the princess and let the pixies die, or do you plant the seed so the pixies will have a home but let the demon control the princess and terrorize her kingdom?

The choices your character makes help show you who they really are, and of course this is constantly changing. A character that always punches first and ask questions later may grow to regret this instinct and try to improve themselves. A cautious bard may pick up a magic item and try it out just to see what it does. A lonely hunter may find love and now have to wrestle with a new priority in their life. As the story changes, the characters change with it and change the story. And the best part is that most RPGs are not solo games, so you are also discovering things about every character in the party.

Exploring Party Relations

A good campaign is like a relationship. There are lots of surprises as you discover new things about each other in the beginning. But once you get past that initial stage, you discover how things tie together and shape yourself and everyone you interact with. The wonders never cease, and the surprises are all the more surprising because the more time you are around someone the less you expect to be surprised.

For example, your group will likely get in a rhythm established in the early game of the campaign. You will quickly learn who goes out in front for combat and who fights from a distance. You learn who can take hits and who needs protecting. You learn who is effective at persuading NPCs and who is entertaining to watch interact with them. You learn who scouts ahead when you explore, what order you march in, and who ultimately is the expert in various skill checks. And you will probably figure out fairly quickly who the group’s moral compass is.

But once you have discovered that comfort level, you start to deviate from it. Your group may have other characters that are fairly good at skill checks and want a chance to shine, or they may have story reasons for not defaulting to the comfortable party member. Characters will make dumb decisions, because everyone does, and sometimes players would rather be entertained than get it right. This also teaches you what characters consider important.

New interactions grow from these encounters. The orc and Halfling develop a fastball special attack. The dwarf develops a crush on the elf he did not trust before. The human saves the gnome’s life. The goliath pranks the half-elf. Eventually players are having their characters do things just to see how it changes the story so that they can try to discover new sides of everyone.

Closing Thoughts

Not everyone wants a long deep story-focused game, and that’s ok. If you are more combat or stat focused, you can plan your character out from scratch to level 20. If you are more about achievements than discovery, keep a list of quests and work hard to make sure you are never split from the party. And if you are just there to socialize with other players, then have fun and just try not to make anyone uncomfortable.

A roleplaying game always works best when everyone is on the same page about what sort of game that they are playing. It helps to have a variety of sticks, stones, rubbers, and glues in your group. It makes things interesting. But the ultimate story goal needs to be something that everyone is working towards.

I still recommend the AGE system to anyone that wants to learn RPGs. If you are not familiar with the Dragon Age games, or you are introducing a young group, the Fantasy AGE system may be a better fit for you. And by all means, watch the Geek and Sundry videos to build some excitement about playing the game!

If you have any stories about surprise discoveries with a character, we would love to hear them. Or if you have any questions, feel free to throw them our way!

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Making a Character You Want to Play

There are a lot of things to consider when you are building a new character. What is their personality going to be like? What background do you imagine for them? What role will they fill in the group? Which mechanics (skills, stunts, etc.) are they going to be high or low at? What unique powers do I want to pay for? How will the other players view this character?

Character design can be a lot of fun, and most systems spend a lot of time and money dedicated to this stage of roleplaying. Most people have an opinion or two on this subject, so I thought I would share my 2 bits on the subject.

Choosing a Concept

I like to start with a character concept, something that would be fun to play, and then see about making it fit, though I do not begrudge anyone that starts with one of the next 2 sections below.

The 2 main things to consider with concept are the setting and your own personal goals. The setting of a game is typically designed for a certain type of character: adventurers in D&D, samurai in L5R, semi-normal people in Cthulu. A large man with a crossbow is going to feel different in each of these 3 settings, and thus a setting will affect what sort of concept you want to build.

Personal goals are also important in choosing a concept. If you want to challenge yourself to play something new, choose a concept that you never play. If you just want to have reliable fun, choose a concept that you enjoy playing. Your creativity is only going to be limited by the next step.

Making it Fit

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Your First Fate Adventure

As the name might imply, this is an adventure designed to springboard a campaign and introduce people to your gaming world. It is especially useful for getting people that have very little experience with RPGs but want to learn, as they will be able to relate to the characters easily. It can be used as a one-shot adventure, but the players are likely going to want to continue if things go well.

The premise of this adventure is simple. The player characters are all very young adults (or almost adults) that have grown up on stories of adventures and want to experience their own stories for whatever reason. Their character sheets start out very ordinary and mundane, but hopefully between the drive of the players and the experiences of their first real adventure, they will come out being quite fantastical.

The Cast

Have the player characters pick an aspect from each of the categories listed below to build their character. Skill points and stunts listed with that aspect are also added to the character when they choose it for their own. It is, in my experience, a fun way to ease new players into character building. But if you do not think it is a good fit for you or your group, feel free to pre-assemble starting characters beforehand.

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