Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fate Vis Major Playtest Characters

Piecemeal over the past few days, I've been converting the characters used in the first playtest of my homebrew system for the Vis Major setting over to Fate Core. It was surprisingly easy from a system perspective - way too much of that time was spent trying to find nice little quotes to put on the character sheets.

Also spent more time than usual for a playtest on the character sheets themselves. I really want to grab the group with these, and I hope that making it look like a "real game" will help with that. They're done up as trifold legal-sized sheets, single-sided, in a Google presentation. Playtest is this Thursday!


The skill list is customized for Vis Major. I'll post the full list at some point in the future but here's a summary.
  • Athletics, Deceive, Empathy, Fight, Notice, Provoke, Shoot, Stealth, and Will are handled just like core.
  • Physique was renamed Brawn, Burglary was renamed Thief, and Rapport was renamed Charm, but they work basically the same. I just like one-word skills.
  • There are three magic skills: Blood, Ether, and Gnosis. Each of these has some limited stand-alone benefit, so it's not a waste tossing a +1 or +2 into them. However, there are Aspects that grant them new uses, so if you're putting a +3 or +4 in one of these you will probably also be taking one of those.
  • Contacts became Clout, representing not only who you know but your standing within your various affiliations and capacity to pull rank.
  • Resources became Trade, which is your ability to apply your skills to making money, and is another one-word skill.
  • Then there's Gambit. I'm really just going to have to see how this plays out, but it's your capacity to plan ahead for potentially outrageous circumstances, your machinations, and your perfect bits of gear you happen to have. It will likely allow for a lot of retconning by the players.
Lore, Investigate, and Drive/Ride are not on the list. Lore is determined by your Aspects, Investigate I plan to do with challenges, and Ride will be handled with Empathy, Charm, or Provoke.


Unlike Fate Core, I felt the Aspects on these sheets needed a little more explanation than a single phrase. We have a sense of what a "Fireman" or "Librarian" would be invoked for, but "Aleph" or "Acadian Walker" aren't immediately evident, even though they're common enough in the setting. So a couple fragments to provide an archetype and perhaps a quote.

The magic aspects needed some detailing too since I rather wanted the facts that "your blood is independently alive" or "you can blow up golems" to be staring the players in the face constantly.

There are some blank Aspects left for the players to fill in. Only one character got a personality trait of "Mousy" assigned, and that's only because she was played so memorably that way in the last round of playtests.


I've only played Fate once, and it was actually FAE, so we'll have to see if these stunts feel balanced. I'm using an alternate initiative system based on Marvel Heroic Roleplaying where you basically just choose who goes after you, so some of the stunts are based off that to give the decisions more weight.

Then there are some that further enhance magic skills, and a few left blank to fill in at the players' discretion.


There are no plans to use weapon and armor ratings, so there's just some simple lists of what they're wearing and wielding. I'm hoping that having some of the aspects deal with specific types of weapons will be sufficient. Other gear is suggested by their Aspects.

I listed out some specific foods they're carrying instead of generic "rations" in an attempt to reinforce cultural identities. A common theme I've noticed in works of fantasy that resonate longer is the author tends to describe the foods the characters encounter in greater detail. Tolkien dwells on dishes, and I often think of this bit from Narnia:
"And immediately, mixed with a sizzling sound, there came to Shasta a simply delightful smell. It was one he had never smelled in his life before, but I hope you have. It was, in fact, the smell of bacon and eggs and mushrooms all frying in a pan."
I've gotten a bit obsessive about the food situation in Vis Major, but it's an important way to delineate cultures.

Then there are mounts for most characters. I couldn't find any rules for managing mounts in Fate so I'm just going to wing it. One of the characters has an imp servitor - this is a more complex Extra that I felt was worth knocking his Refresh down by 1 for. Note none of the other magic stuff costs Refresh, just skills and aspects.

Stress & Consequences

The only thing abnormal here is that the Physical stress track is build on the combination of Blood and Brawn, and the Mental on Ether and Will. This is one of the reasons it can be nice to "dump" a point or two into those skills.


Extracted and stored magic forces in various solutions and salves. Potions are a relatively cheap resource that can get you +1 on a roll, but if you can hold off on dipping into your stock, you can store up enough to try and imbue or enhance an item with them.

1 comment:

  1. Agree on the food details, it really brings the characters to life. Also, love the "turning of the wheel" stunt, makes the advantage of being a watch-and-wait type very tangible.