Monday, March 31, 2014

An idea for car chases and similar in Fate Core

In response to a thread on Google Plus Fate Core community, try this on for size, somewhat stream of consciousness.  Aspects are in quotations marks.

There are these zones:

Nearly Lost Them
Following Me
Right On My Tail
Right Next to Me
Cutting Me Off

All are presented from the perspective of the chased car. The chased car never moves. Instead, when the drivers of each car roll to move zones, they are always rolling to move the CHASE car, not the car being chased. There is no free zone movement, all zones have a "border" value of the Driving skill of the other driver, either as passive or active opposition.

So, on the Chase Driver's action, he might roll to move from Following Me to Right on My Tail. On the Chased Driver's next action, he might roll to try to move the Chase Driver back to Following Me, or alternatively move the Chase Driver to Right Next to Me, to let him get a sideswipe in or have his friend open up with the "Massive Double-Barrelled Shotgun".

This ends up being similar to a challenge between the two drivers, but also provides some description of the relationship between the two vehicles for actions by any other characters in the vehicles, and also to help frame the use of Aspects. "Big Ole 18 Wheeler" and "Sleek Small Sportscar" will be used very differently in the Nearly Lost Them versus Cutting Me Off zones. Finally, both determine the realm of other actions the Driver might take. When the Chase Car is in the Following Me zone, I may want to try to get some distance and move them back. Or, I might leave them where they are and instead roll Lore to try to navigate into some more favorable terrain for my vehicle, or roll Contacts to see if I have any friends in the area that I could ask for help.

If you can move the Chase Car back from Nearly Lost Them, then you have gotten away. Vice versa, if they are Cutting You Off, their next roll might be to actually force you off the road, or make you stop.

For an extra layer of complication, the GM could have a list of Scene Aspects that would get cycled or randomly chose each exchange in the Conflict. First exchange, the roads are "Tight and Windy", the next "Steep Grade", the next "Straight and smooth", the next "Massive Potholes". This gives the picture of cars travelling both compared to each other, and also in comparison to the surrounding terrain.

For one further layer of complication, assume that if you are braking (e.g. losing speed) as part of the move you are trying to make, if you succeed with style you can move the chase car two zones. For example, if I am the chased car, and the chasing car is in the Following Me zone, I could roll to move that car all the way up to Right Next to Me with a success with style, since I am braking and losing speed to do so.  As another example, if I am the chase car and I am the Cutting Me Off zone, I could move to Right on My Tail zone with a success with style if there is some advantage to doing so; getting out of the way of the chased cars "Front mounted machine guns", or putting my "Ram Plate" between the two of us for some cover.

Finally, it would certainly possible for the roles in the chase to change completely, depending on intent. I could be the chasing car, and have pulled into the Right Next to Me zone, and then suddenly the chased car's "pop-up laser turrets" and "side facing flamethrowers" come out of their concealed receptacles, and I'm thinking this was a bad idea. Suddenly, me in their Right Next to Me zone becomes them in MY Right Next to Me zone. It's all about who is chasing and who is being chased.

This could be fun. Or it could be way too much work.

EDIT: Credit where credit is due, the basic idea of moving the other guy instead of yourself is inspired by the system in Agon, by John Harper.  I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spirit of the Garou: First Play

I had an opportunity to run Spirit of the Garou (click through for rules post), my love song to Werewolf: the Apocalypse written in Fate Core, on the weekend and it was very enjoyable.

The scenario was set in a Sept at the very mouth of the Mississippi River in 1924.  The player characters were part of a pack of that sept, and needed to find out what happened to some kinfolk rum-runners, who had disappeared.  At some point I will post the pre-gen characters and some of the other stuff from the scenario.

Things that worked well..

Fate Core as a system just sings for Werewolf as a setting.  Creating and using Aspects is like the thing you didn't realize was missing from White Wolf's system until you play a game with them, and then you can't understand how you ever lived without them.

One of the reasons for that is that it greatly expands the non-tooth and claw options that Garou have in the game.  It gives them a solidity and weight that in the classic World of Darkness (CWoD) ruleset was just not possible.  As an example; there was a moment in the game where one of the players playing a Lupus Garou named Sandpiper, not the most combat ready of the characters, is trying to save her friend from a dangerous bane-possessed axe-wielding crazy person.  She says "I want to try to grab the axe out of his hands and run away with it."  I say "Cool!  That sounds like a Brawn versus Brawn thing.  Getting your teeth on it won't be that hard, getting it away from him is the tricky part."  Moments later, and after laying some Fate points on the table and a bit of luck, Sandpiper has the nasty, Bane-soaked axe in her mouth, jumping into the murky waters of the bayou with the enraged crazy person with "Disarmed" as an aspect chasing after her.  I then compel her on her "Connoisseur of Aroma" aspect; "That Axe smells grotesque, it's covered in years old blood and filth and is steeped in evil.  There is no way you can keep that in your mouth, you have to spit it out."  She takes the fate point, and now the battle is really on, since the axe is sitting there in shallow water.  Would all of that have been possible in CWoD?  Sure, I guess. But Fate just makes it so much easier, so natural.

Another thing that Aspects make a major difference for are things like intimidation, enticement, etc.  In other words, any mental or emotional attack or control type action or power.  The power of compels and the utility of Well-Being (e.g. Mental Stress) as a venue for attack makes a big difference in the ease with which such things are handled.

Rage and especially Gnosis as skills in the skill pyramid seemed to work pretty well.

Gifts as stunts worked really well.  They seemed more flexible and interesting than they were in original Werewolf: the Apocalypse (W:tA).

The number and type of Aspects seemed just about right.

The Totem aspect was interesting, because all of the characters share it.  The pre-gens all had Coyote as a Totem, whose Ban Aspect was "Unwise Choices".  It would be fun to compel that normally, but the fact that all of the PC's had it made them seem more unified.  "Unwise Choices" was just who they were.

The questions for the different Auspices to determine Renown gains seemed to work very well, although a few need some tweaking or clarification.

The Form Modifiers seemed to work really well.  There was rarely any question as to whether the bonus/penalty applied or not as everyone at the table seemed to have a good concept of the forms and what they would excel at versus what they would have trouble with, and where there were borderline cases the conversation was actually part of the fun.

Things that need work...

The Anger Stress track and Frenzy rules are just wrong, or at least not creating the effect I was hoping for.  The idea is that Anger Stress should be something you are always worried about in a fight, it is constantly increasing and you have to manage it or Frenzy.  In practice there just weren't enough ways to hand it out, and the mechanic of erasing Anger Stress to get a benefit of an extra action worked against the goal.  One potential solution is to simply hand out a LOT more of it, for example, everyone takes one Anger Stress every exchange.  I note that in the original W:tA rules, you only Frenzy when you get four successes on a Rage roll, and that Rage rolls are really not that common, which jibes with my memories of running the game that Frenzy was never really that big a threat.  I would like it to be more of an issue in Spirit of the Garou.  But I also don't want to have multiple currencies; Fate points should be enough.  Already I have Anger Stress acting as an additional currency in the current rules.  This all needs some thought.

When I first created the Gifts, I removed the Rank requirement to learn them because it always bugged met that there was such a limited selection of gifts for starting characters.  Also, as I was translating the Gifts into Fate Core, many of the higher ranked gifts just didn't seem that powerful, they were easily just stunts. However, there were a couple of Gifts on the pre-gens that were originally high rank gifts that were VERY powerful, and probably need to cost more refresh. Examples were Geas and the Living Wood.  Part of the power shift is that for many of the Gifts that originally cost Gnosis I changed it to either a time limit (e.g. once per scene) or a Fate point.  As Gnosis could be pretty hard to come by in W:tA, spending a Gnosis point was a pretty big cost.

I really need to work on my Fate Core rules knowledge.  I was caught out several times forgetting a few things that have changed since earlier versions.  For example, did you know there are no free Compels on an Aspect you have created, only free invocations?  Did you know that you don't get a boost on a Create Advantage roll, you get two free invocations?  I didn't.  Thanks to +Marcus Morrisey for having better rules Fate Core rules mojo than I.

Things that really didn't get tested...

There wasn't much spirit interaction in the session.  Two of the pre-gens that were played had bound spirits, but they didn't really come up much.  

Character creation hasn't been tested at all.


It was awesome!  It was one of the most "werewolfy" sessions of Werewolf I have ever GM'ed, because Fate Core makes so much so much easier.   Aspects were hitting the table like crazy until it was littered with index cards.  No major flaws came up except for Anger Stress as noted above.  I really think the basics of the rule set are solid.  This has a lot more to do with the general brilliance of Fate Core and the general awesomeness of the Werewolf setting than any skill on my part.