Monday, June 23, 2008

Fantasy: Behind

Man, I'd better post something else this month, or I'll only have one post for all of June! Like so many other casual bloggers, it looks like I've fallen a bit behind. I don't know if I really have much of an excuse, beyond being distracted by 4th ed. D&D (I'm only human, people!) and a Star Wars-meets-Paranoia game I have to prep for a local mini-con this weekend.

Here's what I have on my plate, SotC-wise:
  • Rules for making poisons tied to a Poisoncraft stunt under Physik. I don't think they're too complicated, but it also occurs to me that they might make Poisoncraft more difficult than Alchemy, which doesn't seem right at all, so this will probably need another going-over.
  • Mass-combat rules. I've had these hanging around for a while now, and I'm still fond of them, which is... surprising, really. They'll need some tweaking, but they're mostly solid. No minis, maps, or terrain required! Should be a fun sub-game within "SotS." Hopefully I'll get a chance to actually playtest this soon.
  • Revamping skills. I've made some minor changes to the skill list since I last posted it, so it could use another look.
  • Revamping stunts. A bigger project, but also necessary.
  • A spell/potion/item/summoned creature list. Just a matter of throwing some things together. I have a small spell list already, but a larger one should be a good test of how well the system works.
  • Necromancy. I have some vague ideas about how this works, but nothing concrete. I haven't been as concerned about it so far, because, as conceived, it's more of an NPC strain of magic. But it's coming.
  • Monsters. Honestly, I think you could use the Summoning rules and a handful of aspects to build anything you want, but people do usually like to see a bestiary of some kind.

That last one brings me to the biggie: the setting. It's still out there, but it's been a little attention-starved lately as one thing after another has distracted Andy and me from working on it.

Feedback, as always, is welcome. Basically, right now I'm in a place where I'm looking back at what's been done so far and seeing how well it hangs together before charging ahead into new territory, so you comments, questions, and/or complaints would definitely help with that.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Fantasy: Summoning

Here's what I have on Summoning magic so far. In terms of formatting, it's still pretty rough, but hopefully it's clear enough. Basically, it's a riff on the improved companion and minion rules Evil Hat included in "Spirit of the Season," except that I've kept the idea of scope. I like it as a limiter, and a way for the summoner to concentrate on one kind of summoning over another. Most of the Summoning stunts (below) make use of scope in one way or another. Generally speaking, Summoning works like Magecraft, Artifice, or Alchemy, in that you pick a bunch of improvements, here called Traits, and apply them to a blank-slate creature. The more Traits you assign, the more powerful the creature, but the more difficult it'll be to control.

Oh, also -- so taken am I with the No-Stress tweak that I've incorporated it into these notes. Doing so involves invoking the term "Grit," which is in the SotC SRD but which I almost never see discussed. Grit has a numeric value representing how many consequences a creature will withstand before being Taken Out. As a term, Grit doesn't work too well for fantasy, if you ask me, but it's good enough for now and there are plenty of alternative names out there.

Speaking of alternative names, I'm considering dropping the terms "physical consequences" and "mental consequences" and just coming up with one-word names for them, like Wounds and Trauma. Collectively, they'd still be referred to as consequences, but it'd be so much easier to short-hand them with specific, intuitive terms. Any thoughts on that, my enormous reading public?

Anyway, on with the Summoning.

By default:
  • Summoned creature(s) has one scope.
  • One Good Quality creature, one Fair, or up to three Average. Average have one Average skill and no Grit, Fair have one Average skill, one Fair skill, and Grit 1, and Good have one Good skill, one Fair skill, one Average skill, and Grit 2. If the creature has Endurance or Resolve as a skill, it adds Grit, as usual. All starting skills have to be within the creature's scope.
  • Resolve vs. combined quality of all summoned creatures (e.g., two Good creatures means needing to make a Fantastic Resolve effort). If summoner fails, he takes damage equal to combined Quality (resulting in a Minor Mental Consequence if up to three points of damage get through, a Moderate for four to seven, and a Severe for eight or more), and GM has control of creature(s) until the summoner can succeed on a Resolve roll. If/when he succeeds, he can assign the creature(s) a broad or narrow task (e.g., "Kill those men!" or "Break down the doors in this building!" or "Tell me about the Lens of Kheldoss!"), and controls them for as long as it takes to carry it out or until they disappear, whichever comes first. Assigning them a new task requires a new roll, with the same dangers.
  • The summoner can dismiss summoned creatures by making a Resolve roll vs. the highest quality of the creature(s) to be dismissed (e.g., three Average creatures would require an Average Resolve effort, not a Good one).
  • Requires a few minutes by default, +1 time increment/+1 quality of highest-quality creature (so a group of three Average creatures is 15 minutes, one Good creature is one hour) and +1 step/two added Traits. Thus, a +3 creature with two Traits would take a few hours to summon, by default.
  • There's no limit on the number of Traits that can be applied to a creature, apart from the innate practical one (i.e., if you pile too many Traits on, you'll have no chance to control the creature).
  • Summoned creatures attached to a character take damage on his behalf, as minions.
  • Summoned creatures take damage as minions; overflow applies.
  • Summoned creatures stick around for as long as it takes to summon them, to a minimum of a few minutes.
  • The summoner can voluntarily take longer with the summoning ritual to assist with Resolve rolls: +1 to roll/+1 time increment taken, to a maximum of +4.

The summoner may apply any Trait marked with an asterisk (*) to summoned creatures on the fly, after being summoned, for a Fate Point. This doesn't mean that the creature gains new abilities so much as it just makes use of abilities it hasn't previously displayed.


Summoned creature(s) has an Aspect that can be invoked or compelled as any other. Fate Points given for compels go to the summoned creature, not the summoner, and disappear when the creature vanishes or dies.

Increase quality of summoned creature(s) by +1. Note the double-whammy effect on summoning time this causes.

Double number of creatures summoned per application.

Add an additional scope to the summoned creature(s).

Able to act without being attached to summoner -- treated as minion equal to Quality.

Adds an additional skill of the creature's Quality, or two skills of a lesser degree (e.g., a Fair-Quality creature with the Skilled Trait could have either one additonal Fair skill or two additional Average skills). These skills cannot be outside the creature's scope. If this Trait is added on the fly, it cannot improve a skill that the creature has already used. If the summoned creature(s) is attached, it may use a skill on behalf of the character.

The creature can be used as a library equal to its quality.

The creature gains a stunt within its scope for which it qualifies.

The creature has some special means of locomotion -- flight, fast swimming, etc.

The summoner and the creature share a telepathic bond (or something similar) that allows them to communicate without needing to speak as long as they're within three zones of one another.

The summoned creature is especially large, or made up of a swarm of smaller creatures. Either way, it blocks movement. The value of the barrier is equal to the creature's Quality.

The creature deals an additional point of damage on a successful attack. This can be applied multiple times.

The creature has one additional point of Grit.

Stunts (Resolve):
This is the baseline stunt required to work Summoning magic; it covers everything above, and is required for all the stunts below.
  • Quickened Ritual: Pick one scope. For a Fate Point, summoning happens faster than usual with creatures of that scope: -4 steps on time increments table.
  • Improvised Ritual: Normally, summoning requires a specially drawn circle and various occult accoutrements. Pick a scope. With this stunt, the summoner may pay a Fate Point to conduct a summoning without any of these trappings for creatures of the chosen scope.
  • Focused Ritual: Pick a scope. For a Fate Point, a summoned creature (or creatures, if multiple creatures are summoned at once) of the chosen scope receives a bonus of +1 to a single skill. This does not count as a Trait for purposes of the Resolve roll or summoning time.
  • Sustaining Call [Prerequisite: One other Summoning Stunt]: Pick a scope, yadda yadda, creatures of that scope stick around longer than usual: +2 steps on the time increments table.
  • Dominating Call [Prerequisite: One other Summoning Stunt]: When summoning a creature of the chosen scope, this Stunt grants a +2 bonus to the initial Resolve roll. This bonus also applies to any further such rolls with that creature.