Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Just a Game - Fate Core Character Creation

These are the rules for creating characters for Just a Game campaigns using the Fate Core rules. They are mostly based on the standard Fate Core game rules.


High Concept: The first thought for a High Concept one might have is to choose based on the class and race or similar selection that their character is playing in the game, however, remember that the concept of this game is about the people playing the games more than it is about their avatars. One character might have an Aspect along the lines of First Time Gamer, someone else might have the concept Full Immersion Roleplayer and a third might have the Aspect Greatest Gamer of the Generation.

Trouble: Just like the High Concept is more about the persona than the avatar, the Trouble should likewise represent the issues that hound the character rather than focusing on flaws in their build. That newbie might be Lost in the System representing a confusion for how to work the game. The roleplayer might have the Aspect Who am I really? while that 1337 gamer might have the Aspect Arrogant to the Core.

Phase Trio: The Phase Trio are not much affected by the setting. The suggestions from Core still hold true. These will often represent relationships with other people in the party or possibly some signature piece of gear that you have acquired somewhere.

It is possible to use most of the skills in the default list in Fate Core to reproduce the abilities of characters and their avatars in the game. There are some differences here and there.
  • Athletics – Would represent a combination of the avatar’s physical capabilities and the ability of the persona to make use of them.
  • Burglary – This is another combination of avatar capabilities, meta-knowledge and personal instinct for using them.
  • Contacts* – This would represent the character’s connections, whether other players or game entities that are more than just bits of data.
  • Crafts – This represents a combination of the character’s understanding of the crafting rules, their willingness to spend time on it and their in-game crafting skills.
  • Deceive* – This skill represents the character’s ability to fool those around them.
  • Drive – This skill would represent a combination of whatever powers the avatar has related to vehicle or mount control, their instinct for that type of gameplay and their interest in it.
  • Empathy* – This skill measures your ability to understand and read the emotions and thoughts of people around you.
  • Investigate – A combination of avatar abilities that might reveal past events, knowledge of the game’s methods and real life investigation skills.
  • Lore – This represents knowledge and education and how relevant their knowledge is to the situation they find themselves in. High Lore typically means lots of knowledge about the game, its systems and its fluff.
  • Notice – This represents the combination of the avatar’s sensory abilities and the amount of attention the player pays to those abilities.
  • Physique – This primarily represents how well built the avatar’s physical resilience and health are. Since most of these are passive, this is one of the few skills that is almost entirely representative of the avatar’s build. However, a high rank in this stat indicates the person puts a lot of concern into building a resilient character.
  • Provoke* – This represents the character’s ability to rouse the anger or fear of people around them.
  • Rapport* – This represents your ability to charm and befriend the people around you.
  • Resources – This skill represents the character’s inventory, any abilities they have for improving bartering, knowledge of which items have the best value and anything else related to the purchase, sale or availability of items.
  • Stealth – This represents a combination of avatar abilities and the player knowledge of how the game works to avoid being seen. Someone without any stealth abilities might still have a high stealth skill because of their understanding of the way the game works.
  • Tactics – This replaces Fight and Shoot and represents both the player’s in-game abilities and their timing at using those abilities in the most efficient manner possible. If desired, this can be split up between Melee and Ranged (perhaps a third time for Special Tactics representing the supernatural/super-science element of various games). It all depends on how much you want to differentiate people
  • Will – This represents the character’s ability to remain cool and collected, resist taunts and other such things. Whereas an avatar or monster ability to induce some in-game status effect relating to anger or the like is more of a physical assault resisted by Tactics, Will deals with resisting things that actually try the mind of the person within the avatar.
* These interaction skills are primarily meant to represent the character’s ability to deal with other entities that have real emotions or even intelligence. Most games you’ll leave in-game abilities to fool, charm or aggro programmed NPCs as uses of Tactics. However, if the game features a large number of pure programs and only a handful actual beings, then you may choose to allow this to represent in-game bluffing, aggro and intimidation skills as well as abilities with other intelligent beings.

Stunts should follow the same guidelines as seen in the Fate Core real book: add a new action to a skill, add a bonus to an action or add a rules exception. So the advice here will not be on mechanics but on concept.
The immediate thought is to design Stunts to represent powerful spells, powers or so on. This overlooks the idea of using Stunts to represent the character’s abilities to deal with the game. For example:
  • Metagame – Your understanding of narrative flow, the game systems and the game fluff allows you to make accurate predictions and form strategies based on that knowledge. When you use Lore to Create an Advantage based on your knowledge of the game’s workings, add +2 to the roll.
  • Exploit Taker – You know a number of work-arounds and loopholes in the game systems that you can use to your advantage. When you invoke an Aspect representing such an exploit to get a reroll and the second roll is less than the original roll, you may take a +1 bonus to the original total instead of accepting the second roll. Doing so causes the situation to change in a way that clears the Aspect from the board until it can be set up again.
  • Fresh Perspective – You are relatively new gamer. This may have even been your first game ever. Because you don’t take the game systems for granted, when you Succeed with Style on Overcome rolls to analyze the way things work, you notice some discrepancy between how everybody assumes some mechanic works and how it really works.
  • Gone Native – You are such a consummate roleplayer that it is sometimes difficult to tell you apart from the natives of the game. You gain a +2 to Create an Advantage actions when using Lore to interact with or pass as one of the natives of the game.
Stunts can still represent particularly potent avatar abilities of course.
  • Tanker’s Resilience – You have built this character to take a beating. You have an extra Mild Consequence for your Physical Stress Track.
  • Jousting – You have developed a fighting style to take advantage over your mobility advantages in almost unique ways. You can use your Athletics skill to make Physical attacks.
Or they can represent your cleverness with social interactions.
  • False Face – You are adept at hiding your true self and presenting the image you want. This could mean a kind person presenting an intimidating demeanor or a cruel person presenting a kind one. Your Social Stress Track is modified by your Deception instead of your Rapport.
  • Guild Politics – You are practiced in reading between the lines of what each of the guilds and their members want out of any particular situation. When you are in a Social Conflict involving one or more guilds, you get a +2 to Create an Advantage rolls with Empathy that are meant to uncover the motivations of those involved.

The Avatar Aspect
A selection of skills can represent any of a number of passive, active, click or toggle abilities and powers. One use of Tactics might represent a fireball spell while another might represent a tank’s taunt ability. Identifying what sort of abilities and powers one player could reasonably possess is the job of the Avatar Aspect. This is an extra that every character will have and, like any Aspect, serves as a general guideline for the sort of powers a particular character might have what sort of powers the character is unlikely to have.

Naming the Aspect
Most MMOs tend to operate on the model set by the Dungeons and Dragons table-top RPG and create characters as a combination of a race and a class. You might have an Orcish Hunter, a Mutant Scrapper or a Centauri Pilot. Other games might replace race with a faction or nation, in which case you might have an American Assault Trooper, Illuminati Troubleshooter or a Templar Healer. Of course, some MMOs might have faction, race and class such as having a Federation Ganymeadan Bounty Hunter or a Free-League Troll Shaman.

In many such games each class has two or three separate directions you can take which can be represented by the Aspect. A Squadsight Sniper would operate differently from a Snap Shot Sniper, for instance.
Some MMOs don’t use a distinct class system and instead allow the players to build their character by training in particular abilities along a skill tree or skill wheel and allowing such skills to be mixed and matched within a set limit. These sorts of systems rarely have pre-set names for the builds, but common builds are often known to the players so the Avatar Aspect might be built out of the build labels used by the players. An example of this would be someone with the Avatar Aspect of Chaos and Blood Tank or Rocketeer Build.

Another option is that their currently available abilities might be limited by what sort of equipment load out they currently have. For example, a character might be a SMG Specialist and have lots of skills related to using sub-machine guns.
The last possibility is that a person has access to every skill in the game and also can use them all at the same time. Again, focus on the main thrust of what the character has learned whether they’ve collected a little bit of everything becoming something of a Jack of All Trades or if they’ve specialized in a particular grouping of skills to be a Tanking Specialist.

Changing the Aspect

In most games, once you choose a race and class for a character, you are stuck that way. You might be able to rearrange (or respec) the choices you made within that combination of race and class, but you can’t change the basics. In such cases, the ability to change a character’s Avatar Aspect would be rare or nearly impossible. The most likely change to Aspect will come when the character cashes in their abilities in order to reassign any talent points or the like. That Orcish Rage Warrior might shift to an Orcish Disciplined Warrior if the character decided that the Discipline tree would work better for them. In some cases, there might be an advanced class that the character might be able to slip into. Perhaps that Elven Monk graduates to being an Elven Ninja for one example.

In some cases, it might be impossible within the game’s rules to respec at all, in which case the ability to change the Avatar Aspect would be similarly rare and limited to the times in the setting when an advancement occurs. For example, when they choose one or another significant class ability or when they earn the requirements for an advanced class. Alternately, someone with a skill at hacking might be able to convince the game that they are a different race/class combination entirely.

Games based on a skill wheel or with abilities unlocked by current equipment load out are capable of being changed much more frequently. For example, equipping a soldier with a sniper rifle and light armor might produce a much different set of abilities than heavy armor with a shotgun. In this case, changing the Aspect might be as easy as making a Lore (for classless skill wheel style builds) or Resources (for equipment triggered abilities). There would likely be some limits. Perhaps the build can only be changed in a particular place or kind of place in the game. Perhaps it can’t be changed while in the middle of combat.

Stress Tracks

Characters should have four Stress Tracks.
  • Health – Modified by the Physique skill, this represents a combination of the avatar’s defensive abilities, armor, hit points, stores of health potions and other such things to combine into their Health Stress Track. Lasting consequences to the Health Stress Track represent damaged gear or depleted stores of expendables rather than actual injuries.
  • Mana – Modified by the Tactics skill, this represents the character’s mana discipline, size of their mana pool and other such things. Various games might call this something different. It might be Ammo in an MMO based on World War II, for example, or one class might call it Endurance or Rage, but whatever it is, this is the fuel for the avatar’s powers. As with the Health Stress Track, lasting Consequences represent damaged gear, expended mana potions (or ammo clips) and the like.
  • Mental – Modified by Will. This represents the persona’s state of mind and mental health. While most games have powers to inflict rage, fear or other such emotions. Those are represented by Advantages placed on your character by the enemies, or vice versa. They are not actually mental attacks and can only indirectly affect one’s state of mind. This Stress Track is meant to trace the mental health of the person behind the avatar.
  • Social – Modified by Rapport. This represents the persona’s reputation with the other people in the games around them. Consequences to this Stress track represent gossip and bad reputations. For example, if a particular person is known as a player-killer it may affect the way other people treat them.

Advancement for Fate Core is standard milestone advancement.

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