Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Gorgon Archer - Fate Core - Character Creation Analysis

Character Creation and the Gorgon Archer

Fate Core is one of the more recent incarnations of the basic FUDGE gaming system and while it has my favorite game play elements, its character generation is not exactly my favorite. I'll likely hit the other versions of Fate later. Fate Core is a sort of toolkit system that at its base level is best suited to pulp and adventure storylines where character competence is highlighted. There are a lot of different variations of Fate ranging from very rules light to very complex systems. Even within Fate Core, there are a lot of different variations with their own systems modeled to fit the desired story. There are five basic categories of character elements in Fate Core: Aspects, Skills, Stunts, Stress Tracks, and Refresh.

The central part of any Fate System are the Aspects, the Skills and Stunts were basically grown out of that core mechanic. Aspects are descriptive labels that indicate something about the character's personality, background, occupation, or any other thing about them. Aspects are actually used to label anything that is true about the game, the characters in it, the places where it is happening and so on. But we are focusing on Aspects as they relate to characters here. 

There are two kinds of Aspects central to every character, one is the High Concept and the other is the Trouble. These aspects don't work any differently than any other Aspect, but they are meant to represent the deepest core of the character and the stuff that will likely only change with some major life-changing calamity. Aspects tend to be at least partially double-edged in that they can both help and hinder the character though some, like the Trouble are more heavily geared toward being problems and others are more geared to benefiting the character. The GM will use the Aspects to judge what is possible for your character, what might be difficult, and what might be easy. Then uses that to determine difficulties. Also, when your Aspects work against you then you receive Fate Points which you can use to leverage Aspects in your favor later. Characters can have up to five Aspects including the High Concept and Trouble, but you only need the main two to start. I'll be using all five.

Skills are the part of Fate Core that admittedly I dislike. In default Fate Core a character has one skill at +4, two at +3, three at +2, and four at +1. +0 is supposed to represent a layman's level with the skill and everything above that is some level of recognizable competence. A lot of "Skills" represent things that aren't really trained skills which is part of why I don't like this part of character creation. The other part is wrapped up in character advancement so I'll save that for later.

Stunts are more directly built of Aspects than Skills were and represents a very specific knack, outlook, or ability that the character has. Stunts in Core come in three basic varieties: they can grant a +2 bonus to a specific use of a particular skill; they can allow one Skill to be used in the place of another Skill for a particular task; or they allow you to break the normal rules of the game in a very specific way once per scene or session. Characters can start with up to three stunts for free. You can come up with these before the game or create them as the game goes on and you have an idea. You can also reduce your Refresh to start with more stunts.

Stress Tracks serve sort of the same function as Hit Points in D&D but they aren't really an direct expression of physical health. In some versions of Fate you might have a different Stress Track for each type of trauma you can suffer: physical, mental, social, spiritual, psychic, wealth, and so on. Fate Core typically uses physical and mental stress tracks only though sometimes uses only a single Stress Track for all potential traumas. Along with Stress Tracks you have Consequences which represent injuries or emotional states that will negatively impact your ability to do things. If you run out of Consequences or Stress to direct stress to then you are Taken Out and your fate is up to the GM. You could simply be terrified or knocked unconscious, or you could go insane or be killed. The Will and Physique Skills increase your Stress tracks based on their bonuses.

Refresh is simply the number of Fate Points you get when the GM determines that a period of significant regrouping has occurred. This usually happens at the beginning of a session, but in some cases you might go several sessions without a Refresh or have two in one session. Some campaigns will cause you to lose excess Fate Points you've acquired when a Refresh happens, but other campaigns allow you to hoard Fate Points from session to session.

Another facet that some games of Fate Core have are called "Extras" I prefer not to use them unless they come with a particular campaign. I like to operate primarily on Aspects alone when I use Fate Core. Technically, this character's gorgon abilities would likely be considered an Extra with the price of devoting an Aspect to describing it, but this feels like a bit of extraneous terminology to me.

Edit: Something I forgot to note when I first wrote this and is considered a major part of character creation in Fate Core. You generally create the three "Other Aspects" along with the other players. The process is to have each player describe a short past adventure where the other character "guest-starred" in your backstory and come up with your Aspects based on those events. This creates links between the characters so they can start knowing each other. In this case, the gorgon probably had scenarios involving her archery, knowledge of forestry and survival, and her stealth.

Gorgon Archer

High Concept: Outcast Gorgon Huntress
Trouble: Cares More Than She Lets On
Other Aspects: A Marksman's Eye; Clever Woodcraft; A Shadow in the Trees

Note: I only took one Aspect related to her nature as a gorgon and made it her High Concept, this is because she doesn't primarily focus on her magical nature but on her physical skills. Her stony gaze and snakes for hair are part and parcel with the word "gorgon" and thus don't need any more. But if I wanted to have the abilities be more reliable and powerful I would have taken more aspects related to them.

Stealth +4
Shoot +3, Notice +3
Athletics +2, Will +2, Physique +2
Fight +1, Investigate +1, Provoke +1, Empathy +1

Slippery Target - Provided you are in darkness or shadow, you can use Stealth to defend against ranged attacks from enemies that are at least a zone away.

Uncanny Accuracy - Once per conflict, stack an additional free invoke on an advantage you've created to represent the time you've taken to line up the shot. (Examples: In my Sights or Taking Aim)

Danger Sense - You have an almost preternatural capacity for detecting danger. Your Notice skill works unimpeded by conditions like total concealment, darkness, or other sensory impairments in situations where someone intends to harm you.

Physical Stress OOO 
Mental Stress OOO

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