Saturday, February 7, 2015

FATEsy Heartbreaker: Stunt Trees and Magic Systems

I have been working on Heartbreaker now for more than a year and I had been stumped on how to do a few key items that failed to come together. First I really dislike the magic system I originally came up with. It works, it's serviceable, but it didn't really evoke the feel I was going for. Another issue I have been having is a method of building a mechanism for procedurally generating setting and history. I want there to be certain themes and elements of the setting without having to nail down every detail. This becomes problematic, but I believe I am getting closer to a solution on that end. My final issue is the name of the hack. Back when I started Heartbreaker worked, it was kind of funny and kind of close to what I was trying to do. Now that I am at something like 24 posts into Heartbreaker, the name doesn't really work anymore. There is a lesson in that, do not make light of naming things. You never know when it will come back to bite you in the butt.

Earlier today I was out walking, I do that sometimes to work through a problem, and I got to thinking about my magic system problem. I wanted a system that would work with the cosmology I had constructed earlier. It is a world of many gods, each with their own idea on how the world should work and what it should look like. The world that exists is a compromise between the the biggest and most powerful gods. The laws of physics operate as they do here on earth. Magic is the ability to circumvent that in some way. The gods use magic to alter the world to fit their needs. The drive their power from the great non-personifications, order and chaos, from which the gods sprang at the dawning of reality. Mortals cannot do magic without a great deal of help. They can draw their power from the gods or from order and chaos themselves.

That in mind, there are three forms of magic that can be learned/harnessed by mortals. Haake allows practitioners to control the very forces of order and chaos themselves to create temporary, but powerful, effects. It is the most difficult form of magic, but it is exceptionally versatile. Bargomen is the making of deals with spirits, gods, and powerful entities with the purpose of gaining information or a permanent magical boon. Deurgy is similar in some ways to Bargomen in that it allows for the channeling of godly magic. It is somewhat more flexible than Bargomen though less so than Haake. It involves making a deal with a specific spirit or god to gain a permanent power that can be refocused as desired, when one has the time. The downside to Deurgy is that you must follow the rules set down in the agreement, usually a set of taboos, though it can become something like a geis or curse. There are two other forms of magic, but they are a bit funky, so I thought to leave them off for the moment. They are items of power and supernal skill. I will work on them in a future post.

I think what I would like to do with the magic systems here is to use a modified version of Jadepunk's asset rules. Here are my initial thoughts:
You may spend one point of permanent refresh to gain the ability to create one temporary spell using the asset creation rules with intelligence as the key attribute. You may gain more spells by spending more refresh. You can only use these spells for one scene, all other rules apply. You cannot gain any of the other magical systems. They simply do not work on you anymore as you are meddling with the source magic. Digging deep into the underpinnings of creation itself.
To gain a godly boon you must make a bargain with a god or spirit. You use the asset creation rules utilizing Charisma as the key attribute. However once the bargain is struck you must spend permanent refresh to turn the created asset into a permanent asset. You may start the game with assets created in this way, though you must still make the rolls required. These are permanent spells etched into your soul and body. They may alter your perception or your body. There are those who have bargained away everything for power and have become monstrous and strange in the process.
Deurgy is a bit strange. The refresh cost is variable as you gain access to a power set or spell theme that is thematically linked to to the god or spirit that you channel. The power is fixed, but can be altered at any refresh scene(when you would gain back your refresh, generally the milestones, though it is possible to have a refresh scene without the milestone. You must take a taboo, geis, or curse aspect to represent your pact with the being. This must be one of your character aspects other than your high concept or trouble. Essentially this gives you a second trouble aspect. Should you go against the taboo aspect, your GM can compel the aspect to remove your power set or spell theme. The only way to get it back is to atone. Generally atonement will be a quest that brings glory or recognition to the god or spirit that grants the power.

Magic spells and powers can be created using any of the features of devices and techniques. Features unique to allies remain so. Finding gods and spirits is an adventure in and of itself. Gods and spirits are not omnipresent, nor are they fully omniscient. They exist in a singular place at any given time. However their power is based, to some degree, on how much control and how known they are throughout the world. This tends to mean that one can find spirits and gods if you do the right research or know the right folks.

So that is my initial take on the magic systems for Heartbreaker. What do you think? Also anyone have any thoughts on what I should rename this project?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A game and an awesome story

Last night I played a one shot of Atomic Robo being run by +Ryan M. Danks. The game was set in fantasy ancient japan and we all played nobles and samurai sent to deal with an upstart warlord and his Oni army. Needless to say, my character was the most awesome. Basically he was a Samurai Elric. We also had a ninja courtier, a reformed Oni, and a mystical alchemist. It was pretty sweet.

Ryan started out the game with a brainstorm scene. It went OK, but I think there were a few issues. The focus of the brainstorm was on getting into the castle held by the Oni. The first issue we ran into with it was some of the players didn't really get what a brainstorm was for. More specifically, they were all role playing wonderfully, and they were trying to come up with plans and contingencies. However a brainstorm requires small step by step incremental fact finding. So when one person said that the castle was out of food, that became the sole focus of the scene. Rather than pulling a bunch of interesting facts out of the air, most of the facts revolved around the food situation. This led to the second issue. Hypotheses does not really work when building a plan. I think that if I were to do something like that again I would need to alter the flow of the brainstorm and definitely alter step five. Brainstorms work really well when dealing with scientific endeavors, no surprise, but it feels off when you attempt to do something else with it(while using the rules as is). All that said the players quite enjoyed it and really fell in love with the mechanic, so what do I know?

The game came to a truly epic conclusion where my character gained an extreme consequence while murdering the enemy leader with my magic sword. It was pretty sweet. Everyone got to bring the awesome and the fight was very satisfying, though I think that there was a bit too much story for a one shot. Were I to run a one shot, I think I would do something like "The Gift" for Burning Wheel. Start the game with everyone having a single goal and a reason to want to achieve that goal in a way that differs from the other characters. I think there was too much going on in the game. We had six advisers and the demon lord to deal with. It would have gone a bit smoother if it had been just the demon lord a pile of henchmen. For short games, I find that brevity and simplicity are the breath of life. Complexity is the death knell of a complete game. Just how I felt though, I could be wrong.

After the game we had a fine conversation about the game and games in general. I also ran into a moment of accidental awesome. One of the players was talking about how much he liked Jadepunk and how much he wanted more example assets and stuff for it. I responded:

Me: "Well, good news Blue Jadetech should be out this week and white jade-"

Him: "what?"

Me: "Blue Jadetech should be out this week and I am writing white-"

Him: what do you mean? What are you talking about?"

Me: "...well Ryan and I write for-"

Ryan: "-we are the co-developers of the line."

It was kind of surreal for me, as I was hanging out with a fan of Jadepunk who did not know that I was a writer for Jadepunk. It is a hard feeling to describe. On the one hand it was awesome to hear something good about Jadepunk. On the other hand, it was really neat to here it first hand and to know that it was honestly meant. On the third hand(its a jadetech prosthetic), people who do not know me are buying and playing my game and that is quite a rush. Overall it made my week.

On that note, it has been a hectic couple of months for me. Naramel Martial Arts Supplement came out for Jadepunk, written by Ryan. He did a fantastic job, really knocked it out of the park. Blue Jadetech comes out as soon as the last piece of arts goes in, so should be soon. And for those of you who wish to dig into the world of Jadepunk a bit more, I am writing a series of connected short stories set in the world, the first of which should be coming out by the end of this week or the beginning of next. If you are interested check out Serial Tales: Iconic Adventures.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Fractured Sol: Plains of Dust

The game of Atomic Robo continues with +Mark Miller +Frank Falkenberg +Ron Frazier +Robert Sims and I. The game really heated up this week. We had the introduction of a new PC, exciting. The beginnings of a new heist, also exciting, and the introduction of a whole bunch of new villains. Overall the game seems to be going well.

A conversation that Ron and I had has made me want to delve a bit into the weapons technology of our setting. He asked what sorts of weapons we used? Whether it was traditional cartridge weapons or if we had lasers or mass drivers, or what. So I thought I would devote a bit of time to the concepts. It seems I can't get past the writing of weapon descriptions. I have spent the last six months writing what amount to equipment guides for Jadepunk, and now I am writing them for our Atomic Robo game. Heh, guess we all have our niches, and this is mine.

Most human weapons are chemically or electromagnetically compelled. By and large they come in two forms. Magnetic accelerators are basically a rail gun that fires small bits of metal at incredible speeds. This works like the guns in Mass Effect only with electromagnets rather than mass effect fields. Recently there gas been some experiments in man portable gravity based projectile weapons, but they are still experimental. The other weaponry used are gyrojet weapons. Mostly they are used for micro-gravity and zero gravity environments, as the kick from a normal gun can be problematic.

The Europeans(from Europa) have never needed projectile weapons as they have Telekinesis and can just accelerate matter on their own.

The Hellions main weaponry are pulsed laser weapons. They have near zero recoil and are intensly powerful, They are not, however, silent. When the laser hits the surface of a target it cooks off a layer rapidly. This causes a popping sound. They are generally set to fire off bursts of three to five laser blasts, in less than a second, blowing a hole in the target up to nearly three inches deep and making what sounds like a loud bang(all those expanding molecules gotta go somewhere).

There are of course loads of other weapons that are used, but these are the primary weapons used by each species.

Here is a recording of the game, should you wish to watch it:

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Jadepunk: Dark Premonitions

As some of you may know I am currently writing a series of short stories for Serial Tales: Iconic Adventures, a Patreon that +Ryan M. Danks and I started. The story series I am writing is set in the world of Jadepunk, so I thought it would be fun to write up the characters of the series as Jadepunk characters. Sort of like a preview, only playable. A playable preview, if you will.

As I wrote her up, I realized that there are going to be some gaps in the narrative here. A lot of her aspects only show up during the story. I guess that is one of the differences between a game and story. In the game you have the character in broad strokes right from the start, whereas in the story you are introduced to the character one piece at a time.

Name: Lacao Keahi
Princess of the border province of Shinkenu, an idyllic island on the fringes of Kaiyumi territory.
Portrayal: Provincial Kaiyumi Princess
Nearly from birth Keahi was raised to rule. Her mother ensured she had the finest tutors and was schooled in all the royal arts. Though only the ruler of a small province, her mother had much higher aspirations for her daughter.
Origin: Trained To Rule
Shinkenu has recently discovered a major vein of red jade in the extinct volcano at the heart of the island. This has led to a great deal of interest by the great nations in the island. Keahi's mother has gone off to the capitol to negotiate new trade contracts, leaving Kaehi to rule for the time she is gone. In the last few days some of the fishing boats have gone missing. Her advisers think it is the weather, but Keahi fears something darker is at play.
Inciting Incident: War Nips at Her Heals
Keahi sees her current situation as a chance to test her theories on leadership. She disagrees with much of how the Empire runs things. Her mother thinks it is just a phase and that a little authority will help get it out of her system.
Belief: Government Must Serve the People
Shinkenu has very few defenses. It had never needed much previously, as they had few strategic resources. Now that red jade has been discovered, the defenses are lacking. Those in charge are all to aware of this.
Trouble: On the Run From Trouble To Trouble

+3 Aristocrat, +2 Scholar and Explorer, +1 Fighter and Scoundrel, +0 Engineer

Lacao Family Armor: Blue jade armor that can instantly form around her at her will. Increases her speed, protection, and combat prowess. One hundred years ago, Kaiyu began to conquer and colonize many of the smaller island nations that surrounded it. During this time a young general named Lacao Heido rose to prominence. Shinkenu and this armor were given to his lineage as a sign of the empress' pleasure.

Function Aspect: Blue Jade Reactive Armor
Features: Focus 4(+2 Explorer and Fighter), Protective 2(reduce shift value of succesful attack against you by two), Sturdy 2(two extra stress boxes)
Flaws: Situational(Can only use explorer and fighter when outnumbered)
Cost: 5

The Seal of Shinkenu: Her mother's seal, used on all official documents. Entrusted to Keahi until her mother's return. The seal represents the imperial power granted to the leaders of a province. Whoever holds the seal, holds the fate of the family.

Function Aspect: Jade Provincial Seal
Features: Focus 1(+1 Aristocrat), Aspect(Symbol of Imperial Authority)
Flaws: Situational(only when dealing with issue related to the province)
Cost: 1

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fractured Sol: Lunatics Unleashed

Last Sunday I ran a game of the Atomic Robo RPG for +Frank Falkenberg +Ron Frazier and +Mark Miller. I think it went rather well.

Our heroes(and I use the term a little more loosely than normal) arrive on the moon and begin their search for December's sister and the secret Martian files she stole. After a fair bit of investigation they discover that she is in jail after breaking into a Lunar Casino. In the course of their investigation they realize that she had not broken in to steal something, but to leave something. POL noticed through his nano-tech sensor network that they were being followed. A bit of a fight begins with a local gang, the Moon Ogres. While the heroes win the fight, but the local constabulary shows up and they get arrested. What follows was a standard escape and flight from justice while holding a conversation with August about the nature of what she is doing. As they made their way out of the lunar plains they find out that what she stole is dangerous beyond all imagining.

We ran our first brainstorm this session, and I think it went rather well. If you would like here is a recording of the game.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fractured Sol: Characters and Addenda

Yesterday I wrote about the world we created during our game of Atomic Robo. Today I would like to share the characters that my players made. They are awesome, characters and players alike.

Player: +Ron Frazier 
Name: P0-7A-1423 (Pol)
Concept: Modular Ship Intelligence
Good Mode Aspect: More Than Just a Talking Machine*
Fair Mode Aspect: Natural Space Navigator
Average Mode Aspect: Backups, Checks, and Protocols
Omega Aspect: A Serious Personal Jackpot

Good(+3) Mode: Aperatoid
Fair(+2) Mode: Pilot
Average(+1) Mode: Science

+5 Athletics, Notice, Physique
+4 Combat, Vehicles
+3 Computers, Engineering, Astronomy
+2 Contacts, Will
+1 All Sciences

Stunts and Mega Stunts
APERATOID STRENGTH (2): Absolutely stronger than any human (Physique), but at a cost; +2 to overcome with Athletics when jumping.
METALJAK (5): Bulletproof, but at a cost; Armor: 2; Weapon: 2 when fighting hand-to-hand; +2 to Vehicles to CA when airborne; +2 to Combat to attack when airborne.
SIGNATURE ASPECT: More Than Just A Talking Machine.
ASTEROID DODGER: +2 CA Vehicles when pulling off a fancy maneuver.ROUTINE MAINTENANCE: Use Physique to remove your own physical consequences, but without the usual +2 increase in difficulty.

Player: +Frank Falkenberg 
Name: Captain Ernest H. Serious (from the good old Earth)
Concept: A Crew of One
Good Mode Aspect: Sometimes violence is hilarious
Fair Mode Aspect: Honestly, would I ever lie to you?
Average Mode Aspect: Scum of the blasted Earth
Omega Aspect: August’s, December’s sister, Ex.

Good(+3) Mode: Action
Fair(+2) Mode: Banter
Average(+1) Mode: Mutant

+5 Athletics, Combat
+4 Provoke, Deceive
+3 Notice, Physique, Vehicles, Will, Empathy, Contacts
+2 Rapport

Stunts and Mega Stunts
Duplication (2) - Proof against physical damage, but not vs. energy weapons; any hit, that would have caused physical stress produces the number of shifts in duplicates. (Dupes are mooks without stress boxes.)
Lend me a hand - Create Advantage by using Combat produces 1 duplicate for a success, 2 Dupes on a success with style.
Friends in low places - +2 to Overcome with Contacts in the seedier side of society

Player: +Mark Miller 
Name: December
Concept: Cold As Ice Former Operative
Good Mode Aspect: Friends? Enemies? Who can tell anymore?
Fair Mode Aspect:
Average Mode Aspect: So many secrets.
Omega Aspect:

Good(+3) Mode: Secret Agent
Fair(+2) Mode: Cryokinetic
Average(+1) Mode: Intrigue!

Skills & Stunts have yet to be fully finalized

Fractured Sol: Beginings

The other night +Ron Frazier+Frank Falkenberg, +Mark Miller, and I all got together via hangouts to play a game of Fate. +David Lee could not make it to the game, though we hope he will be able to play in our future games. We had discussed prior some basic campaign premises and what we were aiming for, we eventually landed on this pitch: Science Fiction Supers set in the future Solar System. We also decided to use Atomic Robo for the system. This will be my first time running this particular iteration of Fate. I hope it goes well.

We dove right into world building, defining the setting as a little over one hundred years in the future and set in our solar system. Ron wasn't quite feeling it at this point, so we went back and forth for a bit on whether to use Earth and Sol or to base it in another system altogether. Eventually we got it nailed down, and here is the setting we devised.

Fractured Sol
In the early 2020s humans began the great space renaissance. technology and desire finally reached a point where space travel was a practical and and profitable endeavor. The terraforming and colonization of Mars began in earnest in the 2030s. By 2050 Mars had a breathable atmosphere and nearly one billion citizens. Work had begun on Venus and scientific stations had been established throughout the system. In 2055 the scientists on Europa made a startling discovery, life existed under the ice. It not only existed but flourished. The following years led to another great discovery, intelligent life existed there as well. The Europeans( a joke name that stuck) had little in the way of technology, but had deep understandings of logic, mathematics, and theory. They managed to trade these skills for access to technology and the outside world. For the next decade humanity and teh Europeans became very close and their societies mingled in interesting and strange ways. During this time humans also made many great breakthroughs in the area of robotics and synthetic intelligence. They could create sentient intellects, though these were not sapient. Robotic assistants and workers boom throughout human space. These became known as the Aparatoi.

Also during this time many great unrests rose up among the workers and the under classes. The leaderships of the various nations began to militarize, aiming at each other and at keeping their populous in line. By 2078 the nations of earth still held all the power in the system. Then came the planet Hellion. Many light years away a solar system was dying. It sun was on the verge of transitioning to a red giant. Though philosophically disparate, the people of the one inhabited planet banded together to save their planet. Utilizing dangerous technologies the developed a method for transporting their planet faster than light to a system that could support them, Sol. By using up all of their dying star's energy they made the trip. Many died, more were injured, but they had made it. The planet Hellion's arrival in the system had many strange effects. First it destroyed a great deal of the Earth's technology and infrastructure, stranding the people there until they could rebuild. The secondary effect Hellion's transportation had was far more subtle and far reaching. The Apparatoi began to develop sapience. Not all of them, and not all at once, but enough. The Hellions, Humans, and Europeans began to develop super powers. Again, not all of them developed powers, but a small number have. No one really understands why or how.

Mars, now cut off from the earth was forced to take a leadership role in human space. Luckily they had been self sufficient for over twenty years at that point. Seeing the arrival of Hellion as a direct attack, the Martians formed a massive fleet to counter this incursion. The First Contact War had begun. It raged for ten years, neither side one though an uneasy peace was arrived at five years ago in 2088. Now the year is 2093 and the Martians and Hellions are the two largest powers in the system. Each stands ready to fight, and each controls large swaths of the inner system and are always pushing further out.

Hellion Xenophobes Are Bad News

Coming threat
Terra Rising

Not All Change is Good
The Struggle For Identity


Dead Rock: Hollowed out asteroid in the belt taht serves as the home base(indipendant and nuetral) for miners, mercenaries and pirates of all races.
Dirty Dianas Bar and Grill: Its the best you can get
Red Dawn: nice hotel, where Martian Ex-patriots hang out
Mars: seat of Human power)
Asteroid Field: pirates, prospectors, and opportunity
Luna: The Lunatics (space hillbillly anrachists) crazy accents and space motorcycle gangs, used to be a popular place to live until the destruction of Earth.
Hellion: Seat of Hellion power
Decimated Earth: Seek to regain all that they have lost and more.

Red: The Lord of The Docks, Nothing Lordly about him, ex soldier from the war, has a bunch o friends from the war, they took the docks and it is easy money
Decker: Martian Ex pat who still keeps a hand in(discretionary funds and such, he hires the heroes every now and again)
August: Pyrokinetic super spy and sister of December(one of the player characters), recently gone missing with some very important files.

If you would like to watch, here is the recording of our session: