Channel A – Fan RPG

Standard

Hello, Tangerine! It’s been a while! One of my favorite card games for the last few years has been Channel A, the anime pitch game. If you don’t know it, it starts off similar to Apples to Apples: the judge sets two cards for the genre, and each player picks up to five cards for the title.

However, where it deviates is what comes next: players then have to pitch a new anime series using that title. They give a quick 10-30 second pitch about the characters, the plot, the twists, the toys; anything to put their story ahead.

I’ve talked with Ewen about how it might be the fun basis for an RPG; imagine, using these cards to create an RPG setting in minutes. Or, better still, why not a whole multiverse of connected anime settings??


Header for Channel A, featuring a Chibi sorceress, a catgirl, and a space ranger.

CHANNEL A – Fan RPG

RPG adaptation by Dave Seidman-Joria
Based on the Card Game by Ewen Cluney – For sale at Evil Hat’s website!

Note: This is a fan creation, and is in no way affiliated with or authorized by Evil Hat. Not for sale.

EDIT: I completely forgot that you can also buy Channel A for Roll20; which is a PERFECT way to segway from game to RPG!

SET-UP

The players should play 2 quick games of Channel; After determining the winning Pitch in round one, set aside the winning title, genre, and all other cards used that round. Play a second game; afterwards, set these cards aside too. All these cards (including unused cards in hand) are called the BOARD.

Players decide amongst themselves which of the two winning pitches they want to use as the foundation for their RPG game and which player is going to be the GM. If there is a tie, the GM gets the tiebreaker vote. The basic pitch should serve as a basis for the story, with players creating new characters to populate it. The winning title cards used in the winning pitch become the TITLE, while the genre cards become the GENRE.

BUILDING CHARACTERS

Each player has 6 character points, which they can distribute between 3 to 5 different stats.

The stats you can use are chosen from:

  • Any number of cards from in the title (Ex. If the title is “Fullmetal Honey Panic Heroes,” skills you can access are Fullmetal, Honey, Panic, and Heroes.)
  • Up to ONE cards from the GENRE (ex. If the Genre is Boys Love and Military, you could pick Boys Love OR Military but not both.
  • Up to ONE leftover card from anywhere on the BOARD (including cards from the other game). Players are discouraged from using the same leftover card another player is using

Exceptions and Clarifications

  • Limits: No single stat can start higher than 3
  • Players aren’t required to spend all their points at set-up; they may save points to create skills mid-game.
  • The GM may allow players to pick a 2nd leftover card for the basic of a stats; this is recommended for titles with fewer than 4 words (or if a player just has a really fun idea that fits the setting); it is also recommended Genre-shift campaigns (see below).
  • If a title card is particularly vague, the GM may require a player specify what it means to THEIR character in some way. (Ex. 2 players pick the title card “Z”; one player picks it to mean “Zebra” because she has zebra DNA, and the other player has it stand for “Zephyr” for having wind magic.)

Sample Build

The Genre was Sports & Steampunk

The Winning title was “Infinite Witches Fury Ring.”

The story is about witches using their magic to power mech suits to fight in colossal wrestling matches.

Two player characters are Genna and Moxie

Genna

Witches+3
Steampunk+2
Queen (Leftover)+1

Moxie

Sports+2
Fury+2
Sailor (Leftover)+1
Infinite*+1

*When asked to explain “Infinite,” Moxie’s player explains that Moxie never gives up; not in sports, life, or anything.

ACTIONS

Actions use a simplified version of the Forged in the Dark system. When you take an action, roll 1d6 for each point of the stat, and pick the highest result.

6 – Full Success – You gain what you attempted (multiple 6s grant additional boost)

4-5 – Partial Success – You gain part of what you want, or succeed at a cost.

1-3 – Bad Outcome – You fail, or succeed at an extreme cost.

If your skill is 0, you roll two dice, and a pick the lower.

The GM may decide that doing something particularly easy or difficult will change the number of dice you roll (increasing or decreasing)

Opposed Action

If you are opposed, the GM also rolls one or more dice for their action, to represent the opposition. The higher roll gets the result marked above; the lower roll is treated as “bad outcome.” If tied, any side that rolled doubles breaks ties. If no tie breaker, treat as partial success for both.

Actions – Alternative

Don’t like the Blades Approach? Why not make use Fate Core, and roll 4dF? Or, simply roll a single 1d6 and add the skill as a bonus?

Campaigns

If running multiple games in the same setting, after each successful adventure, a player may increase one of their stats by +1 (provided it doesn’t go above 3). If they have less than five skills, they can also get +1 in a new stat.

Genre-Spanning Campaign

Channel A RPG is best set up as a dimension spanning; after every story or every session, the characters are sent to another world.

Concept –
>Guardians of the Multiverse, keeping different worlds safe.

>Dimensional sliders, unable to return home.

>Video gamers, reincarnated into an Isekai video game

Alt Set-up – A genre-spanning campaign, PCs should set at least TWO stats using leftover cards from the board.

Shifting Worlds – When it is time to shift to a new world, the players should pick two new genre cards. Then, instead of creating a brand new title from scratch, players should draw new cards, and create a new title that uses both cards in their hand and one or Title card from the last world (think of a it like Texas Hold-Em, with a communal pot of title cards the player should use as a basis).

Shifting points – When going to the new world, each player may shift up to 2 Title skills from the old Title to new title. 

Shifting Genre skills are a little harder – once they move to a new world, any character with a genre skill rolls 1d6:

1-2 – Lost – You lost the skill, and have nothing to replace it at this time. Instead, keep track of how many points you lost; when you go through an epiphany (see below), you get a new skill with that many stat points.

3-4 – Stubborn – Defying all genres, you seem to have kept the genre skill from the LAST world into this one. This means, you might be a Militaristic genius in a maid café world! When you go through an epiphany, you have the option of changing to a new skill.

5-6 Flexible – You have a choice: Immediately shift your skill to a new genre card for this setting, or pick a new discarded title card to serve as a new skill.

Epiphany – PCs gain an epiphany when they undergo something that makes them reassess themselves or their settings. Common influences might include: failing on an important roll and suffering the consequences; remembering what’s important to; being backed into a corner. You can also tie-in genre appropriate tropes for the epiphany: ex. Falling in love for a romance; meeting being beaten in the first-half of a sports anime; combining into a giant megazord in a mech anime.

Advancement and Shifting – If a story is completed, PCs shift worlds and skills, and THEN gain +1 skill point for advancing. This will let them reprioritize their focus, or gain new skills.

Sample Shift

The setting has shifted from Sports & Steampunk “Infinite Witches Fury Ring.”

New setting: Post Apocalyptic Spy-Thriller.

The final match was interpreted by a demonic entity that the was only defeated with teamwork. However, the banish it to the Netherworld resulted in a second portal opening, sending Genna and transferred to a new world.

The setting: a scored world where the last remaining nations are scrambling to find the last remaining plot of fertile land; known only in rumors as Midori. The name has shifted to, “Witches Ring 2nd Stage Midori.”

Two player characters are Genna and Moxie try to quickly acclimate to their new desolate, high-tech world.

Genna’s stats WERE:

Witches+3
Steampunk+2
Queen (Leftover)+1

However, “Steampunk” genre no longer applies here. She rolls a 1; she has trouble adapting, and is stuck with 2 points that she can’t use until she has an epiphany. She also gains +1 point advanced from the last session. She decides to gain a new skill: she picks the card Comic, to show that Genna’s wit is and charisma is getting sharper.

Witches+3
Queen (Leftover)+2
Comic (Leftover)+1
? ? ?+2

Moxie’s stats were

Sports+2
Fury+2
Sailor (Leftover)+1
Infinite*+1

She rolled on the genre ability Sports and got “Stubborn” – she keeps the skill Sports, despite the shift. She chooses to move the Infinite +1 to Ring +1, to show that Moxie’s quickly adapting to being in a close-knit spy ring. She adds +1 to Fury, bringing it to +3

Fury+3
Sports+2
Sailor (Leftover)+1
Ring+1

LAST VARIATION – THE GATHERING

As an alternative to having your characters travel from world to world, why not skip straight to the mash-up?

Set-Up: Each player draws two genre cards and a title that serves as the foundation for their own character. Then, the GM creates one extra world that all of these characters are pulled into. Is it a celestial nexus with a cosmic threat or a tournament of the gods? Do they break the fourth wall and appear in the real world?
It might seem strange that the humble student /doujinshi artist is teaming up with a cyborg monster hunter and a fanservice-plagued sentai hero, but they will no doubt find a way to combine their talents and save the day!


That’s all for this post. All of us at Tangent Artists wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, and game on!

-Dave Seidman-Joria

Quantum Ogre Theory

Standard

This week I learned about an interesting tool / cheat used by games masters: The Quantum Ogre. We’re going to briefly talk about what it is, how you can use it and/or avoid it. And of course, we thought we’d end the article with rules for including an actual reality-bending quantum ogre monster for your players to fight (because why not?)

WHAT IS THE QUANTUM OGRE?

The quantum ogre is a term for an obstacle (generally of light-medium difficulty) that the GM plans ahead-of-time and throws in the players’ path, whichever way they go.

Example: 

GM: Before you stands a crossroads. The path on the left leads down into the valley, directly towards the castle. The path on right slopes upwards to the craggy peak that snake behind the castle keep.

Player: Man, this is tough… I think we go down into the valley.

GM: You come across an ogre!

Player: What would have happened if we went to the right? Another ogre?

GM: Uh, Maaaaaybe…

*GM notes: encounter 1 – definitely an ogre*

WHY DO GMS USE THIS TRICK?

The reasons are simple enough: 

Players like to have choices (or fail that, the illusion of choice)

  • Writing an entire adventure is demanding enough for a GM; asking them to write an adventure where there are 2+ outcomes for each decision, i.e. prepping twice the material that will actually be used… is ridiculous.
  • It makes it easier to work in essentially plot points, thus typing combat with story (ex. The quantum ogre also carries a quantum letter that needs to fall into the players’ hands.)
  • It works

DOWNSIDES OF THE QUANTUM OGRE

Resorting to this trick may make your players feel like they don’t REALLY have free choice; they are essentially on a railroad with only 2 results: a pre-written destination, or their deaths. 

Personally, I don’t mind a little railroading or quantum trickery when dealing with a one-shot, or if the players decide to deviate way off track and I’m improvising. However, when in comes to campaigns, there might be better ways to make the players feel like there are options.

HOW DO WE AVOID THE OGRE CLICHE?

Trick 1:

Whenever the party is about to embark on a big adventure, the GM should ask lots of probing questions about what the players want to accomplish, and what’s their ideal situation; next, break down this ideal scenario into smaller items This will give you several dials you can play with, and inspiration for obstacles. 

Keep in mind the old Project Management Triangle: GOOD, CHEAP, FAST: you can only PICK TWO.

Description: triangle, with the corners labeled “cost,” “time,” “product (scope / quality)”

In other words, you can produce something Good & cheap (but slowly); OR good and fast (but at high cost); OR cheap and fast (but poor quality).

Similarly, if a GM can get 2-4 priorities from the players, the GM can offer choices; each scenarios offers some of those qualities, but not all.

Example: 

Players: We want to approach the castle.

GM: Okay, how do you approach? What do you ideally want to happen and not happen on the way there?

Player: Well, we want to get there without signaling our approach; we want to avoid fights; and we want to get there before nightfall (while the vampire lord is still asleep).

GM: Okay! Before you is a fork in the road. The lower path leads into the valley that stretches before the castle. The path on the right leads up into the craggy hills.

What the players don’t know is that:

  • The path to the left will get them there quickly and without fight, (but they will be noticed, giving enemies inside enough time to get their good armor on)
  • The path to the right will get them to the castle before night and without raising the alarm, (but they they can’t avoid the fight with the ogre ).
  • This also opens up an optional 3rd option, to utilize any spellcasters or rogues: maybe there’s a secret path through the sea caves filled with magical locks*; if the PCs don’t role perfectly, they are stuck opening them slowly over many hours. Thus, they get their stealthily and without fight, (but not before sunset).

*Note: While it’s fun to tease the PLAYERS with an occasional riddle, this is not always required; besides, that is rewarding the players for being smart; sometimes it’s important to let the characters be smart (or dumb) on their own. An obstacle can be as simple as saying, “There’s a magical door in front of you, asking for the correct password. Roll Arcana”; Based on the roll, tell them how many minutes or hours it takes them to research and provide the right word. If you want to make it more dramatic, you can add a penalty for each botched attempt, like a sinking ceiling or a magical attack, but this is not required.

Trick 2 – Don’t Plan an Encounter, Plan a Difficulty

This works mostly for story-games like Fate, but when prepping your adventure, don’t plan a minor battle as “a conflict with a guard with Superb +5 in Fight”; rather, think of it as “An obstacle with a difficulty value of Superb +5.” 

Example: 

GM: You approach the city walls. 

*The GM wants to give the players a mild obstacle, but nothing too impossible; if they have a Great +4 to a skill, they set the difficulty of the first obstacle of this session a little higher, namely Superb +5.*

GM: Do you approach by the city gate, or scale the walls?

*If they go through the front, they will will encounter an ogre sergeant who’s not easily persuaded or beaten; roughly Superb +5 to defend against approach, give or take +1/-1.

Similarly, if they decide to scale the walls, they will find that doing so safely and quietly is very hard; again, difficulty Superb +5.*

Player: Actually, you said that a river ran through the city; I want to go underwater, and try to infiltrate that way.

The GM didn’t think of this; good thing they didn’t spend a lot of time fleshing out that Sergeant! The GM tells them there’s a grate blocking access to the city via the river; It’s possible to squeeze through or pry it open, but the difficulty is (you guessed it) Superb +5!

With non-fate RPGs, this can also be done, but easier when thinking of Challenge Ratings. 

  • The players want to go through the gate? They have to fight a ogre sergeant with CR 2.
  • They want to swim through the river? They are attack by four crocodiles (which add up to CR 2). 
  • Want to open a secret door? If they fail, the infiltrator is hit with a booby trap attack (that happens to be the same as two javelin attacks from a CR2 ogre.)

That’s it for the lofty game theory discussions: here are the rules for a Quantum Ogre (first for D&D 5e, then for Fate Core and Fate Accelerated)

Quantum Ogre

The quantum ogre, or as it’s sometimes called, the Schrödinogre*, is a rare creature born amidst a temporal storm. As such, it naturally shimmers and projects duplicate versions of it, allowing you to peek into alternate timelines to see where the being could have potentially gone. Thus, it’s hard to be sure which of the fractal ogres is the real one unless you observe it closely, or until it brings a heavy club down on your head.

*Credit where it’s due, my wife came up with “Schrödinogre.” She insisted I credit her so people** don’t forget that.

**Mostly Me.


D&D 5e Rules

Large giant, neutral evil
Armor Class 12 (Hide Armor)
Hit Points 90 (10d10 + 35)
Speed 40 ft.
STR
21 (+5)
DEX
9 (-1)
CON
18 (+4)
INT
6 (-2)
WIS
10 (+0)
CHA
8 (-1)
Senses Darkvision 60 ft., Passive Perception 8
Languages Common, Giant
Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)
Natural Mirage.Quantum Ogres always appear in pairs, at least to the untrained eye. Once per day, whenever you encounter a quantum ogre, it is accompanied by an illusionary double; treat it as if the ogre had cast the illusion spell Project Image, without requiring a spell slot, action or spell components. It can be dispelled or sensed just the spell normally allows.
Avoidance. If the Quantum Ogre is subjected to an effect that allows it to make a saving throw to take only half damage, it instead takes no damage if it succeeds on the saving throw, and only half damage if it fails.
Displacement. The Quantum Ogre projects a magical illusion that makes it appear to be standing near its actual location, causing attack rolls against it to have disadvantage. If it is hit by an attack, this trait is disrupted until the end of its next turn. This trait is also disrupted while the Quantum Beast is incapacitated or has a speed of 0.

Actions

Multiattack. The Quantum Ogre makes two attacks with either javelin or greatclub.

Greatclub. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d8 + 5) bludgeoning damage.

Javelin. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 30/120 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6 + 5) piercing damage.


FATE CORE RULES

Quantum Ogre

High Concept: A reality shifting brute

Aspects: Craven Bully; Hard to pin down; Hits like a Bull; Shadow Double* (see stunt)

Fantastic 6+ – Physique
Superb 5+ Fight – Stealthy
Great 4+ Notice, Intimidation, Will

Stunts: 

Natural Mirage. Quantum Ogres always appear in pairs, at least to the untrained eye. Treat it is if there is a second ogre, which can only interact in non-physical ways (ex. Intimidate, Notice); once a character successfully attacks the ogre’s double, you may compel the Shadow Ogre aspect to have the attack automatically fail (however, the player gains a fate point). Alternatively, you may have the attacking player make a successful Notice roll, to overcome a Difficulty of 5; if they succeed, they may forgo the fate point and take an alternative action this turn instead. Either way, the double is revealed to all characters nearby, and it can take no actions except moving around.

Avoidance. If the Quantum Ogre is subjected to an effect that allows it to avoid harm. It has armor +1 (ignoring the first stress from each attack).

Displacement. The Quantum Ogre projects a magical illusion that makes it appear to be standing near its actual location, causing attacks to falter. When defending against any fight, shoot, or magical attack, the Ogre may defend with the Stealth skill and gains +2 to the result. It may not use this stunt if it was already hit by an attack this round, or has an aspect that hinders it’s abilities (ex. Chained to the floor; blinded by sand.)

Bitter Rage. Once per round, if an Ogre attempts an attack against one character and was not successful, the GM may pay a Fate point to have the Ogre take an additional attack action against another character.


FATE ACCELERATED

Quantum Ogre

High Concept: A reality shifting brute

Aspects: Craven Bully; Hard to pin down; Hits like a Bull; Shadow Double* (see stunt)

Superb 5+ Forceful
Great 4+ Sneaky
Good +3 – Quick, Careful

Stunts: 

Natural Mirage. Quantum Ogres always appear in pairs, at least to the untrained eye. Treat it is if there is a second ogre, which can only interact in non-physical ways (ex. Intimidate, Notice); once a character successfully attacks the ogre’s double, you may compel the Shadow Ogre aspect to have the attack automatically fail (however, the player gains a fate point). Alternatively, you may have the attacking player make a successful Notice roll, to overcome a Difficulty of 5; if they succeed, they may forgo the fate point and take an alternative action this turn instead. Either way, the double is revealed to all characters nearby, and it can take no actions except moving around.

Avoidance. If the Quantum Ogre is subjected to an effect that allows it to avoid harm. It has armor +1 (ignoring the first stress from each attack).

Displacement. The Quantum Ogre projects a magical illusion that makes it appear to be standing near its actual location, causing attacks to falter. When defending against any fight, shoot, or magical attack, the Ogre gains +2 to defending with Sneaky. It may not use this stunt if it was already hit by an attack this round, or has an aspect that hinders it’s abilities (ex. Chained to the floor; blinded by sand.)

Bitter Rage. Once per round, if an Ogre attempts an attack against one character and was not successful, the GM may pay a Fate point to have the Ogre take an additional attack action against another character.


That’s it for today. If you like the D&D version, you can also find it at DNDBeyond and add it to your campaign. As always, please share, subscribe, and game on!

-Dave Seidman Joria, Tangent Artists

Gallery of Rogues – More DnD Rogue Subclasses for 5e

Standard

Hello again, Tangerines! We’ve been toiling behind the scenes on more Rogue Subclasses for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. Want to sneak a peek? Well, sneaking is what rogues are all about.


FOOTPAD

Writer’s Note: The Footpad is an attempt to add some more hand-to-hand Fighter elements. It includes skills that work with a higher skill, as well as things to pick up Dex, should it be lagging behind.

LevelFeatures
3rdBlunt Strike, Skilled Fighter
9thDouble Attack
13thReliable Talent
17thStunning Blow

Blunt Strike

Starting at 3rd level, you can make Sneak Attacks using non-finesse melee weapons, as well as with thrown weapons.

Skilled Fighter

Starting at 3rd level, you may choose a martial melee weapon; your rogue is proficient in that weapon. 

Double Attack

Beginning at 9th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn. (Reminder: you can only once Sneak Attack once per turn).

Reliable Form

Starting at 13th level, you may pick one: Strength Checks or Dexterity checks. You may use Reliable Talent on any non-skill ability checks. (Ie. You can treat a d20 roll of 9 or lower as a 10.)

Stunning Blow

Starting at 17th level, when you attack and hit a creature that is surprised, it must make a Constitution saving throw (DC 8 + your Dexterity modifier + your proficiency bonus). On a failed save, the creature is stunned until the end of your next turn.


HIGHWAYMAN

Writer’s note: the Highwayman is all about mounted combat. The addition of Steed Summoner is really to tackle the biggest problem with mounted characters; that it’s sometimes hard to bring a horse with you, so why not have a magic steed you can summon anywhere? The Cunning Disguise is just a flavorful twist that lets a rogue live a double life: as a rogue, and as an “honorable subject.”

LevelFeatures
3rdSteed Summoner, Born to the Saddle
9thCunning Disguise
13thMidnight Rider, Bonus Proficiency
17thStuff of Nightmares

Steed Summoner

Starting at 3rd level, you gain the spell Phantom Steed, which you may cast without spell slots. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again (except to end the spell and dismiss) until you finish a short or long rest. If you own a steed already, if the GM allows, you may spend 10 minutes and bind your steed as a ritual, allowing you to dismiss and summon your steed instead; a real steed summoned this way doesn’t disappear after an hour or if it takes damage. 

Born to the Saddle

Starting at 3rd level, your mastery as a rider becomes apparent. You have advantage on saving throws made to avoid falling off your mount. If you fall off your mount and descend no more than 10 feet, you can land on your feet if you’re not incapacitated.

Finally, mounting or dismounting a creature costs you only 5 feet of movement, rather than half your speed.

Steve’s Notes 05/17/2020: I haven’t looked but if there is a penalty for firing a bow while mounted I think we should add to the list that the Highwayman suffers no penalty for that

All the rules I’ve read for mounted don’t mention missiles or shooting at all, so I think we’re good. 

Cunning Disguise

Starting at 9th level, you may spend 20gc to purchase a highwayman disguise; this comprises a mask and other mundane items that obscure your face and shape, and can be worn over armor. Whenever you change out of the disguise, no one will recognize you in normal garb, or vice versa. Anyone investigating you will not suspect you more than others, and you have advantage on any Charisma (Deception) check you make to avoid detection. This does not apply if there are obvious facts to link the two together (ex. Someone finds the disguise in your bag; a colleague addresses in both guises by the same name; you ride a stolen horse past it’s owner). You may only create one highwayman persona at a time, but you may buy additional backup disguises at 20gc apiece (should you need to stash them).

Midnight Rider

Starting at 13th level, any mount in your control may take the Hide action (provided there’s suitably big enough cover). In addition, if you have sufficient cover (ex. Foliage, darkness), you may move at normal speed on foot or mounted and still move stealthily.

Bonus Proficiency

Starting at 13th level, you gain proficiency in one of the following skills of your choice: Animal Handling, Intimidation, or Persuasion. 

Stuff of Nightmares

Starting at 17th level, whenever you use Steed Summoner to cast Phantom Steed, you may instead summon a single Nightmare fiend, which is loyal to you. It does not disappear when attacked, and can be summoned for up to 3 days at a time before it must be resummoned.


SABOTEUR

Writer’s notes: ideally, the saboteur is a rogue that focuses less about stealing and more about deconstructing; laying bombs, taking machines apart.

LevelFeatures
3rdDisarm Trap, Deconstruct Opponents
9thBuild Explosive
13thUnderminer
17thDeconstruct Objects

Disarm Trap

Starting at 3rd level, if your character is aware of a trap that has not been triggered, they may choose one: to gain advantage on any Intelligence (Investigation) check to deduce how to disarm it OR may gain advantage on the Dexterity check using thieves tool to disarm it.

Deconstruct Opponents

Starting at 3rd level, whenever you make a Sneak attack against a creature that is a construct, you deal an extra +1D6 damage.

Build Explosive

Starting at 9th level, you gain proficiency with the alchemist’s supplies. In addition, if you have alchemist’s supplies on you, after finishing a long rest, you gain 2 Saboteur bomb; choose which type it deals from the following: acid, bludgeoning, fire, or thunder.

Saboteur bomb – weigh 1 lb

As an action, a character can light this bomb and throw it at a point up to 60 feet away. Each creature within 5 feet of that point must succeed on a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw, taking Xd6 damage of the chosen type on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one, where X is your proficiency bonus. 

The saboteur bomb can also be rigged with a longer fuse to explode after a set amount of time, usually 1 to 6 rounds. Roll initiative for the bomb. After the set number of rounds goes by, the bomb explodes on that initiative.

A rogue will not carry any more than 6 saboteur bombs on them at a time; any more than this is tempting fate.

Underminer

Starting at 13th level, you gain proficiency with Mason’s Tools, and also gain tremorsense of 30’. In addition, if you have a digging tool (shovel, miner’s pick), you gain burrow speed 10’ (does not allow you to dig through solid rock). 

Alt – once per turn, may gain burrowspeed on one move action; must end your above ground unless you have 

Alt – If you have a digging tool and are on loose ground (sand, dirt, mud), as an action, you can dig a 5’x5’ foxhole. Once dug, it provides 1/2 cover to any medium or smaller creature laying down on it, and can be used to justify hiding.

Deconstruct Objects

Starting at 17th level, whenever you attack an inanimate object with an appropriate weapon or tool (ex. A lock pick; an explosive; a miner’s pick), you may choose one: 

Add +X to your attack roll, where X is equal to your Sneak Attack dice

Deal extra damage to a successful hit, as if you had made a Sneak Attack. 

You can choose to use this feature before or after the roll, but before any effects of the roll are applied. As normal, you can only use Sneak Attack once per turn (which includes using it in this way)


GAMBLER

Writer notes – The concept is to use each gambling as inspiration:
The Deck player focuses more or social interaction
The 3 Card player is about illusion and misdirection (mostly defensive)

The Dice player is about attacking and dice manipulation

LevelFeatures
3rdLying Face, Game of Choice Ability I
9thGame of Choice Ability II
13thVersatile Gamer
17thGame of Choice Ability III

Lying Face

Starting at 3rd level, you can cast the cantrip Prestidigitation; however, you can only use this to change the marking of a card, die, or similar gaming piece, and only to make it match a marking you are familiar with (i.e. appear as a different card or die roll). You can only do this with an object you can touch.

Game of Choice Ability I

Starting at 3rd level, pick one of the following tools: Playing Card set, Three Card Ante, or Dice set. You gain proficiency in that tool. In addition, that tool becomes your Game of Choice. Depending on which you choose, you will gain a special ability at 3rd level, 9th level, and 17th level. You will be able to pick a second Game of Choice at level 13. You must have the tool on you in order to use the ability.

  • Three Card Ante – Find the Object – You gain the ability to cast the cantrip Minor Illusion; however, when you do, you can only create image illusions of objects (i.e. not sound), and only by copying an object you can see. When you use this, you create not one but 2 illusion copies of that object.
  • Playing Card Set – Read the Player – When you gain this ability, pick one: ever you’re in a social situation with a humanoid, you gain advantage when using Insight (Wis) OR any opposing creature attempting to use Insight you is at a disadvantage.
  • Die Set – Lucky Strike – Whenever you have advantage on an attack roll and roll a double on the two d20s, if the attack hits, you may deal an extra 1d6 damage.

Game of Choice Ability II

Starting at 9th level, you gain an additional ability based on your Game of Choice.

  • Three Card Ante – Mirror image – You cast the spell Mirror Image at the lowest level without requiring spell slots or spell components. When you cast this, you only create two duplicates instead of three. Once you use their ability, you may not use it again until you have taken a short or long rest.
  • Deck of Cards – Sore Winner, Sore Lower –  After you have won or lost wager with another humanoid, if the wager is something of moderate value (ex. 5gc or more; a small favor), you may influence up to X targets who wager against you, where X is your proficiency bonus. Each of those targets must make a Wisdom saving throw or be influenced in one of the following ways:
    • You lost the wager: The target is charmed by you for 1 hour or until you or your companions do anything harmful to it. The charmed creature regards you as a friendly acquaintance. 
    • You won the wager: You compel the target into a duel. It has disadvantage on attack rolls against creatures other than you, and must make a Wisdom saving throw each time it attempts to move to a space that is more than 30 feet away from you; if it succeeds on this saving throw, this ability doesn’t restrict the target’s movement for that turn. This effect ends after 1 minute, if you attack any non-compelled creature, if a creature friendly to you damages the target or casts a harmful spell on it, or if you end your turn more than 30 feet away from the target.
  • Dice Set – Reckless Gambit – When you make your first attack on your turn, you can decide to attack recklessly. Doing so gives you advantage on melee or thrown weapons attack rolls during this turn, but attack rolls against you have advantage until your next turn.

Versatile Gamer

Starting at 13th level, you gain a second Game of Choice (i.e. you get all access to all Game of Choice Abilities for that specialty, if you are at the appropriate level).

Game of Choice Ability III

Starting at 17th level, you gain an additional ability based on your Games of Choice.

  • Three Card Ante – Major Image – You may cast the Major Image at the lowest level without requiring spell slots or spell components. When you cast this, you only create two duplicates instead of one. Once you use their ability, you may not use it again until you have taken a short or long rest. 
  • Deck of Playing Cards – Deck of Illusions – You may treat any deck of cards as if it were the magic item, Deck of Illusions. You may only reveal one card this way at a time. Once you successfully use this ability, you may not use it again until you have taken a short or long rest.
  • Dice Set – Double Trouble – Whenever you have advantage on a roll, and roll double 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9, you may add the results together.  

That’s it for the prototype Subclasses.

Steal This Tome: A Book of Scams, Alibis, Tells, Knaves, and Hidey Holes

As a quick reminder, Tangent Artists has a system agnostic Guild Guide book for Rogues: “Steal This Tome.” This humorous guide includes confidence scams, disguises, common poisons, hideouts, and a d20 table to generate alibis. The link above leads to the ebook, or you can buy a physical copy on Storeenvy

What are your thoughts? Are of them seem too weak, too strong, or just right? Which one excites you?

As always, thanks for reading, and Game On!

-Dave Joria

Additional Material from Steve Moyer

WHISPERS IN THE DOORSTEP OF THE MOUNTAIN OF MADNESS – A Dark Comedy MicroRPG

Standard

WHISPERS IN THE DOORSTEP OF THE MOUNTAIN OF MADNESS

A Cosmic Horror Dark Comedy Micro RPG for 3-11 players

By Dave Seidman Joria

~~~~~~~~

RPGs are funny; even though players know they are playing fictional characters, and thus are not at risk themselves, they will still act cautiously. There is a strange paradox of embodying adventurous characters who live dangerous lives, yet they still want to shelter them and be cautious.

So I had a strange idea: what if player death wasn’t something to be avoided, but embraced.

Thus, I’ve made a MicroRPG using a new, untested system:


The Inevitable Doom System

Material

1d6s, paper, writing utensils. (The setting below also requires lots of slips of paper).

Characters

The players should collectively create a team of 5-10 playable characters. A small group of players (2-4) are encouraged to create 2 or 3 pcs each, while a large group of players (6-10) will only create one character each.

Each player creates a character with a name (don’t get too attached; they’ll be dead soon enough). They get to pick one stat to specialize in; this is the Specialty.

Examples: Mind, Body, Soul, Gut; Quick, Clever, Forceful, Flashy, Careful

Also, pick a Personality Flaw: ex. Vain; Too Curious; Never Back Down from a Fight

Equipment: Each player has two packs:

A basic pack, with generic things.

A specialty pack: filled with any special items related to their specialty.

Players don’t need to declare their items beforehand; they just naturally have them unless they are used up or lost.

Play

The game consists of multiple Encounters; each encounter includes some obstacle or threat facing the team. At each Encounter, the GM will ask: What does your character do?

Each player will pick at least one of their characters that they control. They will decide how they react, and share it; this may be said aloud, or written down and then said aloud, depending on the scenario (see below).

The GM decides the order of actions (use common sense) and asks the player to roll a specific number of one-sided dice (d6s).

  • If the action matches their specialty, they roll 1d6.
  • If the action does not match their specialty, they roll 2d6.
  • If the action is particularly dangerous (ex. Jumping off a cliff; Punching an Elder God), the GM may ask them to roll 3 or more d6.

Results:

  • No 6s: If a roll consists only of dice with the values 1-5 (no 6s), the character survives. Depending on how they roll (low good, high bad) or the difficulty of the action, the GM can decide if they succeed effortlessly, or at some cost (ex. Costs include: they use up their rations; they lose all specialty items; they’re injured; they trigger a random encounter).
  • At least one 6 is rolled: If the character rolls at least one natural 6, the character meets their Inevitable Doom.

If more than one character rolls a 6 in the same encounter, the PC that rolled highest dies. In case of a tie, they both die! Horribly. Or suffer something worse than death (let the player pick).

The player is encouraged to come up how the character dies; if a cause of death is not clear, the GM is encouraged to help. (If a good reason isn’t obvious, see “Stupid Deaths” below).

Sidebar – The “Me First” Rule! – If another player INSISTS their character die instead (as it fits they story better), they can volunteer to die instead.

If there’s at least one surviving member of the party, they managed to overcome or sidestep the obstacle of the Encounter and move on to the next Encounter.

Continue going through all encounters until all characters are dead. Bonus: Players pick the favorite death (not including their own).

Sidebar – Spread the Love – In some scenarios, a player with no surviving PCs may have nothing to do. If so, players with 2+ characters are encouraged to share their survivors. (This is not the case in the following scenario, where players without characters are still involved as Whispers).


SCENARIO – WHISPERS IN THE DOORSTEP OF THE MOUNTAIN OF MADNESS

The following scenario is half “man-vs-nature” struggle in the Antarctic, and half cosmic horror. It’s also a parody of Lovecraft (with hopefully none of the racism).

Material – 1d6s, slips of paper (or 1/2 or index cards)

Pre-game

Pass around the random question chart.

Each player rolls, picks that question, and writes a brief (1-2 word) answer.

  1. What’s a word that makes you squeamish?
  2. Name an animal whose name starts with the same letter as your last name?
  3. What’s the dirtiest word you would say in front of your grandmother?
  4. What did you eat for lunch?
  5. What is your favorite color?
  6. What’s something you feared as a child?

The GM keeps these slips and sets them aside, these the Back-up Suggestions.

Plot

Decades ago, a strange pyramid was reported in the Antarctic, hidden inside a mountainous crater. A team went to find it, and never came back. It was assumed to be an optical illusion and a fool’s errand.

But now, the year is 1980. New reports of the pyramid are circulating, captured by spy planes and fuzzy satellite pictures. It could be a natural phenomenon. It could be the breakthrough of the century. It could be your doom.

You are the team sent to find out if the pyramid is real. Oh, and by the end of the game, every one of you will die.

Character Creation

Players will create characters as above. Suggested Specialties for this scenario:

STANDARD EXTRA
Science! Wilderness
Action! Cowardice
Occult Greed
Heart Handiness

A basic pack: generic items for surviving the Antarctic: rations, flashlight, rope, radios, etc.

A specialty pack: filled with any special items related to their specialty (ex. Science has instruments and satellite phone; Action has a rifle and dynamite; Occult has dowsing rods and wards; Heart has med kits and pictures of family, etc.).

Play

1st Encounter

Sidebar – For suggestions on the Scenario, see the Suggested Encounters Table

During the first encounter, the GM will ask players to react to the Encounter. However, the players will write their reactions on slips of paper; these are called “Reaction Slips.” After everyone is done writing, the players reveal what they wrote and roll.

After the end of the first encounter, the GM collects all Reaction Slips to the side, but does NOT discard them.

2nd Encounter

Starting with the 2nd encounter, the teammates start hearing unearthly voices in their head.
The GM will describe the 2nd encounter as they did the 1st. The players will write their responses and keep them hidden.

The GM, however, will also submit a suggestion slip; this is called a Whisper. A Whisper can come from a discarded Reaction Slip, from a Backup Slip, or from the GM themselves.

The GM then picks a random player; they give that player the slip. The player shuffles their Reaction with the Whisper, picks one at random, and follows the action on it. If it is the Whisper, the PC must attempt to do the substituted action, rolling like normal. Once a “Whisper” has been used by a player, discard it completely.

If the PC’s action did not kill the PC but did not clear the obstacle, the GM may ask that the PC complete their original intended action, rolling as normal. Alternatively, the GM may just decide that the obstacle is cleared (ex. Another pc might have resolved it during their action).

Using the Backup Slips: A GM may give a Backup slip as a whisper. These are vaguer than normal; when these are revealed, the PC treats it as a dangerous threat, rolling 3d6. Using the slip as inspiration, the player and GM should work together describing the dangerous, compulsive action the PC took (if they survived), or the bizarre threat that killed them (if they died).

Ex. The PC reveals a Whisper Backup Slip that says “Red.”

If they live:

  • The player may decide that their character became enraged and ran off on their own.

If they died:

  • They might explain how they exploded (at some badly cooked shoggoth?)
  • They hallucinate the color red, causing them to walk into a chasm
  • They get crushed from a falling red Chevy Corvette (nothing’s too weird for this game.)

3rd + Encounters

The GM continues with the adventure. They may give out an increasing number of Whisper slips (i.e. 2, 3, 4) with each encounter until at least 1 player is dead. The GM should do their best to give out whispers evenly, avoiding hitting the same person multiple times in a row.

Special Scenario Rules – Voices from the Dead

When a player dies, they are not out of the game; just like the GM, they are now passing Whisper slips on to the players. They can do one of the following:

  1. Pass out a used Reaction Slip. (This can be a slip that was written by any PC; if it is from their dead character, it is quite flavorful).
  2. Roll a D6: on a roll of 1-3, they write a harmful action, inspired by the dark forces of the mountain. On 4-6, they write a helpful action (at least, what their dead character would think of as “a good action”)

The GM and dead players should distribute the slips as evenly as possible between the living players.

Suggested Encounters

The following are inspired by Lovecraft’s Mountains of Madness; however, do not be afraid to stray all you want.

  1. Lost in the Artic snowstorm – Your transport breaks down partway to the mountain.
  2. Climbing the mountain – Scaling the frozen icy mountain to the peak.
  3. Opening the Cyclopean Door – Before you stands a massive door, too large to be made by humans. It is covered in eldritch language. How do you open it? SHOULD you open it?
  4. Albino Cave Penguins – You encounter giant, flesh eating Albino Cave Penguins, with electric tentacles.
  5. Falling Stalactites – Your encounter with the penguins has loosened the ceiling, and you must run to avoid being impaled by falling icicles.
  6. Cave In – There’s a cave in, and the way before you and behind are blocked by rock and ice.
  7. Don’t Wake the Sleeping Elder Thing – You find a lair of sleeping elder beings, which looks like frilled cucumbers.
  8. Shoggoth Attack – A giant, indestructible Shoggoth, the slug-like rebel servant of the Elder Things
  9. Mental Barrage – You come to the realization that humans were crafted by Elder Ones to serve as a food stock for their Shoggoth workers. Everything you know is a lie!
  10. Albino Cave Penguin Cult – Turns out the Cave Penguins were secretly cultists all along! They are not happy you interrupted their summoning.
  11. Elder God Awakens Returns – An Old One has returned, risen from the frozen wastes! (Pick one: might be Yog-Sothoh, or Cthulhu; maybe both, and they’re having a slap fight. If any PCs aren’t dead by now, have them roll a fist full of d6s).

Random Encounters (To Throw in when Flavorful)

  • The Group is Split – How will you find each other?
  • Dark, Cold and Hunger – You have lost your rations and are starting to grow hungry and cold
  • Sudden but Inevitable Betrayal – One of you is Secretly a Mi-Go, come to collect your brains.
  • Lost Something Vital – You lose something vital to the mission (ex. A key, a map, your satellite phone to signal the rescue team). How will you recover it?
  • Injured – Someone’s leg is badly hurt. Can you save them?

 

Stupid Deaths

Need a Stupid Death that can be used anywhere? Here are a few:

  • Alien Possession – Your mind and body functions are taken over by a Yith. Sadly, the Yith doesn’t realize that you need to breath, and you suffocate to death.
  • Ghouls – A pit opens beneath your feet, and you fall into a cavern of ravenous ghouls. (I hate when that happens).
  • Existential Crisis – You suddenly remembered that you don’t exist. You instantly cease to be.
  • Glowing Rock from Out of Space – You are crushed by colorful meteor that happened to land on your exact location. You are dead (or, worse still, become mutated into a half-dead monstrosity that serves as the next Encounter).
  • Finally Caught You – The grizzly, ghoulish hound that has been tracking you for years finally catches up with you, tracking you all the way to Antarctica. It tears you apart in seconds. Guess you shouldn’t have stolen that Jade Amulet from that grave all those years ago!
  • Light Reading – You pull out your “Necronomicon – Pocket Edition” and read a few pages before your mind dissolves.
  • Grizzly End – By some strange compulsion, you pick a fight with a polar bear. You lose badly. How the polar bear wound up at the SOUTH pole shall remain a mystery.

Got a chance to try it out? Any feedback? Please let us know. Until then, Game on!

-Dave Seidman Joria

Kobolds Galore! – 5e and Fate Core

Standard

Morning, Tangerines! This post, we thought we’d try to mix it up. Lately, I’ve been playing around with Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, and I created a few new sub-races for Kobolds. However, they were looking so lonely, I thought I’d keep it going; so I made some quick rules for using Kobolds in Fate Core.

DUNGEONS & DRAGONS CONTENT

KOBOLD SUBRACES

(These subraces require the reader to own the Kobold rules from Volo’s Guide to Monsters)

MOUNTAIN KOBOLD

(Note: this is the default Kobold as found in Volo’s Guide).
Modifiers: +2 Dexterity, -2 Strength
Darkvision, Sunlight Sensitivity
Grovel, Cower and Beg – See Volo’s
Pack Tactics – See Volo’s

DRAGONWROUGHT / DRAGONSHIELD KOBOLDS

The dragonwrought kobolds are unique, in that they bear some semblance of coloration, much like a dragonborn; this proves their lineage to the dragons may bear some creedance. Dragonshield kobolds are similar, except that they were born normal kobolds, but were gifted by dragons to make them better guards for their eggs. They are typically stronger, revered in their tribes, and have longer life spans.

Choose: +2 Strength, +2 Charisma, or +1 to each.
Limitations: Cannot use “Grovel, Cower and Beg”; you’re too proud!

Abilities:

Dragon Resistance: Pick a dragon lineage:

Black / Copper Acid
Blue / Bronze Lightning
Red / Brass / Gold Fire
Green Poison
White / Silver Cold

You have resistance to the damage type associated with your draconic ancestry.

Dragonborn Related: If your group uses the optional Feat rules, when you take a feat, you have access to Feats with the prerequisite “Dragonborn.”

URD KOBOLD

You are a special kobold, born with the unique feature of wings. This makes you a pariah in the community, for your supposed link to the a renegade god.

Choose: +1 Intelligence, or +1 Wisdom

Limitations: May not use Pack Tactics against an enemy who is within 5’ of you; this does not include enemies that are the target.

Flight: You gain a flight speed of 30’, provided you are not wearing medium or heavy armor.

CITY KOBOLD

Choose: Only +1 Dex (instead of +2). However, you gain +1 to any Skill

Limitations: You don’t speak Draconic.

City Folk: You have a different dialect that other Kobolds spot and resent. You are at a disadvantage when using Deceive to convince other non-city Kobolds you’re one of them, and disadvantage when using Persuasion against non-city Kobolds.

Special Rules: You may start with one feat from the feat chart; in addition, you may pick feats that would normally require the prerequisite “Human.”


That’s it for D&D stuff. As a little bit of a plug, don’t forget that Tangent Artists also does webcomics, including the swords, sorcery, and sarcasm series, CRIT!

You can read it on Crit Webtoon and our Crit Webcomic, including the very first adventure, which features this little guy.

Crit-009

 


FATE CORE CONTENT

Kobold Player Character

High Concept: Kobold Rogue
Trouble: Fight or Flight
Aspect: Coldblooded (but not Heartless); Team Player
Country Kobold: Stranger in a Strange Land
Dragonwrought: I’m the Big Fish in My Pond
Urd: I Fly Solo
City Kobold: Need to be Useful

Great +4 – Athletics
Good + 3 – Stealth, Shoot
Fair +2 – Fight, Notice, Deceive
Good +1 – Craft, Will, Burglary, Provoke

Stunt
Too Small to Hit – You can use Athletics instead of fight whenever Defending against an opponent that’s larger than you.

NPCS

Kobold Soldiers (Mob)

Aspect: Smelly, Scaly, Skittish
Skills: Average +1  Fight, Athletics
Stress: 1
Conditions: 1

Stunts
Spears – Unless they are ambushed, the warriors armed with Spears always have the option of acting first in the first round of any physical combat scene.

Pack Mentality – When using Fight skill to Attack, a mob of Kobold add double their teamwork bonus. However, if they use this bonus and succeed, they can only deal a maximum amount of stress they can deal is 2 per round.
(Tip: An easy way to find the total is: X = 2xSize – 1; i.e. a group of 3 will Attack with +5; group of 4 will attack with +7; etc.)

 

Kobold Trap Master (NPC)

High Concept: Kobold Engineer Tactician

Aspect: I Prepared for That; Glass Jaw

Skills:
Good +3 – Craft
Fair +2 – Stealthy, Fight

Stunts:
Hidden Obstacles – In any scene in which a Kobold Trap Master is present (or has been present), the GM picks up to three zones and adds the aspect “Potential Trap” as an obstacle to each. If a non-kobold character tries to move through a zone with a Potential Trap, a player may invoke the aspect to create a trap; replace the Potential Trap aspect and replace it with a trap aspect, named however you want, with one free unfriendly invoke; depending on trap, this may create an obstacle (that opposes the character’s movement through the zone), deal an Attack (Fair +2), or something similar. As their action for the round, a character within 1 zone of a Potential Trap may use the overcome action to attempt to find it (Difficulty +2); a successful roll will either remove the Potential trap (it was never there), or reveal the trap (Placing it on the board) and making it less lethal (it loses the free invoke). Revealed traps may also be disarmed or sidestepped (using overcome).

Alternate Rules: Alternatively, if your group has a character with a high Notice, you can make the value of a sprung trap more difficult (Great +4), but the character gets a free Notice defense roll to dodge or circumvent it. (Spotting it as an Overcome action is still only a Difficulty Fair +2).


That’s it for today. Any monsters you’d like to see in 5e or Fate? Let us know! Until then, GAME ON!

-Dave Joria – Twitter

Tangent Artists – Twitter

DOMESTIC SERVANT – D&D Roguish Archetype

Standard

Hello, gamers! Today we thought we’d try something new: a class archetype for 5e Dungeons & Dragons!

(Fate fans, fear not: I still plan to write plenty of stuff for Fate, but it’s nice to try out new stuff every once in a while).

Story: While talking to a friend,  Kara Dennison, writer for CruncyRoll (follow her on twitter @RubyCosmos), I was thinking about how Japanese RPG games (JRPGs) and Western RPGs differ. For example, in many JPRGs like Fire Emblem, players learn one skill at base level (ex. white magic using Cleric, a fighter, a rogue), and then merge the two together to form a 2nd level multi-class level (ex. cleric + fighter = paladin). Many of these, like the paladin, have equivalents in Western RPGs too; except for the Maid / Butler.

In JRPG games, the Maid or Butler combines the roles of rogue/assassin (ambushing, ignoring defenses) with the roles of a healer. It occurred to me: why not have a similar role in Dungeons and Dragons?

So, after consulting with D&D savvy friends of mine, we give you the first draft of a Rogue (with a touch of Paladin) archetype, the Domestic Servant!

*Warning* It has not be playtested at this time.


DOMESTIC SERVANT

333px-Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_-_The_Bower_GardenA wizened human nursemaid, who watches her adult charge like a mother bear. A tiefling butler who carries out his master’s wishes with much alacrity and little morals. A nimble halfling gardener whose courage far surpasses his size.

You have chosen the path of the domestic servant, a loyal attendant who is bound to another person by oath; they hold this oath sacred and few things else. Your mission is twofold: to heal your master when they are injured, and to eliminate anyone who would seek them harm.

How did you fall into this lot? Perhaps you were a street urchin given employment and a second-chance by a rich benefactor. Maybe you were an assassin or spy in your youth, and settled into the serving life as you “retired.” Maybe you’re a devoted bodyguard who acts the part of a domestic servant so others will underestimate you.

OATH OF THE DOMESTIC SERVANT

  1. Safety – You will keep your master safe no matter what.
  2. Obedience – You will get the results your master needs. If possible, you will achieve those ends in using the means your master prefers.
  3. Humility – You will not upstage your master; they are the focus, not you. It is best to speak when spoken to and be seen only when your master needs you to be seen.
  4. Hospitality – You will offer hospitality to those who do not have it. Should they accept, nothing is more important than the safety of a guest, except the safety of your master.

Note to DMs: At this current time, we don’t have any rules for a Domestic Servant that breaks any of the oaths. However, as a means of positive reinforcement, we encourage DMs to freely reward Domestic Servants with inspiration when they act in the spirit of these oaths (even if it’s detrimental to themselves or their party.)

DIFFERENT TYPES OF SERVANTS

There are many types of Domestic Servants that your rogue can be, depending on which era you are evoking and the role of your master. These include but are not limited to:

Butler, maid, valet, handmaid or handmaiden, squire, lady-in-waiting, bodyguard, manservant, cook, governess, nurse, nanny, batman, orderly, chamberlain, secretary, gardener, tutor, coachman, steward.

Note: We did not include “slave,” “bondservant,” or “indentured servant” because a. OWNING ANOTHER PERSON IS WRONG, and b. If the domestic servant is allowed to leave at any time without legal repercussions, it makes their decision to stay that much more meaningful.

Domestic Servant Features

Rogue Level Feature
3rd Master’s Bond, Servant’s Life, Spellcasting
9th Saving Instinct
13th Wine and Dine
17th Raise their Spirits

MASTER’S BOND

At level 3, you may pick another character to be your master (or mistress, or similar title). We recommend another PC in party, but it can be an NPC that is frequently with the party to.

Whenever you use a spell with spell slot 1 or an item to heal the master, they heal an additional 1 wound. If use a spell slot of 2 or higher, they instead regain extra wounds equal to the spell slot used.

You may only change your master:

  1. When your rogue goes to another level.
  2. Should the master die and be past the point of resurrection.

SERVANT’S LIFE

At level 3, you know the secret language used by servants “below stairs”; the ability “thieves cant” is extended to also include servants, allowing you to slow communicate in a way non-servants don’t understand.

Also, your rogue gains proficiency of your choice of the following: Calligrapher’s Supplies OR Cook’s Utensils.

Spellcasting

When you reach 3rd level, you gain the ability to cast spells. See Spells Rules for the general rules of spellcasting and the Spells Listing for the paladin spell list.

Cantrips

You learn three cantrips chosen from the following list: Guidance, Light, Mending, Message, Prestidigitation, Spare the Dying, Resistance. You learn another cantrip of your choice from this list at 10th level.

Spell Slots

The Domestic Servant Spellcasting table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your paladin spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell’s level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest.

For example, if you know the 1st-level spell searing smite and have a 1st-level and a 2nd-level spell slot available, you can cast searing smite using either slot.

Spells Known of 1st-Level and Higher

You know three 1st-level paladin spells of your choice, two of which you must choose from the enchantment and illusion spells on the paladin spell list.

The Spells Known column of the Domestic Servant Spellcasting table shows when you learn more paladin spells of 1st level or higher. Each of these spells must be a spell of your choice, and must be of a level for which you have spell slots. For instance, when you reach 7th level in this class, you can learn one new spell of 1st or 2nd level.

Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of the paladin spells you know with another spell of your choice from the paladin spell list. The new spell must be of a level for which you have spell slots, and it must be an enchantment or illusion spell, unless you’re replacing the spell you gained at 8th, 14th, or 20th level.

Spellcasting Ability

Charisma is your spellcasting ability for your paladin spells, since you learn your spells through your passion and conviction. You use your Charisma whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Charisma modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a paladin spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.

Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier

Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier

DOMESTIC SERVANT SPELLCASTING

      Spells Slots per Spell Level    
Rogue Level Cantrips Known Spells Known 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
3rd 3 2 2      
4th 3 3 3      
5th 3 3 3      
6th 3 3 3      
7th 3 4 4 2    
8th 3 4 4 2    
9th 3 4 4 2    
10th 4 5 4 3    
11th 4 6 4 3    
12th 4 6 4 3    
13th 4 6 4 3 2  
14th 4 7 4 3 2  
15th 4 7 4 3 2  
16th 4 7 4 3 3  
17th 4 7 4 3 3 1
18th 4 7 4 3 3 1
19th 4 8 4 3 3 1
20th 4 9 4 3 3 1

 

OATH OF THE DOMESTIC SERVANT SPELLS

At certain levels, your Domestic Servant will gain access to the following oath of the domestic servant spells. Once you gain access to an oath spell, you always have it prepared. Oath spells don’t count against the number of spells you can prepare each day. If you gain an oath spell that doesn’t appear on the paladin spell list, the spell is nonetheless a paladin spell for you.

Domestic Level Spells
3rd Cure Wounds
9th Pick One: Warding Bond or Find Steed
13th Pick one: Leomund’s Tiny Hut or Create Food & Water
17th Raise Dead

 

SAVING INSTINCT

Starting at 9th level, when you use Evasion to dodge out of area effect, you may attempt to save another character within 10”. You must choose to use this ability before either of you have rolled to save; if the target agrees, this single roll is made for both of you, and the target does not get to roll to save. Depending on how you roll, either one or both of you may avoid damage, or either or both of you may suffer worse.

TABLE

  SAVING NON-MASTER SAVING MASTER
If you succeed Dexterity save Both take no damage Both take no damage
If you fail Dexterity save Both take full damage You take full damage, the master takes half damage

 

WINE AND DINE

Starting at Level 13, whenever your rogue provides a character with food, drink, shelter or comfort (ex. a bonfire in the cold) to a character, all members of your party gain advantage on any Persuasion (Charisma) checks against that character for the next hour.

RAISE THEIR SPIRITS

Starting at level 17th, when you use the spell Raise Dead, you do not have to use spell components (it is assumed your rogue stole them at some point in the past). In addition, if the character raised is your master, every time the resurrected master finishes a long rest, the penalty is reduced by 2 with each rest (instead of 1) assuming the Domestic Servant is there to help with the recuperation process.



Have any thoughts? Have you tried it out? Let us know!

Until next time, Tangent Artists and Dave Joria says, GAME ON!

Fate Accelerated – Adding More Crunch

Standard

Howdy, folks! This post, I’m sharing another rules hack (two, actually).

I LOVE Fate Accelerated. I’ve run it at conventions and one-shots with kids and adults of every age.

However, I’ve asked players who prefer Fate Core skills over approaches, and I generally hear three different complaints:

  • Players spam their lead approach for every action
  • There’s not enough complexity / crunch
  • In large parties, player’s expertise overlap (not enough differentiation)

Then, to extrapolate even more about locked actions (as created in Save Game and discussed in a previous blog post), let us consider:

What if we split each approach up into multiple actions? Or better yet, into a sort of “sub-skill”?

With 6 approaches, each with 4 actions, becomes 24 skills.

Approaches – To help with alliteration, we’ve decided to rename “careful” as “peaceful,” “flashy” as “blaze” and “Quick’ as “zip”. (Which is not perfect, but works for a blog).

 

Approaches –

FORCEFUL

o- Fracture
Caa – Fault
A – Fight
D – Forebear

 

CLEVER

o- Crack
Caa – Conjure
A – Capture
D – Circumvent

 

PEACEFUL

o-  Pick Apart
Caa – Perceive
A – Placate
D – Protect

 

SNEAKY

o-  Split
Caa – Shroud
A – Stab
D – Shirk

 

BLAZE

o- Blow over
Caa – Bedazzle
A – Befriend
D – Blind

 

ZIP

o- Zoom
Caa –  Zero In
A – Zap
D – Zig-zag

Q. What is your level of approach?

A. For ease, I would recommend that PCs have all sub-skills within the same approach all share the same level . Ex. All unlocked Forceful skills be Good +3; all unlocked Clever be at Fair +2. 

Q. How many do the players start out unlocked, and which ones?

There are several ways to do this:

a. Players are given a certain number of points to unlock any subskills they want (mandatory: at least 1 skill for every approach over Average +1.)

b. Players unlock N subskills of their choice for each approach over Average +1. (N would equal either 2 or 3). (ex. 2 unlocked for Forceful, 2 unlocked for Clever)

c. For flavor reasons, each approach has a specific approach auto-unlocked, and players get to unlock N additional subskills (either 1 or 2). (ex. Forceful at Good +3 would have Attack unlocked and a second action; Clever at Fair +2 would have Create an Advantage and a second action).

d. Reverse tiered – the lower to value, the more skills are unlocked. (Ex. One unlocked at Great +4, two unlocked at Good +3, etc.)

Personally, I think B

Q. If I haven’t unlocked an action/ skill, can I still use it?

A. Of course! However, you get no bonuses. (Alternatively, I could imagine paying a fate point to temporarily “unlock” an action.)

Q. Can I have more than two actions unlocked?

A. Not by default. However, stunts can unlock it in set circumstances. Ex. Suave Swashbucker – you may use Flashy to make attacks when you are armed with a rapier. 

Q. Do NPCs have actions locked?

A. No. To keep things simple, NPCs always have access to all 4 actions.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

Before I finish with this post, I had one last idea: what if you used the same Approach/lock/unlock set-up with Fate Core? Perhaps this is a new way to bundle skills for fast character creation.

I call this FATE Accelerated Bundled Core, or FATE ABC

CAREFUL
Investigate
Will
Empathy

CLEVER
Craft
Lore
Provoke

SNEAKY
Burglary
Stealth
Deceive

QUICK
Athletics
Notice
Shoot

FORCEFUL
Fight
Physique
Drive

FLASHY
Rapport
Contacts
Resources

Q. How would this work?

1.. GM’s would pick a pyramid type, either Tall or wide.

  • Tall: Approaches have 1x Great +4, 1x Good +3, 1x Fair +2, 2x Average +1, 1x Mediocre +0
  • Wide: Approaches have 1x Good +3, 2x Fair +2, 2x Average +1, 1x Mediocre +0

2. Players would pick their approaches based on that frame (Ex. Forceful at Good +3, Clever at Fair +2).

3. Players would then pick 2 skills under each approach that’s Average +1 or higher: those two skills are unlocked. The third skill is “zeroed out” (as in, can be used, but at Mediocre +0). Here’s an example (using the Tall set up):

fate abc2

Q. How does it compare to normal character creation?

A. In theory, it should be a lot faster. For example, picking 10 skills requires 10 decisions (or, by reverse, 8 skills you choose to not have). With this system, players pick 1 approach to have at zero, and then one of three skills that’s zeroed out- thus, you’re only making 6 choices.

Q. How does this compare to Skill Bundles from Toolkit / Atomic Robo?

The Advantage of this system is that it creates PCs that have skills that overlap in flavor, but still can be unique.

Take Fight for example: It results in 4 different PCS with 4 different feels:

Zero Drive – A strong a burly character that’s not good with machines.

Zero Physique – A tough scrappy get-away driver who might be physically tiny

Zero Fight – A gentle giant who loves machines

Stunts / No Zeroes – Using stunts, this character is can conditionally access all three skills.

Further Advantages

1. Another fun advantage is it provides a nice shorthand for stunts – by adding in the approaches, we now have another value to reference and technology.

  • Calm Mind – Once per session, I gain +1 to each of my Careful skills for the duration of the scene.
  • Cornered Trash Talker – When I have taken stress or a consequence, I unlock Provoke (same value as my Clever).
  • Backstab – If you are attacking an opponent who is not expecting your attack, you may use Fight skill using your Sneaky Approach value instead.

This saves players having to think of a direct parallel for substitution skills – rather, they have to pick a general approach that covers the category.

2. NPCS – The greatest use would be the fact that NPCs can keep using Approaches; this means GMs spend less time and energy creating complex NPCs, and don’t have to worry about minor NPCs that are too vulnerable against a specific type of attack (ex. Having to give them all Will to protect against a psychic PC).

3. This system allows players with Core and players using Approaches at the same table. For example, you might have one experienced player use Core, while another player (perhaps someone who is less experienced, younger, or differently-abled) uses just the approaches. Balance should not be a major priority (as it’s cooperative), but if you wanted to make it more “even,” the PCs using straight approach would have fewer stunts (which reduces their complexity further still).


That’s it for this post! What are your thoughts? Would you use Locked or ABC set-up? Tell us what you think!

 

Fate World Tour – Secret of Cats

Standard

Welcome back, readers! Sorry for the small hiatus, had a busy few months (including a belated honeymoon.)

Next up on the Fate world tour, we visit one of the most popular Fate Worlds:

Secret of Cats

Author: Richard Bellingham
Artist: Crystal Frasier

Genre: Animal; Urban Fantasy; Gothic; Supernatural

Elevator Pitch: The Aristocats meets Supernatural

Full DescriptionCats are magical; cats understand sacrifice and the power of names. A decapitated mouse left on the doorstep or pillow is a powerful ward, and a spell wailed by the cat chorus confers even greater protection. When evil is on the rise and the safety of the neighbourhood is at stake the Parliament of Cats is there to stand firm against the darkness. Take Silver Ford, for example, a sleepy tourist town near a played-out old silver mine. When kids messing around in the mine accidentally rouse an ancient evil on All Hallows’ Eve, the secret and magical cats of the neighbourhood are the only thing protecting their special people from the things that go bump in the night. This 50 page Fate Core adventure provides everything you need to play from character generation to plot and setting ideas, including a new feline magic system based on true names and sacrifices made to protect your human Burdens. The Secrets of Cats. Sharpen your claws and prepare to defend your territory!


Mechanics

Subsystem: Skills – 13 Fate Core skills, + 4 New Magic Skills

General Mechanics:

Magic System – Magic is divided into 4 areas.  Warding – Defense; Naming – manipulate others; Shaping – manipulate self; Seeking – Divination.

Masters and Dabblers – At creation (and at milestones), cats can choose to be a master in one of the four magic types. If they do, they can access exclusive “master only” stunts.

Scale rules –Larger targets are easier to hit, but harder to deal stress to; the opposite also is true (smaller = harder to hit, deal extra stress.)

Spirits – Spirit NPCs use approaches instead of skills.


REACTION

I’m gonna go ahead and say it; I’m not a cat person (I blame the allergies). Don’t get me wrong, I bear them no ill will, and wish every cat and cat owner long and happy days. However, roleplaying as a real-life cat doesn’t really grab me.

Which makes the following statement carry even more weight: this is a great world book, and you should definitely pick it up. Speaking as someone without pro-cat bias, I can see that this system is a perfect (purrfect?) gateway game for anyone wanting to hack Fate worlds of their own.

It has:

  • A skill list based on default Fate Core, but with minor alterations
  • Strong NPCs factions to play off of
  • Taboos that guide what steps a PC should / shouldn’t do (but no restrictions to keep a player from doing it)
  • A strong but simple adventure
  • Pre-gen tables for character creation.

Here are some more specific reactions:

Sapient vs. non-sapient: The setting establishes that all cats are sentient; however, not EVERY animal is sentient. I find this very clever and important; it lets the GM throw mindless beasts at them, with the occasional super intelligent ally / nemesis. However, it is especially important because cats power magic by “sacrificing” animals. If everything they sacrificed was sentient (or that they ate; cats are pure carnivores), they’d be absolute monsters, making them far less sympathetic protagonists.

Scale rules – I believe the scale rules were written previous to Secret of Cats, but I’ve never seen them better implemented. This really helps set the tone for smaller PCs living in a big world.


HACKS

4 Masters Roles – The game guides the PCs into being a master of one of the four magic areas. Without too much work, I suspect this setting could be ported over to the Powered by the Apocalypse Engine (i.e. the system used in Apocalypse World, Dungeon World). Given the Urban Fantasy setting, it might be a great hack for Evil Hat’s PbtA game, Monster of the Week.

 

320px-Herbie_at_a_show_in_Portland(OR)

Courtesy Moribunt through CC License

Secret of Cars – While writing this blog post, I accidentally mistyped the title as “Secret of Cars.” As silly as it is, it’s hard to get the image out of your head. Picture it: benevolent compact cars and motorcycles saving their drivers from haunted hot-rods and gloom carts. It’s Herbie vs. Carrie: The RPG. Mechanically, it’d be easy: just reverse the scale rules, with cars interacting with smaller humans and appliances (which using “large scale” rules when attacking the occasional evil Big Rig).

 

Secret of Toys – This is a hack I’ve been wanted to do for years. One of these days, I’ll have to type it up. Same concept, except with toys and stuffed animals keeping children safe from nightmares (and worse).

Bunnicula – SoC seems the perfect setting for bringing your favorite childhood books to life.

More Animals? – Don’t want to play just cats? If so, you can use the Zootopia rules that only / mostly mammals are sentient.

Mash-Up – Merge with White Picket Witches. The Location settings for White Pickett is a great way to increase tension. You can even include human witch NPCs; maybe PCs are the cat familiars belonging to the Five Families?

Secret of Umdaar Cats – Merging Umdaar and SoC. (This idea came from Richard Bellingham himself, so I take no responsibility for it.) I’m not certain what this would look like; either feline humanoids surviving through magic, or the adorable cat sidekicks (a la Snarf and Kringer) being the real heroes behind the scenes.


That’s all for this post!

What world would you like to see next? Let us know!

Fate Hack – Locked Approaches

Standard

Hello! Dave here from Tangent Artist Tabletop. I’m taking a brief break from the world tour to explore a mechanic introduced in Save Game (see our review of it here). Specifically, I wanted to go over the mechanic of Locked Actions.

To explain: in Fate Core, there are 4 actions

  • Overcome – Remove aspects and handle small threats
  • Create an Advantage  – Create a free aspect (without spending a fate point) with one or more free invokes; OR add invokes to an existing aspect.
  • Attack – Used in conflicts to Deal stress / attempt to take an opponent out
  • Defend – Used to defend against create-an-advantage or attack.

In the Fate Core, each skill in the default list can do at least 2 actions (Overcome and Create an advantage), while some can do 3-4 actions (adding attack and/or defend).

However, with the setting Save Game, the author Rob Wieland made it so that every skill has only 2 actions. Save Game has 11 skills. But, I wondered: how many unique 2-action skills could there be?

The answer is 6. Which, as coincidence would have it, is same number of approaches in Fate Accelerated. So, here’s an experimental version: FAE-Locked!


FAE LOCKED

Each of the following approaches has access to the following actions:

Clever

  • Overcome – Unlock locks; devise clever ways to bypass obstacles; trick minor NPCs.
  • Create an Advantage – Create tools; confuse enemies; prep plans; bolster allies.
  • Locked – Attack, Defend

Forceful

  • Overcome – Break obstacles; power through weaknesses; bully or subdue minor NPCs.
  •  Attack – Deal mental or physical stress with direct attacks to the target.
  • Locked – Create an advantage, Defend.

Careful

  • Overcome – Detangle dangerous situations; disarm bombs; remove complications.
  • Defend – Carefully stay out of range of attacks and entanglements.
  • Locked – Create an Advantage, Attack.

Flashy

  • Create an Advantage – craft flashy stories and distractions; bolster allies; create dazzling tools and plans.
  • Attack – Overwhelm the opponent with attacks and displays.
  • Locked – Overcome, Defend

Sneaky

  • Create an Advantage – Sow rumors, create disguises, position self tactically.
  • Defend – Use denial, obfuscation, and stealth to avoid detection and harm.
  • Locked – Overcome, Attack

Quick

  • Attack – Quickly shoot, strike, or insult without pause or analysis.
  • Defend – Instinctively dodge attacks and attempts to hinder you.
  • Locked – Overcome, Create an Advantage.

Exceptions: In some cases, it might be good the bend the rules; for example, during a Challenge, it makes sense to use any appropriate approach to overcome.


But, I’m sure you’re objecting, “But what if I want to attack with my Rogue using Sneaky?”

Fear not! Just like Save Game, we encourage players to create stunts that unlock an action for one of those approaches. We recommend phrasing the stunt in such a way to give the player almost-endless access to the Stunt, with a few rare exceptions (to keep things interesting).

Here are some examples:

Flashy – Unshakable Ego – Unlocks Overcome – You can use Flashy to overcome mental and social aspects (ex. Despair, fatigue, pain, bad reputation), or to overcome minor opponents in a non-violent way.

Forceful – Shiny Inspiration – Unlocks Create-an-Advantage – You can use Forceful to create an advantage, provided you have a bladed weapon near at hand.

Careful – Defense is A Good Offense – Unlocks Attack – You can careful to Attack, provided you are attacking an opponent who has attacked (or threatened to attack) you or someone else.

Clever – Elemental Wall – Unlocks Defend – Your elemental abilities allow you to throw up magical walls of ice and water. You can use Clever to defend against attacks and corporeal advantages; may not be used if the location has an aspect signifying that there’s no water nearby (ex. “Desert”; “Parched Land”; Sealed Bank Vault”)

Best of all, you can use this to create Reinforcement Stunts for players – phrased in such a way that new players are reminded of the right way to use an approach (and potentially cut down on Fate Debates).

Quick – Be Nimble – Unlocks Overcome – You can use Quick to make overcome actions, provided it deals with you moving or reacting quickly (ex. Nimbly jumping a fence; wriggling out of hold).

Careful – Plan Ahead – Unlocks Create Advantage – You can use Careful to create advantages, provided you are not rushed or distracted (ex. Not multitasking).

Sneaky – Surprise Attack – Unlocks Attack – You can use Sneaky to make physical and mental Attacks, provided the target is not expecting the attack (ex. You’re hidden; target is distracted; flanking the enemy).


That’s all we have for this post. Next time, we’ll be continuing on the Fate World Tour!

 

Fate World Tour: Save Game

Standard

Hello! Dave Joria of Tangent Artists here with the fifth stop on the Fate World Tour.

Part 1 – Worlds Take Flight
Part 2 – Worlds Rise Up
Part 3 – Worlds on Fire I
Part 4 – Worlds of Fire II

Today we’re covering the Fate World “Save Game.” Video game nostalgia, here we come!


Save Game

Vs-ThingCreators: Writer: Rob Wieland. Editor: Joshua Yearsley. Art: Brian Patterson.

Elevator Pitch – 8-bit video game heroes barnstorming through corrupted video game worlds.

ThemesAction / Adventure, Drama, Video Games, Nostalgia, Dark Fantasy

Description – THE GLITCH HAS COME TO TENDORIA. A vicious computer virus threatens to corrupt the entire internet, and the only ones standing in its way are the characters from your video games.
8-bit heroes battle monsters and corrupted files—it’s Wreck-It Ralph meets Lord of the Rings in a fight for the fate of the world!
This 56-page Fate Core adventure provides a complete world to adventure in, including randomized character generation rules, ideas to govern digital adventures, and new Fate point hacks. PIXELS ARE FALLING. IT’S UP TO YOU TO SAVE GAME!

Mechanics – Subset – Unique Skill List

Mechanics – 

Hearts & Lives – Hearts replace stress; unlike stress it doesn’t automatically disappear after a scene. Instead, damage goes away with items you can purchase, with an overcome roll, or when you lose a life (see below).

Lives – Replaces consequences. If you are taken out in a conflict, you may spend a Life to jump back in (without waiting until after the conflict). You can buy lives back with coins.

Coins – Replaces Fate Points.  Compared to Fate points, coins seem to fly fast and loose; this means you might see 2-3 times the number of coins be collected and spent compared to FP. Case in point, there’s a new way to earn points during a conflict, known as a Combo pool; if buying in, each player could potentially earn 3 or more coins in a single scene (though it is a gamble). Players cash in coins for upgrades, lives, and healing items.

GM Coin pool – The GM’s fate point / coin pool increases with each stage; the closer to the big boss, the greater the amount by a large factor.

Skills Unlocked – Each skill can only handle two of the four actions. Stunts can be purchased that “unlock” additional actions for skills.

Hax – The “magic” or uber-stunt system. This is expensive, both requiring a skill (that can’t be used without the stunts), and a coin cost. Glitch Mutations.  Antagonist NPCs often use these (making it a nice reference and resource for building new NPCs that’s not overwhelmingly long).

Speed Run and SideQuests – When Rob wrote each stage, he also included additional Sidequests. Then, he provides recommended lengths / modes for running the game. A group can do normal mode (normally 1 sidequest, 1 session per stage), a speed run (no side quests; obstacle + Zero – multiple stages per session); or a marathon style metroidvania (all the sidequests, 2 sessions per stage).

Reaction

I really enjoyed this setting; part of the reason that this review took longer than normal is that I wanted to big deeply into every part of it. Some of my thoughts:

Tone – To my surprise, the tone of the piece is surprisingly dark, bordering on Grimdark. This is not inherently a bad thing (it’s actually quite original). However, I would keep it in mind when picking your play group. A group of 20+ year-olds are unlikely to mind playing the dark “Dr. Chompa” adventure as written. However, if playing with a younger group of 9 year-olds, you may wish to create an original stage from scratch that is less severe. (When in doubt, robots make pretty harmless NPCs).

Great for one shots – I can see how this would be great for one-shots, or for conventions in general. This is true with both normal mode (one stage) and with speedruns (all of the stages).

danky_kang_doodle_1_by_kevinbolk_d71qfcg-fullview

Dankey Kang by Kevin Bolk, used with permission. Read his comics at: http://www.interrobangstudios.com/

Speedrun – I have one concern regarding speedruns; as written, it seems to encourage the play format to be: a. visit a stage and have only a short scene or obstacles; b. big conflict with the Zero; c. Rinse repeat. Without playing it, I predict that with conflicts making up 90% of the action, the action might get a goal. With this is mind, I pass on my normal recommendation when running a long Fate game; try to separate your conflict scenes with a non-conflict scene in the middle. Maybe the 2nd stage involves racing the corrupted Dankey Kang in a contest, or involves defusing a live Rob-Bomb in a tense challenge.

Skills Unlocked –  I love this mechanic, and will steal it the first chance I can. Reason 1: the beautiful symmetry of having each skill have only two actions makes it both easy to remember, and wonderfully fair.  This would normally be great in any setting, but it is particularly justified for a video game world. Why? Let me explain:

The only downside of the Fate rpg system is that it’s so loose, that any hard rules are often hit with resistance. For example:

Player: I want to use my Physique to attack and crush them.

GM: You can’t, Physique isn’t an attack skill.

Player: Why not?  I can break a door in half, but I can’t break a person pinned to the ground?

GM: Because… you can’t?

Of course, you can ask the player to pay a fate point to temporarily or permanently gain the ability to Attack with Physique, but that’s not the point; the point is, the player sees a rule added for a mere arbitrary reason that doesn’t match the physics of their world.

However, in a Save Game, being told “you can’t attack with that” is fine, because you can argue, “because you aren’t PROGRAMMED to attack with that skill.” Also, by calling any inaccessible actions, “Locked,” Rob has made a forced restriction seem more fun; it’s not that you can NEVER attack with that skill, but rather you can’t attack with that skill YET. When a player finally gains a skill to unlock it, they have the added joy of unlocking an achievement.  (Also, kudos to whoever created the great character sheet at the back of the book).

Coins – I enjoy the novelty of showering players with coins / fate points. My only concern is that I fear if it would disrupt the Compel economy; who would accept a compel for 1 fate point, when you have 7 already?  Some ideas:

  • Have some warp pipes that lead to shops in the middle of a stage; let players level up (and more importantly, unload their coins). If players want to save up for something big, offer a “piggybank / gift card” system. Merchant: Tell you what… for each coin you give me now, I’ll give you 2 coins worth of store credit when you visit the main shop after this stage. What do you say?
  • If coins are in high supply, I would recommend doubling or even tripling the amount of FP when compelling; offer 2-3 coins to accept a compel, or 2-3 to refuse.

Likewise, the GM Pool of Fate points would be heavy stocked too. Make sure any new NPCs you create have lots of aspects, don’t skimp on the using GM pool.

Hacks (Clarification: World hacks, not the mutation)

Here are some fun hacks and setting ideas.
Note: In most of these hacks, the PCs would know that they are part of a computer world. “Save Game” is a rare video game setting in that the characters are not meta-aware that they are in a video game.

Reboot – I could easily see using Save Game to visit the 90s show Reboot without any real tweaking (with maybe a slight focus on PC game nostalgia vs. console.)

Captain N – You could recreate this classic TV show about a teen gamer sucked into an all-star team of video game characters. Alternatively, I could see merging this the Fate World “Nest,” in that a whole team of humans are sucked into the games of their youth.

Matrix – For a serious twist; you’d want to focus on the skill Hacks for extra special fun.

Wreck-It Ralph – As a fun twist, why not pull a “Wreck-it-Ralph,” and have all of the PCs be Villains, saving the day from the corrupted heroes? Prove that Bad-guys aren’t Bad GUYS.

Iron Street Combat – I have yet to read this newest video-game-inspired Fate world, but I bet there’s some way to combine the two.

Lastly, based on what video game world you want to visit, you might want to read one of the following Fate Worlds

  • Underwater – Like Echo the Dolphin? Try Deep Dark Blue
  • Western – Tweak Blood on the Trail for fighting Glitch-Vampires on the Oregon Trail!
  • Space – For a space setting a la Metroid or Star Fox, try Andromeda, Red Planet, Sail Full of Stars
  • Food – For food-based games like Diner Dash, Tapper, or Cooking Mama, try adding Uranium Chef (had to work at least ONE shameless plug in this article)
  • Music – For musical games like Guitar Hero, try another new setting, Til Dawn

Sorry for such a long delay between posts, everyone. I’ve been working hard at finishing a prototype of my newest card game, “Don’t Go In There!”

It’s a game themed around slasher movies.

jaime sample

Model image from Adobe Stock, granted through license

I’ve got one playtest in, and it went fantastically (more on that another time). I’m praying to test more and tweak it until I can have a prototype ready for Origins Con.

Here’s a sample of one of the cards:

Speaking of which, Dave Joria will be at Origins Con! Tangent Artists will not have a table there, but we may have some of our Fate Accompli products coming (more on that as it develops).


As for the next Fate World, tell us what you’d like to see! Shall we do another early world, “The Secret of Cats?” Skip Ahead? Put in your requests, on this blog, or on twitter @DaveJoria.