The City of Filgeth

This is an old map of Filgeth I drew many years ago using Campaign Cartographer. For reasons which were probably to do with printing it out on an A4 page it’s rotated through 90 degrees – North is to the right, and west is at the top.

The west bank of the river (top part of the map) is the largely human-occupied part of the city, the east bank is the kandar side. The south-east quarter is the posh end.

Posted in People and Places | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Zageyn d’n Zofeth – Academy of Knowlege Security

Another “stock character”, this one, through he’s a PC-level character with 30 skill levels. So far he’s cropped up several times as an NPC, both as an ally and as adversary.

Name: Zageyn d’n Zofeth
Appearance: Rough-hewn male kandar of early middle age.
Context: Security, The Academy of Knowledge, Filgeth
Goal: Defend the Academy of Knowledge

Aspects
Veteran Academy of Knowledge Security operative [High Concept, Rank]
Fiercely local to the guild
The end sometimes justifies the means
Mess with me, you mess with the Academy
Spirit forged from Vyrn

Skills
Willpower: Great
Streetwise: Great
Intimidation: Good
Unarmed Combat: Good
Tactics: Good
Rank: Fair
Missile Combat (Beam weapons): Fair
Athletics: Fair
Technical Devices: Fair
Perception: Average
Strength: Average
Endurance: Average
Stealth: Average
Melee Combat (Knife): Average

Posted in People and Places | Tagged | Leave a comment

Klavar Zadaz d’n Alathyr – Knight of Clan Zadaz

Another NPC – this guy’s been a recurring minor villain who’s cropped up several times in-game. He’s a good stock character when you want a stereotypical kandar knight.

Name: Klavar Zadaz d’n Alathyr
Appearance: Young kandar man with a face twisted into a permanent sneer, with a prominent scar on one cheek.
Context: Knight, Clan Zadaz, Filgeth
Goal: Gets a kick out of pushing people around

Aspects
Arrogant young Knight of Clan Zadaz [High Concept, Rank]
Obnoxious bully
Appalling snob
Thinks he’s a better warrior than he really is
Knows the Citadel of Filgeth like the back of his hand
A Knight from The Temple of Art gave him that scar

Skills
Rank: Good
Melee (Sword): Good
Intimidation: Fair
Athletics: Fair
Unarmed Combat: Fair
Kandar Education: Average
Kandar Social Graces: Average
Willpower: Average
Strength: Average

Posted in People and Places | Tagged | Leave a comment

Argeyn Tyr – Journeyman Wizard

This is a sample NPC I created on-the-fly for use in the ongoing play-by-post game in Dreamlyrics.com.  I’d already established the character in an earlier scene – since he’s going to play a bigger role in the current scene, I thought I’d stat him up. He’s pure stat-block; there’s no back-story bar the overheard conversation in a previous thread.

With 20 skill levels arranged in a classic FATE pyramid, six aspects and three stunts, he’s below the power level of the PCs in the game.

Name: Argeyr Tyr
Context: Middle-ranking wizard, The Academy of the Mind, Filgeth
Appearance:  A rotund middle-aged kandar man
Goal: Preserve the status quo

Aspects
Conservative mid-ranking wizard [High Concept, Rank]
Minor scion of Clan Tyr [Rank]
Cautious Mind-Bender [Psionics]
Kaasranth Sar are a bunch of hot-headed idiots
Ferals will be the death of us
Who Ate All The Pies

Skills
Mind-Control: Great
Mind-Reading: Good
Rank: Good
Willpower: Fair
Mind-Sending: Fair
Kandar Education: Fair
Natural Science: Average
Kandar Social Graces: Average
Psionic Theory: Average
Thlan: Average

Stunts
Psionic Powers capped at Great (Counts as three stunts)

Posted in People and Places | Tagged | Leave a comment

Character Generation Playtest – First Pass, Phase Two

With five responses, we’ve completed the first phase of character generation, and we’re ready to move on to phase two.

We have five PCs

  • Andlak – A youth growing wild on the streets of Filgeth
  • Nyesh – A kandar growing up in a not-very-prosperous clan of merchants.
  • William Brighton – Who doesn’t really know quite how he came to be in Kalyr, but is now enslaved in the arena
  • Ziryon – Human apprenticed into the Academy of Knowledge, now a journeyman
  • Mirlark – A human youth with a strange affinity to plants

And we have the following NPCs established in the story, which is looking as if it’s going to be set in and around Filgeth.

  • Reneth – In the Makers Guild, whether a journeyman or master is yet to be determined.
  • Abilyr – now a master of the Academy of Knowledge
  • Rutgar – A seasoned gladiator who may or may not be about to buy his freedom.
  • Dreyrath – Successful merchant with connections in high places in Calbeyn, who has a daughter

Looking at things we’re at the bottom end of the social hierarchy. Four of the five characters are human (as far as we know), and the one kandar isn’t a scion of the nobility. We have a connection establised between Ziryon and Mirlark

And we have a couple of unanswered questions, which may fuel plot hooks. Exactly who raided the plantation, and why? And what became of Mirlark’s mother?

Phase two picks up where phase one left off. What happened next in the lives of these five?  Again, everyone must reference another character, either an NPC or a PC. And you’re only allowed to introduce two NPCs in total across all phases.

Worth pointing out at this stage that these NPCs do not have to be mentors or allies – they can be rivals or even mortal enemies of your character.

Posted in Character Generation Playtest | 14 Comments

Thoughts on Skills

In Fudge, for which FATE is an implementation, the skill list is an important part of the setting; what skills are present tell you the sort of things characters are expected to be able to do, and the sorts of things which will be important in the game.

The current draft Skill List has 45 skills. While I’ve trimmed it down quite a bit from earlier versions, which owed a lot to my fifteen-year old GURPS version of the setting, I still feel this is too many for a FATE implementation, which relies on much broader skills.

Thoughts are:

  1. Get rid of Gambling – since Thlan (a chess-like game whose rules are unspecified) fills the same in-game niche. If we still want games of chance or gambling dens, fold into Streetwise (for lower-class games) or Kandar Social Graces (for upper class ones)
  2. Merge Brawling and Kandar Fu into a generic Unarmed Combat skill. Having these as separate skills was never any more than colour.
  3. Merge Art, Music and Performance into a single skill, with specialisations.
  4. I’ve considered merging Nobility and Rank, since they’re functionally almost identical, but I can see too many character concepts wanting both.
  5. Make Artillery a specialisation of Missile Combat?
  6. A catch-all “Profession()” for any profession where the primary skills aren’t covered by any other skill, and isn’t a craft. That will replace things like Agriculture.
  7. Do we need Animal Handling? In my largely urban-based games it’s not something that’s ever come up, and none of my 30+ player characters have ever taken the skill. The sort of thing that could be rolled into professional skills for people like stablehands or farmers?
  8. Area Knowledge. Fold into Streetwise (for urban areas) or Survival (for wilderness areas)?

Can you suggest any more?

Posted in Development Notes | Leave a comment

Updates – Gameplay and Psionics

I’ve now written the “Playing the Game” and “Psionics” chapters, as seen in the menu above. There should be enough there to create psionic characters now!

It’s all very first-draft work-in-progress at the moment. The final text will be fleshed out with examples, but the nuts and bolts of the mechanics should be there.

As ever, feedback is appreciated.

Posted in Development Notes | Leave a comment

Example Social Conflict – The “pre-trial” of Dhermyrdh

This scene resolves a major social conflict. The player characters have fingered and apprehended the suspected traitor Dhermyrdh (with a bit of collateral damage), and must bring him before the head of the Academy of the Mind, who will decide his fate.

The following four player characters participate in this scene.

  • Hollis, a human psionic.
  • Kolath, a kandar legion officer.
  • Marlith, a human librarian for the Academy of the Mind.
  • Jorlak, a human priest of Zardor, guardian of Knowledge.

As before, most of the text is taken from the actual game transcripts from Dreamlyrics.com, slightly edited for clarity and consistency of tense. Text that’s not in italics represents the game mechanics I’ve used to resolve the conflict at the heart of this scene.

The null room is a chamber deep within one of the towers, surrounded by psi-nullifying grids that prevent the use of any psionic power. There are other such chambers used as prison cells, where those accused of serious crimes are held.

This chamber is larger and less austere, used for hearings and trials. This null-field doesn’t usually cause the headaches or nausea that typify the larger null-generators supplied by the Karazthan. But to any wizard, being cut off from their powers is not a pleasant experience. Which is why such hearings tend to be short.

Kalnardeth d’n Zurar is the most senior hierarch of Filgeth, outranked only by the enigmatic Eight, whose identities are a closely kept secret. For all anybody knows, Kalnardeth himself may be one of the eight. If he is, he’s not telling, and neither is anyone else.

With his thinning grey hair he’s not the best-looking of all kandar, he makes up for it by immaculate grooming. Behind his piercing purple eyes lies a sharp mind, as adept at academy politics as it is at wielding mental energy.

It is he who will decide Dhermyrth’s fate. Standing guard stood two mageguards, armed with curious Karazthan-made energy weapons. They’re only really for show, but those weapons are still deadly; Kolath would have loved to see his Legionnaires armed with such things rather than the crude fireworks they’re supplied. But they sent a message to the accused – don’t even *think* of trying anything.

That’s my framing the scene. It’s essentially a conflict between Dhermyrdh and the four player characters. Kalnardeth will decide in favour of whoever wins the conflict.

Despite this, Dhermyrth still didn’t have the look of a man who knows he’s defeated.

Marlith was not thrilled to have been brought along. For one thing he hated the feeling of the null-field, even =if= these were less onerous than some of the others he had experienced. But more importantly, he hated being so close to power … power than might remember him. He preferred the safety of anonymity to the potential danger of recognition. He stayed to the rear of the group, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.

Jorlak the priest came to a stop when first entering the room. He took a deep breath and then continued with the rest of the group

Hollis had not even been sure they would allow her in the exam room. After all, she was “merely” a human, and most of the Academicians didn’t like her very much. But she wanted to be there in case Kolath needed her.

Not that he couldn’t handle himself; but he was looking stressed, so she willed a little companionship in his direction, and a smile if he happened to look her way.

“So, Gurnyla”, said Kalnardeth in slow, measured tones, “What are the charges against Dhermyrth, and why is so urgent that he be subjected to mind-reaming”.

“Legionnaire Kolath will explain in more detail”, she replied.

“Kolath, you have the floor”, said Kalnardeth.

He had not expected to have to speak first and he was not prepared.  Kolath nodded his respect for the hierarch and cleared his throat, playing for time as he searched his brain – a brain which still, after all this time, did not provide him the ready wit and memory he’d known as a young man and advancing Legionnaire- for the proper words.

Then, as simply and directly as he could manage, he told what had happened, what Dhermyrth had done and what they had done in order to apprehend him. How the traitorous Karazthani guildmaster Guruinath had vanished into thin air from his cell within the Legion citadel where he was being held. How Dhermyrdh’s mental signature had been detected on the recording device moments before the same device recorded a psionic event that went off the scale. How Dhermyrdh had been tracked down to a mansion in the wealthy quarter of the city, and how Hollis had apprehended him.

“We seem to have more than one human with significant powers who is not of the Academy”, says Kalnardeth, “That is an issue which will have to be dealt with after we have considered the matter in hand”.

He turns to Jorlak.

“The Legionnaire states that you have confirmed the mental signature to be that of Dhermyrdh?”.

The priest starts when he receives that attention, then considers his words carefully. “Technically, I have not matched that signature directly against this prisoner, but rather against an object he was reported to have moved. In hindsight, perhaps we should have asked him to use his abilities again so I could recheck the signature.”

“Quit waffling,” Hollis said. “Marlith took us to the boat and named Dhermyrdh as the kandar he’d identified as having access to using the machine. Jorlak then verified his psychic signature as the mystery user. Remember? Me, then Dhermyrdh, then the powerful machine signature.

“Jorlak said it was *the same.* Not close, not almost, not fifty-one percent. The same. Now we have him dead to rights, if you two will show a little spine and stand up for the truth, so the Academy can ream him mind and break this terrorist plot. You cannot possibly all be that afraid of the Karazthan, or being thrust into the public eye. Now you’re peeing your pants, trying to hide your head in a hole, and in the process letting the Academy, the Legion, our government, and any hope for human freedom be destroyed.”

Marlith cringed inwardly at the crazed woman’s tone, inching a bit further away from her just in case she the powers decided to smite her where she stood.

That lot puts an Aspect “Rather convicting evidence against Dhermyrdh” on Kalnardeth on the principle of “say Yes or roll the dice”.

The Legionnaire made a small diminishing sort of gesture as Hollis spoke, but his lips did twitch as if he was repressing a grin.

“Not that I disagree with you, Little One, but a bit of diplomacy in your words and tone might not be amiss.”

Hollis glanced sharply at Kolath, then relented as she always did. “You’re probably right.” She sighed. “I apologize. But in my defence, it just seems like they are always trying to find excuses not to confront evil, even when it so richly deserves it. They appear afraid to confront it, lest it see *them* and get angry.”

Clearly she had a lot to learn about how the world worked, thought Marlith. And, now that he had spent some time with her, he thought he better understood why so many looked down at humans. People like Hollis certainly didn’t do much to instil confidence in the rationality of humans, he thought with an inward sigh.

“There seems to be a lot of circumstantial evidence linking you to the disappearance of The Legion’s prisoner”, Kalnardeth said, addressing Dhermyrdh, “Do you have an explanation?”.

“So I used the boat for an errand to the docks. Perhaps that ticktockmen device was miscalculated? It picked up my use of the boat? I landed near the barracks, after all”.

He pointed an accusing finger at Hollis

“And how many of my friends did you kill when kidnapping me, feral creature?”, he said, “The penalty for murder is death, you know”.

“None,” Hollis said, doing her best to look innocent. “But I definitely messed some up who were trying to kill *me*, so … I would call that self-defense. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Besides, they were happy to give you up; apparently word got ’round about you, and they all wanted to wash their hands of your treason. Do whatever it took to avoid bringing the legion down on their heads. I would have brought some of them here to testify against you, only I promised to leave them alone if they stopped trying to fight me and let me take you.”

“Lies!”, said Dhermyrdh, “Don’t listen to her. If any witnesses survived, they’ll tell you. And if they didn’t, The Way of Vision will tell the truth”.

That’s worth an Aspect “You really can’t trust a feral human” on Kalnardeth. General prejudices against humans and all that. Again, no need to roll dice for that.

“Aha! Then you can do the same thing to verify Dhermyrdh’s conspiracy, can’t you? Just take a walk through his brain; if he’s innocent, I’m the governor of Calbeyn,” Hollis said. “And, I’ll stop whining for justice and leave you alone.”

“My associate has a point, Dhermyrdh is the one who is lying, and lying poorly at that.”, says Kolath.

At this point it’s reached the stage where we want to wrap things up and resolve things one way or another, and I rolled actual, physical dice to resolve the conflict.

Since both parties are being “economical with the truth” here, I’m resolving this with an opposed contest of Deceit between Hollis and Dhermyrdh. Kalnardeth finds in favour of whoever wins.

Hollis has Fair Deceit.
Dhermyrdh has Great Deceit

Hollis rolls [+][+][ ][ ] for a result of Great
Dhermyrdh rolls [+][-][ ][ ] for a result of Great

That’s a tie. Which is where those aspects come in.

Those two aspects on Kalnardeth can be free-tagged, but they cancel each other out.

But Dhermyrdh has an aspect “Is going to get what he deserves”. This was the result of another psionic character (in a completely different scene) using Precognition on him.  That can now get free-tagged for +2, which clinches it for Hollis.

There is an agonising pause before Kalnardeth spoke.

“While I do not want to condemn you on the mere word of a human, the testimony of the representative of The Legion must carry some weight”, he said, “And your manner sadly leaves me with the conclusion that you do indeed have something to hide”.

“But, as they say, if you really do have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear”.

He turned to Gurnyla. “Have him reamed; find some suitable volunteers if you don’t want to dirty your own mind with whatever’s in his. Perhaps that human refugee that arrived yesterday? I hear she’s strong in The Way, and I’m sure our friend would love that”.

“Bitch”, Dhermyrth screamed at Hollis, “You will pay for this. With your life”.

“Silence!”, ordered Kalnardeth. He motioned to the mageguards. “Take him away”.

Posted in Actual Play | Leave a comment

Character Generation Playtest – First Pass, Phase One

And so begins the playtest. This is open to anyone that wants to participate; I’m not requiring any long-term commitment at this point.

We’re going to start creating characters. For the first few iterations we’re not going to proceed as far as generating any game statistics (that will come later), but generate the character stories and connections.

The players create their characters as a group. Rather than the old cliché of “You meet up in a bar”, this establishes connections between the characters before play starts. It’s a good idea to throw around a few ideas before character generation starts in earnest, especially if some players have a clear idea what sort of characters they want to play.

While some games can insist on a narrower campaign frame, with all characters members of the same clan or guild, I’m going to make this one completely open – you can be anything that’s not out of place for the setting.

Once we’re ready. we’ll start the first of four phases of character generation.

Phase One – Where You Came From

This establishes the character’s background and childhood experiences, and answers some important questions. Are you kandar, human, or something else? Did you grow up in the city, out in the sticks, in poverty, or in wealth. You will want a name at this point. Look though the first few templates to give you an idea of the sort of backgrounds that make sense in the setting.

Each player writes a paragraph on two detailing this phase in the character’s life story, and posts in the comments.

Since we’re not sitting round a physical table, and may well be in completely different time zones, we don’t have to post in any set order. But in each phase, you must reference at least one other character, either as a friend, foe, mentor, or whatever. This may be another character you introduce, who will become an NPC (a supporting character) in the game. Or it may be another player’s character, or an NPC another player has introduced. You may not introduce more than two NPCs over the course of the four phases, which means you’ll be forced to reference at least two other characters introduced by other people. This will result in a web of connections biding all the characters together.

Obviously whoever decides to go first must create an NPC. Whoever goes second may choose either the first player’s NPC, the first player’s character, or create a second NPC. The third player has more choices, and so on.

Once everyone’s posted their paragraph, we’ll move on to phase two.

Posted in Character Generation Playtest | 9 Comments

Gameplay Thoughts

I haven’t written up the gameplay chapter in any detail yet, but this what I’m a summary of what I’m planning to do to streamline FATE, which was originally designed for tabletop play, for an asynchronous Play-by-Post environment.

Again, this assumes some knowledge of FATE-speak – I do intent to describe manoeuvres, consequences and so on!

  • Combat (and other conflicts) is round-based rather than turn based. Players can post declaring their characters’ actions in any order. One every player has posted, or a pre-determined period of time has passed, the GM wraps up the round and starts the next one.
  • Combat resolution uses simultaneous combat rounds (as in FATE 2.0) rather than alternative rounds. A single skill roll covers both attack and defence, highest roll wins and inflicts damage.
  • There are no stress tracks; all damage goes straight through to consequences. I’m currently toying with the idea of using those Skills which would normally affect the length of the stress track to affect the number of shifts required for different levels of consequence and/or to take out opponents instead.
  • Players invoke or tag aspects for a +2 before any real or virtual die rolling; i.e rerolls. To avoid cluttering up gameplay threads with mechanical details, aspect use should be implied rather than explicit. This has implications on how you name aspects.
  • I’m toying with the idea of changing the way maneuvres work; when you free-tag the resulting aspect, rather than a flat +2, the bonus is the number of shifts you got. This probably needs playtesting to see if that’s unbalancing.
Posted in Development Notes | 1 Comment