Monthly Archives: January 2014

Secrets and Blessings

So Randy made a fascinating comment on twitter about Gods stealing power form each other in FAE. From what I infer, he’s using a trick I like for magic in FAE, adding an extra approach (“Mantle”) which can be used to make people more super[1]. I’m going to call them blessings, just so I don’t steal Randy’s very cool term (and so I don’t presume on what he’s doing) but the idea is pretty straightforward.

The idea of power theft is super cool, but it lead to my thinking about a slightly tangential issue, that of secrecy and prominence. That is, what if there’s a limited pool of power, and its effectiveness diminishes as it gets spread around.

So, for example, the STRENGTH OF HERCULES might be available to anyone who invokes a particular ancient ritual. For the first person who does it, it’s a +3 extra approach (blessing). But if a second person does it, then now they both have it, but only at +2. A third person? +1’s all around. And as soon as a 4th person[2] does it, then the power is too thinly distributed to help much.

What I really like about this mechanic is that it makes power a huge driver of play in the setting. Powers are now secrets with genuine value. If you have one, you want to protect it. If you don’t have one, then you want to find them. And between is a balancing act of power vs. secrecy (and assassination of anyone who knows your secret).

This can get tweaked farther with other rules, especially surrounding how you get and lose these blessings. Ideally, you want to keep some key vulnerability in play when you have a blessing, like a totem or geas which means there is always some risk to your power beyond keeping your lips sealed.

This would work very well for a modern game, since this idea really goes hand in hand with secret wars and conspiracies. There might be powers and supernatural stuff, but its very nature makes it tenuous and difficult to prove substantially.

Anyway, just a random idea, but I figured I’d throw it out there.

  1. Easiest way to use these extra approaches is to make theme supplemental – let you roll approach + blessing for extra potent outcomes. Alternately, they provide a neat avenue for extra rules if you roll them on their own, allowing you to do otherwise impossible things. For example, a “Whirlwind power/approach” might be rolled to do things like fly or push things over.  ↩

  2. Exact numbers could vary. 1 person gets +3, up to 3 get +2, Up to 10 get +1 might work, for example. The numbers you use change the story a bit, which also means it might vary form blessing to blessing, with the most powerful blessings thinning out the fastest in some cases. Hell, you could build a whole campaign around the 6 vampires who have DRACULA’S BLESSING at +2 each all looking to kill each other off.  ↩

Kickstarters I’m Watching

The kickstarters I have my eye on are largely doing pretty well. Well enough that this is more informational than promotional – it’s more for your sake than theirs.

Excited About

  • Timewatch just started today and has already funded, and with good reason.  Kevin Kulp is  a mad genius, and this may finally be the Gumshoe incarnation that busts through the economy barrier that has kept me from embracing the game.  That it includes lasers and dinosaurs is a bonus. That said, buy in price point ($25) is higher than my preference.
  • Iron Edda is either very easy or very hard to pitch.  Mechanically, it’s baselined with Fate, and it does some fun stuff with that, but the interesting bit is more in the concept – if the promise of Ragnarok heralded by Dwarven War-Mechs battled by heroes piloting the skeletons of dead giants as their own mechs doesn’t grab you, then this might not be for you, but I think that’s a hell of a starting point.  I’m biased by the fact that I played it at Metatopia, and it was a hoot.
  • The Duo Coffee Steeper is not an RPG, but I still dig it.  Just waffling on the price tag vs the coffee output.  I’m not sure it’s that much better than just doing a pourover cup (or an inverted aeropress) but it looks awesome.


Less Excited, but Have Noticed

  • Pulse Fantasy looks like a labor of love, and I will always support that, and it might be brilliant, but I can’t tell by looking at the Kickstarter page. There are a lot if generalizations but very little meat, and I admit that the cynic in me see the earmarks of someone afraid that someone might steal their ideas. This is a shame, but I wish them luck all the same.
  •  On a Roll: Level up your RPG – Modest goals and a clear value proposition are part of why this book of GM advice has already funded.  I also think it’s tied into a circle of personality I don’t have any visibility into.  Still, interesting.
  • RPG Fanatic Community Website – I think this might be trying to solve too specific a problem. The reasons for this sound too much like a laundry list of complaints with existing communities and less like a unique value.  Still, it raises an interesting question of whether kickstarter is a place to start a community.  I would think not, but I’m not 100% certain.
  • Fall of Man – I know very little about this one, but it has shown up a few times in my G+ feed, so someone’s excited about it.  Premise looks like a fun thundaar-esque vibe, and mechanically it takes the smart path of going Pathfinder for baseline, but offering support for other OGL systems.  Definitely curious.
  • Aspects of Fantasy – I know exactly nothing about this, save what it says on the tin. FATE/Pathfinder mashup is a solid hook, enough to make me curious and keep an eye open, but not enough to grab me yet.
  • The Airfoil is a really interesting looking pen, but I’m not convinced I would ever use one.


So, that’s what’s I’ve been looking at. Anything else interesting out there?


EDIT – Reminded that I forgot Storyscape, which is sufficiently ambitious that I’m not sure what I think yet.

Hook and Chain Aspects

Two FATE terms I’ve used in conversation recently, which I should write down somewhere.

Chain Aspects – Aspects which, when used, turn into another aspect. Super useful for certain types of powers or any situation where there is a setup component rather than jumping right to the end.

Hook Aspects – These aren’t aspects at all, at least in a sense. A hook aspect is a blank aspect slot on a character sheet, and it’s filled in at the beginning of the session. Depending on the game, there might be existing hooks written into the adventure for players to pick up, or it might just be what the character wants today. These are especially useful for pickup play since they make the question of why a character is hooked into an adventure a shared one rather than a pure GM responsibility.