A Stripped Down version of Strands of Fate, Shadow Hunters
SRD for Strands of Fate Adventure 2 - “Shadow Hunters”
Setting Explanation: Inspired by the X-Files and Modern D20’s Urban Arcana, this RPG world has supernatural conspiracies and crimes the characters investigate. Often evidence suggests more than a mundane explanation, but characters are free to believe what they will. The best party composition ideally has one “believer” and one “skeptic”.
Setting Themes: Conspiracy, Hidden World of Occult, Paranormal or Coincidence?
Characters (these are just ideas, you are free to make something in a similar vein, though they ought to have a strong motivation and a strong, focused competency):
FBI Agent assigned as punishment by his boss to work weird cases his boss wants cleared up
Occult bookstore owner and expert, do his spells and weird rituals work or is he just lucky?
Tech and Security Ace and avowed conspiracy theorist, who lost his government job when she ‘got too close to the truth’.
A local priest who has watched the community around him suffer from what he suspects are supernatural forces, and is reluctantly using his faith to combat them.
Physicist and inventor distraught over a deceased loved one - desperately trying to find evidence of “more than the physical world”
A investigative reporter whose mentor has been put in a coma investigating something strange
Use of Scopes limit what can be brought to bear, but also limit GM Difficulties. Basically you can only use 1 of each “flavor” of scope to affect a roll.
Defining Aspect / Motivating / Scene or Setting / Character Aspect / Equipment / Opposing Character Aspect (if known)
Maneuvers are unlimited.
Lessons Learned from Initial SoF Play
After the last time we played, I’d like to try a “stripped down” version of Strands and see what happens. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it in the past, but the primary goals of my online experience is to create adventures with Convention replay value that clock in at 4 hours.
This is a bit of a reaction to the Russian adventure and learning some lessons from Lady Blackbird.
A couple observations:
People seemed to scramble to find ways to modify rolls, usually looking through advantages, slowing play.
Lesson: lots of advantages slow play, advantages are typically less desirable from a gaming perspective than aspects, which all work the same and have flexibility
Lots of aspects/ Fate points take longer to stack as a player and create “difficulty inflation” on the part of the GM. A difficulty 2 roll ought to be a standard “honest” difficulty for most tasks.
Scopes (as taken from some other Fate implementations) and fairly low Fate points stop difficulty inflation. Less aspects with simple elegant wording creates more focussed, easy to understand characters for both the player and GM, who is expected to make rulings based on his understanding of player generated aspects.
Bad guys are too homogeneous in stats, which doesn’t serve story. I wanted to run a gritty game, but after the first encounter, realized that some people meant to be disposable thugs had a real chance to kill the party.
Creating more variation in opponents, a lesson learned from Dungeons and Dragons 4th Ed can create more interesting conflicts. Minions and other types of NPC’s make better stories and more varied conflicts.
A lot of advantages deal with ammunition use, which is something I don’t really want to deal with as GM, and don’t want players to deal with unless it adds a dramatic moment to the game.
A simple rule that would add drama is at any time the GM can negotiate “out of ammo” with a player, the baseline offer being:
Get a fate point to Roll Reason at a Difficulty of 2 to see if you have ammo left.
Also, Fate points may be spent to say you have a commonly available, easily justifiable, portable piece of equipment, on you as well.
These are new, slightly more streamlined damage rules, based on Dresden Files and Spirit of the Century RPG (though merged with Strands a bit).
A character has a SINGLE damage track for each category of stress (Physical, Mental, Social). This is still calculated by adding 2 relevant abilities (Strength and Endurance, for instance). Boxes are checked off as damage is taken, though if they hit a box already filled, they “roll up”.
All characters have the ability to take “consequences” - special aspects that reflect damage. These consequences absorb 2, 4 and 6 stress respectively. If an attack cannot be absorbed by stress boxes, cannot be absorbed by consequences and cannot be negotiated into a concession, ends in the defeat of the character.
2 Mild1st tag free1 SceneRoll, Diff 2
4 Moderate2 tags free2 ScenesRoll, Diff 4
6 Extremepersistent4 ScenesRoll, Diff 6
Social Consequences last 3 times as long.
Example of Consequences
sprain, flesh wound, pulled muscle, concussion, dumped, overworked, intimidated, neighbors questioned by police about you, demoted
beaten up, bleeding badly, badly burned, fired, legal problems
beaten to a pulp, shot and losing blood, wanted, ready to break, bankrupt
Follow these new guidelines, meant to allow flexibility and create simplicity.
24 Ability Points
1 Defining Aspect
1 Motivating Aspect
3 Additional Aspects (these need not be tied to abilities)
Additionally you have 20 Advantage Points to spend any way you choose on the following:
Abilities (2 points per, max of 5 in any ability)
Refresh (3 points per Fate Point)
Additional Aspect (cost 2 AP)
Expert Advantages (worth 1 AP)
Heroic Advantages (worth 2 AP)
Advancement - after each completed adventure, a character gets 3 advantage points.
Choose Reasoning or Knowledge as an affinity ability. If you have adequate tools (a medical kit or access to a hospital) and succeed a check (the same Difficulty needed to remove or downgrade the consequence) you reduce the Difficulty on the Endurance roll by 2 to remove or downgrade Physical stress. A person may only benefit from a single medic, though others may assist in the medic roll, through maneuvers.
Choose Knowledge or Empathy as an affinity ability. If you take time to talk in a calm environment with a person and succeed a check (the same Difficulty needed to remove or downgrade the consequence) you reduce the Difficulty on the roll (usually Willpower) by 2 to remove or downgrade Mental stress. A person may only benefit from a single Confidant, though others may assist in the Confidant roll.
Choose Knowledge or Persuasion as an affinity ability. If you use your knowledge of public relations or status as a pillar of the community and succeed a check (the same Difficulty needed to remove or downgrade the consequence) you reduce the Difficulty on the roll (usually Persuasion) by 2 to remove or downgrade Social stress. A person may only benefit from a single Public Relations person, though others may assist in the roll. Note this takes 3 times as long as other types of efforts to remove stress.
same as Medic, but you can choose to give your Patient an +1 on the roll to remove Minor consequences, and cut the duration in half to roll to recover from Moderate and Extreme consequences.
same as Confidant, but you can choose to give your Patient an +1 on the roll to remove Minor consequences, and cut the duration in half to roll to recover from Moderate and Extreme consequences.
same as Public Relations, but you can choose to give your Client an +1 on the roll to remove Minor consequences, and cut the duration in half to roll to recover from Moderate and Extreme consequences.
Special Advantage - Narrativist Power
(cost 2x Affinity Ability in AP, in order to advance power you must advance all at once)
Choose a specialty/affinity from the following list:
Psychic (auras, visions and people) - Willpower
Magical (spells and demons) - Willpower or Knowledge
Faith (angels and demons) - Willpower or Knowledge
Inventions (gizmos and weapons) - Craft
Hacker - (security, communications and information) - Reason
Discuss how you see your character’s power operating with the GM, and maybe write a paragraph on it.
3 - something easy (Psychic picks up a strong mood, a blessing spell to give a fragile aspect, pull out a simple tool for the job)
5 - something of medium difficulty (Psychic up an important name, a spell to cause a detect a hidden demonic influence, create a 1-shot device of unusual effect)
7 - something tough (Psychically push the guard to go to the bathroom, a spell to unlock a barred door, whip up a device that gives you significant advantage for a scene)
9 - something really hard (Psychically cause a brain aneurism, summon an invisible spirit, create an unusual device that functions for an adventure).
Resistance: When you try to use an effect on something, the GM may factor in resistance - a Faithful person using his faith to push back a vampire is going to have better luck on one with a low Willpower score. A psychic might find it a lot easier getting someone to pick a different movie to see than shoot his mother in the temple with a gun.
Damage: Supernatural abilities can be used as a weapon, and are resisted by the most common sense ability (Psychic brainmelt: Willpower, Magical Fire or a Lightning Gun: Agility) but the Roll is at -2, with no Weapon Rating, so you probably will not be leaving your gun at home.
Zones/ Additional Targets: For a -2 on a roll, a user can choose to affect a zone OR 1 additional target.
The owner of the power should describe effects in such a way that it never results in provable evidence of the existence of extraordinary abilities. This might be a matter of self preservation (a psychic doesn’t go to the racetracks because he gets headaches and nosebleeds) or nature of the effect (a spell summons an invisible demon, or creates an intangible luck effect).
Defining Aspect: Hardened and Skeptical FBI Paranormal Investigator
Motivating Aspect: Solve the case; protect the innocents
“I put in my time at the Gym and the Gun Range”
Trained Negotiator, Interrogator and Investigator
“I can always fall back on the Bureau or my contacts”
Agility2 Endurance3 Strength3 Perception2
Craft1 Reasoning3 Knowledge2 Willpower2
Deception2 Empathy2 Persuasion2 Resources1
Scene of the Crime (+2 Perception Rolls at Crime Scenes)
Sense Deception (+2 to Empathy Rolls to determine if you are being lied to)
Weapon Specialist (+1 with Projectile Firearms)
Physical OOOOO (total of 15/12, threshold is 5/7/9/11)
Mental OOOOO (15/12)
Social OOO (6/12)
Charles “Charlie” Weaver
Defining Aspect: Occult Bookstore owner
Motivating Aspect: Discover if what’s in the books is true
“Luckily, I’ve read several volumes on the subject.”
Worldly, Well-Read, and Well-Travelled
Approachable and Warm personality
Agility2 Endurance2 Strength2 Perception3
Craft1 Reasoning2 Knowledge4 Willpower2
Deception1 Empathy3 Persuasion2 Resources1
Book Worm (+2 to research a subject)
Smooth Over (+2 persuasion to calm others)
Well Known (In occult and paranormal circles, he gets a +2 persuasion for a single roll)
Occult Expert (Narrativist Power Keyed on Knowledge)
Charlie runs a small bookstore which is the preeminent source of Occult and Paranormal books, and he has read almost all of them (to the detriment of his business). He is not a spellcaster per se, but is one of the few people who can tell you a mixture of rock salt and ash will keep a ghost at bay, or tell you fact from fiction about vampires. His use of this power tends to be to identify
and react to things - he’s never blasted fireballs or created a zombie. Though he can tell you thistles ward off Southeastern asian vampires, and he might even have some on him.