Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Crowsmantle (and Eagle Cloaks, Owl Capes, and Beyond)

I'm running behind this week: trying to finish a public beta document for Action Cards and revising the rules (again) for Rights of Succession. Side note: Scrivener's great for organizing parts of your document, but there's nothing like learning a program while trying to actually accomplish something. So I thought I'd put up a link to another game I put together which we've been playing for a few weeks now, Crowsmantle

Crowsmantle PDF

The pitch line is: In their youth, they journeyed to a land of wonder. There they became heroes and saved lands from a great evil. Then they grew up. Now as adults, they’re called back to fight peril to a realm transformed. We seen that in a couple of other games recently: When the Dark is Gone by Becky Annison and Nest by David Goodwin. Reading the pitch line for Nest inspired pulling together Crowsmantle from an older campaign concept. I've avoided reading that Fate World of Adventure for the moment; I'm looking forward to going through it when I'm finished with the campaign. Back in February I posted some sample characters I put together for this setting. 

The rules document is rough, intended to creakily support us for a ten session campaign. I made a bad font choice and so it isn't c&p-able. I need to go back and do that, but it will require more than a little tweaking because I'm using Scribus. The mechanics come from PbtA by way of my Pug'buttah concept. It's useful to see those in play to assess them. The game's more like World of Dungeons for how stripped down it is. The rules fit with the way I run and when I look back I see mechanics I put in that I haven't actually used at the table. I don't know if adding them would make the play better or if they just ought to be cut. Mark Diaz Truman's essay from last week has me looking more closely at what I want from them. 

Bottom line: these rules function. Players could make up characters & had space to create a vision; we can easily resolve actions, and elements help reinforce character identities (primarily through keys). That's the minimum I want. I have other things I'd like it to do; if you're going to have rules they ought to make the game more fun. But I'll need to reflect on that after the campaigns finished. We have a tight limit for our sessions two hours, bi-weekly (with at least fifteen minutes eaten by tech difficulties and getting settled). Our plan is ten episodes and I hope we can manage a full arc in that space. Anyway, feel free to check it out.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

23 Things about Assassins of the Golden Age (Part Two)

Here's the second half of my Assassins of the Golden Age campaign background. As I mentioned with the first half this setting's an ahistorical jam session. Whatever the players imagine for the period exists: renaissances, piracy, musketeers, clockpunk DaVinci, etc. To quote the other post, AotGA lifts from Assassin’s Creed, Mage the Sorcerers Crusade, Lace & Steel, The Golden Compass, 7th Sea, Demon the Descent, The Three Musketeers, The Gameshouse, and more.

It's also interesting as the last OCI portal "set up" we'll be doing. Now that we have all five worlds established, we'll be able to return to them for 1-2 session episodes and adventures. When I first presented each setting, we spent at least six sessions playing in it. That gave us enough time to get the tone and dynamics. Each worlds feels different to me (and I hope the players). I'm looking forward to drawing more connections between them and seeing what paths the players trailblaze. 

9. Hiding Your Magick: Casting in a city, can be challenging. You must rely on Coincidental magick. That means when you create an effect, you hide it or make it look like something reasonable. Coincidental magick reduces backlash. The opposite of this is Vulgar magick: big, showy and clearly alien effects. That creates greater backlash. Forces from both sides can use the instruments and signifiers of the other as cover, though with less efficacy. So a Dreamspeaker in a city might use a clockwork to cast, but it isn’t as tuned to their magick. Casting in front of other mages doesn’t create paradox, but casting in front of mundanes does. Supernatural beings themselves don’t generate paradox, but their magick can be hampered in areas dedicated to Reason. Using foci and hiding your effects through coincidence can reduce backlash and paradox.

10. Familiars: Those with magickal talent manifest a “familiar” when their powers first appear. Most often this takes the form of an animal: bird, rodent, snake, cat or the like. In more unusual cases it can be an insect, a spirit, or even an elemental. As the Order of Reason has grown, their familiars have changed. They appear more mechanical. Such creatures might be made of an unusual substance, possess metal eyes, or even be entirely clockwork. Familiars act as a companion; they’re more than an inner voice and possess an independent personality. Familiars can act and travel away, but not for long. Attacking or kidnapping a familiar’s considered a grave offense and harm to one will immediately register with the owner. Some mages develop deeper connections with their familiars, granting them distinct powers. To the mundane, familiars appear as common animals and are often overlooked. All mages have familiars.

11. Europa Europa: Europa is not Europe, both historically and physically. First, the Black Sea runs all the way up to the Baltic, turning mainland Europa into an island. Second the greater gap around Gibraltar makes controlling sea passage through there more difficult. Third, the Suez passage serves as a short-cut to the Far East, fought over by the Algerian Caliphate and the Turkish Sultanate. Fourth, the rich way point islands leading to the New World lie closer to Europa. That means greater piracy and sea conflict within striking distance of the mainland. The map of the world of Europa looks quite different.

12. Getting There: Travel remains a great challenge of the age. Some magicians travel via the nightroads, paths through other realms, often guarded by dangerous creatures. Some travel via vehicles through aether or other substances. The Order of Reason in particular loves novel machinery or simply strangely fine and speedy vehicles. You don’t have to worry about that, as you rely on the powers of the Invisible City. Travel’s easy for you, harder for others.

13. Destroy History: This is an anachronistic world. Ages, peoples, and histories which did not exist together have been merged and rewritten. Di Vinci and Michelangelo operate in Italy under the watchful eyes of the Borgias, Pirates ply the waters around all of Europa, Elizabeth rules in England, Louis’ Musketeers walk the streets of Paris, Spain exists under the rules of Phillip II and his mad heir Don Carlos. If it feels sort of like it fits in this setting, then it does. It obeys no historical reality. This is a crazy, mixed up fictional setting which tosses historical reality overboard.

14. Empires of Science: Some empires aligned themselves with the Order of Reason. Byzantium stands purely as a result of the Order’s efforts. The city sustained itself in the face of an aggressive Turkish Sultanate. That enemy has repeatedly tried to seize the city and surrounding countryside. Byzantine weapons of war and reinforced architecture have repelled them. Still Byzantium has only modest influence in the area. They can protect their own waters and secure trade, but Turkish forces swarm around it, bypassing the city to reach Europa and threaten the Balkan lands. A group of Germany City-States, called the Holy German League has united under Frederick the Wise. They serve as the heartland for the Daedelans. You can find Craftmason workshops throughout the region. Northern Italy remains a bastion of the Consigners, the source of its trading prowess. Their presence has not lessened the conflicts between the city states there. Sections of Austria have come under the Order’s sway, particularly as the Turk presses forward. In each of these places you’ll see more fantastical technologies. You can find Da Vinci gadgets and devices in Genoa, Calculation Engines in Byzantium, and massive land fortresses in Berlin. The Order of Reason dominates some places and it’s easier for them to use magick there and harder for the Covenants.

15. Empires of Sorcery: In other places, magick holds sway, perhaps nowhere more strongly than in Ursus, the Russian Steep Empire. High Warlock Ivan IV has made bargains with the old powers of the land. Giants, monsters from folklore, and supernatural refugees from elsewhere have joined him there. His army of massive, intelligent warbears holds the line of defense. No one’s certain of Ivan’s intentions and he’s spurned any alliance with the Covenants. Likewise, the Turkish Sultanate employs magicians from outside the Covenants, drawn from exiles and broken factions. They rely on ancient powers of the desert and mountains. Both the Turkish and Russian Empires would be more dangerous were they not facing the rising Golden Horde from the East. Still the Covenants have some places of power, particularly old bastions hidden away in France and the Balkans. They also have a foothold in the northern Union of Kalmar, where they have support of two of the three crowns. In places where magick holds sway, you can find more official soothsayers, astrologers, and court sorcerers. In these places magick has power and effectiveness within cities, supported by native beliefs. Magick holds sway in some places, making it harder for the Order of Reason to work magick there.

16. Common Lands: Outside of those places, Magick and Reason continue to do battle. Generally Reason holds the edge in urban centers. But magick holds sway in the countryside and at the boundaries. Too much vulgar magick or technology will summon paradox in either place. Science has the edge in the city, sorcery has the edge in the country.

17. Oddities: Several neutral areas bear mentioning. Spain remains a strong and traditionalist kingdom, strongly supportive of the Church and holding one of the three Popes. The Inquisition has become a hungry institution, constantly on the lookout for new targets. Spain still basks in a kind of medieval chivalry and its nobles battle against the Algerian Caliphate, a rival to the Turkish Sultanate. The Caliphate holds lands in Europa itself, and focuses on trade and sustaining itself against Spanish crusades. The Kingdom of Poland tries to maintain a balance with its neighbors- fending off Russian incursions and German assaults. The principles of religious toleration there have made it few friends. But they hold great power over the Black Sea. Likewise England holds sway over many other sea lanes. Queen Elizabeth’s rule has seen the growth and a consolidation of her hold over Scotland and Ireland. That has been supported by her secret policy of enslavement for magickal creatures and peoples. The English have shackled the Fey and other supernaturals in their realm to their will. How remains uncertain. Many other smaller kingdom, baronies, and city-states lie scattered across Europa: the united Netherlands, German Princes, Balkan Dominions, the Swiss, and more. Some places are crazy.

18. The Third Crown of Kalmar: Two of the three crowns of Kalmar support the Covenants. The bearer of the third crown, Annalis Fredricksson left her country in secret. She travelled to Poland where she fell in love with the prince, Aleksy Sokolowski. She brought with her great powers of sorcery, drawn from old powers and an inner circle of wizards from lost houses. She has been using this in secret to help Poland keep its hold over the Black Sea, repelling Russian and German assaults. She knows revelation of these efforts could turn everything against her. A double serves in her stead in Kalmar, keeping up a pretense of dislike for the Covenants. A Queen of Kalmar secretly defends Poland with magick.

19. Outside World: Major powers and forces lie outside of Europa: African Empires, the Golden Horde, Imperial China, New World Colonies, the Shogun’s Japan, Native American nations, fragments of the Aztec and other South American nations. In general we won’t be dealing with those areas for this portal. Feel free to draw on them for background if you wish. This game will focus on Europa.

20. Magick Dust: Bits of magickal dust falls on the world when anyone casts magic. The bigger the magic, the more the dust. It's also left behind as residue when a powerful mage or scientific creation dies or is destroyed. For some the dust offers proof that both science and magick are real and exist. Some suggest it represents these forces eating away at the world. Still others that it contains a paradox not fully released. Hedge Wizards often use dust to create common “alchemy” and folk workings. Still it remains relatively hard to come by, as it can evaporate or absorb into the air in which it falls. Magick can create a kind of physical fallout.

21. Syphoners: A sub-group of the High Artificers serves a singular purpose for the Order of Reason. They gather magic dust to keep it from the common folk, reducing the belief in magic and therefore reducing the magical influence in some places. They have been studying it for and developed several theories about it. Rumor has it that dust does not have a singular form, but may be attuned to different spheres. Recently the Order of Reason purged and destroyed a research group of Syphoners operating in Ghent. Rumor has it that they had offered a heretical hypothesis about the dust. Syphoners from the Order gather dust.

22. The Prophecy: A French apothecary and a reputed seer Nostradamus has foreseen the destruction of England at the hands of the Kraken - a great aquatic monster, and legendary protector of Atlantis. The order has worked hard to discredit soothsayers like Nostradamus. Yet he’s managed to elude their grasp and deliver other dangerous prophecies. For its part, the English have placed a bounty on his head even as they quietly look to shore up their sea-defenses. The Spanish, at the same time, have taken up the idea as a harbinger of a successful naval campaign against the English. Nostradamus has foreseen destruction for England.

23. A Gathering of Witches: Salina Highmoore, a queen of witches, has gathered a small remnant of her former forces in the Black Woods of Russia. Salina escaped the destruction of the Hermetic House of Diedne. Eventually she joined the Verbena but rejected the treaty and fled. Eventually she managed to gather support among those of the magick who rejected the control of Ursus’ Imperial House. The bonded fey of Ireland managed to contact Highmoore and beg for her assistance. She seeks no to liberate them and perhaps establish a new regime there. Salina Highmoore seeks to free the fey of England.

23 Things about Assassins of the Golden Age (Part One)
Ocean City Interface: What is It?
Building City of Ocean
Sellsword Company
Neo Shinobi Vendetta
Masks of the Empire
Sky Racers Unlimited

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

23 Things About Assassins of the Golden Age (Part One)

We’re finally heading into the final portal for our Ocean City Interface campaign. That’s a multiworld, shared-character game using Action Cards. The group uncovers secrets as they shift from one portal setting to another. In between they return to the "real world" and deal with the struggle for reality taking place there. So far we’ve done Sellsword Company, Neo Shinobi Vendetta, Masks of the Empire, Sky Racers Unlimited, and now Assassins of the Golden Age.

This one’s possibly the craziest. It’s a mash-up of many,  many concepts, informed by my recent reading of Renaissance history…which I then disregard. The setting jams together Assassin’s Creed, Mage the Sorcerers Crusade, Lace & Steel, The Golden Compass, 7th Sea, Demon the Descent, The Three Musketeers, The Gameshouse, and more. As I’ve done for the previous portals, I assembled a “23 Things” list to present the background. The player who chose the portal developed some of the entries after I drafted the skeleton. This list’s longer than most so here’s the first half. I added a tl/dr summary note to the end of each entry. 

Pirates. Masked Balls. Legendary Artists. Musketeers. Virgin Queens. Papal Power. Italian City States. Strange Inventions. Dark Superstitions. Swashbucklers. New Sciences.

This is a Renaissance, but a strange one. Europa presents an amalgam of the age, an alchemy of incidents and eras blended together. Within that you and your fellows strive to protect the world from utter destruction. You are Assassins of the Golden Age.

1. The War: Few remember The War. It tore the world apart, shattered landscapes, erased families, shifted rivers, destroyed institutions, and rewrote history itself. Those who can recall it say they fought over Magick, but it wasn’t over that alone. The War encompassed control and freedom, order and chaos, tradition and inspiration.

Magick existed and had changed the world for generations. It did so hidden and out of sight; often at odds with temporal authorities. Such power remained in the hands of a few, those awakened to it. It isn’t that people didn’t know or believe in magick. They showed that belief via hundreds of superstitions, practices, and old rites. They knew the power of this low magick. But when they actually witnessed True Magick they responded with fear and disbelief.

This magick grew in the shadows, and over time new groups and circles emerged across the globe. In Europa, likeminded mages formed large and elaborate institutions. They believed themselves true heirs to magick, practicing the proper methods, and possessing a correct understanding of the rules. Then they came into contact with others outside Europa- sometimes peacefully, but often with suspicion and hatred. From this arose a new understanding of what magick represented.

Races of magick existed like the Fey, the Old Powers, the Wanderlands, the Djinn. But unlike those, humanity could personally create magick by imposing their will and belief upon the world. It required iron self-control combined with a specific understanding of the universe. And each magickal circle and tradition believed they held the true secret, the true code. That reality we call their Paradigm. A paradigm describes how a magician understands fundamental structures. Some might think magick comes from a central force of linked consciousness, others that it operates via a complex cypher, still others that it comes from spirits imbued in the world itself, and even more distant others that it derives from dreams.

From the magickal groups' struggle a split developed. On one side stood the Covenants. Each possessed a strong fundamental paradigm, but also a willingness to accept other’s practices as possible (though flawed). On the other side grew the Order of Reason. They came to believe only One True Way could exist. For some this came out of honest belief, but others felt such a paradigm gave them greater power and control. The Order’s true way based itself on science, reason, and an objective universe. They would set these rules as the only ones operating in the world, excluding other methods and nullifying them. The conflict grew as rising technologies and demonstrations of science pushed out beliefs based on subjectivity and superstition. Magick can change reality and that led to a fight bewtween those who want that a scientific reality and those who want a sorcerous one. 

2. The Truce: Then came The War. Both sides claim the other fired the first shot. Regardless for seven years magickal forces struggled across the world, with Europa as the heartland of the conflict. Massive Land-Fortresses rumbled across the countryside to battle Giants called down from the icy mountains; golden dirigibles clashed with squadrons of broom-mounted magi; massive repeating guns attempted to mow down angelic hordes sent to lay waste. The armies unleashed magicks both powerful and subtle: rewriting reality everywhere. History changed overnight. Now there was no Hapsburg Dynasty, now the Papacy shifted to Rome from Constantinople, now Henry VIII had a horde of sons to take his throne.

But the war screeched to a halt as reality fought back. It twisted and undid these changes, partially, inconsistently, dangerously. Mages began to recognize the power of belief and perception. They discovered witnesses to an event imposed their own vision on the world. So if a mob believed in magick, they could weaken the pull of technology. If they’d seen the fruits of science, they could pull down magick. But because the populace remained skeptical of each side, both failed. This failure created backlash, called Paradox. Paradox struck the magi, tweaking destinies, transforming forms, and summoning radical forces to destroy them.

It would be the Siege of Atlantis finally shattered the world. None can say who besieged who, but the sheer magickal might created an explosion of backlash and paradox that swept everywhere, changing everything. This was The Reckoning. Atlantis vanished into legend, new nations appeared, cities shifted, and languages evaporated. Only the magi and a handful of others knew the world had twisted and been broken. Many on both sides died or had been depowered. Those left standing from the Order of Reason and the Convenants struck an uneasy truce. They ceased open hostilities. Now forward battles and wars would happen quietly, behind the scenes. The conflict shifted into the shadows with agents stalking through enemy territory, striking, indoctrinating, and researching with equal vigor. The war between the Order of Reason and the Convenants changed the world and now there’s a truce.

3. A Panoply of Sides: Many describe the conflict between the Order of Reason and the Covenants as one of Science vs. Mysticism. But other issues are at stake, especially the question of Control vs. Freedom. The Order wants to establish regularity. They claim such systems will reduce dangers and problems. It can insulate the world from dangerous creatures and forces like Demons and Faery. Of course that means control and power. Yet some among the Order exalt individual freedom, at least for the superior person. A small number wish to distribute power to the masses. At the same time, some among the Covenants want to yoke the world to their own paradigm instead of science. Some factions have deep hierarchies to keep members in line. Some possess different levels of tolerance, acceptance of the foreign, ideas about equality. Individual members within a circle may defy expectations. The battle isn’t just science vs. sorcery, it includes control vs. freedom and other issues.

4. Your Mission: The struggle between the Order of Reason and the Covenants continues. Both contain good people who believe in using their magick for betterment. But others work to gain an edge, find a way to seize control, and bring about another war. Those people have to be stopped. That task falls to you. Each of you is a Wizard or an Ordainer, drawn into the service of the Invisible City after a betrayal at the hands of your fellows. Now you move back and forth between the sides, crafting identities, uncovering plots, and dispensing final justice to those who wish to destroy the world. You possess magick, though you may not appear magickal. You may manifest your talents as unerring accuracy, incredible physique, mastery of disguise, leaps of faith, or unearthly luck. You secretly work to keep the two sides from getting out of control.

5. Knights of the Hours: The Invisible City rescued you. Each of you found yourselves betrayed, murdered, or on the brink of death. At that moment the City brought you to its streets and made you an offer. You would have a new life and a chance to strike back at those who shortened your days. In exchange, you would maintain balance: protect the world from those who would push it to the brink again. The Invisible City reaches into all cities, allowing you to move swiftly between them. More importantly the city quietly reshapes the weave of the world for you. Some of you still possess your old identities, appearing to have miraculously evaded your fate. But others instead have a newly spun history. The City crafts new identities and covers as you undertake missions. It makes these out of revised memories, new families, and a new lives quietly threaded into the tapestry. Depending on time and investment, these may last for years. You serve the Invisible City which can quietly change reality to create cover identities for you.

6. The Covenants: While both sides once had many circles and factions, seven remained to each after The Reckoning, while only five survive on each side today. The Covenants or Traditions are called Covenanters or Traditionalists by others. They call themselves Wizards. These seven traditions have different names and alignments in different places. In Europa, the five are: The Order of Hermes (Hermetics), The Akashic, Dreamspeakers, The Quiet (Ahl-i-Batin), and Verbena. The ORDER OF HERMES represents traditionalism. They seek freedom to carry out magick within their rigid hierarchy. The world is governed esoteric and subjective principles. For them, Magick is its own end, and they have mastery over the sphere of Prime. The AKASHIC focus on personally channeling energies. They believe magick comes from the wheel of reincarnation and rebirth. Akashics perform striking physical actions with their mastery of the sphere of Force & Motion. DREAMSPEAKERS represent more mystical traditions, travelling to other realms, bargaining with magickal beings, and binding manifestations to their will. They believe our world is only one spiritual and illusory realm among many. Dreamspeakers have mastery over the sphere of Spirit. The QUIET came together out of besieged and shattered traditions. They see all things as connected and interrelated, symbolically, sympathetically, or literally. They affect change at a distance and slip through the world with their mastery of the sphere of Correspondence. Strange bedfellows comprise the VERBENA. Originally drawn from older Pagan traditions, they absorbed many religious Wizards who rejected the Order. They can be wild and unpredictable, often holding to the most ancient ways. They have mastery over the sphere of Nature. The five factions of the Covenants share a common belief in sorcery, but each believe they know the correct way.

7. The Order of Reason: The practitioners from the Order are called Crafters or Ordainers. Likewise, five groups remain part of their Order. The DAEDELANS focus on great works. They’re known for castles, estates, and fortresses. But they also craft massive machineries with singular purposes. They were among the first to consolidate the Order of Reason and wield great power within it. They have mastery of the sphere of Earth. The HIGH ARTIFICERS work in smaller scales, creating devices, machineries, and clockwork automatons. They’re said to work with stranger materials as well. The Artificers consider themselves artists and take great pride in their mastery of the sphere of Fire. The TEMPLARS blend a conventional religious viewpoint with a conservative outlook on obedience and control. They’re among the most active of the Ordainers, bristling at the peace. They have mastery of the sphere of Body, controlling their own as well as utilizing their arts for stranger creations. While the Daedelans founded the Order of Reason, the most influential faction today is the CONSIGNERS (aka the Guild). They operate through the arts and sciences of finance, economics, trade, and political influence. They play a long game, manipulating circumstances and attempting to control history itself. They move into any gap and space, echoing their mastery of the sphere of Water. Finally the KSIRAFAI (tr. Razors) existed well before the founding of the Order, having arisen out of a combination of old practices, arts, and beliefs. They operate in the shadows everywhere. They have perhaps the most global reach, though quietly. They Ksirafai act as the information gatherers and spies for the Order, building on their own sphere mastery over Mind. The five factions of the Order of Reason share allegiance to science, but each believe they know the right way to impose that on the world.

8. What is Magick? The magick used by the Covenants and Order of Reason works with and reshapes reality. Shared belief governs that, creating a consensual truth. When magi attempt something which appears nonsensical, reality works against it, creating Paradox. Backlash infects the caster, with unpredictable effects. In cities more people have been exposed to science and technology. The Order has an easier time working there with more fantastical instruments and inventions. In the countryside where superstition holds sway, the Covenants have an easier time using the classic instruments like wands and talismans. If you change reality in front of witnesses, their disbelief can create backlash.

PART TWO THURSDAY

Thursday, April 21, 2016

History of Universal RPGs (Part One: 1978-1993)

LUDUM UNIVERSALIS
You’d think I’d learn by now. Each time I start one of these histories, I say “How many of these games can there be?” (Spoiler: a metric ton). Every time I thought I had it all set, I found something new. Despite that I tried to keep things tight, but it got away from me. For this list I focused on games calling themselves Universal. They explicitly support play across styles & tropes. That means I left out games that cover many genres but have a specific background, setting, or theme like TORG, Fiasco, or All Flesh Must Be Eaten. I also avoided games for a particular genre that had genre-adapting supplements (Warriors & Warlocks for example). Finally, there had to be a core book for the system. So Fate works, but Powered by the Apocalypse and Unisystem don’t, despite their adaptability.

I have a Patreon for these lists. If you like them, consider contributing or resharing to spread the word.

THE ALL-IN-ONE ROLEPLAYING LIST
I only include core books here. I’m also only listing books with a physical edition. I might include an electronic release if they’re notable and of significant size. At the end you’ll see some miscellaneous entries, covering borderline or similar cases. Some selections came down to a judgement call, like Crunchy Frog’s maybe mythical parody universal rpg, Zen. That game’s completely blank with only one rule on the last page: “Play.” I’m sure I missed some releases. If you spot something Universal which came out from 1978 to 1993, leave a note in the comments.


I open with a two small press games I never, ever heard of. I've had to piece together these first entries from scattered sources. Ultimately one has pride of place as the first universal rpg, but I'll let them duke it out. The Infinity System seems to have had a limited print run. We know some games only got regional distribution in this period period and Infinity may be one of those. It combines random attribute generation with point-purchased skills. We'll see point-buy as a key element for Universal systems on this list and beyond. The mechanics feels convoluted, but the general ideas is to allow play from Stone-Age to Far Future. It includes some minor material on magic, but promises more genre details in future, never-published sourcebooks. It's a small, photocopied booklet and an errata page all tucked into a zip-lock bag.

2. Legacy (1978)
Like, Infinity, Legacy is another self-published universal game but much more ambitious. RetroRoleplaying describes the actual product as, "...a collection of loose leaf pages, looks like it was typeset with a high quality typewriter and is full of half-tone-like illos (including one of the designer on vacation). The writing style is pretentious, perhaps the most pretentious style I've ever seen in an RPG." You really have to check out the blog post on it. Legacy clocks in a 160 pages and looks like a brain-burning slog. It has some novel concepts, like civilization statistics, but ultimately it feels like a product of its time.

To illustrate this, I offer a quote from the rules, drawn from the '07 RPGNet thread examining Legacy (all sic):
3.41 INTENTIONALITY 
One of the most innovative and least understandable aspects of the LEGACY game system is INTENTIONALITY. Roughly defined INTENTIONALITY is a motivational force which tends to influence the likelyhood of things happening. When associated with an individual INTENTIONALITY signifies that the likelyhood of that individual initiating an action or activity is increased, and that the likelyhood of that action or activity having a certain outcome is also increased. When associated with an object or artifact INTENTIONALITY signifies the importance of that object as a nexus or focal point of some impending action or activity. Essentially it indicated the wampeter without giving away the identity of the karass. 
Many of the implications of INTENTIONALITY are not discussed or included in these rules, but sufficient information is present to simulate the motivational behavior of large groups of non-player characters and explain the large number of self initiated actions associated with player characters. These rules should be considered optional, and though I feel that they add significantly to the interest and value of a role assumption game other game operators may not agree with me.  
3.41.1 THE INTENTIONALITY VALUEINTENTIONALITY is measured and discussed in discrete factors which indicate a degree or amount of INTENTIONALITY present in an object or individual. The table below indicates the relative significance of varying levels of INTENTIONALITY  
INTENTIONALITY DESCRIPTION DIE ROLL EFFECTS 
0 An individual that possess a basic 1 in 1000 chance of initiating an action significant to the course of play. An object which is not a nexus at all. None  
1 An individual that possess a basic 1 in 100 chance of initiating an action significant to the course of play. An object which is a potential nexus. +2 
2 An individual that possess a basic 1 in 90 chance of initiating an action significant to the course of play. An object which is becoming a nexus. +5 
3 An individual that possess a basic 1 in 75 chance of initiating an action significant to the course of play. An object which is a secondary nexus. +10 
4 An individual that possess a basic 1 in 50 chance of initiating an action significant to the course of play. An object which is a +1 secondary nexus. +20 
5 An individual that possess a basic 1 in 10 chance of initiating an action significant to the course of play. An object which is a +2 secondary nexus. Player character. +30 
6-9 An individual with a constant chance of initiating an action significant to the course of play. An object which is a +3, +4, +5, or +6 nexus. +50 
10+ An individual or an object which is a primary nexus +100  
The chance of initiating a significant action can be determined by the role of percentile dice, or it may be reflected in a direct and and automatic assumption of action initiation as in the case of 1000 sentients with an INTENTIONALITY of 0. During each unit of time one of the 1000 sentients would initiate an action significant to the course of play. Of course significant to the course of play only means noticeable within the game. The exact action of the individual must be determined by the game operator. 
A secondary or primary nexus indicates an object or individual which may add to a specific type of die roll or to die rolls which tend to increase the likelyhood of a specific event occurring. 
The other die roll effects not related to a nexus are overall die roll modifiers and effect every die roll which that character must make for the duration of the effects of the INTENTIONALITY.
So there's that.

BRP was the first universal/generic rpg I encountered. I’m still not sure which box set it fell out of. My sister followed Chaosium avidly and I read her stuff or bought the few rpgs she hadn't. It's easy to forget how many games they released in those early days (Runequest, Stormbringer, Call of Cthulhu, Elfquest, Ringworld) plus supplements, board games, and Different Worlds magazine. Basic Role Playing first appeared as a 16-page booklet in those boxed sets. It presented the backbone of the BRP system: attributes, percentage-based skills, hit points, combat, and a couple of other details. The booklet used a generic medieval example, but implied the concepts could be used in many ways. It didn't replace the rules presented in the core books, but rather drew out and clarified them.

In doing so, it fulfilled a promise TSR had ignored. I still recall the strangeness of reading Gamma World, Boot Hill, and Top Secret and realizing they weren't out-of-the-box compatible with D&D or each other. Top Secret especially offered divergent mechanics. Conversion rules popped up in magazines (and the DMG), but otherwise it fell to house-rules and hacks.

Basic Role-Playing suggested there could be a portable set of mechanics, elaborated on in many different games. It still wasn't universal- just a skeleton. Worlds of Wonder (1982) attempted to provide a richer implementation. It contained the BRP booklet plus three distinct versions: Future World, Magic World, and Super World. Despite its ambition WoW never really took hold. Super World would be yanked out and expanded to stand on its own the following year. Magic World's concepts would be reused and diluted across other games. BRP’s approach stood on the cusp of offering a truly universal role-playing game. Instead offered a foundational system with several genre implementations. We wouldn't see a fully-fleshed BRP book until 2004.

This is another one that flew under the radar for me. The original '83 edition looks like '70s sci-fi, but the cover claims the game presents "Role Playing Past, Present, and Future, Science-Fiction and Historical Rules." All that’s done in 32 pages. To Challenge Tomorrow follows the BRP model of eliminating classes in favor of skill-based definitions. It also apparently builds on the earlier Ysgarth Fantasy rpg from the same publishers. To Challenge Tomorrow received a several setting sourcebooks including Dark Continents, EsperAgents, By the Gods, Triad, and Worlds of Adventure. The weird thing is that the 1st edition appeared in '83 and a revised 4th edition in '92. They have the same length. But I couldn't find any mentions of the 2nd or 3rd editions of TCT. I'm wondering if those were more new printings rather than new editions.

This rpg may be borderline, but there's a clear intent to offer a "universal" system. But that universality means the real world in World Action & Adventure. "Experience real excitement, fun and daring as you live any kind of character from ancient to modern times." It reminds me of Yaquinto's Man, Myth & Magic from 1982. You could argue it also should appear as a marginal case. Like MM&M, World Action and Adventure prides itself on realism and "factual data." It includes an insane number of reference tables and charts, so you know it's from the 1980's. WA&A came in a single volume hardcover, and had two supplements released the same year: WAA: Book of Animals & Geography & WAA: Actor's Book of Characters.

How does it play? "…a game leader (Action Guide)…thinks of an adventurous situation, mission, or dream. Then, the Action Guide and actors work out the solution, goal, or attainment creating dialogue and action that makes the game enjoyable. The excitement starts when the numbers on the dice are matched to the tables to determine the outcome of the actors' actions, encounters, descriptions, etc. In fact, there are over 500 tables, lists and charts to enjoy as you advance." Of course, it uses all the polyhedrals. I think my favorite part of the whole thing is the author’s picture on the back cover. It looks like a prep school snapshot complete with tie and matching pocket-kerchief. Alternately, the Animals & Geography book has a sultry pic of the designer in an Indiana Jones-esque outfit with popped collar. The blurb on the core book cover completes the awesome, "For the accomplishment of writing the World Action and Adventure series, five departments at San Diego State University awarded Gregory L. Kinney fifteen units of credit in five departments: English, Sociology, Zoology, Psychology, and Multi-cultural Education." Way to work the system!

6. GURPS (1986)
I played a lot of Melee and Wizard in grade school, buying most of the solo modules. But these games, perhaps more than any others, taught me just how bad I was at strategic play. Despite crushing losses I came away with an appreciation for point-buy fantasy systems. I even tried to grok the complexities of Advanced Melee & Wizard, as well as In The Labyrinth. I failed. Several years later, Steve Jackson hinted at a forthcoming generic system. They released Man to Man as a teaser for it. We picked it up and started playing immediately, creating a short arena-fighting/wilderness survival campaign set in Harn.

When the first GURPS box set came out, we jumped on. It spawned many campaigns, beginning with a pseudo-Amber cross-dimensional mess that illustrated the limits of this approach. Despite that GURPS became our go-to system for the next 18 years. Champions still handled supers and if you wanted gonzo fantasy, you went with Rolemaster. Otherwise most of our pick-up games used GURPS. We stuck with it through multiple campaigns and many iterations. We bought sourcebooks and then rebought their revised versions. We used and discarded crunchy gun combat, we tried complex build mechanics (like supers and vehicles) before dropping them, and we wrestled with the limitations of the magic system. In 2004 we wrapped up a multi-year steampunk fantasy GURPS campaign just as SJG announced a 4th edition. No one from our group besides me bothered to pick it up. Everyone else skipped it and put GURPS away. I did too after looking through.

Clearly GURPS (Generic Universal Role Playing System) set the standard for Universal games. It had ambition and a determination to remain grounded in reality. GURPS abstracted that reality, but tried to remain consistent and balanced, even for the craziest of material. At base it had a 3d6 simple system you could run on the fly without the book, provided you dispensed with about 90% of the rules. I loved that, creating characters without the book was a challenge. I dug the system, but I loved the GURPS sourcebooks even more. I was addicted, buying books for genres I had no interest in and no plans on playing. I loved it when we saw cross-over volumes like GURPS Mage the Ascension, though the complexity and point inflation turned me off.

GURPS was also the first time I heard push-back against universal systems. They said it did nothing well, just everything OK. I never felt that way when I played, though some genres we wouldn't even attempt with it (Cyberpunk, Supers). My dropping GURPS wasn't about it not evoking some genres, it was about the rules density I wanted from my games and my greater desire for abstraction.

7. TWERPS (1987)
After GURPS gained traction, Jeff and Amanda Dee responded with their own take on generic gaming. TWERPS "The World's Easiest Role Playing System" used one stat and a profession to define characters. The zip-lock rules bag came with the tiniest d6 d10 I’d seen. TWERPS seemed like a joke, but actually sold well around here. Some bought it as a novelty and others as a way around the rules intensity of that era’s games. TWERPS wasn't a flash in the pan. The company followed it up with multiple small setting products: Kung Fu Dragons!, Space Cadets, Super Dudes, and more. A revised edition arrived in '95, done by different authors and more joke-sy while trying to offer richer genre resources.

8. Simulacres (1988)
A French rpg from Casus Belli. The main volume, Simulacres, came out as a 96-page special release. It offered a tight set of mechanics, about ten pages worth, accompanied by seven different settings. Each genre section had different authors and ranged from medieval fantasy to pulp adventure to horror to spy stories to TV dramas. Each section had two pages of rules for handling distinct elements, followed by a 5-6 page scenario. Simulacres seems to be a touchstone for French rpg gamers, judging by the comments and arguments over it on Le Grog. The roots of Simulara seem to be a release from the comic publisher Humanoids. Called La Fleur de L'Asiamar, it had a BRP-style booklet and a scenario co-written by Alejandro Jodorowsky. Simulacres received several supplements: Aventures Extraordinaires & Machinations Infernales (a Vernian setting my Steampunk lists missed); Capitaine Vaudou (piracy); Cyber Age (cyberpunk); and SangDragon (fantasy). In '94 the publisher released a revised version which focused more on general role-play issues.

9. Binary (1990)
Another French game, apparently one page long. The minimalist Binary came in a plastic bag with those rules and an advertisement twice as long for other games. Players resolve actions by tossing a coin in Binary. Normally I'd leave something like this off, but it seems to have been actually distributed and sold in stores.

10. HERO System (1990)
We played a lot of supers in the 1980's. Champions stood on the top of the heap for local group. Sure everyone made occasional detours into V&V and DC Heroes, but GMs eventually returned to 12 phase rounds, calculated characteristics, and killing attacks. Hero Games recognized early on they could use Champions’ base system for multiple genres. They tried a few variations, like Espionage! The Secret Agent RPG, its better sequel Danger International, and Fantasy Hero. Some didn't go over well, like Justice, Inc., Robot Warriors, and Star Hero. My group stood ready for a universal edition of the system, having already adapted it to G.I. Joe, super-wuxia, and Middle Earth.

Hero delivered big with two versions: one bundled together with Champions (the big blue book) and the other a supers-free standalone. With George Perez covers and smart design, players immediately switched over. I don't think I've ever seen a smoother edition shift. Hero supported the line with theme tracks: Champions, Dark Champions, and Fantasy Hero as well as smaller genre lines like Western Hero and Cyber Hero. They'd carry that format through to 5th edition.

Hero System offered a point-based, complete construction, math-driven system. Rival GURPS collapsed and abstracted elements: you don't pay points for everything like weapons & equipment. But Hero made that an important part of play. GURPS performed well at the low end of the scale, making it ideal for "normals" games. We ran for horror, gangsters, and the like with it. But GURPS broke down at higher levels; stronger powers meant more points and more tracking. Balance went out the window. Hero had the opposite problem. It worked fantastic at higher levels, which made sense since it came out of supers. But characters felt same-y at lower levels. Options didn't feel as distinct as those offered by GURPS. In the end while we admired Hero System’s symmetry, balance, and mechanics, we went with GURPS when we weren't playing supers.

11. Saga System (1991)
This German RPG seems to be the culmination of a long-running series of generic products. The company had previously released trap books, riddle collections, fantasy settings, and a generic magic system. Saga offered a simple but complete set of rules which could be used with any of those or applied to other genres. From what I can tell it used a d20 for resolution combined with an action result table. Saga System seems to have lasted, and I believe there's still an edition of it in print today.

12. Adventure Maximum (1992)
An all-in-one system you may not have heard of that has a new edition in the works. The 160 page Adventure Maximum core book looks efficient. The back cover smartly goes through its selling points: quick character creation, comprehensive skills, simple mechanics, visual combat, and coverage for equipment & magic. The game itself feels a lot like GURPS for character creation, with advantages, disadvantages, and a stat/skill combo. But it shifts away from there to more complex terms and numbers. 

Characters choose a Creed (Saintly, Villainous, Diabolical, etc) and assign values to a Personality Profile. The PP rates your feelings about different concepts in five degrees from Love to Hate. The 15 areas include Authority, Children, Foreigners, and Torture. Then it assesses your personality traits in five degrees from Very Weak to Extreme. Attitudes include Confident, Pious, Suspicious, Vengeful. The game's character sheets take up three pages with the first for stats, that personality profile, and skills. The second tracks armor, equipment, abilities, and disads. The third covers all of the combat details. That’s important because the system rates attacks across different attack profiles (Jab, Slash, Impale, etc) and armor/damage across sixteen hit locations. Note that my assessment comes from a reading of the 2008 playtest document for a revised edition of Adventure Maximum, so the original may be different. The designer has continued to work on the system and you can check out his blog here.

13. Amazing Engine (1993)
Prolific designer David "Zeb" Cook took the lead in this, TSR's first attempt at a universal system. The Amazing Engine base rules came as a 32-page booklet. This covered the basics of character creation, action resolution, and combat. Amazing Engine took the standard path of stats and skills combined with a point-buy approach. It also went with with percentiles for tests. The whole idea wasn't bad. GURPS had cut a path for them and seemed to be doing well. However the Amazing Engine line lacked focus and support. As well the settings on offer weren't that exciting or spectacular. Non-TSR gamers thought they looked weak and TSR gamers stuck with tried & true AD&D products. The company released nine setting supplements: For Faerie, Queen and Country, Bughunters, Magitech, The Galactos Barrier, Once and Future King, Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega, Kromosome, and Tabloid!. They all felt middle of the road, with perhaps the exception of Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega which tried to reignite that franchise. One year later TSR, still flailing for direction, shut down the line.

14. Theatrix (1993)
Theatrix is a strange beast. I remember flipping through it and being turned off by the references to dramatics, directing, and staging. I read that as pretentious rather than innovative. I was firmly embedded in the classic gaming culture of the time. Both the local game store and gaming community had begun to pull in several directions: Old Grognards, Standard Trad Gamers, Storygame LARPers, and an incoming generation just picking shiny things off the shelf. In particular LARP and anything that smacked of LARPing got a bad rep from the older gamers. I assumed Theatrix was just another Mind's Eye Theatre thing, which it wasn't. The company didn't do itself any favors with its first setting supplement: Ironwood, Bill Willingham's soft-core fantasy sex comic. We had to pull that off the shelf.

But there's a lot of amazing stuff in Theatrix I missed. It offered a diceless system (with optional diced mechanics), collaborative creation, aspect-like approaches, a focus on improvisation, and highly scalable mechanics. However for all it wants to be simple and easy to play, Theatrix obscures the rules. Some of that comes from overwriting and over explanation. The game has minimal Basic Rules, but then straps a ton of other stuff to that. But more opacity comes from the desire to use dramatic, theatrical, and cinematic terms and ideas for everything. The whole thing feels like it could be cut down by at least two-thirds. Still it's daring for the time and a strong precursor for games like Primetime Adventures.

This game has quite the cover. It’s like a Geocities page. WEBS is a self-published, universal system that seems to rework of D&D. It uses stats, skills, and point-buy. The points seem ridiculously high, with a human starting out at 2000BP. The system has skills and sketchy versions of magic and psionics. While the core book's only 86 pages, 24 of that's given over to equipment. WEBS seems like a heartbreaker hodge-podge. Yet they released a second edition two years later, managed to get tepidly positive cover blurbs from Shadis & Starlog, and even released a sci-fi supplement twice as long as the core book. I don't know what to make of that. For a detailed review, check out this one on RPGNet.

16. Universal Adjacent
Several games in this period took a generic, settingless, or multidimensional approach:
  • Dream Park: You play as character playing in a park as characters. A short and solid game that had pregens for quick play and light, adaptable rules.
  • In The Labyrinth: As I mentioned above, ITL aimed for a flexible fantasy system which many people adapted to other genres.
  • Lords of Creation: A game taking place across all times, dimensions, and myths. While it has a universal approach, there's a strongly sketched frame. Players are the Lords of the title, gaining power to shape reality.
  • Morpheus: The Roleplaying System of the Mind's Eye!: Playing in a future VR reality. The back cover states that it has been "(h)eralded as the best roleplaying system ever developed." Wow!
  • Phoenix Command: A multi-volume, suuuuper crunchy system, which tries to just model combat. And guns. Lots and lots of guns.
  • Risus: The Anything RPG: This only gets left off the list because it’s an electronic release. A great and simple system. It arguably influenced later designs.
17. Universal Aspiring
Several of the game systems of the era had portability, but never went full universal. TSR chose not to carry the same mechanics across their different rpgs. Others embraced that, whether for convenience or the desire to keep refining their work. Palladium Megaversal's probably the most important of these. A similar basic system powered Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rifts, Palladium Fantasy, Beyond the Supernatural, and many more. They weren't exactly compatible, but you could make the transition. In ’91 they released the Palladium Conversion Guide. Tri-Tac likewise used the same clunky system across all of their titles: Stalking the Night Fantastic, Fringeworthy, FTL: 2448, and beyond. They had differences in stats and skills, but each shared core systems like insanely detailed hit locations. You could also see parallel mechanics in several FGU titles (Bushido, Daredevils), but they had even more titles which spiraled off in other directions.

In another approach, Iron Crown Enterprises tried to establish compatible systems for the big two genres: fantasy (Rolemaster) and sci-fi (Spacemaster). Likewise the French system Mega went through several iterations with different genres. But ICE also dabbled in strange genre books (Oriental Companion, Robin Hood, Cyberspace, Outlaw). They wanted RM to be universal without a stand-alone universal system book. White Wolf also built a cross-platform engine with Storyteller. They bolted a ton of disparate games to it. Eventually that lead to an 'almost' universal system with World of Darkness.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Magic, Inc: Personnel Files

One of the two things I’m taking to Origins Games on Demand is Magic, Inc.: slacker office workers in a supernatural corporation trying to keep their jobs. I posted some departments from it a couple of weeks ago. I've done a f2f playtest with character playbooks and special decks. It went off well and I spotted a few things to tweak. For example, everyone picked Magick as part of their Training & Experience. So I’ll make that a default and add in another pick. Below are some notes on the system and the selections for three of the sample roles: Financial, Reception, and Drone. I’ll talk about Keys & the Personality Profile in another post. Strength & Flaw picks generate special cards which get added to the character’s deck.

SKILLS
  • ACCOUNTING: Math, business, and number…stuff.
  • AUDIT: Research, investigation, and locating stolen lunches.
  • AVOIDANCE: Fleeing, dodging things, and ducking out early.
  • GRIND: Willpower, data entry, and overtime.
  • IT: Information technology, computers, and floating down here.
  • LABWORK: Science, procedures, and domestic chemistry.
  • LIES: Deception and budget assessment.
  • OFFICE POLITICS: Knowing Magic, Inc
  • PILFER: Petty theft, carry-in scavenging, and lockpicking.
  • REPAIR: Mechanics, turning on and off, and general fixes.
  • ROUGHHOUSE: Fightin’ n such.
  • SCARE: Causing terror, intimidation, or popping up unexpectedly.
  • SCHMOOZE: Charm, awkward insertions, and talking yourself up.
  • SPORTS: Athletics and exercise. Includes fantasy football.
  • TRIVIA: Lore, miscellaneous information, and “well, actually”.

CONFLICTS
There are three kinds of damage all measured on a single track, called Suffering:
  • Wounds: Physical damage from faceslaps, fireballs, or falling photocopiers.
  • Attention: Getting noticed and marked for HR review. Possibly hit with a promotion to a position where you actually have to work.
  • Stress: Being yelled at.

CHARACTER CREATION
  1. Pick title. This serves as an Aspect.
  2. Choose Name.
  3. Identify your Demographics
  4. Assign 12 checks to skills.
  5. Pick three from Training & Experience
  6. Pick three from Personality Profile
  7. Pick Two Strengths
  8. Pick One Flaw
  9. Describe the dirt you have on the character to your left

Role: FINANCES
DEMOGRAPHICS (PICK ONE EACH FROM A & B)
A                                             B
Demonic                             Airbender
Mind-Wiped                        Animated Doll
Mirror Universe                  Cat-Person
Mundane                            Human
Psychic                               Luchadore
Variable                              Scarecrow

TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE (PICK THREE)
  • Accountant: You have an acute eye for accounts. You can easily pick out patterns and problems in a ludicrously short time.
  • Armor of Fear: You can use Scare (Social) as a defense, but only until the first time you’re dealt suffering. You make opponents hesitate, but when someone shows them you’re only…human(?) your advantage vanishes.
  • Bad Temper: You do +1 damage when you Yell at Someone.
  • Gold Star: You begin with another title you can invoke for an effect. You also start with +1 fate points.
  • Mentor: You have a mentor or patron with access to special knowledge. Once per session you may freely invoke your mentor as an aspect in appropriate situations (to represent insight, advice gained from contacting them).
  • Magicks: You have a Supernatural Talent. Choose an Aspect for it and two actions it can be used for (Overcome, Create Advantage, Discover, Defend, Attack).

PERSONALITY PROFILE (PICK THREE)
  • Key of the Commander: You love being in charge. Gain a point when you come up with a plan and giveorders to make it happen.
  • Key of Procedures: Things have rules. People are supposed to stick to the rules. That’s how things should work. Gain a point when you try to correct someone’s violation of a rule.
  • Key of Reputation: You’ll make a name for yourself! Gain a point when you brag in in the wrong place to enhance your reputation.
  • Key of Soft Touch: You are, at heart, kind and gentle. Gain a point when you show kindness or mercy.
  • Key of the Traveler: You love talking about travelling & seeing sights. Gain a point when you drop an offhanded brag about your travels and how it connects to the present situation.
  • Key of the Unrequited: You fall into love and infatuation easily and deeply. Gain a point when you fixate on a new person.

STRENGTHS (PICK TWO)
  • Executive Material
  • Idealist
  • Leader
  • Prepared

FLAWS (PICK ONE)
  • Confrontational
  • Gullible
  • Obsessive
  • Uncoordinated

Role: RECEPTION
DEMOGRAPHICS (PICK ONE EACH FROM A & B)
A                                             B
Celebrity                             Deep One
Demi                                   Gremlin
Enchanted                          Human
Mundane                            Vampire
Paroled                              Werewolf
Prince(ss)                           Zombie

TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE (PICK THREE)
  • Eavesdropper: On a successful Audit test to create an advantage or discover via eavesdropping, you can ask one additional question or create one additional aspect (though this doesn’t give you an extra free invocation).
  • Heard it Before: You take one less Suffering when someone Yells at You.
  • Know the Lingo: You’re excellent at talking with a particular group (name it now or later). You get a +1 any time you try to negotiate or chum up with them.
  • Name Tags: When you meet someone new, you can spend a fate point to declare you’ve met them under a different name & identity. Create an aspect to represent your cover story, and you can use Lies for any social checks when interacting with that person.
  • Rumormonger: You gain +1 to create an advantage when you plant vicious rumors about someone else.
  • Magicks: You have a Supernatural Talent. Choose an Aspect for it and two actions it can be used for (Overcome, Create Advantage, Discover, Defend, Attack).

PERSONALITY PROFILE (PICK THREE)
  • Key of the Bad Break-Up: Your significant other left, truly and finally. Gain a point when you make a connection between something in a scene and your ex.
  • Key of the Bruiser: You enjoy overpowering others. Gain a point every time you defeat someone solo.
  • Key of Curiosity: Gain a point whenever you your curiosity sidetracks you or gets you into trouble.
  • Key of the Impostor: You are in often disguise. Gain a point when you perform well enough to fool someone with it.
  • Key of the Matchmaker: You like seeing romantic pairings work, though perhaps not your own. Gain a point when you try to set up two (or more) persons (or things).
  • Key of the Watercooler: You like rumors & hearsay. Gain a point when you spread gossip about someone you shouldn’t.

STRENGTHS (PICK TWO)
  • Lucky
  • Quick Thinker
  • Recycler
  • Studious

FLAWS (PICK ONE)
  • Guilty
  • Needy
  • Self-Absorbed
  • Unfocused

Role: DRONE
DEMOGRAPHICS (PICK ONE EACH FROM A & B)
A                                             B
Ancient                               Angel
Enlightened                        Doppelganger
Foreign Exchange              Elf
Glowing                              Frankenstein
Half-Blood                          Ghost
Mundane                            Human

TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE (PICK THREE)
  • Alarmist: You’ve run into enough traps and alarms to gain an instinct for avoiding them. You gain +1 to checks to spot and notice them.
  • Duck and Cover: You take one less damage when someone Points You Out.
  • Giant-Killer: You do +1d damage in conflicts with opponent much larger or important than you.
  • Voice of Reason: You’re adept at stepping into a bad situation and dialing it down to something more reasonable (or dial up into more crazy). So long as you are not the direct reason someone is upset, your attempts to calm or incite gain a +1 bonus.
  • Without a Trace: By spending a fate point, you can move through cubicle farms and leave no trace. You can also rifle colleagues’ desks and leave them the way you found them.
  • Magicks: You have a Supernatural Talent. Choose an Aspect for it and two actions it can be used for (Overcome, Create Advantage, Discover, Defend, Attack).

PERSONALITY PROFILE (PICK THREE)
  • Key of Klepto: Other people have nicer things. Gain a point when you riskily steal someone’s stuff or score a big payoff.
  • Key of Martyrdom: You thrive on suffering. Gain a point every time you take on someone else’s workload.
  • Key of the Nice Girl: Gain a point when you do something nice because that’s what’s expected of you.
  • Key of Panic: The pressure’s on. Gain a point every time you take a condition card.
  • Key of the Prudent: You avoid combat like the plague. Gain a point when you flee a potentially dangerous situation.
  • Key of the Twice Shy: You’ve learned to avoid blame, and credit. Gain a point when you pin your success on someone else.

STRENGTHS (PICK TWO)
  • Ambitious
  • Bargainer
  • Model Employee
  • Tester

FLAWS (PICK ONE)
  • Careless
  • Cursed
  • Passive-Aggressive
  • Troublemaker