A quick note about the information presented below: I’m not going to be explaining all the ins and outs of theÂ Nephilim game. If you’re really confused by stuff, I urge you to grab the pdf of the game to follow along. You can get it at theÂ Chaosium site, and the entire line is available atÂ RPGnow. It’s well worth the purchase. AndÂ Fate Core is available fromÂ Evil Hat Productions. Also very much worth it.
I sat down with myÂ Nephilim pdf the other night, and looked through it, making a list of things that I would have to address in converting the game toÂ Fate Core ((No idea what I’m talking about? You should read the first post in this series.)). Below is my list, along with my initial thoughts on how I might convert that element. This is early days, yet; I expect that I will find the list changing, as I find things to add or decide that items on the list really don’t need special attention, and definitely I expect my approach to individual elements to change.
As mentioned, I think that the past lives can be addressed as modes, as seen inÂ Atomic Robo RPG.Â BetweenÂ Nephilim andÂ Chronicle of the Awakenings, there are 27 different eras for the characters to pick for their previous lives, each of which has five or six different classes of person. Creating an individual mode for each of these potential incarnations is not only a lot of work, but many of the modes would be very similar.
I think that a simpler approach would be to create a basic mode for each general type of person in each broad category of eras: Ancient Warrior, Medieval Aristocrat, Modern Serf ((Yeah, that’s not the right name, but you get the idea.)), etc. Maybe give each mode a set of five skills, of which the player must pick three – that’ll allow some customization of each mode.
There are some great random tables with each life that I think are useful/interesting enough to keep: class of the simulacrum, stasis item for the first incarnation, and stasis event. Now, I think it’s important that the players have the option to choose those things themselves during character creation, but I also think that having the random options available is useful for those who don’t have a really good idea or just want to let part of the character creation rest in the hands of chance. Using those tables straight from theÂ NephilimÂ books works fine, as there are no mechanical trappings to them.
An important consideration is how many past lives each character has access to, which brings us to Ka.
Ka is the central mechanical definer of theÂ NephilimÂ character. During character creation, you spend Ka to buy past lives, meaning you are making a determination between the skills available to your character and your character’s raw power. In that respect, Ka maps nicely to Refresh. I’ll have to so some thinking and juggling to come up with the right number of starting Refresh – how many incarnations do I expect the characters to start with? What does each incarnation cost? How about stunts? I may go with the standard 3 Refresh, a few free incarnations, and a few free stunts ((Three, three, and three? TheÂ UA fan in me likes that set-up, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.)). Or, maybe giving everyone a big stack of Refresh but making them pay for everything is the way to go. Have to think about that.
The catch is that Ka is more than just the power currency of the game. It also has different flavours – the elemental affinities of the characters that do a lot to define identity, outlook, and abilities.
Each character has their base Ka, as noted above, plus five types of elemental Ka: Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Moon ((There’s also Solar Ka, Black Moon Ka, and Black Solar Ka, but those are all NPC concerns, so I can pretty much ignore them. At least, for now.)). These different Ka ratings govern magical ability with those elements, as well as the Metamorphosis of the character. Your dominant Ka, the element that you most identify with, then you have the neutral-favourable element, the neutral-unfavourable element, the minor opposite element, and the major opposite element.
I think it may be my best bet to divorce this from the overall Ka rating above, maybe turning it into a simple set of bonuses and penalties ranging from +2 to -2 ((+2 dominant, +1 neutral-favourable, +0 neutral-unfavourable, -1 minor opposite, -2 major opposite.)). This allows the ability to apply the Ka element modifiers to anything having to do with that element, including the symbolic associations with physical and mental abilities, where Fire Ka adds to feats of strength, and Water Ka adds to agility stunts, etc.
That’s sounds pretty powerful, though. Especially if I allow any stunts to boost the bonuses or ameliorate the penalties. If I do go that way, I think it would have to be a static thing.
Which means that basic method of Metamorphosis won’t work.
Metamorphosis is the way in which the spiritual and magical growth of the character changes the physicality of the host body. In the main rulebook, this change is tied to the elemental Ka increase.Â Chronicle of the Awakenings offers a different system, based on emotions. Thus, instead of the Djinn getting hotter as its Fire Ka grows, it becomes hotter the more energetic it is.
So, I’m thinking the emotional system works best. Especially if each of the emotions is an aspect, with maybe a track of three boxes. Each time the emotional aspect is invoked or compelled, the player gets to mark a box. When all three for a given emotion are marked, that part of the metamorphosis is fulfilled, granting whatever benefit that gives ((I’ll have to work out some examples, of course. And maybe three is the wrong number of boxes.)).
There’s also the possibility of pairing the emotional aspect with its opposite, and unmarking a box whenever that opposite aspect is compelled or invoked. Or maybe just unmarking a box when the character acts according to the opposite emotional aspect. That starts to look a little fiddly to me; maybe best if I increase the number of boxes in the track to five. I guess it depends on whether I want the up-and-down of the Metamorphoses, and how awesome the benefits are.
I may need to make some era-specific skills: Fighting (Ancient), Fighting (Modern), etc. Not sure, though; have to think about the benefit of such things versus the dilution of the skill point pool. Also, I don’t necessarily want a miles-long skill list on each character sheet.
There also need to be skills for the three magic types: Sorcery, Summoning, and Alchemy. Of course, I’ll have to figure out how those systems are working inÂ Fate Core, as well.
There definitely needs to be a Ka Vision skill.
Now, one of the mainstays of theÂ Nephilim skill list is Life Experience, where each incarnation grants a separate skill to know about stuff in the incarnation era. I think this may be better inÂ Fate Core as just a list of incarnation eras on the character sheet, showing which eras the character can apply their skills to. That would also mean I don’t have to create era-specific skills, so I like that idea. Let the character use skill points to buy familiarity with the modern era after a few sessions, when it starts to get boring that they don’t understand cars and cell phones.
Physical stress is good as it is. Mental stress is fine, but for flavour, I think renaming it as Spiritual stress works better in this setting.
I’m toying with the idea of adding a Ch’awe track to model the magic point system fromÂ Nephilim. On the other hand, it might be better to adopt the stress costs of magic fromÂ DFRPG, applying the cost of casting to Spiritual and Physical stress tracks. I think I’ll have to take a look and see what other things in the game would impact Spiritual stress before deciding if I need a third stress track, or if that means that Spiritual stress is kind of redundant and useless.
I will need to figure out what kind of character stat block I use for the possessed body, including what kind of skill list it has. And then I’ll need to create several of them ((Or come up with a system where players can quickly and easily build their own.)). This is where I’ll have to do some thinking about Solar Ka, and how it affects the possession attempt. And what skill ((I’m thinking Will.)) the character will use to attempt possession, and what skill ((Again, probably Will, possibly with a Solar Ka bonus.)) the target will resist with.
Actually, if I decide that Solar Ka is the fate point pool that the target has, that makes it useful in resisting possession, but also more flexible than that. That may be the way to go.
Using the simulacrum’s skills should be slightly problematic, as it is inÂ Nephilim. Don’t know how to model that: Spiritual stress hit, maybe? And incorporating those skills into the Nephilim from the simulacrum can probably be done with skill points received through milestones. One of those skills, maybe, is the general knowledge of the modern world, which would allow the Nephilim to add the modern era to the list of familiar eras. That could work.
Obviously, Shouit should occur when the Nephilim takes too much Spiritual stress. Should it be a consequence, or the result of being taken out? Have to think about that.
That covers most of the character creation issues. I’m gonna keep thinking about them. I’ll be back in a few days to take a look at the other stuff in the game that needs to be converted. It’s mostly to do with the wonderful, flavourful ((But very complex.)) magic system.