Here we go.

Lanodantheon says:

When I asked my question earlier I never got around to mentioning that your playtest campaign greatly amused me 2-fold. I loved the characters and the stories and because my family’s originally from Winnipeg. Reading about it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Cool! You may have already seen it, but this is what we did with Magical Winnipeg, using the original playtest chapter on city building.

Anyway, I got some more questions I hope you could answer:

1. You mentioned that Conviction determines the power you can draw in and Discipline determines your control of backlash, but what does Lore do? I read somewhere that it has something to do with your spell selection.

Lore is very important in Thaumaturgy, because it lets you build the ritual you need for the effect you want. Basically, you can perform rituals with a complexity of your Lore rating or lower off the cuff, but you need to spend time researching, experimenting, and setting up symbolic connections (i.e. make a Lore check) for rituals of greater complexity. For Evocation, your Lore rating determines how many rote Evocation spells you know – these are dependable, relatively safe applications of power. Lore also determines the base power of any enchanted items you create.

2. Items of Power, magical foci and intellect spirits in skulls. How much are these things? I know that crafted items like blasting rods are slot based from the magical abilities you have but what do you use to buy them(in system)?

There are different ways to handle different kinds of enchanted items. Characters with Evocation or Thaumaturgy get a number of slots to spend on focus items (for things like staves and blasting rods). You can trade those in for double the number of enchanted item slots (for things like Harry’s force rings). If you’re looking for something substantially more powerful (like a Sword of the Cross, for example), you can take the Item of Power supernatural power. And you can add some extra flexibility to items that you really depend on by making them Aspects, as well, which makes it easier to spend Fate Points on them when you need to. For something free-willed like an intellect spirit in a skull, to model that in the game, I’d recommend taking it as an Aspect, and maybe a Mortal Stunt or two to have it help you with Lore checks or Investigation. You could still invoke the Aspect with a Fate Point to get it to do some other stuff – like possessing your cat, or whatever.

3. related to 2: Say I’m a 2-bit Sorcerer character who hit it big and scored a major magical item. How expensive are the major magical items like a Shadow Cloak and a broom…no Hockey Stick of Flying.

Well, if you just have Thaumaturgy at the basic level, with no Refinements spent on extra slots, you could have up to four enchanted item slots if you didn’t want any focus items. A Shadow Cloak that adds your Lore to your Stealth skill once per session would cost one slot. If you want it to be always on, it would still cost one slot, but would only add half your Lore to your Stealth. You can bump up the power by one level per extra slot you spend on it.

Now, if you want something with a little more oomph to it, you probably want to take the Item of Power ability from Supernatural Powers. That gives you something a little bit beyond the basics, but it costs Refresh, just like any other Supernatural Power. A Hockey Stick of Flying that lets you fly at will would probably run at -1 Refresh, based on the cost of the Wings ability.

4. I’ve asked this in other places and the typical response is, “Wait and see”. Any sign of RPG-specific material aside from Magical Baltimore, etc?

I’m not sure what you mean by “RPG-specific” material. If you mean source material for the game, then the entire second volume and some good chunks of the first all qualify. If you mean stuff that isn’t drawn directly from the novels, then there’s less of that – mainly just the Baltimore stuff and the real-world Chicago weirdness from that master of the weird, Ken Hite. That said, a lot of the characters and creature types from the novels have large amounts of information about them that didn’t really make it to centre stage in the novels. A quick glance shows entries on Nick Christian, Gowan Commando, Lisa Boughton, and Mickey Malone, so there’s a lot of stuff that might not be familiar to the casual reader of the series.

5. What advice do the books give on putting the supernatural into the Mundane? I’d like to get a head start on vetting Magical Spokane before the game comes out.

The main advice in the City Building chapter is all about coming up with themes and threats for your city – what aspects of the city are you going to focus on for story purposes, and what things are threatening them. The advice on adding the supernatural to the mundane is sprinkled through it, with one specific section called Locations and the Supernatural: Making the Connection. The advice is generally to look at the city from the point of view of magical beings, and see what would interest them. Draw on real-world ideas and geography to help make things work. For example, when we did Magical Winnipeg, we looked at the junction of the Red River and the Assiniboine River. This confluence is why there’s a settlement in this spot. So, looking at these two rivers, and the idea of a meeting and trading place for the First Nations people, and the fact that Winnipeg is a primary destination for recent immigrants in Canada, we came up with the idea of the Consecration of the Two Waters to give those themes and ideas a supernatural resonance.

That’s the kind of advice you’ll find in the book.

6. What is the base starting level for campaigns? At what refresh rate do things get stupid power?

Good question! There are four suggested starting levels, named for how far you wade into the supernatural world, ranging from Feet in the Water to Submerged. Each sets a starting Refresh, number of Skill points, and cap on Skill levels. Feet in the Water is 6 Refresh, 20 Skill points, and Skills capped at Great. Up to Your Waist is 7 Refresh, 25 Skill points, and Skills capped at Great. Chest-Deep is 8 Refresh, 30 Skill points, and Skills capped at Superb. Submerged is 10 Refresh, 35 Skill points, and Skills capped at Superb. To give you some idea of what that means, it takes a minimum of 7 Refresh to build a starting Wizard. At Submerged, you could build someone at about the level Harry was at the beginning of Storm Front.

Stupid power? I dunno. You definitely need to ratchet up the opposition as the characters advance through the power levels, but because of the way the Aspects tie into the character, and the flexibility of building opposition, I don’t really see there being much of a problem with things creeping up too high. Of course, your mileage may vary; we all have our own favourite power-level sweet spot where we like to game. It depends on the kinds of stories you want to tell.

Iorwerth says:

Thank you for answering my questions – much appreciated!!

You’re more than welcome. Glad to do it.

When attacking someone with an evocation spell, such as some sort of a fireball, would do stress damage equal to the difference between your Discipline roll and the defence roll, or the difference between the power level and the defence roll? Is there a defence roll at all?

e.g. Randalf has a conviction level of Good, so calls down a goodly amount of power. He then rolls his Discipline and gets a superb result, meaning he can easily control the power. The target tries to jump out of the way and achieves a fair result. Does Randalf do 3 stress with the fireball (Superb minus fair defence) or 1 stess (Good amount of power minus defence of fair)? Or am i missing something crucial somewhere?

Fred jumped on the comments of my last post and answered this. Thanks Fred! Good to know that you’re keeping an eye on this process – it means I can trust you folks to jump in and correct me if I miss something or get it wrong.

Rechan says:

So Rick, here’s my questions:

What’s the book say about Companions (ala SotC)? I’m curious about things like Spirit Companions (something like Bob, but you take it with you and use it), or refluffing it as a familiar. Or other uses.

Nothing explicitly. It doesn’t have anything akin to the Companions stunts of SotC. That said, it’s easy to figure out how to handle such things. For example, they talk about taking Aspects to reflect relationships, so you could take an Aspect like My Familiar, Hecubus. A little negotiation with the GM means that you can tap him to help with magic, either the performance of it or the preparation of it, and maybe to help with certain other things like Investigation by having him spy on your enemies. If you want a more reliable source of information, you can round this out with a Mortal Stunt or two, so that your familiar also gives you a regular bonus to your Lore skill, say. If I were creating Bob as something my character has, for instance, I would probably do both, with an Aspect like Keeper of Bob the Talking Skull, and a Mortal Stunt like Occultist (Magical Theory (Potion Recipes)).

Does the book talk about Spirits at all? Bob is a Spirit of Intellect. We know that Lycanthropes channel spirits of rage. But those are the only “spirits” we’ve seen. Monsters from the Nevernever, sure, but not straight up “Spirits” that just encompass concepts.

There’s close to two pages of discussion on Spirits in the Goes Bump chapter, and a very detailed write-up on Bob specifically in the Who’s Who chapter. Probably a few more, but I still haven’t made it through both books. Stupid day job.

Fred has said that spellcasting can create an “infinite” amount of spells. So, how is this done? Is it more “Effect based spellcasting”, or what? For instance, there are several elements out there for specialization we’ve not seen used (or barely used). There exists Water magic, but the only “Water” spell we’ve seen was the Water Bubble that Carlos cast in White Night. So if I wanted to play a Water-specialized mage, how would I make my spells? How would I make them on the fly?

Okay. There’s two flavours of spellcasting in the game, just as in the books. Evocation tosses around energy and elemental forces – this is Harry’s use of fire and air and Carlos’s use of water. There is a detailed discussion of the different elemental versions of Evocation, including talking about how water magic was also what Carlos was using to shoot out his bolts that turned the targets to dust (using the erosive properties of water). There are limited things you can do with Evocation – attack, block, maneuver, and counterspell. That said, there’s a good discussion of determining the visuals of the spell, and how you can use such bits of colour to your advantage. For example, it talks about Carlos’s water bubble shield that he then turned into an attack, using it to disintegrate an attacker.

It’s Thaumaturgy where you really get into the infinite variety of spells. This is very much effect-based magic: you figure out what you want to do, the GM sets the complexity based on how the effect is modeled by the game rules, you prepare the spell, and then cast it. It’s a very flexible system that becomes pretty intuitive after you’ve worked through it a couple of times.

Bosh says:

On the Jim Butcher boards, Fred Hicks said that damage can be situational (knives are better in some situations than in others) how does this work with what you’re talking about here? I’m very curious about what they’ve cooked up for the weapon/damage system since that’s been either not addressed or been implemented in ways that I’ve had some problems with in other FATE games.

Huh. I’ve just reread the section on weapons, and I can’t find anything like that. Indeed, the advice is to avoid getting bogged down by creating detailed weapon and armour lists, and make subjective judgments based on the situation. The combat system, as in other FATE games, leans toward the rules-light, high-trust, cinematic end. Really, with the structure of the Ladder, there’s not a whole lot of room for lots of minor variations on weapons and armour that are meaningful. That said, it’s perfectly reasonable for the GM to adjust things on the fly, or for characters to make Declarations about the weapons or armour of themselves or their opponents to gain advantage.

That’s it for tonight, folks. If you’ve got more questions, I’ll get to them tomorrow evening.

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19 Responses to DFRPG Q&A 3

  1. Fred Hicks says:

    Lore also sets the limit for how big of a bonus you can get out of a focus item or a specialization. Lore’s designed to add a lot of subtle but far-reaching effects all throughout the spellcasting model. Conviction and Discipline look like the rockstars, but a high Lore spellcaster can get a lot of stuff done by dint of knowing many many secrets.

  2. Fred Hicks says:

    As to the weapons stuff, the quote I’m thinking of from the Playing the Game chapter is “The rating of a weapon is essentially based on how nasty it is under the circumstances.”

    Under the circumstances being the part that makes weapon ratings responsive to situation. 🙂

  3. Lanodantheon says:

    Thanks again. I read your write-up of Magical Winnipeg again and it is cool. 🙂

    What I mean by “RPG-specific” stuff is material that is made specifically in the RPG that isn’t in the books. Things like…new monsters, new powers, and new organizations/nations. But from what I can see, it is an open enough system that if it doesn’t exist in game you can make up your own stuff.
    Stuff like, Jade Court stats.

    The only other constructive questions I have relate to Wardens.

    1. I assume a Warden’s Sword is an item of power. How much does it cost?

    2. How do you simulate characters with authority (Like Wardens or Chiefs of Police) in the game? I would assume through Aspects for general authority and Stunts for people with game affecting authority. That Warden can call for help, but is on his own most of the time. That Chief of Police can order a SWAT Team to help take down that warlock.

  4. Ihadris says:

    Hi, I’ve been reading your blog with interest and had a blast checking out what you guys did during the play-test. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!

    Whilst I’ve read all the write-ups I could find for the play-tests, I can’t find much regarding the vampire templates. How do you feel that the feeding dependency affects the play of the White Court Vampire, White Court Virgin and Red Court Infected templates? For instance, how would the Virgin and Infected deal with the need to feed and would it only be a problem to them if they over strained themselves?

    Thanks again

  5. Sephilum says:

    Are there any guidelines given for how you would make a shifter who can turn into multiple animals? I’m pretty sure something like that was mentioned to exist in the books. But since we haven’t seen something like that in the books first hand yet, I’m wondering if it made its way into the rpg.

  6. Sephilum says:

    When I say multiple animals I mean multiple types of animals.

  7. “For something free-willed like an intellect spirit in a skull, to model that in the game, I’d recommend taking it as an Aspect, and maybe a Mortal Stunt or two to have it help you with Lore checks or Investigation. You could still invoke the Aspect with a Fate Point to get it to do some other stuff – like possessing your cat, or whatever.”

    Arguably, it could also be a separate character — an NPC ally.

  8. Rechan says:

    Chad, NPC ally is why I mentioned Companions. That means that they, an NPC ally, can be nabbed by enemies. 🙂

    Rick, we’ve been told that Evocation is divided into Control, Power, and Complexity. Discipline handles Control, Conviction handles Power, Lore handles Complexity.

    How does Complexity come into play? What is its role in evocation or Thaumaturgy? For instance, we know that Molly has lots of Finesse and can do complex stuff. How is this represented mechanically?

    Also, aside from making you invisible, what can whatever magic “veils” fall under do? Typical Illusion stuff? Is that Evocation or Thaumaturgy?

    Finally, you’ve had the books a while. Have you read anything that’s really surprised you? Aside from just “This is how mechanics work”, anything that made you go “Damn, that’s neat” that you didn’t expect?

  9. Fred Hicks says:

    NPC allies can get nabbed just fine just by being characters. You don’t need some special “ownership” element that comes into play via the half-character implementation you get from the companion rules in SOTC.

    Evocation is more about Control and Power. Thaumaturgy is where Complexity comes into play, more than anything.

  10. Rick Neal says:

    Bob as an NPC ally – which, incidentally, is the way he’s handled in the rulebook – would work just fine. It would lead to more in-game interaction, and would allow the GM to have more control over him and the situations in which he is useful. Bob as an Aspect and set of Stunts should also work just fine, but it would put the control more firmly in the hands of the player. So, with Bob as an Aspect, you could spend a Fate Point to get a +2 shift to your Lore check preparing a potion. With Bob as an ally, you’d have to negotiate with him to get him to help you – possibly using one of your interpersonal skills to make a declaration that he Owed You One, possibly just through roleplaying, possibly through Social Conflict inflicting a consequence, depending on how you and the GM wanted to handle it.

    And either one could be nabbed by bad guys; the only difference is that, as an Aspect, the GM would probably give you a Fate Point for depriving you of access until you get him back.

    This is one of the things I like most about the game system – there are multiple good ways to do pretty much anything. The one you pick really depends on your vision of what you want the precise effect and flavour to be.

  11. Tush Hog says:

    Thanks for taking the time to answer questions! I found the different starting power levels interesting. If you have a cap at Superb, must you have a Superb stat? Also, must your skills form a pyramid (1 at 5, 2 at 4, 3 at 3, etc…)?

  12. Lenny Balsera says:

    Tush Hog: No, the skill assignment is columnar, a structure waaaaay back from Fate v2 we felt would more suit an extended campaign game.

    So, what that means is, to have a skill at a certain level, you have to “support” it, by having one skill at each level below it. So, to have a Good skill, you must have a Fair skill and an Average skill. You can’t have 2 Good skills without also having 2 Fair and 2 Average skills. Etc.

    But you can make that as “narrow” or as “wide” as you want. It takes 30 skill points to have two “Superb” columns (that is, two skills at each level from Average to Superb). But that same 30 skill points could give you three “Great” columns (that is, three skills at each level from Average to Great), five “Good” columns, ten “Fair” columns, or (if you want to be absurd) 30 skills at Average. So you get a choice there, between being a character with fewer skills but higher peaks, or being a character with more skills and lower peaks.

  13. Iorwerth says:

    I noticed on Harry’s character sheet that he has an extra mental minor consequence – is this from his Wizard’s Constitution?

  14. Fred Hicks says:

    Nope. That’s from his Superb Conviction.

  15. Tim "Your Personal Undead" Popelier says:

    First off, I am looking forward to this, I have always been somewhat adverse to playing games based on anything, but something written by such a fellow geek as Jim really can’t evade my “want to play need.”

    Anyhow, gushing aside, I was wondering how well the more dangerous surroundings are handled. The top of speeding trains, sinking boats, and harries favourite: burning buildings!

    I am only vaguely acquainted with the faith system so I was wondering how variedly the system can depicts these hazards and perils without them feeling the same.

  16. Tush Hog says:

    Thanks, Lenny! I really like that.

  17. Rel Fexive says:

    I have to say that everything I’m reading about the magic system here makes me believe I’m finally going to see The Perfect Magic System that I’ve been hoping for for many years. The one that fits almost every idea I have about how I want it to work. Even down to the thing with Lore as a limit of what spells you can do on the fly, above which you need to do some research to figure out how to do it.

    *crosses more fingers*

  18. Selenio says:

    Hi Rick, thanks a lot for all this work your are doing, it’s like a birthday gift for us all.

    I’ve decided to run one or two games of Dresden Files RPG in the biggest game convention in my city (Barnaludica it’s the name). Unfortunately the convention is on late May so it’s pretty unlikely for me to have the books already on that dates (even with possible preorders). Therefore I’m going to try and run it with a simplified system based on the FATE I know through SoTC and the details you, Fred and Lenny Balsera are giving us. I suppose I can sort something out of all your posts. 🙂

    The only thing I don’t know how to do is the city creation thing (I want to Dresdenize the city of Barcelona for the local players). Can you please explain more about the City Creation steps (not all the details obviously, just some kind of steps list or anything). Thanks in advance.


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