Here we go.
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 familyâ€™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 Iâ€™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 broomâ€¦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. Iâ€™ve asked this in other places and the typical response is, â€œWait and seeâ€. 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? Iâ€™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.
Thank you for answering my questions â€“ 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.
So Rick, hereâ€™s my questions:
Whatâ€™s the book say about Companions (ala SotC)? Iâ€™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 â€œspiritsâ€ weâ€™ve seen. Monsters from the Nevernever, sure, but not straight up â€œSpiritsâ€ 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 â€œinfiniteâ€ amount of spells. So, how is this done? Is it more â€œEffect based spellcastingâ€, or what? For instance, there are several elements out there for specialization weâ€™ve not seen used (or barely used). There exists Water magic, but the only â€œWaterâ€ spell weâ€™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.
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 youâ€™re talking about here? Iâ€™m very curious about what theyâ€™ve cooked up for the weapon/damage system since thatâ€™s been either not addressed or been implemented in ways that Iâ€™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.