Big wheel keeps on turnin’…

Rechan says:

Since we know that Red Court infected go over if they taste blood, and White Court virgins kill the first person they feed on… how do you “take the time to feed”? If you “feed”, you go over the edge into Monsterland. So how do you handle that? Is there any advice to how to describe being “taken out”?

First off, White Court Virgins don’t need to take the Feeding Dependency, so that’s not an issue for them. Red Court Infected do need to take the Feeding Dependency, but they don’t go over to the dark side for tasting blood – only if they kill while feeding. You can recover one point of Hunger stress per scene that you skip to spend feeding, or you can regain all your Hunger stress in a single scene if you feed deeply enough to kill. Which might be a cool way to have a character sacrifice himself/herself in play, killing to feed in order to regain the power needed to save the rest of the party, and then retiring to NPC land afterwards as a very interesting new enemy.

As to being taken out, that’s actually a game term, meaning the character is out of the fight. The book recommends that in this particular case, taken out can mean things like being too weak to continue, or mindless with hunger. If the GM is feeling stroppy, this would be a good time to drop some compels on the character, encouraging feeding.

Or would that be too nasty? 😉

I’m going to take a guess that the powers on an enemy’s statblock is going to require a lot of referencing, yeah? So if the monster has “Supernatural Speed”, you’re going to either need to reference what that is, or write it down somewhere, aren’t you?

(I’ve been spoiled by D&D 4e statblocks)

Yeah, you’re going to have to do more looking things up than in D&D 4E. On the other hand, there’s a significantly smaller set of powers, so it’s much more reasonable to expect to gain some mastery over it so that you don’t have to look things up all the time. And things like Supernatural Speed tend to mainly give bonuses to other stats on the character sheet.

On the topic of enemies. Based on their statblocks, is there a way to tell how tough a monster is? For instance, “This would be appropriate for ‘Toes in the Water’ level PCs” vs. “This would be appropriate for ‘Submerged’, who have been advanced twice”? Lenny in the Podcast said that he spent a third of a chapter talking about advancing enemies. But I’m curious if there’s any indication on the statblocks currently presented. (For instance, what’s the “level” of a Hecatian Hag?)

Each character and monster statted up in the book has an entry reading Total Refresh Cost. This makes it fairly easy to judge how tough a given foe is compared to your PCs. Playing in a Feet in the Water game? Then things with a -6 or higher Refresh Cost are going to be tougher than the characters. It also allows you to “level up” foes pretty easily – either give them more Stunts or Powers, or give them Fate Points to make up the difference between their Refresh Cost and the power level of the PCs.

Continuing with monsters. We’ve been told time and again that “If it touched me, I’d have been killed”. That’s clear. And that you should pick your battles and be careful. Sure, granted. But for whatever reason, let’s say the fight has to go down. Do PCs have lots of options for ‘keeping it from touching me’? Basically, what’s between them and that Troll picking up a tree to play croquet?

Basically, Fate Points. Spending Fate Points to improve your defense is a key tactic in combat – whether by invoking one of your Aspects (“I invoke my It’s All In The Reflexes Aspect to dodge the tree the troll is swinging”), an Aspect of the scene (“I invoke the Junk Piles Aspect of the scene to duck behind a stack of old refrigerators”), or an Aspect of the foe (“I invoke the Blinded By Sand Aspect I tagged the troll with last exchange to cause his swing to go wild”). Note that, if you tagged the troll with an Aspect through using a Maneuver, you get the invocation for free, without having to spend a Fate Point. This is why Maneuvers are important in combat.

Last Q of the night:

It’s been shown that there are lots of awesome ways to beat the heck out of people physically. Combat is dangerous. Evocation, shotguns, tons of Powers, etc etc. Not to mention armor and all other sorts of things. However. Mental and Social conflicts can equally rack up stress and consequences. Is there anything that you can use in a Mental or Social conflict? Anything that’s equivalent to a weapon, anything you can use to break your competition (or use as a defense!), or is it purely a test of skill vs skill and otherwise you’re on your own?

Well, it’s mostly a test of Skill vs. Skill, but in any such test, Aspects factor hugely. You can build Stunts pretty easily that help you with Social or Mental conflicts, too. There are a few Powers, like Emotion Control, that can directly affect such conflicts, and you can easily work out Thaumaturgical effects that attack Mental or Social stress tracks. Admittedly, none of them are as flashy as having a shotgun in one hand and throwing around fire with the other, but they certainly get the job done.

Iorwerth says:

I noticed you could have stunts that increased strength, toughness and speed. How many different levels are there of these e.g. supernatural, superhuman, inhuman etc? Also, are these the only enhanced stats, or is there superhuman intelligence etc?

Do they give a +2/+4/+6 etc modifier, or do they give +1/+2/+3 etc? I presume enhanced strength stunt can act as a modifier to your Might and would also add in to stress caused by fists, melee weapons etc – would that be right? Toughness subtracts from stress damage? How does increased speed help you out?

There are three levels of each “Stat Booster” Power – Inhuman, Supernatural, and Mythic. There are also a total of three different “Stat Booster” Powers – Speed, Strength, and Toughness.

It’s not quite as clear cut as a straight progression like you have outlined above. Inhuman Strength, for example, gives +3 to Might for purposes of lifting or breaking inanimate objects, +1 to Might when grappling and the ability to inflict a 2-stress hit on a creature you’re grappling as a supplemental action, +2 to damage when using muscle-powered attacks, and always positively modifies other skills that might otherwise be limited by Might. The higher levels do pretty much the same thing, but more.

Toughness can improve recovery times, help your Endurance skill, wipe physical consequences from your character during combat, and at higher levels even grant you Armour and extra physical stress boxes.

Speed can boost your initiative, your Athletics skill, let you move farther in a given turn, and improve your Stealth because you’re moving almost too fast to see.

Rechan says:

To add to Iorwerth’s question, what about Recovery? Does it make consequences heal faster, give you stress boxes back, what?

Recovery is part of Toughness, which both lets consequences and stress hits heal faster and gives you extra stress boxes.

Lanodantheon says:

Dammit I want to play this game the more I hear about it!!!

Then my evil plan is working! Mwahahahahaha!

Anyway, I did think of some good non-random questions.

1. What are the magical elements under Evocation? Is Entropy an element? Related side note: I’ve been pondering for 2 years the idea of a Sorcerer whose shield is Entropy based, a shield redirects forces around him instead of stopping it cold (Kinda looks like Fortune from MGS2)

The book focuses on the western classical elements: Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Spirit. However, there’s a discussion on how casters from different cultures use their own symbology and mystical understanding to work their magic. For example, they point out that Ancient Mai uses the Chinese elements of Metal, Water, Wood, Earth, Fire, and Spirit.

Entropy is generally covered by the erosive, destructive aspects of Water in the basic write-up, as epitomized by Carlos the Warden. That said, most of the side effects of the various elements are pure jazz, and easy to change with the consent of the GM.

2. What is the spectrum of Control, Power and Complexity. Harry is the paragon of Power(A magical Thug). Who are the best examples of Control and Complexity?

As statted in the book, the Merlin is the highest Lore rating (Epic +7) – he hasn’t forgotten more about magic than you’ll ever know, simply because he’s never forgotten anything about magic! The Gatekeeper and Ancient Mai are close seconds. All three of these characters are tied for Discipline (Fantastic +6) – they’ve got tonnes of practice keeping great forces under their control.

3. Related to 2: What’s a Spellcaster with a high Lore and therefore capable of high complexities look like? What’s a character like that good at?

Rechan points out some of the things in the previous comment thread. Thanks, Rechan! Basically, Lore is the foundation that the other two skills build upon. Without Lore, you won’t have much flexibility with the power you can call, and your control over it won’t matter nearly as much because you won’t have the options of calling down the big effects. If you read Turn Coat, look at the description of how the Merlin casts magic – it’s stuff that leaves Harry cold, because he doesn’t even understand some of it.

Thanks again for the info.

You’re welcome again. 😉

BTW, I’ve had to explain the DFRPG character types like 4 times already and whenever I do, I explain minor Talents perfectly with Lucky Firth.

Heh. Yeah, he was a good character – one trick, but it served him very well.

Jon Hammersley says:

Rechan’s question above about social and mental conflicts stress and consequences and it got me thinking about how you could bring these into play.

Aspects like “Knows where the bodies are buried.” could potentially be used to force information out of someone (Social conflict through intimidation?). Protective aspects might include something like “Plays things close to the vest” or “Trust doesn’t come easily”.

Giving an enemy the Aspect of “Sight not meant for mortal eyes” could have an effect on your mental state (If you stare into the abyss, blah blah blah). If you want to play up the horror aspect of a game of mortals vs things that go bump in the night, the mental reprecussions can begin to add up rather quickly forcing some sort of breakdown. Protective aspects might include “I’ve seen it all” or “Clean up, aisle 3″ for characters who have been exposed to these things in the past and have a better understanding of what’s going on.

These are all spot-on. And Intimidation is one of the primary skills used in Social conflict. I really like Clean Up, Aisle 3 as an Aspect, personally.

I’m really beginning to enjoy the idea of aspects and how they can be used in game to bring about situations that advance the game. What’s got me curious is the “stunt” side of things and how wildly different supernatural and mortal stunts are.

FATE is a cool system in many ways, and I like it for a number of reasons. But the main reason I love it is the flexibility, colour, and interesting situations that Aspects bring about.

About Stunts: it’s important to remember that, even though they use the same mechanic to acquire them (spending Refresh), Mortal Stunts and Supernatural Powers are qualitatively different within the game. Mortal Stunts are basically little Skill-based tricks that you can call on in certain situations – things that are possible, even if they may be unlikely. This is stuff like having a special in-depth knowledge of a particular aspect of a given subject, being better at running than at climbing, having friends in high (or low) places, etc. All of these things can also be represented by Aspects, and there’s a great synergy that can come into play if you have both an Aspect and a Stunt that’s applicable in a given situation.

Supernatural Powers are impossible things. They let you fly, or turn into a snake, or summon fire with the force of your sovereign will. They mark the difference between mortals and supernatural creatures, which can be important in the game world. For example, Harry is subject to the Unseelie Accords. Murphy? Not so much. And now we’ve got Marcone straddling that line.

Rechan says:

It seems like the Conviction/Discipline/Lore model is very hardwired together, and to an extent you need all three. Since you have to call up power for a ritual wtih Conviction (and if you exceed it, you take stress). Some with Discipline and evocation unless you’re not concerned about effecting the area around you.

Yup. The three are very intertwined but, as I said above, in many ways, Lore is the foundation.

Which brings me to a new question:

It’s really easy to understand when destructive attacks blow into the environment. If you call up an Evocation that isn’t necessarily Destructive, and it exceeds your discipline… what happens? Let’s say you’re calling up a Spirit evocation to Block an incoming attack (With your Shield Bracelet, let’s say). If the effect blows out into the environment… what happens?

It’s up to the GM, but I might do something like having the pulse of Spirit force that you can’t control splash out around you, knocking things (and people) over, maybe knocking out structural elements of the building, or spilling over into bright light that makes you a target for everyone in the area. This is essentially what happened in the playtest.

Sorry for the massive amount of questions from me today, Rick. :)

Dude. Never apologize for enthusiasm! That’s why I’m doing this, after all. And I knew what I was getting into.

Tush Hog says:

I’ve got a few questions to throw at you.

How are death curses handled?

Ooooh… Good one. There’s a nice little sidebar in the Thaumaturgy section that explains it. Basically, it’s a ritual with all the preparation and components being represented by the fact that he’s going to die. He can tag all the usual Aspects, as well as all Consequences he’s suffered, and can inflict more Consequences on himself. He can cast it in one round, because he’s not worried about backlash or fallout – he’s dead, after all. This lets it be very powerful, and absolutely devastating, whether it’s a short-term thing (Death-Nuke, anyone?) or a long-term complete transformation of the target’s fate.

In the books there are several instances where one wizard “shuts down” another’s magic. Is that talked about?

For short-term smack-down of a single spell, there’s the counterspell application of Evocation, where you sort of wash out one spell with the raw power you channel. For more long-term solutions, like permanently removing someone’s curse or ability to work magic, Thaumaturgy lets you build a ritual that would work, though that latter application would be difficult.

How tough is Michael? :)

Pretty tough.

Let me put it this way – he has the same Total Refresh Cost as the write-up of Harry. His Conviction is as strong as Harry’s, he’s got Superb Weapons skill, and a nifty little stunt called Wall of Death. Notice how I haven’t even mentioned the Knight of the Cross or Amoracchius or the armour Charity made him? Yeah. He’s that bad-ass without even getting into that.

Wow. Posts are getting longer because the questions are getting more detailed and the answers to them more complex.

That’s it for tonight. I will not be updating tomorrow evening, because I will be busy running a Spirit of the Century game based on this little treasure. Keep those cards and letters coming in, though, and I will resume answering them on Saturday.

…Proud Harry keeps on burning,



Burning down Chicago!

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18 Responses to DFRPG Q&A 5

  1. Fred Hicks says:

    The one primary tweak I’d levy against the above answers is that, yes, you’ll need to do SOME look-up to figure out what some abilities do, but we did try to give a quick summary of the highlights in the “notes” block of each statblock, so you often get an idea of what a creature’s best attack, defense, and tricks might look like.

  2. Rechan says:

    This is stuff like having a special in-depth knowledge of a particular aspect of a given subject, being better at running than at climbing, having friends in high (or low) places, etc.

    This also includes “Use X skill instead of Y skill in Z circumstance (OR in other cases) to do A.” For instance, using Deceit instead of Rapport to “read” someone.

  3. xiaolung says:

    I am in the midst of creating my own Jade Court vampires for my Dresdenized Hong Kong and I think I’ve got some great ideas for it. I’ve got their basic history, who they are and what they are doing – even a reason why they are so secretive and why there are so few of them. I’ll actually stat them out later (when I’ve got all the books and all the material). But right now, the ideas have been flowing like water.

    If I use this material (over 1,000 words so far) for a Dresden game, I would like it to be compatible (at least in background terms) with the DFRPG. While I am pumped about the game, I would like to see if I can complete the writeup for the Jade Court. But I can’t complete that until I know what those few paragraphs on the Jade Court actually say.

    Can you give me the lowdown on what those few paragraphs say about the Jade Court? Just summarize. Not word for word.


  4. John Hawkins says:

    I’m very interested in the toolkit aspects of the game (I’m super excited about DFRPG as a — for me — drop in replacement for White Wolf, but I’m also very excited about applying the rules in other genres). To what extent are more Marvel Comics style powers represented in the base game? (e.g. Mr. Fantastic’s flexibility, or Iceman’s ability to fire freeze beams.)

    Assuming those things aren’t represented directly, can you flex the toolkit a bit for us and examine how those might be constructed for a Flexible Freeze Monster in Dresden’s Chicago?

    In particular I’m interested in how such a thing might function _outside_ the auspices of magic power per se. Presumably a creature that can spit acid doesn’t need to take a 3-refresh (equiv. to Evocation) power and put points in three separate skills towards that end, but I’m not sure how that works in costing and creating systems for non-magical (i.e. less flexible) powers.



  5. Bosh says:

    Thanks for doing this, you are very awesome indeed. Two vampy questions:

    “You can recover one point of Hunger stress per scene that you skip to spend feeding”
    Does this mean that your character sits out a scene without doing anything?

    For White Court Virgins what do they DO mechanically? In the book they seem like normal old vanilla humans except for the chance that they can turn into vampires if they kill someone, they don’t seem to have any of the powers that Red Court Infected do.

  6. Rick Neal says:

    First off, Fred, thanks for pointing that out. Folks, I didn’t mean to give the impression that the stat blocks are in any way incomplete or difficult to use, and the notes section is a big help. But in cases like magic, you are going to be doing a little book-flipping, at least at first.

    Second, a correction: somehow, my eyes missed the fact that the Toughness category has both Toughness and Recovery powers, at the three levels discussed. Toughness deals with things like armour and Endurance and extra physical stress boxes. Recovery deals with wiping out accumulated stress and minor consequences and hastening the removal of more serious consequences.

    So, sorry for the confusion, folks. Obviously I’m reading too fast. 😉

  7. Sephilum says:

    The Merlin sounds like he’s pretty strong. But is there anyone tougher stated up in the book?

  8. Jon Hammersley says:

    One more reason to go with preorder is to get the .pdf file so that you can eliminate (or at least reduce) the amount of page turning that you have to do. Cut and paste is your friend with electronic documents.

    1. I know I keep going back to the well on this, but what does it cost to use a stunt in play (i.e. SotC has some that require a fate point and some that do not).

    2. While I’m sure that there is quite a bit of information about the standard (Dresdenversse) magical forces and what you can do with them, I’m curious as to how much information is spent discussing other cultures’ forms of magic (Voodoo, etc) and how they translate to the system. Do they all have members attached to the Whitel Council or are some magical traditions considered “outside” their control (Fey sponsored magic for instance).

    3. Will we see guidelines for playing Fey characters? I’ve been thinking of a concept that involves some poor mortal who was tricked into switching bodies with one of the Fey (who got killed while inhabiting the mortal body) and get’s stuck that way (or vice versa). If nothing else it makes for a fun time trying to fix the situation (not to mention moral dilemma of where to get a body).

  9. vultur says:

    Going with Sephilum’s question: Are any of the high-level Fae statted? Aurora, Lily, Maeve? Leanansidhe, the Erlking, the Eldest Gruff? Mab or Titania *shudder*?

    And what about Dragons?

  10. Scott says:

    You could easily create Social and Mental conflict weapons. Just re-skin the effects. That contract you have with Mab. Oh yeah, she wacks you in your head whenever she feels like it. That strange book over there hits you in the brain pan and leaves you drooling. The picture of you in a compromising situation ‘hurts’ you bad socially when shown to the boss…

  11. Lanodantheon says:

    1. What does the Scholarship skill do?

    2. How do you do Hexenwolves or Hexenbears? Do they always carry serious consequences like madness or does it vary by the sponsor(A demon vs. a Great Wolf Spirit)?

    This question came about this morning when I was posting on the Jim Butcher forums about an ongoing gang war in Downtown Spokane between Were-bears and a discussion of a Were-Moose.


  12. Lanodantheon says:

    3. How do you do an Ascension Rite like the one described in Welcome to The Jungle? What would be its in-game effects?

  13. Bosh says:

    Lanodantheon: scholarship is non-magical knowledge, technical expertise, probably covers non-magical medical care as well (which might require a stunt). Basically everything you can learn in a mortal university.

  14. Rechan says:

    Going with Sephilum’s question: Are any of the high-level Fae statted? Aurora, Lily, Maeve? Leanansidhe, the Erlking, the Eldest Gruff? Mab or Titania *shudder*? And what about Dragons?

    To a large extent, they handwave the stats. I mean, they get a writeup, but their statblock consists of “Here’s their aspects, notes on what they likely possibly can do, theories about their skill sets, and some of the powers we’ve SEEN them do, but really we don’t know’. This is the case with some of the Denarians (Nicodemus, Deirdre, Obsidian Statue, Tree Lady), Ferrovax, the Eldest Gruff, etc. Lesser dragons get a book passage saying “Here’s some likely powers they have”, but no statblock. For the Queens it literally says “[Powers/Skills] Pointless to list”.

    Now, the Senior Council do get stats – full on skillset and powers. Tessa (the 2nd in command of the Denarians) also has a writeup with skills/magical powers (speculative), as does Magog, “Shaggy Feathers”, Ursiel, Rosanna. The Faerie ladies/knights are fully statted.

    But, if it has a refresh of over 19, you’re not going to see cold hard stats for it. To give you an idea of what constitutes a 19 refresh, the Scarecrow (the big daddy Fetch), the Merlin, Grevane, and Thorned Namshiel. Actually, I think the highest refresh statblock with STATS is Kravos the Sorcerer’s Ghost (-23).

    To give you some level of comparison, Tessa is -17, Lord Raith is -17 (and Laura -14), Maeve is -15, and Morgan is -13. But in some cases it’s odd (Bianca, -18 refresh? Really?).

  15. Rechan says:

    Scratch that: Biggest baddest mofo: He Who Walks Behind (-30)

  16. Rechan says:

    You could easily create Social and Mental conflict weapons. Just re-skin the effects. That contract you have with Mab. Oh yeah, she wacks you in your head whenever she feels like it. That strange book over there hits you in the brain pan and leaves you drooling. The picture of you in a compromising situation ‘hurts’ you bad socially when shown to the boss…

    I just have to say this is frakking brilliant.

  17. Fred Hicks says:

    Bianca’s refresh is high because of her final scene in Grave Peril, where she shows off a set of talents that’s basically two full templates mashed together. She leveled up fast because of her vendetta against Harry.

  18. vultur says:

    Interesting, I wouldn’t have thought the Scarecrow or Grevane were close to the Merlin’s level; Cowl was clearly more powerful than any of the other necromancers in DB, and he’s supposed to be a little above Eb.

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