DFRPG Q&A 14

Last time pays for all.

Rechan says:

On the topic of using Evocation for maneuvers: Does the target get a defensive roll, or are you just trying to statically beat their defensive skill?

Fred got this one on the comment thread. Thanks, Fred! Just to elaborate how that meshes with the earlier comment about the power levels needed for Evocation, the target still makes a defensive roll, but the attacker needs that minimum amount of power to make the Maneuver take place. So, if you’re trying to tag someone with Blown Away, and they’ve got Great +4 Might, you need to have 4 shifts of power in your air Evocation for it to affect them, but you still need to roll to hit their Fair +2 Athletics, and they get a roll to dodge it.

So any word on your next Dresdenverse campaign? :)

Well, I’ve talked it up with some of my players, and the interest is there. But I really want to wait until I’ve got the physical books – it just makes everything easier. That said, in the next week or so, I’m going to start posting some thoughts here about designing the campaign. Starting with some ruminations on the Power Levels and what they imply in terms of characters, stories, mood, and tone in the game. And then, I think, I’ll look at some options for settings that aren’t cities.

You can drop inhuman x or other supernatural powers into the Were-form right? Or is there anything else that symbolizes the “You have a form that you use to battle”? I’m actually pondering a “Dr Jeckyl/Mr Hyde” character.

You can certainly drop those things on the template. In fact, you must add at least -2 worth of other powers. There is, however, a limited list of what qualifies for Were-Form powers. Of course, as has been discussed repeatedly, the templates are simply a guide.

Christopher says:

Regarding what you said about Buffy-verse vampires:

That’d work. Of course, it wouldn’t be that difficult to build Buffyverse vampires with the system, but then you either need to create a new Court, or get rid of the Dresdenverse idea of Courts, with all their wonderful rich politicking potential.

Maybe vampires are like humans — and some of them just plain HATE politics. The Buffy-verse vampires, what with their long history of “impulse control,” could well be just a breed who “hate all that donkeys and elephants crap,” and are looked down on (IE “never mentioned”) by the vampires of the various courts. After all, there are renegade wizards and wild fey– why not some “rogue vampires?”

Just a thought.

Sure! That’s completely doable. It’s just that – in my mind – that’s creating a new Court, even if it’s the Court of No-Court, if you take my meaning. But yeah, that works fine.

Bosh says:

Question: how supernatural something is seems to scale with how powerful they are (more supernatural = lower refresh blah blah), how then does the game handle critters that are very supernatural but not very powerful at all such as Toot Toot?

Fred got this one, too. Thanks again, Fred! One thing that I’d add is that not all your bad guys – or good guys – need to have started at the same Refresh as your PCs. So, even if Toot-Toot has only a -4 Refresh Cost, that doesn’t necessarily mean he has free will – he may have started with a Refresh of 3, say.

Sephilum says:

What stunts must a ghoul take according to the template? And what is the base refresh cost for each?

Fred got this one, too! Go, Fred! And thanks once more! For an example of how we twisted that idea around during our playtest, check out Christian Manger. Take note, though, that the number noted for those Powers are not the same in the final game version.

P.S.

‘Thanks for doing all of this. You’re awesome! :)

You’re welcome!

Fred Hicks says:

Rick/Others:

I’m looking at the discussion of a pure mortal being able to fight a wizard, above — talking about an expert martial artist with a few stunts and a ton of fate points going up against a wizard, and “see how long that wizard lasts”… Well, right! Wizards are potent when they get a chance to prepare — or, if they have a solid talent at Evocation, when they get a chance to see you coming. But they’re squishy, too, which is very true to the source material. In Storm Front, Harry gets taken down by a relatively common thug with a baseball bat at one point.

How someone will fare in a conflict in our system is highly, highly dependent on how much control they have over what battles they get into and what circumstances and preparation they can bring to bear. It’s definitely a “planner’s” system in that respect — which again, we feel resembles the source material pretty well. Combo that with our advice to GMs to put the PCs under time pressure, always driving things forward, the ability to make those choices will certainly be constrained at times. That’s the tension of the novels, and that’s the tension I want to see in a game.

This is a very important little clarification here. Looking back at the discussion Fred mentions, it’s easy to see how the impression can be that Wizards don’t have a chance against Pure Mortals, and that’s just wrong. The point that I was trying to make was that Pure Mortals can share the stage with Wizards, and Knights of the Cross, and Faeries, and Vampires, and not be the weak sisters!

Character creation in DFRPG is essentially point-buy, and that means that most characters will wind up with a specialty area or two. Can Murphy beat up Harry hand-to-hand? Sure. But Harry can probably prevail at range, thanks to his magic. If you want to triumph in this game’s conflict system, you gotta know your Sun-Tzu, and bring your strength against the enemies weakness.

And surprise, as ever, is the great equalizer.

Rel Fexive says:

Hey.

Numero uno – Evocation can be used for an attack OR a manoeuvre – um, maneuver – but it takes a bit more power to do both? So a ‘firebolt’ could burn someone or set them “on fire”, but more power will do both at the same time?

John Hawkins came up with a good compromise for this on the comment thread. Thanks, John! One thing that needs to be said, though, is that you essentially get a Maneuver whenever your target takes a Consequence – the attack is putting an Aspect on the character. So, if you hit someone for 5 shifts of damage with your firebolt, and they’ve only got 4 stress boxes, they may wind up taking the Consequence Clothes on Fire from the attack.

Numero, uh, duo? – I like the ‘rogue’ or ‘wild’ vampire idea for a Dresden/Buffy mashup, but if I were bringing the two together somehow I think I would concentrate more on bringing a Slayer-like character into a Dresden game then trying to force the two to mostly coexist somehow. To me there are too many disparities (the Courts, the nature of vampires, etc) for it to be a smooth blend. Others might have other ideas of course :)

Both universes are pretty full of good source material and rich mythology. Picking and choosing what you take from each is the secret to a good mash-up, and everyone’s gonna have their own ideas.

Only one more Q&A?!? How will we cope?! ;)

Re-read the novels. That’s what I’m doing. 🙂

James says:

When can I buy it and how much will it cost?

John Hawkins got the when part. As for cost, Your Story is set at $49.99, and Our World at $39.99. Prices were apparently just added to the home page today.

Knave says:

My earlier point was more that the beauty of the thing is that clever aspects and a stack of fate chips to use them gives a character as much flexibility/spotlight as serious power does so packing in the stunts is certainly not the only way to skin this particular cat.

Exactly!

Tim “Your Personal Undead” Popelier says:

I don’t think this has come up yet, but I might be wrong. (gosh you should be sick of people saying that by now, no wonder your stopping)

I’m not stopping because I’m sick of the questions, just because doing this is eating all my time, and I need a little bit of that back. 😉

Anyhow, could you give us a idea of how true names as handled in the game. And perhaps also, how are they used as a bartering offer like harry does, do they add a special tag for the demon, (know part of your true name) or something like that?

True Names work in a few ways. For one thing, they act as symbolic links to a creature, letting spellcasters target them with Thaumaturgy at a distance. Second, they can be tagged for bonuses using spells (like Bindings) against creatures. Third, they can allow Evocations to target a demon’s essential self, instead of just its corporeal manifestation.

Knave says:

@Rick re: Harry v Victor S.

Thanks for the info : ) – I’m guessing that Victor’s statblock has had a tune up since it was published in the October Status update on the dresdenfilesrpg.com where it had both his conviction and discipline as Great and Killing Flame as 7 shifts ( conviction + rod + lawbreaker bonus ). – I assumed he’d cast it with a roll of 0 for an effective Weapon:7 + 4 targeting. (assuming he managed to soak up the 4 shifts of mental stress that would cause him – granted)

which would mean Harry with an athletics of Fair (again by the character sheet from the site) would need to roll better than +2 to make the dodge and avoid taking a hit of at least 7 shifts of fire damage… which basically brought me back to the magical defence, and my clarification question:

How much damage does the defence prevent? Assume that Harry does have 7 shifts of damage and 4 shifts of targeting coming at him, in order to take no damage does he need to summon up a defence of power 11 with no targeting element, only control? Or is it power + targeting of 11? i.e. in an attack the discipline ‘finesse’ element (sort of) counts twice – once for control of the power and once for targeting and in that targeting capacity as a bonus to your effectiveness – the ‘what makes Luccio so dangerous element’ – but from what you said that targeting element isn’t present in defence. Is that right?

Because if it is right Harry sure as heck better win initiatiative and shoot first, or just creating the shield he’ll be taking (superb conviction(5) 1 shift + an additional 6 shifts of mental stress to get the power to 11 plus 11 – (good discipline(3) + roll) mental stress to control it -> which works out at 15 +- 4 to defend against 11 damage… which can’t be right?

If the targeting roll does count toward the total he’d need to make a shield of power 8 (4 stress) + take 5 stress on the control (assuming he rolled 0) to control the shield… in which case he needs to soak 9 mental stress to prevent 11 physical damage… which still seems wrong.

The last possibility I can think of is that he only needs to defend against the power of the spell -> i.e. 7 damage. In which case he’d need to spend 3 stress getting the power to put up the shield and 4 to control it (again assuming a 0 roll) for a total of 7 mental stress to avoid 11 physical stress, which is at least better than dodging with an athletics of fair.

I’m probably way off base though.

Thanks again, and sorry for getting all mathematical on you :p

No worries about the math. But I missed something that Matthew pointed out below. Thanks, Matthew! You may be new to FATE, but you’re dead on with what you said.

Harry’s block only needs to beat the targeting roll. If it keeps the fire from hitting him, he takes no damage. He’d only need to soak up all the damage with the block if he had failed his defense roll entirely, in which case he’d deduct the shifts of power in the block from the damage. For an example in the novels, check out what happens when he tries to soak up a blast from a flamethrower in Blood Rites.

Lucart says:

If someone has an aspect on them like ‘Thrown to the Ground’ on them, does that aspect have to be tagged in order to impair their movement? Are they still free to move at will (with the aspect still there) as long as nobody has tagged it trying to stop them?

Knave got this one. Thanks, Knave!

Rechan says:

If DFRPG is about an enemy’s prep, how do you avoid the pitfall of “The PCs kick in the door of the villain’s hideout, and pretty much walk into a death trap because the villain has prepped his lair/has all his toys right on hand”? It’s rather easy to imagine any villain being fairly prepped for a frontal assault. And as the DM, you can give your villain as much prep as you want – so how do you justify LESS prep on his behalf?

Knave and Tim had some good advice on this in the comment thread. Thanks, Knave and Tim! My own advice is trying to stay within the bounds of verisimilitude with the villain’s prep, based on the following questions that I ask myself:

  1. What does the villain want? This says a lot about his outlook. Someone who wants world domination is going to be a much better planner (well, maybe) than someone who just wants to eat all the homeless people he can find.
  2. How is the villain pursuing this goal? Careful plotters are better at prep than psychotics with poor impulse control.
  3. How far along is the plan? Early on, not as much preparation time has been invested than later on.
  4. What does the villain know about the heroes? Pretty much every supernatural creature knows Harry, and will have some idea of how to deal with him, but fewer know Sigrun Gard, and may not have planned for that battleaxe.
  5. What resources does the villain have? If you’re living on the street or hiding your dark magic from your wife, it limits what you can set up. Also, as far as resources, information sources and resources for advance warning become important.

Now, you don’t have to answer these questions in order to find out how much prep the villain can set up – you can, but you don’t have to. What I often do is work backward – decide how ready the villain is (i.e. how hard do I want to smack the players), and then come up with the answers that lead to that.

Also check out the scenario-building advice in the book. It’s got some very good bits on villain motivation and resources.

Matthew says:

(new to Fate/DFRPG discussions; be gentle)

Regarding the Victor vs Harry discussion:

Doesn’t the attack have to ‘hit’ (control roll >= defense roll) in order to do any damage at all? So wouldn’t it make sense to use your defensive magic to ‘deflect’ the incoming attack (via a Block) instead of trying to ’soak’ the damage? In the example given (Weapon: 7 with 4 control) a block strength of 5 would be enough, rather than 11 shifts to negate the damage. This might entail simply using Discipline as a Block (possibly powered by Fate points) rather than formally casting a spell. Or perhaps an actual spell would add shifts to the defensive control roll, making it easier to block attacks at the cost of stress to cast the defensive evocation.

Then again, I won’t pretend to fully understand the system. Perhaps one of the experts can clarify?

As I mentioned above, Matthew, you got this one right. I had missed this important bit when writing about it previously. Thanks for chiming in and setting us straight!

Exploding_brain says:

Could Bob be made into a playable character? Maybe only when he’s riding Mister (who obviously has an ample supply of free will to loan him). I have this image of B-squad adventure, in which Bob (with Mister’s help), Toot-Toot, and Mouse, (and maybe Billy?, or would it be more fun to add Butters or Molly?) have to deal with something in Harry’s absence.

Bob has no stats in the book. Could he be a playable character? Sure, you could work him out that way, especially with him riding Mister to cut down on the cost of his Spirit Form power. And that B-squad adventure sounds like fun, though I’d go with Butters rather than Billy or Molly, just to keep the overt powers down. But that’s just me.

What kind of game mechanics reflect Little Chicago?

No game mechanics are given for Little Chicago. I’m gonna quote the reference from the book here, because I think it’s a beautiful example of how flexible the game is, and how much room there is for both player and GM creativity:

Little Chicago gets some play here, but it’s unclear how that manifests—is it a complex high quality spell component, or an actual focus item investment, or a special plot contrivance concession by the GM? Jury’s out— each GM out there might run it differently.

See what I mean?

How hard would it be to remove the problems that wizards have with post-WWII technology? Maybe you want to drift the game into something that would allow Mage style Sons of Ether, or Ghostbusters tech. Or possibly you want that one-of-a-kind wizard who has found a way to prevent that particular complication.

Bosh is right that it’s easy to remove. Thanks, Bosh! But there is a little more to the effect than just compelling an Aspect. There are rules and mechanics for both accidental and deliberate hexing of technology, for good and ill.

Do other types of magic mess up modern tech? Could Harry use Toot-toot to wipe the hard drives of his enemies?

Hexing is reserved for mortal spellcasters, and there’s a very interesting discussion as to why that is in the book.

One last time, thanks so much for the (deep and extended) peek at the game. It makes me more confident that ever to say the following:

@Evil Hat, now I know how some folks feel about the iPad. To misquote Ryan Sohmer, I dearly want to transfer money from my bank account into yours, and I’m OK with that. :-)

I’m right there with you, my friend. And thanks for the kind words.

Murph (No,not that one) says:

Just found out about the upcoming DFRPG a few weeks ago and have greatly enjoyed reading this Q&A, so a big CHEERS to Rick and all the contributors.

On behalf of myself and all the other folks chipping in, you’re welcome!

Anyways, a quick question if you don’t mind. How much refresh does Physical Immunity cost during character creation? (I have a descendant of Balder concept for an NPC I would mind solidifying up a little)

Physical Immunity is a stunning -8, but you get some of that back when you take a Catch, which is required for the power, as John Hawkins points out in the comment thread. Thanks, John!

Thanks for all your effort Rick, it must have been quite taxing at times.

You’re welcome. It was work, but it was a labour of love.

@Fred It’s been close to 13 years since I’ve done the whole P&P gaming thing,but this has seriously relit the fire so to speak and I can’t wait to get my hands on the books. The fate system sounds awesome and much more along the lines of how I prefer to play than the old systems I did indeed play. I think I will have to buy SOTC to get a general feel for the system while waiting for DFRPG. (not to mention it sounds pretty damn cool itself!)

John’s recommendations for other games to check out is very good. I would go a step further, and say to take a good look at the Indie Press Revolution site – there’s a wonderful, varied assortment of games that will knock your socks off. I’m particularly partial to Dogs in the Vineyard, Trail of Cthulhu, and How We Came To Live Here for innovative design and cool ideas.

So, thanks for the hard work and the openness about the development of the game. I, and I’m sure many,many others, really appreciate it.

Seconded!

Oh, also, from a previous Q&A session someone was asking which element lightning came under air or earth. I don’t have it with me, but I seem to remember in Storm Front (novel or comic) that Harry was talking about all five elements being present within the storm while squaring off against the toad demon. I swear he states that lightning represented fire, just in case anyone was still wondering. I’m probably wrong, stupidity runs in the family.

There’s a good discussion in the Evocation section called Mommy, Where Does Lightning Come From? that talks about how phenomena can be mapped to different elements, based on the desires and imagination of the Wizard, so yeah, lighting as Fire works just fine.

Knave says:

@Matthew – re: magic defence

That’s possible, but my understanding is that a fire evocation produces actual fire, so it doesn’t really track to be able to deflect it just by rolling discipline without casting – unless you can do the same thing against a flame thrower.

True, but if the block makes the fire splash into the wall instead of hitting you in the face, you don’t need to worry about the fire. Well, not as much. As for the flamethrower, the difference is that magical fire will require fuel to keep burning. If it hits a barrier of force in mid-air, there’s nothing there for it to burn, so it goes away. A flamethrower, though, is spewing burning fuel that sticks and clings to the nothing in the air, and we go again to the scene in Blood Rites.

Rel Fexive says:

RE: magic defence — such a defence, like with Harry’s shield bracelet, is apparently done as a Block that can be eroded by every attack it blocks (or so I’ve deduced from previous comments). I’ve not got ‘the book’ but I reckon that means that a character would cast a spell in the normal way (power/Conviction, then control/Discipline) to end up with a number of shifts that represents the strength of the Block/shield. This would probably then be matched against the number of shifts used in the attack – any attack – and probably with the “damage bonus” added on; so shifts + Weapon:X vs Block shifts, because heavier hits are harder to stop.

I imagine the Block then either stops the attack cold (by having more shifts) or lets some through (by not having enough), and can be reduced by the hit in some fashion. This would seem to reflect the source.

/guesswork

Evocation blocks collapse if the attack punches through. They also only last for a single round, unless you spend some of your power shifts on maintaining it. But if you use it as a defense instead of armour – the deflect vs. soak discussion from above – you only need to beat the targeting roll to avoid taking damage.

vultur says:

Are there stats for fungus demons?

In general, asking for a complete list would probably be too much; but we’ve seen previews of the character types, but not really anything on the monsters. Can you give an idea of what monsters are included?

Rechan gave a very nice and complete answer to this in the comment thread. Thanks, Rechan!

Lanodantheon says:

Awesome Q&A!!!

Thanks!

Probably the last question I’ll be able to ask before just doing it myself when the game comes out.

How would I give someone a “Spirit Sword ” ala Yu Yu Hakusho. Basically it’s a conjured sword made of Spirit energy. My first blush is Claws.

If anyone else with access to the material cares to weigh in, please do.

And indeed, someone else did! Thanks, John Hawkins! His very complete response pretty much covers anything I could have thought of, and more. There are a myriad of ways of doing something like this in the system; you’ll pick the one that produces the jazz you like best when you build your character, and negotiate with the GM.

It’s all about negotiating with the GM. 😉

So, we wind down to the end of this little Q&A.We’ve got 14 installments, and a total word count just north of 37,000. That’s about a third of a good-sized novel. And this final one is the longest of the bunch.

I’ve put a link to the complete Q&A series on the DFRPG Playtest Samples page, so it’s easy for folks to find.

I want to thank everyone who has come by to read, to ask questions, to answer questions, and just generally talk about the game. I think you all start to understand my enthusiasm for the game by now, right?

And you’re all going to buy it, right?

I especially want to thank Fred, Lenny, and Chad, not only for joining in on the discussion and helping keep me honest and on track – obviously, they know the game far better than I do – but for having the visionary idea of a Disclosure Pledge for the playtesters in the first place. It’s a fairly new way of looking at the community of gamers, as a vocal force that you can mobilize on behalf of your product, and it shows a great deal of respect and appreciation for their fans out here in the world.

And it let me see and talk about the game early, so bonus! 😉

It’s been a fun ride, everyone. Thanks for sharing it with me.

Now I go back to my other games, and my other writing. But I’m not leaving Dresden Files behind. Not by a long shot.

I am eagerly awaiting the June release of the final hardcover books, so I can get into setting up my own campaign.

Fin.

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11 Responses to DFRPG Q&A 14

  1. Bosh says:

    Many thanks for all of this. I look forward to the campaign planning posts.

  2. Knave says:

    Thank you very much Rick (and ALL)!

  3. John Hawkins says:

    It’s been a blast, Rick, thanks for investing your time in this.

  4. Rel Fexive says:

    It’s been great work from you, so big thanks. And yeah, I’d sort of forgotten about having a Consequence putting someone “On Fire!” 🙂

    I have been rereading the books (or the last few anyway) plus the short stories to prep for finally getting my paperback copy of ‘Turn Coat’. Yup, not quite out yet here in the UK! Can’t wait to finally catch up!

    Thanks again! Have fun with your gaming!

  5. Thank you, Rick. For being awesome.

  6. Fred Hicks says:

    You, sir, are an impressive individual.

  7. Rick Neal says:

    Aw, shucks, folks. You’re making me blush!

  8. Stacey says:

    Damn, this was over the top impressive. I try to get as many people as I can from the LJ site over here. 🙂

  9. Sinker says:

    Hey, I know I’m a bit late, I really wish someone had shown me this a two weeks earlier but I have a question that’s been nagging me and I was hoping one of you could answer me. Do they go in depth on the laws in the books? I’m thinking of playing a lawbreaker and I’m wondering how quickly she might slide into NPC land. Plus it’s always bothered me that the Sleep spell Dresden puts on Murphy in Grave Peril and the mind fog used in Summer Knight are fundamentally the same thing on different scales yet one is legal and the other isn’t. I’d really appreciate it if someone could answer me but I understand if you guys are all done. This lasted longer than I might have the patience for, and I’ve loved every word.
    Thanks much.

  10. Rick Neal says:

    Welcome, Sinker. I’m gonna give you short answers to your questions, but I don’t really want to open the door to too much more Q&A. You understand. 😉

    First of all, about 15 pages on the Laws of Magic in the book, including looking at interpretations, how to use them in your game, and why each one is a law. Good stuff.

    Second, the reason the Sleep spell isn’t a crime and the Mind Fog is, is simple: permission. If I take my buddy’s car after he gives me the keys and says I can borrow it, no problem. If I take my neighbour’s car by breaking a window and hotwiring it, then we have a problem. Same sort of idea.

  11. Sinker says:

    Thanks for the answer rick, it sounds great. I really appreciate what you did here and for that matter what Fred and Evil Hat have been doing to get this game out there. It’s really whet my appetite and I can’t wait!

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