Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Fate Core Hack - Parliament of Dragons

Like many entries, this began as a simple hack. I picked up the Council of Wyrms boxed set at a local used bookstore. TSR pumped out a lot of great settings and content that's ripe for a Fate conversion. The boxed set is full of a lot of great ideas, and it is especially interesting to see a game that tries to recast the popularity of Vampire's "PCs scheming vs. PCs" in terms a different audience can understand.

Playing dragons as PCs is a no brainer. The elapsed time from the moment someone first said "Wow, I can't believe we killed that thing!" to "Hey, how come I can't play that thing?" was likely less than two seconds. I ran a fairly lengthy game of FFG's Fireborn and coming up with challenges for such powerful characters was part of the fun. The trick is to properly convey the scope of the PC's power, while still coming up for interesting things to do. the Council offers a great setting that mixes intrigues in the halls of power and heading out to the islands to lay waste to some armies.

This is still primarily a hack for Council of Wyrms, though you can get away with playing this setting without needing the boxed set. You'd have to make up your own fantasy world for your PCs to lord over, but that doesn't seem too hard. Either you've got a couple soaking up a few spiral notebooks (I know I do) or you can generate one using Fate Core's setting creation guidelines.


Consider this a gift to all the people who made Fate Core a two-fisted success this year and all the fan that said such nice things about Camelot Trigger. The rules for Parliament of Dragons begin after the jump!

This hack works for Council of Wyrms, Fireborn or any setting where the PCs are masters of their domain.

Dragon Characters

Here are the guidelines for making dragon characters. The basics are the same: five aspects, Great skill pyramid and three free stunts. The specifics have changed.

Aspects

Dragons possess five aspects, though they work a little different than the ones in Fate Core.

Breed: The dragon's color reflects innate strengths and weakness. The guide below highlights what your dragon's breed is known for, but not even dragons fall lock step with their upbringing. A White King of the North is just as likely as A Blue That Acts Like A Crystal.

Age: Hatchlings are meant to respect Venerable Elders, but the rules often get thrown out the window when plots come to light. Remember, age and treachery often best youth and skill.

Legend: This aspect refers to your dragon's most memorable scheme. You may have Conquered Your Domain Without Bloodshed or Possess Untold Mystic Artifacts in your hoard. This may or may not have been your first plot, but it's the tale that is told to foolhardy adventurers seeking to loot your lair.

Right Hand: A dragon's Right Hand refers to his or her staunchest ally and the one member of the Council that can be relied upon. You aided one of the other dragons at the table and helped build their legend. Assisting in another legend may mean you have a reputation for being Loyal or it could mean that your attack on a castle pegs you as The Terror of Iron Tower Keep

Left Hand: The Left Hand of the dragon is the wyrm's deadliest rival who always seems to be complicating plots. Your interference reflects back on you, even if the Council demands you remain civil. By meddling in another dragon's affairs, you may have Cut A Deal With A Demon, or Wiped Out The Order of White Wizards.

There are a few different ways to determine your Hand Aspects. Use the phase trio rules, chose who you want to have assisted (so long as everyone chooses someone different), or create the aspect based on the dragon of the player seated in the proper slot. 

Skills

The skill pyramid still tops out at great. However, since there are less skills, this makes your dragon more powerful. Four skills were removed: Burglary, Craft, Drive, Stealth. They were folded into other skills as much as possible.

Parliament of Dragons Skills

  • Awareness: When one is worthy of a dragon's notice, one should be wary.
  • Bearing: How one acts in the company of dragons determines their empathy toward you.
  • Breath: Be it fire, ice or poison, whatever shoots forth from its mouth is a deadly weapon.
  • Broodline: Well-respected ancestors helps a dragon establish a rapport with other dragons.
  • Claws: A dragon's claws are his most important weapon in a fight.
  • Command: How well the dragon handles contacts with those underneath her station, like humans and elves.
  • Courage: Standing up to other dragons requires a certain amount of will.
  • Curiosity: Dragons love to investigate, whether its searching for a missing magic item or a plot for the burglary of another lair.
  • Hoard: A measure of the dragon's resources, be it piles of gold or magic items.
  • Intellect: The dragon's ability to remember lore and craft clever lairs.
  • Roar: Dragons are unafraid to let our a roar to provoke opponents or intimidate their subjects.
  • Scales: How tough the dragon's body is. The tougher the dragon's scales, the more physical stress it absorbs with its physique.
  • Tail: The dragon's ability to move on the ground. The tail helps an athletic dragon maintain balance or a stealthy dragon remain unseen.
  • Wings: The dragon's ability to move in the air. They can pilot through the clouds on a clear day, or drive through a roaring storm.
  • Whisper: When a dragon deceives, she rarely speaks loudly.

Stunts

Dragons don't have stunts. Instead, they have holdings. Holdings represent the items, locations and organizations that the dragon has under his influence. They function the same at stunts, offering a +2 bonus to a skill in certain situations or access to a unique resource.

Examples:

  • Vosh the Undying: +2 to create a Zombie Horde Advantage using Command.
  • The 400 Thieves of Shadow Harbor: Once per game, pay a Fate point to intercept a precious cargo being shipped somewhere.
  • A Big Honking Pile of Gold: +2 to overcome obstacles with Hoard when the problem can be solved with cash.

Minions

Anything that's not a dragon is a minion. Necromancers, barbarian hordes or hardy adventurers are represented by minions. Creating a minion involves a roll (usually Command or Hoard) with a difficulty set at the number of stress boxes the minion will possess.

The minion sticks around until the end of the session or it is Taken Out. If the dragon wishes to summon a minion of the same type in a later session and the minion was not Taken Out, the GM may allow it to do so by spending a Fate point. 

A minion is made up of three parts:

Aspects: Each minion gets one aspect for free that sums it up, like Palace Guards or An Angry Owlbear. If the dragon succeeds with style on the roll that creates the minion, it may select a second aspect for the minion. 
Stress: The dragon sets the number of stress boxes it has when it is summoned. 
Strengths and Weaknesses: The dragon may define the strengths and weaknesses of the minion when summoned. The dragon defines an activity that the minion gains a bonus of +2 in as well as an area where the minion must roll with a -2 penalty. The minion possesses a number of pairs equal to its stress boxes.

Examples:

Zombie Guards
Stress: 2
Strengths: Attacking living creatures, resisting physical attacks
Weaknesses: Noticing things, 

Network of Spies
Stress: 1
Strengths: None

Troll Guardian
Stress: 3
Strengths: Feats of strength, fierce roar
Weaknesses: Limited mobility, not too bright


There are those mortals who are worthy of the Council's notice. But I shall speak of kindred and slayers in another post, if there is interest.