Legends of Anglerre by Evil Mastermind
IntroOriginal SA post Death to Ability Scores! - Let's Read Legends of Anglerre !
Dedicated to ProfessorCirno, who saved my ass in the XCrawl game. This is his bribe for healing me and getting me out from under the spinning blades.
Those of you who hang out in the Indie Games thread know that a lot of us there like to babble on about Fate. I can be pretty bad about that.
The reason why is that, at its core, Fate is an elegant system that's built around ease of use and adaptability. It's also open content, so you see it around more and more nowadays.
The biggest Fate release is, of course, the Dresden Files RPG. Many years in the making, it was the first "official" Fate 3.0 game, and is one of the best-selling RPGs ever.
But we're not here to talk about DFRPG. Don't get me wrong, it's a phenominal game, but it does have a slight learning curve since it's based on an established universe (even if that universe is "oWoD, but with the stupid stuff removed").
We all know that D&D is the "gateway drug" of the hobby. Generic High Fantasy is an easy genre to grasp, after all. So to help people see why Fate is awesome, I'm going to review Fate's answer to D&D, Legends of Anglerre .
Chaper 1: Introduction
I'm sure your first question is "what the hell is Anglerre?" It's a fair question. Fortunately, we get a quick answer.
Published by British publisher D.C.Thomson, Starblazer was home to some of the best British space opera and fantasy of the 1970s and 80s. Featuring stunning art and stories, comic creators like Grant Morrison and John Smith, artists Enrique Alcatena, Mike McMahon, Cam Kennedy, John Ridgeway, Alan Rogers, Jaime Oritz, Ian Kennedy, Colin MacNeil and Casanovas Junior helped bring the fantastic “space fiction adventure in pictures” to life.
Each issue featured a self-contained story, though characters, empires, gods and creatures often re-appeared in many adventures, such as Prince Veyne of Anglerre and the mighty magician-sage Myrdan.
DC Thomson is a major Scottish publisher, producing over 200 million newspapers and magazines each year. Established in 1905 and famous for their Beano and Dandy comic books, they still publish Starblazer’s sister comic, the legendary Commando.
Just for the record, Starblazer Adventures was actually Cubicle-7's first Fate game. It's based on the British comic of the same name, which ran in the early 80's. Back-up stories about Anglerre ran in a bunch of issues, so when Starblazer Advetures was a success, this was pretty much the next logical step.
The rest of the introduction is the standard-issue stuff; "What is Roleplaying", "What is Fate", "Where can I find players/more info", things like that. It also has a brief list of what changed from Starblazer Adventures.
But we all know this stuff already. Let's start getting into the meat of the thing.
Chapter 2: How Do I Play This?
This chapter is a high-level description of how Fate works. It starts off by showing you the character sheet and telling you breifly what all the different sections mean. I'm not going to worry about that because I'm going to cover all the bits anyway, but let's let LoA teach us the basics of how to Fate!
The core of the Fate system is The Ladder .
The Ladder is how pretty much everything in LoA is measured. Things tend to be described in "Adjective (value)" format, so you'd have a skill of "Good (+3)". Average (+1) is, well, average ability; "professional, but not exceptional" as the book puts it. Anything Superb (+4) or above is generally considered at or above normal human ability.
(I'd like to take a moment here to point out one of the things I love about Fate: the Ladder is universal to every Fate game, which means that all the games operate on more or less the same scale. This makes it really easy to pull parts of one Fate game and plug them into another with only minor difficulty.)
Unlike most Fate games, Legends of Anglerre uses a d6-d6 system instead of Fudge dice (although you can use Fudge dice if you want, it just gives a spread of -4 to +4 on the dice instead of -5 to +5). To do something, you roll and add your relevent skill to beat a target number. The total is called the effort , and the amount you beat the difficulty by is called shifts .
So if you have a skill of +2 and roll a +3, that's an effort of 5. If you were trying to beat a difficulty of 3, then you got 2 shifts.
(These are Fudge dice, by the way. They're a lot easier to get nowadays than they were back when Fate games were first coming out, but if worst comes to worst you can always make your own .)
Those of you who are good at math will notice that most rolls are going to average around the -1 to +1 level. This is intentional; the idea is that if you're highly skilled at something, you're probably going to be really good at it when you try it. Most of the time you're going to roll within a point or two of your skill, so of you're a Great (+4) swordsman you're going to be pretty Great at it most of the time.
One thing you have to be aware of is the "skill pyramid"; to have a skill at a certain level, you have to have at least as many skills at the next rank down, plus one. In other words, you can't have a Great skill unless you have at least two Good skills, and you can't have two Good skills unless you have at least three Average skills. You can't have skills below Average, just so you know.
In addition to skills, characters also have stunts , which are (for the most part) applied and special uses for skills. Stunts are kind of like feats in D&D, except 1) they're a lot mor euseful, and 2) we're going to be provided with the rules to make our own stunts.
The next part of the core system are Aspects . Aspects are descriptors of characters, items, and locations that are used in play to get bonuses or help drive the game. Aspects for characters can be things like "Wandering swordsman" or "Clumsy", for items you can have things like "Loud" or "Obviously Valuable", and for locations you could have Aspects like "Dark corners" or "Lots of civilians".
Aspects can be invoked if relevant to the situation to give you various bonuses, or they can compelled to make your life difficult (and earn you a Fate point). You can also tag someone else's Aspects, which is similar to invoking but it's a little more limited in what you get out of it.
Fate points are a pool each character has that's used to invoke their Aspects. Everyone starts with a certain amount, and earn more by having their Aspects compelled. When your Aspect is compelled by the GM, you earn a Fate point but have that Aspect work against you in some manner. Case in point:
For example: Captain Brandon is fleeing from the undead legionnaires of the Sorcerer Braxis. The Story Teller says, “Hey, Brandon, you know you have that aspect “Clumsy oaf ”? Well, I figure you looked back to see if they were still chasing you, and tripped over in the darkness”. He slides a Fate point to Brandon’s player: the undead might catch Brandon now, but his player has a Fate point he can use for a bonus later. Remember, this is about storytelling, not winning: the fun is in letting Brandon succumb to “fate” and seeing what happens. No one’s out to kill your character in these rules: it’s about enjoying the challenge of the situations you end up in.
Once you have Fate points, you can spend them after a roll for one of the following benefits:
Add +1 to the roll
Invoke one of your own Aspects for a +2 to the roll, or a re-roll
Tag someone or something else's Aspect for +2 to the roll (no re-roll in this case)
Use certain powerful stunts
Make a minor declaration
Declarations are when a player takes brief narrative control, and creates a fact about the situation. For example, you could spend a Fate point to delcare you have a mundane item that you wouldn't normally have ("Hey, wait, I think I saw a 3/8 wrench in the aft hold"), or using your "Thieve's Guild Member in Good-ish Standing" Aspect to say that there's a Guild contact in this tavern. The GM has the power of veto, of course, and you can't just narrate things like "That guy knows me and gives me his wallet".
It's also possible place an Aspect on yourself or someone else by using an manoeuvre . Manoeuvers are when you use your skills to create Aspects like "Off-Balance", "Rattled", or "Behind Cover" on the target. Why would you do this? Simple: when you create an Aspect by performing a manoeuvre, you can tag that Aspect for free the first time you use it. And yes, you can pass that free tag to someone else.
Next up is Stress , which is what Fate uses instead of hit points. There are two Stress tracks: Physical and Composure (which is your mental/social health). Each starts at 5 boxes, modified by certail skills and stunts. When you take damage, the boxes are marked off, and if you go over the top of one of the tracks you're taken out . Bear in mind, however, that being taken out doesn't mean killed; it just means you lost, and what that ends up meaning is up to the person who took you out. When a fight's over, all your Stress clears out.
Damage can be mitigated by taking consequences . Consequences are Aspects you can take to reduce incoming stress, and this is what represents long-term damage. For instance, a Minor Consequence reduces incoming damage by 2, and would be something like "Bad Bruise". Unlike Stress, Consequences stick around after a fight, and like manoeuvred Aspects can be tagged for free once by the person who caused you to take it.
So how do all these things come together? Simple.
If you're doing something simple, then if you have the skill you succeed.
If it's a little more difficult (or a simple task being done under pressure), then you need to roll for it. For the most part, tasks start at Average (+1) difficulty and go up by one rank for every extra problem or complication. So riding a horse down the street is Average (+1), but riding one through a crowded street while chasing someone is at least a Good (+3) difficulty. Any shifts on the roll determine extra effects, such as reducing time taken or doing extra damage.
For opposed rolls, that's a conflict . For situations like this, you determine intiative however you want (skill rolls, go around the table, etc.), and on each person's turn they roll for whatever they're trying to do. The target rolls a defensive skill, and whoever gets the higher roll wins. Shifts in this case are the difference between the rolls, and their application depends on the type of conflict; in fights, the shifts on the attacker's roll are the amount of Stress damage done. So if the attacker gets a +5 and the defender only gets a +3, that's two Stress damage, but if the attacked got the +3 and the defender got the +5, then the defender doesn't take any damage.
The last two components mentioned are overflow , which is any damage above what you needed to take out your target, and blocks , which are a special type of manoeuvre. Overflow can be used for supplemental actions, and blocking is a way to increase the difficulty of someone else's action.
And...that's pretty much it for the basics. Obviously I'll cover this stuff in more detail later on, but that's enough to get you started. Chapter 2 closes out with how to make a character "on the fly", but I'm going to hold off on that until the next chapter.
NEXT TIME: Let me tell you about my character!
Character CreationOriginal SA post LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
Chapter 3: Character Creation
This is another short chapter, because a lot of what gets talked about won't be detailed until later chapters. But I do these things on a chapter-by-chapter basis, and dammit I'm not changing it up now.
The book points out that character creation in LoA is intended to be a group activity; not just because it's more fun to talk stuff out that way, but because of one of the steps later on.
As with most games, you start by coming up with your character's concept. For the purposes of this Let's Read (and to outline the whole process as we go along), I'm going to make a sample character: Gregor Stoutarm, the Generic Human D&D Sword & Board Fighter.
Oh, and on the topic of names:
Legends of Anglerre names are fantasy names, and often have a particular cadence. The most common involve a title and a short first name (such as Prince Veyne or King Snorri), a short first name and an epithet (such as Myrdan the Mage or Demarak Oathbreaker), or a first name and a last name (such as Myki Saladoth or Xavius Caladon). Fantasy names are simple, euphonious, and resonant with the character’s personality: heroes often have short, heroic names like Shakash the Slayer; villains have nastysounding, often meaningful names, like Lord Craven.
More conventional names are fine, too, but are often more appropriate if your character also has an alias (such as Brandon Carter, Captain of the Guard) or is intentionally cultivating an image!
When making characters, everyone needs to decide what "level" they want to start at:
"Good" characters are just starting out. You get 6 Aspects, 3 stunts, 15 skill points and a skill cap of Good (+3).
"Great" characters are ones who've got a quest or two under their belt. They get two more Aspects, one more stunt, and five more skill points with a cap of Great (+4).
"Superb" characters are the movers and shakers, with ten Aspects all told, five stunts, and 35 skill points with a cap of Superb (+4). (Those of you who've played Spirit of the Century will recognize this starting level; the skill pyramid even works out the same).
Once you have your concept and starting level, you start going through the Phases.
Phase 1 is "Early Days". In this phase, you come up with the rough details of the character's early life; where he grew up, what his goals were, that kind of thing. Once you do that, you write a short blurb about it, then pick two Aspects based on the blurb.
What's nice about this is that, since we have to come up with an interesting background to generate interesting Aspects, it's a lot harder to make a "generic" character whose only purpose in life is to dungeoncrawl.
So let's think about Gregor's background. As a Generic D&D Fighter, we can make a few basic assumptions: no living family, trained in fighting from childhood, probably a blacksmith since that's the default "day job" of the Generic D&D Fighter. Not really a lot to work with there, but let's see what we can do.
Gregor Stoutarm was born and raised in the town of Two Stones. He was the son of the local blacksmith, and looked to follow in his father's footsteps. In addition to learning blacksmithing, his father taught him how to fight, which made him a prime canidate for the town militia.
That's good enough; we don't have to get too nuts here.
Now that we have Gregor's background, we pick two Aspects based on it. When picking Aspects, you want something evocative, and (if possible) something that can be both Invoked (so we can get bonuses from it) and Compelled (so we can get Fate Points from it). Let's take the obvious Aspect Son of a blacksmith , which could be used as follows:
Son of a blacksmith
Invoke to: be good at making things, judge an item's quality, be strong and tough
Compel to: be a little thick-headed, be judgemental of someone else's work, be treated like common laborer
Those are just examples, of course. An Aspect's "scope" should be worked out by you and agreed upon by everyone else.
For the second Aspect, we should probably pick one that speaks to his being a fighter. Swordsman is applicable, but it's not something that could be Compelled easily, plus it's pretty bland. We can spice that up a bit to Raised with a sword in my hand ; not only is that more evocative, it ties into Gregor's background and give a bit of a glimpse into his personality.
Raised with a sword in my hand
Invoke to: be a good fighter, understand weapons and fighting styles
Compel to: think with your weapon, follow the chain of command (even when you shouldn't)
At this point, you also have the option of picking an "Occupation", which is the closest LoA gets to character classes. You just pick one off the list, and make an Aspect that speaks to that occupation. I'll take "Fighter" for my occupation, and since "Raised with a sword in my hand" speaks to that, I don't need to change anything.
The next Phase is "Legend". See, in LoA, you don't start out as a guy fresh off the farm. Like most Fate games, it's assumed that your character has already boldly gone and derringly done at some point; in other words, his origin story. In this phase you get to write the title of that "first appearance" (usually in the format "Character Name (versus/in/and) Adventurous Thing!"), and put together a little back-cover blurb to describe what happened.
In keeping Gregor's theme, let's pick Generic D&D Character Background #3: "My family and village were slaughtered by a horde of <insert name of monster here>." Let's go with the old standby and say it was orcs. Let's see...back cover blurb for that...
Gregor Stoutarm and the Red-Handed Horde
When Greg Stoutarm joined the town militia, he expected nothing more complicated than wrangling the occasional bandit and guarding his father's smithy. He certainly never expected a full-on attack on his town, especially one by the Red Hand orc tribe, who hadn't been seen in generations. Armed only with his determination and the last sword his father made before he died, Gregor must find a way to survive.
Yes it's cheesy shut up.
Once you have your blurb, you use it to generate two more Aspects. Let's do My father's last sword and Survivor of the Red Hand Massacre .
Phase 3 is "Guest Star", and it works a little differently. In this phase, the GM writes everyone's story titles on index cards, shuffles them, and hands them back out so that each player has another player's story. Each player then adds another sentence or two to the story's blurb to represent them "guest starring in that story, and genertates two more Aspects from that. One nice side-effect of this is that each character has an actual tie to at least one other character, nicely sidestepping the "I just met you in the inn five minutes ago but somehow I trust you with my life" issue.
For instance, let's say that Glazius and I are making characters, and I wind up with his mage's backstory:
Gallowglass the Astute has scorned the martial tradition of his homeland and unlocked the secrets of the arcane. But his mystical acumen will be put to trial by ordeal in... The Temple Of The Rat-Men!
I now write an extra line or two to explain what I did in his story as a supporting character.
Armed only wih his own magic and the help of wandering swordsman Gregor Stoutarm, can the two heroes survive the terrible secret that lies beneath the Rat-Men's Temple?
For the sake of this example, let's assume Glazius was okay with my bit, and we hashed out that he hired me as his bodyguard so he didn't have to go alone. I create two Aspects for this guest appearance: "I don't trust magic." and The best offense is a good defense . Note that Glazius doesn't get two Aspects for my part in his story, he gets his Aspects from whoever's story he got.
If you're making a Good-teir character, you're done with Phases at this point. Otherwise, you go through another "Guest Star" Phase for each additional tier.
Now we buy Skills. Skills levels are bought one-for-one out of that pool we got before, and have to conform to the "skill pyramid", which admittedly can be tricky to work out when you don't have a lot of points to work with. The book does helpfully give us some sample 20-point pryamids, though:
For Gregor, I'll just pick my skills now and go into them in more detail when I get to the Skills chapter. For my Good (+3) skill, I'll take "Melee Weapons" (duh). For my three Fair skills, I'll buy Artificer (which covers blacksmithing), Endurance, and Might. That leaves me with 6 points, so I'll buy six Average skills: Intimidation, Resources (representing cash and such), Resolve, Alertness, Ranged Weapons, and Athletics. Any skill I don't have automatically defalts to +0.
Once you pick your skills, you take your stunts. I'll get into these a bit more once we hit that chapter, but for now just understand that stunts are like feats, except that a) they're related to your skills in some fashion, b) you can make your own or pick from a list, and c) don't suck for the most part.
Stunts are a little more complex; I'll take "Sheild Training", which makes me much better at using shields; "Thick Skinned", which gives him another Physical Stress box; and "Military Training", which gives him +1 damage on weapon attacks and is a prerequisite for a lot of other stunts.
Next up we get starting equipment, which is based on what your character would logically have based on his Aspects, skills, and stunts. We've established that Gregor's a fighter, so he'd start with a sword, a suit of chainmail, and a shield along with his Standard Adventuring Kit (tm).
The last things we need to do are calculate Gregor's stress tracks and Fate Points.
Each character starts with 5 boxes in each stress track, modified by his skills and stunts. You add half your Endurance skill (rounded up) to your Physical track, and half your Resolve skill (again, rounded up) to your Composure track. In addition, Gregor took a stunt for an additional Physical stress box, so his final tracks are 7 Physical (5 base, +1 for Fair Endurance, +1 for the stunt) and 6 Composure (5 base, +1 for the Average Resolve).
As for Fate Points, you start each session with a number of Fate Points equal to 10-the number of stunts you have. This is called your Refresh .
And that's it. Your character is ready to go. Really, the hardest part is picking your starting stunts, especially when you're starting at Good and are limited to three.
The next part of the chapter is advice on how to make you character. There's some tips on how to make interesting Aspects,
One of the best ways to determine you and the Story Teller are on the same page about your aspects is to discuss three situations where you feel the aspect would be a help or hindrance, so you both have a clear idea of what it might be used for.
At first glance, the most powerful aspects seem to be things that are broadly useful with no real downside, like “Quick”, “Lucky” or “Strong”, and many players are tempted to go with those. Resist that temptation!
There are three big problems with aspects like this: they’re boring, they don’t generate Fate points, and they surrender your ability to help shape the story.
Next up is a section on "Future Aspects", which are Aspects that represent long-term goals. These start as an Aspect about your goal (like I will be the greatest swordsman in the land! ), then set up three or so "plot points" that need to be met before you can really be considered to have reached your goal (in this case, "find a great weapon", "defeat the current best swordsman", "defeat a huge monster"). When you hit all your goals, your Aspect changes to reflect your goal (so I will be the greatest swordsman in the land! becomes I am be the greatest swordsman in the land! ) AND your character hits a major milestone (which I'll explain in just a bit).
After the advice section are a bunch of tables you can use to generate a random background or lifepath. I'm not going to get into too much detail on this, but I do want to mention that the tables are vague enough that you can fill in a lot of blanks with them, and that some results can give you certain skill or item rewards. If people are interested I can roll up a random background later.
The last part of the chapter is about Advancement. At the start of each session, everyone gets a skill point just for showing up. Then everyone gets to do one of the following:
Change or Replace an Aspect
: If an Aspect isn't working out (or isn't really being used), you can swap it out for another one. You can also change an Aspect to cover events in your charcter's life (from "Sir Whatshisname's Squire" to "Knight of the Realm", for instance).
Swap two skills that are within one rank of each other, or change an Average skill to a new one
: If you have Melee Weapons at +4 and Ranged Weapons at +3, you can swap them so that Ranged is at +4 and Melee is at +3.
Change a stunt
: As long as you don't break the prequeisite chains.
At the end of an adventure, that's a major milestone, and you can do one of the following instead of the above list:
Add a stunt
at the cost of 1 Refresh.
Add an Aspect
, but you can't have more Aspects than your Refresh + Stunts.
Add one to your Refresh.
If the whole group achieves something together that's really notable, there's a big campaign-shifting event, or the GM wants to shake things up, that's a group milestone. When that happens, every character gets 10 skill points, and they get some points to invest in their organizations and constructs (which, again, I'll cover later).
And that's it. Let's look at Gregor's sheet before we go.
Gregor Stoutarm Occupation: Fighter Refresh: 7 Aspects Son of a blacksmith Raised with a sword in my hand My father's last sword Survivor of the Red Hand Massacre "I don't trust magic." The best offense is a good defense Skills Good (+3): Melee Weapons Fair (+2): Artificer, Endurance, Might Average (+1): Intimidation, Resources, Resolve, Alertness, Ranged Weapons, Athletics Stunts Military Training, Shield Training, Thick Skinned Stress Physical:        Composure:      
NEXT TIME: Races!
RacesOriginal SA post LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
Chapter 4: Races
What's a fantasy game without non-human races? LoA is kind enough to not only include your standard fantasy races like elves and dwarves, but also covers races such as centaurs.
Characters are assumed to be human by default. To make a character of another race, you do the following:
Give the character an Aspect that refers to his race.
No, really, that's it. Want your wizard to be an elf? Take the Elven Arcanist Aspect. Want your character to be a dwarf? Dwarf from the Ironband Mines . Hell, you can even be a Human raised by dwarves if you want.
See, most of what makes a race different from humans (such as being better at certain skills, or better senses) will be covered by the normal Aspect rules. As long as you and your GM all agree to what that race is capable of, you can invoke a racial Aspect to be a little better at it.
For example, if it's understood that, in your setting, elves live in the forests, have better eyesight, and are good at magic, then you can invoke your racial Aspect for the +2 or reroll when you're hunting game in the woods, try to spot something far away, or cast a spell. But if you're in a setting where elves are, say, heavily mitilaristic and xenophobic then you're going to be invoking and compelling those instead.
Of course, racial Aspects don't cover everything. Actual "racial powers" are covered by stunts. Racial stunts work pretty much the same as normal stunts, but have the prerequisite of having to be a member of that race.
For instance, here's an elven racial stunt:
Detect Secret Doors
You get a +2 bonus to find or notice secret doors, concealed panels, and the like.
Here's one for
Once per scene, you can spend a Fate point to declare you have a specific item belonging to another person in your possession, so long as that person isn’t currently using it and you had a reasonable chance to acquire it since it was last used. It must be something small enough to be carried around (so no pulling out a suit of plate mail). You also get a +1 Sleight of Hand bonus to palm objects.
Being a member of some races can also grant you access to "creature-only" stunts like Claws, Oversized, Flight, or Enhanced Vision.
The book gives us the standard D&D races: elves, dwarves, and halflings. Each race has a few sample Aspects you can use to build on your non-human nature(with examples of how they can be invoked or compelled), such as At Home Underground for dwarves and Long-Lived for elves. The book also has a few racial stunts for each race, like the ones I mentioned above
The game also includes a few non-standard races: centaurs
You can drink an astonishing amount and remain conscious. You get a +1 Rapport, Resolve, or Intimidation bonus when drunk.
You’re a seductive, sensuous creature, as successful as you are enthusiastic. You get a +1 Rapport bonus on all seduction attempts.
You get a +1 bonus when trying to detect valuables in an area.
And if you think it's pretty cool that it's that easy to make a dragon PC, wait until later on when I tell you about the rules for playing an intelligent magic item.
The chapter closes out with a page on how to put together your own custom races. Again, it's really straightforward and easy. All you have to do is
Write down a paragraph describing the race you want to create, what it looks like, how it behaves, a bit about its history, reputation, and relations with other races. Have a look at what you’ve just written, and underline three characteristics which you think define that race more than anything else. These are your racial aspects .
And again, that's it. That's pretty much everything you need to know about races in LoA.
So let's go back to Gregor. I asked people to suggest some "standard" D&D races to model in LoA, and I got a few interesting suggestions. What I'm going to do is remove Gregor's Son of a Blacksmith Aspect and his "Shield Training" stunt, and swap them out for some appropriate racial Aspects and stunts.
Let's start with a basic one.
Could you make Gregor one of the more traditional races too? Like a half-orc or something?
Now, for the stunt...I can borrow this one from the Centaurs:
For a Fate point you can go berserk, gaining a “Berserk” aspect, a +2 to all physical attacks and incurring a -1 to all defences.
Now for some of the odder outlayers.
The character can use any single power stunt at Mediocre (+0), without having the corresponding power skill. The stunt can’t have prerequisite stunts – even if you already have that stunt. This gives thieves, warriors, etc, limited access to magic; an aspect explaining how is also required. The stunt can be taken multiple times, though only one aspect is required.
Alternately, if you want to reflect Gregor's body of stone, you could swap his "Thick Skinned" stunt for this one:
The character has a thick shell which acts as armour. The first time this stunt is taken it reduces stress from successful hits by 1, the second time by 2 and the third time (the maximum) by 3. The character suffers a corresponding Athletics penalty.
For the stunt, the most logical ones would be ones that are about his artificial golem-y body. The obvious way I can do with is with the "Outer Shell" stunt again, or the "Hard Hide" stunt which makes his skin effectively leather armor. But let's focus on the "construct" side of things; Warforged don't need to breathe and can handle extreme conditions better than the meatbags. So let's take this:
For a Fate point the character can survive in extreme conditions such as heat, fire, cold or vacuum (pick one) for one exchange. The character gets a +2 defence against similar attacks.
Well, that's a plus for him, anyway. Not so much the rest of the group.
Isn't customization fun? This is the curse of the Fate fan, though...once you understand how to model things in Fate, you're going to start modeling everything in Fate. Fortunately, I'll be showing you how to do that in other ways later on.
NEXT TIME: Classes for the classless system!
Occupy ProfessionsOriginal SA post LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
Chapter 5: Occupations and Character Types
As we've already seen, LoA character creation is pretty open-ended. You can put together your character based more on his background and what you want his goals to be over his class/splat/whatever, and you can mix and match ideas all over the place.
Which is nice, but let's be honest...classes are handy. They're good shorthand for who your character is, and they can be useful places to start your character concept out at before you launch into customization. Besides, classes are pretty much ingrained in fatasy RPGs now, for better or worse.
LoA has taken this into account, and has an optional sort-of-class mechanic in place.
"Classes" in LoA are called occupations . Occupations are broad categories that, when taken, "unlock" a few stunts specific for that occupation.
Taking an occupation is pretty much the same as picking your race; you have one of your Aspects refer to your occupation in some fashion ( Knight in training or Wizard of the Grey Tower or what have you), and bingo, you're done. That Aspect becomes the prerequisite for a bunch of stunts that would (in other games) be "class abilities".
The game is also there to remind us that this chapter is more of a guideline than a rule:
Always remember: Legends of Anglerre isn’t a game where you’re restricted to rigid templates or sets of abilities, and occupations and builds aren’t straitjackets to limit you, but just guidelines to help you do even more cool stuff. Feel free to strike out on your own!
There are five occupations listed: the standard issue Fighter, Magic-User,
Fighters are pretty straightforward, as you'd imagine. Having a Fighter-related Aspect gives you access to a few useful stunts like the "Military Training" one Gregor took. The sample builds cover a pretty good range, from sword & board fighter to barbarian to this guy:
Sample Build: Agile Swashbuckler
• Aspects: Watch my flickering blade!
• Key Skills: Athletics, Alertness, Melee Weapons
• Basic Stunts: Ready For Anything, Combat Awareness, Combat Dodge, Flawless Parry, Riposte
• Advanced Stunts: Advanced Combat Dodge, Turnabout, Tactical Advantage, Fancy Footwork
• Equipment: Rapier, Leather Armour, Dressy Clothes
The idea of the sample builds is that you can take the given Aspect, a few of the basic stunts, and the provided gear and you're about halfway done.
(Speaking of gear, there's a sidebar here about the standard-issue adventurer's kit: if your character is the adventuring type, you automatically start with the following: "a bedroll; fire-making equipment; a backpack or sack; some food; a couple of torches or maybe a lantern; a waterskin.)
Magic-Users are up next, and their stunts are more about boosting their magic and general wizardyness.
You can both use a power and perform another action in a single exchange, such as attacking with a weapon and casting a spell. Each roll suffers a -2 penalty; if one roll fails, so does the other. This allows two full actions (see page 158), as long as one is a spell; see also the Supplemental Action rules on page 159.
For sample Magic-User builds, there's the Wizard (the general-purpose caster), the Summoner, the Necromancer, and the Alchemist. The builds are good examples of how to build your character as a specialist in one type of magic, and as we'll see later there are quite a few types.
Priests work more or less the same as magic-users in terms of the stuff they get. One neat idea is the idea of a "geas Aspect" in addition to the occupation Aspect. Geas Aspects can represent the tenets of your god that you have to follow; a priest of the God of War might have to take a Never run from an enemy Aspect, whereas a God of the Sea might take something like Must make a sacrifice every time you get on a boat . It's a nice way of having a "code of conduct" for religous orders that actually mean something as opposed to just being fluff that gets ignored three sessions in.
The Priest sample builds are Cleric, Druid, and Holy Warrior (i.e., paladin). Paladin is a nice example because it shows how you can mix skills up easily to make a "hybrid" class that's still on the same level as the rest of the group.
Rogues are up next, and like fighters they're not that complicated since they don't have to worry about funky powers. That's not to say they don't have neat options, though...
Band of Brothers
Once per session, you may spend a Fate point to call upon your brotherhood, gang, or guild for aid. Treat these as minions (page 164), with the Strength in Numbers advance and three other advances.
The rogue sample builds are the Theif, Ranger, Pirate (with sample Aspect Avast me hearties! ), Explorer, and Scavenger.
Last up is Professional; in 3.x terms this'd be the "Expert" class. This is where your nobles and merchants and tradesmen fall. You know, people who actually get things done.
Air of Authority
You always seem to know what you’re talking about. Within your area of expertise, you get a +1 bonus to all attempts to order people around.
The sample Professionals are Artifier (blacksmith/tinkerer), Merchant, Diplomat, and Noble. And yes, later on I will show you (if I remember when I get to the mechanics of skills) how to build a diplomancer.
The end of the chapter talks about Unusual Occupations, which are occupations that don't fit the standard class slots; things like "Demigod" or :
• Aspects: Unsettling Aura, Pale and Noble, Various Minor weaknesses (Holy Symbols, Sunlight, No Reflection, Must Sleep in Grave)
• Key Skills: Death, Transmutation, Domination
• Basic Stunts: Control Undead, Quick Heal, Control Emotion, Command, Raise Lesser Undead
• Advanced Stunts: Regeneration, Raise Greater Undead, Drain Soul
• Equipment: Sumptuous yet Funereal Clothing, Coffin
NEXT TIME: Gear up!
EquipmentOriginal SA post LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
Chapter 6: Equipment
Now that we have characters, it's time to put some clothing on them. And by clothing, I mean weapons and armor.
As stated previously, characters in LoA start with whatever gear makes sense for them based on their Aspects and stunts, even though it says in this chapter that you have to buy the gear yourself. Odd, but I'm predisposed to the former method myself. You can keep buying stuff during character creation, of course...if the cost of the item is above Mundane (+0), you have to make a Resources roll to buy it. If you fail the roll, you can't buy any more stuff.
Once you're "in the field", you can just happen to have stuff on you (within reason) by either making a Resources roll with a +1 to the item's cost (for mundane non-weapon items), or by spending a Fate Point to make the roll (for weapons or non-standard equipment).
If you're in town, you just make a straight Resource roll to buy the time. If it fails, then you either can't afford it or it's not available at that time.
Equipment costs are rated on the Ladder from Mediocre on up. Just for a few examples, "Mediocre" is a hand axe or a donkey, "Average" being a spear or a cart, "Good" being a vial of poison or a composite bow (or Gregor's longsword), and "Great" being light armor or a bastard sword. A suit of heavy armor has a Fantastic (+5) cost, and most firearms cost at least Superb.
So yes, trying to buy gear right out of the gate can be tricky, especially if you only have an Average Resources skill. Fortunately, we have this on page 20:
Once you’ve picked your aspects and stunts, write down up to one piece of relevant equipment for each. You can pick these from Chapter Six: Equipment. For example, a character with the “Dashing Knight of Anglerre” aspect would probably have his chain armour, long sword, and maybe even a horse, while another with the Lock Master stunt could have a set of thieves’ lockpicks and tools. It’s something that person would normally carry around with them all the time.
So it's perfectly allowable for Gregor to start with a decent weapon and armor. Obviously, your GM would have to okay your purchases, but if you're playing LoA, odd are you're not in a "hostile GM" grog-game.
So what are our options here?
Armor (or Armour, if you want to be more accurate) reduces incoming stress and provides more consequences for your character. If you're about to take a hit, you can have your armor take the stress-reducing consequence instead of you. Once the armor's taken as many consequences as it can, it's "Taken Out" and needs to be repaired. Light armor will take one Minor consequence, where Heavy will take one of each type. Armor can also have Aspects (like Heavy armor having the Hot , Noisy , and Heavy Aspects) that can be used against you.
Shields have two "levels" of functionality. On the basic level, they work like armor; stress reduction and an extra consequence. If you have the "Shield Training" stunt, however, you can add the shield's armor bonus to your defensive rolls, the shield will absorb one more consequence, and the character take advantage of Aspects on the shield.
Weapons add to the stress done by an attack, and can also have Aspects of their own; for example halberds have the Aspects Long Weapon and Poor in Close Combat . If it's a weapon you wind up using a lot, you can even buy Aspects for it to represent fighting styles or quality workmanship.
We also get stats for black powder weapons; nothing really game-breaking though. Black Powder guns ignore a few points of armor, but lose power the further they shoot. There's also a handful of bombs; smoke, explosive, gas, etc. These can hit everyone in a large area.
Mounts and related vehicles are pretty straighforward; each has a "Maintenance" stat that you have to roll your Resources against every month. If you fail the roll, your ride gets the In poor condition Aspect and suffers a -1 to all skill rolls on top of that, and the penalty can drop ever lower if you miss the roll the next month. Fixing your ride requires a Resources roll with a penalty equal to the ride's skill penalty.
We finish up with a table of mundane gear (clothing and such), and information on hiring skilled labor, healing, and transportation.
To keep this chapter from being really short, let's outfit Human Gregor. Let's give him the standard Fighter loadout of a longsword, chainmail armor, and a shield.
Chainmail is considered "Medium Armor": it reduces incoming stress by 1, gives a -1 penalty to Athletics checks, and has a Minor and Major consequence. On the down side, it's Noisy and Hot . A small shield also reduces incoming stress by 1 and has the -1 Athletics penalty, but it can only take one Minor consequence. Since Gregor has "Shield Training", he can add 1 to his Defense roll and take advantage of the shield's Lightweight and Manoeuverable Aspects.
A long sword is pretty basic: it does +3 stress on a hit (which is added to the outcome of his attack roll), and his Melee Weapons skill can be supplemented by his Athletics or Might skill while using it (this is a built-in feature of a longsword; if one of those skills is rated higher than your Melee Weapon skill, you get a +1 to your Melee Weapon rolls). Unfortuantly, it doesn't have any "built in" Aspects.
NEXT TIME: Most of what you ever wanted to know about Aspects! Things get interesting again!
e: added some details I left out.
AspectsOriginal SA post LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
Chapter 7: Aspects
Aspects are at the heart of Fate; they're what fuel characters being, well, heroic. They're descriptors of the character himself, his background, his personality and goals. They're also a part of the game a lot of people have trouble "getting", so LoA has helpfully provided the reader with a whole chapter about Aspects and how to use them. The first half of the chapter is advice on creating Aspects, and the second half is how to use them.
The chapter starts out with a few sample Aspects (like Quick-witted and Girl In Every Port ), and quick reminder about invoking and compelling before diving into the nitty-gritty.
The first section is Picking Character Aspects , and starts with what is probably the most important thing you need to know about Aspects:
Aspects are a player’s most explicit way of telling the Story Teller “this is the stuff I want to see in the game”.
Aspects tend to (but don't always) fall into one of three categories:
Phrases are the most common type. They range from simple descriptors like Strong to more in-depth things like Strong as an Ox to quotes by the character in question ( "I'm the strongest in the land!" ).
Persons tend to be people important to the character, such as family or a mentor ( Trained under the Archmage Victus ).
Props are the places, objects, and ideals important to the character.
Next up is a section called Why would I want a bad Aspect? , which tends to be another sticking point with new players. Some Aspects are pretty much purely negative; things like Wanted in five counties or Stubborn as a mule . Why would you take something that makes your character worse or less effective?
Okay, seriously, there are two reasons: first off, having a negative Aspect compelled gets you a Fate point. Second, it's spotlight time for the character; when you're compelled, that means that the scene is going to be all about your character and you get to play said character as you designed him.
Of course, that's not to say that a "negative" Aspect can't be used in helpful ways. Being a Stinking drunk might actually be helpful when hiding out in a tavern, for example.
The important thing about creating Aspects is that they're best when they're double-edged swords. You want ones that will generate Fate points for you, but will also let you spend them too.
When you pick an aspect, think of three situations where it could come into play. If you’ve got one reasonably positive situation and one reasonably negative situation out of the three, you’re golden! If they’re all one type, maybe reconsider the aspect’s wording, and put in a little of what’s missing. Ultimately, one aspect that’s “all good” or “all bad” isn’t much of a problem, as long as you’ve a good mix in your whole set.
Another thing to take into consideration is Jazzing it up . A good Aspect needs to be evocative, and LoA refers to the three flavors of an Aspect as "Bland", "Tasty", and "Bam!". The example I used above of Strong -> Strong as an Ox -> "I'm the strongest in the land!" is an example of the progression; a good Aspect isn't just about something you can spend a point on to get a +2, it's also about the implied area around that Aspect. Being Strong is all well and good, but it doesn't tell you anything interesting about the character in question. But if he tells everyone that "I'm the strongest in the land!" ? That tells you a lot about the character, and is something everyone can have some fun with.
Next is some information on Story versus Situation . Story Aspects are those that imply something that happened to your character or happened in the world. If you're a Former Cultist of the Snake God , that obviously means that there is (or was) a Snake God in the setting who had a cult. Situation Aspects are those that hint at the types of situations it'd come up in, like Last Man Standing .
The last bit of advice is about Getting on the Same Page . It's important that you understand what your Aspects actually mean, and that your group and GM understand it too. Aspects are shorthand about your character, so it's important that everyone agrees that being Strong as an ox doesn't just mean you're strong, but also large and imposing; it might also mean that you tend to think with your muscles. There's more to the best Aspects than what's written on your sheet.
Okay, enough blabbering about what Aspects are. It's time to put them to use. There's a very simple guideline to follow:
You start using an aspect by declaring that one is relevant: either player or Story Teller can do this. Then, determine if the aspect’s relevance works for or against the character with the aspect. If it’s for, the owner spends a Fate point; if it’s against, the owner gains a Fate point, unless he pays to avoid it.
The three primary uses of Aspects are Invoking, Compelling, and Tagging.
Invoking an Aspect is when a player or the GM uses an Aspect to their character's advantage. This costs a Fate point, and gets the player either a +2 to a roll or a reroll. You can invoke as many Aspects as you can afford to pay for per roll, but an Aspect can only be invoked once per roll.
As an example, let's say Gregor is trying to hit an orc with his sword. He's got a Melee Weapons of Good (+3), and makes his attack roll. Unfortunately, he rolls badly (-3 on the dice) and gets an overall 0. That probably won't beat the orc's defense roll, so Gregor pays a Fate point invokes his Raised with a sword in my hand Aspect for a reroll. He goes better this time, rolling a -1 for a total of +2. That's not bad, but Gregor really wants to take this guy down, but he can't use Raised with a sword in my hand twice on the same roll. He spends another Fate point to invoke Survivor of the Red Hand Massacre , on the basis that as the survivor of an orc raid he really hates orcs. This time, he takes the +2, giving a final total of Superb (+4).
Of course, it's always the GM's call if an Aspect is relevant to the situation. It goes back to the "being on the same page" thing; if the GM understands and agrees that Survivor of the Red Hand Massacre means that Gregor has a special hatred of orcs, then he can use that in situations like the above.
It's also possible to invoke for effect , which is like a minor declaration. If you have the Member of the Thieves Guild Aspect, you can spend a Fate point to declare that the Guild has a presence in this city, for instance.
It's also possible to use Aspects that aren't your own; maybe they're on an NPC or on a scene. In this case, you can Tag those Aspects. Tagging works like invoking; spend a Fate point, get the +2 or a reroll.
So what's the difference between tagging and invoking, then? Simple: if you discover someone's Aspect, either through skill use or a lucky guess, or if you create an Aspect on a target via a maneuver, then the first time you tag that Aspect, it does not cost you a Fate point . The downside is that the free tag has to be used on the player's next action, but on the plus side, the player can pass that free tag along to another player as long as that player could logically use that Aspect. This can be used for some great "set up and spike" scenes, where everyone sets things up for the last guy in line to make the final decisive blow. We'll talk more about that in a later chapter when we cover maneuvers in more detail.
Example 2! Aang the
If you tag a s Aspect to your benefit, then the person who's being tagged gets the spent Fate point (assuming they're not nameless NPCs who don't get Fate point anyway). Existing Aspects can also be tagged for effect the same way they're invoked for effect, and can be used for compels as well.
Remember when I said it's possible to guess someone's Aspects? That's more likely to happen when the Aspect is on a scene rather than a person, but there's two bits of advice to bear in mind: first off, the GM should allow a guess as long as it's close; if the player guesses that a scene is Dark but the GM had Shadowy Corners written down, that's good enough. Second, if the player guesses an Aspect that isn't there, then it doesn't cost him a Fate point. So if the player guessed that the scene is in the Dark , but it's the middle of the day, it doesn't cost him anything.
That being said, it's actually possible to "trick" someone that an Aspect exists when it doesn't (possibly by using the Deceit skill). In those cases, the guess not only costs you, the person who tricked you gets the Fate point.
Lastly, we come to compels . A compel is when one of your Aspects is used against you in a dramatic fashion. When an Aspect is compelled (either by the GM or the player), the player gets a Fate point and has to play out the scene that way, or allow his options in a scene to be limited. If the player doesn't want to be compelled, he has to pay out a Fate point of his own.
It's important to note that the actual actions taken by the compelled character are still up to the player, not the GM. The GM can suggest a course of action, but the player gets the final say.
Example 3! Gregor is talking to the king's high wizard about some information on a quest he's on. The wizard is going on and on about ley lines and rituals and shit, and the GM decides to compel Gregor's "I don't trust magic." Aspect. Gregor accepts the compel, decides that he's had enough of this, the wizard isn't going to tell him anything useful, and leaves before he gets a vital piece of information. He could have also decided to insult the wizard, which would have had the same overall outcome. Alternately, Gregor could reject the compel, pay a Fate point, and hold his tongue.
In the above example, Gregor could have compelled himself instead of waiting for the GM to do it if he wanted the Fate point. Also note that the "effect" of a compel doesn't always need to happen right away; if the Greedy thief sees a valuable jewel in a store window and gets compelled, it might not become an actual issue until the middle of the night when he barges into his friend's house and says "Do me a favor: I was here all night, okay?".
And for real fun, there's an optional rule where the GM can escalate a compel in really important situations; if a player refuses a compel, the GM offers a second Fate point on top of the first one, asks "Are you sure?" with a smug grin, and now it costs two Fate points to reject instead of one. The GM can even escalate one more time, costing or paying the player three Fate points.
And there we go...almost everything you ever wanted to know about Aspects!
NEXT TIME: Skills! Stunts! Combos! Making your own stuff! Non-magical Diplomancy!
Skills and StuntsOriginal SA post LET'S READ LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
Chapter 8: Skills and Stunts
Okay, we have our Aspects, now it's time to talk skills and stunts.
We all know what skills are. They're what your character's capable of, and how well he can do stuff. There are 27 skills in LoA: Academics, Alertness, Art, Artificer, Athletics, Burglary, Contacting, Deceit, Drive, Empathy, Endurance, Fists, Gambling, Intimidation, Investigation, Leadership, Melee Weapons, Might, Pilot, Ranged Weapons, Rapport, Resolve, Resources, Science, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, and Survival. Skills are rated from +1 (Average) to pretty much however many skills you fit on the pyramid. If you don't have any ranks in a skill, it defaults to +0 (Mediocre).
That’s right: your Legends of Anglerre character is so awesome he’s mediocre with skills he’s never even used before .
An addition to skills, every character has stunts , which are kind of like feats in 3.x/4e; they represent specific application or specializations of your skills. While most stunts are "tied" to skills, you don't need to have any ranks in a skill to take one of that skill's stunts (although it'll generally help). Some stunts do have other stunts as prerequisites, but fortunately there's no "feat taxes" or anything like that.
To use a skill, it's just a matter of rolling d6-d6 (or 4dF) and adding your skill ranks. Normally you can only use one skill at a time, but you can use two skills at once (to swing off a chandelier while throwing a knife) by rolling whichever skill is the "main" skill for the action and applying a -1 penalty to the roll.
Skills can also be used to make assessments and declarations . We talked about declarations before; it's using your skills to make statements about the setting (such as using your Academics skill to state facts about demonology). An assessment is when you use skills to learn a target's Aspects. That's where things like Investigation and Empathy come into play; and again, if you learn an Aspect in this fashion, you get one free tag of it. Declarations tend to be instantaneous, but assessments can take time (although it's possible to speed up the process by increasing the target difficulty).
For the most part, the skills are all self-explanatory. Some expectations are Artificer (which is blacksmithing and construction), Drive (which is using vehicles like carts or chariots), Pilot (which is like Drive, but for boats), and Science (which covers things like alchemy and medicine).
Every skill has Trappings , which are the things you can do with that skill. They're not exhaustive, of course, but they cover enough mechanical space to handle most of what you'd need to do.
Now, instead of rattling off every skill's trappings and stunts (especially since I feel like I'm giving away too much of the system already), I asked for two skills I could show off in addition to Melee Weapons, and the winners were Rapport and Leadership.
Let's start with Leadership. Leadership's trappings are Command (which lets any minions use your skill as a supplemental skill), Administration (which is a base of your control over any organization), and Bureaucracy (which is general knowledge of how organizations work; useful for assessments and knowing who you need to bribe to clear your criminal record).
Oh, and by the way?
Lemon Curdistan posted:
(hoping there's mass combat rules)
There are (both for armies and naval combat), and we'll cover that in a couple of chapters.
Leadership doesn't have a lot of trappings, but it has a lot of stunts, which fall into a few different categories:
The character has seen his share of combat and can quickly assess a conflict’s tactical advantages. Once per scene, spend a Fate point to roll Leadership against a difficulty derived from the table below. Shifts generated become a pool of bonus points you can distribute to your allies for combat-related rolls during the scene. For example, a Leadership roll of +5 against a Fair (+2) difficulty provides a +3 bonus to an ally’s combat-related skill roll, +1 to three such rolls, or a +2 and a +1 to two. Allies must be able to see or hear you to receive these bonuses.
The Leadership roll’s difficulty depends on how formidable the opposition is.
The tougher the opposition, the easier the Leadership roll: that’s because battling the vanguard of the Suvethian Empire is much more heroic and dramatic than dog-piling a handful of peasants. Legends of Anglerre combat is about drama, excitement and heroism, not playing it safe: the tougher the odds, the cooler the character looks when he snatches victory from the jaws of defeat.
You have lots of minions. In a scene you have the bare minimum on hand – up to three Average (+1) minions.
Each has the Strength in Numbers advance and three additional advances. You can take the stunt multiple times, each additional time providing another three advances. You must spend all advances at the start of the scene when you first bring in your minions, but you needn’t bring them all in right away.
Royal Custom and Tribal Law
The character is well-acquainted with royal precedents, popular traditions, and tribal laws anywhere he’s spent a
significant amount of time, and is skilled at manipulating people’s perceptions of it to his advantage, making stirring speeches before clan moots and royal courts. You gain a +2 bonus when using Leadership under such circumstances, and can penetrate the labyrinth of courtly or tribal precedence one step faster on the Time Increments Table.
Requires Born Leader
In battle you lead your troops from the front whether on the ground or at sea, gaining a +1 bonus to your organization’s relevant Arms or Security skill checks. The stunt provides no benefit unless the character is in a military or security leadership role in an organization.
and Presence .
Quake Before Me
Requires an associated aspect
The character is reviled and feared, and stories of his merciless cruelty precede him wherever he goes. When this reputation would benefit you, you may use Leadership instead of Intimidation to cause fear.
Next, let's take a look at Melee Weapons. This skill doesn't have any trappings (since it's just used to hit people with sharp things). The stunt categories are:
Requires Flawless Parry
If a character is physically attacked in melee and defends well enough to gain spin, he may inflict one Physical stress on the attacker per point of spin, immediately, as a free action. Armour doesn’t protect the attacker who’s inadvertently exposed a weak point.
Cleave Through Hordes
Requires Weapon Specialist and three other Melee Weapons stunts
Using his specialist weapon, the character automatically takes out as many groups of minions as he has generated spin.
The character can use Melee Weapons instead of Athletics to defend against thrown weapons. If you generate defensive spin against a thrown object, you may declare you’re catching the item, provided you have a free hand and it’s something you have the Might to catch. For a Fate point, you can also throw it back as an attack in the same exchange.
and Weaponry .
Weapon of Destiny
Requires an aspect referring to the weapon by name
The character has a signature weapon well-known in certain circles, with a name and a long, chequered history. It has a tendency to be always near at hand, even when circumstances conspire against it. If you’d normally need a Fate point to ensure it’s nearby, you can do so for free; if it would be normally impossible to access it, you can spend a Fate point to get access to it anyway. Once the Fate point is spent, the Story Teller doesn’t have to furnish the weapon immediately, but must work to bend circumstances to make it available in short order. So, you can’t be deprived of the weapon for long unless you voluntarily give it up or pass it to another.
The weapon has the Craftsmanship improvement, giving it a +1 bonus; plus one other improvement.
(I should point out that there aren't any stunts for things like tripping opponents or charging. That's because most of the stuff that'd be handled with specialized rules tend to fall under the "manoeuvres" umbrella. Instead of having specific rules for disarming or bull rushing, you perform manoeuvres to put Aspects like Sand in the eyes or Knocked on my ass with the same basic effect.)
Lastly, I'll cover Rapport. Rapport is the "making friends" skill, and covers most general friendly social stuff. Its trappings are First Impressions (which is the "reaction roll"), Closing Down (social defense against things like Empathy), and Opening Up (also social defense, but if you slip you get to decide what the other person learns). It's mainly used to get people to like you and to defuse those sticky situations that skills like Intimidate get you into.
Rapport doesn't have many stunts; its main purpose is to peacefully influence someone, or defend against attacks against your Composure track. The stunt categories are Charisma
Comely Lad / Lass
You’re adept at catching the eye of the opposite sex, and keeping it. Any seduction attempts with Rapport receive a +2 technique bonus, provided the target is someone who could be receptive to it (not always a simple case of gender and preference).
and Wordplay .
The character can step into a bad situation and calm it down to something more reasonable. As long as you’re not the direct cause, you get a +2 Rapport bonus to placate them.
There are also a few "General" stunts that aren't tied to any skills, like this one:
Pick one aspect. You can invoke that aspect once per scene without paying a Fate point.
There are stunts that let you perform "combos", which mean that everyone with the appropriate stunts can not only pass free tags from manoeuvres to their allies, but any spin generated on the maneuver roll. Spin is when you beat a target number by 3, and adds +1 to your next roll. Remember the Last Airbender example I used last time, where Aang and Kitara pass two free tags to Sokka for a free +4? If Aang and Kitara had both generated one spin each (and everyone had the combo Aspects), then Sokka would have gotten another +2, for a grand total of +6 to his roll for free. It's a big investment (everyone has to buy a stunt to be able to do the combo), but the payoffs can be worth it.
So we have 27 skills, with around 5-8 stunts each. In addition to all the stunts in the "Occupations" chapter, that's in the neighborhood of 300 stunts. But even then, it's possible that you won't find something that fits what you want. Fortunately, we're given the guidelines for making our own stunts.
Generally speaking, entry-level stunts (i.e., ones that don't have prerequisites) let you do one of the following:
• +1 to a non-combat skill in narrow circumstances
• Use one skill instead of another in narrow non-combat circumstances
• +2 to manoeuvres with a particular skill
• +2 to declarations with a knowledge skill
• +2 to assessments with a perception skill
• Ignore two points of penalty, or increased difficulty with one skill, in narrow circumstances
• Reduce the time required for a skill by up to two steps on the Time Increments Table
• +1 stress dealt with one combat skill in narrow circumstances
• A special possession granting a +1 bonus to a particular skill, along with two other improvements
You can also make more powerful stunts by requiring other stunts as prerequisites. The more stunts you need to have, the more powerful the stunt you're making can be, such as combining two items off the above list or being able to spend a Fate point to bend the rules.
Now, last time I mentioned making a diplomancer. Here's a three-stunt version, quite possible with a starting-level Good character:
The Honest Lie (Deceit)
The best lies are the ones that contain a healthy dose of truth. Whenever the character incorporates the truth into a lie, he gains a +2 Deceit bonus. The truth must be relevant and significant, and on par with (or bigger than) the lie itself.
Ebb and Flow (Empathy)
The character is so aware of social currents in a situation that he can glimpse what’s coming before it arrives. At the beginning of any social exchange, before the usual initiative order, spend a Fate point to attempt a quick read as a free action, looking for surface moods and other social cues, on one target of your choice. You may then act on your turn as usual.
Cold Read (Empathy)
Normally, using Empathy to get a read on someone requires at least a few minutes of conversation. Characters with this stunt do so two steps faster on the Time Increments Table.
A character with these stunts can come into a fresh social situation, spend a Fate point to get the lowdown on the whole scene, perform an assessment on one target in about half a minute (getting a free tag if successful), and get a further +2 on a Deceit roll to convince his target of something by telling a half-truth ("Of course I'm familiar with SUBJECT").
A bit more elegant than just casting Charm Person , innit?
NEXT TIME: Powers! Magic! How to be an airbender in one easy step!
PowersOriginal SA post LET'S READ LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
Chapter 9: Powers
So now that we've covered mundane abilities, it's time to talk about powers.
First off, LoA makes no mechanical distinctions between arcane spells, divine prayers, psionic manifestations, or whatever. Everything uses the same mechanics, skinned by the player and the character's Aspects.
Spells and creature abilities in LoA are handled in two ways: through Special Ability Stunts and Power Skills .
Special Ability Stunts are, well, stunts. They're based off the skills like "normal" stunts, and have the same cost. I used these earlier when I was showing how Gregor would work as a non-human character. They cover things like racial abilities
Enhanced Vision (Alertness)
The character can see in the infrared (seeing heat or the lack thereof ) or in low light conditions (such as at
night). With infrared vision, the character usually can’t see in daylight, while low light or night vision incurs a -2 penalty to Alertness and Investigation checks in daylight. Characters should take a Minor weakness to bright light.
to "creature features"
The character has a powerful tail which can be used in an extra attack or manipulation action. You get a +1 Fists attack with the tail; any manipulations made with the tail are at a -1 (it can’t do fine manipulations - it can pick up a sword but not turn a key in a lock).
to supernatural knacks.
The character can use any single power stunt at Mediocre (+0), without having the corresponding power skill. The
stunt can’t have prerequisite stunts – even if you already have that stunt. This gives thieves, warriors, etc, limited access to magic; an aspect explaining how is also required. The stunt can be taken multiple times, though only one aspect is required.
Special Ability Stunts can be bought during character creation like normal stunts, and usually only require a backing Aspect.
Well, that was simple. Now let's talk about Powers.
Magic in LoA is handled by Power Skills ; and where there's Power Skills there's going to be Power Stunts .
There are 16 Power Skills: Alchemy, Creatures, Death, Dimensions, Divination, Domination, Elements, Fate, Glamour, Life, Nature, Telekinesis, Time, Transmutation, Warding, and Weather. Each has Trappings and associated stunts, just like other skills. In fact, they're bought just like normal skills; you just need an appropriate Aspect and you buy them with your other skills during character creation.
Power skills are also used in the same way as normal skills; you roll your skill+2d6 (or 4dF) and try to beat a number. Power Skills can be used to perform maneuvers and declarations as well.
Again, I don't want to go nuts detailing every single Power Skill, so I asked the IRC channel the other night what skills they'd like to see. So let's get to the sampler!
The Power of Alchemy is, unsurprisingly, the ability to make potions. Its trappings are Know Substance, Find Substance, Create Potions, and Purify Object. Since creating potions is a little different, I'm going to go into a bit more detail here.
To create a potion, you need to have the Power skill for whatever you want the potion to do. So making a healing potion would require knowing Power of Alchemy and Power of Life; it also requires a workspace, which is probably determined by your Resources skill. Once you know what you want the potion to do, you make a Alchemy roll with a default difficulty of Mediocre (+0). You make the roll, you have a potion. By default, the potion's strength is equal to the outcome of roll, and caps out at your Alchemy skill, the other Power skill, or the rating of the lab, whichever is lowest, and takes half a day to make. The potion then stores the Power skill you put into it, and when it's used the Power is effectively cast at the potion's level.
So let's say I want to make a "resist poison" potion. I have Power of Alchemy at Good (+3) and Power of Life at Fair (+2), and let's just say I have a workspace that's big enough that its rating doesn't matter. I make my Alchemy roll and get an outcome of +4. Since my Life magic is +2, that's the max level the potion can be so the potion is Fair (+2). When someone drinks the potion, it's as if I was casting the "Resist Poison" spell on them at the level of the potion. They still have to roll using the potion's +2, and as long as they beat the strength of the poison they're cured.
You'll notice that I didn't say anything about how much potions cost to make, or anything like that. That's because potions don't actually cost anything to make. As long as you have the skills, a workspace and and free time, you can crank out as many potions as you want. Yes, there's a "Potion" stunt that lets you have a potion even if you don't have the ability to make one (or know anyone who can), but that's it.
Sound unbalanced? Don't worry, let LoA put your mind at ease.
Can’t I just make endless potions?
Yes, you can - though it probably wouldn’t make for a very interesting game! Potions in Legends of Anglerre are treated like any other equipment: make Resources rolls to acquire them, or use a stunt or aspect. Alchemists can avoid this by making potions themselves, although the Story Teller may allow a skilled herbalist to have, say, a simple healing potion about his person for a Fate point. These rules deal with creating and using potions as an interesting part of your game: for potions as equipment, see Chapter Six: Equipment.
Some of the Alchemy stunts include Universal Potion (which is a potion whose qualities can be defined when you need them mid-session), Change Object (which lets you change something into something else, like turning a stone floor to quicksand), and Create Touchstone.
Create Touchstone (Alchemy)
Requires Animate Greater Object and one or more story elements (possibly a future aspect)
At the end of a long and difficult quest, the alchemist creates a touchstone, a powerful alchemical item capable of transforming reality. It allows the wielder to modify aspects of other characters, creatures, items, even locations, at a +1 difficulty for each “step” of modification (you could shrink a person to scale 1 at a +1 difficulty, or vaporise a rock (solid to liquid to gas) at a +2). The touchstone can be resisted, usually as a Composure conflict, and all range, scale, target and duration manipulations apply.
With a touchstone, the alchemist enters an entirely new stage of his mystical explorations. In game terms, this unlocks the epic occupation “Discoverer of Secrets”, which the alchemist can embark upon by taking a corresponding aspect.
Yes, there are rules for epic-level play. We'll see those a ways down the road.
Next up, let's look at the Power of Death, which is your catch-all skill for necromancy. Death's trappings are Necrosis (doing damage), Speak to Dead, Repel Undead (which can be used as a Block), Call Undead, Detect Undead, Query Undead, Protection from Undead (you can use this skill to defend against a lich's magic, for instance), Know Undead (for making assessments and declarations), and Know Death (for CSI shit).
So pretty versatile, although in a fairly limited area.
Stunt-wise, our options are a bit more limited, albeit pretty nasty.
Drain Life (Death)
Requires one other Death stunt
You can attack someone’s spirit directly, causing an automatic consequence. Evil ghosts often have this power. On a power fumble, you suffer an automatic consequence yourself.
Plus, we can summon undead!
Raise Lesser Undead (Death)
A Lesser Summoning stunt allowing you to raise skeletons, zombies, ghouls, etc, from bones and corpses.
• 9 Average (+1) Skeletal Minions
• 6 Fair (+2) Zombies
• 3 Good (+3) Ghouls
Lastly, we'll take a look at the Power of Fate. Because it's really neat.
The Power of Fate is all about luck and the manipulation thereof. In game terms, this means messing around with Aspects and Fate points.
The trappings for the Power of Fate are Luck (used to maneuver Aspects like My Lucky Day! onto people), Give Luck (which lets you loan someone a Fate point; when it's spent you get it back), Steal Luck (like Give Luck, only you take the point from someone else), and Malediction ("You can bestow a curse afflicting the target with a nasty physical, mental, or social ailment like warts, forgetfulness, or boils as a temporary aspect.").
So the skill's main use is to trade Fate point back and forth between people. What about the stunts?
For a Fate point, you can bless a target with good fortune or curse him with bad. If it succeeds, it bestows a permanent aspect on the target which can only be removed by magic.
One or more targets swear an oath; it may be resisted. For a Fate point , the target receives a temporary aspect (such as “Sworn to the Oath of X”) for its duration. If the target breaks the oath, he acquires the permanent aspect “Oathbreaker”, causing everyone he interacts with to see him in a bad light (though they’re not sure why); he suffers a -1 social interaction penalty, and also inflicts -1 Composure damage in social conflicts. If anyone discovers the target is actually an oathbreaker, all penalties are doubled.
So remember last time when I talked about "How to make an Airbender in one easy step"? Well, I lied, it'd be two steps.
Step 1 - Have an Aspect about being an Airbender.
Step 2 - Buy the "Power of Element" skill and define it as "Air", since you have to buy the skill separately for each element.
And you're done! The Power of Element skill can be used to attack foes directly, or perform maneuvers to create Aspects like Clouds of Dust or [u]Cloak wrapped around my head[/i] or Good sailing wind . Easy peasy.
I'll take that over Vancian casting any day.
NEXT TIME: Doo-dads! Magical Things! Artifacts! Using magic swords as PCs!
Devices, Artifacts, Magical ItemsOriginal SA post
As the Edition Wars begin anew,
LET'S READ LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE!
Chapter 10: Devices, Artifacts, and Magical Items
What's a fantasy game without magic items and such? Pretty damn dull, that's what. This chapter covers a bunch of different categories of things, so let's just dive right into it.
First off are Non-magical devices . This is your high-quality mundane gear; masterwork weapons, tricked-out carriages, and the like.
These devices are differentiated from normal gear through the use of improvements ; each device you get (or build) will have a certain number of these, which are kind of like stunts for gear.
Additional Capability: The device can do something else of roughly the same scale: a carriage may be a boat, or a pike may shoot a grappling hook.
Alternate Skill Usage: The device allows skills to be used differently. For example, wheel blades on a chariot might allow Drive to be used instead of Melee Weapons to attack.
Craftsmanship: The device gives a +1 bonus (usually only to one skill, if the device supports multiple skills). This improvement can’t be taken more than once per skill.
Miniaturization: Something not normally portable can fit in a large chest, while something merely large fits in a belt pouch.
Special Effect: The device operates on different principles, ie a waterpowered catapult or pedalpowered carriage. The game benefit depends on the specifics.
Traps are actually built like characters, because they are technically enemies that the PCs have to defeat. Traps have Aspects and skills just like everyone else. They also have a Quality score, which is a measure of its overall effectiveness (and is equal to the trap's highest skill).
Traps also have stress tracks, but instead of Composure stress, they have "Secrets" stress, which is what you have to overcome to disable or avoid the trap (as opposed to just hitting it until it stops working); traps have a number of stress boxes equal to their Quality +2 to be split between the two tracks. So something like a swinging pendulum wouldn't have any Secrets stress since it's an obvious hazard that was on when you got there, but a pit trap wouldn't have any Physical stress because you can't really "destroy" it.
For example, here's a simple one I put together:
Skills: Melee Weapons +3, Stealth +1
Aspects: Spring Loaded, Sharp Teeth
Physical Stress: 
Secrets Stress:   
Magical Items are made the same way as non-magical devices; each item has a certain number of improvements. The difference is that the improvements that non-magical doodads use are a boosted a bit.
Additional Capability: The magical item has an additional capability a normal object of its kind doesn’t have. Maybe a staff can transform into a bow, or a magic knife double as a lockpick.
Alternate Skill Usage: A magic bow with this improvement might allow Elements (Fire) to be used instead of Ranged Weapons to shoot arrows of fire; or a cloak allow the wearer to use Stealth instead of Athletics when dodging attacks.
General Enchantment (Craftsmanship): A +1 bonus to a non-power skill; a +1 sword or Boots of Stealth are common examples. Many magical item improvements are also General Enchantments.
Miniaturization: A Medium (scale 3) or Large (scale 4) item like a sailing ship or mansion is reduced to the size of a large chest (scale 1 or 2), or a Small (scale 2) item like a horse or suit of armour to pocket-size (scale 0). A second point reduces a Large (scale 4) or Medium (scale 3) object to pocket-size (scale 0).
Special Effect: Unique powers such as armour that floats instead of sinking, or a wand that randomly teleports its user a short distance.
There are also some magic-item-specific improvements. A lot of these are things like extra range, extra targets, longer duration, access to a Power Skill or Stunt, stuff like that. Others are a but more...unique.
Power Battery: The item contains constantly regenerating magical power. Once per scene, the wielder may add +2 shifts to any successful power skill use; once per day, he may add +1 spin to any successful power skill use. At the Story Teller’s discretion, the wielder may use the daily power to regenerate any Composure stress damage caused by spell failure, if those rules are used.
Intelligent: The magical item is intelligent; perhaps it’s possessed by a ghost, or contains a bound demon or elemental (see “Bound Creatures” below for more). Maybe the item gained sentience itself, or maybe it’s a conduit to another being controlling it. The item may follow directions (if it chooses), and has its own Composure stress, desires, and agendas. You may spend improvements to buy companion advancements for the item.
Magical Allies are created with the Companion rules (which we'll get to later). Magical Allies include familiars, spirits, and can include intelligent weapons, depending on if you want said weapon to be able to act independantly from you.
Bound Creatures are almost exactly the same as Magical Allies, with the difference being that Bound Creatures have to be, well, bound to something (an item, a location, or yourself), and you can swap out a Bound creature for another one.
Magical Guardians are Magical Allies that are made as NPCs, and therefore don't stick exactly to the same rules. They're generally written up as full-blown characters, and can act as patrons the the party.
Artifacts are the gear equivalent of Magical Guardians; they get bunches of improvements (and a GM fiat power or two), and can actually "level up" as the game progresses.
Ad Hoc Magical Items are one-off plot devices that do whatever the GM needs.
Now that we know what these items are and what they can do, it's time to learn how to get them in the first place.
The easiest way is to take the appropriate stunt during character creation. There's a couple of stunts that cover the kinds of gear you can get. The important thing to remember is that unless you have a backing Aspect, the item can be used up or taken away, but if he does then he can get a replacement/recover the item.
The second way is to make them yourself. This is where the Artifice skill comes into play; making a non-magical item has a difficulty of the item's base cost, plus one for each improvement you add on to it. For example that James Bond longsword I talked about before has a base cost of Good (+3), plus another three for the improvements for a final difficulty of Fantastic (+6). Making magic items works the same way, you just need a Power skill to go with Atrifice.
The astute among you will notice that this is pretty much the same way alchemy works. Scrolls are made the same way, only using the Art skill.
Of course, magic items can be found in dungeons, their native habitat. Any item found during play is fair game for the GM to take away (or can get used up) unless you tie an Aspect or stunt to it.
Once you have your flaming sword, it's possible to level it up more by spending more stunts on it too, which is nice; that magic sword is your magic sword, and as you grow more powerful it grows with you.
There's even some advice on how to make the magic sword a PC.
Given that certain magical items can be defined using the companion or even character rules, it follows that such items can actually be played as characters. With Story Teller approval, a player may take an intelligent magical item as a character. This could be a familiar, a bound demon, or an intelligent sword – or even all three!
When you play a magical item like an intelligent magic sword or a demon bound into a powerful artifact as a character, you’re going to need someone to carry you around – your “bearer” or “wielder”. Treat this subordinate character as a companion (for example, you could use the Lieutenant (Leadership) stunt).
Next up are some optional rules for things like charges or attuning items. The way charges work in LoA is that the item can either have a Charges Aspect that can be compelled to run out of ammo, or you can take Out of Charges as a consequence to avoid taking damage.
The chapter closes out with a few sample magic items one-stunt to get you started. Here's a sampling to whet your appitite:
Wand of Fireballs: costs 3 advances, and allows you to make Mediocre (+0) Elements (Fire) attacks even if
you don’t have the power skill, including creating fire.
Potion of Minor Healing: acts as a Good (+3) Minor Healing (Life Power) trapping when drunk, healing stress damage equal to shifts. May be used 3 times. Cost: Good (+3).
Goblin-slaying Sword: with the General and Specific Enchantment and Rugged improvements, this sword gives a +1 Melee Weapons bonus, +2 against goblinkind.
Spell Book: a spell book may be a Personal Magical Item, such as an alchemist’s “instructional compendium” providing a +1 Alchemy bonus when creating potions and the Change Object power stunt. Such spell books can give you abilities you wouldn’t otherwise have.
What I love about this system is that, not only does it make it easy for the GM or players to make the magic items they want instead of being stuck with a long-ass list of junk, it makes magic feel, well, magical . Magic swords and spellbooks and such aren't just things you have that give you a few pluses to hit and damage, they're important parts of the character. I don't know about you, but I'd rather be Weilder of the lost sword Infernus which can shoot fireballs, makes me a better swordsman, and can't be broken over just having a +1 Flaming Longsword. Especially since I can get Infernus as a starting-level character right out of the gate, but I'm probably going to have to wait a few fights to get the +1 sword.
Which sounds more "high fantasy" to you?
And on that note, ladies and gentelmen, I leave you with an example of what you can make once you really get the hang of things: The Walking Fortress of Carpalain.
NEXT TIME: Fate Points, and how to actually put all this crap together!
Fate Points/How To Do ThingsOriginal SA post
Enough of this shit about point-buy furry fetishes,
LET'S READ LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE!
Chapter 11: Fate Points and Chapter 12: How to Do Things
I'm covering two chapters this time because Chapter 11 is only a page and a quarter long, and basically just reiterates what we already know about Fate points: you spend them to get +1 to a roll, invoke one of your own Aspects, Tag someone else's Aspects, or make a declaration; you get them by accepting compels, and you start each session with a number of Fate points equal to your Refresh.
So let's move on to the next chapter, and finally learn how this all comes together.
When you want to do something in LoA, you roll a d6-d6 or 4dF, and add your skill. The overall total is called your effort , and each point you beat your target number by is a shift . Your total number of shifts is refered to as the effect .
For the most part, all you need to concern yourself with is your total shifts, which determine how effective your action was. Shifts can also be spent to reduce the amount of time needed to perform a task, or make it harder to detect if you're trying to be sneaky. It varies on a skill-by-skill basis, but for the most part it's all pretty straightforward: your total shifts are your degree of success.
If you're just rolling to see if you did something unopposed (like, say, picking a lock), you need an effort higher than the difficulty of the task, which defaults to Average (+1).
If you're doing an opposed roll (your Stealth versus a guard's Alertness), then it's a case of the high roll winning, is treated as if the lower roll was the difficulty for the higher roll. Interestingly, ties mean that both character succeed.
If you're opposing someone in something that'll take more than one roll to determine (such as a fight or a debate), then it's time to bust out the Conflict rules.
The first thing that happens in a conflict is that the GM frames the scene; he determines what Aspects (if any) the scene has, and if the conflict is large enough also sets up zones . Zones are the roughly-defined areas of the current location, and are used to determine the areas the action will be taking place in. For example, here's an example map I made for the Indie Games thread a while back.
This poorly drawn bar consists of five zones: the seating area, the open area, the stage, the bar area, and the kitchen. People can move between the two large areas, from the open area to the stage, from the seating area to the bar, and from the kitchen to the bar or open area. If I had remembered to draw the restrooms, they'd each be a separate zone as well. Also note that while the "main area" of the bar is one large area, it's split into two zones. Each zone can have its own Aspects; the seating area might have a Tables and Chairs Aspect, while the Kitchen would have Sharp Knives And Hot Surfaces .
Zones can also have barriers , which are things that make it harder to move between them such as a low wall or a door. Barriers have a numerical rating, but only come into play when moving between them.
Everyone in the same zone is considered to be "adjacent" to each other; everyone's close enough that they can move around while still being able to reach each other easily. Affecting things in other zones requires ranged weapons or abilities.
Once the map is set up, everyone picks a side and figures out initiative. Everyone acts in highest-to-lowest order based on their Alertness or Empathy, depending on if the conflict is physical or social. Initiative ties go to the character with the higest resolve; if that's a tie, then it goes to whichever character is closest to the GM's right.
When it's your turn, you have a few options: you can attack, perform a maneuver, go full defense, perform a block, or move. That doesn't seem like a lot, but remember this is FATE, and your options tend to be broader than they look on a summary list.
The most obvious is that you can attack someone's stress track. This is an opposed roll, with the skills being used on both sides depending on the type of attack. If you beat the defender's roll, you inflict stress equal to the number of shifts you got.
If you're attempting to use a maneuver to put an Aspect on something that can't really resist, you just need to get above a GM-set difficulty, but if you're doing it on something that can resist (like an NPC) then you still need to beat the defender's roll.
Going "full defense" means that you hunker down and get a +2 to all your reaction and defense roll for the rest of the round. Fortunatley, you can declare this at the start of the round regardless of initiative order, so you're not screwed if you're at the bottom of the rotation.
Performing a block is a little more complicated. When you perform a block, first you have to say what you're trying to prevent from happening. Blocks aren't general; you have to narrow it down to a certain situation such as "I'm going defend Leroy", "I'm going to prevent people from going through this door", or "I talk over the regent so he can't get a word in edgewise". You then make a skill roll and the result of the roll becomes the "block strength". When someone tries to perform the blocked action, he has to make a skill roll against the block strength, and if he fails the action doesn't happen and he wasted his turn. If you're blocking someone from being attacked, the target can use the block or his own defense roll, whichever is higher.
Moving just requires a Mediocre (+0) Athletics roll; you can move one zone or negate one point of a barrier for every shift you get; a roll of +2 would let you move two zones, or get past a one-point barrier to reach an adjacent zone. You can also move one zone as part of another action by taking -1 to the roll.
If you want to perform two actions at once, then you roll whichever skill would be most relevent to what you're doing, and the supplemental action imposes a -1 penalty to the "primary" roll.
It's also possible for skills to complement or restrict each other, such as Might complementing Melee Weapons. Again, this is a case-by-case thing, but if you have a complementing skill that's higher than the skill you're using you get a +1 to the roll, but if there's a restricting skill then you get a -1 to the roll.
Okay, so now we know how to do things. What happens when we actually do them?
When you hit someone with an attack, you inflict stress equal to the number of shifts generated (the amount you beat their defense roll by) plus whatever your weapon does. So if you beat someone's defense roll by three, you inflict three stress, and they fill in the first three empty stress boxes on that track.
When you run out of stress boxes, you're taken out ; you lose the fight in one manner or another, and what that manner is is up to the person who took you out. In a physical conflict, you might get killed, but you also might get captured, or knocked unconcious and left at the side of the road, or nabbed by the cops while he gets away, or maybe your opponent just sheathes his sword and leaves you as a laughingstock in the middle of the arena. The only limitations are that the effect is limited to the character being taken out, it has to make sense under the circumstances, and it has to make sense based on the target. You may take out the senator in a social combat, but odds are he wouldn't run crying from the council hall. If you don't like how you're Taken Out, you can spend all your remaining Fate points to keep your last stress box from being filled.
You can avoid taking incoming stress by taking a consequence . Consequences are Aspects you take to represent real damage (unlike stress, which represents very short-term damage). Consequences come in four categories: Minor ( Winded ), Major ( Bleeding ), Severe ( Broken Arm ), and Extreme ( Lost an eye ). Each "rank" of Consequence reduces incoming stress by 2. However, you can't have more than three consequences; if you have three and take another hit, you can't reduce the damage anymore.
Here's the thing though: since consequences are Aspects, they can be invoked, tagged, or compelled just like every other Aspect. Even better: since consequences are Aspects that are created during play, the first tag's free.
When a conflict is over, all your stress clears out. Consequences, on the other hand, stick around. Minor ones tend to go away at the end of the scene, Majors require a few hours of downtime, Severe can take weeks (or months), and Extreme consequences are permanent.
That's combat in a nutshell. Now let's talk about maneuvers.
I mentioned before about how maneuvers work: you make a skill roll (possibly resisted), and if you succeed then the target gets an Aspect of your choosing. If you make the roll by three or more, then it's a "sticky" Aspect and sticks around for the rest of the fight or until it makes sense to not be there anymore, otherwise it's "fragile" and goes away after it's tagged once.
Here's a few examples on what you can do with maneuvers:
Whether throwing sand in someone’s eyes or spraying oil in their face, the goal’s the same: keep them from being able to see. The attacker rolls Melee Weapons (or similar) against the defender’s Athletics, and succeeds if he gets at least one shift, putting the aspect “Blinded” on the target, which may be tagged to improve the attacker’s attack or defence, or compelled to cause the target to change the subject or direction of an action. It can’t force the target to act against his will (so a blinded character can’t be compelled to walk off a cliff if he isn’t already moving around).
Empty the Quiver
You go hell for leather, firing arrows or bolts almost indiscriminately, inflicting double the ranged weapon damage bonus this exchange. You incur the aspect “Out of Ammunition” on the ranged weapon, and must find another quiver of arrows.
Sometimes a character just needs to carve his initial on someone’s chest. While not a damaging attack, it’s demoralizing, adding a temporary aspect “Marked” which can be tagged to take advantage of the opponent’s reduced morale or appearance. The attack and defence roll are whatever’s appropriate to the situation – probably Melee Weapons against Athletics.
It's also possible to perform maneuvers on yourself, giving yourself Aspects like Under Cover or Keeping my distance . You can also attempt to maneuver a temporary Aspect off yourself by making a skill roll.
Next up we get to learn about minions and companions .
Minions are those nameless, faceless mooks whose sole purpose in life is to get mowed down by the main characters.
Minions have two defining stats: quality , which is the "skill rating" and total stress of the minion (Average, Fair, or Good); and quantity , which is how many minions are in the "minion clump", and add a modifier to the minion's rolls.
See, in Fate, a group of minions is treated as one effective "character", no matter how many guys are in the group. A squad of 20 Average skeleton minions is a character with 20 effective stress and +5 to its attack rolls (+1 for Average, +4 for group size). When the squad takes damage, divide the damage done by the minion's quality, and that's how many minions get obliterated.
Let's say Gregor was fighting a group of 15 skeletons. They're Average (+1) minions, and there are 15 of them, so they get a +4 to all their rolls for a total of +5; also the group has 15 stress boxes, each one representing one skeleton. Gregor gets really lucky and maxes out his attack roll: That's a total of +9 (+4 for skill, +5 on the dice). The skeletons roll their defense, and get a -3 on the dice for a total of +2. Gregor hits, so he does stress equal to the amount he hit by (7) plus his weapon damage for his longsword (3). That's 10 total stress damage. Because each skeleton has only one stress box each, that's 10 skeletons taken out in one might swing! Now that there are only five skeletons left, their bonus drops from +4 to +2.
If a minion group is acting in tandem with a PC or NPC leader, then not only does the character get the minion group's bonus to his actions, the minions take the damage before he does.
Companions work pretty much like minions, except that they're only one person, and they can take "advances" like gear can, so they can get more stress boxes or act on their own. Unless you build them up, Companions can only help in one type of situation (Sidekick for physical conflicts, Aides for social, and Assistants for Knowledge/Research).
From there we jump to talking about overflow . (Did I mention that sometimes the book is poorly organized? Because sometimes it's poorly organized.)
Overflow is the amount of shifts you generate over what you needed to roll to succeed. Overflow can be used in a few ways; the most common way is to use it for a non-offensive supplemental action.
You can spend three points of overflow to generate spin . If you generate spin on a defensive roll, then you can spend it to apply a bonus or penalty to the next roll made in the scene. If you generate spin on an attack or otherwise offensive skill use, that's "heroic spin" and is used to power certain stunts.
The next section is on Power Skills and their use. It starts out by summarizing how power skills work, which I'm not going to rehash here.
What I am going to get into are the ways you can tweak the magic system.
One way you can limit power-users is through the use of weaknesses or limitations , which are Aspects that have mechanical effect "riders". Any stress you take against a minor weakness, for instance, is doubled, and if you get hit with a major weakness, you take an automatic consequence when you get hit by whatever you're weak against.
We also get a page's worth of sample limitations, such as:
Burnout - Power use is exhausting. If a power skill check fails, its skill level temporarily drops by 1.
Levels return after a night’s rest.
Costly - Power use is extremely difficult, and costs a Fate point.
No Metal - Metals like iron and steel interfere with magic use, and wizards and priests can’t carry metal beyond, say, a dagger or holy symbol: any more prevents their powers from functioning.
Next up are the ways you can spend shifts to alter a spell's effects. By default a power skill affects one target in the same zone as the caster for one action. You can spend shifts to do things like hit additional targets, extend the duration, or increase the range on a one-for-one basis.
There are optional rules for group spellcasting (which is basically the old "everyone makes maneuvers for the main skill user" trick), spell components (which can require Resources checks to aquire), and Power Fumbles (if you miss the roll by three or more, you could take stress or the GM can compel any Aspect in play).
Okay, last part of the chapter now: Running the Game.
This section starts out with general GMing advice on how to set appropriate difficulties for different actions. There are two pieces of advice I want to point out:
Before you, as Story Teller, call for a dice roll, stop and do two things:
1. Imagine Success
2. Imagine Failure
It sounds simple, but it’s critical. Success is usually the easy part, but failure is trickier. You need to ensure both outcomes are interesting – though “interesting” certainly doesn’t have to mean “good”!
If you can’t imagine both outcomes, rethink the situation: there are few things more frustrating to a player than making a roll and getting told nothing happens – that they get no new knowledge, no suggested actions, no story development.
Declaration difficulties should, honestly, depend on how interesting the proposed fact or aspect is. Disruptive or just unreasonable ideas should simply be vetoed. When determining difficulties, ask yourself:
1. Is the declaration interesting (or funny)?
2. Will the declaration have interesting consequences if it’s acted upon but is wrong?
3. Does the declaration propose a specific, interesting, or heroic course of action?
Each “no” adds +2 to the base difficulty of Mediocre (+0). I
Such simple advice, but it speaks volumes to how to be a good GM.
Next up is a bit on how to handle time and durations. In Fate, we have the Time Increments Table.
The way this works is that when you do something, it takes an amount of time from the table. To make it happen faster, you can spend shifts to move up the table one step at a time. So if something would take 15 minutes, you can spend 2 shifts to have it only take a minute.
The chapter closes out with information on environmental hazards (fire, poisions, etc.) Nothing spectacular here except for the rules for area attacks: in LoA an area attack is one that hits multiple zones. You make an attack against the target zone, and the attack's damage spreads to adjacent zones, but the damage drops by one for each zone it moves.
And that's it! Man, that was a lot longer than I thought it'd be. Fortuantely the next few chapters are shorter and (hopefully) more interesting.
NEXT TIME: Monsters! Scale! The Grey Goop Scenario!
e: I suck at this.
MonstersOriginal SA post LET'S READ LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE!
Chapter 13: Creatuers Great And Small
So how do you build monsters and such in LoA? Well, for the most part you do it the same way you build most things: like a character. You assign Aspects, skills, stunts (and power stunts) and call it a day.
Like characters, creatures can have a starting "power level" of Good, Great, or Superb. And like characters, those ranks determine how many skill points, Aspects, Fate points and stunts said creature has access to. As I talked about previously, most "monsterous abilities" are covered by the Power Skill and Power Stunt rules we covered a few chapters back.
Now, that's all well and good for stuff that's human-sized. But what about those edge cases for really large ro small creatures, or weird stuff like insect swarms?
The first sub-system we have to cover that stuff is scale . Everything in LoA has a scale rating that goes from 1 (Tiny, "A smaller than human creature") to 5 (Huge, "a medium-sized castle or town") to 10 ("Internection"), with baseline "human-sized" scale being 2. Without the use of special stunts, you can't attack something more than two scale levels away from you in either direction.
(Just as an aside: I'm sure you're wondering what "Internection" means. It's the term the game will be using later on to refer to the greater comsology/Great Wheel interplanar setup. In other words, Legends of Anglerre may just be the first RPG to provide mechanical support for creating a monsters the size of a multiverse.)
To make a creature of the appropriate size, you just need to back it up with a scale-based Aspect (like Freaking Huge Dragon ). Once you do that, you can buy some scale-based stunts, like
Allows you to make an area attack with one of your skills (you must specify which), such as “Fiery Blast”, “Cold Blast”, “Poison Attack”, “Trample”, “Squash”, “Swallow” or “Acid Spray”. Pay a Fate point to attack all targets in the same or an adjacent zone. You can pay an additional Fate point to tag all targets with a special effect aspect such as “On Fire”, “Frozen”, etc.
The creature can use its skills in manoeuvres creating temporary scene aspects.
Difficult to Spot
The creature gains a +2 Stealth bonus to avoid detection.
For a Fate point, the creature can automatically ambush a target.
If you do give a creature a size stunt, you also need to take a "monstrous weakness" stunt as well. For example:
The creature always loses initiative, and can only act every three exchanges.
The creature breaks (or at least bends) some aspect of the square-cube law, giving it a significant weakness. Examples include having an exoskeleton when you’re way too large, weak limbs proportional to your size, limbs prone to buckling, etc.
Now that we've got the standard-issue monsters covered, let's talk about the special cases.
Swarm creatures are (effectively) a group of minions. When you deal enough stress, you don't so much defeat the creature as break it down.
A Sum of Parts creature is a little more complicated. Instead of making one gigantic creature, you design each major part of the monster as a separate creature; each part has its own stress track and attacks, but they share their skills and Aspects. This means that a dragon can actually be a "collection" of five sub-creatures: the dragon's head, its claws, its tail, its wings, and its legs. Each of these creatures would have different attacks (the head would have the fire-breathing, the tail might be a big physical hit) and separate stress tracks.
One thing that every Sum of Parts creature has to have is a weak spot ; if the sub-creature designated as the "weak spot" is destroyed, then the whole creature dies.
A Chase Creature is a monster that you have to "fight your way to". You know how when the giant kraken attacks a ship, everyone has to fight off a bunch of tentacles before the kraken itself shows up? Same idea. Chase Creatures use the chase rules: the GM sets a "lead" value for the monster, usually 5 to 10 points. The uses these to buy one-point minions or add complications to the chase like a slightly stronger minion or a sudden hazard. The players use their skills to reduce the monster's minions down, and when the monster's "lead" reaches zero, then they get to fight the monster itself.
Finally, there are Infinitesimals , which are creatures that are so small they don't interact with the world the way everyone else does. They're effectively scale 0, and usually don't have skills, stunts or stress tracks. Instead, they have Aspects and a consequence slot or two. They're only really capable of maneuvers and tags, but they can still be a pretty annoying threat.
The next section is some advice on how players can deal with gigantic creatures; a few examples are give for both in-game ways ("find the ancient scroll that tells you how to banish it") and mechanically.
Show it you’re too much trouble
Characters can prove to gigantic creatures that they’re too much trouble to fight. Through social conflict (researching the creature’s motives), a character could convince a gigantic creature that eating their ship or village isn’t beneficial to its cause; likewise, you could use Rapport or Intimidation to persuade a vast swarm of demon locusts to take a route around the kingdom.
After that, we get some advice on compulsion Aspects. If a creature has an Aspect that is designated as a compulsion ( Must Defend My Nest , for instance), then it gets +1 to its Refresh. Of course, those aspects can be compelled if you know they're there.
Finally, we get my favorite section header: " Arrgh! It’s multiplying! "
If you really want some fun, assume that the otherplanar amoeba attacking the characters’ castle is so utterly alien the characters don’t even know what effect their weapons or magic will have on it! That magic sword, those poisoned arrows, even that fireball might have exactly the opposite effect!
Better hope you don't roll that last one too much, otherwise you're going to end up crushed when the otherplanar space amoeba fills up the entire dungeon.
Later on, we'll see some sample creatures; but before then we're going to get to a part I know a few of you have probably been waiting for...
NEXT TIME: Organizations! Mob rule! Empire Building 101!
Gods, Guilds, and EmpiresOriginal SA post LET'S READ LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
CHAPTER 14: Gods, Guilds, and Empires
A large part of Gereric Fantasy is the idea of powerful organizations. Great empires, powerful trade houses, religions, and so on. In most games, these types of groups tend to get relegated to the background and wind up being little more than props for the GM.
Fortunately, LoA is one of the games that have been picking up the slack in this area. This chapter is all about setting up organizations that the players can interact with, belong to, or control.
Organizations, like creatures, are build like characters. They have Aspects, their own special list of skills, and accociated stunts. They also have two special stats: scale and scope.
Scale works pretty much like it does for creatures; it ranges from 1 to 10, with 1 being "Tiny" ("A company, village, or organization of around 50-100 people.), 5 being "Huge" ("A region or kingdom of hundreds of thousands to millions, a huge organization."), and 10 being "Internection" ("A vast civilization spanning the entire Internection"). Like creatures, an organization can't really interact with another organization that's more that two ranks away on the scale chart, but if a PC is in charge of the organization then it can interact up to three scale tiers away. Each scale rank an organizatin has gives it an Aspect and 4 skill points.
Scope is a little looser. An organization's scope is how much "reach" it has; each level of scope means that group can affect one "part" of the setting, and determines the base difficulty for internal tasks.
Define scope by calculating how many areas there are in your campaign. For example, if your campaign contains 5 detailed kingdoms, and the Red Wizards organization covers 3 of them, its scope would be 3.
This represents a fairly large organization, and means all administration tasks have a default Good (+3) difficulty. If your campaign area is a city, the Swamp Beggars’ Guild with a scope of 1 would cover just 1 of the city quarters, representing a small group of beggars.
As stated previously, organizations have their own skill lists. The skills are Control (Region), Sway (Region), Influence (Region), Information (Region), Arms (Type), Resources (Type), Unity, Administration, Communication, Diplomancy, Technology, Trade, and Security. In addition, there are a few "Special Skills" that are like Power Skills for organizations: Assasination, Secrecy, Reputation, Lore (Type), Ancient/Lost Technology, and Divine Protection.
For skills that say "Region", then that skill only applies to one particular region (such as "The Elven Reaches", "The City of Sharn", or "Downtown Waterdeep" depending on the group's scale). "Type" is just a specialization.
Unlike normal skills, some organization skills default to lower values if you don't have any ranks in them; for example, an organization with no ranks in "Arms" actually has a -3 in that skill.
Of course, with skills come stunts. There aren't as many stunts for groups as there are for characters, but they're still pretty useful.
The organization has strong traditions, receiving a +2 Control bonus as long as it does things “the traditional way”.
Power Behind The Throne
You have agents in the highest levels of the region’s organization. Once per session, you may automatically succeed in an Influence manoeuvre.
Your organization has a reputation for tough and uncompromising action, providing a +1 Diplomacy bonu
The organization has a highly-trained cadre of specialist assassins, providing a +2 bonus against an opponent’s Security skill.
An organization can also spend some of its skill points on holdings . Holdings are cities, strongholds, temples, and what have you. Each skill point you spend on a holding gives it a quality, and these work just like making customized gear. The skill points spent also determine the holding's scale.
The holding has heavy security protecting it from intruders; attempts to penetrate the holding undiscovered are +2 difficulty.
The holding is concealed; attempts to find it are +2 difficulty.
The holding was built by an ancient race, and may still contain hidden secrets. It may have an aspect relating to its past.
Now, since we've given organizations stats, that means that we can do things with them.
Organizations have Physical and Composure stress tracks just like everybody else, and can take consequences. When two organizations are in a conflict (which operate on a larger time scale, of course), they are treated just like two characters in a fight; you roll initiative, take actions, perform maneuvers, and so on. Attacking via the Arms (standing army) skill is pretty much the same as attacking with the Melee Weapons skill, just...larger. Composure attacks are more along the lines of espionage, diplomacy, and propaganda warfare. You can also do things like special operations to get bonuses to your next attack, but if you fail it you suffer Composure damage.
In addition to all that, once per month you can go on trade missions, where you a Trade skill roll to try and make some profit, boosting your Resources.
Of course, the players can do stuff to help their organizations out through the use of the Leadership skill and its associated stunts. In addition, a player can spend a Fate point for a highlight scene , where the game "zooms in" to his character trying to do something to help out, like bribing a guard or a back-room deal. If he succeeds at a skill roll, then that gives the organization's final roll +2.
The GM can do this too; he can delcalre an emergency scene .
The Story Teller has a pool of points equal to twice the number of player characters in leadership positions within an organization, and can spend one of these points to declare an emergency scene (similar to a highlight scene). The emergency scene is assigned to a specific player (which should vary with each emergency scene) who must solve a task critical to the overall effort; “the Camirrians have broken the trade agreement”, “they’ve kidnapped the emperor’s daughter!”, “the castle is under attack”, “our warlord has been poisoned” or “you have to lead the troops!”. The player rolls against a static difficulty – say, Great (+4) – to deal with the situation; failure gives the enemy organization a +2 bonus to its next roll.
So you can get this nice back-and-forth going as the players try to swing the odds in their favor while the GM puts obstacles in their path, all leading up to that big moment where the final roll is made. Pretty sweet.
Now, sometimes you don't want the Big Climactic Clash of Armies tm to just be represented by a simple die roll. In that case, you can zoom in to either empire level abstract combat, fleet & army level , or unit combat level, which is the most detailed.
At the fleet and army levels, all your armies get one single stress track based on how many armies there are, as well as a few Aspects. The main advantage of the fleet & army level is that you can attach minion-esque sub-units to armies, and you get a few more Aspects.
Once the sides are determined, it's conflict as normal except that you use the Leadership skill of whoever's controling the army to .
Next up are some brief notes on empire-building campaigns. Organizations can advance like characters do, except that the players must spend their characters' advancements to level up the organization. Other than that, it works the same way; add skill points, buy stunts, etc.
But what about the unit level combat, I hear you ask? Well, that's going to get some more detail in Chapter 16. But before we get to that, we've got something else to cover...
NEXT TIME : Laying seige and ships at sea!
Sailing Ships & War MachinesOriginal SA post LET'S READ LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
Chapter 15: Sailing Ships and War Machines
We all know that there's more to large-scale combat than just pointing two large groups of people at each other and calling it a day. You have catapults, siege towers, battleships, strongholds, and so on. This chapter is all about how to build them and how to use them. Oh, and a couple of other things too (have I mentioned that the book can be a little confusingly laid out sometimes? Because it can be confusingly laid out sometimes.).
This is the second of the three chapters on large-scale combat, by the way. It seems like the source material was big on the "clashing armies" thing.
Be that as it may; constructs are things like ships, heavy artillery pieces, and strongholds. Like pretty much everything in LoA, they're stated up like characters. You pick the construct's scale, and that determines how many Aspects, skill points, Fate points, and stress boxes it has.
Construct skills fall into four categories: General, Maneuver, Offensive, and Defensive.
"General" skills cover pretty much anything a construct can do that isn't combat related. The skills are Advanced Sensing, Repair System, Docks/Barracks, Salvage System, Grappling System, Systems (the catch-all "day-to-day stuff you need to run the place" skill), Manufactory, Warehousing/Cargo Hold, and Mining Equipment. Some of these skills have others as a kind of tech-tree style prerequisite; you can't have Mining Equipment without Warehousing/Cargo Hold and the Systems skill, for example.
The "Maneuver" skills are what let the contruct move around. There are only three: Land, Water, and Air Manoeuvre, and they work pretty much how you'd expect.
"Offensive" construct skills are needed if you want the thing to fight: Melee Combat, Ranged Combat, Information Warfare & Sabotage, Troop Facilities, Exotic Weapon (like Greek Fire), and Unusual Super Weapon (really dangerous artifacts and the like).
The "Defensive" skills are Armour, Hardened Structure, Magical / Divine Protection, and Magical Concealment, and all work pretty much how you'd expect.
Of course, all of these skills have associated stunts that go with them.
You employ skilled artisans producing specific highquality goods (jewellery, superior weapons, masonry, etc), providing a +1 on Manufactory rolls. You may also use the Resources bonuses produced by the manufactory as bonuses to corresponding repair checks (see page 225) without needing to sell them first.
This covers living area and facilities for the construct’s occupants or crew, including kitchens, privies, bath-houses, etc. While not a critical system, if damaged or destroyed it affects morale and the construct’s ability to function. The higher the skill, the more lavish and spacious the quarters are. Constructs have sufficient quarters to accommodate typical personnel: you can modify this with aspects like “Oversized Quarters” or “Cramped Living Conditions are Making my Life Hell”.
Constructs have two stress tracks: Structure and Morale, which map to Physical and Mental stress. They can take Consequences as well, and they work the same way as character Consequences. Healing stress damage and Consequences work more or less the same way as well; stress clears out at the end of the conflict, and Consequences stick around for a while (although in this case "for a while" can mean upwards of a few weeks). Players can also pay a Fate point to take a consequence in the place of the construct. Likewise, contructs perform maneuvers the same way characters do. If a manned construct is destroyed, the crew (if any) can attempt to evacuate , or they're taken out too. Constructs can be "healed" via the Artifice skill, but a construct that's taken out is destroyed, and can't be "healed up".
When it comes to conflicts, each round constructs get up to one move action, one special action, and as many combat actions as they have Offensive skills. They still take penalties for multiple actions, but each rank in the Systems skill lets them reduce that penalty (as Systems represents the contruct's personell).
Construct-based conflicts still operate with zones, but the scale changes; instead of a zone being "the alleyway" or "this side of the room", they can be "the bridge over the river", "the city of Eastwood", "the Kingdom of Sinda", or even "The Elemental Plane of Fire" depending on the scale you're working with. The range of a construct's attacks is also affected by the construct's scale; a Medium (3) scale construct gets +1 to weapon range, Large (4) gets +2, and Huge (5) or larger gets +4.
Long story short: construct conflicts work the same way as character conflicts, just with different skills.
There's a lot of special actions that constructs can take in combat that I'm not going to dig too deep into here; things like boarding actions, ramming, and disengaging. Nothing too complex, but they're nice optional systems to make things like naval or vehicular combat feel different from standard issue land-based combat.
There are rules for building constructs during play (versus just starting with one or earning it later), as well as the construct advancement rules (which, once again, mirror the character rules).
We suddenly get dumped into the group character rules, which let the party be represented as one single "unit" for large-scale combat. A group character gets one Aspect from each character in it, 7 skill points, and its own unique stress track. Apart from that, it's pretty much treated as a construct execpt that any Consequences taken by the group character reduce one "level" after a night's rest (so a Major becomes a Minor, and a Minor goes away). Should it come up, Consequences suffered by the group will be "shared" by the individual characters.
A GM can use "group character challenges" to put obstacles in their path, as a sort of "fast forward" mechanic to skip past the boring bits before the players get to wherever they're going. For example, if the party needs to travel through a forest, it could be represented by "Darkwood Forest - Good (+3) combat" or "Darkwood Forest - Superb (+4) survival", and that becomes a quick opposed roll to see if the players get through. If they succeed, fine, but if not then the group takes some stress damage. It's a much better alternative than rolling for piddly random encounters and more interesting than "okay, you travel through the forest and get to the castle".
Of course, you could also stat up the whole forest as a construct. We'll see a few example on that later on.
The chapter closes out with a couple of pages of sample Aspects for constructs. A few of my favorites:
Held Together By Prayers Alone
The construct is falling apart.
• Tag: to aid in defence; perhaps the construct’s rather “dispersed” structure helps make it harder to strike a telling blow.
• Compel: to cause a consequence when the construct takes an action that could cause Structural stress
(docking, manning the battlements, strong changes of direction).
The construct has a colourful, sinister, or perhaps even terrifying past.
• Tag: for a bonus in dealing with pirates or bandits.
• Compel: to cause problems with local potentates.
Veil Of Sorrow
Applies to constructs with personnel in addition to the characters. The personnel of the construct are still in “mourning” for a previous commander or owner, and become troubled and even depressed when reminded.
• Tag: to discover knowledge the previous commander might have had.
• Compel: to increase the difficulty of an action. “The last time we faced this foe, Count Brandon led us...waaaaah!”
The construct rules are, for the most part, an early version of the Fate fractal. When we get to the "Templates" chapter later on, you'll see some of the cool stuff you can do. But before we reach that...
NEXT TIME : Even more large scale combat! Yay!
The Fog of WarOriginal SA post LET'S READ LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
Chapter 16: The Fog of War
Okay, here we go. The last large-scale combat chapter. You'll forgive me if I kind of speed through this, but I think at this point we're all getting a little tired of the large-scale combat stuff, especially when a lot of it is just reiterating rules we've already talked about.
Where the last chapters were about empire- and army-level fighting, this one is about unit-level combat.
In LoA terms, a unit is a group of "entities" that are grouped together. One of these entities is the leader (who provides the base stats), and the rest provide additional abilities. It's kind of like how minions work with PCs, but on a larger scale.
You put together your "leader" (be it a character or construct), then you attach some minions to it, and presto, you have a unit. If you have 10 or more constiuents on a unit, it goes up one level on the scale chart, with the appropriate skill and stress bonuses.
You can also declare one or more characters as generals ; each general has a "headquarters", which is a unit that's under his direct control. He can still run the entire battle from there, and can use his skills and Fate points for other units.
There are (of course) unit-level stunts and Aspects, but surprisingly we don't get too many examples. And the ones we do get are really basic.
The combined unit gains a +2 bonus to ramming manoeuvres.
The combined unit gains an additional point on its Morale stress track.
Unit level combat actually works a little differently that other conflicts due to the "fog of war" mechanics.
At the start of the fight, the GM determines the "Fog of War" modifier, which is based on the overall battlefield conditions. A nice clear day on an open plain is +0; one of nighttime, heavy rain, or difficult terrain would be a +3; and a +5 would be "utter chaos".
At the beginning of each exchange, each general makes a detection check using the Systems or Advanced Sensing construct skills, with the difficulty being the Fog of War rating. The outcome of the roll is the number of enemy units you can target this round.
Then you make a orders check against the Fog of War using the Systems or Leadership skills. The outcome of this roll is how many of your own units you can have act in addition to your headquarters unit.
Other than that, things go about as you'd expect. In addition to just hitting each other, units can make morale attacks against enemy units of equal or smaller scale, spin allows you to make surprise moves , which is an action that can be saved to interrupt an enemy's attack, and any unit can make reactive attacks (any unit that's attacked will attack back if possible) even if the general flubbed his roll earlier.
In unit-level combat, you can still have highlight and emergency scenes like we talked about last chapter; spend a Fate point to "zoom in" on a character doing something awesome or have the GM put a character-level obstacle in play. Players can also affect units with magic, assuming they got enough shifts on the roll to affect everyone in the unit.
And apart from an example of a unit-level exchange, that's pretty much it. The only really different thing in this chapter are the Fog of War rules.
I know I came off as being unimpressed with the high-level combat stuff, but really it's a good system for handling a "clashing empires" style of play where you can actually do things like build fortifications and such. I just don't think it needed to be spread out so much; with the Fate Fractal and all, they didn't really need to spend a whole chapter on "here's how this works at scale A" and then spend another chapter on "now here's how it works at scale B, which is about 90% the same as last time", and I kind of got the impression that the writers were a little tired of it too. Still, it's nice to see some support for this style of play, since it's one a lot of fantasy games tend to ignore or tack on as an afterthought.
That being said, I'm glad to finally be out of these chapters.
NEXT TIME : Templates! Samples! Img tags!
TemplatesOriginal SA post LET'S READ LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
Chapter 17: Templates
Up to this point in Legends of Anglerre, we've had about 240 pages about how to model, well, damn near everything. This short chapter is a bunch of pre-made stuff made using said rules, which can be used as guides for making your own stuff, or plunked into a campaign as-is.
We have Organizations!
We have Constructs!
We have a Band of Heroes character!
We have buildings!
We have collections of buildings!
We have Units!
We even have monsters stated up as military units!
Not much to say here, really. It's nice to see all the tools we've been talking about for 16 chapters being put together in various ways, though. Plus after three chapters of Mass Combat I wanted something easy, dammit.
NEXT TIME : Going big! Going bigger!
Epic and Mythic GamingOriginal SA post LET'S READ LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
Chapter 18: Epic and Mythic Gaming
So far everything we've talked about here has been about a more-or-less "standard" fantasy game; dungeon crawling, fighting monsters and taking their stuff, maybe becoming a lord when you hit 9th level. And that's all well and good. But what about the higher-end stuff? The legendary figures who can punch a mountain to death or sail ships through astral seas?
We got that covered.
Everything we've talked about (okay, I've talked about) up to this point covers the "standard" game, which is LoA's default power level. Not much more to say on that; like I said it's pretty standard fantasy fare.
The next step up from that is epic level. At that level, you're pretty much a major player; you're operating on the same level as whole nations. At this point, you're not dungeon-running anymore, you're dealing with threats to the world itself and carving out your own kingdom.
A lot of the rules we've seen can be applied to epic-level gaming as-is; the mass combat rules and large creature rules specifically. There are epic occupations available for characters so they can match up to the larger threats.
You can get an epic occupation with the GM's permission once he thinks you're ready for it, or just create epic-level characters right out of the gate (13 Aspects, 9 stunts, 56 skill points, starting Refresh of 8).
The provided epic occupations all come with a few sample stunts (of course); the main difference between these and the normal occupations is pretty much just a factor of scale.
For sample occupations, there's the War Lord
As a full action, you can use Leadership to heal military units in battle.
the Divine Champion
Noticed by the Deity
The character has been “touched” by a god, gaining a +1 bonus on social, mental or physical skills (select one, depending on the deity’s nature) as long as it’s to the deity’s benefit. Everyone can see there’s something “special” about the character.
the Father/Mother of the Nation
Requires Hero or Master Diplomat
You can use spin gained on an appropriate roll to persuade people to establish a small settlement with you as its head. The settlement is an organization with skill points equal to the points of spin, and a maximum scale of 2. You must have an appropriate future aspect (ie “We will found a new land by the Oasis of Zar!”), or take one when you first use this stunt.
and Discoverer of Secrets.
You see how everything in the world interconnects, how a butterfly flapping its wings in Goh’Myreth causes storms in Illondre. You can make causality-related assessments and declarations, like “This milk I have spilled makes a messenger trip and break his leg, and news of the invasion never reaches the Grand Vizier’s ears!” These are subject to the usual assessments and declarations rules.
Above epic campaigns are mythic campaigns . This is the level where you're juggling the fate of multiple worlds and bouncing back and forth between alternate realities. This is the point where you're playing as gods and other assorted higher powers, and are dealing with multiverse-level threats.
Again, this is a "you get the occupations when you're ready" type thing. It's also possible to create a mythic-level character from scratch: you get 15 Aspects, 12 stunts, 84 skill points, and a starting Refresh of 10. Yeah, it's a little nuts.
As for sample mythic occupations, there's the Dancer of the God Court (a.k.a. the jester of the gods)
Dance through Air
You can move a number of zones through vertical surfaces (trees, buildings, etc) equal to the points of spin gained on your dance roll.
the Paragon ("You’re a perfect example of your type, whatever that is.")
When using your paragon skills, divide your shifts by 2 instead of 3 to calculate spin.
the Promethean Hero (who doesn't raid dungeons, he raids dimensions)
Raid the Underworld
You can create or find an entrance into the Underworld and pass through it. The difficulty depends on where you are: you’re more likely to find an entrance in a known place of magic, temple sanctum, etc.
As a full action, once per scene, for a Fate point , you may make a +2 Leadership, Rapport, or Intimidation attack against all targets in the scene. Minions of lower quality than the skill automatically fail to defend, unless their leader takes a full action to roll Leadership in their defence. The minions simply flee, faint, cower in awe, or are otherwise taken out.
That's pretty much it; this is more of a "guidelines" chapter than a rules chapter; like I said a lot of the remainder of the book after the mass combat stuff is pretty short because we've learned the majority of the rules already. At this point, it's more about learning to adapt or scale them then adding on to them.
Still...that World Machine thing? You gotta admit that's pretty awesome.
NEXT TIME : World design by comittee! Attacking the plot for six damage!
Collaboration, TreasureOriginal SA post LET'S READ LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
Chapter 19: Collaborative Campaign Creation, Chapter 20: Plot Stress, and Chapter 21: Treasure
WARNING: This is the swineiest part of the game!
As I'm sure you've all figured out by now, LoA (and Fate games in general, really) are pretty collaborative. There's a lot of back-and-forth between the players and the GM about what everyone expects to see in a game, and between Aspects and things like Declarations the players are more than able to contribute setting details during play.
But what about before play?
Well, that's what "collaborative campaign creation" means. It works like this:
1) Start with a blank sheet of paper. This is going to be your campaign map.
2) Each player draws a circle on the map; these are the Points of Interest. They can be cities, unusual locations, unique buildings, whatever. It really depends on the scale of the map.
3) Once that's done, each player draws a line from someone else's circle to the edge of the map.
4) Then each player draws a line between one location and another, until every location is connected to two others.
5) Each player then gets to define one object on the map; this can be one of the circles, a line, or the spaces in between. That player gets to say what that object is (a line might be a road or river, the space between everything can be a nation, or a neighborhood), defines an Aspect for it, and gives it one point of interest.
Once this is done, you've got yourself a campaign map.
Why would you do this style of world design?
Astute Story Tellers will realise the players are providing vital clues to the kind of game they’d like to play. Do they want explorations of ancient ruins, dimension-hopping adventure, barbarian invasions,
piracy, mythic wars, intrigue and mystery? What kind of places do they want to visit? Wait – they just told you!
This ties back into what Fred Hicks once described as the secret language of character sheets ; to wit: everything a player puts on his sheet is his way of saying to the GM, "this is something I want to have happen or be important in the game". This is the same thing, just on a bigger scale.
The best way to manage this is to focus on the places the players want to – do they get excited about Jane’s idea of an old abandoned city in the jungle? Okay – focus on the area around the city, let them indicate aspects or points of interest. Did Adam’s “Hotbed of Intrigue” aspect, describing the old trading outpost and the town around it, interest everyone and get them talking? Okay – let everyone describe part of the town. Remember to balance what everyone wants, rather than constructing your campaign around something one person liked when it was clear the others weren’t so keen.
There's also some info on creating campaign areas in the same way you make characters; each player gets to make a campaign "area" by going through the phases, spending skill points, and buying stunts.
Like a fractal, the Fate rules system used by Legends of Anglerre is made up of a bunch of different pieces that all resemble each other. Pick one section and zoom in, and you’ll see something different yet familiar, the smaller part having patterns resembling the greater whole.
While they don't mention it here, a big benefit to this style of campaign creation is that it gets the players involved and invested in the game. Now it's not just the GM's world anymore, it's everyone's. Each player has a stake because they each got to make part of the world. And when the players make part of the world, they get attached to it. It keeps them interested because now it's not just a horde of orcs overrunning a town, it's a horde of orcs overrunning the town I made .
Man, it's almost like they want the players to be invested in the game they're playing or something. Or "immersed", if you will.
That chapter's pretty short (like a page and a half), so let's cover the next one while we're here: Plot Stress.
Plot Stress is a way to keep events in a game on a timetable that's based on something more that "because the GM said so". What you do is figure out what the overall plot of the game is going to be. For this example, let's say it's "stop the evil wizard Evilo from summoning the demon Blarg to destroy the world".
Shut up, I'm trying to keep it simple here.
The GM then determines how long the campaign's stress track will be. For this example, let's say it's 10 boxes. That track is then split into "consequences" in the usual Minor/Major/Severe/Extreme categoires. Unline normal Consequences, though, these aren't really Aspects; they're more descriptions of what happens when you hit that "level" of stress.
Plot Stress Consequence Description   Minor Demons attack outlaying areas of the nation as demons start to "leak through"   Major A large swarm of demons attack; wizard-type come under heavy scrutiny and are blamed, especially once Evilo's cultists are discovered in the city.    Severe The PCs are targeted by Evilo because they are prophesied to defeat him; attacks come at inconvienent times or target friends/family. The PCs learn what tools they need to find to defeat Evilo.    Extreme The stars align and Evilo can start the ritual.
It should be pointed out that the plot stress track and stress actions are GM-only info; this isn't something the players are supposed to "game", it's a way for the GM to track the progess of large-scale events.
Of course, the whole plot stress thing can also be applied to an organization or character; it works the same way, just on a different scale. On the plus side, every time character or organization plot stress hits a new consequence level, everyone gets a free Fate point refresh; "You just know something bad is going to happen, right?"
It's also important to note that plot stress doesn't "clear out" like normal stress does; it also can't be healed. The whole idea is that it's the forward momentum of the story; one way or the other, things are going to happen. It's just a matter of how quickly.
And...wow, that was a short chapter too. We're really rolling along here; let's keep it going for one more chapter: Treasure.
By default, any big-ass pile of gold pieces, artwork, and other assorted shiny things you find while adventuring is "Treasure", and like most things is rated on the Fate ladder. The main advantage of having Treasure is that you can use it to boost your Resources skill when buying things. If you want to buy something with a cost of +5, but you only have a Resources of +3, you could bring in your Treasure +3 to boost your skill up to a +6. Doing this reduces the rating of the Treasure by the amount you needed; in this case the Treasure would go down to +1.
For the most part, Treasure is kept pretty abstract; a Treasure of +3 could be a pouch of silver coins, or it could be a single gem. There's a handy chart that gives some guidelines of what constitues a Treasure of whatever quality ("A handful of silver coins" is a +2, "gem-set jewellery" would be a +5). For those who actually like to keep the books, there's also a section on how any gold pieces would constitue a level of Treasure, so that should keep the theif happy.
On thing that's wotrh mentioning is that Treasures can't (for the most part) be combined. One sack of gold is a Treasure, and one silver ring is a Treasure, but their values can't be merged to act like one total Treasure ranking. The idea is that in LoA, it's more about what you use the Treasure for than what it actually is . At least from a mechanical standpoint.
The upside of this is that any type of trade goods or valuable can be considered "treasure". That sack of gold is still Treasure, but so's that crate full of silks or that bit of military information. Heck, if you're playing a setting like Dark Sun or Midnight, then food and water would be considered Treasure.
Treasure can also be used to do things like performing maneuvers ("I spread some gold to my political allies, and I've got the [u]Backed by my peers[/b] Aspect now."), upgrading workspaces, or improving your constructs or organizations. Or you can just be greedy and spend Treasure to increase your Resources skill by 1 as a character advance. It's up to you, really.
And...we're done with that chapter! Man, at this rate we're gonna hit the end of the book pretty soon.
NEXT TIME : Randomly rolling your world!
Other Worlds, Other RealitiesOriginal SA post LET'S READ LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
Chapter 22: Other Worlds, Other Realities
Last time we talked about how to create a campaign setting with the help of the players.
Which is fine...if you're some sort of Swine-ish storygamer who can't handle the ~~* verisimilitude *~~ of a randomly defined world that isn't build solely for the PCs.
Or maybe your players aren't into the whole "help build the world" thing. Or maybe you're in a hurry. Who knows?
Don't worry, because once again LoA has you covered! This chapter is a collection of tables that are set up to give you some rough layouts of a campaign world and its cosmology. LoA refers to a campaign's world and related demi-planes as the Internection , which is a fancy word for "multiverse".
And since just saying "there's a bunch of charts, here's a screenshot or two" is boring, let's bust out some dice and make a campaign setting!
Now, as always, these tables aren't meant to be a be-all-end-all written in stone definition of a setting. They're there to provide inspiration and help get the creative juices flowing; if you like a particular result on a table, you're encouraged to just pick it instead of rolling.
The first table we roll on is The Nature Of The World . This is a d6-d6 table: I get a -1 : "Flat, bounded by a solid dome of sky". Ooh, interesting. Kinda like a snowglobe or the Truman Show.
Next up is What is the sun? I find out that "It’s a great portal to a plane of eternal fire. Demons and elementals come through it." So I guess the sun is actually a hole in the sky?
For extra fun, there's a table here called Complications with the Sun , which we can use to further screw with the cosmology. Sadly, our roll tells us there's nothing wrong with the sun (well, apart from being a portal to a demon dimension and a hole in the sky dome I mean.)
Next up we roll for Nature of the seasons , and learn that the seasons are "extreme". I guess the summers are ridiculously hot and and the winters are unbearbably cold.'
If we're rolling for the sun, then of course we get to roll for The Moon . Turns out the moon is actually an inhabited world. I wonder how it got inside the sky dome then? Or if anyone knows there are people up there (or vice versa).
Now I roll for the nature of The Gods, and I luck out and get Roll Twice! Woo! I get The gods are superhuman beings, not divine principles and The gods are supreme cosmic entities, transcending the Internection and present everywhere. So the "gods" are actually superhuman heroes who exist in all dimensions? Interesting...they sound more like ascended Archetypes than gods, but that can have some fun reprocusions.
Next up is the Magic table: turns out that our world has default LoA magic levels and rules , so I guess we're good here.
The next table is Entropy , which is how succeptable the world is to change and chaos. Turns out our world is at "Normal entropy: entropy has little effect, or the world is a battleground between chaos and order in which both are held in equilibrium." So I guess order and chaos are more or less in balance.
And we're done making our world! It's a flat world, bounded by a kind of "sky dome" that has an inhabited moon trapped inside it; the seasons tend towards the extremes, but that's probably due to the fact that the sun is actually a crank in the sky that leads to a world of fire and demons. There aren't gods, but more "idealized people" who probably have mastered some element of whatever; the "god" of soldiers could just be the greatest soldier who ever lived anywhere .
There's still not a lot of detail there (that's for the GM and players to work out), but there's definately some potential there.
But we're not finished yet! Not only can we define our world, we can roll up the cosmology surrounding it! Let's do that, but I'm not going to keep linking or Orokos because that's a pain and I don't think anyone cares anymore.
The first table is "Cosmology", and just tells us what type of 'verse we're going to be working with. Turns out we have a "Sophisticated Cosmology: the “otherworld” consists of many planes of existence, possibly one for each element or deity. The culture may also have experience with planar travel, and have primitive maps and schematics of interplanar connections." So there are a couple of alternate worlds touching the snowglobe; I like the "one for each diety" idea since we're dealing with super-archetypes. Maybe there's a dimension tailored to each superhuman?
From here, we can roll up some planes of existence. We start on a table with three entries that tells us which sub-table to go to: Parallel World, Divergent World, and Otherworld.
A parallel world just has One Thing that's different; maybe there's less magic, or it's dying, or time works differently. Not much here, so I'm going to move on to the next one.
Divergent worlds are what most fantasy gamers would think of when someone says "other plane". Elemental worlds, world of chaos/law, and (I shit you not) "World of Darkness".
Otherworlds are the completely separate conceptual planes. This is where your heavens, hells, divine realms, and astral plane sit.
I'll roll three planes; let's see what I get:
Parallel World, Proto-world (very little life, maybe only in oceans)
Otherworld, God World
Divergent World, Ghost World
Oh, there's also a "complications of planar travel" table, which says that "There’s a rival on this plane – maybe someone you know!" I guess you're supposed to roll that when people go plane-hopping, but I like the idea of going to the afterlife while still alive, and someone I killed just knowing that I'm there.
One of the options of the "Otherworld" table is "plane of hell", and there's two charts for that; what the plane is and what its purpose is. Let's see what hell is like for our world!
First I roll on the "Planes of Hell" table, and I get "Succubi and Incubi A world of deathly pleasures, where lasciviousness, languor, and lethality go hand in hand."
Uh...okay...it seems that the purpose of the plane is "Reward for Evil", which...makes sense. How does that fit into the cosmology, though?
Oh wait...what if the divine world is the "heaven" for people who've walked the path of the Archetype god-heroes? For those who didn't, there's the Ghost World, which is a sort of purgatory for people who've never walked that part, but they can still try to gain favor (maybe through descendants). And the hell is for people who've completely turned their backs on the archetypes and just want to destroy Their work; destroy the foundations of the world enough, and you'll be rewarded with eternity in the Demonic Pleasure Realm...where you can go to the Ghost World to hunt down helpless spirits to drag below for your own sick needs.
I like that idea; hell you could actually make that into a pretty good campaign even after a TPK.
And they say Fate can't be played traditionally.
NEXT TIME : Tips & Tricks!
Twisted TipsOriginal SA post LET'S READ LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
Chapter 23: Twisted Tips
Chapter 23 is the GMing advice section, and it has a mix of general and game specific advice.
The fist part of the chapter is "The Fantasy Environment", and is about setting up the general feel of the world; the types of sub-genres you can use (Sword & Sorcery, Historical Fantasy, Steampunk, etc) and the style of game you want to play (One-shots/pick-up/sandbox/whatever). There's also a few sample campaign themes suggested: Epic Heroes, Clash of Empires, Evil Rising, that sort of thing. There's also some stuff on the different types of fantasy societies. Nothing earth-shattering really, especially if you've been gaming for a long time.
The next part is ideas for Fantasy Locations, and ways to tie them into the contruct/hazard building rules, or just describing them as a collection of Aspects. There are also challenges given for Aspects, which are "attacks" that a location can make to keep it interesting. Like this:
Tag: To find alchemical or magical materials, use magic more easily, find hidden places or items
Compel: To be magically detected, be attacked by magical defences, encounter traps, become lost
Challenges: Labyrinth (+3), Fiendish Traps (+3), Magical Servants (+5), Powerful Wizard (+6)
Again, nothing really major. So far it's more about how to set up the game instead of how to run it.
The next part is general advice on how to run a game; I'm not going to get too deep into this except to point out the (rather handy) "core plot structure".
• Endanger the Characters
• Reveal the True Danger
• The Pursuit Encounters Complications
• Certain Doom
• The Twist
• Final Showdown
• Breakneck Escape (Optional)
This is handy for those of use who never design adventures or anything until we're sitting at the table. Examples for each part of the structure are provided, as well as a reminder that the structure is a framework, not a cage; it's nice to have something to work from, but don't treat it as the be-all-end-all of how to put together an adventure.
Next up is Improvising Like A Pro , which has some very good advice on what to do when things go off the rails.
When a prepared plot structure fails, step back and look at your game as the story of its characters. Like book or movie heroes, your game’s real story happens wherever the characters are – the story best suited to those specific characters.
You don’t have to know what’s going to happen to run a good session. Better stories can (and do) result when you’ve no preconceived ideas, including the outcomes of conflicts or decisions, the adventure’s conclusion, and everything in between. Cooperation makes this work - that’s good.
Anyway, we get a lot of good advice on how to set up games without serious planning; creating descision points, reacting to what the players want to do, that sort of thing.
There's also advice on how to reinforce the feel of the fantasy genre with stuff like "Put Them On The Clock", "Ecourage Action Over Contemplation", and "Allow Big Swords and Fireballs to Solve the Problem". And, of course, the ever-popular "When All Else Fails…Send in the Ninjas".
A good sudden explosion of violence gives you time, as Story Teller, to think, and gives everyone else something to do. The “ninjas” will inevitably fail and give the player characters someone to interrogate, by which time you’ve worked out where to send them next.
There's advice on controling the game's perspective; handling cutaways and split groups and things like that. There's also some useful advice for what to do when you get blindsided by the players:
Players sometimes outsmart you, or get crazy lucky. You’ve provided the dramatic information, everything’s in place, and they respond in a way completely out of left field, undercutting your expectations, maybe even leapfrogging your preparation. It’s insanely frustrating, and the instinct is to immediately invent a reason why they can’t, and force them back on track.
DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!
If you do this, your players will know. They will. Honest. And they’ll think it sucks because it’ll feel
like you’re punishing them for getting into the game. And they’ll be right.
The chapter closes out with some stuff on how to handle giving out information to the players through the use of clues and tells.
I'm not going to bore you guys with this chapter; if you've ever run a game you probably already know a lot of what's in this chapter. Still, it's a lot of solid advice and if you want to up your GMing skills there are worse places to look.
NEXT TIME : Anglerre! No, really! It's actually a thing!
AnglerreOriginal SA post LET'S READ LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
Chapter 24: Anglerre
Yup, we're finally here: the setting of Anglerre. Unfortunately, it's kinda dull; it's damn near the textbook definition of "generic fantasy setting".
Anglerre is surrounded by bitter enemies and uncertain allies, a lone place where magic is bound to the service of man, and not man to the service of magic. Once a prosperous and fertile land of rolling hills, ship-filled ports and country towns, merchants from as far abroad as Abaria and Zignea traversed the seas
and the dangerous Irrapian deserts to trade in Anglerran wool, weapons and hunting wyverns.
That was before the war with Suvethia, a struggle between humanity and the inhuman, where Anglerre’s farmers, shepherds and miners battle against ever more horrific creatures summoned by their Priest-King foes.
We get a few pages of setting history; in the grand days when King Osric was the king of the kingdom of Anglerre, the neighboring kingdom of Suvethia was a complete non-threat. Suvethia's Priest-Kings didn't like being a small fish in a big pond, so they summoned an ancient evil called the Qilaan.
Though long banished, a tenuous trace of the Qilaan’s power remained, through which they empowered the Priest-Kings with magic to war against Anglerre, and the followers of the gods who had caused their ancient defeat. Unaware the Qilaan were manipulating them, the Priest-Kings attacked the fertile lands of Smed’dic and Vost’r, hoping to annex Anglerre’s breadbasket at a stroke. King Osric, believing the attacks the work of bandits and unprepared for the Priest-Kings’ inhuman servitors, rode out with a small force and was slain with all his knights. The war had begun
Wielding Qilaan magic the Suvethians destroyed the last Mage Stone and rained destruction on Illondre, capital of Anglerre. The King’s closest ally, Baron Wyllem of Vost’r, and many of his people were slain, and the Suvethians occupied the city. King Iagon’s last desperate attack against Goh’Myreth failed, and it’s likely the war would have ended in human defeat had not the Qilaan’s return attracted the attentions of one of the Inquisitors of the Internection, who, together with Myrdan, helped the King defeat the Qilaan and Suvethians.
Don't ask me for more detail than that, or what half those names mean, because I have no idea. It's pretty much the Realm of Generica, right down to the names that sound like bad Scrabble hands.
Here's the short form: twenty years ago, the war against the otherworldly Qilaan ended. Now, after 200 years of a war that started as a political dispute and ended with the defeat of world-threatening ancient evils, people are trying to pick their lives back up. Not only was there an immense loss of human life (which almost caused the collapse of civilization after 200 years), it turns out that Suvethia is still around, and has a new king who may or may not be ready to start the whole damn thing over again. The new king of Anglerre isn't skilled in magic, so he's called out for adventurers to come forth and seek out ancient magics that could be used to stop Suvethia should they try to rise up again.
Now that that's out of the way, we move to Adventuring in Anglerre .
Characters can start at any level, but it's suggested to start them at Great(+4) or Superb(+4) if you want to capture the feel of the original comics. It's also pointed out that magic is on the rare side, but we'll get to that later. Also, even though the book never comes out and says it, there's no non-human races. Everyone's a human.
A few homelands are given for players; each one also has some sample Aspects but I'm just going to hit the quick descriptions.
Abarians are "masters of blade, horse and bow", and are known for being very passionate about pretty much everything. They have celebrations at the drop of a hat.
Anglerrans are the Good Guys; "stoic, salt-of-the-earth people." Strong work ethic for the commoners, good leaders, flamboyant criminals, yadda yadda yadda.
Axe Islanders are basically all pirates. Think Tortuga.
Irrapians are "nomads of the western wastes", travelling from oasis to oasis in small tribes.
Merotians are miners with, and I quote, "a girl on their arm and a flagon of ale in their hand." They're obsesed with wealth and hold grudges for years.
Offudwynn are mages and scholars who temper their learnings with advice from their priests and shamans.
Saxeynne are the remnants of a destroyed nation, mostly forced to feed on themselves to survive.
Suvethians are the Bad Guys. They worship a god called Cha’itan. The common folk huddle in fear of their leaders, the Priest-Kings.
Zigneans are a mixed-race people who live in a river valley.
So while it's nice to not do the usual "Not-Europe, Not-Arabia, Not-Japan" stuff, the countries are still pretty dry.
The next section is about Magic in Anglerre . Technically Anglerre is a low-magic setting, but the Priest-Kings' summoning of ancient evils has forced a need for magic to counter them. So now more and more people are being trained in magic, and heroes are going out to find lost artifacts and weapons.
All mages in Anglerre have the Showy and Scary limitations, and usually have things like Backlash or Wild Magic . Magic in Anglerre is dangerous; it's not subtle in the least and it tends to have a lot of negative effects on the user.
Summonings make up a large part of Anglerrian magic. The schools of Summoning, Necromancy, and Elementalism make up the majority of the setting's power base, and "summon a horde of skeletons" is a valid military tactic.
There's also a setting specific Power Skill called "Wild Magic" that has the Sense Wild Magic, Invoke Wild Magic, Wild Magic Blast, and Disrupt Magic trappings. It also always has the Backlash and Wild Magic flaws, which means that generating positive or negative Spin will always cause side effects defined by the GM, and that if you fail a skill check, you have to either lose a Fate point or take Composure stress equal to the amount you missed by.
The next section is a gazetteer of the world, but again I'm not going to get into too much detail here because you've seen most of this before. There's the desert country, the mountainous country, the pirate kingdom, and so on. There's a couple of pages of this, but like I said before it's all just... there . They do make each region feel different, but it has that feel of the "wannabe novel writer" GM we make fun of in grognards.txt; the guy who spends more time writing down details about each part of the map and doing a whole long history nobody cares about instead of thinking about the setting from the players' viewpoint. It doesn't help that, like I said, most of it is standard dry fantasy fare with hard to remember names and no feeling of life to it. There's very little in these regions that makes me want to actual adventure there, because it's all about exports and who's fighting who.
For instance, this is part of the entry for Anglerre:
Anglerre sits on the eastern shores of the Wailing Sea, extending south and east to the Suvethian borders, and north to the mountains of Offudwynn. It’s dominated by fertile farmlands dotted with low rolling hills and river meadows, perfect for its staples of wheat and wool. Most settlements are small farming villages, though after two centuries of war many are fortified against Suvethian invasion or random attacks by magic-mutated creatures. The only exceptions are the northern provinces of M’Dor and Perrival, far from Suvethia.
Anglerre’s western coast is rockier and more forested, thick groves of thorn trees growing unchecked along the cliff tops home to flocks of fire gulls, the favourite prey of noble huntsmen, along with boar. The main west coast city is the deep-water port of Briztil, which receives a steady trade across the Southern Sea from Abaria, in competition with the more southerly Pel’moth. Small fishing villages nestle among the cliffs and thickets of the twisting coast between the two cities, and the fisherman alone in his boat is a popular symbol of the hardy independence of Anglerre.
In the east, hills give way to the fertile plains of Vost’r and Smed’dic, abutting the river Dunon and the Suvethian borderlands. Close to sea level, it occasionally floods, but is extremely fertile where it’s not ravaged by warfare. Sadly, major battles have been fought over the Dunon valley, and its fields are littered with battle debris. Scavengers brave these wastes and the magic-mutated creatures that roam them for the weapons abandoned by retreating armies.
The whole section's like that. This doesn't read like a place I'd go adventure, it reads like a social studies textbook.
The next part's a little better; it's the Gazetteer of the Internection , and covers the cosmology of the setting.
The Interniction is basically the multiverse; peopled by humans, gods, and demons alike, from there you can travel to whatever reality you want. The worlds closest to Anglerre are called The Ten Planes, and were actually the home of the Qilaan until recently. Six of the Ten Planes are described:
The Astral Plane , which is actually closer to the Dreamlands than the traditional D&D-style Astral Plane.
Barofonn is a realm of chaos that is described as "in insanity of life gone mad."
Ixssaasha is a water-realm populated by creatures called Ixssaashi, devoted servants of the Qulaan. The realm is filled with kracken, giant squids, and other terrors of the deep.
Limbo is the prison of beings too powerful to be destroyed but too dangerous to be allowed to roam free. This was the prison of the Qilaan until the start of the war, and their release proved that this world wasn't the inescapable prison it was believed to be.
Shaassignaa is basically the elemental plane of Earth; the air itself is as dense as stone. The creatues there are so dense in relation to their environment they see outsiders as insubstatial as a shadow.
Tligo is the Fire realm; hot enough to reduce a human to ash in an instant.
Unlike the normal gazeteer, the
The last part of the chapter is Key Figures of Anglerre , and again the strange lack of interesting detail shows up here as well. For instance, this is the entire entry for Lord Achior:
One of the Qilaan, Lord Achior is said to be King of the Demon Kings. He’s depicted as a tall humanoid with a horned helm concealing his face.
Have some letter salad:
An Eternal, Inquisitor, and self-appointed guardian of the Internection, Maryell dwells on the plane of Barofonn, and was instrumental in the defeat of the Qilaan. He helped Myrdan and King Iagon against the Qilaan, and is said to have destroyed them this time. King Iagon related Maryell fought with a power, speed and grace that were beyond his words to describe.
And what's a generic fantasy setting without a super-powerful wizard for the PCs to work for?
Also known as Raven, Raven Myrdan, or Aundrem, the Magician-Sage Myrdan is the most powerful sorcerer in Anglerre, and Prince Veyne’s closest advisor. He appeared mysteriously during the war between Vargonax and King Iagon, offering his aid against the Qilaan. With Myrdan’s help Iagon travelled to Barofonn, and the Qilaan were defeated.
After the war some said Myrdan was an Eternal, close to the Gods, but the Raven insists he’s merely human – knowledgeable, but as fallible as anyone. Recently Myrdan has been called on frequently to defend against Subarax’ attacks, and many wonder how long he can continue.
Here's some useful information:
Wyllem, Baron of Vost’r
Firm friend and chief advisor to King Iagon, Wyllem was killed during the destruction of Illondre.
It's also at this point we get some info on the gods of the setting. Well, two of them, anyway: Vishena the six-armed leader of the gods and god of destruction and rebirth; and Orida, the goddess of forgiveness.
I'll admit I kind of rushed through this, but like I said, there's not a lot here. After all the talk before of a rich exciting setting, all I'm seeing here is the same old same old. It's strange that in a game so built on the principles of creativity, they'd build it on one of the blandest settings I've ever seen.
NEXT TIME : Another setting!
The Hither LandsOriginal SA post LET'S READ LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
Chapter 25: The Hither Lands
This is the second setting provided, and is a bit more "traditional" in its setup.
The Hither Kingdoms is a high fantasy setting of elves and dwarves, magic and monsters; a mediaeval world emerging from a dark age, where petty principalities war against one another and an ancient evil from over the sea.
A thousand years ago the Empire of the First Alliance united the lands of elves, men, and dwarves. That empire is long dead, its lands fought over by barbarians. In the far west, the ethereal city of Selantium dreams on, last outpost of the Old Empire, where elves and men live in harmony. Every year Black Ships from across the Sea of Stars arrive filled with goblinkind at the Black Isles of Angor, Rift, and Way; and the King Over The Ocean, who tried to invade the First Alliance in antiquity, throws his trollish and goblin hordes at the remnants of Empire.
The fate of the world hangs in balance. Danger is everywhere – and yet great adventure, too. Will the flickering lights of civilization grow stronger, or be extinguished forever by darkness? In these perilous days, a stout heart can change the world, and the world cries out for heroes.
Heroes like you.
The Hither Lands is, when you get right down to it, LoA's answer to the Forgotten Realms. It takes place on the eastern end of a large unnamed continent, with Ice Nomads to the north and Desert Kingdoms to the south.
Unlike Anglerre, there are non-human races available to players: elves, dwarves, wilderings (talking animals), and
The gazetteer has even less usable indo than Anglerre's did, because there's more ground to cover. Each area only gets a short paragraph.
A wood elf land and worshippers of Ardeste, Lady of Light, Celebrand has a turbulent relationship with the high elves of the citadel of Canaspire, who regard them as degenerate savages.
Called by Selantium “The Eastern Empire”, it calls itself the “Holy” Empire, nominally worshipping the Sun King. It’s an empire in name only, a chaos of squabbling baronies and petty city states. Much of it is wilderness, infested with bandits, goblins, and monsters; only around the towns is there any semblance of civilization, and even that is only a few steps above savagery.
Selantium was “the City of Peaceful Refuge” during the First Alliance, a place of serenity, mysticism, and introspection. Nowadays it’s “the Kingdom of the Moon”, the westernmost remnant of the Old Empire, and still carries the flame of the First Alliance. A land of men and elves, heavily influenced by elven culture, its beautiful forests are known as Selande, home of the wood elves, although the name also refers to the entire land. The Holy Empire says Selantium is decadent and corrupt.
Selantium is ruled by El-Esmadiel, Archon of the Palace of Lambent Wisdom, Lady Moonlight, sometimes known as the Leopard Empress, and a Faerie Queen of great power.
The Setting section states flat-out that this is a "is a traditional high fantasy setting: a human-dominated society loosely based on mediaeval Europe, with kings, dukes, and knights; races like elves, dwarves, and goblins; and a high level of magic." At least that means I don't have to get into too much detail about stuff; it's pretty much the same old song and dance we've all seen before.
Magic in the Hither Kingdoms is straight-up LoA magic with no real tweaks. Arcane magic uses gestures and words, divine magic uses a holy symbol as a focus, you know the drill. The only real difference between them is the fluff, though; none of the magic modifications are in play here. There is a new setting-specific Power Skill, though.
War magic is mainly about making fighters stronger. The trappings are Bless Warrior, Weapon Sharp, Battle Magic (use War as an attack skill), and Second Wind. The Stunts let you heal minor and major consequnces, resist damamge, and set up mental links between comrades. So it's like being a D&D mage and cleric at the same time; you can blow stuff up, and buff and heal. Plus it does the same job as a handful of other Power Skills at once. Not overpowered at all!
A brief run-down of the Primal Gods is next. The gods of the Hither Kingdoms are mostly forgotten, nowadays. Even then, they're not really "gods" so much as powerful nature spirits. The Sun, Grandfather Earth, Darkness, the Storm-Crow, and so on. This might have been something they could have elaborated on a bit more, how they relate to each other, how they affect the world, and so on. Sadly, all each one gets is a "he is the god of fill-in-the-blank". Except for the "King Over The Ocean", the evil god of evil things; he gets a few paragraphs about how he's evil and worshiped by evil and stuff.
(And just to digress for a second, that's really the problem with both the presented settings. They're really bland, and don't focus on anything that makes the setting unique. I realize that they're trying to put enough detail into 20 or so pages for someone to run the setting, but they don't spend that time talking about what makes the setting interesting. They spend more time talking about the landscape than they do about the races or gods or magic. You don't need to put a lot of detail into a setting to make it playable, but you still need to give the GM and players something to latch onto.)
From the gods we move to cosmology, and the Hither Kingdoms gets the standard fanstasy setup here too; the main world, an astral plane, the fae lands, an overworld and an underworld. Again, not a lot of detail here. Fae come from the fae world, dark magic comes from the underworld, gods live in the overworld.
Lastly, we get some info on three of the setting's key figures: The Lords of the Circlet (who are a group of adventuring heros who are also rulers of the setting), Demarak Oathmaker (the Last Emperor, who died centuries ago), and Lord Craven (a wildering fox who's an advisor to one of the kings). And while I hate repeating myself here, there's nothing really useful about any of them execpt that Lord Craven is a sorcerer who looks untrustworthy. Hell, Lord Craven's the only one the players will be likely to meet. Wouldn't it have been more useful to list some NPCs the GM could actually, I don't know...use?
And that's it for the Hither Kingdoms! I know this was short, but there's really nothing here that's worth talking about, or even gives me enough detail to get interested in. It's just "so there are some nations. And elves and dwarves. Uh, and these gods. Oh, and some new magic." It feels more like this was squeezed in to give players something more "traditional", and in a sad way they kind of succeeded.
Anyway...one more chapter to go!
NEXT TIME : Critters! The Final Chapter! The Wrap-up!
Bestiary, and the wrap-upOriginal SA post LET'S READ LEGENDS OF ANGLERRE
Chapter 26: Bestiary, and the wrap-up
The last chapter of the book is the list of things to send against the PCs. There is a brief bit before we get to the stat blocks about how to balance an encounter; this can be tricky in games like Fate because you don't have the easy balancing tools like "levels" or pre-defined abilities to work from.
Each monster has a rating that matches the character power levels (Good, Great, Superb) and a general type (usually Extra or Elite). The rule of thumb is that a monster will give a character of its power level a decent challenge (so a Good monster can handle a Good character one-on-one), and a minion group is roughly the same as an Extra. Elites are used to either face off against Superb characters, or as "boss fights" with lesser PCs with a minion group or two added on to taste.
There's also a bit about how to handle monsters with multiple attacks (basically they can't use the same attack twice in a round; they have to use multiple skills), and how to scale monsters up to epic or mythic levels. As a nice bonus, monsters that can usually be summoned through Power Skills are called out as such.
So, the monsters! I'm just going to give a small sample, since once you've seen one stat block you've pretty much seen them all.
I will point out one cool thing about this chapter, though: for most of the creature types, they give three blocks for different types of that monster. They give an "Extra"-level generic monster, a minion version, and a named "Elite" one.
For instance, this is a normal skeleton:
this is the minion version:
and this is a "Elite" one:
Here's a generic orc, since (as we all know) orcs are the standard by which all other monsters are measured.
And lastly, here's a "named" mummy.
After this chapter, there's just a section with all the tables from the book, then the character sheets, and that's it. The end.
I'm not gonna lie; this thing was a slog by the end (as I'm sure you could tell by my writing right around the mass combat chapters). LoA's a pretty damn thick book, and I think that's one of the big hurdles it has. LoA came out a couple of years before the more refined version of Fate we got in the Dresden Files, and if you've read both books it shows. While Dresden Files and Legends of Anglerre are about the same length, Dresden feels like less of an utter slog. Part of it is the writing (DFRPG is easily one of the easiest reads ever done), but another, larger part of it is the fact that Dresden Files feels more focused.
Legends of Anglerre is clearly trying to be an all-in-one fantasy game. And on that count, it does succeed. But the price of that success is a lot of dead wood. The best example of this are the three chapters on mass combat. A lot fo the information there felt very repititious, and that's because for the most part it was. The only real difference between the three chapters was the scale the mass combat was operating at, and to be honest I can't figure out why they just didn't combine the three chapters into one chapter and just say "here's the mass combat stuff, here's how you scale it up and down". Naval combat rules are nice, but if they're mechanically the same as the squad combat excpet for a few stunts, then why give them their own chapter?
Likewise with the stunts. As people have pointed out, a lot of the stunts are either worthless or act as a sort of "feat tax". Which is interesting because the stunt design rules match the ones in Dresden Files, and that manages to not get bogged down in tons of stunts. The nearest I can figure is that the designers were coming from a 3.x mindset; it really shows in the equipment and stunt lists, because they have a good amount of unnessessary details in those two sections.
More than anything else, I think Legends of Anglerre could benefit from a second edition that takes more recent Fate revisions into account and made an effort to trim the fat. Pare down the number of Aspects characters get, and make them more focused. Remove the reliance on Stunt prerequisites and heavy Stunt trees; stunts should be cool extras, not required. Chop out the unessessary mass combat rules and repeated mechanics. Reduce the complexity of the gear section. You could probably slim the book down quite a bit and still make it playable.
So, my final verdict?
Despite the flaws, Legends of Anglerre is still one of the best all-in-one fantasy games out there. It's incredibly adaptable and easily adaptable. It scales really well, and rewards player and GM creativity pretty much from the first session. My advice (and the advice from the Fate thread):
1. Don't worry about weapon stats beyond how much damage they do, and maybe just use one Aspect per weapon/armor.
2. Ignore the stunts that are just there to unlock other stunts (Military Weapon Training, I'm looking at you).
3. Don't give experienced characters more Aspects. I've found that the more Aspects players need to keep track up, the less get used. I'd go with the Dresden Files "High Concept/Trouble/1st appearance/guest star 1/guest star 2" phases and cap things at seven or eight character Aspects.
All in all, if you're a fan of fantasy gaming who's sick of dealing with D&D's mechanical bullshit and edition warring, or if you just want something a little more freeform and supportive of actual player skill (in the non-bullshit non-"you didn't say you were checking every tile for traps!" way), then get a copy of Legends of Anglerre . It's $50 for the book and PDF, or just $25 for the PDF at RPGNow . A little pricey, true, but when you take into account you're buying an easily modified toolkit, you can get a lot of gaming bang for your buck.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to get back to not writing my Fate-based city setting for LoA.