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[necro][Fate Core] Ideas for a low-powered WoD-alike game (or WitchCraft-alike, if you prefer)

CLAVDIVS

Postmodern Futurist
Validated User
Short version: A modern supernatural game using Fate Core, along the lines of either World of Darkness or WitchCraft, but relatively low-powered; supernatural beings have certain advantages, but don't often outclass individual humans by an extreme margin.

Longer version: A while back, I had an idea for a low-powered NWoD game, using only the 'bluebook' line; the major fatsplats just didn't exist. Instead of werewolves, there'd be skinchangers. Instead of mages, there'd be magicians and psychics from Second Sight. Instead of vampires, there'd-- okay, I never found a satisfactory replacement for vampires. Anyway, I started thinking about this whole thing again (the new Season of True Blood might've brought it to mind), and I had an even better idea: Now that Fate Core's out for real, why not use that and leave the WoD behind? Drop all the associated baggage and start from a clean slate. (Not that I don't like the WoD, but it seemed like it could be fun to build it all from the ground up with a minimum of preconceptions.) Some mechanical ideas could probably be taken from Dresden Files, which, even though it's licensed from a setting with its own rules, the system is pretty friendly towards kitbashing; even the canonical creature types are built using a common toolset.

So over the past week or two, I've been brainstorming, coming up with ways I'd want to to the usual modern supernatural players; sometimes going back to older folklore, sometimes sticking to modern versions from games and other media. Of course, these are just my own thoughts on the matter; whatever mechanics come out of this thread, anyone else is welcome to use for their own versions of things. But here's what I'm thinking for the time being:

Vampires are closer to the older folklore than modern fiction: They are, for the most part, simply the undecayed dead. While they can turn humans into more of their kind, there is no one continuous lineage; rather, a number of "self-made" vampires have risen throughout history, and continue to do so, occasionally building large families around themselves. They can usually pass for the living with ease, especially if they've recently fed; the consumption of blood halts and reverses their decay (as well as healing their wounds), and briefly restores to them the warmth and color of the living. But without it, they slowly desiccate and shrivel like an Andean mummy. Some are certainly capable of being charming or seductive, but others prefer to hunt by force and rip the memory's from their victims' minds with equal subtlety. While they typically sleep during the day, sunlight is extremely unpleasant rather than damaging, and prevents them from resting. Immersion in water, however, can destroy them; they aren't barred from crossing it, but many choose not to out of understandable fear.

The term "werewolf" has historically meant anyone who took the form of a wolf, whether by magic or curse. These days, it most commonly describes those with an inborn trait allowing them to take the form of a large wolf at will, though many prefer to call themselves "wolfblooded" for clarity. While not compelled to change during the full moon, many feel a strong urge to do so; it's very common to change for the first time by moonlight. While not immune to physical harm or gifted with near-instant regeneration, their overall greater vitality does help them to recover more quickly from whatever wounds they suffer, and the change can sometimes be as beneficial as a trip to the ER as the body tries to reshape itself as it should be. The wolf trait passes easily from parent to child, but many of those who inherit it never change: To awaken the wolf inside you, you have to kill.

Magicians, sorcerers, witches; each one seems to prefer a different word, but the power they wield is the same. Throwing about fire with a word or dominating weak minds with a glance seems to be beyond their limits, but with time and proper materials their versatility appears unmatched. Nearly anyone with enough mental focus can light some candles, draw a few runes in sidewalk chalk, and produce some real if difficult to prove effect; for many, this is enough. Others, though, are born with a certain spark, or are willing to enact the rites to claim one, that enables them to do more. The simple spells they learned from mass-market paperbacks come more easily to them, while more elaborate rituals and components bring them far greater results. There is disagreement among them as to whether their power comes from within, or from otherworldly entities they entreat, but the results are unmistakable. Among them are another type of "werewolf", as well, more commonly called skinchangers: Those who use their magic, most often with the aid of a specially prepared hide, to take the form of an animal.

A note on weaknesses: Folklore from many regions and periods lists a number of weaknesses and vulnerabilities for various supernatural beings, and they all seem to be equally true: That is, someone, somewhere probably suffers from it, but not everyone. Sometimes it's "merely" a phobia or compulsion, such as a werewolf recoiling from a sprig of wolfsbane or a vampire having to count mustard seeds. Other times, the effects are more tangible. In either case, the root of the problem is in the creature's own mind: Belief doesn't create magic, but it certainly helps shape it, and beings of magic can temporarily or permanently inflict nearly any folkloric weakness upon themselves simply by believing themselves subject to it. Sometimes upbringing is a factor, but this can often be overcome. Sometimes, though, an emotional trauma can inflict a new phobia or tangible vulnerability as a coping mechanism; this is particularly common in cases where one feels as though they are becoming more dangerous or less human, and internalize such a weakness as a way to let others protect themselves against them. Other times, a supernatural being spiraling deeper and deeper into psychosis will gather more weaknesses like a severe schizophrenic gathers delusions, losing nearly any ability to function. The rise of psychology as a science has been as much of a boon to the supernatural as it has to mundane humanity.

One weakness does seem to be nearly universal across all types of beings, however: Silver. Modern fiction remembers silver as a particular weakness of werewolves, but in older stories its ability to harm the supernaturally invulnerable was a property of the metal, not the creature. wounds inflicted with silver weapons are highly resistant to any kind of magical healing; even the moderate advantage of the wolfblooded is largely negated. Magicians, being simply human, are not particularly disadvantaged by it, but if used to treat such wounds even their spells and preparations will fail. It's not that it's any kind of "anti-magic" substance, either; many powerful ritual tools are made of silver. Rather, its magical potency seems to be the problem: it conducts magic as copper conducts electricity, and appears to "short out" the flow of energy that would otherwise aid in healing, or perhaps it channels the wielder's intent to harm and makes the wound itself a kind of spell.

And again, the current season of True Blood suggests a possible thematic undercurrent to the whole enterprise: Being a "supe" just isn't the big advantage is once was. Government databases and metadata harvesting make it harder to fake a new identity every generation. Claws and teeth aren't much compared to a high-powered rifle from a quarter mile away. The surveillance state makes it harder and harder to keep your secrets, and a moment's indiscretion can be all over Instagram before you know it. Even as the general populace is kept in the dark, the internet allows those few who know to meet and compare notes. And worst of all, by now it's just inconceivable that the governments of the world don't know what's out there... And yet, they've apparently done nothing. What are they planning? What are they waiting for? Did the Stargate Project pay off? What about these rumors of an armed response unit in the French police that only works at night, or an SAS platoon in Afghanistan that changes deployment zones every 29 days exactly?

As for mechanics, my thoughts aren't fully developed, but I've got some ideas. I initially wasn't that thrilled with the fantasy races rules from the Toolkit, but I think it could work brilliantly for this. Each type of being would be a 'race', like a template from WoD. So a vampire would have a Vampire skill in their pyramid, a werewolf would have a Werewolf skill, and so on. The most basic abilities would be covered by the skill itself, and additional powers could be handled as skill flavors or stunts. If we want, we could even make stress tracks based on them, unique to each type: hunger for vampires, for example. That's not the only possible approach, though: In another thread, TheMouse has a clever idea for using conditions to track a vampire's hunger (it doesn't need to be the full 14-point set, I don't think, if normal consequences are being used for damage and the conditions are just for an extra mechanic). I'd even had an idea of adapting the wealth stress mechanic, but I'm not sure how well that would actually turn out. for magicians, I was thinking of using The Subtle Art as a basic, single-skill starting point (make it their "racial" skill, essentially) but acknowledging it as genuinely real. As with gaining more vampire and werewolf powers, it can be expanded with stunts. And of course you can be a particular type of being and have its skill at zero; that would be appropriate for someone who's just started learning how to be a whatever-they-are.

I've got more detailed thoughts on vampires and werewolves, and I'm trying to formulate some for magicians, but this post is long enough as is. I'll follow up with more detail later. I'm also still contemplating what else might be in this world: Ghosts, faeries, psychics, it's all still undetermined.

In the meantime, though, what does everyone think?
 

TheMouse

garmonbozia
Validated User
Re: [Fate Core] Ideas for a low-powered WoD-alike game (or WitchCraft-alike, if you prefer)

It looks like you still remember the Conditions thing from the last time I suggested it, so you've saved me the effort there. :)

One of the neat ideas I've had on this subject is related to skills for supernatural creature types. The basic notion is that the skills are "better" than normal ones in that they do stuff you can't do otherwise, they're more broad, etc. The problem is that they come with disadvantages that correspond to the rating of the skill.

Say for instance you've got, I don't know, a Vampire skill. You roll your rating in Vampire to do things like charm a person into freezing in place, become a mist and pass through the space between a window and its frame, and that sort of thing. Cool stuff, in other words.

Unfortunately, it comes with a downside. The rating of your skill is automatically the strength of any obstacles based on your weaknesses. So if you have a hard time staying up and about in sunlight, every time you walk into the sun your Vampire skill gets added to all difficulties to be active and vigorous. And if silver harms you, half your Vampire rating gets added to the weapon rating of any silver weapons used against you. Stuff like that.

And of course, you can buy stunts to modify your Vampire skill. A lot of them work like normal, so you might get stuff like +2 to rolls to confuse a normal human with your tricksy gaze, or whatever. But some of the stunts are just sort of awesome. Like one that lets you fly, say. Unfortunately for you, you can only buy as many of the awesome stunts as you have points in the relevant supernatural skill.

This all basically means that you're tempted to to buy up your supernatural skill rating to do neat stuff, but doing so makes your life harder.
 

CLAVDIVS

Postmodern Futurist
Validated User
Re: [Fate Core] Ideas for a low-powered WoD-alike game (or WitchCraft-alike, if you prefer)

Okay, that's goddamn brilliant. Besides a difficulty modifier, your Vampire skill could also be your base difficulty to, say approach a cross or enter a home uninvited, if those are among your individual weaknesses (that is, unless those are just handled as aspects and compels). Like how in Dresden Files your refresh rate is a measure of how human you are, in this your skill level could be a measure of how human you aren't.

On the topic of those odd folkloric weaknesses, the idea came from a thought I had for my NWoD remix thread, that when your Morality trait gets low enough, you start getting new weaknesses instead of derangements. (Come to think of it, this might've originally come from a VtM supplement.) Say, when it drops below the level of your power stat. I'm not sure how I'd mechanically represent that in Fate; they could be taken as aspects, sure, but you only have so many. Temporary ones could perhaps be taken as consequences, particularly for mental stress. A thought I had just now while reading your post is that perhaps extra weaknesses could be taken to offset some of the limitations of your supernatural skill: Like, it it's already at the top of your pyramid at +5, and you already have five power stunts but want to buy a sixth, maybe taking an aversion to the sound of church bells can enable it.
 

TheMouse

garmonbozia
Validated User
Re: [Fate Core] Ideas for a low-powered WoD-alike game (or WitchCraft-alike, if you prefer)

Okay, that's goddamn brilliant.
Thank you.

Combined with the Conditions notion you linked to, it puts a bunch of meaningful player facing decisions into the game in a way that's pretty simple to track. Pop in some thematically chosen drawbacks from failure into successes, and you've got a bunch of interesting stuff going on there.

Besides a difficulty modifier, your Vampire skill could also be your base difficulty to, say approach a cross or enter a home uninvited, if those are among your individual weaknesses (that is, unless those are just handled as aspects and compels). Like how in Dresden Files your refresh rate is a measure of how human you are, in this your skill level could be a measure of how human you aren't.
This fits exactly with my thinking.

On the topic of those odd folkloric weaknesses, the idea came from a thought I had for my NWoD remix thread, that when your Morality trait gets low enough, you start getting new weaknesses instead of derangements. (Come to think of it, this might've originally come from a VtM supplement.) Say, when it drops below the level of your power stat. I'm not sure how I'd mechanically represent that in Fate; they could be taken as aspects, sure, but you only have so many. Temporary ones could perhaps be taken as consequences, particularly for mental stress. A thought I had just now while reading your post is that perhaps extra weaknesses could be taken to offset some of the limitations of your supernatural skill: Like, it it's already at the top of your pyramid at +5, and you already have five power stunts but want to buy a sixth, maybe taking an aversion to the sound of church bells can enable it.
Hm. Adding more disadvantages to justify buying more cool stuff could work. My concern with that is that it'll tend to mean that players will want to continue to dump advancement and char-gen resources into just their supernatural power stuff rather than other things. One of my motivators in restricting your super cool supernatural stunts to your rating is that you top that out pretty quickly, so you're forced to do other stuff in addition to being supernatural. I suppose that's less of a concern if all the PCs are different beasties, but I think it's worth keeping in mind.

Consequences as temporary, almost psychosomatic restrictions could be a thing. It makes sense, and it's easy to do. Obstacles and compels, and you're pretty much right there.
 

CLAVDIVS

Postmodern Futurist
Validated User
Re: [Fate Core] Ideas for a low-powered WoD-alike game (or WitchCraft-alike, if you prefer)

Hm. Adding more disadvantages to justify buying more cool stuff could work. My concern with that is that it'll tend to mean that players will want to continue to dump advancement and char-gen resources into just their supernatural power stuff rather than other things. One of my motivators in restricting your super cool supernatural stunts to your rating is that you top that out pretty quickly, so you're forced to do other stuff in addition to being supernatural. I suppose that's less of a concern if all the PCs are different beasties, but I think it's worth keeping in mind.
Yeah, that's a valid point. If there's a variety of powers available to each type, but a limit to how many one individual can have, then that forces players to specialize. If we do allow that at all, there should probably be some kind of hard limit...

Hm, what if taking an additional permanent weakness does take an aspect slot? There's only three available outside your high concept and trouble, so there's your hard limit, and it means not having another aspect in that slot that you might rather have. Additionally, it opens up the whole thing to interaction with extreme consequences: Get beaten to within an inch of the true death by a priest with a heavy silver cross, and maybe you're suddenly unable to feed on or use your powers against those wearing clerical vestments. But on the upside, you can invest one more stunt in vampire powers than you could before. The only downside is that I can't think of ways to invoke these kinds of aspects.

Have you checked out Bruce Baugh's Vampire hacks for FAE?

Numero uno.
Numero dos.
I have not, but I will now. I haven't yet checked out this "Fate Core Google+ community" I've heard about.
 

CLAVDIVS

Postmodern Futurist
Validated User
Re: [Fate Core] Ideas for a low-powered WoD-alike game (or WitchCraft-alike, if you prefer)

A few more thoughts before I head to bed: I haven't completely ruled out the idea of combining supernatural types. At least one bit of inspirational fiction supports the idea: Many of Dracula's powers were actually black magic learned at the Scholomance, rather than anything inherent to him being a vampire. (Some circumstances I've thought of while working on this could support other combinations, but I'll get to those as I post about the character types in more detail.) In any event, it doesn't seem impossible for a vampire or werewolf to also have learned magic. So how do we handle it?

If we use the thing TheMouse suggested about using skill to limit stunts, I think the way I'd prefer to do it is the total number of supernatural stunts is limited by the highest supernatural skill, while each category is limited by its respective skill. So if you've got Vampire +4 and Magic +2, you're limited to four supernatural stunts, only two if which can be Magic-based. I suspect allowing four Vampire stunts and two Magic stunts would be overpowered and pose a severe risk of lasersharking.

EDIT: As per the race rules in the toolkit, I'm wondering if I want to make stunts that unlock additional skill flavors exempt from the limit, and have it only apply to those stunts that go above and beyond with powers. I'll have to think about it; it'll probably be more clear once I have some actual skill and stunt writeups.

I've also considered that maybe having a second supernatural skill should have some kind of buy-in. Maybe a stunt or even a point of Refresh. Going in the other direction, I had initially assumed PCs would be some variety of supe, but if someone wants to play an ordinary mortal, maybe that should be worth an extra point of Refresh. (So, basically, supernatural templates would be worth a Refresh point each.)

Expect vampires sometime tomorrow. (A quick teaser comment: No one craves life like the dead.)
 
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Sovem

En Kai Monon
Validated User
Re: [Fate Core] Ideas for a low-powered WoD-alike game (or WitchCraft-alike, if you prefer)

I have nothing to add, except I love all this, and the linked threads I would've never seen if not posted here. I can't wait til the toolkit is available to purchase.
 

CLAVDIVS

Postmodern Futurist
Validated User
Re: [Fate Core] Ideas for a low-powered WoD-alike game (or WitchCraft-alike, if you prefer)

(This turned out longer than I expected. I'll post the fluff for now, then come back after I take a break and get something to nosh to post my thoughts on the crunch.)

Vampires

No one craves life like the dead.

From a vampire's first moment of existence in their new state, the fact of their death is inescapable. There's no smooth transition from life to undeath as in Anne Rice; while the change must be initiated while they still live, it doesn't allow them to skip the experience of dying. And from the moment they first drift slowly back to consciousness at the next next sunset to when they finally rise -- often from their grave -- on the third, the truth is hammered into them: They are DEAD.

Because, despite regaining consciousness much earlier, a newly-made vampire can't rise until rigor mortis has faded.

It's not unheard of for vampires to go mad over those first few nights, frozen in place in their coffin. Some don't realize what's going on, thinking they'll be trapped in their lifeless corpse for eternity. Even those told what to expect find their gnawing hunger unbearable. When their limbs finally begin to loosen, some cannot bear to wait for full mobility and claw their way free, shambling and groaning like a zombie, in search of prey. (Interestingly, a few have found hopping easier than walking and turning in place very difficult, which seems to have inspired some unique legends in China.)

Once the new vampire has fed, they finally find themselves able to think about things other than their desperate need for blood; for some, this is the moment when their conscience returns to them with the impact of a freight train, as they stand over a still-warm corpse. If they were lucky enough to have a sire interested in preserving their sanity, though, arrangements will have been made, such as a willing vessel (and the sire ready to intervene to keep them alive) or someone they've agreed beforehand deserves to die. A few have fed their progeny while still stiff, but most consider the experience of uncontrollable hunger and their first feeding an important rite of passage or object lesson.

Feeding brings another sensation to vampires, beyond simple satiation: A beating heart. As their body absorbs the swallowed blood, their heart springs to, well, not life, but action, pumping it through their arteries. It only lasts a short time, a few minutes at most, but most vampires find it to be an incredible rush, a short window of time where they can feel almost alive again. In more practical terms, though, the blood they consume halts and reverses the decay of their bodies. Thankfully, the process of their creation sterilizes them, so the bloating and stench of bacterial decomposition doesn't occur. Any damage that may have been done to them by embalming or an autopsy (other than the removal of the heart, that is) will also be repaired, as well as injuries they may have sustained, but this can take time. Without blood, a vampire's body will desiccate and shrivel, their flesh eventually beginning to slough away. On a more metaphysical level, the blood fans the flame of a vital essence, either given to them by their sire or stolen from a living victim, which animates them in the absence of their own.

This stolen essence is what makes vampires what they are. While they can make more of their own, there is no consistent, unbroken lineage from the first of their kind to those newly made. Rather, a number of "self-made" vampires have cropped up throughout history, and still do, some founding powerful families and others fading into obscurity. The nature of this essence determines the nature of a given lineage, and is the origin of many myths associating vampires with various animals: The source doesn't need to be human. in ancient times, owls were a popular choice, as were wolves in much of Europe. Ravens have been used less commonly, and in modern times a rare few have even used bats. Details of their powers and appearance are often affected by this choice, and even their personality can be influenced. An "owl-blooded" vampire, as they're generally called, may be able to move in utter silence, see long distances and fine details even in near-total darkness, and perhaps glide or even fly; they often prefer to hunt by stealth and silent ambush, and they may have wide, staring eyes and occasional bird-like movements. A wolf-blooded vampire could have a powerful sense of smell and inexhaustible stamina, and may prefer to stalk and chase their prey to exhaustion (a tactic that has become far riskier in the information age); their fangs may resemble canine teeth when visible. During times of war in centuries past, raven-blooded vampires would haunt battlefields, feeding from the dying and freshly dead, their carrion-bird nature giving them a greater ability to find nourishment from stale blood. And of course, an ability to transform into the animal in question is generally an option, if difficult to learn. A number of human-blooded vampires exist as well; of all varieties, they most closely resemble the charming, seductive and "sexy" vampires of modern fiction and cinema.

Some self-made vampires have accomplished the feat via elaborate rituals, but there is no real need. All that's necessary is a dying person, a source of vital essence to steal, and the will to take it. Some have ritually sacrificed an animal (or a person), drinking its blood as they slit their own throats; others have simply lashed out in desperation or fury in their final moments. One wolf-blooded lineage from northern Europe was founded when a man lost in the woods was set upon by starving wolves, and bit into the neck of one as it mauled him. (Fortunately for him, the wolves sensed the change in him as he died, and refused to eat him; vampires who are exposed to the elements as they wait to rise are typically avoided by scavengers.)

Ultimately, the powers available to vampires only tend to correlate to the type of essence that animates them, rather than being rigidly bound to it. Those of avian lineage are more likely to be able to fly, but they don't seem to have a strict monopoly. Enhanced senses often follow those of the animal in question, but it can still vary. The ability to charm or manipulate minds is more common among the human-blooded, but nearly all find it useful, while superhuman strength and speed seem universally available. Stranger powers like turning into mist are extremely difficult to learn and costly to perform, but no one type seems to have an edge.

Weaknesses are more consistent, barring those the vampire imposes on oneself. Despite the claims of modern fiction, sunlight poses no great danger to vampires, but it is distinctly unpleasant, causing a hot, stinging sensation like a heat lamp; vampires lose much of their ability to enjoy the sight of a sunrise or the warmth of a summer day. Exposure to the sun prevents them from resting and recuperating during the day, leaving them feeling fatigued and even malnourished, even if they've fed (the light prevents their blood from fully restoring them as they sleep). They're perfectly willing to allow the misconception to continue, however, as a number of would-be vampire hunters have thrown open a set of blackout curtains to find that all it accomplished was waking their target.

Water, however, is a universal bane. They aren't prevented from crossing it, but many avoid doing so out of understantable fear, especially if it's running swiftly. Immersion in water can destroy a vampire as quickly as a living person can drown; in fact, vampires who've survived the experience say that it feels a great deal like drowning, even though they no longer need to breathe. This only applies of the water is capable or sustaining life, however: If it's too polluted or devoid of oxygen, its effects will be reduced or even negated. It doesn't have to be running water, strictly speaking, but it will usually make it more difficult for the vampire to escape.

A stake, or any weapon for that matter, that pierces the heart can also incapacitate a vampire, but will not kill them on its own. Even when not physically beating, the heart is still the hub from which a vampire's blood is circulated, and if it's damaged, that blood cannot flow to where it's needed. Of course, a vampire's heart will just regenerate first, and then distribute blood to other damaged areas, expelling small objects like bullets or shrapnel along the way. If the weapon fully pierces the heart and is left in place, however, the heart is unable to heal around it. If the vampire is in otherwise healthy condition, they may have a few moments to attempt to pull the weapon free, but if not, they fall unconscious in short order. Left alone, they will starve and wither, but won't truly die; as weakened as they may be, once the stake is removed, the vampire will be fully conscious again, hungry for both blood and revenge.

To actually kill a vampire, beheading is the most popular choice. Complete removal of the heart will work as well, but is more difficult. Most people intent on killing a vampire will burn them, just to remove all doubt. Vampires don't crumble or disintegrate at the moment of death, but the decay they've been holding off catches up to them in a matter of hours, typically reducing them to bones and dust.

Of all supernatural beings, vampires have perhaps been hit hardest by the information age. The sheer number of cameras makes it nearly impossible to feed in London, for example. Government databases are making it harder and harder to fabricate new identities. Cell phones make it far easier for would-be prey to call for help, or for witnesses to document an attack. In the 21st century, older vampires who've refused or failed to adapt have been dropping like flies, hunted down either by humans who spotted their indiscretions as they appeared on Instagram or Youtube (taken as fakery by the masses, but those in the know can often tell the difference), or other vampires who took it upon themselves to eliminate a threat to their secrecy.

While their unlives continue, though, vampires are... somewhat prone to hedonism, to put it diplomatically. As mentioned at the beginning, the fact of their death is mercilessly and unmistakably driven home in their last moments alive and their first nights of undeath. In response to this, many throw themselves into whatever pleasures they feel they missed out on in life. The fact that so few of the risks they would have face before still apply only fuels their enthusiasm. Hunger deadens the pleasures of the senses, but if well fed they seem almost heightened. STIs and pregnancy are no concern, nor are overdose or chemical addiction; even of harder drugs hold no appeal, it's common for vampires to take up smoking, as they can enjoy the flavor of the tobacco and the rush of the nicotine without the cravings or withdrawal. Music and art seem more beautiful, parties more lively, and excitement of a new lover more intoxicating. Food and drink can even be enjoyed in small quantities with practice, but often serve only as an appetizer as the vampire revels in the company of an all-you-can-eat buffet.

No one craves life like the dead.

They crave it as a hungry man craves a steak.
 

CLAVDIVS

Postmodern Futurist
Validated User
Re: [Fate Core] Ideas for a low-powered WoD-alike game (or WitchCraft-alike, if you prefer)

Alright, mechanics.

As mentioned, vampires are treated as a race according to the Fate System Toolkit (on page 35 of the backer preview). Being a vampire should be mentioned in your high concept, and should at least inform your thinking when coming up with your trouble. One or two of your other aspects should either come from the list of suggested vampire aspects, or be something you came up with your own along similar lines. For inspiration, here's some of the more interesting aspects from the vampire builds presented in Legends of Anglerre:
Unsettling Aura
Pale and Noble
Ancient and respected aristocrat
Sophisticated and decadent
“Come into my house, and leave a little of the happiness you bring with you here...”
Humans are cattle, food to sustain me!
Heart-breaking tragedy

Now that your aspects say you're a vampire, you can take the Vampire skill. (If you're a rank noob, you don't have to; if you leave it at +0, but you can still use it.) At their most basic, vampires are predators that feed on humans, so the most basic function of the skill should reflect that: Vampire is the skill you roll to attempt to bite someone and drink their blood. If you inflict a consequence, you've gotten a taste and can benefit from it as described below. In addition, the skill should have a few additional 'flavors', other things it can be used for. You get to pick one of these for free; the others cost a stunt each. (I'm still considering not making these count against the stunt limit, but we'll see.) These should be thematically vampiric, but really basic abilities; maybe the ability to substitute Vampire for certain other skills at the risk of gaining hunger stress: For example, if you pick Vampiric Strength as you free flavor, you can roll Vampire in place of Physique, but doing so burns up some of your blood reserve. This would be conceptually equivalent to spending blood points to boost physical attributes in either classic or new Vampire.

(As mentioned, additional vampire powers would be bought as stunts, the more powerful ones requiring others as prerequisites. I don't really like the idea of applying a minimum skill level; if stunts are constrained by skill, then the prereqs are enough. Otherwise, the difficulty of rolls to use them can be set appropriately. I don't have much in the way of concrete thoughts for specific powers, though.)

As just mentioned, you gain another stress stress track, called hunger. As usual, it starts at two boxes and is improved by your Vampire skill. Rather than causing consequences, Hunger stress can be bought off with conditions (page 19 of the Toolkit preview). Since the conditions aren't replacing consequences in their entirety but just working as a subsystem, the full 14-point set isn't used. Instead, vampires have just two conditions specific to hunger stress: Starving (sticky) and Ravenous (lasting). If your Vampire skill is +5, you can mark Hungry a second time, rather than gaining an extra mild consequence slot. As hunger stress builds, these conditions may be used to buy it off. Additionally, any time you fail a roll to use a vampiric power, you can mark a condition as a major cost for success. The condition used must have a stress value at least equal to the margin of failure. If you're Starving, the condition can be cleared by feeding and inflicting at least a mild consequence. (If you have two Starving conditions thanks to Vampire +5, and they're both marked, you can only clear one of them for a single mild consequence, or both for a moderate.) If you're Ravenous, you can begin recovery by feeding and inflicting at least a moderate consequence. If all your hunger conditions are marked, further hunger stress can only be bought off with consequences, which cannot be marked as treated until after you've fed.

I'm not certain yet how hunger stress should build up. It could work like in Dresden Files, but I'm not sure how much I like it for this; DF vampires seem to be able to go for quite a long time without feeding as long as they're careful with their powers. Or we could use something like DF's mechanic in addition to a regular time-based cost (off the top of my head: each evening when you wake, mark one box or move a mark to the next higher box). One possible source could be a minor cost for success on a tie to use a vampiric power. In any event, since it will probably gather slowly and won't clear at the end of the scene like normal stress, it should probably be possible to buy it off with conditions or consequences after the fact. I think it should be fairly easy to recover hunger stress when you do feed, though, perhaps just clearing the track when you inflict a consequence.

I've been going back and forth on how to handle vampiric healing; there's probably a good few ways to deal with it. My first instinct is to allow the Vampire skill to be used for recovery: Since it would only be useful for the character with the skill, I think we can do away with the -2 penalty for treating yourself. (Although if we want vampires to be able to give others their blood to help them heal, we could turn things around and apply the penalty there.) This would count as a use of vampiric powers, and thus have the risk of generating hunger stress or conditions. Feeding could perhaps accelerate healing as well: instead of recovering from hunger conditions, maybe an already-treated consequence could be downgraded one step (or even cleared entirely) by inflicting an equal or greater one on a victim. A vampire who was prevented from resting in darkness that day, though, cannot recover from consequences normally. If we allow feeding to accelerate it, though, they can eliminate a consequence by stepping it down below mild.

Of course, if a consequence was inflicted with a silver weapon, none of this applies. The Vampire skill can't be used to treat it, and feeding can't accelerate recovery. It must be treated by an appropriate skill as if you were mortal, which means taking that -2 penalty if you're doing it yourself, and waiting for it to fade as normal. Even gorging on blood won't speed it up.
 
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