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[World/Chronicles of Darkness] Rules-light replacement systems, and support for weirder fatsplats/fansplats.

CLAVDIVS

Postmodern Futurist
Validated User
This is something I've been pondering for a while, and I've probably posted about it before: I really want to find/make/hack a lighter system to use in place with the WoD or CofD games in place of Storytell[er|ing]. Something that's a little more purpose-built than a generic urban fantasy system, and is capable of accommodating the games' more interesting quirks and also running some of the stranger things to come out (both official and fan-made).

For instance, Demon: the Descent and Beast: the Primordial are two of the most weirdly wonderful things to come out of this line, IMHO. BUT, my system tastes had already shifted towards lighter than ST, and the second edition/God-Machine Chronicle pushed me further away; it's not that the new edition is bad per se (though I really didn't care for some the changes to Vampire and Werewolf), but it changed enough that I'd have to relearn much of the system and reread the rest to spot any tweaks I might easily miss, and I just can't muster the interest. I want to run those games, but I want a leaner, faster engine to do it with.

And that's before getting into the issue of fansplats, AU hacks, and my own stalled-out WoD Remix project. A lighter system would make things like "vampires but with Werewolf-like Integrity about responsible predation and they leave wastelands like Prometheans" or "The God-Machine is less hostile so you can play angels and do techgnostic In Nomine" a fair bit easier.

Regarding existing systems: Obviously, Qwixalted is a major inspiration, and likely to be a starting point for any hacking I do on my own. Another one is Microlite Storyteller, whose original page is gone but can be found via the Wayback Machine (the splats doc is here); I might roll some of its ideas into a Qwixalted hack.

There's a few versions of Fate that could work, too. The Dresden Files RPG and the recent Accelerated version (which is basically the second edition) are fine-tuned for urban fantasy and directly support inventing new creature types, but do have a few "Dresden-y" assumptions baked in (not a bad thing, but might lead to some tone clash). Atomic Robo is extraordinarily hackable, but also aims for its own tone and style by default. None of these are insurmountable; it's just a question of putting in the effort. There's also the prospect of just bodging a Fate implementation from the ground up, and stealing appropriate mechanics as needed, which all three said games could provide. (There's even a Fate Codex article about using Atomic Robo for Dresden, so you could start there.)

And there's other possible starting points, too. I've seen Cakebread & Walton's OneDice suggested for the genre, not just their dedicated urban fantasy book but also others like supers. It's been pointed out before that nearly any superhero system can do urban fantasy.

So, thoughts? I'm pretty much just spitballing here. I'm still torn between a Qwixalted/MLST hybrid or a Fate bodge as a starting point, so I haven't made much headway on either (plus I only just started thinking about it with any seriousness). I pretty much just want something that will let me run one of these weird chronicle ideas I have (especially online, which is where it'll likely be) without having to to familiarize myself with the current generation of the ST system. :eek:
 

Miss Atomic Bomb

Welcome to your life. There's no turning back.
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I'd go with Atomic Robo, personally. (Though if you'd wanted urban fantasy in general, rather than the Worlds of Darkness in particular, I'd stick with my usual suggestion of Buffy/Angel.)
 

TheMouse

garmonbozia
Validated User
My first instinct for this sort of thing is always Atomic Robo.

I think that the place I'd start is with skill mode formulation. For a non-mixed game, do up some skill modes for the splats; for a mixed game, do up modes for supernatural types. Build appropriate weird skills and mega-stunts/ normal stunts on the way. Then throw together some stuff that's appropriate for filling in character concepts. Maybe base some more modes on jobs or sorts of people. Occultist. Scientist. That sort of thing.

Dresden Files Accelerated is also really tempting.

I suspect that I might want to do a split mantle sort of thing. You know how some supernatural mantles (like were-creatures) get a mortal mantle as well? That sort of thing. So you choose from a list of maybe 5-10 mortal templates (or even half-templates, which is an idea I had that works about the way you'd think it would) and then something from the list of supernatural ones as well. Again, do up splat or type mantles based on whether it was a non-mixed or mixed game respectively.

I find mantles to be a little more intimidating at the moment. Perhaps because I really haven't made any up completely, whereas I've made up a small pile of skill modes (including some bonkers ones, like Kryptonian). So which of these two that I chose would depend on whether I wanted to avoid the new challenge or run straight into it.
 

CLAVDIVS

Postmodern Futurist
Validated User
Have you thought about Urban Shadows? I know I have for lighter WoD.
I have, but I'm concerned it might not work as well as I hope. It would basically require writing whole new playbooks for each new creature type, in addition to changing existing ones to fit.

I'd go with Atomic Robo, personally. (Though if you'd wanted urban fantasy in general, rather than the Worlds of Darkness in particular, I'd stick with my usual suggestion of Buffy/Angel.)
I'm not really familiar with those games at all, though I do have Ghosts of Albion in PDF. Classic Unisystem had a ton of urban fantasy options between Witchcraft and Armageddon, though. It doesn't solve the crunch problem, but I've seen attempts to convert it to Cinematic.

My first instinct for this sort of thing is always Atomic Robo.
(snip)
Dresden Files Accelerated is also really tempting.
(snip)
I do keep thinking about AR; I've seen people talk about using it for this genre before, but I've never been able to find completed weird modes, even to use as examples for my own efforts. I have kind of a hard time getting my head around them. For whatever reason, I had an easier time with mantles; it might be the combination of several examples and explicit permission to throw balance out the window.
 

TheMouse

garmonbozia
Validated User
I do keep thinking about AR; I've seen people talk about using it for this genre before, but I've never been able to find completed weird modes, even to use as examples for my own efforts. I have kind of a hard time getting my head around them. For whatever reason, I had an easier time with mantles; it might be the combination of several examples and explicit permission to throw balance out the window.
I find modes easy enough that I generally don't even bother keeping them. So I tend to lose them pretty quickly after I've finished. I write this one down and it's my go-to example because I seem to be able to find it over and over. It's also probably the weirdest weird mode I've ever made.

Kryptonian skill mode: Athletics, Cold Breath, Combat, Eye Beams, Notice, Physique, Science: Alien Lifeforms, Science: Kryptonian History, Science: Kryptonian Technology (10 points)

Absolutely stronger than a human (Physique) but weak against magic.

Bulletproof, but weak against Kryptonite.

Flight: Absolutely more mobile than a human (Athletics), at a cost (of constantly needing to catch people who are falling).

X-ray vision: Can ignore non-lead solid materials when making a vision based Notice roll.

Super hearing: Can make hearing based Notice rolls as though right next to the source of sound, even at a distance of several city blocks.

Eye Beams skill (3) attack, defend against beam attacks, defend against create advantage with beams, create advantage, overcome obstacles.

Cold Breath skill (1) defend against create advantage, create advantage by freezing someone or something, overcome obstacles.
 

CLAVDIVS

Postmodern Futurist
Validated User
Not a bad writeup. :) I think when I design modes myself, I have a hard time deciding what skills should be in it and how much mega-stunts should be worth.

As for Dresden Accelerated, I like what it does with conditions. The five-box tracks are practically tailor-made for WoD conversions, with several mantles already using them as a resource pool for powers. You could probably use them for Morality/Integrity if you wanted.

Another Fate resource I forgot to mention is Venture City. It's been said that nearly any superhero system can do urban fantasy, so there's probably plenty of ways the powers system could be applied.

The more I think about it, the more the idea of a Qwixalted approach loses my interest. I mean, I'd love it if it existed, and would probably use and hack it, but I don't know if I'm the guy to write it. The main advantage I think would be familiarity for people coming from the original system; I'm not sure it would actually make conversion of other material significantly easier, at least no easier than with Fate.
 

jsnead

Social Justice Dragon
Validated User
I'd go with Atomic Robo, personally. (Though if you'd wanted urban fantasy in general, rather than the Worlds of Darkness in particular, I'd stick with my usual suggestion of Buffy/Angel.)
A mixture of Buffy, Angel, and Ghosts of Albion is clearly a good choice, and has notably lighter rules than nWoD. Another similar option is HEX/Ubiquity. Using the Psi powers from Secrets of the Surface World and Revelations of Mars, and the magic from Secrets of the Surface World and Desolation, and the various creature abilities from Mysteries of the Hollow Earth and Revelations of Mars, you can do a lot, and the system is at least as simple as CinUni, and uses the same stat and skill range as nWoD. I could easily manage VtR & HtV, and both WtF, & MtA wouldn't be too hard. Honestly, the most difficult could be CtL & Geist.

These days, I find HEX even simpler, faster, and easier than CinUni, but they are both awesome systems, and far more of the work is done for you with CinUni.
 

tergiver

Registered User
Validated User
I've been having similar thoughts and leaning towards Cortex Plus Drama. There are some notes in the Cortex Plus Hacker's Guide for inspiration - using Hunger as a stress dice, for instance. Characters would have Approaches, Distinctions, Disciplines/Gifts and Relationships. Some of the higher level disciplines (puppet, mist form, mask of 1000 faces) would be SFX requiring a plot point to activate. Vampires would have 2d6 Prizes, Werewolves would have 2d6 Fetishes or Totems, etc.

I like the idea because it's freeform and easy to add weird disciplines or clans and also tinker with the SFX so vampires are less cookie cutter. If you want your vampire to talk to dead people, just dump that in as a power and replace a discipline.

The approaches would also shift depending on how the splat interacts with the world - my thought is that vampires would have Avoid, Charm, Endure, Force, Perceive, Manipulate and werewolves would have a different set like Force, Insight, Inspire, Sneaky, Quick.
 

elmerg

Registered User
Validated User
There are various OWoD Quickstarts which are much simpler, mostly using d6s and having some pared-down mechanics. Could start with those.
 
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