Game Mechanics

Discussion & setup for another shot at an Amber game.

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Wyvern
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Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 8:50 pm

Game Mechanics

Post by Wyvern » Wed Feb 22, 2017 2:34 pm

As noted, I'm using Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) as the base rule-set, with one big exception (no dice rolling), and a few setting-specific mechanics and adjustments. If you're not familiar with FAE, you should go follow that link now, as the rest of this post likely won't make too much sense without it.

Approaches: A starting PC gets 15 points to spread among their six approaches. I suggest using either 5/3/3/2/2/0 or 4/4/3/3/1/0, but there are plenty of other options. No approach may start higher than 5, and I will disallow multiple approaches at +5. You may also choose to create a character with less than 15 points spent; in this case you can spend the points at any later time, potentially even mid-fight ("I'm not left-handed either!")

Compels & Dooms: A regular compel can be turned down without expending a fate point. A Doom is an aspect representing something that will go wrong - generally acquired from pushing your powers past their normal limits. A compel on a Doom aspect does require a fate point to buy off - and if you do buy it off, you keep the Doom; accepting the compel, by contrast, removes the Doom (but does not grant a fate point). (To those familiar with the Dresden Files rules, a Doom aspect functions much like a point of sponsor debt.) For example, walking the Pattern grants you the "Pawn of Fate" Doom (and a physical consequence) even if you are successful; Hellriding somewhere also grants a Doom - either that same "Pawn of Fate", or something specific to the ride.
Four extra rules on Dooms:
1: For one scene after acquiring a Doom, you may turn down compels on that Doom without spending a fate point. In addition, after spending a fate point to buy off a compel on any Doom, you may turn down compels on Doom aspects without spending fate points for the rest of that scene.
2: If you are in a conflict, and wish to concede, you can buy off a Doom by turning that concession into a full take-out result (narrated by the GM even if the conflict is between two players); you are entitled to know what the take-out would result in before you make this decision.
3: "I can spend a fate point to do X without acquiring a Doom" is a valid stunt effect. Most of the Elder Amberites can be assumed to have the Shadowrider stunt that allows them to Hellride places with just a fate point cost.

Refresh & Recovery: A normal pencil & paper fate game uses 'game sessions' as a natural time-frame for fate point refresh and consequence recovery. A forum game doesn't have that - and just to further complicate the issue, fast-time shadows allow a canny PC to quickly recover from even near-mortal physical injuries. I don't - yet - have a good idea of how to address these issues, and would welcome suggestions.

Wyvern
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Posts: 2219
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 8:50 pm

Re: Game Mechanics

Post by Wyvern » Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:23 pm

Approaches! I've renamed some of them; the original name of each is listed in parentheses. If you want to rename them again, or use the original approaches on your sheet, this is fine by me.

Power (forceful): Physical force, magical might, force of personality, willpower, etc. Will frequently be paired with an aspect representing the type of Power a character wields; a mighty barbarian warrior and an ancient wizened wizard could both favor the Power approach, but would use it in very different ways.
Exemplars of Power are Gerard (who focuses on physical power) and Brand (who focuses on mystic power).

Focus (careful): Concentration, attention to detail, precise movement, and (also) willpower. Useful for finding & disarming traps, picking locks, keeping watch through a long and boring night, telling the difference between a genuine owl hoot versus a scout's signal, memorizing codebooks, remembering a diplomat's face and family history when you last saw them a decade ago, lining up a sniper shot, and making the very precise motions and pronunciations needed for (most forms of) spellcasting.
Exemplars of Focus are Fiona (the Elder Amberite's premiere mystic and sorceress), and Benedict (whose combat style is very precise).

Craft (clever): Analysis and things with (perhaps too many) moving pieces. Useful when working with devices, devising new spells, examining a contract (or other legal document) for flaws, analyzing weaknesses in someone's combat style, or setting up an elaborate Xanatos-gambit style scheme being Batman. Note that actually firing a gun will usually be focus or quick rather than craft... unless you're doing something clever like targeting a weak point or analyzing their movements to shoot at where they will be instead of where they are.
Exemplars of Craft are Julian (who has ended up holding primary responsibility for keeping the Grand Trunk lines running), and Eric (whose mastery of craft tends more towards its military and political applications than mere pedestrian devices).

Sneak (sneaky): Subterfuge, deceit, misdirection, and remaining unnoticed. Useful for feinting in combat, twisting the truth, pocketing the ball in a shell game, and so on and so forth.
Examplars of Sneak are Cain, and... um... hm. On second thought, everyone knows Caine is sneaky, disreputable, and untrustworthy; perhaps he's only second-best and some other Elder is has avoided even the reputation of deviousness. Llewella, maybe? Or Corwin, that moody recluse?

Flair (flashy): The art of doing things in ways that look impressive, Flair is the favored approach of the swashbuckler (and some con artists). Will often have slightly higher difficulties than using other approaches, but this is generally counterbalanced by its ability to be used for a very wide variety of actions.
Exemplars of Flair are Bleys (exuberant, rash, and capable of turning almost any action into a grand gesture), and Florimel (whose use of flair is more subtle than Bleys' but no less effective).

Quick (quick): For when things need doing now; quick is also the default approach when you're going places or getting out of (or into) the way of things.
Exemplars are Random (an expert in fleeing the consequences of his - or anyone else's - actions), and Benedict (whose reflexes are finely tuned for combat - and yes, he's on this list twice; there are reasons his younger siblings fear the eldest of Oberon's children.)

Wyvern
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Posts: 2219
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 8:50 pm

Re: Game Mechanics

Post by Wyvern » Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:29 pm

A starting character gets:
  • Five aspects, which must include a High Concept and a Trouble.
  • Fifteen points to distribute among the six approaches (max of +5, and no more than one approach at +5).
  • Three free stunts.
  • One free Power. (If you have - or later gain - more than one power, this always applies to your most expensive Power.)
  • Three refresh, of which up to two can be spent on additional stunts or Power(s).
Powers cost refresh & aspects. A minor Power (being a werewolf) costs one refresh. A slightly broader one (Collegitat Mage) costs two. Pattern costs three. All powers - regardless of their potency - must be referenced by at least one aspect, though the reference does not need to be direct, nor does it need to be one-to-one. For example, "Scion of Julian's Folly" could be read as referencing both Felwood (and justifying being a werewolf) and as being a literal child of Julian (and thus also justifying a Pattern attunement).

Wyvern
Prismatic Pangolin
Posts: 2219
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 8:50 pm

Re: Game Mechanics

Post by Wyvern » Thu Mar 02, 2017 3:15 pm

Weapon and Armor ratings: If you have a weapon rating of W, a successful attack does +W shift(s) of effect - this doesn't help you hit, but it means it hurts more when you do. If you have an armor rating, that works the other way around, subtracting shifts from attacks against you, to a minimum of zero - a successful attacker still gets a Boost (a temporary aspect that they can freely invoke once - but then it goes away) no matter how much armor you have.

Weapon and Armor ratings are (deliberately) set to very low values for this game - most of the time, PC skill will matter more than whether you're using a fist or a broadsword or a rifle. Powers, by default, allow weapon/armor ratings equal to their refresh cost minus one when they're being used as direct attacks or defenses - though some will also have special rules. (For example, Pattern can't be used as a direct attack under normal circumstances - but in exchange, it offers a notably stronger defensive benefit when used to protect its wielder from other Powers.)

In terms of mundane weapons and armor:
  • Weapon rating 1 is grenades, machine guns, a war-lance from a charging knight, a heavily enchanted sword in its native high-magic shadow, and anything else that can be expected to outright kill unarmored or lightly armored targets, but might not be effective against, say, a tank.
  • Armor rating 1 is roughly the inverse equivalent - a suit of full plate, a set of modern tactical armor designed to take a sniper round to center of mass and then stand up again, the personal shielding spells of an archmage relying on local magic in a high-magic shadow, and so on and so forth.
  • Weapon and armor ratings of 2 are typically reserved for vehicle-scale weaponry - the armor and cannons of an Iron Dragon, for example. For a non-mundane example, Julian's armor offers an armor rating of 2, and Corwin's Pattern-inscribed sword Greyswandir offers a weapon rating of 2 against certain targets - though it's worth noting that both items are major artifacts that have an associated refresh cost (and might reasonably be considered Powers all on their own).

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