Kids On Bikes

So I started working on a FATE campaign for the first time in a while.  Ever the Timely pursuer of ideas, I am writing a Kids on Bikes game.

Set in an Iconic little town called Picayune, I built the town to be super light, briefly sketching out potential hot spots (Heres the one page Google Doc if you care to see) with the intention being picking two or three per adventure and focusing in on them.

From the get go there is an ominous undertone, that picks up speed with each one shot. Each adventure happens in the same town, but for some reason Adults isn’t, won’t or  don’t remember the last weird thing that happened. Not even all the kids remember everything from adventure to adventure. The hope is that what will start as a Fun, Goonies-esq series of Kids on Bikes series of adventures starts to leave the players asking more questions.

Whats been interesting though, is planning for no fights. Kids on Bikes is not Violence free, and not danger free, but its not about the fighting. Guns are things a villains might produce to be extra intimidating, but not used for anything more then effect. Its been fun and interesting to work around Kids as protags.


Fate: Survial

I have been watching a lot of Post Apoc/Survival movies (Both Zombies and otherwise) and debating how to apply them to fate. The easy first step is Episode titles as Survival Aspects/Consequences. The episode title, in a lot of ways foreshadows the issues they will be facing in this episode, and works delightfully as double edged sword. But that’s easy.

The other thing I was thinking about is how to distinguish peoples skills more clearly. Certainly Aspects are one way to go with this. I am thinking of an episode where a guy has a tank. who certainly has the aspect that boils down to: Yep… I Have a tank. and a Dr almost certainly has one that is gonna be handy when patching folks up. But one of the trademark things in these stories is what happens when that person is gone/dead/or not int he scene and it needs to happen? Especially in Fate Accelerated, one solution is narrative penalties, or higher difficulties, or limited aspect use, but I was pondering a way to make specialty skills as stunts.

So, Stunts a specializations here we go.

Certain skills require training. In a survival setting, You’re skill as a driver of a Civic, just doesn’t translate super wlel to driving a tank. that first aid training you got is not the best when a leg needs to come off. and so without an appropriate stunt, you roll is capped at your skill (or approach) on the dice. You can still use aspects if you roll like poop, but you cap out without an appropriate stunt (And in an even more hard core mode, maybe aspects still run into the cap…).

Anyway, I feel like stunts are fast and easy can you can pick them up more on the fly without them being major parts of your character. learning to Farm might be a major character arc and worth an aspect. learning how to chop someones arm off and not kill them when they are bit or how to overhaul an engine and make it purr like a kitten? Might be a stunt.

Negative invocation

I ran a little experiment the other night on a FATE one shot. It was a Magic based game where Spells were Aspectunts (A weird middle ground) that were accessed by fate points. I tossed out there that people could negatively invoke take a -2 before they roll, and collect a Fate point (Normal rules of aspects application, Logic/story and calling out). I can’t, for the life if me, remember where I stole this idea from, but expect its not novel. What I can say is it was awesome.

The Highlights for me:

  • It helped outsources the learning of aspects, bringing to the table the aspects that people cared about more frequently to help me learn more about there characters more easily, and allowed me to get a better handle on compels. and man it was way less of a headache for a one shot.
  • Brought out More Story. Encouraging people to use their aspects negatively helped shape their characters.
  • Increased the flow of Fate points. When you needed Fate to do magic, this was nice to know you could have options,
  • Mechanically i pondered about applications before and after, and felt the risk factor of starting in the hole was more interesting. Also with only allowing a single invocation of a given aspect, if you tank the roll it really can lead to some interesting failures.
  • Most importantly, People Loved it.

I think I’ll stick with it for my next one shot.

Collaborative Spell Casting in FAE, take 1

So I am working on a American School of Wizardry, loosely based on Harry Potter universe, called Corvus Academy. You might have heard me randomly mention it now and again. Anyway, this has left me pondering the idea of a Harry potter style magic, via FATE and I had an interesting take on it. It might be to complicated, but here we go.

So to start with we are using FAE, with the 6 standard approaches, additionally there are 9 magic skills, one for each of the class of magic at the Corvus Academy, namely Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Viturgy, Transmutation, General Studies (Which probably less spells, and might be a “Knowledge” skill, TBD). They all start at Terrible (-2), but will go up at character creation.

Next you have the Spells. They are kinda hybrids of Stunts and Aspects, but basically they have an effect and a bad Latin name. They also have a rating, much like skills. Average Spells (+1), Medicore spells (+0), Fantastic spells (+6), even Terrible (-2) spells. The better the spell, the higher the rating. They can be created on the fly (“Oh I read this in a book to fix your broken pencil”), like scene aspects, but the most popular are the ones for each class that are determined each year. These are probably spells that are going to be important due to plot, or tied to the world in some way. They are decided upon for the whole semester, and while they do not represent EVERYTHING you learn in a given class, its good short hand.

Side note: Each semester a Student can keep one of those spells, writing its name on their sheet. It will be easier for them to cast moving forward, in some fashion.

Now on to the collaborative casting… the good stuff. Spells need to be powered by Fate points, which limits their uses in a vacuum. However, Spells can be given free innovations like scene aspects. All you have to is make an Approach+Magic Type check. The target is the rating of the Spell. So Bob could create a free invocation of the “Wallius Supremus” That he could use next turn, OR (and more interestingly) give to Jane, which she could then use. In pay I see Bob Yelling to Jane, “Quick! use that spell Professor Tenebrious taught us last semester to secure that wall!” The higher the Roll, the more free invocations… Probably.

Still in early Alpha here, so let me know your thoughts!

Dag Nabit

So I did not get the FATE writers gig. No harm done. I realized based on the very cool and throughout response that I think my image of fate and what FATE core is have drifted far enough apart I should do a check in.

To that end, I am poking my head back in over at the G+ group that I seldom visit and might even open up Corvus for some scrutiny.

Ah well. next time I’ll blow their socks off.

On FATE and Evil Hat writing

So I recently submitted to “So you wanna be a writer for Evil Hat” cause, you know, it’s what you do.

I was impressed with their writing task, and wanted to share what I ended up with (The Challenges are in Italics). I removed the mark ups and formatted as best I could:

The Challenges

Rules: Limit the word-count for each challenge to 250 words.

1: Relationships - You've been contracted to design a Fate Core based relationship system for a romance-themed RPG. Your design directive is to make the relationship system more detailed than simply "relationships are aspects," making use of the Fate Fractal to give them more depth, more teeth. Summarize the system you would design, in 250 words or less. (In other words: Rather than fully implement the system in detail, show us what the one-page hand-out of the system would look like.)

My Entry

In XXX, relationships are more than abstract concepts, they are as real as people with stories and drama woven among all participants. As participants talk over the ins and outs of the relationship, start thinking about the following building blocks.

Building a Relationship

All participants must tie themselves to the relationship in a meaningful way with aspects and refresh, as well as track it’s status. For more details see page XX

  • Select at least one Relationship aspect reflecting your connection. It is tracked by all participants, but it is yours.
  • Give up at least 1 personal refresh. Refresh used this way becomes the <term>Relationship Refresh Pool</term>. All members who pitch in have access refresh pool.
  • Participants have a Relationship Stress Track equal to 1 plus refresh investment.

Customizing a Relationship

When building a Relationship, you can leave it be with the participant aspects and refresh pool or you may deepen the relationship in the following ways.

Shared aspects that can be accessed by all members of the relationship.

  • 1 refresh per aspect, agreed upon by a majority.
  • If one is tagged, the fate point is put in the relationship’s Refresh Pool.

Shared stunts that represent pooled resources.

  • 1 refresh per stunt.

These to reflect odd circumstances and problematic conditions.

  • Counts as permanent personal Consequence: Mild (-2), moderate (-4) and Severe (-6).
  • Adds +1, +2, or +3 to relationship refresh.


  • 1 refresh increase all participants Relationship Stress Tracks by 1.

For more details see page XX

2: Combat Options - You've been asked to add a few combat options to a Fate Core based game featuring superpowered PCs infected by alien nanites. One vector for doing this is by adding a few new side-effects that the player can choose from (besides getting a boost) when succeeding with style on an attack or defense. List up to five such side-effects as you would design them.

My Entry

Flash in the Pan: Your nanites are cooking up a storm all around you. Maybe they are on a purge cycle or they are acting to unconsciously defend you. Because of it everything in the zone takes 1 point of stress.

Pushing the Limits: Your nanite activity is off the chart, power flows through your veins, and you feel the rush of possibility. Perhaps you are unlocking a new ability or finding some muscle memory native to the nanties. For the next use of your power, add an additional +1df. If you take this side effect and succeed with style again, you may take +2df. You may do so up to an additional +4dF

One Step Closer…: Your have unlocked something new. Perhaps the nanites are adapting to the environment or maybe they are just making you better. You may replace one of your existing powers with another as if it was between adventures. You may do this once per power, per adventure.

Reallocation of Resources: In life or death moments, your nanites reassess your priorities. Maybe they shut down some internal organs for a bit or cut off some of the higher functions of your brain to give you a boost. You take 1 point of a stress of your choice, but regain one FP.

Wrecked the Place: Your surroundings are no longer structurally sound. Maybe you cracked a support beam with that last blow or the floor was not meant to absorb this much damage. The scene now has the aspect Wrecked.

3: Humanity in VillainyIn a fantasy setting you're working on, the Big Bad Villainess has some very human reasons for doing the awful things she does. In 250 words or less, write up a bio for this character that sheds light on these reasons and offers at least two strong hooks for interaction and play opportunities for the PCs that cross her path.

My Entry

History shall record me a villain, and I shall play my role. But before you judge me, look in the mirror and ask yourself if you would have had the courage to act differently than I…
-Caroline, Regent of the Last Light

Caroline, Regent of the Last Light is a strong, brilliant, but ruthless figure. Displaying incredible talents at a young age, she joined the Order of the Last Light and soon became their head. Wholeheartedly knowing their prophecies to be true, she saw the forthcoming apocalypse that awaited humanity if it did not purge the taint of magic.

With the power of the Flames of Purification, the sacred flames which burn magical ability, she took the order to war. Once a bookish group of scholars, she honed it into an army dedicated to the total eradication of magic. Financed by a benefactor known only to Caroline, she began the systematic purge of magic from every man, woman, and child.

The Child: The Flames burn the victim proportional with their magical ability, and some can even survive. Caroline’s only nephew had the magic curse, and survived with crippling burns. She cares greatly for him, both as a symbol and as family. If he was somehow healed, who knows how that would effect the cause or the Regent.

The Prophecy: Rumor has it an ancient translation of the Prophecy of Last Light exists. What might it say? What might that change about Caroline’s quest to save the world?

4: Tell Us About Yourself Tell us what published work you’ve done in the game industry. Tell us about your experience with games produced by Evil Hat. Pick some favorites. Make it entertaining.

My Entry

John Donoghue

John is a long time fan of Evil Hat Games. He has a special place in his heart for Spirit of the Century but his not so secret love is for FAE. He feels its simple, fast, on the fly distillation of the FATE mechanic is perfect and takes every opportunity to foist it upon people.  He cut his teeth designing card games for Choose Your Own Adventure, bleeding for The Dresden Files and even had a gig writing for the Marvel Heroic RPG game for a hot second. Remember the Galactus entry? Probably not, as they pulled the plug on the Marvel line days after it went life… but by god it existed!

John can be found by day writing about technology for a small tech firm but by night (and weekends) he is the arbiter of justice on Rhea, the wind between the trees in the Wyrd West, and the mysterious stranger who haunts Corvus Academy.

High Concept: Good guys finish first
Trouble: Sure, I’ll help with that
Other Aspects: Omnicompetence; New England sensibilities; Not quite what you expected; Heart of the matter


Careful: Fair (+2)
Clever: Fair (+2)
Flashy: Good (+3)
Forceful: Average (+1)
Quick: Average (+1)
Sneaky: Mediocre (+0)


Fount of Endless Creativity: Because I never seem to run out of ideas, once per game session I can pluck a helpful clue seemingly out of nowhere.



Mild (2):
Moderate (4):
Severe (6):



Tagged , , ,

Fell Off the Wagon

So I fell off the wagon of Fate for a little bit, but I dove RIGHT back in with a test run of FATE Accelerated. One Word. WOW.

Fate Accelerated is billed as the “Light Version” of the rules, great for new FATE players and GMs alike. However, I threw it out there for our long time players and the ate it up.

The long and the short off it is it does away with skills in favor of approaches. Essentially if you think your character can do something you can, what matters is HOW you do it. Are you Quick, are you Careful? They become your skill, so to speak, and are the guideline by which you describe your action.

As a GM the natural extension was to vary the TN based on approaches, which worked pretty well and it was incumbent upon me to make descriptions more clear (which is a nice thing for everyone.

I could go on, but I’ll instead just post the link to the Fate AE sheet I made. Check it out if you kickstarted, and keep an eye out if you didn’t.

Modern Sheet

This is the VERY basic outline sheet I put together, using some modern images I had floating around.



Let me know what you think.

More to come.

EDIT: And of course I outputted it wrong so the fonts didn’t carry over in the PDF… FAIL! I’ll fix it as soon as I am back at my design machine…

UPDATE: Fixed?

Building a Character sheet

As the FATE core wrapped up, I volunteered to make a character sheet if we hit 10k. Two actually, with option for a 3rd. I started last night and wanted to share my thoughts.

With a game like FATE, where you are unlikely to play the game straight, a character sheet is a dicey thing. You want it to be useful across the board, but want to be clear with your intentions  You want it visually interesting, without being busy. you want to Cram as much as you can on, while still leaving plenty of room. Its contradictions.

I started work on a Modern sheet, which is to say it has Green Signs, like highway signs and a framework behind it. It fun, and I might mix it up a bit, but my goal is to built a template that has everything you could want, in roughly the right place, so it can be change easily… and then I might make one CRAZY one… But that might not be fit for consumption. In concept its a little abstract…

Anyway, I don’t think I actually said anything in this post… But I’ll post the drafts this weekend and see what people think.