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FATE - PCs with more than one form

Scottius

Villager
So one of my gaming groups has decided to try out the FATE system. We've settled on doing a modern day Urban Fantasy/Supernatural setting and one of the players is considering playing a Were creature of some variety, probably a cat.

I've been looking through the books and don't see anything that directly addresses something like a character having an alternate form. I only have a little experience with the system so I thought I'd ask here. How would you recommend going about creating a PC who is a werecreature or otherwise has an alternate form in this system?

So far I have considered the possibility of writing this up as an extra requiring an Aspect devoted to being a werecreature. Alternatively I've considered just using Aspects & some custom stunts that only work in animal form as an alternative approach.
 

Len

Prodigal Member
The Dresden Files RPG is based on the Fate system, from the same publisher, with an urban fantasy/supernatural setting, and has rules for shapeshifters.
 

Scottius

Villager
The Dresden Files RPG is based on the Fate system, from the same publisher, with an urban fantasy/supernatural setting, and has rules for shapeshifters.
I should have mentioned that this will be in FATE Core. I don't have access to the Dresden Files RPG. Can anyone give a general breakdown of how that game approaches this subject?
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
So one of my gaming groups has decided to try out the FATE system. We've settled on doing a modern day Urban Fantasy/Supernatural setting and one of the players is considering playing a Were creature of some variety, probably a cat.
Nifty


I've been looking through the books and don't see anything that directly addresses something like a character having an alternate form. I only have a little experience with the system so I thought I'd ask here. How would you recommend going about creating a PC who is a werecreature or otherwise has an alternate form in this system?

So far I have considered the possibility of writing this up as an extra requiring an Aspect devoted to being a werecreature. Alternatively I've considered just using Aspects & some custom stunts that only work in animal form as an alternative approach.
...and this is where things can get weird, and sometimes frustrating, with Fate. (At least for talking online about it.)

See, there isn't a single best way to do a shapeshifter or werecritter. Because, Fate could handle almost any of them.

So first, don't think mechanically. Start with how you (and/or the player) want the lycanthropy to work in the fiction. Will they be exhausted after shifting? Can they control when they shift? Will there be a hybrid form or just a full-on cat form? Will they be in control of their shifted self, or driven by uncontrollable hungers?

Once you've got a good handle on that, then look to the mechanics to support it. Personally, I'm of a sort of "minimal mechanics" approach to Fate. So, an Aspect and stunts would probably work for me. Heck, I'd even look at a stunt that let's them switch aspects:

Shapeshift: When <some trigger happens> you lose <aspect describing human appearance> and gain <aspect describing alternate form>. After you have <satisfied hunger condition> you will seek a quiet place to rest and return your aspects to normal.

That might be enough. Special stunts for animal form make sense, too.

There is a relatively cheap Dresden Files Accelerated implementation available on Drivethrurpg. I only bring it up because it includes a type of extra called a "Mantle". Many mantles have special Conditions (specified Consequences) associated with them, and include the conditions under which they are marked and relieved. Its an interesting idea.

In the end, what really matters is that the more mechanics the player devotes to this part of the character, the bigger it will figure into the narrative.

Also, gobs of stuff from many different supplements on fate-srd.com.

If you have any more specific questions, feel free to ask.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
I should have mentioned that this will be in FATE Core. I don't have access to the Dresden Files RPG. Can anyone give a general breakdown of how that game approaches this subject?
I don't have the original, although there is some discussion here: https://fate-srd.com/fate-codex/bringing-dfrpg-atomic-robo-era.

It seems....complicated....to me. Although aspects are certainly the place to start.

One thing to remember about aspects is that they are "always" true. So if you "look like a cat"....well, you do. You may or may not be able to extract a mechanical bonus out of that fact, but its true. Sometimes we can get lost in Fate while trying to duplicate the layers of complexity we see in other games when its not strictly necessary.
 

Len

Prodigal Member
I like what [MENTION=6688937]Ratskinner[/MENTION] suggested, having a stunt that changes the PC's aspect from "A Regular Guy, Honest" to "OMG WERECAT!" with a couple of werecat stunts.

Dresden Files has a bunch of supernatural powers and stuff - I have no idea how much of that comes from Fate Core. You might need rules like that if all the PCs are going to be witches or whatever, but if most of the supernatural stuff is monsters and NPCs then maybe you can just come up with appropriate stunts for them and for the werecat PC.
 

Scottius

Villager
...and this is where things can get weird, and sometimes frustrating, with Fate. (At least for talking online about it.)

See, there isn't a single best way to do a shapeshifter or werecritter. Because, Fate could handle almost any of them.

So first, don't think mechanically. Start with how you (and/or the player) want the lycanthropy to work in the fiction. Will they be exhausted after shifting? Can they control when they shift? Will there be a hybrid form or just a full-on cat form? Will they be in control of their shifted self, or driven by uncontrollable hungers?

Once you've got a good handle on that, then look to the mechanics to support it. Personally, I'm of a sort of "minimal mechanics" approach to Fate. So, an Aspect and stunts would probably work for me. Heck, I'd even look at a stunt that let's them switch aspects:

Shapeshift: When <some trigger happens> you lose <aspect describing human appearance> and gain <aspect describing alternate form>. After you have <satisfied hunger condition> you will seek a quiet place to rest and return your aspects to normal.

That might be enough. Special stunts for animal form make sense, too.

There is a relatively cheap Dresden Files Accelerated implementation available on Drivethrurpg. I only bring it up because it includes a type of extra called a "Mantle". Many mantles have special Conditions (specified Consequences) associated with them, and include the conditions under which they are marked and relieved. Its an interesting idea.

In the end, what really matters is that the more mechanics the player devotes to this part of the character, the bigger it will figure into the narrative.

Also, gobs of stuff from many different supplements on fate-srd.com.

If you have any more specific questions, feel free to ask.
Thank you, this is extremely helpful. I especially like the point about looking at the desired result before even approaching the mechanics. That feels very in keeping with the spirit of the system. I think I'll start by working with the player to determine what they expect out of being a were and then move into how to achieve those results. And the idea of a switchable Aspect via a customized stunt does seem like a handy way of modeling this kind of thing.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
Thank you, this is extremely helpful. I especially like the point about looking at the desired result before even approaching the mechanics. That feels very in keeping with the spirit of the system. I think I'll start by working with the player to determine what they expect out of being a were and then move into how to achieve those results. And the idea of a switchable Aspect via a customized stunt does seem like a handy way of modeling this kind of thing.
"Start with the fiction" is a kind of mantra for running and even playing Fate. Its easy (especially if you, like me, have a deep background in D&D and similar systems) to get lost trying to figure out how to make the mechanics work...because in Fate, its the fiction that makes the mechanics work and not the other way around. You can make the mechanics do almost anything you want, but you gotta know what you want, first.

The other advice I would offer is a bit more esoteric, but here goes: Fate acts more as a wrapper around the narrative, rather than some underlying physics like D&D. For example, in D&D we might worry about whether or not a certain damage rating for a spell or weapon is "realistic" or "balanced". In Fate, its much more important that any damage or weapon ratings, etc. (I tend not to use them) match the weight that you want the attack to have in the fiction. So, if a character has a "Big nasty sawed-off shotgun" and its just basically flavor for how they do their attacks...a single aspect is plenty to reflect that. However, if they want pulling out that gun to be a big moment, then back that up with stunts, etc. In Fate, its perfectly fine for a guardsman's pike and a martial artist's pike to act completely differently.

That's a bit of Fate "masterclass" advice, though. Fate will work just fine if you use damage ratings for different weapons and armor, like D&D does.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Dresden Files has a bunch of supernatural powers and stuff - I have no idea how much of that comes from Fate Core.
I don't know how many are from Core - I suspect not to many. They are structured as Stunts, so taking them impacts the character's Fate Point refresh.

A standard, "I change under the full moon" werewolf would take the following stunts:
Pack Instincts [-1 refresh]
Echoes of the Beast [-1]
Human Form (involuntary change) [+2]
Inhuman Strength [-2]
Inhuman Recovery [-2]

So a lycanthrope is at a net -4 refresh.
 

Tonguez

Adventurer
High Concept xxxx were-cat

Stunts: cats grace +2 athletics, mundane form, other stunts*
*other stunts I’d go hybrid form (claws), or something like ‘nine lives’
 

JohnF

Villager
The Fate Horror Toolkit does a nice job of adapting the Dresden concepts into sticky condition-based stunts for monsters, which you could easily adapt for a PC.

Transform. Spend a fate point and gain the following condition until the end of the scene:
Werecat Form (sticky): While in the form of a werecat, replace all of your skills with these approaches - Leap (+4), Hunt (+3), and Kill (+2).
 

GrahamWills

Registered User
I am running a Victorian game with (currently) low-power superpowers. When I run Fate, I use aspects strongly for the permissions it gives you. So, if you transform, you simply pick up the attribute "I am a X" and enjoy and suffer all the natural characteristics having such an aspect would have.

For example, one of my players asked how the aspect "I am a small bird" would work. I'd think some things are:
  • you can fly at pretty fast speeds
  • you are small enough to get into things a small bird could get into
  • you can only manipulate things a bird could manipulate
  • you get noticed about as much as a bird would be
  • you can only take about as much stress as a small bird can

I run super-powers pretty loosely; for that I find using the aspect permissions the simplest thing to do. It allows a lot of flexibility, but it also makes it clear there are serious drawbacks.
 

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