FAE Fantasy: High Elf Minstrel

Back in the Changeling Rogue post I mentioned that the main reason I used Masters of Umdaar as a template for these fantasy characters was the aspects suggested in MoU (a high concept, a motivation, a personal aspect, a shared aspect, and a free aspect). I also talked about how I felt the shared aspect wouldn’t work, as these characters were intended for a one-shot and I wouldn’t know which ones would be picked. Instead, I gave each character two personal aspects; one related their background or upbringing, and another related to their personality.

That left the free aspect to define. I suppose I could have left this blank so the players would be able to personalize their characters a bit. But as I was expecting to run this game for people entirely new to Fate, I thought it would be best to have everything about the characters filled in for them. I also could have just filled in the aspect with whatever else seemed interesting about the character, but I wanted a bit of structure as I would be making a lot of these characters. I wanted a fifth category.

That’s when it hit me the equipment a character carries is often important in fantasy games, especially games like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder. As I was drawing on those games for inspiration, and perhaps emulating them a bit, I wanted to give each character an important, unique, or special piece of gear.So I decided upon equipment as the fifth category of aspect.

I could also have done equipment with a Stunt, and this is how the artifacts in Masters of Umdaar work. But those are artifacts; more than being unique, they’re fairly powerful. So leaving equipment as an aspect worked better here. I feel it also gives players more say about when equipment is useful in a scene and how it gets used. Some equipment aspects, such as Dwarven Heavy Plate Armor and Shield and Expertly Crafted Set Of Thieves Tools, are fairly straightforward about when and how they might be used. Others, such as Heirloom Wyvernbone Lyre, are much more open to player interpretation. Which is by design.

Speaking of lyres, here’s this week’s fantasy character: a high elf minstrel. I decided to go with a “mundane” minstrel rather than a Dungeons & Dragons style spell slinging bard, so none of the aspects relate to magic. It would be very easy to replace the Traveled To Every Corner Of The World or My Reputation Precedes Me aspect with something that implied magic use if you wanted the character to cast spells. Something like Arcane College Dropout for instance.


High Elf Minstrel

High Concept: Dramatic High Elf Minstrel
Motivation: I Must Collect the World’s Legends
Aspect: Traveled To Every Corner of the World
Aspect: My Reputation Precedes Me
Aspect: Heirloom Wyvernbone Lyre

Approaches:

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

Stunts:

  • Charming and Open: Because I can trick people into saying more than they should, after I Sneakily create an advantage to discover an aspect about someone, I get +2 to Sneakily create an advantage to discover or create mental aspects on that character for the rest of the scene.
  • Flashing Blade: Because I am a master duelist, at the start of a conflict, as a free action before anyone else acts, I may attempt to Flashily create an advantage demonstrating how impressive of a fighter I am.
  • Story Collector: Because I have memorized hundreds of stories, I get +2 to Cleverly overcome obstacles if I can recite a story or poem of a famous hero facing similar circumstances and how they triumphed.

Refresh: 3
Stress: ▢ ▢ ▢


You can download the character as an A4-sized PDF or a letter-sized PDF.

Dramatic_HighElf_Minstrel_A4

You’ll note that the character sheet layout is slightly different now. Rather than a little line of text below the image, I’ve added a Credits & Info box containing, well, credits and information. The previously released characters have all had their sheets updated to match. We also have a Google Plus page, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account.

The character illustration is one of the free paper minis made by Printable Heroes. The free versions are backless, but if you back the Patreon at just $1 a month you get minis with backs. For $2 a month you get access to “reskins”, and for $3 a month you get multiple color options. That’s a fantastic deal.

FAE Fantasy: High Elf Minstrel

Monday Monsters: Umber Hulk

In the recent Ghoul post I said I’d be putting up a new fantasy monster every Friday. I was planning to call these posts “Friday Fantasy Foes”. Thinking about it over the weekend through, “Monday Monsters” has a better ring to it. So we’ll go with that instead moving forward. A new fantasy monster for Fate Accelerated Edition every Monday afternoon. This week’s entry? The Umber Hulk.

The Umber Hulk paper mini by Printable Heroes was what rekindled my interest in making more of these fantasy resources. It’s such a fantastic illustration that I felt compelled to stat it out for Fate. That’s when I remembered all the fantasy adventurers I’d made last year and decided to blow the digital dust off them. (Note: This is why I never throw anything away; I always go back and revisit old projects.)

Reading the flavor text for the Umber Hulk from the Dungeons & Dragons 5E website gave me great ideas for several aspects and stunts. But it also raised the issue of the monster’s size. In many fantasy games, D&D and Pathfinder among them, size matters. Characters often get modifiers to hit and deal damage to opponents of differing sizes, and I wanted to include that here. The scale rules from the wonderful Fate SRD website looked like a good solution at first.

But if I was mirroring the different sizes of creatures found in D&D, I would need six scale steps: Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, Huge, and Gargantuan. The scale rules suggest granting a +1 bonus to the attack and defence roll of the bigger character for each scale step of difference between the combatants. They also suggest larger characters deal an extra 2 shifts of stress on a successful attack and reduce any damage they take by 2 shifts of stress for each scale step of difference. That’s not so bad when there’s only a single scale step of difference between the characters. Like a Medium adventurer fighting a Large Umber Hulk. But when there’s a big difference? Say a Medium adventurer facing off against a Gargantuan Purple Worm? That’s three steps of difference, meaning the Worm is getting +3 to attack and defend (in addition to whatever its approaches are), is doing an extra 6 stress of damage on a successful hit, and is reducing any damage it takes by 6 shifts. That means the Worm would probably instantly kill anything it hits and be practically invincible. But the fantasy genre often has “normal” sized characters being able to take on huge opponents, so I needed some different rules.

I took my question to the very awesome Fate Accelerated Google Plus group, and someone suggested the Weight rules from War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus. As I’ve gone over the Weight rules in the Ghoul post I won’t reiterate them again here, but they seemed like a better choice. Changing a maximum of two dice to “+” results when fighting a smaller opponent is a decent bonus, but it doesn’t make larger creatures unassailable. The Weight rules also allow characters to cooperate to negate the bonus, which I feel is another staple of the high fantasy genre.

So with that decided, I started writing up the Umber Hulk. Again, the role of an opponent largely dictates the stats it gets in Fate, and this monster is meant to be fairly challenging. With that in mind I built it as a Fair Supporting NPC, meaning it has a five aspects, a lead approach slightly higher than the average PC, has three stunts, three stress boxes, and even has a consequence. Adventurers beware! Don’t try to tackle this monster on your own.


Umber Hulk

High Concept: Large Gorilla-Beetle Hybrid
Motivation: Craving For Humanoid Meat
Aspect: Subterranean Juggernaut
Aspect: Steel-Hard Chitin Plates
Aspect: Super Sensitive Antenna

Approaches:

  • Careful: Mediocre (+0)
  • Clever: Average (+1)
  • Flashy: Mediocre (+0)
  • Forceful: Great (+4)
  • Quick: Fair (+2)
  • Sneaky: Fair (+2)

Stunts:

  • UMBER HULK SMASH!: Because I am an insectile engine of destruction,
    I get +2 to overcome physical obstacles that can be smashed through.
  • Sharp Digging Claws: Because I have claws sharp enough to burrow
    through solid stone, I deal +1 additional stress on a successful Forceful
    attack and can not be Disarmed.
  • Mind Scrambler: Because I have a hypnotic gaze, I get +2 to Sneakily
    create an advantage representing my mind scrambling effects, such as
    Confused, Dazed, or Hypnotized.

Weight: 2 (Large)
Stress: ▢ ▢ ▢
Consequences:

  • Mild (2):

You can download the Umber Hulk as an A4-sized PDF or a letter-sized PDF.

UmberHulk_A4

The monster illustration is the free paper mini made by Printable Heroes. The free versions are backless, but if you support the Patreon at just $1 a month you get minis with backs. For $2 a month you get access to “reskins”, and for $3 a month you get multiple color options. That’s a fantastic deal.

Monday Monsters: Umber Hulk

FAE Fantasy: Ghouls

The life of a fantasy adventurer would be pretty dull without dangerous foes to overcome, right? To that end, I’ll be posting a fantasy monster each Friday afternoon from now on. The first of these foes? Ghouls.

One of the things I really enjoy about Fate is writing aspects. It’s kind of like a word puzzle to come up with aspects that are clear, concise, and still capture the spirit of the thing they’re attached to. For me it’s a kind of “lonely fun” similar to juggling ability scores, feats, racial, and class bonuses during character creation in some other fantasy games, but without the math. Which is great, because I don’t feel math is one of my strong suits.

Just like with the fantasy PCs I’ve made, I’m building these monsters using the guidelines found in Fate Worlds of Adventure: Masters of Umdaar. Because it’s suggested you give NPCs stunts tied to a specific approach in Masters of Umdaar, they’re built with the same six approaches that PCs have, rather than the good at / bad at “skill sentences” suggested in Fate Accelerated Edition. I’m also using the guidelines for number of stress boxes and how high lead approaches should be from Fate Core. One of the things I’m still coming to grips with in Fate is that the stats of an NPC are mainly determined by its purpose in the game. Main NPCs represent pivotal forces of opposition, supporting NPCs are notable opponents, and nameless NPCs are mainly speed bumps.

While ghouls can be dangerous, especially in large numbers, they’re not anything all that special. So I built them as Fair Nameless NPCs as described in the “Running the Game” chapter of the Fate Core book. They have two aspects, a lead approach at Fair (+2) and a single stress box. Their main purpose is to drain the PCs of a few resources; a Fate point or two, a few stress boxes, and maybe a Mild Consequence. I also made a slightly tougher ghast, built as a Good Nameless NPC, to provide a bit more of a challenge.

Note: As the size and mass of creatures is often important in fantasy games, I decided to use the Weight mechanic from War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus with these monsters. As it’s open content, I can share how it works here. Simply total up the Weight of each side in a conflict, provided everyone’s in the same zone. If a side outweighs their opponent by at least 2:1, they can change any one die to a “+” after rolling. If a side outweighs their opponent by at least 4:1, they can change two dice to “+” after rolling. This allows bigger creatures to be more dangerous without giving them a ridiculously high numerical bonus. It also means a group of smaller creatures working together can bring down a larger one through weight of numbers.


Ghoul

High Concept: Medium Diseased Undead
Motivation: I Must Gorge On Fresh Meat
Aspect: Grave Dirt Encrusted Claws
Aspect: Unnaturally Agile

Approaches:

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

Stunts:

  • Diseased Bite: Because my bite is infectious, once per scene I can force a defender to absorb 2 Stress from a successful Forceful attack as a Ghoul Fever Mild Consequence.
  • Paralyzing Touch: Because I can paralyze foes with a touch, whenever I succeed with style on a Quick attack, I may forgo the boost to give the defender a Paralyzed aspect with a free invoke.

Stress:
Weight: 1 (Medium)

You can download the Ghoul as an A4-sized PDF or a letter-sized PDF.

Ghoul_A4


Ghast

High Concept: Medium Diseased Undead
Motivation: I Must Swell The Pack’s Ranks
Aspect: Grave Dirt Encrusted Claws
Aspect: Unnaturally Agile
Aspect: Nauseating Charnel Stench

Approaches:

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

Stunts:

  • Diseased Bite: Because my bite is infectious, once per scene I can force a defender to absorb 2 Stress from a successful Forceful attack as a Ghoul Fever Mild Consequence.
  • Paralyzing Touch: Because I can paralyze with a touch, whenever I succeed with style on a Quick attack, I may forgo the boost to give the defender a Paralyzed aspect with a free invoke.

Stress: ▢ ▢
Weight: 1 (Medium)

You can download the Ghast as an A4-sized PDF or a letter-sized PDF.

Ghast_A4


Ghoul Packs

Fate Core recommends combining identical NPCs into groups called mobs. Treating multiple NPCs as a single character makes things way easier for the GM to keep track of. To make a mob of ghouls, simply add one additional stress box, increase the weight by +1, and increase the Forceful, Quick, and Sneaky approaches by +1 for each ghoul after the first. So a pack of three ghouls could be treated as a single character with the same aspects, stats, and stunts as listed above, but would have three stress boxes, a weight of 3, Forceful and Sneaky approaches at Good (+3), and a Quick approach at Great (+4). Now that’s more of a challenge for a seasoned adventurer! Don’t forget to reduce those bonuses each time a member of the pack is taken out.

 

The character illustrations are the free paper minis made by Printable Heroes. The free versions are backless, but if you back the Patreon at just $1 a month you get minis with backs. For $2 a month you get access to “reskins”, and for $3 a month you get multiple color options. That’s a fantastic deal.

FAE Fantasy: Ghouls

FAE Fantasy: Changeling Rogue

An invaluable resource while making these Fate Accelerated Edition fantasy characters was Evil Hat’s awesome Fate Worlds of Adventure: Masters of Umdaar. It’s meant to do retro weird science-fantasy adventure, like John Carter of Mars, Flash Gordon, He-Man, and Thundercats, but can also do “classic fantasy” really well as it turns out.

Part of the reason I feel Masters of Umdaar works so well for classic fantasy is the spread of aspects characters get: a high concept, a motivation, a personal aspect, and a shared aspect. As I didn’t know what characters would be picked for the one-shot, I replaced the shared aspect with another personal aspect. (Though I suppose I could have made “generic” shared aspects, or shared aspects with a blank allowing players to write in another character’s name.) I also added a fifth aspect, as FAE characters usually have five aspects: a piece of gear.

The high concept for Masters of Umdaar summarizes the character’s bioform, class, and something important about them, often a descriptive word related to their lead approach. As I’m drawing inspiration for these characters from classic fantasy games like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, which are class systems, a high concept that incorporates class and race seems really appropriate. Seeing aspects like Audacious Human Battlemage, Cautious Dwarven Runepriest, and Nimble Halfling Thief tell the player exactly what type of character is sitting on the table in front of them. I did have to bust out the thesaurus for some of the characters, because I didn’t want the descriptive word in the high concept to just be a duplicate of the character’s lead approach.

So here’s the third fantasy character: a changeling rogue. This was the first character I made, and it was inspired by the first Patreon pack put out by Printable Heroes.


Changeling Rogue

High Concept: Devious Changeling Rogue
Motivation: I Must Impress the Thieves’ Guild Masters
Aspect: Born in the Slums of Freeport
Aspect: Devotee Of Our Lady Of Obfuscation
Aspect: Displacerbeast Hide Leather Armor

Approaches:

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

Stunts:

  • Shapeshift: Because I can change my appearance, I get +2 to Sneakily
    create an advantage to give myself a disguise aspect that does not change
    my size or mass.
  • Deft Fingers: Because I have deft fingers, I get +2 to Carefully overcome
    obstacles when disarming traps and picking locks.
  • Shadow Caller: Because I can call on shadows, once per scene after I
    Sneakily attack and succeed, I can give myself a Shadowcloaked aspect
    with no free invoke. I cannot be attacked until an opponent removes the
    Shadowcloaked aspect, usually by overcoming the aspect, or I make an
    overt action, such as attacking or moving between zones.

Refresh: 3
Stress: ▢ ▢ ▢


You can download the character as an A4-sized PDF or a letter-sized PDF.

Devious_Changeling_Rogue_A4

The character illustration is one of the free paper minis made by Printable Heroes. The free versions are backless, but if you back the Patreon at just $1 a month you get minis with backs. For $2 a month you get access to “reskins”, and for $3 a month you get multiple color options. That’s a fantastic deal.

FAE Fantasy: Changeling Rogue

FAE Fantasy: Dwarven Runepriest

When making these Fate Accelerated Edition fantasy adventurers, I decided to go with fairly typical characters. Dwarven fighters, Elven mages, Halfling rogues. That sort of thing. These characters were meant to be played by my two teenaged cousins (and their dad too, probably) who had no experience with Fate or tabletop RPGs. I wanted to give them characters that would be easy to understand so they wouldn’t get confused while learning the system.

I was also using the free D&D Starter Set Heroes paper minis by Printable Heroes as illustrations on the character sheets and so tried to match the stats and aspects to the pictures. (Just as aside. I asked Printable Heroes if this was cool before releasing these, and he said it was fine so long as I stuck to using only the free paper minis.) Here’s the second of ten or so characters: a dwarven runepriest. (Full disclosure: I have no idea what a “runepriest is; it just sounds cooler than “cleric”.)


Dwarven Runepriest

High Concept: Cautious Dwarf Runepriest
Motivation: I Must Illuminate the Dark Places
Aspect: By the Will of the Forgelord
Aspect: Solid As Stone
Aspect: Dwarven-forged Heavy Plate Armor

Approaches:

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

Stunts:

  • Defensive Fighter: Because I fight defensively, when I Carefully defend
    against a physical attack and succeed with style, I can give the attacker a
    Wide Open aspect with a free invoke instead of gaining a boost.
  • Unrelenting: Because I am relentless in my advance, whenever a trap or
    opponent attempts to create an advantage hindering my mobility, such as
    Slowed or Net Trap, I get +2 to Forcefully oppose their action.
  • Wards and Sigils: Because I can scribe runes of protection, I get +2 to
    Carefully create advantages on myself or my companions representing
    magical defense and shielding.

Refresh: 3
Stress: ▢ ▢ ▢


You can download the character as an A4-sized PDF or a letter-sized PDF.

Cautious_Dwarven_Runepriest_A4

The character illustration is one of the free paper minis made by Printable Heroes. The free versions are backless, but if you back the Patreon at just $1 a month you get minis with backs. For $2 a month you get access to “reskins”, and for $3 a month you get multiple color options. That’s a fantastic deal.

FAE Fantasy: Dwarven Runepriest

FAE Fantasy: Human Battlemage

In September of 2016 I started making a collection of typical fantasy adventurers for Fate Accelerated Edition. I was going back to the States for my grandpa and his twin brother’s 90th birthday and have a pair of cousins who are prime RPG teaching age. My plan was to make a bunch of pre-gens, run a game for them, then give them a copy of FAE and some Fate dice as a present. I never got to run the game sadly (too much time spent “adulting” with my other relatives), but I gave them the book, the dice, and the pack of characters I made as a present before they left.

Flash forward to now, and I’m thinking about those FAE fantasy characters again. This is mostly due to the awesome paper minis created by Printable Heroes. Their recently released Umber Hulk mini is fantastic, and I started noodling around with FAE stats for it. But then I thought I should collect and post the characters I’ve previously made here on my blog, as I haven’t done much of anything here in awhile. So here’s the first of ten or so characters: a human battlemage.


Human Battlemage

High Concept: Audacious Human Battlemage
Motivation: I Must Learn To Control My Magic
Aspect: Raised In The Thornwood War Camps
Aspect: The Blood Of Dragons Runs In My Veins
Aspect: Vials And Pouches Of Spell Components

Approaches:

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

Stunts:

  • Burning Hands: Because I can hurl balls of magical fire, whenever I Flashily
    attack and succeed with style, I can give my opponent or a nearby object
    an On Fire aspect with a free invoke instead of gaining a boost.
  • Explosive Runes: Because I can scribe explosive runes on inanimate objects,
    once per scene, when I Forcefully overcome a physical obstacle by trying to
    break it, I may improve my outcome by one step. If I do, the scene gains a Flaming Debris situation aspect with no free invoke.
  • Flamecrafter: Because I can make fire do my bidding, while it is present I
    can physically attack without a weapon, and I get +2 to Cleverly create
    advantages using fire.

Refresh: 3
Stress: ▢ ▢ ▢


You can download the character as an A4-sized PDF or as a letter-sized PDF.

Audacious_Human_Battlemage_A4

The character illustration is one of the free paper minis made by Printable Heroes. The free versions are backless, but if you back the Patreon at just $1 a month you get minis with backs. For $2 a month you get access to “reskins”, and for $3 a month you get multiple color options. That’s a fantastic deal.

FAE Fantasy: Human Battlemage

The Black Hack

Last week, mostly on a whim, I picked up The Black Hack. TBH is a small, OSR fantasy game by David Black that describes itself as “a super-streamlined roleplaying game that uses the Original 1970s Fantasy Roleplaying Game as a base, and could well be the most straightforward modern OSR compatible clone available.” I’d seen people talking about TBH and its many hacks on social media for a while, but as I didn’t care for either of the two OSR games I’d bought previously, I hadn’t bothered to look at it. But as DriveThruRPG was having an OSR sale, I decided to toss TBH into my basket with a few other items. I’m very glad I did, too.

I found a lot to like in the twenty A5-sized pages of The Black Hack. I especially like that all rolls are player facing, meaning the GM doesn’t roll dice, apart from monster damage. Whenever something a character does has a chance of failure, they need to roll under a relevant stat. I also like the fact there’s no list of actions characters can take. More and more I find myself uninterested in games that have a list of actions, especially if they have very rigid and specific effects. I much prefer guidelines on how to handle broad types of actions, and TBH provides that. The simplified Theater of the Mind ranges of Close Nearby, Far-Away, and Distant are also nice, and The Risk Die is a nice way to track resources and inject some tension into the game. There are also a wealth of inexpensive third-party supplements adding new classes and races, more monsters, expanded weapon and armor rules, and a whole bunch of other things.

I’m still a PbtA devotee and Dungeon World is still my go to fantasy game, but The Black Hack has me excited in a way many other games I’ve recently purchased haven’t. Plus, the PDF is only $2! You can also get a physical copies of the book, the GM’s screen, and character sheets from Squarehex.co.uk.

The Black Hack