I am starting up a game of Bulldogs on Friday nights via Skype. I am going to be using FATE Core, and have given some thought to converting the game from the previous edition of FATE that it was originally written in.
The big thing that needed converting was the racial* packages, since they were based on a version of FATE that had a higher stock Refresh rate than the current version. Alien races also came with both positive aspects (which cost refresh) and negative aspects (that reduced the refresh cost of the package). I could have gone that way too, but I decided that I wanted to keep things to FATE Core as closely as possible for the conversion since it would be easier for me to reference, and easier for the players to understand and follow
Each race has a number of Aspects common to that race, and I decided to allow players to pick two and to consider them extras subsumed under their High Concept. Adding a couple of aspects isn’t going to break the character in FATE because aspects are driven by the FATE Point economy – a player with additional aspects might be able to squeeze out the odd additional FATE Point from compels, but overall there is just so much screen time that any given character can get to earn FATE points in. Initially I thought of giving the characters all of the Aspects listed, but in the end I decided that a) that would make all the races more stereotypical than I wanted, and b) it would make it too easy to compel aspects.
Racial packages also include a number of stunts. Some of these stunts are optional and some aren’t. Some are closer to what the new FATE Core considers trouble. Some races have relatively few, but some races have a lot. I gave some thought to how to handle this and considered a few options –
- Increasing the characters Refresh and making all stunts cost 1 Refresh. So, for example, increasing the Refresh to 6 and allowing characters to take up to 5 stunts at 1 Refresh each. I decided not to do this because I didn’t think it really solved the problem, and I didn’t want players to have the option of having a Refresh of 6.
- Giving racial stunts as Extras. I decided not to do this because the number of racial stunts varied considerably from one race to another.
- Just subsuming the racial stunts under characters High Concept. Again I decided not to do this because of the considerable variability in the number of stunts.
Ultimately I decided that I would just require characters who wanted to be a specific race to take all of the required racial stunts, and give up to three stunt slots for free with two more available at the cost of one Refresh each. I felt that this was the most reasonable way of doing things, and would give players with lots of ideas about character stunts to have the freedom to indulge their creativity by taking a race with few or no required stunts, while allowing players who weren’t interested in giving a lot of thought to their character stunts a chance to take one of the races with lots of racial stunts and not have to make many choices.
For the stunts themselves, I tried to follow the standard FATE Core format of either “+2 to [skill] to do [thing] under [circumstance]” or “once per session [something cool]”. Not all of the stunts translated directly over to one or another of these formats, however, for some stunts I made the decision to remove one of the conditions and reduce the modifier to +1, or to simply ignore the stunt entirely if it seemed to have less utility than a standard FATE Core stunt and I couldn’t think of a way to jazz it up.
I considered adding a “Racial Trouble” category to the alien packages, but in the end decided not to, again because of variability – some races had a racial trouble and some didn’t and I didn’t feel like spending a lot of time and effort balancing things out. Where they existed, I decided that racial troubles would be incorporated into the “compel” side of High Concept.
My conversion process feels “right” to me, and I think that it balances well while getting the feel of each of the alien races in Bulldogs right. We’ll be having our first game on Friday, and if there are no questions by the players or revisions I need to do, I will post the various packages this weekend.
*By “race” I mean “species”. It’s a long and hallowed tradition in role-playing to use “race”, but that’s not really what we are talking about here.