Today I would like to look at stunts and how you can use them to emulate aspects of Blue Rose characters. There is an excellent discussion of stunts and how to modify the rules for them in the FATE System Toolkit, pp. 33-38, which I am drawing heavily upon.
Stunts are the closest equivalent that Fate Core has to Blue Rose‘s feats. But stunts are far courser than feats – individual characters will have at most five stunts (and more likely three) whereas a Blue Rose character can have many more feats. Nevertheless, properly used stunts can give a good approximation of stunts in Fate Core.
Individual feats are simple to convert to stunts – they usually convey a modifier to some activity or allow the character to break the rules in some way. The important thing to consider for character creation is which feats are central to the character concept. Does your Rhydan merchant really need a stunt to emulate “Blind Fighting” in order to fit into your concept for what they character is and can do? Maybe so (and a blind fighting merchant is certainly a cool idea) but particularly when converting characters from Blue Rose format to Fate it is very likely that you will need to cut some feats (or alternately combine some feats) so think carefully about what you have to have and what you can live without.
Because of the difference in scope of Blue Rose feats and Fate Core stunts, I recommend against chained stunts. There is no reason for you to spend three stunts on Power Attack, Cleave, and Great Cleave – take one stunt and title it something appropriately spectacular (“Great Cleave”, “Powerful Blow”. “Loppin’ off Heads!” or something similar) to represent all three. Some feats, such at Pure Hearted, might be better represented by Aspects. If you are really stuck needing additional stunts you can always get two additional stunts by reducing your refresh, but that carries a downside of changing your rate of Fate Point acquisition, which may affect the way the character plays more than the additional stunts are worth.
CHANGING THE RULES FOR STUNTS
Even leaving aside stunts entirely, Fate Core characters are pretty competent. They certainly are not level 1 beginning characters. For those who want to change the feel of their Fate of Aldis game, here are some recommendations on changing the rules for stunts.
If you would like to simulate more of the “Hero’s Journey” sort of leveling system that is common in many games including Blue Rose, stunts are a great way to do that. Here are some suggestions for tweaking stunts to give more of a Blue Rose feel to your game.
- Reduce the number of starting stunts that characters have access to. The fewer stunts you give, the lower level characters will feel. Characters that develop their stunts during play also have a very different, more “organic” feel to them than characters that list their stunts at the beginning of play. You can get some extremely interesting characters if you take this idea to its extreme and start the characters with no stunts at all. Such characters will start out feeling highly trained but not necessarily experienced, and each of their stunts will become something of a marker of their path of development.
- In conjunction with this, change how often a character can earn new stunts. By default, characters can earn another stunt at the end of a minor milestone. Change that to a significant milestone and character stunts will often be tied to important events in your campaign. Change it to a major milestone and stunts will a) be based around the profoundest of changes in the plot-line of your campaign, b) be earned rarely and dearly, and so be a major element not only of the character but of the character’s relationship to your world and its events.
- Change the cost of stunts. Normally a character’s first three stunts are free and the next two cost a point of Refresh. You can increase the cost of stunts by charging a point of Refresh for each stunt, or reduce their cost by allowing one point of Refresh to buy two stunts. Note that if you are going to change the costs of stunts here, you should seriously consider changing the cost of purchasing Arcana as well.
- You can also decide to charge a Fate Point to activate a stunt, which will make them more expensive and less useful.
My recommendation for a good Blue Rose “feel” is to start characters with one stunt, allow characters to purchase new stunts after significant milestones, let them have their first three stunts for free, and to allow 1 refresh to purchase two stunts. This allows for reasonably quick character development while tying many of the characters stunts to events within the campaign.