Previous posts have tackled Blue Rose in the FATE Core system. But what if you want to go very light on the system aspects? What if you want the feel for Blue Rose, but not a lot of system mechanics? In short, what if you want to do Blue Rose in FATE Accelerated?
It isn’t that hard.
First, a couple of things to get out-of-the-way – there is no way that you will be able to simulate the system of Blue Rose in Fate Accelerated without adding in so many extra rules that everything good and pure and wonderful about FAE will be lost among piles and piles of house rules. Do not go that route – madness lies at its end. You should strive to keep Extras entirely out of FAE – the game was built to be fast and easy, and if you have selected it as your game system over FATE Core then that is what you should be aiming for ABOVE ALL ELSE! If you want a system you can add too and compexify to your heart’s content, go back to FATE Core.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t change some things in FAE. It only means that for every thing you put in, you need to take something roughly as complicated out in order to keep things streamlined. I’ll cover this in more detail below.
FATE Core and FAE share many components: High Concept, Trouble, Aspects, Stunts, the four actions, the bulk of the mechanics system. Everything I have said about these things in the preceding posts discussing FATE Core still hold – if it is applicable in FATE Core it is applicable here for FAE. Just for completeness let me touch upon them briefly –
- High Concept – works the same: [Adjective] [Race] [Profession] gives a nice, simple High Concept
- Trouble – works the same
- Aspects – work the same
- Stunts – work in a similar way except by default you only start with one (though optionally you can start with up to three, and even sell back your Refresh if you want). I highly recommend sticking with one stunt per character to start with – or even none at all for inexperienced or younger players – to keep things simple and streamlined. But that may just be my preference, and if you want to handle stunts like in FATE Core, you can certainly do so. Phrasing of stunts is slightly different which may result in some stunts not working quite the same way.
- Stress and Consequences – work more or less the same, the difference being that in FAE you don’t get extra boxes for having high levels in certain skills.
So that’s the easy part that we have already discussed at length. Now comes the tricky bit.
SKILLS VS APPROACHES
FAE has no skills. Instead, it uses a small number of penumbra approaches to resolve the outcomes of the four actions. This means that the approach I took to port Blue Rose Arcana over to FATE Core simply won’t work in FAE. There are, however, several options you can take to bring Arcana into FAE.
The first is to deal with it as an Approach. You can either a) add an additional approach called “Arcane” or something similar, or b) simply replace one of the existing approaches with “Arcane” (for example, replace “Forceful” with “Arcane”). In this case “Arcane” might represent a variety of things, from actual spells and abilities, to a number of minor magical items possessed by the character, to some innate training such as that possessed by Spirit Dancers. Characters with a high Arcane use magic to solve problems a lot and are quite good at it, whereas people with a low Arcane might have a few potions and arcane stones which they use to solve problems when nothing else works better.
This is a very simple and broad-based approach, but has the downside of either spreading the character’s points for approaches out, or losing one of the standard approaches for FAE. It works best for games where everyone is assumed to have some sort of arcane ability.
HIGH CONCEPT AND ASPECTS
It is likely that if the character is one of the arcane professions such as Animist or Psychic that they already have this aspect as part of their High Concept. Alternately, it can be added as an additional aspect. In either case, magic is again just another way of solving problems , except that it now acts as a modifier to one of the other approaches, comes with a cost in the form of FATE points spent to activate it, and has a down-side in the form of compels. Some thought should be given to what exactly a given arcane aspect can modify (for example psychics might be able to influence Clever, Careful, and Flashy, whereas Contemplatives can influence Forceful, Quick, and Sneaky). More importantly though, GMs taking this approach will need to be careful of the sorts of compels that they use for these aspects. Remember that arcana are not considered particularly evil or corrupting in Aldea, so compels should stress the mindset of practitioners rather than any sort of arcane backlash or shadow corruption. Healers, for example, might be offered compels to be late for important events because they stop to heal someone who is injured.
Arcana are easily translated into stunts in FAE, and to my mind this is the best way to go about it since it doesn’t involve modifying or adding approaches or coupling a downside to the arcana in the form of compels. Overall the stunt will either give the character a good, solid +2 in circumstances related to their area of arcane expertise, or allow them to do something related to their arcane ability once per session. Here are a couple of examples:
- Because I am a Spirit Dancer, I get +2 when I Flashily Create an Advantage when I am freely able to move about and dance.
- Because I am a Spirit Dancer, once per game session I can negotiate a legitimate parlay with any hostile individual or group, so long as they are not Shadow aligned.
The best part of using Stunts for Arcana is that there don’t need to be any real changes to the rules at all – everything is built-in, so the FAE system can just run on its own without any additional explanation or house rules, and no worries about remembering what sort of compels are acceptable for the “feel” of the magic.
GETTING THE “FEEL”
One thing that you will need to do when running Blue Rose in FAE is to make sure from the beginning that you and the players share an understanding of what the “feel” of the game will be like. FAE is a very generic, very minimal system and there will be few if any mechanical restraints to enforce genre. Because fantasy settings in RPGs and literature vary widely, player expectations for a game of Blue Rose will also vary widely. This is true for any campaign, but particularly true for one such as this where the framework is built more on shared ideas and expectations than it is on mechanics and rules.
I think that it is quite possible to simulate Blue Rose within the framework of FAE. Much of the attraction of Blue Rose is in the roleplaying and interaction between characters rather than in simulation, and FAE allows the rules to be kept to a bare minimum so that roleplaying can come to the fore. When the dice must come out resolution is quick and easy, and players can quickly pick up the minimal system. There is a very short learning curve to the game mechanics, which is perfect for a setting like Blue Rose where the fun is exploring the world, its inhabitants, and your character rather than an optimal combination of feats.