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  • Nothing Wasted Bonus: Modern Fears

    While browsing the internet sometimes you find something so strange you cannot ignore it. When I saw this image I could not get it out of my head. This may be due to the deformed laughing nature of it, but I may have already said too much…

     
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    With that, what came next was unavoidable.

     

    Modern Fears (Intelligence/Dark – Major)

    Requires: Maintenance: Any 12 (S), Nightmare Sense (B)

    The pace of new technologies accelerates as man claws their way back from the dark ages of the Purge.  The lack of education the average person receives leaves them incapable of understanding even the basic principles of how some of these modern machines work. This allows fear to take root, and that gives the Dark power over these technologies. Infecting a machine, computer, or other piece of technology the Dark Lucid twists its shape and function into a nightmarish mockery, channeling the collective fear through the device.  This terrifying image chills those witnessing its change, and ultimately leaves the device a melted husk, destroyed.
    The Character Rolls as with Nightmare Sense versus a target equal to the target object’s PV + 10.

    On a Successful roll the object bubbles forth as a horrid gateway to the Dark. Those within range witnessing this change must make a Mental Tree Roll (using Iron Will or other appropriate supporting Characteristics) equal to the Character’s Intelligence + Intimidation + Iron Will.

     

    Those who fail this Roll suffer a penalty to all rolls equal to the Character’s Intelligence + Iron Will. This effect lasts for 1 Turn for each 4 Levels of the Character’s Maintenance Skill.

     

    Note: The device targeted stops functioning only at the end of the effect. While terrifying someone may still attempt to use the impacted device. If the Character using the device is not already affected by the fear, they must immediately roll again, increasing the Difficulty by 10.

    Activation Time: 1 Action, Range: Lucid (Ab) in Meters, Cost: 30 Energy + 10 Health

     

    Design Notes

    When creating this Boon there were a few things I wanted to accomplish, first it needed to emulate the image, but should have a larger scope.Although, a Boon to destroy cellphones works well for the Dark, I mean, that cuts off lines of communications, it felt to narrow. Instead this was expanded to technology in general, this gave the Boon more functionality but kept it in line with Technophobia.

    While both Craft Nightmare and Modern Fears would place a Fear Penalty on targets within range the new Boon needed to feel different. For that it was back to the source image. The cell phone was clearly destroyed, so that became part of the Boon.  Finally, the time the Boon would last was designed to again separate the two Boons. The duration was set based on the Maintenance Skill, while Craft Nightmare could be sustained for much longer.  Lastly, to prevent the Boon from becoming too powerful, and to add a bit of ick, the object affected would continue to function through the duration, but ultimately be destroyed.

    To determine the requirements we looked at what was already included in the core book, here we found Craft Nightmare, this Boon provided a general framework for the mechanics of the Boon. Modern Fears was not intended to be as powerful as Craft Nightmare so while it maintained the same Boon Requirement, Nightmare Sense, Maintenance 12 was added to differentiate between the two.

    Lastly, the Energy Cost was also based on Craft Nightmare. Craft Nightmare has a Cost of 10 energy per Turn. A Character with the base requirements would create a Fear Effect lasting for 3 Turns, 30 Energy if this was Craft Nightmare. However, Modern Fears also destroys the object affected. Instead of just increasing the Energy cost, a Health Cost was added, this keeps the raw Energy cost from scaling too high allows the Dark Character to use the Boon several times, but keeps the cost meaningful. Adding a Health cost to a Boon that destroys is also  Thematically fitting with the Dark.



  • Nothing Wasted 6: The Real World?

    Nothing Wasted explores ideas to help utilize different aspects of gaming to their fullest or promote new ways to use existing tools.

    Have you ever been forced to question one of your fundamental beliefs? These moments may take any form. When they happen through, you know, because something deep within has shifted, maybe it’s resolution, maybe it’s doubt. For the Lucid that can be encapsulated in the moment they realize they are no longer fully human. When they are confronted with that fact everything changes.

    Not every game drills down into each characters’ Elucidation but these are powerful moments in their lives. However, they aren’t necessarily the last great revelation that character may experience. A lot of gamers take the oddities of their world to be mundane, so it can be hard to bring these moments that should shock, or terrify their characters to light. That does not mean these storytelling tools are lost though, it simply requires a little added creativity.

    As discussed in the Window Dressing article in telling a story we frame the world the characters exist in. This can also mean managing expectations, to steal some corpspeak. While the world develops players get an understanding of what’s normal, and what’s normal for them. Players will often fall back on these established points of world detail to guide character action. This is great for establishing a consistent feel and continuity to the world. Something, that’s generally useful to have in any long term game. What happens through when one of these incontrovertible facts of their reality is completely undone?

    To borrow a classic example, what happens when without warning a PC’s trusted contact or ally turns out to be a mastermind? Yes, this is a plot line that may have been done over and over again, but there is a reason for that. This kind of shift forces the character to reevaluate all of their experiences with this friend. This may come from a sudden shocking reveal or the slow build up of evidence gathering and piecing together the truth to finally be confronted with the reality that was there all along.

    How to use this kind of revelation in Fractured Kingdom? An easy way to address this is by introducing NPC members to a player coven. With one of them operating under their own motives. Players are a suspicious lot and may suspect their new member Rotiart may be secretly hiding something. What if this betrayal came much closer? Some gaming troupes may establish character motivation that is inconsistent with the group. The Coven Call adventure seed explores incorporating conflicting motives in a Coven dynamic where the PCs are the outsiders. Who’s to say the PCs aren’t the one’s with conflicting motive? That’s not to say a PC is a villain, or traitor, they may simply have drastically different goals and morals that they do not share with the group. The revelation of which can completely shift the scope and direction of a campaign.

    This of course is simply one example. What if the reverse was true, a long standing antagonist is reveled to be an ally? A place the players thought safe turns out to be anything but? Of course this only scratches the surface in the supernatural world of Fractured Kingdom. What happens when they are confronted by the truth of their powers, or the cost they may have?



  • Nothing Wasted 5: Consequences and Repercussions

    Nothing Wasted explores ideas to help utilize different aspects of gaming to their fullest or promote new ways to use existing tools.

    The core of every role playing game is character interaction. How the players interact with the world around them and the people in it. While it can be fun to go head long into the fray of battle this is only part of the story. Both GMs and players should consider how and why things are happening and the impact the players actions have on the world and story as a whole.

    What does this mean? Here are a game play example.

    During the course of a story a Coven of Lucid’s meet with a contact in a bar while investigating a string a murders. Shortly after leaving they are attacked by some street punks. Dealing with the gang members they return home and begin shifting through the data their contact was able to turn up on murders in the area. One might chalk the gang fight up to a “random encounter” and simply move on.

    This serves as a way to bring action into the a session that might have otherwise been fully devoted to social interaction and research. However, it may also leave players wondering hat was the point or thinking that the game is overall combat driven. Lets take a different look at this same scene

    During the course of a story a Coven of Lucid’s meet with James Dove, a contact, at the GoLoHi, a remix bar known for trafficking designer drugs. They are investigating a string of murders and the bodies all seem to have black on black eyes like an Ice junkie. Traffic out of the GoLoHi is run by the Kamden Enforcers, a smaller gang but they have good chemists. Seeing what looks like a deal going don on their turf they decide to get in on the action and send a message. Outside the GoLoHi the Coven is confronted by the Kamden Enforcers looking for money. The players escalate this to a full on fight, knowing they can easily handle a few gang members.

    They might not know why the Kamden Enforcers came around looking to give them a hard time, but there are enough background elements that, assuming the Coven was creative or had the right skills, they could put things together if they wanted to investigate. These details give the world an added depth turning a random encounter into part of the greater urban ecosystem.

    Now, lets now look at the player’s actual actions. In our example the Kamden Enforcers came looking for money and what they got was a fight. A common enough outcome in any role playing game. How did the fight turn out though? Did the Kamden Enforcers live, or did the supernaturally charged Lucids kill them outright?

    In an urban area, with night clubs, any fight is going to attract attention. Use of strange abilites even more so, even at 2 AM. Escaping without the police escalating matters further is one direct complication. Video equipment is cheap and little brother is almost always watching even if it doesn’t make the news. Somewhere on the net there is likely going to be footage and when the Kamden Enforcers sent to deal with the Coven don’t show up again someone is inevitably going to be very interested, or even if they do, the footage serves as proof something’s going on with the player characters.

    Where do we go with this? There’s any number of possibilities. Gang payback is an obvious choice, possibly even kidnapping Dove to get to the Coven. Maybe the gang leaders take a more pointed interest in the characters if they used supernatural abilities. This might mean trying to steal their powers somehow, or even brokering a deal with them.
    “I saw how you moved, slipping through shadows, don’t tell me it was a trick, I’ve got uses for someone like you.”
    There are also larger scale repercussions, what if a Keeper analyst comes across the footage. The Coven may soon find themselves under surveillance from a much more powerful organization than any street gang.

    While the above example is centered around an action scene GMs and player should always consider the possible consequences of their actions. The positive being just as important as the negative if not more so. A chance encounter where the character showed kindness to a girl they thought homeless may turn up some time later as a way into a bolt hole off the grid or an in with an underground commune. These types of interactions build the world around the characters and lets them know their actions matter.



  • Nothing Wasted 4: Window Dressing

    Nothing Wasted explores ideas to help utilize different aspects of gaming to their fullest or promote new ways to use existing tools.

    There is a tendency to treat the story around the PCs as the center of the universe, and like most people, what happens in their daily lives is the most important thing to them. However, there are always more things going on in the world than what directly affects an individual. In a game these external events can add depth to a world, helping it to feel like a living breathing place.

    When planning a campaign, or even a story it can help to plot several peripheral stories. These events may or may not related to the characters, over even be part of larger events that may come back to impact them. These types of details help set the stage on which the players will be interacting on.

    For example a GM is planning to set their up coming campaign around the tent city outside a major city. They begin by setting up some general background events:

    There is a movement to beautify the city.
    Unemployment is on the rise.

    Shelters and soup kitchens are reporting being over capacity.

    Agro Corporations are experiencing labor strikes.

    These are broad events that may in the grand scheme seem somewhat related but the impact to the characters isn’t instantly clear. However, when the GM tells the characters they shouldn’t be wealthy and live on the outskirts of the city it likely wont be much of a surprise. More so this gives the Players jumping off points for backgrounds.

    The GM decides to center the first story around in the campaign around food shortages in the community. Since most people in the tent city barter with one another this means most people are starving. To reinforce this the GM adds the following events to the world.

    ASA cattle farmers have gained the rights to clear another two thousand acres of no longer protected rain forest for grazing.

    Police are cracking down on the homeless and area transients.

    Black Reign has released their new album Long Winter.

    While these first two elements may be delivered as news stories during the course of game play. The GM opts to have this last event delivered though a slick ad campaign involving canvasing every square inch of unattended wall with Long Winter posters. While unrelated the name is enough to invoke the right images in the their Players

    Depending on how the Players react the GM hay run a story around the Agro Corps keeping labor on strike to drive up food prices and Watchtower manipulation to drive people to the churches for aid. For now though the Players have several snippets of information that both set the tone and help to build the world around them.

    not every story needs these types of background details. However, interspersing them though the course of a campaign provides additional details and can be a great tool for flavoring your game world.



  • Nothing Wasted 3: Skills, Background and Perception

    Nothing Wasted explores ideas to help utilize different aspects of gaming to their fullest or promote new ways to use existing tools.

    Before we start this weeks Nothing Wasted I should say that when I say perception that we’re not talking about the Perception Skill but how our Characters perceive the world around them. More on that later. First up Skills.

    Skills represent the bulk of what a Character has learned to do in their life. As such each Skill isn’t just a numeric value but part of how they grew up and who they are. To use a simple example all police officers go through a training period where they learn the fundamentals of their work and the skills they will need to do their jobs. All police officers know how to use pistols. You simply can’t get out of Cop School without knowing how to shoot a gun. A different example would be the street kid who was never formally taught how to shoot a gun but learned what they needed to survive. Both of these characters may have the same numeric values for the Firearms Skill but how that looks and feels is very different when viewed though a cinematic lens.

    These types of stylistic differences have been used in many countless stories to bring characters together. While one shouldn’t feel forced to decide where each and every skill they have came from when developing a background. These types of details add depth and flavor not just to a single character but all the story as a whole.

    For GMs Character’s Skills are equally important. This is where we come to perception. As people grow and learn it shapes how they perceive the world. In this regard all skills are important, and skills that don’t directly related to combat are perhaps evermore important. Two give a difference example, imagine a small park, with a little hill. There is a short fat tree that sits on top of the tree and a walkway that leads down into the park lined with different plants. This description makes no judgement it simply states facts. As you read the description though your mind began filling in blanks to create an image. You may have even began adding details, who’s at the park or what’s going on there. These details are going to vary wildly depending on the person. If you were in the medical field you may have thought of things like jogging and the health benefits, or possibly the dangers of jogging down a hill where there could be twigs and other other things to slip on from the rows of plants. Now what if you were a gardener, would they also be thinking about health, possibly, but, ideas of what the path is lined with, how everything is laid out aesthetically may also come to mind. One of the Fractured Kingdom play testers and here’s what she came up with:

    A calm relaxing place, the tree is a perfectly symmetrical oak, like from a child’s drawing. It’s a place to sit and think or meditate.

    Why is this important? Both Players and GMs should know where their Characters come from. For the Player this helps to define who they are and make decisions. As the GM it allows you to frame scenes in a way the Character might see them. This cooperative play allows the Players to immerse themselves more fully into the character and as a GM craft a more vivid experience for everyone.



  • Nothing Wasted 2: Getting the most out of Contacts

    Nothing Wasted explores ideas to help utilize different aspects of gaming to their fullest or promote new ways to use existing tools.

    Contacts: People a character knows that can be called on for help. Until the character needs their contact they exist in a void waiting for their buddy to call them up for some needed info or a line on some new gear. At least this is how Contacts seem to get used. A good number of characters have no contacts, no one to call on. However, if we did a bit deeper you can see that virtually everyone we know has at least one or two game worthy contacts.

    Taking a step back for a minute a contact is someone a character has formed a relationship with. They may not be best friends but they are close enough that the contact is willing to share privileged information with the character. This might be a former coworker in the security field or a schoolyard buddy that now works at a hospital, while they might not be close these are people in the character’s life they can turn to for help at times. By the same token a contact might be a family member or close friend that just is just far enough removed from the character to avoid getting pulled into their misadventures. (Although, there’s a Boon for that too, it’s called Ally.)

    By establishing even a basic relationship with a contact the Player and GM help flesh out not just the NPC but the character as well. Asking questions like what type of relationship the pair have, are they friends, or does the character have some kind of leverage over a sleazeball he uses to extort leads from? How did they first hook up? What types of interactions have they had in the past? Adding these details gives everyone a better sense of the Contact, the character and game world as a whole.

    This type of information is not just for the Players. Contacts make excellent tools for building stories and the more details provided the richer and more engrossing they become. Contacts become links to the world around them and can help draw the character in. That doesn’t mean every story revolves around saving your old war buddy but it might mean one night you get a call because food cooperative he’s been supplementing his less than impressive VA benefits with is getting static from some company men.

    Laila has to contacts: Soloman and Rach both have a Value of 2. Her notes include some details on both of them:

    Solomon a Grave Lucid living in Tiergarten, although he prefers the wastes to the city. A scavenger by nature he is more than adept at locating rumors and news stories that fall between the cracks. Laila and Solomon aren’t the closest of allies, she never could stomach the things that always seem to hover near him.

    Rach, an antiquities dealer who had fallen in with a Slumbering Lucid named Dallen. When they found them they were on the run and just off the boat from the Sates. The couple stayed with them for about two years and Rach helped a lot dealing with Nico that first year. After Dallen died, she didn’t have a reason to stay in Tiergarten. Living in London now, Rach has begun the process of rebuilding her life from before meeting Dallen. Laila and Rach are not on the best of terms but more than once she’s been able to help out, for old time’s sake.

    Both descriptions give a brief description of the contacts and what their relationships are like. Laila isn’t particularly close to either of them, Although that may have been different in the past, especially Rach. We know that from the description that Solomon is a Grave Lucid and possibly a zombie summoner or plague bearer. Rach on the other hand is a mundane, but she’s been involved in Lucid affairs for some time.

    Both of their descriptions lay out ideas for when Laila might want to call on them. However, there is also enough there for the GM to build from. Solomon is a scavenger and is good a digging up buried stories. These things get buried for a reason and Solomon may find himself over his head and calling on old coven mates for aid. Rach has a classic Contact roll, antiquities, any number of stories could come from her, high adventure, theft and intrigue, or anything in between the finding of lost things can require a lot of work. Rach also has a position that facilitates travel for Laila and the other Coven members if a story would send them around the world.

    The next time you go to create a character ask yourself, who do they know? That old mate or ex-girlfriend may be a Gateway to more cinematic gaming.