Q. How does the game play? What does the game feel like?
Every game is a balance of narrative flavor, depth of rules and speed of play. Fractured Kingdom provides essential setting details without becoming so consumed by finer points that GMs would feel constrained to any one play style or narrative explanation.
The Open Action System, the rule system behind Fractured Kingdom, boils down to a basic core mechanic, and how it is applied depending on the role or situation. Emphasizes has been placed on flexibility and creative game play. While not as rules light as some systems, it provides a clear framework designed to cut down on the cross-referencing and research required for other games.
After only a short introduction to the system character generation and game play has an easy and quick flow. Conflict resolution is fast, and actual combat can be over in a flash, especially when the mundane face off. The Lucid possess powers beyond mundane humans but a hail of gunfire can cut down almost anyone. Almost…
Q. What are the systems mechanics like?
The mechanics are built off of a core rule characters have various characteristics representing their aptitudes, some of these are generally familiar, such as Strength, or Unarmed Fighting, Others may be more character specific such as Orphan, or Grandmother. When you attempt to complete a task the GM assigns a core characteristic for that task. For example say you wanted to flip a car over the GM may assign Strength as the core characteristic.
Now if you only have Strength and nothing else related to the flipping over of cars the player would roll 2d6 adding it to the value of their Strength Score. Why 2d6, a character gains 1d6 for free to attempt any task, this is like a bare minimum of effort.
There are 5 types of Characteristics, starting with the broad category of Attributes: Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom, etc, mundane Skills, and their Specialties: Unarmed Fighting, Perception, Gambling, etc, then there are the more supernatural or harder to define Abilities and their Foci: Supernatural Tolerance, Enhanced Senses, or “Long Shot” That works for you when the odds aren’t in your favor.
When a character adds one of these they also unlock a possible die. So adding Strength to your roll gives you Strength + 2d6. Now let’s say that character was a supernatural strongman, they may also have the skill Pack Mule and the Ability Strong adding these together the character would have a base Value of Strength + Pack Mule + Strong + 4d6.
A character may use whatever characteristics are appropriate for a roll but if they use more than one of the same type, say 2 skills they can only gain the die from skills for that first skill used. So you’ll never roll more than 6d6.
To this point the Mechanics chapter of the book gives an example of a character using their Orphan Background in combat when protecting a child, and another character’s Needle Work skill when trying to solve a puzzle. This is to allow characters to chose, and emphasize background concepts without suffering “in game penalization” as in some point buy systems.
Lastly, characters have access to Boons; these are special powers, tricks or other things that really do not work with an assigned value. This includes things like Grave and Verdant Boon Flesh Eater that allows them to heal by eating flesh of a fresh kill.
Q. Do all characters have the same basic abilities? Or do they have more DIY free-form abilities lists? Does everyone have the same stats? If not do those stats come from a list, or to you create your own?
Yes to both parts.
The core book defines basic characteristics but allows and encourages the creation of new Skills and Specialties to define the character. To help facilitate this there are some very broad categories such as Career, or Background.
Q. What kinds of things do characters do in this game? What’s an archetypal adventure look like?
This is something I really leave in the hands of the game group, the setting of Fractured Kingdom allows for high conspiracy, and intrigue, more akin to thrillers or horror games, or high action. It really depends on what kind of game you want to run.
Q. Can you give us a quick rundown on combat?
To start combat is broken down by Turns representing roughly 6 seconds. Characters can take 2 actions in a Turn. This may be a Move Action, Attack, or Active Defense along with other things such as interacting with objects, and the like.
Combat begins with rolling Initiative, the highest value acting first. Characters may want to save one or more of their actions to either take an active Defense or Interrupt someone else’s action during the Turn, so there is some strategy involved even without any supernatural shenanigans going on.
To keep things simple when a character attacks the player compares the roll to the target’s Defense. On a high roll they successfully hit. Defenders may opt to spend an action to take an active defense rolling dice to add to their base Defense Value or to absorb part of the blow.
Damage is based on the number of characteristics uses modified by weapons or any Boons. The base damage is a set Value to make combat fast. Characters can take various actions to boost their damage or accuracy depending on the need.
There is also an optional wild factor that adds or subtracts damage for groups that want to mix things up a bit.
When a charter is damaged they suffer Health or Ego damage depending on the blow and in cases of larger damage may suffer Wounds. These impede the character representing things like deep tissue bruises, sprains, fractures and later on broken limbs or concussions.
Q. What is the advantage of having, say, a high Strength in terms of damage?
Typically a character will use either Strength or Dexterity to resolve an unarmed attack. Let’s say a character has an exceptionally high Strength of 20 along with an Unarmed Fighting Skill 6 and Specialty 4 in bar room brawling. Assuming they had nothing to add damage to a roll the character would roll 30 (Strength + Unarmed + Specialty) +4d6 and inflict 6 Damage on a successful hit.
Now, let’s say you want to turn that Strength into damage. Because you know you can slug the bloke using just 10 + 4d6. The player would use what’s called a Heavy Blow where the character effectively trades their Attack Value for added damage. This adds an automatic 2 damage for each 5 levels of the characteristic you turn over. Now the character is rolling 10 (Just Skill + Specialty) + 4d6 and doing 14 Damage on a successful hit.
Alternatively, this same character might hedge his bets and go with a modest of roll 20 + 3d6 with a Damage of 10.
Q. Does Heavy Blow only modify melee/unarmed damage?
This combat maneuver can be applied to any attack. One way to think of exchanging a characters attack value for damage is that the character is attempting to strike a more vital location such as the head, kidneys, or spine. It’s harder to hit, but it hurts so much more. Players should describe these kinds of attacks to emphasize how they are gaining this bonus to damage.
Q. Is there a hit location chart?
The Heavy Blow maneuver actually fills the gap of using hit locations. Combat is a narrative experience and so players are able to describe just how that big hit happened instead of just referencing a chart.
Q. Does armor reduce damage?
Weapons and Armor, both have two values, Rating and Strength, These represent a bonus to hit and damage for Weapons and a bonus to base Defense and damage reduction respectively. Armor can be bypassed with an Action to target exposed areas. In these cases the character looses their Armor Strength but keeps their Rating.
Q. What is the mundane world like? How high-tech is it?
The tech level really varies depending on one’s lifestyle. There are bits of flash fiction between chapters in the book. A lot of the story happens inside a Coven’s apartment (This is a group of Lucid that have banded together for survival) In addition to the wall sized TV they can’t turn off its wired into all their appliances and manages their shopping lists (so not too far off from today). Then we cut to a different character that’s in the middle of a sub orbital slingshot flight
Q. What’s the bleeding edge of technology?
In the Medical section we talk about Agent Harker, an investigator that is, nearly, killed by one of the other iconic characters. After being left for dead, he is rushed to a hospital where parts of his body are regrown in a bath of fun fluids.
Q. Where’s my cyberware?
The Great War ended 66 years before the start of the setting date. It was concluded by an event called the Purge, in which religious fundamentalists from the US South attacked technological infrastructure and data stores, libraries and schools were burned and the world was cast into a modern dark age. One of their most common tactics was to use devastating EMP Bombs which would fry even shielded electronics. This also had the side effect of killing, or wounding people with artificial prosthetics.
The Purge lasted for roughly 2 years before the church collapsed under its own weight, resistance groups and trade embargoes. However, the events had long lasting repercussions on world cultures; part of this being a general distaste for cybernetics. Instead research shifted to gene therapies and stem cell research.
Q. So is the whole world is trashed?
The world went through a long period of war and rebuilding. There are areas of scorched earth know as the Wastes but there are world powers, countries, corporations, cites, towns, and well kept roads.
Since that time man has been working to recover lost information and rebuild society. What does this mean 60 years later? Technology has advanced but not as far as one might think. Archaeologists and scavengers comb the wastes looking for lost relics. The poor live in cities and enjoy a fair amount of creature comfort but lack the real amazing technologies of the rich.
Q. Could you give us a brief description of the Realms?
The Dark is a place of shadow and half seen things. It is an ever shifting place that seems to have no end. The Dark is where nightmares dwell. Formed by our fears they take shape in the Dark.
Dark Lucid are able to this essence of fear, they are able to know things, ancient lore, simply through their connection with the Dark. The Dark also allows them to tap into others emotions or thoughts. Some are able to call forth peoples nightmares manifesting them in the Waking world.
The Grave or Memoria is the Realm of forgotten things, and the dead. Here what has been left behind gathers and lingers.
Grave Lucid are connected to this dead place, as such they can become supernaturally resilient or learn to channel the lingering spirits of the Grave for aid or information.
The Slumber is the dreamers Realm. Here dreamers float in an endless sea, their unconscious mind crafting a tiny shell around them filled with their hopes and desires. The strongest of these ideas may break free slipping out into the Dream Sea and the collective unconscious. Here Glamours foster these dreams creating drive and desire in dreamers.
One idea is that the Dream Sea rests between the Slumber and Dark with Glamours elevating dreams while Shades draw the dreamer down corrupting their hopes.
Slumbering Lucid may represent the idolized self, faster, stronger, and tougher than mundane humans. The Slumbering Lucid are capable of incredible feats such as flight or recreating the experiences of others.
The Verdant is a wild place, the wellspring of nature’s bounty and fury. It is a Realm of lush glens and soaring mountains. Here great beasts and predictors some long extinct still roam free.
Verdant Lucid control the power of nature, this may take the form of well, taking the form of animals, or weather control, and some have the power to heal, even call back the recently dead.
Q. Like Vampires, Ghouls, and Faeries?
Dark Lucid can emulate the powers of the classic vampire if that’s what you are looking to do. Although, the Dark Lucid lacks the supernatural toughness of more recent vampires in fiction, they have other ways of defending themselves.
The Grave bestiary includes Zombies, and Ghouls (undead that retain their minds).
From the Slumber, you might equate the Chandi to the Fae, these are beings that live within the Slumber and sometimes slip into the Walking World.
Verdant Lucid can become shapeshifters.
So a lot of the classical fantasy creatures are represented but with the exception of the Chandi these are all Lucid, or mundane people that have become these things of legend.
An origin of the species campaign is definitely within the scope of the setting as many Lucid struggle to unlock any real understanding of their nature.
Q. Can adventures take place within the Realms?
Yes! Due to size constraints I don’t really explore that in great detail beyond the description of the Realms and the features on might find within them. This is something I am definitely planning to develop in greater detail as we expand the setting.
Q. Does the Verdant feature dinosaurs?
Only the diplodocus, because they are awesome.
Q. Are you serious?
No, I am not a diplodocist.
While the core book does not discuss dinosaurs, the Verdant is a place of eternal life and it is entirely possible that they still thrive within the Realm. The core book does describe a Predator as a creature from the Verdant, these are primal beasts, hunters, there is nothing that says this may not be a T-Rex, and the artwork is something akin to a saber tooth tiger, on steroids.
Q. Is the notion of Lucid, drawing on the concept of dreaming, wherein a person takes something from a ‘dream realm’ and can manifest it in reality?
The term Lucid came about as these were people that while everyone may experience one or more the Realms passively they have actively taken something from the Realm.
Q. Can you describe the scope of your bestiary?
There is a section in the core book Creatures of the Realm including 3 examples from each Realm.
Dark: Shades, Nightmares, and Fear Eaters (worm like things that infect hosts causing to slowly lose their mind)
Grave: Zombies, Ghouls, Poltergeist (Mindless spirits that infest the Grave)
Slumber: Glamour, Chandi, and Broken Dreams (these are dreams released too soon and as incomplete they are often confused and very dangerous, in the worse cases some slip into the Waking World)
Verdant: Predators, Nature Spirits, and Chimera (The Chimera represents the wild forces of the Verdant it is an ever changing thing that does not have a defined form until forced out of the Verdant and into the Walking World. There it often takes on aspects of animals in the region)
How common are monsters in the setting?
For the most part average people don’t realize there is a supernatural presence in the world. Not because there is some force preventing it but because supernatural events get written off by the media. Even if there are more and more feed sites pooping up with strange happenings or events.
The core book includes a sample story that involves a concert all full of screaming fans when a Gateway to the Grave is opened. The sample adventure also includes several headlines that help explain the events in the aftermath. It’s not that one site didn’t mention the undead, but four others have “rational explanations”.