FAE for Fae
Monday we got back to our “Changeling Lost Vegas” campaign and had a fairly kick-ass session. Despite the holiday break everyone came back in and finished out the problem at hand- leading to a revival meeting in the desert; pie-launchers; flipped trucks and cars; an over-indulgence in fried candy-bars; chicken feather obscurement; and Wayne Netwon dropping his silver-plated katana. We’ve been playing Changeling the Lost with Fate Core for several sessions now and I like it much better than the World of Darkness version. That’s not to say WoD is bad, but it sometimes gets in the way of what I want out of play. That’s especially true for a campaign we play VoiP and for only two hours per session. It might be different for a longer and/or f2f campaign set-up. Because of that time limit, I want fast and easy resolution. And I want it even more streamlined than the already lean Fate Core. So we’re going to try moving to Fate Accelerated for play. It consolidates things further and fits well with what we’re trying to do and the limits of our play sessions. Here’s what I’m thinking…
We will use the usual aspects from Fate Accelerated. I could see retooling them in a couple of others ways. For example, four Approaches affiliated with the Seasonal Courts. Use Summer for Aggression; Winter for Avoidance; and so on. Alternately, you could have Approaches built on the different Seemings. Your Ogre trait represents brute force, your Darkling covers quiet and hidden. That has some advantages for color, but it could create some confusion. Since this version relies a good deal on player knowledge and assumptions about the background already, I’ll stick with the standard Approaches.
Again, we stick with the classic set-up for Aspects: High-Concept, Trouble, plus three others. Players should integrate their Seeming, Kith, and/or Court into one or more of those aspects. If we were starting from scratch, I’d probably make that a more formal requirement.
Morosa Scorned, our Ogre Witchtooth/Clotheshorse, came up with the following aspects. She’s tweaked them a couple of times. These may not be the final versions.
- High Concept: Prepared to hot-wire the steamroller of Karma
- Trouble: “The Help”
- Witchtooth-voodoonista, a curse engineer by any other name...
- Striking in more ways than one
- No better backup
This offers the most potential complexity. The elaborate and developed Contract lists from the CtL books are awesome and interesting. But they do get lost in the shuffle when we’re playing short sessions. So we want a flexible but colorful system that still has some limitations. Changelings aren’t Mages- they have some restrictions and drawbacks. So how to work that in?
In this FAE version, players pick up Contracts as an Extra. They buy these as a full Contract set (Contracts of Oath & Punishment, Contracts of the Moon, Contracts of Separation). We don’t worry about the individual levels. That removes some of the granularity and it fits better with the FAE approach.
What can you do with Contracts? Primarily they act as a kind of meta-aspect, in the same way people have been handling super-powers in other FAE mods. You can use them like an aspect to gain a reroll or add a +2 to your roll. More importantly, they can be used to create an effect- a significant change to the environment, to break the normal rules of the mundane world, using an ability in a new way. The nature of the Contract determines the spirit of what a Changeling can do with it. Contracts of the Den relate to a Changeling’s Hollow, so if they wanted to set up wards & alarms, craft a penalty for those entering their sanctuary, or find a quick exit to their safe house, they would invoke that.
Generally a player will say what they want to do with their Contract. If it is simply about a +2 or reroll, they do their normal spend of a Fate point. If it is something else, the GM will have them make a roll based on an Approach.
The GM can set the difficulty higher or lower based on the power and scope of what the Changeling’s trying to do. The GM should give the player a sense of that difficulty.
If an effect is unusual or would ramifications lasting longer than a scene, the GM may ask that the player either spend a Fate point or take a point of Composure Stress. The player has the option to rescope their effect if they wish.
The GM should considering using Compels on players when they’re in the middle of using Contracts. Invoking such powers should involve some risk. It’s a great time to tug on Trouble Aspects and other details.
After a scene in which a Changeling has used a Contract for effect other than a +2 or a reroll, they suffer a point of Composure stress. They can mark off a box or take a Consequence. This represents both the use of the Glamour resource and the strain on their Clarity. Players may avoid this damage by spending a Fate point. They may also take consequences. Otherwise they’ll have to engage in the usual Changeling glamour harvesting actions in order to recover their Composure. Composure damage for Changelings can only be healed through these methods. In play that means using up Hedge Fruit/People (see below) or spending time harvesting from mundanes. Play that out if you think it would be fun; otherwise this rule exists to simulate the resource management from the original game and to put pressure on Changelings who have to move from conflict to conflict.
Hedge Fruit/People: Players might have access to hedge fruit, a classic detail in CtL. Alternately, they may have cultivated a person or group of persons with emotional resonance they can draw Glamour from. This can be represented by a thing with a number of stress boxes. Each time the Changeling uses the resource for covering their Composure loss, mark off a box. When all of the boxes have been marked off, the player must undertake some action to renew them. They either have to forage out into the Hedge for more and different fruit, they have to renew their vows and bonds with an artist, or perhaps there’s some threat to them they need to take care of. This is another version of Plot Stress from Legends of Anglerre.
Catches: In original Changeling, characters use catches on Contracts to reduce the glamour spend. In general, I’m assuming that method’s being used here in practice. It is folded into the other mechanics. However, GMs may allow a player to make a significant sacrifice in order to cover the cost of using a Contract in play (in place of a Fate point or Composure stress). This should be the loss of something important: a friendship, a memory, a super-useful item. The GM should feel free to reject weak offers or those without some narration.
These rules assume some familiarity with the Contracts from the original Changeling the Lost. Some of the Contracts from that have names that don’t exactly describe what they’re actually about. This system does allow for players to more easily come up with new Contracts- and I think that’s an awesome advantage.
I’m not going to worry about detailing Stunts. I’d use these to represent things like Advantages from the original WoD version or objects like tokens. Generally I’d dispense with them unless they fit with a player’s conception. If a player wants a Stunt I’d use the relative value weight of two Stunts = One Contract.
This is a slightly higher magic world, with a slightly different economy to the Fate points based on the Contracts. I suspect I’ll have players begin with a refresh 1 or 2 higher.
Players have two Stress tracks, one for Physical and one for Composure. Both begin with three boxes.
I’ll have to look at how I want to handle Milestones and how Contracts fit into that- should they take the place of Stunts in that conception? I’m not sure yet. Right now we’re converting characters over so I have to figure out those numbers. I should also work out basics of how you’d build a character for a new Changeling FAE campaign.