Magic & The Freeport Companion

Magic stunts in Freeport  can be a little restrictive to start with, there are prerequisites needed to qualify for many spells. Starting mages may seem comparatively weak with little of the colour or versatility you might expect from such a character. What I tried to do was create a selection of stunts that would represent ‘archetypal’ mages – with each stunt branching into a series of related stunts representing signature spells we might associate with that archetype. This might seem overly generous, you’re getting a bag of stunts for the price of one – however, there is always a cost associated with each signature spell and there are strict rules restricting how often it’s used.

Sometimes, in order to cast a spell on the current exchange a mage will simply take one shift of mental stress, meaning they’ll be ticking off one box. This could have led to the profession Mystic becoming overpowered (a high rating will grant you additional stress boxes), so to balance this out I specified that a high rating in the profession Scholar will grant access to an additional stunt, providing a choice between the trigger-happy sorcerer and the studious wizard whose learning has opened up new spells for him to master. Additionally the Dabbler in Magic stunt allows players to appoint Aristocrat as their default spell-casting profession, capturing the flavour of bards and eldritch knights.

Also each stunt allows the PC to invoke one particular school of magic with each school functioning just like a character aspect. So I narrowed down the roster of schools to the classic eight, being careful to make clear distinctions between the parameters of each school, something that the designers of D&D never had to worry about, e.g. curative and restorative spells in the Player’s Handbook can be found categorised as belonging to the evocation school and the transmutation school among others. For aspects to really work in Fate they need to be clearly defined so that everyone at the table is clear as to what they can and can’t do. So abjuration is clearly defined as being protective and defensive and transmutation covers all mutative effects on the body, including rapid healing and regeneration. Keep these distinctions in mind as Dungeon Master. The schools of magic are potentially powerful aspects through the use of fate points. Consider what a player can do by declaring a story detail attached to the school of conjuration for example. Treated with care this can bring a lot of colour to games. Unusual magics are common enough in the realms so this should be a boon rather than a problem.

The stunts provided here are just examples of what you can do and I’ll be adding more in the future. Always consider the impact that a signature spell can have on the game and apply sensible restrictions. Magic can be fun but it shouldn’t leave non-mages feeling left out. There are many more classic spells available on the D&D Wiki SRD or the free .pdf of that game’s basic rules and you can use the examples here as a reference for any conversion attempts, not to mention what’s already in the Freeport Companion.

Perhaps the most important thing to consider with magic is that the schools are in effect aspects and sometimes the best way to describe a spell is by invoking that aspect. Is there any need for a Web spell if I can just invoke the school of conjuration to create passive opposition at +2 to hinder pursuers coming down that hallway? Equally with a spell like Spider Climb doesn’t it make more sense to spend a fate point and declare a story detail where I get to scuttle up that wall and over the ramparts because I have the School of Transmutation aspect? Encourage players to develop their own stunts and signature spells if that’s what they want but bear in mind the threat of over-kill! Try to have a good idea regarding what options you want to be available to PCs and how often.

 

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A Baldur’s Gate Trilogy

“Baldur’s Gate is a city divided by walls…walls that cut the Gate into three distinct cities: The rich live atop the bluffs protected from the bourgeoisie clinging to the slopes by barriers that literally prevent the middle class from rising above their stations, and beyond the protection of the city’s walls its many outcasts live with no law but the daggers of thieves.” – from Murder in Baldur’s Gate.

 For your gaming pleasure – three scenarios that make up an epic story-arc revolving around the famed city of Baldur’s Gate. If you have ever wanted to run a swords & sorcery themed Fate game, now’s your chance. You’ll find the scenarios at the bottom of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. There’s more than an occasional nod to French literary classics like A Tale of Two Cities or even The Three Musketeers; not to mention Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar stories – with their colourful characters and cut-throat thieves’ guilds.

You’ll find they’re compatible with all of your 5th edition books like the Player’s Handbook or the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide if you play D&D. In fact, you’ll find that the 5th ed. write-ups for spells and monsters are easy to emulate using the guide-lines on this blog or those found in the Freeport Companion.

Uluvathae! (fortune bring you joy – in elvish).

The Orcus Pit — Dyson’s Dodecahedron

The dead stir. Investigations at the graveyard and nearby give no reason, but the dead refuse to remain where they belong. Guards have been posted, brave souls have spent the night watching for the foul necromancer that is bringing them back… but to no avail. If anything, the constant paranoia about the graveyard and the […]

via The Orcus Pit — Dyson’s Dodecahedron

Bedlam in Baldur’s Gate

I’ve posted a conversion of sorts for the Fury in Freeport scenario found towards the end of the Freeport Companion for those Dungeon Masters keen on running it using the rules on this blog. You can find it under the Dungeon Master’s Guide at the top of the screen.

As you might imagine the scenario is a natural fit when transplanted to the famed port-city of Baldur’s Gate. There are some minor exceptions, notably the fact that goblinkin and the like do not stroll openly around the Gate and the presence of hard-nosed mercenary company, the Flaming Fist mean the city is a little less raucous than Freeport. Other than that though, the adventure fits like a glove and we’ve provided lots of pointers and expanded notes to give DMs plenty of options when running the game, not to mention added read-aloud text to help bring the story to life.

If you like what you see you might want to pick up Murder in Baldur’s Gate for the excellent setting book. Failing that, Volo’s Guide to the Sword Coast comes highly recommended.  Get them at dmsguild.com

Improving Spells with Milestones

Be sensible when awarding milestones to players, particularly those who may access powerful stunts. Force players to be economical, particularly when looking to expand their magical capabilities.

In the case of significant milestones that would normally permit a player to increase a profession’s rating by a point you could also allow that player to improve an existing magical stunt, either adding a new signature spell available to that archetype or improving a spell. So, for example a spell that would normally only be usable once per scenario becomes available once per session and so on. Be careful when allowing players to increase shifts of damage attributed to spells and respect game balance.

Of course a major milestone will grant a player a bonus fate point which can be immediately spent on a new stunt, which might allow that player to complete the roster of signature spells available to them or indeed add a new mage archetype providing they have an aspect that justifies it. Just what amount of gold is necessary to buy these milestones will be determined by the Dungeon Master and campaigns can vary from one group to another. It’s also worth making temporary fate points available which may be bought during play – these points vanish from the refresh pool as soon as they are spent.

The Monk

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Let’s try to recreate the monk class from the Dungeons & Dragons game by developing some appropriate stunts. As you might expect many of these stunts build on the Acrobat profession. Other attributes of the monk might be expanded with character aspects, high-lighting the use of ki (or inner energy), mastery of the elements and of course devotion to martial arts. You may also wish to add a magical stunt – see the drop-down menu under the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

For more on the monks of Faerûn see the following pages:

http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Monk

http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Special:Search?search=monasteries&fulltext=Search

Sample stunts are as follows:

Crouching Tiger – Once per exchange, you may ignore initiative ranking and choose to initiate an attack whenever a creature declares that it will attempt to physically harm you, though you may only respond to that particular threat.

N.B. You must declare use of this stunt prior to any dice being rolled.

Deflect Missiles (Acrobat) – At the cost of a fate point you may choose to defend any or all non-magical missile attacks in your current zone as one defend action, enjoying a +2 bonus. You must declare your intention before any dice are rolled and your subsequent action provides passive opposition for the remainder of the exchange.

Flurry of Blows (Warrior) – Your fists count as a medium weapon and deal 1 bonus shift of bludgeoning damage on a successful attack.

Hidden Dragon (Warrior) – When you successfully make an unarmed attack with Warrior, you may reduce the stress dealt by 1 to gain a boost even if you did not succeed with style. However, that boost only rewards you with a re-roll not a +2 (requires Flurry of Blows).

Martial Artist (Acrobat) – Provided you are wielding a finesse weapon you may make attack actions using the Acrobat profession (requires Peaceful Warrior).

Peaceful Warrior (Acrobat) – Provided you are not wearing any armour or shield you enjoy two free boosts per session which may be invoked on any Defend action.

Step Of The Wind (Acrobat) – You gain a +2 whenever you attempt to vault objects or leap to any higher level available.

Walking On Water (Acrobat) – You move unimpeded across one zone featuring water provided you are not also attempting anything more complex than a free action.

New Additions

New studies have been compiled and added to the Monstrous Manual for those Dungeon Masters among you of a particularly sadistic nature. Interested in observing adventurers dying in the most grotesque and spectacular of fashions? Well then, look no further than the flesh-devouring ghoul, the otherworldly air elemental and the legendary aratha, or “killer beetle”. Adventurers beware!