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

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!

Detect Magic

Provided a PC has access to the School of Divination aspect then it makes sense that they might create an advantage using their spell-casting profession to uncover magical aspects in a scene. Those aspects may describe the lingering effects of spells, the presence of prohibitive magic in the form of wards or even the state of the weave itself when wild magics run unchecked.

In situations as described above a create an advantage action will be called for with passive opposition providing the difficulty. If the aspect being uncovered is particularly unique, then the Dungeon Master might be applying the Bronze Rule and treating the magic as being akin to a character, with multiple aspects and stunts. This makes a lot of sense in the case of high-level wards – prohibitive magics programmed to respond in specific ways to trespassers. In Faerûn every mage worth knowing employs a sigil as a kind of occult signature. If used for warding purposes that sigil may be reinforced by a number of charged glyphs, each one working in concert to contribute to a powerful ward.

Of course if the Player Character has access to the Detect Magic spell as described in the Freeport Companion then there may be no need to go to the dice but even if a magical aspect is revealed it’s effect may continue to influence and affect the scene: just like any other game or situation aspect. How to remove that aspect will be decided between players and Dungeon Master.

For some inspired ideas describing magical wards and traps see this page over at the Alexandrian blog: http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/12909/roleplaying-games/thought-of-the-day-disarming-magical-traps

For the Bards!

Stinging Rebuke (Aristocrat):  Your quick wit and sharp tongue, not to mention your general demeanour allow you to attack causing mental stress in situations that would normally preclude this action, e.g. where language barriers exist or amidst the chaos of the battlefield.

This stunt costs a fate point to use and lasts for one whole scene or conflict.


 

There you go, a Christmas present of sorts for the rogues out there. On a similar note, for Dungeon Masters looking to turn up the heat on mages it is worth remodelling this stunt in order to outfit monsters and foes who specialise in haranguing magic-users on the battlefield, e.g. a pack of goblins with the Magehunter stunt.

Wearing down a mage’s mental stress track can be an especially nasty tactic considering that many sorcerers and mystics depend on it as a resource when casting spells. In fact, as mentioned previously it’s worth looking at ways to present mental stress to players as part of the toils of adventuring in order to reign in magical powers. Accepting stress is a valid interpretation of a minor cost. For more examples of how mental stress can come about as a by-product of adventuring see the rules on Insanity in the Freeport Companion.

Counterspells

A further clarification on the rules described in the Magic & Damage section:

‘You may launch a counterspell, providing active opposition to any spell being cast that you are aware of regardless of the cost demanded by that specific magical effect.’

If a stunt gives you permission to employ a counterspell you are simply providing active opposition to an action that creates a magical effect where normally no active opposition would feature. As stated, the mage attempting to cast the spell will be forced to roll dice, actively opposed by a player or Dungeon Master even if he wasn’t using the create an advantage action. So, for example, if a mage is attempting a summoning spell that costs a fate point he will be forced to roll dice aswell if opposed by a mage with the ability to counterspell.

The DM should provide exceptions for certain magical effects where sensible, for example when magical items like scrolls and wands are in use. In the case of magic missiles and the like the counterspell should allow the target mage to make a defend action with his spellcasting profession rather than Acrobat.

This of course isn’t the only case where a mage may be faced with active opposition. For example a pack of frenzied Gnolls who have chosen to gang up on a priest might create the aspect Gnolls Breathing Down My Neck!, which the priest would have to overcome before casting any spell. The DM may rule in this case that removing the aspect will be actively opposed by the Gnolls.

Spellcraft – Converting D&D’s classic spells to Fate

Globe of Invulnerability:

You may cast the following spell once per scenario. An immobile, faintly shimmering magical sphere surrounds you and as many as three others, excluding any magical spells or effects that do not cost at least one fate point to cast. So, for example magic that affects one or more zones in any exchange must make special exception for those sheltered within the Globe of Invulnerability, including the Anti-Magic Field spell. The globe may be dismissed by a hostile mage, as per the rules in the Magic & Damage section but it will automatically cost a Fate point to attempt this. Additionally, the globe carries the aspect Fading Fast.

The material component is a small, spherical gem of some value that shatters upon the spell’s expiration.

*

You have just read a conversion of the classic Lesser Globe of Invulnerability spell from the freely available Dungeons & Dragons System Reference Document. This is a stock spell that would have been a go-to for any forward thinking mage with a copy of the Player’s Handbook. However like many of D&D’s classic spells, the finer details necessitate the use of special rules. The key feature of this spell is it’s ability to preclude the effects of low-level spells on the area contained within the globe. Specifically the spells precluded are 4th level and lower.

Now, since the rules of FotFR (and probably most Fate games of this ilk, including the Freeport Companion), don’t feature exhaustive spell lists segmented according to level we have to rework the key features of this spell. We do want to capture the spirit of the original spell so let’s consider the intent behind the magic – the globe excludes the effects of all magics of limited potency. In order to replicate this approach we can decide that in FotFR these low-level magical effects will be considered to be any that do not cost at least one fate point to invoke.

Similarly, many spells in the Player’s Handbook specify a duration that is tied to the caster’s level. There being no equivalent to this mechanic in Fate we simply attach an aspect to the spell’s effect – Fading Fast. An experienced mage will likely have a big pool of fate points to draw from, enabling him to keep the spell ‘up’ for longer.

The key thing to bear in mind here is that there is no need to be too technical. Like the example above, if there is a vulnerability inherent to the spell such as a time limit then the simplest way to represent this is with an aspect. The players may need to create an advantage to learn of this aspect although as DM you could rule that any PC mage with some schooling in the Art will be aware of this aspect anyway.

In Fate of the Forgotten Realms each signature spell is accessed through a stunt describing a particular brand of mage. These stunts are known as Mage Archetypes. Like the branching effects detailed in the Skills & Stunts section of the Fate core system, each stunt will branch into a series of signature spells (often hand-picked by the player), reflecting the theme of the archetype.  There are many examples in the ‘Dungeon Master’s Guide’ accessible on this site but players and DMs are encouraged to create their own Archetypes, possibly reassigning signature spells from this site or incorporating new spells. Owing to the protective nature of the Globe of Invulnerability it would seem that the Guardian stunt would be a natural home for this spell.