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

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.

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.

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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.

A Dungeon Master’s Guide…

What do we need to play Fate in the Forgotten Realms? Well, firstly if you haven’t already done so familiarise yourself with the game – fate-srd.com. The Fate Core System hardback is well worth investing in, trust me and it’s a handsome little tome that will sit well on any wizard’s shelf. Much of the rules on this site are based on the Fate Freeport Companion, which is presumed essential reading for play in the realms. You can pick it up on Drive-Thru RPG. You will need some reference material for the world you are about to run. You could feasibly get by using the Forgotten Realms Wiki, a very decent online library of realmslore but you’ll be missing out if you neglect acquiring a good sourcebook.

There are currently four editions of the Forgotten Realms, by far the most focused and atmospheric are the earlier iterations. The first edition, the old grey box is cherished by many gamers, mostly for it’s conciseness but it’s light on detail compared to later texts.

The second edition, either the gold box or the revised edition expands greatly on the world, however it is a world recovering from some turbulent ‘realms shaking events’. These r.s.e.s are questionable, undeniably included to trumpet the arrival of a new edition but frustratingly they are taking something from the DM, the privilege to shake up the world as she sees fit to. It is ten years from the Time of Troubles, when avatars of the gods schemed and fought against each other on Faerûn. More on the gods later. It is perhaps the definitive vision of the realms though and I would strongly recommend you get a copy, with a little luck a .pdf might be found online.

The third edition is praised for it’s high level of detail but it also introduces a major player in the returned Netherese Archmages, transforming the great northern desert in the process where there had previously been endless sand, warring bedine tribes and mysterious ruins. That’s an impactful event and changes the whole tone of Faerûn. It wouldn’t be to my taste. If you like the idea of a desolate desert hiding ancient secrets you might want to exclude the returned archmages and everything they bring. Still, it gets high marks and can be picked up online at sites like dmsguild.com.

Finally, since our campaign is set on the swashbuckling stretch of waters known as the sword coast, the adventure module Murder in Baldur’s Gate would make an excellent resource, if only for it’s superb setting book. The city depicted here is larger and more colourful than earlier representations of Baldur’s Gate but it can be easily fitted to any 14th c. arc. In fact for any DM planning on running games in one of Faerûn’s city-states I would suggest that it’s among the best places to start. It’s big and detailed without being too big and detailed.