Anyway, I’ve got the Faction Action rules up for the game- seasonal macro actions for the larger forces you have at your command. Check them out at the game wiki!
War for the Throne is now in playtest!
We chatted a bit about settings- 3 Kingdoms Wuxia, western Feudal high fantasy, some stranger things like modern day, space, Aztec and Bollywood mythic India, but we settled on 1900ish Mythic Russia. Crimea War era, folk rumors, mystic alchemy and mad-science, funny hats, that sort of thing. The player characters are the children of the dead Czar. The nation is at war with two other nations- the analogues for France and Germany. There’s no England- their nation (Thronovia) has the world’s foremost navy.
The heirs are:
The eldest daughter, a mystic alchemist and inventor, a soulless scarred atheist, reviled by the powerful Church. (Brendan)
The oldest son, whose political connections vaulted him through the ranks of the Church. He holds the position of Bishop and has the ear of the Council of Prefects, but he also associates secretly with heretics to increase his personal power. (Tim)
The middle son, a naval hero, and flirty gadfly. The only heir to be engaged- and his fiancee also has a flirty aspect- I see her as a bit of a Helen Tigh figure. (I hope Len does too.)
The youngest son, barely an adult, who killed his father the Czar in a fit of rage. Now haunted by his father’s ghost. (Abram)
So, we’ve got quite a cast of characters there. Who will reign supreme? Who will die horribly?
Today Brendan hosted a day of massive gaming at his house. I think this might be the first day of just gaming for the sake of gaming (not con related) in a long long time. I used to do that sort of thing all the time in High School, but not so much anymore. Good times. We got together around 1 PM, played many many games of Race for the Galaxy, a playtest of Rocket Rummy Race, Brendan ran Awesome Adventures, more games of Race for the Galaxy were played, and then a playtest of the setup and character creation for War for the Throne, and broke around 9 PM.
The War for the Throne playtest was quite a bit of fun. The guys came up with a Norse/Beowulf type setting, with druids, raiding fleets, and three sons- a mad druid reformer, a driven angst-filled warrior raider, and a learned scholar. We had a pretty good conversation about the themes and essential assumptions of the game- I have some very concrete ideas about what play is supposed to be like, and the GM advice really needs to support that. I think everyone left with a better idea of what the game is supposed to be, and very eager to playtesting this. I’m looking forward to starting it up- probably sometime after Gencon.
Here’s a preview of what I’m doing with the Faction Rules for War for the Throne.
Unlike the other faction-stats, Size isn’t rolled. It’s really a measure of how much the faction can do at once, and how many people can pull it in different directions.
Average (1): The faction is too small to be divided on any practical level, but has its interior detractors and idealists. It’s small enough to be effectively ruled by a single person.
Fair (2): Large enough that not everyone in the faction knows each other. At this level, there can be a major schism within the faction, but at the same time, the faction can do more.
Good (3): The faction is a major player in the empire’s politics, and can effectively multitask in political affairs. It’s likely that there are multiple people with vested interests in the faction’s doings.
Great (4): The faction is huge, and likely has many inner rivalries, but it’s legions, spies, and wealth are practically without limit.
Analogue: Charm, Contacts, Empathy
Aid: Leadership, Contacts, Empathy
What sort of pull does the faction have?
Mediocre (0): Culturally backwater, with trouble getting reliable news from elsewhere.
Average (1): A decently sized gossip circle, spreading and tracking rumors.
Fair (2): A small court, with the occasional famous visitor, and minor contacts in other areas.
Good (3): A well-established court, frequented by distinguished members of other factions, with experienced courtiers and spies.
Great (4): The greatest social circle and/or spy network in the land. The secrets of others are bare to you. This faction is the center of culture.
What can you do with it?
Make friends and influence people.
Find out your enemy’s plan.
Trick your enemy.
Aid: Fighting, Leadership
What sort of armed forces can the faction leverage when fighting breaks out?
Mediocre (0): Bands of agitators, armed with peasant weapons, and poorly trained.
Average (1): A mix of trained troops, supported by peasant levies.
Fair (2): A small but well-trained private guard, mercenary group, or standing army.
Good (3): Well trained troops, well equipped, with good leadership, and an ace or two in the whole.
Great (4): The greatest armies of the land, well experienced, well armed, well supported, and with magical powers.
What can you do with it?
Invade your neighbors to kill them, seize their land, and sack their treasury.
Seize control of key sites, like the Imperial Palace.
Kill your enemies.
What sort of financial shape is the faction in?
Mediocre (0): The faction is on hard times. Most of the resources are hoarded away somewhere, and everything else is falling into disuse.
Average (1): Struggling, but getting there. The extravagant is out of reach, but there’s no problem paying for the day-to-day activities of the faction.
Fair (2): Relative financial success. In times of trouble, the faction can probably hire some mercenaries or consultants or magicians.
Good (3): Prosperity. The faction has reserves stored away. Faction members tend to be well supplied, well equipped, and well dressed.
Great (4): The greatest stores of wealth in the entire land- vast treasure vaults, monuments, and an extensive financial infrastructure.
What can you do with it?
Acquire rare and unusual items.
Pay for mercenaries.
Bribe your enemies.
Analogue: Endurance, Resolve
How tenacious is the faction? When push comes to shove, will it stand firm, or will it yield to pressure?
Mediocre (0): Members of the faction are mewling sycophants, ready to lick the boots of anyone who presents them. It will not be long before this faction is defeated and sacked by a worthier one.
Average (1): Lip-service and token obedience. Low-level members of the faction, such as the peasantry, feel no particular loyalty to the leaders.
Fair (2): True feelings of loyalty and pride. Most members of the faction will give aid to another member of the faction they have never met.
Good (3): Great deal of devotion and loyalty. Members of the faction are proud of their affiliation. The peasants would rise up in rebellion against an invader.
Great (4): The faction’s morale is supreme. Key personnel would rather die than admit secrets. Profound, perhaps magically enforced loyalty to the faction’s leaders.
What can you do with it?
Make sure loose lips don’t sink ships.
Stop the enemy from messing with your faction.
So, with playtesting for Escape From Tentacle City starting up (email me if you’re interested)- I’m turning my design attentions to War for the Throne, a FATE game inspired by a number of sources, primarily L5R and my attempt to run a high-level play by post game of it.
So, in War for the Throne, you play the potential heirs to the empire. The whole game is about the sibling rivalry struggle, and whether the heirs can peacefully choose one of their own, or whether they’ll tear the empire apart fighting for it. I’m pretty excited about it.
Mechanically, the heirs are badass, but they aren’t on the level of SotC or Awesome Adventures heroes. They have a skill pyramid topping out at Great. Like Awesome Adventures, I want every skill to be on the character sheet, which means 15 skills total. And I’ve rounded the list down to 14. I need one more.
Here’s what I have right now:
Athletics, Endurance, Fighting, Stealth, “Outdoors”
Mystic Lore, Perception, Resolve, Scholastic Lore, ????
Charm, Contacts, Empathy, Intimidate, Leadership
Obviously, these skills are quite a bit broader than those in SotC, or even Awesome Adventures. Stealth, for example, includes Stealth, Burglary, and Slight of Hand. Might is rolled into Athletics. Fighting includes all kinds of fighting. I’m pretty happy with this framework because it means the heirs will be very well-rounded and very generally competent, especially in their area of expertise.
What I need it a punchier name for Outdoors, and a suggestion for the missing Mental skill. Outdoors includes Wilderness Survival, Wilderness Lore, and things like hunting, riding, piloting boats, etc. I’d call it ‘Badass Outdoorsman,’ but that doesn’t fit the naming scheme.
For the mental skill, I’ve been pondering things like Finance (not broad enough), or Cunning (too broad- what do you use it for?) I’m sure the perfect skill is out there, but it’s not popping yet.