“Tender Loving Care,” or, “Fate’s Awesome, But…”

So, within the next month or so, I aim to complete my first-ever campaign of Fate (well, the first season of my Mecha vs Kaiju story anyhow). Like every other campaign I’ve run so far, being a new GM and all, it’s been a learning experience. Especially- in this case- when it comes to understanding the Fate system overall.

I love the system, but not without caveats. I’ve come to the conclusion that Fate is what I refer to as a, “Rules Light, Maintenance Heavy,” system. Effectively, it’s a system that’s REALLY easy to pick up and run… but it’s got a lot of stuff going on in the foreground and background that you’ll need to sustain to keep it running.

1) “Two out of Three IS Bad,” or, “Why Meat Loaf can Suck it.”

Right off the bat in the core book, it tells you that a Fate Game requires three things to pull off: Proactivity, Competence, and Drama. They’re not kidding when they say these three things need to happen, because it’s just not Fate with one element missing.

If your game is merely Proactive and Competent, you have a Mary Sue/Gary Stu fanfiction. That’s not Fate.

If you’ve only got Competence and Drama, you have a bunch of yahoos who spend their time kicking the crap out of each other while the trouble comes to them. That’s not Fate.

If you’re only packing Proactivity and Drama, you have a bunch of poor schmucks that try and do things and get their backsides handed to them- still bleeding- on a silver platter. That’s DEFINITELY not fate.

The obvious solution, as GM, is to make sure these elements are coming to the fore whenever possible, introducing adventures that brings the different elements to light. Give ’em a chance to shine, give them hooks to explore, and throw in some monkey wrenches from time to time. If you’re not sure you can maintain all three parts… I’d encourage you to try something else.

2) “Keeping it Short, Sweet, and Spicy,” or, “The Speed at which the game peaks is TOO DAMN HIGH”

Now, you can run a Fate game using nothing more than the Skill and Stunts they provide in the main book. You can also live off of meat and potatoes, seasoned with nothing more than salt, pepper, and butter. If that’s how you and your crew rolls, then you do you. However, spicing things up with mechanical tweaks (skill list, stunts, etc) is not only encouraged by the book but, speaking from experience, it also helps bring the setting to life.

Just don’t go overboard and plan a whole lot of stuff for them to do.

This game has gone on for about 6-7 months, not including cancelled sessions. From what I’ve been told by other GMs… this is a fairly long time, and I haven’t even gone through HALF the material I originally planned. In part, because I’ve been prolonging mechanical character advancement and throwing in a sundry of minor misadventures for my party to get into to flesh out the time between Major Encounters.

Why would I do that? Quite simply, I find with narrative-based games, the PCs hit their mechanical peak far too quickly. Then, as the GM, you’re left stumped as to how to light a fire under their butts without them rightfully calling, “SHENANIGANS!!!”

There really isn’t a clear-cut solution here… Make sure you’ve popped the hood (Fate’s incredibly modular, which is another nice thing about it) and given it thematic tweaks, but also figure out whether your group is okay with a slow, drawn-out burn.

3) “The Power of Fate Compels Thee!” or, “I Shot Myself and/or Everyone else in the Foot, and all I got was this Lousy Fate Point?!”

Now, Aspects and Fate Points are some of the most awesome parts of Fate… but also it’s biggest hurdle when it comes to actually running the darned thing.

In Fate, Aspects- one sentence descriptions- are a part of EVERYTHING. From character traits, to relevant bits of scenery, to assorted perceptions of the world around them. What makes them interesting is that they’re double-edged. They can benefit you in some way (which typically costs a Fate Point and you get a mechanical bonus of sorts), or they can hinder you (in which case you get a Fate Point and bad things inevitably happen).
It’s awesome, because Aspects are feasibly easier to keep track of than, say, dozens of character sheets and notes. It also becomes a pain in the arse sometimes to figure out which Aspects to make relevant, especially when it comes to compelling your players (each PC has five Aspects, so having 4 players means there’s a total of 20 Aspects that you can Compel on the players). Long story short, Aspect Bloat will eventually become a problem.

The blatant solution, of course, is to have the players be proactive in self-compels to keep your GM burdens lighter. That’s easier said than done, because- and I’m speaking as someone who also Plays these games- shooting yourself and/or your fellow party members in the foot (figuratively or literally) goes against a lot of players’ mindsets. Let’s face it, taking a McGuffin Token to torpedo an entire infiltration mission because your character has an Aspect that says they’re a Famous Swordsman is guaranteed to piss off a lot of your fellow players (likewise, having to Pay a precious Fate point to avoid the Compel can also get some salt out of the aforementioned player).

Obviously, there’s a myriad of ways that this can be resolved. Reduce the number of Character Aspects so there’s less to keep track of (half the time, 2-3 of them wind up just being padding or left blank). Give a Fate point to all the players affected, not just the guy or gal getting compelled. Tweak the way compels work so that it merely provides higher difficulties or prohibit certain Outcomes for a relevant duration (not just a downright nose-dive into Failureville). Haggling is also a viable option as per the Book, but sometimes that can just descend into frustration.

4) “Tent-Peg Tactics,” or, “… That’s all it takes? Really?”

Now, this could be my inexperience with the system more than anything… but conflict resolution is stale. All you need to do to win (regardless of the type of conflict) is set up a whole whack of free invokes on assorted (relevant) Aspects and combined them all into one Mega-Roll. Sure, it’s pretty awesome in theory, and the narration can get badass… but there’s really no innate way to challenge players beyond doing the same for your conflicts (or giving your baddies a stunt that Hard Caps the number of shifts they can take. Good for Big-Bads, not really justifiable for mooks).


As it stands, those are my thoughts on Fate. See what I meant about Light on Rules, Heavy on Maintenance? As much I love the system, there’s a lot of stuff I need to process and work through before I think about picking it up again. In all honesty, I’m going to be using Savage Worlds for Season 2 of my Mecha vs Kaiju game, just because it’s something I’m far more familiar with.

Anyone else with Fate experience… Do you agree with my ramblings? Do you Disagree? Do you think my observations were written while on crack-laced paste?


Using Fate Core for Concepts: A Word on, “Legacy,” characters.

While I generally like to play a new character in games… I’ll be honest, there are times where I want to take an old character and put them in a new setting (or even a new System). I’ve done that once or twice, and there will be times where I’d like to do it again.

There’s a trick to it: You have to reduce your character down to it’s basic concepts. That way, you can efficiently and easily transport them to other settings (and other systems). That’s where Fate Core, specifically it’s character creation, comes in handy. I’ll quickly describe it (sans a few things, like Stress/Consequences and Refresh, simply because they’re irrelevant for this sort of thing).

You name your character’s Five Aspects (High Concept, Trouble, 3 Miscellaneous Aspects), though all that’s REALLY necessary for this is your High Concept, Trouble, and one Misc
-High Concept: This sums up the very core being of your character (“Swashbuckling Vagabond,” “Quirky Necromancer,” or “Gunslinging Berserker”)
-Trouble: This is some sort of persistent flaw that your character has (“Oooh, Shiny!” “They’re Out to Get Me. THEY ALL ARE!” or, “I Can Quit Anytime I Want!”).
-3 Miscellaneous Aspects: Typically, if I’m running a Fate game, I’ll be sure to make two of them meet certain criteria depending on the setting (in the case of my Mecha vs Kaiju game, I had players give me a “Drive” Aspect to explain why they were fighting the monsters and a “Style” Aspect to represent their Fighting Style in a Mecha), with the last one being some sort of “Freebie,” but typically these are three assorted statements that describe your character.

Next, you pick your Skills. In Fate Core, these take the form of a Pyramid (and the skill list is found HERE)
-One +4 Skill. (This is Typically the only Skill you’re required to have filled out at minimum for Character Creation, simply because it represents the thing you want your character to be totally awesome at)
-Two +3 Skills.
-Three +2 Skills.
-Four +1 Skills.

This sort of thing is handy because it lets you figure out, “Okay… what’s something my character is GREAT at doing? What’s he Good at doing? What’s Negotiable?”

Finally, you pick your Stunts. These are like Feats or Edges in other systems, but they’re much more abstract and there’s no definitive, “List” though it’s up to the GM for final say as to what qualifies as a feasible Stunt (Typically, it should give you no more than a +2 Bonus worth of Mechanical goodies without having restrictions or additional costs). You only need one to start, though you can have up to 3 for Free.

Here’s an example, using a character I used in two different Savage Worlds campaigns: Dr. Schadenfreude (which is never his ACTUAL name, but that’s irrelevant). At his core, he’s a medical professional who believes that using anaesthesia and painkillers inhibits the body’s healing process. I’ve played him as both a quiet, nomadic Physician-for-hire… and an arrogant Med-Judge who’d shoot his mouth off. Here’s his write-up:

NAME: Dr. Schadenfreude

HIGH CONCEPT: Unhinged Medical Professional
TROUBLE: … You Think I ENJOY Inflicting Pain?!
ASPECT: These Bandages are here for a Reason

+4 Lore
+3 Provoke, Notice
+2 Will, Physique, Athletics
+1 Rapport, Contacts, Investigate, Shoot

-“Indomitable” – Dr. Schaddy gets +2 to Will Rolls to defend against Provoke Attacks for Intimidation and Fear
-“Specialist” – Schadenfreude gets +2 to Lore Rolls when Medicine is involved
-“Body Language Reader” – The Doctor can use Notice instead of Empathy when attempting to discover Aspects

That’s basically all it takes to make a core concept of a character. Then, all you have to do is figure out how these abstracts can be extracted to make them a viable character in a different System.

To plug Dr. Shadenfreude into a Savage Worlds game, for example, I’d need to give him the Delusional (No Painkillers) and Ugly Hindrances… as well as the Healer Edge, making his Healing skill pretty high. Give him Taunt and Notice (as well as Shooting and/or Fighting if he’s a more combat-oriented Medic).

“Front-Loading and You,” or, “If it makes Sense, Throw your players a Fricken’ Bone.”

So, a while back I bought the Savage Rifts books and took a gander through them. Yeah, not gonna lie, after randomly rolling up some characters in those rules (a Cyber-Knight, a M.A.R.S. – Mercenary, Adventurer, Rogue, and Scholar- and a Techno-Wizard) I came to the conclusion that other Savage Worlds GMs have: Holy !@#!%@ on a !#@!@ Sandwich, they’ve front-loaded a lot of power onto some Novice Rank (well, seasoned in the case of the M.A.R.S. Framework) characters.

And you know what? That’s totally okay, because it makes sense in the Setting for such high-powered characters to be running around. Of course, Rifts thrives on cranking High-Powered, over-the-top Action up to 11. Putting a Rifts character in your typical Savage Worlds game would be a Boom Gun-laden catastrophe.

That being said, it’s still a great idea to start your players off some extra oomph, even a Hindrance or two (with adequate compensation), as long as it’s thematic to the setting you’re running.

-If you’re running a Martial Arts game, it makes perfect sense for PCs to start with a free d6 in Fighting and the Martial Artist Edge.

-If you’re running something akin to Final Fantasy or Borderlands (high-power characters, Job/Class system), design a few ‘Frameworks’ a la Rifts- except not as high powered- with Starting Skills, Edges, and even a Hindrance or two… basically, stuff that’s considered common for each Template (ie, White Mages always have Arcane Background (Miracles) and Faith d6, while a Gunzerker always has Shooting d6 and Two-Fisted- or rework the Berserk Edge; come on… you know you want to).

-Running a Mecha game? Give everyone Piloting d6 and have a few Mecha Templates (Weapons, Armor, Features/Edges, and Glitches/Hindrances) for characters to pick from.

Now, in all reality, you don’t HAVE to do this. It’s totally acceptable to just design a game and run it without any front-loading. That being said, if you notice that there’s a common element or three in your Setting… it might be a good idea to give them some abilities they’re going to have to get anyway for the story to make sense.

Equilibrium 4A: Major Players

Been a while since the last update on Equilibrium… so I figured I’d share a bit about some of the major players: The Neo United Nations, Humanity’s Legion, The Manachaen Brotherhood, and the Heavenly Hosts/Sons of Sulfur all play a role in the Post-Armageddon world.


**The Neo United Nations**
Main Location: New York City, NY
Led by: Thomas Rolfe
Angel/Demon Relations: Jaella (Angel), Rosh’ La (Demon), and Nicholai Farrel (Human)

Originally, the United Nations was disbanded during the events of Armageddon, but they decided to reform themselves after Equilibrium. Currently, they have three goals:
“Unite the Settlements” – Earth has become a chaotic, unstable place. The Neo UN wants to peacefully unite what’s left of Humans, Angels and Demons. To this end, they’ve created an emmisarial task force to dispense aid throughout the world.
“Exact Justice” – The Neo-UN wants to see the warmongers still roaming the earth held accountable for all the suffering and death they continue to cause.
“Repair the Earth” – To restore the Earth to it’s former glory is a foolish pipe dream… but that doesn’t mean that a little “Tender Loving Care,” can’t be administered to make things bearable. The Neo-UN has discovered a potential means to drain the Radiation from the Earth, and some of their top scientists have been working on a filtration project to make the tainted water drinkable.

GM’s Notes: There’s a few bumps in the road here… For starters? The UN has been infiltrated by members of Humanity’s Legion. These operatives are there to not only torpedo public relations between Humans/Angels/Demons, but to exterminate any Supernatural Entities they come across (especially the PR reps).
Not only that… but their water filtration project has a pair of saboteurs in the form of two of the Four Horsemen: Pestilence and Famine.

**Humanity’s Legion**
Main Location: Moscow, Russia
Led By: Vladimir Soldado
You know that Nuke that caused the first Equilibrium incident and took out God and Satan? Yeah… these jackasses are the ones who launched it. These guys are humanists of the worst kind, believing that mankind should have nothing to do with the Supernatural and it should be destroyed. Their leader, Vlad Soldado, is a defected Russian Super-Soldier who will stop at nothing to purge Earth of those, ‘winged/horned parasites.’

GM’s Notes: Given the true nature of Vlad’s super-soldier enhancements… his Anti-Supernat stance is ironic. See, early on in Armageddon, the horseman of War got his ass handed to him through a combination of sheer luck and anti-supernatural weaponry. He was drained of his power and said power was fragmented and grafted into specially selected soldiers. He’s got a little voice in his head telling him to unite the other fragments, but we’ll find out a bit more about that when I get around to working out the Plot Point Campaign.

**The Manachaen Brotherhood**
Main Location: Lost Island of Patmos
Led by: Lazarus “The Beloved” Johnson
After God and Lucifer went kablooey during Armageddon, I’d be euphemizing if I said there was a crisis of faith. Everyone, common man and scholar alike, began contemplating what happened, searching through texts, even haggling the finer points of Soiterology when they got bored. One thing that seems to have stuck was the ancient idea of Manichaeism. To describe it real simply: The Universe has both Good and Evil within, and we must set the Good- spiritual- things free by destroying the Evil- physical- things of the world. They believed that what took place at the Battle of Armageddon was merely a shadow of what is to come: The Earth must be purged of all evil by more instances of Equilibrium. To do this, they seek to irradiate as many Celestials and Infernals as possible, triggering more Equilibrium incidents to cleanse the whole world, freeing the Spiritual Good from it’s Evil Material Shackles.

GM’s Note: You read that right, under ‘Led By’… The Manachaen Brotherhood is spearheaded by none other than the original Beloved Apostle from the first Century. As luck would have it, when ol’ Lazarus got raised from the dead the first time it had an enduring side effect of making him effectively immortal. See, he’s been wandering around the Earth for the last couple millennia preaching, teaching, and aiding people in need. However, between over two thousand years of suffering and witnessing the Equilibrium Incident, the poor sod became unglued from the inside out. After a decade of searching and meditation, he embraced his own revised version of the old heresy of Manichaeism: “The True God has not returned; not until the Earth has been purged of Evil- that is, the physical and material- shall He return.”

**The Heavenly Hosts/Sons of Sulfur**
Main Location: Mobile
Leaders: The Four Horsemen (War, Famine, Pestilence, Death)
These two guys fall under the same heading… mostly because- while they are opposing sides- they both have the same long-term goal: Armageddon isn’t over, it’s just half-time. They’re gathering like-minded Celestials and Infernals to attempt to rout the other side, and they don’t care who’s in the way.

GM’s Note: Both sides are being manipulated by the Four Horsemen. See, the Big Four are otherworldly soldiers of Fortune, and mercs without work are a waste of space… so they’ve found a way to keep themselves employed by poking and prodding the more belligerent segments of Angels, Demons, and even Humanity (See the GM’s section under “Humanity’s Legion”) to fight whenever possible. Be it subtle sabotage or outright terrorism, the Horsemen won’t stop ’till their appetite for conflict is sated.

Rules Cannibal: Demon Dice

So, if you’ve never heard of Demon Hunter: Comedy of Terrors, it’s an RPG system based on a mashup of Cortex+ and Fate Accelerated; the setting takes place the Horror-Comedy pair of movies by Dead Gentlemen Productions. I’ve used it for an Original Setting One-Shot where our intrepid demon hunters (A Smart-Mouthed Paladin, a Shamanistic Stoner, and Old Man Henderson) fought LARPers that had sold their souls to a demon known as, “THAT GUY!!!” in order to carry out a crazy Crossover-Deathmatch fantasy of theirs. Long story short, it ended with THAT GUY!!! getting jousted to oblivion by the Sassy Paladin riding a Twice-Blessed Yak.

But anyhow, there’s a really fun mechanic in there that I decided to cannibalize for Savage Worlds called, “Demon Dice.” In Demon Hunter, you can choose to add up to three Demon Dice (which are d6s) to your roll. Here’s the catch, though… Not only does the GM get them to use for their own personal shenanigans later, but if they come up a 1 bad things will happen to you. You might still succeed at whatever you’re trying to do, but that doesn’t make the badness go away (and you better pray that all three of them don’t come up 1s).

So here’s my brief write-up for a Savage Worlds equivalent. There’s probably a way to incorporate this into other genres, but , “As-Is?” This would be right at home in a horror setting where the risk of temptation is something you want to explore.

**Demon Dice**
If you don’t want to Spend your Bennies for Re-Rolling, or you want to up the carnage on some damage (assuming you’re using Blood and Guts), you can opt to use a Demon Die. This die adds 1d6 to your roll, which can Ace as normal (and also prevents any ‘roll a 1’ effects you might otherwise incur… though see below). However, there’s a few catches.
-The GM gets a Free draw from the Benny Pile
-You can no longer spend Bennies on the roll. Once you choose to roll one of these puppies, you’re stuck with whatever results you get.
-If you roll a, ‘1’ on the Demon Die… Even if you succeed on the roll, something bad is gonna happen. Whatever sick and twisted punishment you get is completely up to the GM. Maybe he gets an extra Benny, or maybe you leave yourself open to a counter-attack when you clunk someone. Whatever it is, that’s the price you pay for succumbing to temptation…

Equilibrium 3B: Arcane Backgrounds

Allrighty, here’s some Arcane Backgrounds for this universe. You’ll notice that each background doesn’t have a list of powers that they can take, and I’ll be honest, that’s intentional. I think that if the player can create a reasonable justification for a character having said power… then they should be allowed to go take it. You want an Angel to have Puppet? Just call it, “Divine Compel,” and have the bossy Angel bark out an order as the means of casting it.


**This Can Only Be Taken by Humans**
Arcane Skill: Channeling (Spirit)
Starting PP: 15
Starting Powers: 2
Backlash: “Severance” – Your connection to the spirits is fickle. On rolling a 1 on your Channeling die, your Hero loses the ability to cast that power until the end of the scene/encounter or until you spend a Benny to reconnect.
Trappings: The Vessel’s powers take on the appearance (as well as any potential bonus effects) of whatever the person did in life. For instance, a Soldier’s soul who provides the Bolt power would manifest itself as gunfire, or a Healing power provided by the soul of a doctor would be represented by the healed person’s wounds being, “stitched,” up.

Special: “Inherited Trappings” – Whenever you take a new power, you get to draw a card. 2-10 Means that the power comes from a Human Spirit. However, should you draw an Ace/Royal, the power comes from the Spirit of an Angel or a Demon depending on the Suit (Diamonds/Hearts is Demon, Spades/Clubs is Angel), and thus has access to a Seraphim’s unique trappings. If you draw a Joker, they were a Mutant. Re-draw for the type of mutant… that Power- in addition to it’s normal trappings- has Radioactive Trappings.

Special: “Job to Do” – Each Spirit has an unfinished task that you need to take care of. If Channeling them helps aid in their task, you gain a +1 to your Arcane Skill roll. However, the inverse is also true: Should you be using their power in such a way that goes against the person’s wishes, you’re at -1 penalty to use that power. Whether this comes into play should be at the GM’s discretion. Should the player complete said task within the timespan of the campaign, they should redraw for the “Inherited Trappings,” as the old Spirit passes on and a new one takes its place.

You’ve always had a special bond with the Supernatural, and with all the cosmic activity now that Doomsday has come to pass, that connection is a little more… literal. There’s souls of people that have passed on that are looking to take care of some unfinished business, and you’re their means of doing so. In exchange for helping them take care of some business they left unresolved in this life, they’ll aid you by granting some of their otherworldly power.

Arcane Skill: Weird Science (Smarts)
Starting PP: 20
Starting Powers: 1 (Each power has PP Equal to your Maximum)
Backlash: “Explosion” – Yeah… Mad Science Devices powered by Nuclear Batteries are volatile. On rolling a 1, your device explodes in a Large Burst Template for 2d8 Damage, which also forces anyone caught within the Blast Radius to make a Vigor Roll to resist mutation. Repairing this device requires 2d6 Hours and a Repair Roll.
Trappings: The powers that manifest from these devices are hardly subtle. They’re bright, flashy, and occasionally leave grean smears of goo around the place.
Special: “Improved Mutations” – When you suffer a Mutation, you get to draw two cards and pick the better of the two.
“Risky Recharge” – If the Rad Scientist is willing to expose themselves to strong doses of radiation for an extended period, they can cut their recharge time in half.

Ah, Science… what envelopes won’t people use you to push? In this case, it’s attempting to create portable devices powered by Radiation. One of the major breakthroughs during Armageddon was the invention of the Rad-Cell battery. This nifty little power cell is roughly the size of a large coin, and it has near-limitless power. The only problem is having to deal with the fallout (I’d say, “No Pun Intended,” but I’d be lying like a cheap rug at a flea market if I did) of dealing with radiation and the inevitable mutations that result from constant exposure.

Special Trapping: Radioactivity

“Mutagen”- You can spend an additional Power Point to reduce the Damage Die of an offensive Power to force the target to make a vigor Roll or undergo a Mutation.

“Rad-Resistance” – You can spend an additional Power Point to give a target of a Beneficial Power a +4 to Resist Radiation.

*This can Only Be Taken by Angels or Demons*
Arcane Skill: Faith (Spirit)
Starting PP: 10
Starting Powers: 3
Backlash: “Kickback” – Rolling a 1 on your Faith die means that you’re Shaken. This can cause a Wound.
Trappings: Angelic Seraphim powers resemble a yellowish light, while Demonic Seraphim’s powers take on the form of deep red flame.
Special: “Holy/Unholy Champion” – You gain the Champion Edge for free, regardless if you meet the requirements. The effects of this Edge applies to either Angels or Demons (depending which you are).
You’re one of the lucky Angels or Demons that can still wield (un)holy power to your advantage. While this gives you power beyond the usual capacity for your kin, it also tasks you with the burden of unnecessary attention. You’ll likely have people coming to you as a source of inspiration, and many a Seraphim has embraced this, becoming leaders (or at least fonts of wisdom) of a settlement. Other times, Seraphim become the guardians of a particular settlement or region, earning the respect of the inhabitants and the ire of their opposition.

Unique Trapping: Holy/Unholy

“Blessed/Cursed” – A Beneficial Power that you spend an additional PP on can bestow on the target the benefits of the Champion Edge for the duration of the Power (+2 to Damage and +2 Toughness vs Angels/Demons depending on the source of the power).

“Celestial/Infernal Blaze” – If you spend up to 5 Additional PP on an Offensive Power, you can roll a 1d6 to see if the target catches on fire (with each extra PP spent increasing the risk of ignition, with a max range of 2-6)… except the fire is either Holy/Unholy.

-Divine Craftsman (Requires Seasoned, Repair d8+, Faith d8+, Arcane BG(Seraphim))
This nifty ability allows you to create Consecrated/Desecrated Weaponry and ammo. Ammunition has +4 Damage to guys from The Other Side, while the Consecrated/Desecrated weapons gain an extra 1d6 Damage against them. You need the appropriate equipment to do this, as well as 2d6 hours of time, and you also need to roll Repair at -2 (-4 if you’re making a Weapon). Keep in mind, while these weapons and ammo are considered highly valuable, you shouldn’t be too eager to supply the Post-Armageddon world with these things, lest you draw unnecessary attention.

-Killswitch (Requires Seasoned, Weird Science d8+, Smarts d8+, Arcane BG(Rad Scientist))
You’ve installed a killswitch on all your devices. Should you ever roll a 1 on your Weird Science, this allows you to make an Automatic Weird Science roll at -2 to keep the device from going Kablooey. You still waste the Power Points, however, but you’ll have dodged the Nuclear Bullet.

-Otherworldly Insight (Requires Seasoned, Channeling d8+, Notice d8+, Arcane BG (Vessel))
This nifty little Edge allows the Vessel’s otherworldly patrons to provide him with some insight as to the current circumstances. Once per Session, you may Spend a Benny to gain access to some information relevant to this situation. Keep in mind, there are times where even the Spirits don’t have an inkling of an ideas as to what’s going on… In which case, the GM should give you the Benny back.

Equilibrium 3A: Setting Rules

Okay, so here’s the Setting Rules, including two optional rules (simply for giving out Bennies), and a few, “Non-Negotiables.” I was originally planning to make ‘Corruption’ a mechanic for people playing Angels or Demons… but it just seemed way too convoluted, so I just did something simpler and adjusted how Mutations work in this game compared to Hell on Earth.

“Equilibrium,” is sticking around, though… mostly because the Setting Rule is sort of the setting Basis (basically, SPOILER ALERT, a massive “Equilibrium” Incident was what happened at the Battle of Armageddon), and it’s also very relevant to a particular group’s goals.


**Optional Rules**
These Setting Rules are optional. You should include these when you either have trouble giving out Bennies, or just want them to keep flowing.

“Joker’s Wild” – Anytime a PC draws a Joker in Combat, all the PCs get a Benny. This road goes both ways, though… so if a non-friendly NPC gets a Joker, then the GM gets a Benny.

“Benny for your Hindrance?” – If a PC role-plays their Hindrances in such a way it’s inconvenient to them, you should give them a Benny. Of course, this can lead to a little problem called, “Hindrance-Milking,” but if a player wants to string themselves up for a shiny little token… hey, it’s their funeral.

**Mandatory Rules**

“Micromanaging Not Needed” – You don’t have to worry about mundane equipment. Unless it’s narratively relevant, it can be safely assume that you have the bare essentials. You should still keep track of things like Ammunition and Power Points, however.

“Scavenging (Hell on Earth)” – The rules for Scavenging are in play here

“Mutations (Hell on Earth)” – Mutation works a little differently here…
-You cannot die from mutation. Instead of death when you draw a 2, you just have to draw two cards and take both Mutations instead (for good or ill).
-You must keep track of how many Mutations you have overall. If this amount ever exceeds 2 + half your Spirit Die, you can no longer withstand the effects of the Radiation on your body and mind, becoming a Feral Mutant (thus an NPC under the GM’s control)
-To offset this, Mutations can be cleansed via the Healing and Greater Healings powers. The person must make an Arcane Skill roll at a penalty equal to the number of Mutations the recipient has (Greater Healing makes the same roll at no penalty whatsoever). For a success, and every Raise thereafter, you remove a Mutation. Keep in mind, this starts with the most recent mutations received, so it doesn’t discriminate between, “Beneficial,” and, “Harmful,” mutations.

“Equilibrium” – Whenever a Mutant Angel and a Mutant Demon get near each other, there’s always a risk of something called, “Equilibrium,” occurring. Basically, they each have to make a Vigor Roll every round that they’re melee range of each other. Should one of them fail, a Holy/Unholy/Radioactive explosion occurs centering on the combatants, dealing damage equal to 2d10 + the Number of Mutations each character has. The size of this explosion is equal to double a Large Burst Template (so 12″ in Diameter). This also forces people in the Blast Radius to make a Vigor roll or undergo a Mutation. This also counts as a Heavy Weapon, should such consideration be necessary.

Why I Prefer Fate Accelerated Edition for Supers

So, full disclosure: I like me some Superhero games. From Street-Level Pulp Fests to Earth-Shattering Cosmic Capers and everything in-between, there’s just something satisfying about it all. Most of my experience in the Table-Top area is with Mutants and Masterminds, but I’ve dabbled in ICONS as well. Marvel Heroic is one that I’ve wanted to try (those games are harder to find than hens’ teeth… and it doesn’t help the books aren’t in print anymore), and I’ve got a copy of the Savage Worlds Super Power Companion sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be taken for a spin.

Now, each of those systems has their ups and downs… but I’m not here to talk to you about those. Today? I’m here to talk to you about the system that’s become my preference for Running Supers games: Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE, for short).

Yeah, it seems like an odd choice, but hear me out.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Fate, check out the Link Here if you want detailed information. Fate and it’s variants are basically a Narrative System that uses Fudge Dice (6 Sides, 2 of which are Blank, 2 are ‘+’, 2 are ‘-‘), as well as Aspects (Descriptive Phrases), Skills/Approaches, and Stunts (‘Feats’ by Any Other Name). Yes, I realize that Venture City is a thing… but- while it’s a cool concept- I’m not wholly convinced their additions are entirely necessary to run a good Supers game.

There really is only one reason that I like using FAE: it’s a REALLY simple system to use, both as a player and a GM. In theory, you could use the System As-Is without any problems (5 Aspects/6 Approaches/3 Refresh/3 Stunts). You’ll probably have to give a brief list of powers that your character has (and justify them via your Aspects) and provide an Origin story, but that’s it. There’s very little need for GM oversight, unless someone wants to play an impossible concept… but that’s a problem that even more mechanically-inclined Supers games have.

If you want to add a little more meat or riff on a few things, go nuts. It’s darned easy to do…

-Want to write up a Team Charter with a couple Aspects and Consequences, all of which can be used by Team Members? Go right Ahead.
-Want to add some Collateral Consequences that PCs or NPCs alike can use to avoid getting Taken Out? I won’t stop you.
-Want to Change the Approaches? Make stunts stronger? Give players more Refresh, or just more Free Stunts? That’s up to you. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into because that can really change (but not break) the game.
-Want to add a Power-Buy system where you get, like, 10 Points to buy Powers and Power Ranks that you can roll in place of Approaches? Not my cup of tea, but if you want to put that in your Game, that’s your call.

Now, FAE isn’t perfect. There’s still the ever-present problem in Supers games of keeping the party together, as well as having players keeping their inner Loot-Happy Murder Hobo satiated. But that can be easily resolved by having a Patron (like a retired Super) or a similar Goal (taking down a local crime syndicate), as well as providing some tangible rewards. There’s also the innate issue of One-Approach Ponies, but that’s been touched on elsewhere by other folks so I’ll defer to their wisdom on the subject.

To finish things off, let me provide an example of what a character would look like… Say hello to The Ferrous Fists, a character I used for a 1930’s One Shot set in a universe we were using for a campaign. The “3×3” (Three By Three) was something I did voluntarily, just to help flesh out the character some in case he was used later.

Name: The Ferrous Fists
Played by: CanaDave
Refresh: 3

High Concept: Pugilistic Robot Vigilante
Trouble: What are these, “Laws of Robotics,” You Speak of?
Aspect 1: Experimental Technology
Aspect 2: Boxes like a Swarmer
Aspect 3: Always Learning from Humans, especially Quinn.

**Approaches** (+3, +2, +2, +1, +1, 0)
Careful +2
Clever +1
Flashy +1
Forceful +2
Quick +3
Sneaky +0

Because I Box like a Swarmer, I gain +2 to Quickly Create an Advantage on a foe involving overwhelming them with punches.
Because I’m built with Experimental Technology, once per session I can Create an Advantage with Style based on my technological features.
Because I’m a Robot, Specifically of the Pugilistic Robot Vigilante type, I can take an extra Stress Level

Robot: Because FF is a robot, he’s got perks that most organic life-forms do not, specifically…
-Enhanced Durability: His body is built from an experimental alloy that renders his body insanely sturdy.
-Immunity: He can’t be affected by diseases, and doesn’t need to eat or breathe.
-Enhanced Senses: His enhanced sensors can pick up things in the infrared spectrum, and has a Night-Vision feature
-Enhanced Mobility: FF has enhanced mobility, specifically jump-jets and a top running speed of 100 kph. In the Ring, however, these don’t get much use.
-Vulnerabilities: While he doesn’t need to eat or sleep, he still does need to, “Recharge,” from time to time to rest his Nuclear Reactor. He’s also susceptible to computer viruses (as well as occasionally having trouble reading innuendo and the like)

Boxer: FF is a Boxer who uses a Swarming style, resorting to overwhelming his foes with flurries of punches as he darts in and around.

FF was originally designed as a government experiment (dubbed, “The Scrimmage Affair”) to tinker with a line of Combat AIs. He was built to test out close-quarter combat, and his designer- Ulysses Quinn- had a soft spot for the Sweet Science.

The project was prematurely disbanded due to funding issues (officially, anyway. Unofficially, the big-wigs were concerned about the potential of foreign espionage and there were rumors of Rogue AIs), and Quinn wasn’t going to let his hard work go to waste (nor was FF willing to be deactivated). They both escaped, and eventually found an underground metahuman fight ring, and FF found himself putting his knowledge of Boxing to use as, “Kid Kilobyte.”

One night, one of the opponents got a little too upset over his loss and attacked Quinn and FF with the help of his buddies. He was nearly victorious, until a massive rainstorm hit and FF got the upper hand with his enhanced vision. He would have killed them all, had Quinn not been there to stop him.

Later on, they were approached by a mysterious individual with an offer… they were observed by a local street vigilante the night they were jumped, and said they had potential for a new project: a group of extraordinary individuals that desired to keep people safe and exact JUSTICE.

**Ferrous Fist’s 3×3**
*3 Friends*
“Ulysses Quinn” – The original Designer of FF back in the days of the Scrimmage Affair. He’s not only the chief repairman of Ferrous Fists, but he’s also the conscience of the mechanical man.
“Ol’ Willy” – Local mechanic that lets FF and Ulysses operate out of his basement. Despite being old-fashioned and leery of the concept, he’s grown fond of the robot that sticks around to help ward off goons and the like.
“Crazy Herm” – A wino that FF saved from a gang of punks at one point. Owes FF his life, so he’s been known to stick his neck out from time to time.

*3 Contacts*
“Smiley Kramer” – The owner of the underground fighting ring. He’s always willing to share some information with a former contender… for a price.
“Francis Fense” – A local fence that Quinn gets his parts and other gear from. Got all sorts of underworld connections, but always demands reciprocation.
“Officer Coolidge” – A beat Cop that’s aware of Quinn and Ferrous’s doings. As long as they make his turf easier to live in, he’s content to leave them be.

*3 Rivals*
“The Janitor” – A Black Ops agent with the sole directive to clean up the remains of any defunct government projects. Coincidentally, Ferrous Fists meets the qualifications of a defunct government project.
“Two-Ton Tommy” – A local mutant pit fighter that also happens to be a sore loser. He’s still got a beef with FF over that last match where he got his keister handed to him.
“Rogue AI” – Back when the Scrimmage Affair was shut down, there were rumors that one of the AIs in the project went rogue. Unfortunately, it’s a VERY well-grounded rumor.


Equilibrium, Chapter 2: Character Creation

Allrighty, here’s a ye olde crude layout on how to build a character for this particular setting.

EDITED 2/26/2017: Removed, “Corrupted,” Hindrance due to a revision of a Setting Rule.

Legal Books:
Books that are, ‘Legal,’ for this Universe are, “Savage Worlds: Deluxe Edition,” and, “Hell on Earth: Reloaded.” There will be some things that are changed or outright removed due to narrative issues, and these exceptions will be noted. For instance… This world has different Arcane Backgrounds, and I’ve changed how, “Veteran o’ the Wasted West” works).

A) Race

Appearance: Blue/Brown/Green/Hazel Eyes. Complexion between Dark to Pale. Hair is anywhere from Black to White.

Ah, mankind… No matter how badly you try to stomp them out, they seem to survive even the harshest of trials and tribulations. The End of Days was proven to be no exception to this rule. Despite the major disasters, not to mention the Mass Crisis’ of Faith that the servants of all sides suffered during the Battle of Armageddon, they’ve managed to keep on trucking.

(+2 Freebie) Diverse and Flexible: As usual, Humans start with a Free Edge.

Appearance: White-Haired, Golden-Eyed. Skin is usually a shade of Bronze.
The original Heavenly Hosts. Originally servants of God, these beings were shocked and appalled at what happened during the battle of Armageddon. Since then, they’ve been wandering the Earth, attempting to find their place in the near-desolate world. While some have no remorse over the collateral damage caused, many Angels seek to make amends with the inhabitants of the world they wrecked.

(+2 Freebie) Angelic Wings: Angels have the “Flight” Monstrous Ability
(+3) Supernatural Spirit: Angels have a starting Spirit of d8, which can be Raised to d12 + 2. The Expert and Master Edges can raise this to d12 + 4.
(-2) Self-Righteousness Demeanor: Angels have the Arrogant Hindrance to signify their perceived moral superiority.
(-1) Hated Enemy (Demons): Angels are at -4 Charisma when Interacting with Demons.

Appearance: Black-Haired, Red-Eyed. Skin is usually a shade of red.
These Fallen Angels were promised power and authority under Lucifer’s Rule. After his first failed coup, they were banished to Hell after getting their wings clipped. After the shocking effects of Armageddon, these Infernal wanderers attempt to carve out an existence in a Post-Doomsday Earth. While many continue to seek more power and authority, many Demons have decided that such endeavors are nothing more than a wild goose chase and plan to atone for their prior mistakes.

(+2 Freebie) Infernal Nature: Demons have Natural Weapons (STR + d6, Typically Retractable Claws) and are Resistant to Heat, gaining +4 against Heat-Based Environmental Hazards.
(+3) Supernatural Vigor: Demons have a starting Vigor of d8, which can be Raised to d12 + 2. Expert and Master can raise this to d12 + 4.
(-2) Failed Usurper: Demons are the kind of unholy bastards that can hold a grudge for a long, LONG time. Gain the Vengeful (Major) Hindrance.
(-1) Hated Enemy (Angels): Demons are at -4 Charisma when Interacting with Angels.

**Nephalem** (Only Available during the, “Recovery Era”)
Appearance: They look like normal humans, though they typically have Red Eyes/Black Hair or Gold Eyes/White Hair to signify their Heritage.
You want to know how long the first Nephalem was around? No one knows the exact time, but everyone would say they appeared about nine months after the first Human and Angel/Demon couple found out they could safely knock boots.

(+2 Freebie) Human Heritage: Nephalem get a Free Edge.
(+2) Celestial/Infernal Heritage: You start with a d6 in one Attribute, depending on whether your Nephalem has Angel (Spirit) or Demon (Vigor) Heritage.
(-2) Taboo Existence: The Nephalem are perceived as abominations by select groups. You have the Enemy (Major) Hindrance.

B) Traits
Heroes get the usual five points to put into Agility, Smarts, Spirit, Strength, and Vigor.

As per usual, Heroes get fifteen points to put into their Skills.

C) Edges & Hindrances
**Unavailable Hindrances**
The following Core Book Hindrances are Unavailable:

“Doubting Thomas” – Due to the Supernatural Nature of this world’s Doomsday, characters who question- or outright deny- the existence of the supernatural are considered to be on the same credibility level as someone with a tin-foil hat… You want to play a character like that? Take the Delusional Hindrance instead.

The Following HoE: RL Hindrances are Unavailable: Any Hindrances related to Arcane Backgrounds.

**New Hindrances**
“Blacklisted (Major)” *Requires: Angel or Demon* – While most Angels/Demons each treat others of their own kind with respect as fellow veterans… You done did something during Armageddon to piss off the people on your side. Regardless of what that is, NPCs who are the same race as you start one step down the Reaction Table than they normally would (Helpful > Friendly > Neutral > Uncooperative > Hostile). If they are already Hostile, they will target you first in combat.

“Supernaturally Sensitive (Minor/Major)” *Requires Human* – You’ve always been more susceptible to the Supernatural phenomena around you… this sensitivity is just made more obvious after the cavalcade of activity since Doomsday. For the Minor version, you’re at -1 to resist Powers and take +1 Damage from them. For the Major version, it’s -2 Resistance/+2 Damage. Characters with this Hindrance cannot take Arcane Resistance.

**Unavailable Edges**
The only Edge unavailable from the Core book is, “Mentalist.”

As for HoE: Reloaded…
Any Edge found in No Man’s Land, any Edge related to Fear Levels, as well as, “Operation Damocles Soldier,” “Tale Teller,” and, “Harrowed.”

**Modified Edges**
“Arcane Background” – The Arcane Backgrounds available for this Campaign are detailed Elsewhere, but here’s a quick list:
Vessels – These Humans are able to communicate to the spirits of long-lost folks- be they Human, Celestial, or Infernal- with unresolved tasks, and in exchange the spirits provide aid in the form of supernatural powers.
Seraphim – You’re one of the chosen few Seraphim, or at the very least, you’ve descended from them. You’re imbued with the magical power of Angels or Demons, and you can whip out some impressive wonders.
Rad Scientist – You’re a Scientist that specializes in bizarre devices powered by Radiation. You’re constantly exposed to the volatile mutagen, but that has resulted in your body adapting to it, and that means you have more control over your mutations.

“Veteran o’ the Wasted West” – Renamed to, “Disgruntled Armageddon Survivor,” and now considered a free Edge (as in, “It doesn’t cost Hindrance Points or have any other requirements beyond being allowed ONLY at Character Creation”)… but you must let the GM know you’re taking it before you create your character (and don’t get your hopes up too high on a Character concept).

**New Edges**
“Supernatural Enforcer” – *Requires: Brawny, Vigor d8+, Celestial or Infernal.*
Okay… this Edge isn’t technically, “New,” but it’s not in either the Core Rules or the Hell on Earth books. It’s the, “Up-Sized,” Edge from the Interface Zero 2.0 Book.
D) Gear
Characters start with $500 worth of gear.

Equilibrium, Chapter 1: Introduction

Allrighty, so here’s the first Chapter of one of the PPCs I’ve been working on. The premise behind this one is that God and Satan got offed in the Final Battle, so now Humans, Angels, and Demons have to learn to live together in a Post-Armageddon world. I’m thinking I’ll make two campaigns for this setting… One closer to the end of Armageddon, and one that takes place after things get vaguely settled down.


The End of Days had started. All sorts of strange phenomena had occurred. Angels and Demons started slugging it out on Earth.

The Four Horsemen- a pack of supernatural sellswords- started wreaking havoc on behalf of both sides of the war.

Two thirds of the world’s natural resources were obliterated in the Meteor Shower that has since been dubbed, “The Wormwood Incident.”

Terrifying creatures started appearing from said fallen Meteorites, amongst other places, and sadistically torturing or slaying anyone they could find.

Men and Women were picking sides in the war. Some were for God and the Angels, and some allied themselves with Satan and the Demons, while still others made a futile attempt to fight both sides or attempt diplomatic relations (with all attempts either being undermined or just failing horribly).

Then, finally, came the Battle of Armageddon. Two mighty armies of great strength and fury, fighting to the death.

Next thing you know, Jehovah and the Usurper made their presences known and started to exchange blows. The clashing of steel, the collision of fists, the fireworks of holy and unholy energy… it was a sight to behold for anyone spectating. But before either of them could gain the upper hand, there was a massive explosion at the heart of the battle. It was later discovered that a radical group known as Humanity’s Legion had hijacked and deployed an experimental nuke where God and Satan had been battling. The leaders of both armies and their front-line soldiers had been miraculously atomized during the event, with nothing resembling an adequate chain of command left remaining in either side.

After the event now known as Equilibrium, everyone had to let things sink in… Humans never got their promised rewards, and the remaining soldiers of both Heaven and Hell were without leaders and without purpose. They realized that the groups had one thing in common:

They all now have to learn to live in a world that has been scorched, ravaged, and irradiated by their own hands.