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.

***

ARCANE BACKGROUND (Vessel)
**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 BACKGROUND (Rad Scientist)
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.

===
ARCANE BACKGROUND (SERAPHIM)
*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.

===
**Edges**
-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.

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

**Stunts**
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

**Powers/Abilities**
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.

**Origin**
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

**Humans**
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.

**Angel**
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.

**Demon**
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
*Attributes*
Heroes get the usual five points to put into Agility, Smarts, Spirit, Strength, and Vigor.

*Skills*
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.

Why I’m doing this, and How Things will Look

First and foremost, let’s address the elephant in the room. Dave… why on Earth are you publishing this stuff for everyone to see? Shouldn’t you be GMing these settings or something?

That’s actually a good question. I’ll answer it as best as I can.

I’ve got a lot of ideas for games and Character Concepts that run through my head. Sadly, I don’t have enough time or energy to play or run every single one of them. So, instead of letting the ideas go to waste, I’ll post them in the hopes that someone else will be willing and able to take them for a run. Optimistically, they’ll also tell me how well or how horribly things went, and offer constructive criticism that I can then use to refine my technique as someone who enjoys telling stories.

Take this as my official request: If you run any of these games, give me as much input as you can.

With that out of the way… Here’s how the formatting of these puppies will go:

“Introduction” – This, ‘chapter’ will give a quick summary of the world that you’re going to be unleashing on your players.

“Character Creation” – This one will deal with how you create your character. For hopefully obvious reasons, I’m not going to be doing a crap-ton of copypasta from the books. I’ll post original content, yes, but you’re gonna have to get your own dang copies of the books.

“Setting Rules” – This is where any special setting rules come into play. Is there a special way your Player Characters can earn Bennies? Do you have special rules for Character Death? This is where you’ll find how those things go.

“Faces and Places” – This section will deal with the Big Names- whether they be factions, people, or both- as well as the various locations that the players will encounter as they run amuck in the world.

“Plot Points” – This will be the meat of each Campaign, naturally. I’ll explain when each Plot Point should be run, because no one likes a disjointed plot.

“Savage Tales” – This is the Side-Quest section. When the GM needs a mission that both fleshes out the world and gives his players some stuff to shoot at, this will be where you need to go.

“Bestiary” – It wouldn’t be much of a game without a Monster Manual. This is where you’ll find templates for various enemies, both mundane and monstrous, that your players can encounter (…or even become).