I’m working on a Forged in the Dark (FitD) science fiction game, with a working title of “Born to the Purple". This is a short discussion of aspects and facts.
There is a lot to like in the FitD framework, and I’m pulling together my favourite bits of those rules and then forging it together with elements that I really like from other games so that it serve the kind of game I want “Born to the Purple” to be.
Inspired by Babylon 5, I want the players to take the roles of staff working for the embassies of one or more regimes in the Starguild universe. Their routine life includes discussions, trade deals, indulging their vices, working on their long term career plans. But every so often there is a juncture, a significant moment when they find themselves at the eye of the storm for interstellar politics.
It might be because of orders they receive from their home regime, or because of events transpiring in one of the other regimes which like it or not, they are caught up in.
But that’s not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to talk about Facts.
If you have read my review of Fate Core (you can go and take a quick look, I can wait) you will know that one of the things that I like best about Fate is their concept of Aspects, true statements which can be connected to player characters(PCs), other characters (OCs), situations, scenarios and campaigns. In Fate they can be invoked to gain an advantage, or compelled to cause problems. I want to use them in BttP. However, I want to rename them, to give them a little bit of distance from Fate because I’m not using them in exactly the same way.
So I call them Facts.
When you create your PC, you will state some Facts about them: The high concept, their trouble, their home-world and their heritage. They describe personality traits, important details about your past, relationships you have with others, important items or titles you possess, problems you’re dealing with or goals you’re working toward, or reputations and obligations you carry.
Examples: The luckiest gambler in town, a reputation for fighting dirty, a jungle fortune hunter from Anderson and One day my parents just didn’t return from the jungle.
These Facts describe the surroundings or scenario where the action is taking place. They can be described by the GM when laying out the situation. They can be added, modified or negated by actions taken during the situation. They last as long as the situation lasts, but once it is past we don’t care about them.
Examples: Aflame, Torrential Rain, Slippery floor, Pitch Black, Very Crowded, Chandelier, Mirrors, Piles of Heavy Crates.
These Facts are the lasting impact of misfortune. They may reflect physical injuries, emotional harm or social ostracisation. They stay with the character until overcome during routine time, and they reduce the number of dice when you attempt an action if they apply.
Examples: stabbed in gut, twisted ankle, terrified, falling-over-drunk, unwelcome, ostracised.
There are Facts associated with something permanent in the game. These are used to reinforce the tenor of the game and the overall atmosphere. The campaign facts can be used by anyone at any time when they seem appropriate.
The Born to the Purple setting generally has at least two facts which are always in play - “Everyone Has Secrets” and “Betrayal is Cheap”.
Regimes and the systems within them can have a number of facts, as can organisations. All these can be used to reinforce what is important about a setting, make all these elements distinctive.
Newhome — Abandoned Minefields, The Cold Freezes Equipment.
Zared — Sand Gets Everywhere, The Locals Are Fanatics!
The Holy Republic — Pious, Arrogant, Exceptionalists.
During a juncture, when attempting to complete an action whose outcome is in doubt, you can invoke a fact to get +1d to your dice pool. Invoking a fact costs you 1 stress. This could be any of the facts associated with your character. It could also be any facts which are associated with the environment or situation where everyone is. It could be facts associated with the particular planet, right the way up to facts associated with the Born to the Purple campaign, such as “Everyone has secrets” or “Betrayal is Cheap”.
This replaces the rule for “pushing yourself” and the rule for “devil’s bargain” from the main FitD rules.
You can attempt to take advantage of as many Facts as you have available to you, as long as you are prepared to pay the stress costs for doing so.
Creating or Changing Facts
It is possible for PCs or OCs to take an action to create or change a situational Fact. This is how you can perform setup actions for other people and it replaces the original FitD setup action rules. Choose your attribute and take your action
|You create a temporary advantage which someone can use once
|You create a new Fact, and someone can have one free invoke
|You create a new Fact, and there are two free invokes
|You create a new Fact, and there are three free invokes available
A free invoke means that one (or more) persons can invoke the fact for free without paying any stress for doing so. A given fact can only be invoked once by a given PC for a single action.
Example: Charlene wants to throw dirt in her opponents face to blind them a little. She attempts a Finesse and rolls a 5 and the opponent has the fact ”Blinded by dirt” and there is one free invoke on that fact. Her friend Luke wants to take advantage of that fact and can do so for free gaining +1d on his Skirmish attack. If the foe is not taken out, they are still ”Blinded by dirt” but it will cost anyone else who wants to take advantage of it 1 stress.
Example: The warehouse is ”Ablaze” as a result of unfortunate earlier activity. Luke grabs up a fire extinguisher to Make a safe path, and rolls a critical! Although the warehouse is ”Ablaze” there is now also ”A safe route" and Charlene and then Luke can both take a free invoke to add +1d as they attempt to safely manoeuvre their way out of this desperate situation.
Hostile Use of Facts
The GM can propose a hostile invocation of a PCs facts (probably their trouble, although many of their facts could be usable for this means). If the Player accepts, they receive 1XP and the GM makes life more complicated for the PCs.
In a conflict situation, a PC can always choose to resist a consequence — they just have to make a resistance roll and pay the appropriate amount of stress which their dice indicate. However, if they are carrying any consequences which apply and which the attacker can take advantage of, then they have a penalty (-1d) to their resistance role.
Example: Luke shoots someone and his action roll is a 6. He accomplishes what he wants to do without any comeback, and the hostile falls down crippled.
Charlene also shoots and her action roll is a 4. She likewise takes down her target, but one of the other crooks got a snapshot back in return, winging her. Normally she would roll 3d to resist, but because she is currently ”Flanked” there is a 1d penalty to her resistance roll and she can only roll 2d. It doesn’t affect her ability to resist the consequence. It just makes a higher cost a little more likely.