Narrative Mechanics

I’m implementing story rules that run “on top” of the D&D mechanics in the metagame. This means that, for the most part, the D&D rules we’ve been using still govern how characters interact with the world. The new mechanics primarily deal with the narrative, character decisions, and the actual roll of the d20. You may or may not be familiar with FATE; I’m taking some of the concepts (and names because I’m lazy) from that rule set and modifying them for use here.

Aspects

A character begins play with five or fewer aspects. All aspects are created by the PCs and require my approval. Aspects describe a character’s personality, history, aspirations, physical qualities and more. The best, most mechanically powerful aspects are ones that will be relevant in play, negative and positive. They can align with the D&D mechanics, or they can represent something different, but try not to make anything contradictory (if you take Craven, you probably shouldn’t have bravery-related aspects). Also, I suggest you include a hint of description in the aspect – it’ll make it easier to convince me the aspect is relevant in a particular situation. Examples of Aspects: Devilishly Handsome, Dangerously Curious, and Hidden Shame.

This is by no means a requirement, but my favorite aspects are double-edged aspects. A Devilishly Handsome character might have the charm to persuade someone, but he might also have a distinctive look that makes him easier to track.

You should be specific in your aspects and how you use them. If I think your aspect is vague, I will ask you how you want to use it specifically. For instance, if your aspect is “Perceptive,” that could apply to basically anything, which is lame.

Fate Points

Fate points are the currency you the player use to change the narrative, control your character and provide some mechanical benefits. Players and major NPCs start with three fate points. To use fate points, you often tag one of your character’s relevant aspects. This means that one of the character’s aspects has to be relevant to the situation. I’m the ultimate arbiter of what aspect is and isn’t relevant.

You can tag your character’s aspect, spend one fate point and…

  • Automatically roll a natural twenty (exploding rule applies) on any check where no opposing character is involved. Ex: A character with the Escaped Circus Performer aspect could use this to roll a natural twenty on a tumble check to resist falling damage, but not to tumble through an enemy’s square.
  • Reroll any d20 roll. Ex: A character with the Rebel Without a Cause aspect could reroll a save against Dominate but not Fireball.
  • Augment your character’s fortunes in some other way related to your aspect. Requires my permission, and may cost more than one fate point depending on the benefit. Ex: A character with the Know It All aspect could spend a fate point to get a free Bardic Knowledge roll even if he didn’t have Bardic Knowledge. Maybe.

Without the need to tag an aspect, you can also spend fate points to…

  • Resist a compel (see below).
  • Tip another player fate points for awesome or hilarious things.
  • Not die. This is similar to burning edge in shadowrun, where instead of dying your character is unconscious, bleeding out, about to die, still possibly in a bad situation. This also doesn’t prevent your character from, for instance, getting dominated or turned into a newt. This costs three fate points, and no one else can contribute (via tipping or otherwise). Keep in mind I offer no other form of plot armor.

With my permission, you can…

  • Collectively spend a number of fate points determined by me to change or add something to a scene.
  • Compel each other (see below).

Compelling a Character

For the most part you’ll gain additional fate points by someone compelling your character. This happens when the GM, or sometimes other players, believes one of your aspects could lead to a decision that negatively affects your character.

Ex: A character with the Never Back Down aspect might not want to start a bar fight in the middle of a discreet negotiation. But then a drunk shows up and starts shouting slurs, throwing things, and otherwise provoking the character. He could wait for a bouncer to deal with it, but the GM suggests the character would want to punch him in the face right now. The player can either resist the compel by paying the GM one fate point, or he can accept the compel and receive a fate point from the GM.

If the situation is especially serious I might up the ante, that is, increase the reward and the cost in fate points for accepting or resisting the compel. Only I can do this.

Compelling a scene

Similar to compelling a character, I can also compel an entire scene based off a character’s negative aspect. The character can either accept the premise of the scene (and still have a hand in the conclusion) and accept a fate point, or reject the premise of the scene and pay a fate point.

Ex: A character with the Escaped Prisoner aspect might have bounty hunters come looking for him at the most inconvenient time. The player can either accept the situation and receive a fate point, or choose for the scene not to happen, paying a fate point.

Other ways to gain fate points

  • Amusing me greatly (tentative)
  • Amusing others greatly, so that they tip you. (I.E. give you fate points for free)
  • Describing some details in a scene, if I call for it.
  • Something bad happening to your character if it’s because of one of your aspects (ex: it’s easier to track down a Devilishly Handsome person than an average one).
  • Doing something harmful to your character due to an aspect before anyone even compels you (not guaranteed to work).

Opting out

If you’re lame and afraid of new things, you can opt out of these rules. That means your character’s actions can’t be compelled, but you never get any fate points.

Narrative Mechanics

Champions of the Titan's Eye henkearuw