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Sunday, 25 May 2014

I Know Kung Fu - a first look at Tianxia

As well as a mostly regular fortnightly game I also run an occasional game for two players. This time around we're playing a Yojimbo style game where one of the characters is the bodyguard for the other. We're using a custom background which we developed the core themes and some significant events using the excellent Microscope, which I urge everyone to check out.

As readers of earlier posts will know my go to system is currently Fate Core. In this case we're using Tianxia - Blood, Silk & Jade which has just been kickstarted by Vigilance Press.

In the authors afterword Jack Norris notes that it's a project that's been around for a few years, essentially waiting for the right system to implement his cool ideas. This is very much how I feel about Fate Core as well. The main point is, however, that the team behind Tianxia has spent time where it matters, crafting a setting and it's core concepts that really work.

One of my favorite parts of Tianxia is the Kung Fu style system and the flexibility it brings. The characters in this game are at opposite ends of the spectrum here. Mushu, the "master", has pretty much no fighting skills but successfully used his knowledge of Mountain Crane Style to defend himself from a mob of bloodthirsty pirates (+4 to full defense rather than the standard +2) without breaking a sweat. Maylin, his yojimbo, on the other hand wiped out the rest of the crew and the pirate captain with the use of her fearsome Golden Cobra Style.

The pirate attack was just a short flashback scene to fill time after character creation and so far is one of my favourite Fate experiences to date. For me it really hilighted the strengths of Fate as a system and the great way that Vigilance have implemented it in Tianxia. Each of the characters was awesome but in their own style and as a group we went from character generation to amazing action in just a couple of hours.

Tianxia also has some really great character examples and some great GM advice, including some excellent examples of the Bronze rule in action. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Tianxia to anyone who loves Fate or the Wushu genre.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Transmission ~ Terminus

For a variety of reasons I'm not going to progress Transmission any further than the test phase and archive all the materials I've written so far.

Here's the character generation section and two new skills used in the alpha test.


Creating Your Character

Steps 1-5 shake out as per Fate Core

Step Six - Choose a Development Pattern and Some Skills

Transmission characters can choose from one of four skill skill development patterns that reflect their education and experience up until the start of the game. Each development pattern has a different distribution of skills but once you’ve chosen a pattern you can select any skills to fill the available slots.

The development patterns are:

Broad based professional

Superb 0

Great 1

Good 2

Fair 3

Average 4

Dedicated professional

Superb 0

Great 2

Good 2

Fair 2

Average 2

Single Minded Expert

Superb 1

Great 1

Good 1

Fair 2

Average 4

Jack of All Trades

Superb 0

Great 0

Good 2

Fair 4

Average 6

The skill descriptions themselves can be found in the Skills chapter.

Step Seven - PostHuman Genetics

All characters in Transmission have had some kind of genetic tailoring. Often this is simply something such as having disease resistant traits spliced into their genome before birth. These procedures are so common though that it would be more remarkable not to have it performed. However, any specialist traits should be noted down as well as their refresh cost.

Cosmetic traits such as feathers for hair or blue skin have no associated cost. Traits with game effects cost one or more refresh. You may choose more than one trait, but the limit is three.

Lorna’s character is an MC starship engineer she also thinks that having a monkey tail would be both useful and fun. This costs a point of refresh as a prehensile tail could come in pretty useful.

Thinking that her tail is handy Lorna has another think about how other monkey traits would come in handy and decides to go with hands for feet as well. This combined with her tail will come handy for working upside down inside the mechanics of the starship. This costs another point of refresh as it’s a second trait with additional benefits.

She talks through the traits with the GM and they agree on the game effects.

She writes down:

Prehensile Tail

Able to hold on to tools, bars and other stuff

+1 to Athletics tests when hanging, swinging or falling.

Hands for Feet

Can perform any physical task at skill rating -2D with my feet.

I can offset this penalty by taking a stunt for each skill I want to be good at with my feet.

Step Eight - Stunts

Stunts change how skills work for your character. Picking and inventing stunts are covered in the Skills and Stunts chapter.

You get three stunts for free, and you can take up to two more stunts at the cost of lowering your refresh by one each. (The gist is this: the more cool tricks you can do, the more you’ll need to accept compels to get fate points.) Figuring out stunts can take a while, so you may want to pick one for now and determine the rest of them during play.

Lorna decides to take two stunts, Engineer’s Knock and Tailgunner.

Engineers Knock (Craft)

You know just where to thump a piece of broken machinery to get it going again. +2 to Craft when attempting mechanical repairs.

Tailgunner (Shoot)

You can use your prehensile tail to fire a gun. It’s still a tail though so you do so at skill -1D.

Step Nine - Refresh

A player character in Transmission starts with a refresh of four. That means he’ll start each session off with at least four fate points. For each PostHuman Trait you choose will cost one or more refresh and each additional stunt you pick costs a point of refresh too. No Transmission character can start the game with a refresh lower than one.

Step Ten - Stress and Consequences

As vanilla Fate Core.

New Skills


The MicroG skill represents your character’s general level of physical ability in microgravity environments, whether through training, natural gifts, or genetic alteration. It’s how good you are at moving your body in micro or zero gravity. As such, it is a popular choice for nearly any action-y character.

 Overcome: MicroG allows you to overcome any obstacle that requires physical movement in microgravity—jumping, running, climbing etc. You use overcome actions with MicroG to move between zones in a conflict if there’s a situation aspect or other obstacle in your way. You also roll MicroG to chase or race in any contests or challenges that rely on these types of activities.

Create an Advantage: When you’re creating an advantage with MicroG, you’re jumping to high ground, moving faster than the opponent can keep up with, using the ceiling as the floor or otherwise maneuvering in order to confound your foes.

Attack: MicroG is not meant as an attack skill.

Defend: MicroG is a catch-all skill to roll for defense in a physical conflict in microgravity, against close-quarters and ranged attacks. You can also use it to defend against characters trying to move past you, if you’re in a position to physically interfere with whoever’s making the attempt.

MicroG Stunts

EVA - You have had specific training in the use of EVA equipment and therefore have +2 to MicroG maneuvers using EVA gear.


You use the SofTech skill to interact with computers and computerised systems.

 Overcome: Tech allows you to build, break, fix and operate high tech electronics and computer equipment, presuming you have the time and tools you need. As with Crafts, actions with SofTech often happen as one component of a more complex situation, making it a popular skill for challenges.

Create an Advantage: You can use SofTech to create aspects representing features of program or system pointing out useful features or strengths you can use to your advantage (Parallel Processing, Optimised Sorting) or a vulnerability for you to exploit (Backdoor, Weak Encryption).

Attack - When using automated guns, starship weaponry or other computer controlled weapons systems you use the SofTech skill to attack.

Defend - When using ECM systems, shipboard defensive arrays etc. You us the SofTech skill to defend.

SofTech Stunts

Slicer - You are a hacker par excellence. +2 to attempts to access, subvert and control computer systems.

Hardware Hacker - Your interest in technology goes beyond software to the hardware used to run it. You may use your SofTech skill in place of Crafts when working on computer or advanced electronic hardware.