Demon Hunters RPG – Stacking Aspects

One of the mechanics I love about Cortex Plus games is the way in which the way complications rise and fall with the narrative. With the right rolls your d6 mildly irritating can step up to d12 mortal enemy and back down again over the course of an adventure or sometimes even a scene. The same is true of physical complications, a flesh wound could be aggravated all the way to bleeding out without the need to introduce additional complications. Coupled to this is the dice pool mechanic, if an advantage or complication is relevant to your roll you can always add it to your dice pool before rolling.

Demon Hunters incorporates elements of Cortex Plus but, at its core, is a Fate derivative. Because of this aspects, while always true, have a single value (d6) and require either a free invocation or a faith point to incorporate into a roll. 

The below draft rules modification shifts the mechanics slightly more towards Cortex Plus by allowing for the creation of aspects with die values greater than d6.

Stacking aspects

Aspects that are narrative associated can be stacked together, creating a single combined aspect. Physically link the individual aspects together by drawing a line between them or stacking them atop one another. When invoking stacked aspects choose from the following

1. Invoke each aspect separately as per the standard rules at the cost of one faith point per aspect. Each aspect invoked adds 1d6 to your dice pool.

2. Invoke the entire stacked aspect for the cost of one faith point. For each individual aspect after the first increase the size of your bonus die by one step.

For example during a scene the following scene aspects may be in play

1. Stampede of people

2. Raging fire

3. Choking smoke

4. Demonic hieroglyphs 

The first three of these are narratively linked to one another, the fire that was accidentally started (because no Demon Hunter would ever start it on purpose) has built to an all encompassing maelstrom. These aspects can, if desired, be linked to one another. The fourth aspect stands alone and cannot be linked with the others.

Doyl, our demon Hunter, is trying to escape from the cultists chasing him but he’s not particularly sneaky or athletic so it’s going to be difficult. With plenty of faith points he could invoke the first three aspects to add a mighty 3d6 bonus to his roll. Unfortunately he’s only got one faith point, having relied on them rather heavily earlier in the scene. He invokes the stacked aspect to gain a bonus d10, hopefully enough to make his escape.

At this point astute readers will be noting that the standard 3d6 bonus will average a higher roll than the d10, so why bother with the stacked aspect? The answer is simple – cost, a single faith point rather than three while still making use of a wider range of the aspects in play. 

During the playtesting I’ve done with this rules modification I’ve also noticed a secondary bonus – it encourages greater player engagement with scene aspects. Knowing they can get a larger bonus for the same cost drives both the creation of aspects and their creative use. It is also intuitively balanced, there’s nothing to stop the DM from creating or invoking stacked aspects using demon dice.

As always I’d be interested in anybodies thoughts or comments on this.

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RPGaDay August 15th

15th) Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?

Cortex in its various incarnations. It cortexwas the first system that I really grokked, not just in terms of how to play but in how the different aspects of the system clicked together. It helps that from a design standpoint it is relatively modular with elements that can be slotted in or out easily. I’m really looking forward to tinkering with Cam Banks’ new Prime version of the system when it comes out and hopefully will be able to put something interesting together with it.

As I’ve slowly started tinkering with game design it’s one of the systems that I keep coming back to and I’ve got notes for a few settings that I’d like to adapt to it. First and foremost would be one centered around stuffed toys and their adventures as they try to protect their sleeping owners. Nothing too original but something that could be fun. Second was the Powers campaign, think the TV series Heroes as a good example of where this was going. We tried a short campaign of it using Classic and a bodged together mechanic for the system (where you had to roll as close to the target number as possible). That didn’t get far due to issues with both the narrative and the mechanics but it’s one that I’ve always wanted to revisit and flesh out more.

Lady Blackbird: A Dark Future

The system underlying Lady Blackbird is quick to learn and surprisingly robust. Some settings and genres however require a few tweaks however to make the game fit properly. This one is designed with the Warhammer 40,000 setting in mind, in particular that shown off in the Dark Heresy game where starting characters are low level initiates within the Inquisition. For me the 40K universe has always had two central themes, survival and corruption, which I’ve tried to emulate with these tweaks to the Lady Blackbird rules.

Rules changes

Keys – Renamed Temptations and are more focused on negative aspects of humanity in the 41st millennium.

Secrets – Secrets are either Corrupting or Pure. For the new members of the inquisition Corrupting is the default starting status, Pure secrets require buying with XP and a suitable series of events to explain their acquisition. Corrupting secrets increase the corruption level of an individual, Pure secrets reduce it.

New condition – Scared

New stat – Corruption. For now just an indicator of how much the character has fallen, further rules tweaks may alter that.

Jonan Macarg, former Imperial Guardsman

Traits

Guardsman – Tactics, Imperial regulations, Soldiers, Imperial equipment, seasoned veteran

Survivor – Stealth, notice, run, tough, endurance, hide

Marksman – accurate, rapid fire, sniper, rifle

Temptations (Keys)

Temptation of humanity: Humanities downfall will be their inability to resist the temptations of the ruinous powers. Hit this key when you make use of a corrupting secret. Buyoff: Sacrifice a corrupting secret.

Temptation of the coward: Your survival is your primary concern, key to which is avoiding perilous situations. Hit this key when you convince your team to avoid or retreat from perilous confrontations. Buyoff: Volunteer for an apparently suicidal fight.

Temptation of the xenophobe: The enemies of the Imperium and humanity are liars and monsters. Hit this key when you ignore or abuse the advice, trust or aid of a non-human species. Buyoff: Place your trust and life in the hands of an alien.

Secrets

Secret of the survivor (Corrupting) – Once per session you may feign death during combat, during which time enemies will ignore you. If your allies survive you are capable of making them believe that you were stunned or knocked out during the fight. Increase your corruption level by 1.

Secret of the brutal (Corrupting) – If Angry, Scared, Hunted or Trapped and faced with a single enemy you may kill them without rolling. While quick the kill is neither clean nor quiet. Increase your corruption level by 1.