Monday, March 31, 2014

Four-Color Supers + Review: Venture City Stories (Fate Core)

Title: Venture City Stories: A World of Adventure for Fate Core System
Written by: Brian Engard
Interior + Cover Art: Tazio Bettin
Publisher: Evil Hat

Coming in at scant 34 pages (with 30 pages of those being actual content), Venture City Stories is a slim little supers supplement for the ever-popular Fate Core ruleset, current available in PDF-only format on Drive-Thru RPG. 

Within this thin volume we are given a full and robust setting - the eponymous Venture City - an introductory adventure/plotline, and some rules tweaks to create super-powered characters using the Fate Core system. 

The setting itself has been described as 'Cyberpunk with Superpowers', which is a pretty good summary: this is a world of black, white and grey morality, where super-powers and super-powered beings are bought and sold as commodities. Everything here is available for a price: as long as you have the resources, savvy and/or muscle to obtain and hold it. 

I like the setting a lot: it has a cool 1990's grimdark vibe to it without getting too hung up on it's own preconceptions. The setting can easily be adapted for stories of super-powered criminal NPC's one step ahead of the law and the mega-corporations that control it, or one of true heroics in the face of a corrupt and ruthless power.

The presentation is nicely slick as well: supported by a clean and colorful layout, and punctuated by Tazio Bettins computer-colored artwork, we are sold on the world and it's attendant system on every page. Exactly what we have come to expect from Evil Hat over the last few years.

While all of this is great, I tend to approach RPG's as a toolkit for creating my own fiction: so what was of most interest to me here is Brain Engard's approach to creating super-powered figures that feel like super-powered figures. 

Although I don't know that I will be using what he has done here at my gaming table anytime soon (I'm currently running a supers game using FAE, more of which can be seen on this very site), I really like what was done here.

Without going into too much detail, the major rule tweaks in effect here are:
  • Extra Refresh: +3 to be spent on super-powered stunts
  • New rules for super-powered Stunts: 
  • Special Effects, which allow you to expand the use the stunt to create comic book effects like knockback, instant recovery, and area effects
  • Drawbacks, a negative aspect related to your power
  • and a Collateral Damage Effect, which allows for an awesome expression of your power that bends the game rules, at the cost of creating collateral damage that can impact innocents and allies in your wake.
Like Fate Core itself, the PDF is available for download now on a pay-what-you-like basis, so if this sort of game looks to be up your alley there's no real reason not to check it out. 


When presented with a new Fate toolkit like this, my first instinct is the stress-test it with a build. Although the game seems to be designed with more street-level heroes in mind...could it maybe support something a tad more cosmic?

With this thought in mind, I present my take on Marvel's The Mighty Thor, built using VCS rules, with +4 Significant and +1 Major Milestone(s):

The Mighty Thor
  • Aspects
High Concept: The God of Thunder!
Trouble: Protector of the Nine Realms
Other: I say thee nay!; For Asgard!; Epic family issues
  • Skills
+5 Physique
+4 Fight, Shoot
+3 Athletics, Provoke, Will
+2 Contacts, Drive, Rapport, Resources
+1  Empathy, Investigate, Lore, Notice, Stealth
  • Stunts
Asgardian Physiology (5): Your might is the stuff of legends. Add +4 to Physique and +2 to Fight when brute strength is a factor. You also gain Armor:4 vs physical stress from kinetic, cold/heat and energy sources.
  • Special Effects: Physical Recovery, Inflict a Condition
  • Drawback: Easily Enchanted
  • Collateral Damage: Nobody puts the Odinson in a corner. You can either erase a moderate consequence, inflict one on an opponent, or create a 4-shift area attack as long as you are flashily damaging the scenery in the process. This action usually requires a brief monologue or catchphrase while being performed.
Mjolnir(4): Only the worthy may lift the hammer of Thor. In your hands, the hammer allows for Weapon: 2 attacks using Fight or Shoot. It will also return to your hand as soon as possible when thrown, at a rate of 2 zones per Exchange. Additionally, you may use the hammer to fly (use Athletics for any tests involving flight).
  • Special Effects: Area Attack, Forced Movement
  • Drawback: Force of Nature
  • Collateral Damage: When wielding the Uru hammer, you have the power of the elements in your hands. You can cause zone-wide buffeting winds or lightning, or use the hammer to loudly destroy anything less durable than itself (which is just about anything), provided it’s not defended by an enchantment or force-field. This usually leaves a smoking crater and/or massive property damage behind it’s wake, so use this effect sparingly. 
  • Refresh: 1
  • Physical Stress: OOOO
  • Mental Stress: OOO
  • Mild (2):
  • Mild (Physical, 2):
  • Moderate (4):
  • Severe (6):