In previous posts (the High Elf Minstrel and Changeling Rogue) I’ve talked about the five categories of aspects I use for these Fate Accelerated Edition fantasy adventurers; a high concept, a motivation, a background aspect, a personal aspect, and an equipment aspect. So today I’m going to talk about stunts.
To keep things simple, I give all the characters three stunts and three refresh. (I did consider spending a point of refresh so that the Human Wizard had a fourth stunt representing their increased magical ability, but ultimately decided against it.) When creating stunts for each of the characters, I have three goals in mind:
- each stunt should be flavorful and say something about the character;
- each stunt should be interesting and encourage the player to do different things;
- each stunt should be mechanically balanced.
Aspects are a great way to add flavor to a Fate character, but you can also do that with stunts. A stunt related to a particular fighting style, casting spells from a certain school of magic, or overcoming obstacles in a specific way are all examples of how they can help define a character. I want each stunt I give these adventurers to add depth and personality to the character.
I also try to make sure a character’s stunts are all tied to a different action. Create an advantage. Overcome an obstacle. Attack. Defend. While it would be appropriate for some characters to have multiple stunts attached to the same type of action, I think that would end up being rather boring. The knight below is a good example. I could have given her two, or even three stunts tied to the attack action. She’s a fighter, and so that would make perfect sense.
But that means the player would only get to show off their character’s abilities in combat scenes. I didn’t think that would be all that much fun, and it means they might not feel all that effective in non-combat scenes. That goes for any action type. Tying multiple stunts to the same type of action pushes the character, and the player, in a specific direction. Now, I would have no problem if a player at my table made a character like that, because it would be their choice to do so. But as I am making these fantasy adventurers sort of like pre-gens, I don’t want to pigeonhole potential players. So I try to give these characters one stunt per action type.
Balancing stunts mechanically is generally pretty easy. There is a general formula for Fate Accelerated stunts, and I follow it pretty often. I tend to stay away from “once per session” stunts though. A “session” is a nebulous amount of time. While four hours seems to be the standard, it might be anything from a single hour all the way uf to six or even eight hours of play. I want people playing these characters to feel awesome, and limiting the number of times they can pull of their “special thing” goes against that in my opinion. The longer a session goes, the fewer times a player will get to use their “once per session” stunt. Worse, they may hold onto it, waiting for the “perfect” time to use it. But if that time never comes? Then the player missed their one chance to do something cool, and that is never fun.
If a stunt does need a limit to the number of times it can be used, I much prefer “once per scene” or “spend a Fate point” costs. Even a short session is going to have multiple scenes, giving the player more chances to use their stunts. Stunts that require a Fate point encourage the player to interact with the Fate point economy, often by accepting a compel or by having an aspect invoked against them, and that is really the heart of the game.
To be honest though, the stunts for today’s fantasy adventurer were some of the hardest to come up with. Two of them are combat-related, and the other is a “once per session” stunt.
High Concept: Hardy Human Knight
Motivation: I Must Restore My Family’s Honor
Aspect: Nothing Like A Good Ax By Your Side
Aspect: Seen Everything Twice
Aspect: My Mother’s Heavy Plate Armor
- Careful: Average (+1)
- Clever: Average (+1)
- Flashy: Fair (+2)
- Forceful: Good (+3)
- Quick: Fair (+2)
- Sneaky: Mediocre (+0)
- Built Like a Tank: Because I can shrug off wounds, once per session I can
spend a Fate point to reduce the severity of a moderate consequence that’s
physical in nature to a mild consequence (if my mild consequence slot is
free), or erase a mild consequence altogether.
- Eye For Battle: Because I can instantly assess a charged situation, I get
+2 to Quickly create an advantage to seize a superior tactical position in
both mental and physical conflicts.
- Stunning Blow: Because I strike with such tremendous force, whenever I
Forcefully attack with a physical weapon and succeed with style, I can give
my opponent a Stunned aspect with a free invoke instead of gaining a boost.
Stress: ▢ ▢ ▢
The character illustration is one of the free paper minis made by Printable Heroes. The free versions are backless, but if you back the Patreon at just $1 a month you get minis with backs. For $2 a month you get access to “reskins”, and for $3 a month you get multiple color options. That’s a fantastic deal.