Far West: Skills, Stunts, and Bonds

After a character has gone through the Phases, and determined his or her aspects, there are a few other points to consider:

Skills: Characters received the standard FATE/SOTC skill package:

1 skill at Superb: ❏
2 skills at Great: ❏ ❏
3 skills at Good: ❏ ❏ ❏
4 skills at Fair: ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏
5 skills at Average: ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏

Stunts: Unlike SOTC, where a character gets 5 stunts, and a Fate-point refresh rate equal to the number of Aspects they have (10), in FAR WEST, a character starts with 6 stunts, and can gain additional stunts by reducing their refresh rate from the starting 10 (thereby depending more on having their Aspects compelled by the GM). For every point that you reduce your refresh rate, you gain an additional stunt. No player may have a refresh rate lower than 1 (which would give the PC a total of 15 stunts — the maximum allowable in FAR WEST).

The main reason for this is the inclusion of wuxia-style kung fu to the setting, which is powered by stunts. I didn’t want players to have a good set of heroic wuxia moves, to the exclusion of all other stunts. Increasing the number of stunts had the potential of being too high-powered, though….but then suggested the refresh rate trade-off, which is apparently going to a feature of the forthcoming Dresden Files RPG. Perfect solution, as it gives players a wide variety of stunts to choose from, but makes the player rely more heavily on aspect-driven roleplaying to be able to use them.

Finally, players can boost their final refresh rate a bit through the use of Bonds.

Bonds are the pre-game affiliations of a character, and come in two varieties: connections and memberships. The PC can have up to three Bonds, and each one raises the final refresh rate by 1 (to a max of 10 total).

Connections are existing relationships with other PCs. (Note that it is possible to have more than 3 existing relationships, if you so choose, but only 3 would gain the benefits of being a Bond, mechanically-speaking.) The players should detail their histories together (the more detail they provide, the more fodder the GM has for inclusion in further adventures).

Memberships are affiliations with a group. PCs should take this as a Bond if the affiliation is still a factor in the character’s life — for example, the school where you learned kung fu (as defined in your Master phase) might not be a Bond, unless you were still actively concerned with the school in your daily life. Likewise, status as an Outlaw (not necessarily a “group” in the organized sense of the word) isn’t something that a player could ignore in their daily life, and so would count as a Bond. There will be groups defined in the main rulebook (and I’ll go into some detail on these in a future journal entry).

Each Bond has something called a Bond Aspect, which can be compelled by the GM or tagged by any character who is aware of the Bond. You do NOT, however, gain Fate points for being compelled through a Bond. The Bond Aspect for a Connection is the kind of relationship — “Friendship with Ringo” or “My Brother Hondo”. Bond Aspects for Membership are just the name of the particular group — “Outlaw,” “Imperial Seventh Cavalry” or “Tick-tock Man.”

At the end of character creation, a PC should now have:

  • 10 Aspects.
  • 15 Skills.
  • Between 6 and 15 Stunts.
  • A Refresh Rate (and starting Fate Points) equal to 10 minus the number of extra Stunts taken, plus 1 for every Bond.
  • Up to 3 Bonds.

Next journal entry, I’ll talk more about the fictional setting of FAR WEST.

Musical Inspirado:
Jay Chou – “Fearless (Huo Yuan Jia)”


Bruce Broughton – “Silverado Theme”

13 Replies to “Far West: Skills, Stunts, and Bonds”

  1. Re: Very cool!

    Yeah, once we hit upon that bit of ‘technology’ for Fate, it seemed like a good match for what’s being done here.

    Looks good, man!

  2. “You do NOT, however, gain Fate points for being compelled through a Bond”

    Hmm… curious about your reasoning for that.
    Off the top of my head, I’d think allowing fate points for compelling a bond would balance out the (probably) lower refresh rate most characters will have. And more Fate points should just allow the actions to be even more over-the-top, which seems like it would be a plus for the wuxia influence. And it just feels …odd… (in a Fate-based game at least) to not reward the player for forcing something on them; kind of goes against the grain doesn’t it?

  3. So these Bonds: each Bond raises your final refresh rate, but only to the max of 10. You start off with 10 and can lower it to get more stunts. But what if you don’t take extra stunts? Then you’ve already got a final refresh rate of 10–is there any reason to take a Bond, given that your refresh rate can’t go any higher? Are players required to take any Bonds for their characters?

    I’m also curious if you’re going to impose requirements on the stunts–for example, insisting that at least X of them are wu-xia moves. That would make sense, given the genre conventions.

  4. Reasoning: The characters are already receiving a benefit for the Bond — increasing the refresh rate (which means, essentially, that they’re getting a “free” stunt for each Bond. I envisioned the no-fate-on-compelled-Bonds as the price they’re paying for that.

    Lower refresh rates, by the way, don’t automatically mean less over-the-top actions….it just means that the PCs will have to be playing in line with their Aspects (tagged and compelled, etc.) to gain more fate points, rather than relying solely on the refresh.

  5. Bonds are not required, and yes, I suppose that there might conceivably be some player out there who will be perfectly happy with 6 stunts and no more. To each his own. :)

    No, I’m not going to impose requirements, outside of NPC reinforcement. When most villains you read about or encounter are capable of defying gravity, knocking bullets out of the air with swords, or paralyzing you with a strike, it’s going to be fairly obvious that you need some kung-fu. :)

  6. Guess I just don’t see why they should need to pay a price. I’d have probably just given out more stunts (cause the genre’s all about the stunts) and added the bonds (just because they’re a cool hook for the GM to use in making things “interesting” for the characters) and called it good. I’m not sure what is gained by not giving fate points for bond compells. Sure, not doing it would make the characters a bit more powerful than in SotC, but I don’t see a problem with that because… well, they probably should be.

    But hey, it’s your game. And I can always houserule it :)

    Thanks for the explanation.

  7. “Sure, not doing it would make the characters a bit more powerful”

    Reading my post, it dawned on me that line didn’t make much sense as written. It’s supposed to mean “Not withholding the fate points for bond compells would make the characters a bit more powerful.”

  8. “Huo Yuanjia” is cool and all, but the single Jay did after that, Ben Cao Gang Mu, (about traditional Chinese medicine) is better.

    If you want more musical suggestions or any help with translation or Chinese names, let me know.

  9. Can you point me to an mp3 of that anywhere? I’m not having any luck.

    I’ve got the names covered (my college major was East Asian Languages), but I’m always looking for more musical suggestions, so fire away!

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