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A tactical manual and gallery of opponents for Fate Core.
A tactical manual and gallery of opponents for Fate Core.
112 backers pledged $2,282 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Opposing Forces is a 192-page RPG sourcebook for Fate Core. The first 48 pages details tactical rules and gives advice for running scenes of physical, social, and mental conflict. The remaining pages detail 135 pre-generated characters and archetypes for the Core system, addressing the three archetypal genres of sci-fi, fantasy, and modern settings.

The advice and rules are designed to enable a more precise understanding of the system in order to provide players with a meaningful challenge and balanced experience. The pre-generated characters are meant to provide the Game Master with easily accessible NPCs, story hooks, and more efficient prep time.

The book itself is divided into four parts. Part one is the technical stuff where I address the rules as a function of the game. I share my observations and break down the math behind the Fate Core system. I discuss the use of Fate Points as a tactical tool, and explain how the tactical system in Fate materially differs from traditionally crunchy tactical sims. Finally, I provide several pages of Aspects and Stunts alongside a few words of explanation.

Parts two, three, and four consist of the characters and archetypes built ready for use in any Fate Core conflict. The characters are divided into the sci-fi, fantasy, and urban genres, and further subdivided into physical, mental, and social opponents. Characters appear at different challenge levels ranging from three kinds of nameless NPCs to fully realized characters ready to be dropped into an existing campaign.

The good folks at Evil Hat gave us some very helpful guidelines to construct NPCs for our games, but precious few examples. And nothing ready to go. My basic idea here is that GMs can flip to the archetype they need, jot a note, tweak an attribute if necessary, and be ready to run a conflict at the drop of an (Evil) hat. Here's what it looks like:

Armored Trooper Opponent Entry
Armored Trooper Opponent Entry

And that's not all...

The book has an entry on my website at Critical Press Media: Powered by Fate, but I'm putting together a community style site just for the purpose of discussing the rules and sharing characters. Especially sharing characters. If you're anything like me, your games invariably find themselves in need of interesting people to oppose the characters or generally make their lives more complicated. There's not really room for all the possible character concepts in the pages of this (or any other) book. Not to mention the collective creativity of you the audience dwarfs anything I can bring to the table on my own.

That's what "teh internets" is for. Well, that and cats, I suppose. The community site will feature rules articles with open discussion and characters created by the community for general use. I love working within community. I feed on the energy of others.

But wait, there's more...

I'm really excited about the quality of the artwork I'm getting for this project. I'd like to see it outside the pages of the book. To that end I'm producing a very limited print run of an 11x17 tabloid sized poster. The poster will reprint the cover art for the book as rendered from the very talented brush of Matt Silber. Matt faces the not inconsiderable challenge of taking my poor logo scribbles and turning them into something very cool. I think he's done a bang-up job on the early drafts!

The limited edition print run will consist of 100 impressions, and will not be sold in retail or online stores. Speaking of the artwork...

I draw truly awesome stick men and somewhat passable ninjas. That's why I reached out to some truly talented people to back me up on this project. These folks are professional artists who have agreed to take commissions one at a time as my budget allows. Want to meet them?

Artwork by Matt Silber
Artwork by Matt Silber

Matt Silber creates corporate logos, children's books, and illustrates technical material. When given free reign, his work finds its way into video games, graphic novels, and award winning cartoons. His recent book Platte County's History Illustrated is now on sale through the Platte County Historical Society. Check out his online gallery at Ganarus.

Artwork by Linus Larsson
Artwork by Linus Larsson

Linus Larsson has nearly a decade's worth of professional illustration behind him with the best yet to come! His artwork creates stories around characters that capture the imagination. His portfolio includes works such as the Intoxicated Little Bunny and the Bionic Gun Nun. He traverses "teh internets" mostly incognito but his gallery may be found at Riotamot.

Do you want to join the art team?

I'm hoping there's going to be more than enough work to go around. Send me an email to winstonc@criticalpressmedia.com and point me to your online portfolio!

At the basic level, I can fund the printing of the book and get copies shipped to all the backers. The artwork will be about 10% original, and the rest will come from stock art packages. I really want this book to be awesome, but I'm not about to ask the artists to do more work than I can pay for. This part is really simple: more money = more original artwork. Took me to more than an hour to figure out how to balance printing costs and artwork budget on the spreadsheet. Aw, phooey, just look at the infographic.

There's more to a project like this than just the money. Sure, the money is cool. It helps me pay for awesome artwork and spend less time freelancing for soul-sucking corporate jobs. But it's the community that is really going to get me jazzed up about this and future projects. This means a totally different set of stretch goals based on the total number of backers. The early tiers are things I hope to do anyway, like open the community site to general participation and print some neat bookplates. But at the higher tiers, and with more people involved, I can greenlight future projects and get input during development. How cool would that be? So tell your friends, tell your enemies, tell total strangers. I am!

Well the website may seem like a given but I like to do things in community. I like to discuss and dialog. And I like to share character ideas without having them fully fleshed out first. This would be a more informal setting than a published product.

Bookplates are those little stickers in the front cover of a book that say, "Ex Libris". They used to be very common and I've always thought they were classy.

With conversations and character concepts flowing, I thought it would be neat to start collecting community favorites into a handy PDF of interesting characters. Reading about them on the website is nice, but I thought it would be helpful to have something that prints easily or fits on a tablet.

And then the cool stuff rolls in. Expansion books are a given for any RPG, right? And I could drone on for hours about the rules and the math. But that's not the real coolness factor. The real coolness factor is being able to take the settings we're already geeking out about and put our own spin on them. Star Wars, Conan, Middle Earth, and Star Trek are protected Intellectual Properties, but they draw from universal archetypes and motifs. When the systems are in place to support conversion, you've got hours of geeky fun ready to go. You know you want to.

But let's reach even further back and check out some stuff that is firmly in the Public Domain, a part of our global heritage. Want to run a Beowulf game? I do! What kind of twisted vision would you put on Alice's Wonderland? Wonder what the Land of Oz looks like these days? Do you fear madness from Cthonic entities on the borderlands of sanity? The well is deep, and the mine an endless tunnel into the unknown. Grab a candle and let's go!

Power gamers get a bad rap.

We’re the subject of running jokes within RPG circles. Movies cast us as the bad guys. Podcasts spend hours teaching thousands of devoted fans how to game “the right way”.

But the truth is...

If we don’t name our characters it’s because we want to be our characters. We min-max stats so that we can do awesome stuff in the game that no one could do in real life. We take it hard when we fail to save the damsel-in-distress, because we weren’t a good enough hero.

The truth is that we place a high priority on learning the rules of the game so that we can make the game the best experience possible. It means that we recognize a right and wrong way to put the pieces of this tactical puzzle together, and it also means that we are the only ones who know how the game works on a mathematical and tactical level.

The Fate system took all that away from us.

All of a sudden, having a backstory mattered to the game. Our old reliable stats of STR, DEX, and CON were no more. The playing field between Kender, Orcs, Elves, and Humans inexplicably leveled out. Star Marines, Power Armor, and Monstrous Nightmares succumbed to a stat block that relied on descriptions rather than numbers.

All of a sudden, the ability to schmooz, to wine and dine, and to have social graces mattered mathematically to the outcome of the game. And all of a sudden we were losing.

It’s time to take our games back!

Fate Core affords us a unique opportunity to power game in ways never before possible. All of a sudden we can haul suspects into an interrogation room and psychologically beat the stuffing out of them. Our old reliable Power Blast can do so much than a mere 3d6 damage. The descriptive stat block allows us to affect the game in materially improbable ways.

All of a sudden we can do so much more than simply win the tactical combat scenario. Now we can win against the game itself.

We just have to understand the darn thing.

Opposing Forces breaks down the math behind the Fate system and lays bare the structure of the game. I discuss in-depth the system’s approach to skills, how the Stress Track differs from Hit Points, and why the real power of the game lies in Aspects and Stunts. I explain how Fate Points can be a devastating game changer, and strategic use of your own Consequences. I lay out how conflict occurs along physical, mental, social, and emotional lines, and why each of these areas can turn into a nail-biting climactic moment.

Power gamers will finally get a good grip on how the game is meant to be played, and how to get the most out of their characters. I don’t neglect the other gamers (story gamers???), they get advice on putting some teeth in their own characters, elevating them from reactive plot points to the driving force behind the gaming experience.

And then it gets better.

For me, the flavor and challenge of a game has always been bound up in the bestiary of foes unique to a given setting or scenario. Derring-do, after all, needs memorable villains upon which to be done. This is every bit as true for the romantic comedy as it is for sword and sorcery. Fate Core very helpfully provides us with guidelines on how to create our own villains. This has led to page after page of notes on bad guys and monsters. My notebook is full, and it’s time to share.

The second part of the book will provide a ready-made bestiary of foes for a variety of staple settings. My current notes include opponents for: high-fantasy worlds such as Middle-Earth, Dungeons & Dragons, or Warhammer; low-fantasy worlds such as Hyboria (Conan), Narnia, or Cthulhu; and space-fantasy such as Star Wars or Star Trek. But there’s room to grow.

I feel that a complete bestiary for Fate Core not only includes opponents wielding chain-sword and battle-axe, but also villains armed with the due process of law, tender-hearted sympathy, or smarmy salesmanship. The system is geared to provide the same level of tactical play on the mental, emotional, and social battlefields as it does for physical combat. We just have to adjust our thinking about game play and tap into some opponents that are geared to meet us on that turf.

I can finally play an angst-ridden vampire with a soul without feeling silly. I can get into being a fake-psychic detective without having to pull clues, evidence, and deduction out of my … imagination. I can woo the heart of the shallow prom queen while not realizing I’m actually attracted to the girl next door. I can do all of these things and feel like I’m making measurable progress because the mechanics of the game back me up.

It’s going to be a wild ride. Who’s going with me?

Fate™ is a trademark of Evil Hat Productions, LLC. The Powered by Fate logo is © Evil Hat Productions, LLC and is used with permission.

Risks and challenges

There is a risk that I will get hit by a bus, or some other catastrophe. In an effort to still provide value in case that happens, the text of the manuscript will periodically be posted online to the community of backers. I hope to also generate feedback this way.

I have experience formatting and publishing books. I've done several as part of community oriented charity projects. These are available for free download at my website and blog. I've also worked on many technical manuals as part of my freelance job.

I have every confidence that this particular project will go ahead as scheduled. I need your help to make the artwork something worth talking about.

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    Personalized character, printed, and electronic book.
    I will create a fully fledged character based on your concept for the Opposing Forces website, complete with 2000 words of flash fiction developing your idea to its utmost coolness. This is your concept and you will be credited as the creator. Plus, get a printed copy of the final project in paperback delivered straight to your door. Reward level includes all electronic formats digitally delivered. Plus, have your name enrolled within the pages as a Disaster of Draconic Proportions. Want the poster too? Pledge at the previous reward level and add on the $60 difference.

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