Since Fate Core is my new favorite RPG system, and the system used in an upcoming web-series I co-wrote/produced/directed, my first inclination is to use it to implement my favorite fantasy setting: Star Wars. Below is possibly the most difficult step of that journey, writing the mechanics used to represent the Force!
The Force works through a combination of aspects (granting the basic Force abilities by expanding on the range of aspects you can create through advantages and boosts) and stunts (allowing for the use of the more specialized effects, those costing Fate points, to be used more readily).
This approach rather than one using skills, was taken to maintain balance amongst other character types. Taken as an extra, especially where there is an extras budget including aspects and stunts, this keeps everyone in line with each other. In such instances, the Force is no more powerful than a starship or set of Mandalorian armor.
The Force permeates all living things, penetrating and linking them together. Those who are sensitive to its ebbs and flows can learn to sense it, and eventually, to manipulate it. Through the use of the Force, one can expand their perceptions, increase their physical abilities, influence others and even move things with their minds. There is no greater power in the galaxy than the Force.
The Force: The 30-Second Version
Don’t want to read all the rules? Use this shorthand version:
- Choose a high concept that represents your capability to use the Force (Untrained Force Sensitive, Jedi Knight, Sith Warrior).
- When using a skill, your Force aspect allows you to expand the range of aspects that you can create using advantages and boosts.
- Choose stunts to enhance your Force abilities, representing advanced training.
Characters able to use the Force must do the following:
- Choose a high concept that represents your capability to use the Force (Force Sensitive, Jedi Knight, Sith Warrior).
High Concept Force Aspects
Force aspects have an inherent cost in the they must be part of your high concept. This is done for two reasons: to limit the amount of characters that end up Force sensitive, and because the high concept doesn’t usually change. Once someone is Force sensitive, they are always Force sensitive.
The Force aspect is what allows the Force-user to use the Force. This determines the types of advantages and boosts can be created because of its presence, as well as how it can be invoked or compelled.
Aspect: Varies (Untrained Force Sensitive, Jedi Investigator and Sith Lord are some examples)
The Force aspect allows its possessor to use the Force by coloring the advantages and boosts they create with skills, as well as any other inclination mentioned in the aspect (the presence of “Jedi” or “Sith” in the aspect have uses and complications all there own).
Invoke To: Make a declaration regarding something sensed through the Force, influence NPCs in social interaction or to make fantastic feats of physical ability.
Compel To: Overwhelm with a disturbance in the Force, cause the Force-user to become the subject of a witch hunt or otherwise cause mistrust from those who are ignorant (or very knowledgable) of what a Force-user is capable of.
Force stunts are used to improve on the uses of the Force, granting mechanical benefits that don’t require a Force point to invoke. This is not a comprehensive list. Everything is here to cover the basic skills of most Jedi, and even a bit more. Use these as a baseline to create the more exotic powers seen in the expanded universe.
Darkside Powers (Will). Use Will instead of Shooting to attack at range by telekinetically choking the target or hitting it with bolts of lightning.
Farseeing (Investigation). Once per scene, spend a Fate point and describe where and when you are trying to perceive and make a special Investigation roll, representing your ability to sense far away places and times through the Force. You may discover or create an advantage for each shift you score on this roll, but you still only get one free invocation.
Mind Trick (Rapport). You can use Rapport to make mental attacks by empowering your words with the Force.
Move Object (Will). Use Will instead of Physique when making rolls involving moving objects or people.
Surge (Athletics). Gain +1 zone of free movement or ignore a scene aspect that would hinder your movement from one zone to the next if it could be overcome by a prodigious leap.
The Darkside of The Force
Few beings fall to the Darkside out of purely evil intentions (although there are plenty of those, we call them villains). Many beings who succumb to the lure of the Darkside do so for a good cause, thinking there is no other way and resorting to the unthinkable out of desperation. But while their intentions may be for good, when you invoke an aspect to help you commit an evil act, you may well be tainting that aspect. Thus, opening the gate for the GM to compel you for the Darkside taint that exists within you, or for you to introduce new decision based compels.
It’s up to you and your group to decide what constitutes an evil act, and the guidelines should be determined before play. If any changes or exceptions are made during play, write them down so you can stay consistent. Using the Force to physically harm another individual, or acting for personal gain while knowing that your actions are at the expense of others, are good places to start.
Each time a character’s aspect become tainted, they fall deeper and deeper to the Darkside. Roleplaying through such an ordeal can be awesome, especially if there are friends present who are trying to rehabilitate the character.
The thing to remember here is that the players, even the ones who committed an evil deed and ended up tainted for it, are overall good beings. That’s why they’re heroes! Even if they fall to the level of a villain for a session or two, fallen PCs should always find their way back. If it appears that such a thing just won’t happen because of how the narrative is playing out, and you don’t want to play a Darkside villain game, then it may be time to create a new character for the player of the former hero.
Variations and Options
As a baseline, this handles the Force quite well while also lending a sense of balance to the rest of the non-Force-user characters. But there are several options for how to alter this to enhance the focus on the Force.
The Force as a Skill
For those not content with keeping things balanced between Force-users and non-Force-users, you could create a skill to represent the Force instead of or in addition to the aspect and stunt approach. Such a skill should be built with a basic function of sensing Force related subjects through creating aspects and defending against other Force effects. From there, stunts can be used to increase the usefulness of the skill.
Involved Darkside Mechanics
While falling to the Darkside is a highly narrative concept that is more about interaction and roleplaying than mechanical emphasis, it is possible to add more involved mechanics. There are many different ways to do this, more than I can list here. Just look at any other Force implementation in another Star Wars RPG to see different ways to incorporate this.