Mow POHWAH! – Power Themes for Fate Core’s Venture City

Couple of years back, I took a crack at creating a power theme for Venture City, an excellent superhero system using Fate Core. For the uninitiated, a power theme in Venture City  flavors a characters power and opens up additional options: it might be adding an elemental effect or making their power based on technology versus the super gene. Want to play a turbulent pyrokinetic or a crotchety spell-slinger? Power themes are how you’d do it.

My previous attempt was a good starting point. But that was two years ago, and in-between I ran a good number of sessions using Venture City. The other day, I got an itch to review that theme, and two others I wrote in 2016. Clean them up, balance them better against the limited number of themes given to us, et cetera.  Which is exactly what I did over the last few days. Let’s take a look at the results, starting with a little Magic:

Magic

You’ve spent years studying arcane secrets, granting you powers beyond the ken of science.

Basic Magic: Your powers come not from special genes or advanced technology, but from mystic arts which allow you to bend reality to your will.

Enhancements

Magic Sight: Your magical training has granted you a sixth sense. You can detect magic and other supernatural forces.

Loremaster: You’re a scholar of arcane lore and magical theory, gaining +2 when overcoming obstacles applying that knowledge.

Enchanted Item: You always possess several useful items – potions or other magical gadgets. You can spend a fate point to describe an item you have and a basic power it grants for the scene, using the item yourself or lending it to another character.

Magic Aura: Your power radiates from you, rippling through reality like a stone skipped across a pond. Once per scene, you can create a situation aspect to reflect this, such as Hexed Electronics or Mesmerizing Presence.

Common Power Synergies

The Arcane Arts: Just about any power can be explained through magic, from fireballs (Energy Blast) to mind-reading (Telepathy) to strange alchemy that alters your physical strength (Super Strength).

Drawbacks

  • Your magic allows you to perform great feats, but otherwise you’re normal. You’re Only Human.
  • Your magic alone isn’t enough, and you’ve become Obsessed with Power.

Collateral Damage Effects

Burnout: You draw on more power than is safe, allowing you to use special effects whenever you tie or succeed on a roll while using your power, in addition to when you succeed with style. So much power wreaks havoc around you, but it also takes a toll on your own body and you can only keep this up for a few minutes without causing permanent damage.

Built using the creative axiom of ‘steal, steal, steal’, the second version of this heavily leverages the existing themes as a template, specifically the Shadow Projection (Venture City, p.75) and Super Form (Venture City, p.76). From Shadow Projection I’ve modified the Sight and Aura enhancements, modeling the supernatural senses and strange aura that is a staple of the modern mage.  Burnout  comes from Super Form, modeling the trope of magical practitioners drawing on more power than they can usually handle. Overall I’m real happy with how this one turned out, and I think the system can easily handle a wizard as deftly as a superman.

Next up we have Poison Projection:

Poison Projection

You always bring your own toxins to the party.

Basic Poison Projection: Your power expresses itself through poison, discharging toxins and emanating noxious fumes whenever you use them.

Enhancements

Unnatural Tolerance: You cannot be harmed by any poisons or toxins, whether it is generated by your power or not.

Poisonous Aura:  Whenever someone succeeds in an attack against you with Fight, they suffer 1-shift of damage from your noxious aura.

Venomous Strike: When you succeed with style on a melee attack, give your target the situation aspect Poisoned with one free invoke. If they are already Poisoned, add another free invoke to the aspect.

Common Power Synergies

Energy Blast: You fire toxins instead of energy, but the principal is the same.

Harm: Your touch of death pumps poison into your victims.

Influence: Your poison isn’t deadly, but instead influences the minds of others.

Improved Special Effect

Debilitating Poison: You inject a target in your zone with poison, inhibiting their next action by adding +2 opposition. If the action prompts no opposition, they must overcome a Fair (+2) obstacle.

Drawbacks

  • You tend to poison your way out of problems, making others wary of you. You have an Unsavory Reputation.
  • Your body is swimming in poisons. You can’t help but Secrete Toxins.

Collateral Damage Effect

Crippling Miasma: You summon a dense cloud of poison gas in your zone. You’re unaffected, but everyone else in the zone adds +2 opposition to their actions. If the action prompts no opposition, they must overcome a Fair (+2) obstacle. The cloud lasts until the end of the scene.

While my Poison Projection has a clear pedigree with the RAW Projection abilities, I’m particularly pleased with the synergies found between the Enhancements, Improved Special Effect, and Collateral Damage Effect. This theme feels like it leverages its gimmick for all its worth.

Finally, the new Space-Time Manipulation:

Space-Time Manipulation

You’re the master of space and time! Kind of.

Basic Space-Time Manipulation: Your power is focused on manipulating space-time. The fabric of reality bends and time seems to distort whenever you use your powers.

Enhancements

Anchored in Space-Time: You can’t be affected directly by changes in the timeline, and you will always recognize a universe that is not your own.

Five Seconds Ahead: Your always one step ahead of danger. Your Notice is +2 when picking up on threats and detecting ambushes.

Alter Dimensions: You can alter a things size and shape with your power. For non-living objects and nameless PC’s, roll Will against a Fair (+2) opposition. For named NPC’s and PC’s, they must roll Will or Physique to resist. Success adds an aspect, like Small as a Grain of Sand or Giant-Sized with a free invoke.

Common Power Synergies

Item Summoning: You’ve created a pocket dimension where you store useful items.

Slowing: You are able to stop time, freezing foes in place.

Teleportation: You not only can move through space, but through time as well.

Drawbacks

  • You’re manipulations of space-time are as subtle as whacking it with a brick. Your alterations cause a Butterfly Effect.
  • Your power scars the fabric of space-time every time you use it. Your ability Weakens the Space-Time Continuum.

Improved Special Effect

Temporal Flux: You temporarily step out of sync with the space-time continuum, granting +4 to defend against a single attack.

Collateral Damage Effects

Temporal Distortion: Time goes haywire in the zone you are in. You’re unaffected, but everyone else faces a Fair (+2) obstacle until the end of the scene.

Here’s a theme that I, and others, thought should have come with the book. However, I think this one achieves what one might be looking for when wanting to play their own Hiro. I especially like the Alter Dimensions Enhancement and the Temporal Flux Special Effect.

My time with Venture City were some of my more enjoyable as GM. Giving these themes a go would be the perfect excuse to run a game. When I get that chance, I’ll be back here to let you know how they worked out.

In the meantime, if any of you happy campers out there want to give them a go feel free. I only ask that you point folks here, and that you let me know how these themes play for you!

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