Fate of the Serpentine
Daring deeds of derring-do in the exquisitely evanescent empery of Eversink!
Current Aspects and Conditions
Well-heeled: +1 boost to Resources
|Player||Character||Phys Stress||Mental Stress||FP||Consequences||Corruption||Sorcerous Spheres|
|Llayne||Lanz Lowborn||OOOOOO||XXXX||3/2||OO-OOOO-OOOOOO||[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ]||None|
|NightGoblyn||Sophia Petrillo||OOO||OOOOOO||2/2||OO-OOOO-OOOOOO||[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ]||Demonology, Ghosts & Spirits|
|Leliel||Malkin Coinfound||OOOO||OOOO||2/2||OO-OOOO-OOOOOO||[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ]||None|
|Timon||Waldgren||OOOO||OOO||3/3||OO-OOOO-OOOOOO||[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ]||None|
|Astronocky||Anto Scritti||OOOO||OOOOOO||2/4||OO-OOOO-OOOOOO||[X] [ ] [ ] [ ]||Decay/Entropy, Memory, Secrets, Ghosts & Spirits|
|DannyK||Nick "Lucky Bastard" Buonastella||OOOO||OOO||3/3||OO-OOOO-OOOOOO||[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ]||Luck, TBD, TBD|
- In Character Thread
- Out of Character Thread
- Recruitment Thread
- Large scale map of Eversink
- The World of Swords of the Serpentine
- Swords of the Serpentine Tools
- Emily Dresner's blog, full of Swords of the Serpentine material
Factions and Allegiances
The following are the twelve dominant factions and allegiances within Eversink, and their own allies and enemies. Starting characters declare their own membership of one as part of their High Concept, and usually take on that faction's own alliances and rivalries.
Ancient Nobility - the original aristocracy of Eversink, some dating back to the signing of the Golden Contract nearly a thousand years ago, frequently impoverished, always prideful. Allies: Church of Denari, Triskadane; Enemies: Mercanti.
Church of Denari - the church of the Mother Goddess of Eversink, including Marketpriests, Trade Missionaries, holy prophets and oracles, Church Militant agents and Inquisitors, and others devoted to the spiritual and material well-being of the city. Allies: Ancient Nobility, Mercanti; Enemies: Sorcerous Cabals.
City Watch - Eversink's nominal police force, home equally to upright and keen-eyed Sentinels, and corrupt and venal Watch Houses. Allies: Mercanti; Enemies: Mercenaries, Thieves' Guilds.
Commoners - the labouring poor, toiling masses, petty crafters and tradespeople; nominally the bedrock of Eversink, but despised and downtrodden by other factions. Allies: Thieves' Guilds; Enemies: Ancient Nobility, Mercanti.
Guild of Architects and Canal-Watchers - the secretive and select guild that keeps Eversink's buildings from sinking too quickly, its canals clean, and its passageways and cellars well mapped; rumoured to have a sorcerous heart where Corrupted senior members cast grave spells to keep the city intact. Allies: Triskadane; Enemies: Mercanti.
Mercanti - the upstart nouveau-riche winning ever-increasing power and wealth in Eversink, pushing to depose the Ancient Nobility from leadership in the city. Allies: Church of Denari; Enemies: Ancient Nobility.
Mercenaries - paid soldiery employed by nobles and merchants alike to guard their properties and defend their interests. Allies: Ancient Nobility, Mercanti; Enemies: City Watch.
Monstrosities - secretive and often semi-legendary communities of monstrous creatures and denizens of the city, barely tolerated by its human inhabitants. Allies: Outlanders, Sorcerous Cabals; Enemies: City Watch, Mercenaries.
Outlanders - barbarians, foreign merchants, emissaries, scholars, and other groups visiting, drawn to, or spying on Eversink. Allies: Monstrosities; Enemies: City Watch.
Sorcerous Cabals - small covens and cults of Sorcerers bound together by mutual interest and fear of persecution; frequently loyal to forces outside Eversink - or the entire mortal plane. Allies: Monstrosities; Enemies: Church of Denari, Triskadane.
Thieves’ Guilds - fragmented and feuding coteries and guilds of pickpockets, smugglers, robbers, beggars, blackmailers, assassins, pirates, and every other kind of villain. Allies: Outlanders; Enemies: City Watch.
Triskadane - the Secret Thirteen who rule Eversink from the shadows, selected by the Goddess Herself through granting of a coin - as well as the vast bureaucracy and governmental machinery responsible for executing their decrees. Allies: the Ancient Nobility, Church of Denari; Enemies: Outlanders, Sorcerous Cabals.
System Details and Special Rules
The sorcery system works as follows. Sorcery is powered by the Lore skill, and in most cases, consists of straight Lore-based attacks against physical or mental Stress. The Sorcerer rolls their Attack roll based on their Lore skill level plus any modifiers, and the target rolls their Defend roll - if any. (GM decides what skill is appropriate for Defend rolls, if any - default is Physique for physical Stress, and Will for mental Stress.) Ingenious Sorcerers may be able to devise a spell form that gets around a particular defence.
For spell-casting where there is no specific target or harm intended, the action is an Overcome against a Difficulty set by the GM. Create Advantage can be used to boost chances of success. The GM will also balance the Difficulty against the power of the intended effect - greater power means greater Difficulty.
A Sorcerer can choose to pull their punch, and use less than their full rating of Lore, if they want to exert a more controllable, less Corrupting, volume of Sorcery. This should make the subsequent roll to resist Corruption easier.
The detail comes in the different Spheres of magic which govern the description and nature of the magic, as well as the sorts of magic the Sorcerer could perform outside straight Attack spells. For instance, a Sorcerer whose Sphere is Water could fill opponents' lungs with liquid - or drain a canal to allow allies to walk across it. A Sorcerer whose Sphere is Plants could ensnare and strangle foes in creeping vines - or grow strange and reviving fruit to heal injured characters. A character gets one Sphere for each level of the Lore skill they have.
Ghosts & Spirits
Unfortunately, using Sorcery isn't a free ride. Each use of Sorcery exposes the Sorcerer to Corruption.
Corruption is the result of exposure to, or use of, the warping energies from outside mundane reality that power magic and Sorcery. They steadily degrade and denature a person, place or other object, until the target becomes totally unnatural, twisted, and malevolently alien.
Each character comes with a Corruption clock - usually with four segments, although a gifted or lucky, or exceptionally powerful Sorcerer may have more. After each time that a spell is cast - or that certain special Corruption stunts are used, or as a result of certain curses and magical attacks - the character makes a roll of their Will skill against the total value of the Lore put into the Sorcery action, from both the character's own Lore and any other sources, such as potions, etc. If the Will roll is higher, there's no Corruption; if it's lower, the character fills one segment of their Corruption clock. (Essentially, the character either succeeds or fails in resisting the insidious appeal of Sorcerous Corruption.) Once all four segments are filled, the character has to rewrite one aspect into a Corrupted aspect, a twisted version of what came before, and then clears their Corruption clock. The process continues until all five aspects are Corrupted, finishing with the Trouble aspect and finally the High Concept. Once all a character's aspects are corrupted and they have used up their last empty Corruption segment, they cease to be a playable character and become an NPC monster.
If a character can make it through a session of play without taking a single instance of Corruption, they can clear one segment on their Corruption clock. There may be other ways of clearing Corruption, or even purifying Corrupted aspects, but these are not part of normal play - the more usual intervention by the Church in Eversink is to burn the offender.
For some magical effects, including range, damage, etc., in Attack spells, a Sorcerer can boost the effect by adding one more segment on their Corruption clock per extra instance of effect: 2x, 3x, etc.
Internalized and Externalized Corruption
When a character Corrupts an aspect, they can try to conceal the effect, or even project it onto another member of their bloodline. This is called internalizing Corruption. Externalizing it is blasting either their immediate allies and neighbours, or the immediate vicinity.
Every time a character Corrupts an aspect, they have to roll their Physique against a Difficulty equal to their current Lore. If they succeed, they contain the Corruption in their body, and some small unobtrusive physical change happens - a wart, a new patch of discoloured skin, etc. If they fail, the change is far more obvious - a plain offensive blemish.
With certain rites that may be learned in the course of play, Sorcerers can transfer Corruption to their bloodline, and remain scot free themselves. This is a capital offence if discovered.
When externalizing Corruption, a Sorcerer rolls an Attack equal in power to their current Lore against the mental Stress of everyone in the immediate vicinity - friends, allies, etc. Meanwhile, the vicinity is also Corrupted, with an intensity equal to the current Lore of the Sorcerer, and a highest level of 6.
1 - Denari’s Blessing is temporarily burned away, detectable by Spirit Sight or Corruption (or poor profit from business transactions). Nearby cows give sour milk, chickens lay stones instead of eggs, and babies cry non-stop. Lasts approximately one month, but can be restored sooner through multiple business transactions.
2 - Causes disquiet in anyone passing through, encouraging people to hurry on their way. Those who deliberately linger in the area take 1 point of mental Stress damage after several hours. This may drive weak-willed NPCs into emotional breakdowns or panic attacks. Lasts approximately one decade.
3 - Weakens building foundations, softening stone and eroding mortar. Causes fear or temporary obsession in anyone passing through the area, triggering immediate mental Stress of 2 (4 after dark). NPCs are filled with dread, and the area soon becomes known as haunted. The barrier between worlds is weakened; determined ghosts can pass through from the spirit realm. Lasts approximately one generation.
4 - Entering this area automatically causes 4 points of mental Stress, and the area reeks of sadness and terror. Those who live nearby may be driven to paranoia or sly murder. The area might be (but is not always) cloudy and lit from within, and spirits might be seen or felt within this area. This acts like a beacon, subtly drawing the evil and the unnatural to it. Lasts approximately a century.
5 - Entering this area, any characters take 6 points of mental Stress or have to resist possession by a ghost, demon, or other spirit drawn to the fell energies. The spirits of those who die nearby are trapped here. This is a sucking, writhing rip in reality that warps physical spaces around it. Unnatural creatures such as demons or something worse might come through, either in mortal or spiritual form. Animals nearby often twist and mutate. Never heals.
6+ - This sanity-blasting rift in reality pierces the world and can theoretically corrupt an entire nation if allowed to spread long enough. Effects are as Stage 5, but the affected area spreads. Never heals, and slowly spreads unless sealed from the other side.
Once a character has had at least one of their aspects Corrupted, they can start to acquire Corruption stunts - one per Corrupted aspect, and related to that aspect. These come free rather than the usual stunt cost in Refresh, and are roughly twice as powerful as a similar normal stunt - but each use fills a segment of Corruption.
Spirit Sight is the only opening to the world of spirits and magical forces available to non-Sorcerers - those natural sensitives with points in Lore but no knowledge of Sorcery. With Spirit Sight, the gifted sensitives can see ghosts, and sometimes use their natural powers to heal Corrupted places, detect Sorcerers and follow their spoor, and spot Corruption. However, in Eversink the Church and the authorities frown on anyone with Spirit Sight acting as a free agent, and those sensitives who reveal their secret will either be drafted into the Sentinels or the Inquisition, or suffer at their hands.
Spirit Sight acts like typical Sorcery, with rolls of the Lore skill, but no Corruption. However, its effects are far more circumscribed. It usually costs 1 point of mental Stress per point of the final effect, given the wrenching results of seeing the Spirit plane. It can be used to grant you 1 point of spiritual armour per point of the final effect, against attacks on the Spirit plane and magical attacks affecting Mental stress, for the duration of the conflict. It can be used to make insubstantial creatures vulnerable to physical attacks - for you, and for 1 additional person per point of the final effect. It can be used to admit you to the Spirit world in weak places where the Veil is thin - and 1 additional person per point of the final effect. You can use it to heal such spiritual rifts and Corruption in the world - at a cost of 1 point per level of Corruption erased, and a long and dangerous ritual.
Weapons and Armour
Unlike other varieties of Fate, this version gives weapons and armour a more active role in the mechanics. All weapons and armour are divided into three classes - 1, 2, 3 - based on how much physical Stress they deal out - or absorb - when a target suffers an Attack. This is in addition to the +/- from the character's own skill roll.
Weapons are divided into the following broad classes:
- Light weapons (+1): Dagger, shortsword, cosh, brass knuckles, self bow, etc.
- Medium weapons (+2): Sword, mace, axe, longbow, crossbow, etc.
- Heavy weapon (+3): Greatsword, maul, halberd, lance, pike, quarterstaff, arbalest, etc.
Weapon class and turn order
Weapon classes affect Fate Condensed's voluntary turn order in the following way - except in cases of surprise, where the ambusher always gets first shot/blow:
- Missile weapons and Sorcery always go first.
- On first round, weapons go in order of their class: 3, 2, 1. This is to reflect the reach of heavier weapons and pole arms.
- On subsequent rounds, the order is: 2, 3, 1. This is to reflect how cumbersome heavy weapons are to wield at close quarters.
- Within each class, combatants Attack in order of their Athletics. Ties mean simultaneous Attacks.
Missile weapons have their own rules, aside from just going first in turn order.
Throw weapons - axes, knives, spears, rocks, etc. - use Athletics. Other missile weapons use Shoot.
Missile weapons can reach a number of Zones equal to their Class. So, thrown weapons or self bows can reach one Zone outside their own, longbows can reach 2 Zones, etc.
Thrown weapons and strung bows require one turn to prepare a fresh shot before shooting at the start of the next exchange. For Class 2 crossbows, this becomes 2 turns. For Class 3 crossbows, it becomes 5 turns.
Notable Characters, Groups, Places
Ancient Nobility: Friendly - Marino (Candelora Marino); Hostile - Vecoli
Assassins: Harbor Claws, Impatient Murderers
Commoners: Agostino Scaramucci, armourer
Mercanti: Commisso, Sorentino
Secret Societies: Nautilus