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Fate System Toolkit

Stormcallers

Design Notes

Fans of The Dresden Files RPG will notice some similarities between this magic and the DFRPG’s Evocation rules. This is not a coincidence.

This is a mostly-structured system with a bit of interpretive leeway within structured bounds. It depends upon a “Stormcalling” skill and at least one aspect. The source of magic is quite explicit, but the use is limited. As such it’s balanced so that it works even if only one player chooses to play a Stormcaller, but could still support multiples in a group.

The default assumption is that non-Stormcallers use the optional Weapon and Armor ratings rules. If you’re looking to balance a Stormcaller against a group of non-Stormcallers, the Stormcaller forgoes such bonuses. If your game does not use the Weapon and Armor ratings rules, increase the Refresh cost from 1 to 2.

Description

Five Great Storms rage at the heart of creation, each large enough to shatter suns, but held in check in a precise dance of creation and destruction. Earthquake, Flood, Glacier, Inferno, and Thunder each represent limitless fonts of power, and mortal sorcerers have found ways to tap into these storms to power their own ambitions.

The 30-Second Version

Don’t want to read all the rules? Use this shorthand version:

  • • If your game uses Weapon/Armor ratings rules, reduce Refresh by 1.
    If not, reduce Refresh by 2.
  • Pick a Storm type such as Earthquake, Flood, Glacier, Inferno, and Thunder, and take the aspect [Storm]caller—e.g. Earthcaller, Icecaller, etc.
  • Buy the Stormcaller skill.
  • Use the Stormcaller skill to attack, defend, and create an advantage, so long as the description of your action includes the element of your storm.

Mechanics

Characters able to tap into the Storms for power must do the following:

  • • If your game uses Weapon/Armor ratings rules, reduce Refresh by 1.
    If not, reduce Refresh by 2.
  • Pick an aspect that reflects which Storm he is attuned to: Earthquake, Flood, Glacier, Inferno, or Thunder. This could be as simple as “Attuned to the Earthquake,” but it’s not limited to that. So long as the aspect clearly calls out the storm the character is tied to, the precise terminology is flexible.
  • (Optional) Purchase ranks in the “Stormcaller” skill.

Aspects of Storm

The Storm aspects are obviously useful when making Stormcaller skill rolls, but they also carry some of the resonance of their specific storm. This takes the form of a passive effect, as well as specific things that aspect may be invoked or compelled for.

Earthquake

Earthquake topples mountains and thrusts new ones into the sky. To tap the Earthquake requires a deep core of personal stability, and while this can promote strength, it also can make it a little hard to pick up momentum.

  • Passive Effect: Character never loses their footing, no matter how precarious, unless actively knocked down.
  • Invoke: Endure—Any action depending on patience, resolve or endurance can benefit from the Earthquake.
  • Compel: Delay—When quick action is called for, the Earthquake can compel a delay.

Flood

The Flood cannot be contained. It strikes from every direction with overwhelming force, subtlety, or infinite patience, always conforming to the needs of the situation. Nothing can stand against the Flood, and the only hope is to go along with it and hope for the best. Those attuned to its power share some of that flexibility.

  • Passive Effect: So long as swimming is possible, the character can easily stay afloat as long as necessary, even sleeping in the water.
  • Invoke: Flexibility—When doing something outside of the box, such as using a skill for something bizarre, use this for a bonus.
  • Compel: Messy—Water is subtle and potent, but it also makes a mess. Compel to leave traces of passage when most inconvenient.

Glacier

Where earth stands, Glacier pushes ever on, inevitable and unyielding, shattering itself a thousand times until it breaks the thing in its path. Attunement to the Glacier gives the Stormcaller a portion of that inevitability.

  • Passive Effect: Cold temperatures within the normal range do not bother the character.
  • Invoke: Push—Whether it is to open a door or brush aside an underling, the character benefits when moving forward and pushing things out of his path.
  • Compel: Overcommit—The Glacier does not corner well, and a Stormcaller of Ice may find himself staying too long with a given course of action.

Inferno

The Inferno consumes. Its appetite is endless, and there is nothing that is not fuel for its endless, roiling flames.

  • Passive Effect: Hot temperatures within the normal range do not bother the character.
  • Invoke: Destroy—Not fight or hurt, destroy. The Inferno is interested in nothing less.
  • Compel: Consume—Resources, food, good opinions, and fortune, an Infernocaller has a bad habit of using them up without thinking about it.

Thunder

Those who distinguish between the Thunder and the lightning reveal they do not understand. Thunder is the sudden, powerful expression of force, be it the bolt that cuts the sky or the clap that makes it ring. Its callers share in that potency.

  • Passive Effect: Your voice carries. If you can see someone well enough to identify them, you can shout loudly enough to be heard by them—and anyone in between—no matter the conditions.
  • Invoke: Act Decisively—When quick action is called for due to a change in circumstances—not just round-to-round in a fight—then invoke this for a bonus.
  • Compel: Overwhelm—Sometimes, delicacy, restraint, and precision are called for. Sometimes, a Stormcaller underestimates that.

The Stormcaller Skill

The Stormcaller skill is used to summon the power of the storm to do all manner of interesting—often harmful—things. The exact form this takes depends on the storm being called, but in general the Stormcaller summons the energy of the storm in question into being, then shapes it to his will. This could take the form of a cage of lighting, a hurled spike of frost, a ripple of force through the earth, or anything else that the player can think of.

While there are specific rules and limitations on what Stormcalling does based on which storm is called, they share some basics in common.

In each case, the force that is summoned must be expressed externally to the character doing the summoning in a literal fashion. That means Stormcalling does not allow a user to give himself the “Strength of Earth” to land a mighty blow, but it does let him hit something REALLY hard with a rock. Any description of effect must be couched in terms of how summoning, projecting, and crudely shaping the force in question can get said effect.

O Overcome: Stormcalling tends to be a bit crude for all but the most direct of overcome actions, such as knocking something down. But it definitely excels at that.

C Create an Advantage: The creation of advantages is a common effect of Stormcalling, summoning up walls of fire or opening up pits in the floor. The more concrete storms—Earthquake and Glacier—tend to be strongest at this sort of effect, as their efforts tend to be more durable.

Most effects can be treated as a normal roll to create an advantage, using an aspect on the scene to reflect that advantage, but there are some special cases. Specifically, Stormcalling can be used to create a barrier of the appropriate element. In this case, the caller picks two zones and makes a check against a difficulty of 0. The result of the roll indicates the difficulty to bypass the created barrier.

Other advantage effects depend on the specific element invoked.

A Attack: All the Storms are good at this. As a rule of thumb you can make an attack in-zone at no penalty, -1 per zone distance. These are normal attacks, but may have additional effects based on the Storm used.

D Defend: Elements may also be used to defend against attacks, parrying with weapons of ice or throwing up a momentary wall of water to intercept a blow. Specifics depend on the Storm used.

BARRIERS

Barrier is a shorthand term for some kind of obstacle between one zone and the next, such as a wall of ice. When a character attempts to penetrate, circumvent, or destroy a barrier, the value of the barrier is the difficulty to do so.

In general, a barrier exists between two zones, but it is possible that a barrier might be longer, even completely encircling a zone. The creation of a barrier is a special case of creating an advantage using the Stormcaller skill. It creates a barrier equal to the result of the Stormcaller’s roll. So, if the character rolls a Good (+3), then the barrier has a value of 3. A character who rolls less than a +1 fails to generate a substantial barrier. Specific storms may modify this roll, or offer extra options.

When an attack is made through a barrier, the defender may use the barrier’s value in lieu of a defense roll. The defender must decide before rolling, and using the barrier forgoes the possibility of a success with style. If the attack includes an attempt to bypass the barrier—by, say, jumping over it—then the attacker uses the lower of the two skills involved (the bypassing skill and the attacking skill) to make the attempt (unless, of course, an appropriate aspect is applied to streamline the bypassing).

For example, a substantial wall of Ice (Great Barrier, +4) is thrown up between a Stormcaller and the angry Voidcaller one zone away. If the voidcaller throws a shadowbolt, the Stormcaller may forgo the die roll and effectively roll a Great (+4) defense result. If the Voidcaller leaps over the barrier and attacks with his sword, then he rolls the lower of his Athletics (jumping) or Fight (attacking), and the Stormcaller can still use his Great (+4) barrier defense to protect himself.

One other important note: Barriers cut both ways, and the creator gets no special benefit attacking targets on the other side of his barrier—they benefit from the barrier as much as he does.

Earthquake

O Overcome: If what’s being overcome is a physical barrier, and the caller beats the target to overcome by 2, then the barrier may be removed.

C Create an Advantage: Gain a +1 to rolls to create any barriers using the Earthquake. When creating a barrier, you may opt to take a -4 to the roll—making it a net total of -3—to create a barrier that completely surrounds a zone. Take an additional -1 if you also want to seal the top.

A Attack: You may only attack targets that are on or near the ground—low level fliers can still be struck with debris, so anything a standing person could hit with his hands is fair game. You may take a -1 to your attack to attack all targets in your zone (except yourself). For an additional -2, you may attack all targets in your zone and one adjacent zone. You may extend this effect indefinitely, so long as it is contiguous and you keep taking -2s.

D Defend: Earth is slow to respond, and is at a -1 to all defense actions.

Flood

O Overcome: Receive a +1 to any attempt to overcome a physical barrier.

C Create an Advantage: Any barrier created with water diminishes by 1 per exchange unless the caller concentrates on it, taking -1 to all subsequent actions so long as the barrier is maintained.

A Attack: Damage from your attacks ignores any armor. You may take -2 to the attack and attack all targets in a zone (excluding yourself).

D Defend: No special rules.

Glacier

O Overcome: If what’s being overcome is a physical barrier, and the caller beats the target to overcome by 2, then remove the barrier completely.

C Create an Advantage: Gain a +1 to rolls to create any barriers using the Glacier. When you create a barrier, you may actually create multiple contiguous barriers. Each additional length of the barrier—a “length” being a barrier between any two zones—reduces its rating by 1. So, if you got a +6, and wanted to create a 3-length barrier, it would have a rating of 4 (6 – 2, remembering the first one’s free).

A Attack: You can opt to do half damage, rounded up, to freeze the target in place. This creates a barrier to their movement with a difficulty to overcome equal to the damage dealt.

D Defend: If you succeed with style on defense, you may forgo the boost to increase any of your active barriers by 1.

Inferno

O Overcome: If you overcome a physical barrier, reduce it by 1.

C Create an Advantage: Any barrier created with the Inferno diminishes by 2 per exchange unless the caller concentrates on it, taking -1 to all subsequent actions so long as the barrier is maintained. Anyone who fails to overcome an inferno barrier has the option to force their way through, taking damage equal to the number of additional shifts that a successful roll would have required.

A Attack: You may take -1 to the attack and attack all targets in a zone (excepting yourself).

D Defend: No special rules.

Thunder

O Overcome: No special rules.

C Create an Advantage: Any barrier created with Thunder vanishes after 1 exchange unless the caller concentrates on it, taking -1 to all subsequent actions so long as the barrier is maintained.

A Attack: Thunder actually has two modes of attack:

Chain Lighting: Bolts arc from target to target with precision. For each -1 you take, you may add an additional target to the attack. Range penalty is determined by the most distant target, -1 per zone from the starting zone.

Thunderbolt: When hitting a single target, thunder claps as lightning strikes. If you gain a boost on your attack, you generate an extra boost of Stunned.

D Defend: No special rules.