Fate of the Norns

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2020 7:25 pm 
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Hi,

So I have been playing DND for years and am trying to get my friends into trying FOTN with me. I am in LOVE with the death mechanics where you unlock stuff by dying, combat positioning where being in front of or in the back makes a huge difference. meta runes are great and using runes for movement/attack/block makes the strategy so much more complex I litteraly feel like this overwhelms DND's combat system entirely. Now however, I have gotten a good grasp of the rules and we did a mock session real quick to test what we liked and disliked. I would like to bring some topics in the forum
to see if any other norns could offer advices on how to make those topics more interesting or maybe less/more intrusive depending on the need.

#1 : skill checks

so as you all may know, DND is composed of many skill where FOTN has very few. This, on top of only
drawing one/two/three runes for any skill checks, may make the game feel not as complex as we like it to be. Therefore, I am looking into how skill checks may be more immersive and when do you guys actually decide to ignore the roll/rune draw
in which situation. Maybe jumping over a fence which would require an acrobatic/athletic roll may not need to draw a rune for a warrior class character ? How often do you draw them ? did you maybe make some house rules aboute this ? I'm open to any shared tips here.

We are a RP heavy group and do not fight as often as mother people, sometimes we may go a full session without a single fight, my players like to persuade, lie, sneak etc.

#2 : RP effects of abilities

So in our mock session some time ago, one of my player took a spell that would break bones, and the RP effect was that it would fracture the bone of someone on touch. He would litteraly abuse of this to do everything he want and ''intimidate'' everyone and rough
them trough his way. since this was a mock session we were only level 3 (learned later that lvl 8-12 is the way to go) so I am unaware of how many spells like that there are. Do you guys put cooldowns on your spells like short/long rests. I'm trying to limit how easy it is to just cast those spells all the time since there is no spell slots like in DND.

#3 : RP v.s. combat ratio + level speed

as mentioned previously, I have RP oriented players and therefore I'm trying to see if this game is more of a combat oriented game rather than RP since there are fewer skill checks. so I'm wondering if I should increase my combat
to RP ratio to compensate. Also, which level speed should I put my team at ? since DND is max lvl 20, I'm pretty sure that FOTN has a much higher max level and therefore maybe I should make them level every hard fight or
ever arc or something. we currently level every 3-5 sessions in our DND campaing so it can take months before leveling once. I don't think it would be necessaryin FOTN to keep is so slow.

#4 general comments

all of that said, I'm simply trying to maybe lose some DND habits that do not have their place in FOTN and gain some news ones that would help, increase my RP quality of my players as well as understand the out of combat spells a little more. any tips and tricks are appreciated.

thank you all for your time !


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2020 8:28 pm 
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OP here,

I fell on pages 292 to 298 and since they didn't appear on the dweller sheet I did not realize that they were pre-existing. here's my question then, are those skills all available to everyone with basically +0 skill pts when starting the game ? and can they only be increased from items
and passive skills? I'm realizing that they pretty much increase themselves from having a higher (example) physical runes ratio in your essence meaning that you will draw more physical and succeed to more physical tasks


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2020 8:36 pm 
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another question also : do you have somewhere in the book maybe I didn't see where I can mathematically calculate which levels and how many ennemies I need to put according to my player quanity and levels ? just like kobold fight club with DND (https://kobold.club/fight/#/encounter-builder)


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:32 pm 
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Skill is a big topic so I'll just respond to Skills for now and try to get to the rest of your questions later.

Fusrodah wrote:
I am looking into how skill checks may be more immersive and when do you guys actually decide to ignore the roll/rune draw in which situation.


I'm not sure the Core Rulebook is the best at explaining this. (The forthcoming RGS3 rules are clearer.) About Skills:
* A +1 in a Skill is a big deal.
* You can try most Skills untrained, you just wouldn't get a plus to it. You can still try to Sneak, you can still Negotiate, etc., you just couldn't try to scry for Omens & Portents without having it, for instance.
* You can only learn a Skill from the Archetype boards you put your runes on during character creation, or when leveling up. In RGS2, you can also get a Skill on the board multiple times for +2, +3, etc.

The Skill system is very immersive and interactive, and it's never necessary to ignore the runes - unless you just want to give it to the player and get on with it, of course - but the runes are usually a lot more fun for determining a result. Hopefully I can explain what I mean well enough below.

Fusrodah wrote:
Maybe jumping over a fence which would require an acrobatic/athletic roll may not need to draw a rune for a warrior class character ?


That's already baked into the character. The archetype matters less because base competency is pretty high in this game. So, any character with more physical (red) runes has an edge to doing physical-like checks, just because they'd wyrd them more often.

For example, Garry the Galdr wants to jump over the fence. He wants to do it with Acrobatics. Let's say he doesn't have Acrobatics as a Skill. The Norn rules that thiis is something that will be physical which helps Garry the Galdr since he's got a few of them. Garry wyrds, and draws two red and two green.

The two red add together to make 2. The two greens get rune morphed into being 1 red. That makes 3. Garry's void rune is also red, so he can add that to make 4. If you think about how the scale is 1 to 5, Garry is now rocking it over that fence. (If he had Acrobatics, he'd be 5 / 5.) Whereas Sarah the Seithkona draws only blue and green runes and will have a harder time making it over.

This is a simplified example because the game uses a lot of "margin of success" mechanics. The Norn takes Garry's total, 4, and subtracts the difficulty number for getting over the fence. (This is contrary to D&D, where Garry just has to hit a target number and that's it.) The reason FotN adds this extra step is because it adds a lot of depth, but also the immediate simplicity of knowing if you've succeded. If it's a positive number, Garry succeeds. That makes the game pretty easy to run. But it also provides depth, because if Garry success by more than one, then he porentially has more options with greater "sucesses", circumstances permitting.

Let's say the Norn says the fence is 3 to get over. That's a pretty challenging fence. Garry the Galdr wyrded and totalled 4. So, Garry has 1 success and makes it over the fence fine. But if the fence was only a 2 in difficutly, or if Garry did take Acrobatics as a Skill, well then Garry would come out with 2. He got over the fence and has 1 left over.

In the case of many Skills what each success means is clearly defined (Negotiation lowers the price by set amounts per success, for instance) but in a case like this the Norn would have to apply the game logic to the situation. For instance, if Garry was chasing a bandit, climbed the fence about after all calculations are done got a 2, I'd say that 1 he climbed the fence and for the other 1 he jumped off the fence and tackled the bandit. But, since Garry does not have any runes left this round he can't do more than stop the bandit.

This is all just the logic of the system, and how the rules as written can be applied. Once it makes sense, it's both simple on the surface and pretty darn deep in terms of how far you can apply the logic.

Fusrodah wrote:
How often do you draw them ?


Organically, as often as necessary. Sometimes when players don't know what to do I have them all wyrd just to see their available options, and go from there. Remember there are a dozen ways to approach every situation, but generally you can break it down by colour. For instance, you want to search the room:

* Red Runes (Physical): Tear the room apart, ransacking, and see if what you want turns up
* Blue Runes (Mental): Carefully sift through drawers and look behind paintings
* Green Runes (Spiritual / but also often Social): Imagine you're that person and retrace their steps. Where would they hide it? This is a little flakier so the Norn might make the difficulty higher.

Let the players drive this. Sometimes that option just isn't there - a tree falls on you in the woods, you have to lift if off. Maybe that's a bad example. If you can come up with a fulcum (Mental) or cry for help with a reasonable chance of getting it (Spiritual) then I suppose there are more options, but generally the Norn sets expectations.

The point is - when you have a conflict that needs solving, have them wyrd. But also, when you have a conflict but nobody knows what they should do about it (especially new players) have them wyrd anyway. Sarah the Seithkona will realise she has lots of Mental Runes and that her answer to the problem is probably going to be Mental.

Fusrodah wrote:
Did you maybe make some house rules aboute this ? I'm open to any shared tips here.


The skill system is robust and I've never seen any need to house rule it, except maybe to add some meta-tags to it so they operate more like Powers - but that's coming in RGS3. The key thing to understand is that it's not D&D. Your characters are more often succeeding, the question is by how much, and what does that mean?

Fusrodah wrote:
We are a RP heavy group and do not fight as often as mother people, sometimes we may go a full session without a single fight, my players like to persuade, lie, sneak etc.


My group too, which is part of why the FotN Skill system works as well as it does. I hope I've explained it well enough. I think all the depth and immersion you're looking for is already there, it's just making the jump in thinking.

//Panjumanju

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:41 pm 
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Fusrodah wrote:
I fell on pages 292 to 298 and since they didn't appear on the dweller sheet I did not realize that they were pre-existing. here's my question then, are those skills all available to everyone with basically +0 skill pts when starting the game ?


No. Some of them you can't do without being trained in the first place, but most are available to anyone. I think you're thinking of a much more rigid format than this sytem has. Anyone can intimidate, anyone can run around, just not everyone can brew mead or have a vision.

Cinematic Actions are open ended. Anything that makes sense to do, your characters can do - it's just either a physical thing, a mental thing, or a spiritual thing. Sometimes that runs into a Skill, and can be added, sometimes not.

Fusrodah wrote:
IAnd can they only be increased from items and passive skills? I'm realizing that they pretty much increase themselves from having a higher (example) physical runes ratio in your essence meaning that you will draw more physical and succeed to more physical tasks


On the Skill board, the third board for each character it often lists a Skill multiple times.

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"What strength!! But don't forget there are many guys like you all over the world."


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:12 pm 
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I thank you very much for your very detailed answer and see that youve put a lot of time for the help and I really appreciate it !!

All thats left is knowing how to balance the out of combat active skills, I do feel like it helped me have a better understanding of the RP playstyle in this game

Bests


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 9:27 am 
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Fusrodah wrote:
So in our mock session some time ago, one of my player took a spell that would break bones, and the RP effect was that it would fracture the bone of someone on touch.


I assume you're talking about a Seithkona using "Bone Snapper", because you said everyone was level 3 and that's the only first-position on any of the charts that would fit. Yeah, that ones brutal.

Fusrodah wrote:
He would litteraly abuse of this to do everything he want and ''intimidate'' everyone and rough them trough his way.


It's up to you as a Norn how much effect snapping someone's bone has in a role-playing sense. I'd rule it gives them a +1 on an Intimidate check. They still have to make the check. If the check does not turn out you can always say the victim was screaming too much, or went into shock.

Torture is a problem in RPGs in general. Some players are really into it. I can't imagine why. Torture and other power-play violence is not what I want to do with my game time. But that's some people's fun, I guess.

Concerning this setting in particular: Vikings aren't nice. I'm not saying all parties are evil. That's annoying to run at best. But the PC entitlement to violence is pretty high. However, Valhalla only wants the nobel. Generally. If your players are engaging in behaviour you don't appreciate, like torturing NPCs for information, I find the quickest way to put a stop to it is to remind them that when they die they have to account for their behaviour if they want to go to Valhalla. Dying in FotN is good roleplaying, but it also has mechnical reinforcement. Engaging in behaviour of which the gods would not approve lowers your chances of getting a higher level character. The cruelty that goes into toroturing NPCs for information is something that, like grave robbing and oathbreaking, is an ignoble persuit unbecoming of a warrior and will mechanically count against your ability to enter into the afterlife.

Higher level play in FotN depends on getting into an afterlife, and so appeasing one god or another in terms of their moral code. The kind of gods that condone torture don't tend to offer an afterlife, and instead have you as a walking Dvergar corpse feasting on the living flesh of your friends.

Also, socially, in game, the world's population isn't that large. You go around torturing people, you're going to get a reputation. People will avoid you. You're not gonig to be employed to save little Jorgun who wandered into the wilderness where there are Hrokkvir guardians if you have a reputation for torturing people.

In short: guy wants to snap bones? Sure. Let him do it. But warn him how the Aesir gods would think about that, what kind of afterlife he could look forward to (all Dwellers die eventually) and what everyone else is going to think of him.

Fusrodah wrote:
I am unaware of how many spells like that there are.


The list of Powers in the game can feel overwhelming at first, but you really only need to know about a dozen of them. That's it. Those are the ones that will pop up all the time, and they're pretty intuitive. Then there's about a dozen more that you don't often see but do come up from time to time, usually associated with one Archetype or another. Then there's a whole bunch more that, when they come up, are not a big deal to look up.

Out of all that, there are about 5 or 6 powers like Bone Snapper that are potentially "problem" powers for some GMs. I always have a problem with "Shape Stone" for instance, because players use to get around my clever room traps. However, most of these are usually balanced by the nature of the in-game world.

Fusrodah wrote:
Do you guys put cooldowns on your spells like short/long rests. I'm trying to limit how easy it is to just cast those spells all the time since there is no spell slots like in DND.


There is no cooldown, and no real need for it, but if this guy is really pissing you off spamming the one power then treat the interrogation encounter like a combat round and make him wyrd for it. If it comes up, it comes up. If not, he'll be forced to think of difference solutions, and it'll probably long-term help him use the character in a more diverse way.

A few times when someone has been doing something with a Power that I'd deam much-too-much, like a Seithkona to use Gate Bones to animate an entire galley of oarsmen to sail them to Wessex, I'd cautioned the player that the Seithkona is not capable of such a sustained effort, and after a few hours they would take on a Degeneration condition from being exhausted, or whatever seems right at the time.

As a Norn, Conditions are your friend, and worth getting to know. Like Skills there's a handful of them that'll come up all the time, and the rest are obscure.

Fusrodah wrote:
#3 : RP v.s. combat ratio + level speed ...as mentioned previously, I have RP oriented players and therefore I'm trying to see if this game is more of a combat oriented game rather than RP since there are fewer skill checks. so I'm wondering if I should increase my combat to RP ratio to compensate.


Absolutely not. Just play at the rate and in the way that feels comfortable to you. Some play groups have a lot of combat, some play groups have a lot of challenges and conflicts that only sometimes involves violence. Violence is inevitable in a game about Vikings, but don't feel the need to intentionally set out to alter your play style for the system. The system will work within what feels natural to you.

Fusrodah wrote:
Also, which level speed should I put my team at ? since DND is max lvl 20, I'm pretty sure that FOTN has a much higher max level and therefore maybe I should make them level every hard fight or ever arc or something. we currently level every 3-5 sessions in our DND campaing so it can take months before leveling once. I don't think it would be necessaryin FOTN to keep is so slow.


I level people up every 3 to 5 sessions. Each level gives players a lot of new stuff to get used to, so there's no point leveling people up more often earlier.

In theory the level in a FotN game could continue indefinitely. I guess a kind of soft ceiling would be when you use an entire bag of runes, but I'm not sure what level that would be.

There isn't a "challenge rating" for FotN like there is in D&D...and I'd point out that D&D's CRs are notoriously unreliable. It all depends more on the situation than the monster. Roughy speaking a level 9 Dweller (PC) is about as powerful as a level 9 Denizen (enemy), except the Void rune gives the PCs an edge. Remember that base competency is high, so any encounter is potentially deadly. Denizens get things like Bone Snapper too, remember! I once had a whole party of level 12 Dwellers in retreat over a swarm of one-rune (so, level 3 each) pirates because of the circumstance. For a game that's largely resource management, luck still sways things a lot.

Personally I'd worry less about the levels of Denizens and more about what is going on and why, and what makes sense for the situation. And if they cake-walk through your first group of pirates - what's that? A second ship approaches the dock? With a powerful looking warrior on the prow?

As a shameless plug I'd reocmmend picking up Dead Man's Blade https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/28 ... Mans-Blade. It's a starting adventure for FotN. It's a good situation, has some good stock characters to get you going, and walks you through both Skill checks (in a simplified way) and random events via runes to send events on divergent paths. I'm the author of the advenure, so I'm certainly biased, but people have told me it took them seeing it like that to make the system "click" for them. It may help you, too.

Good hunting,

//Panjumanju

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"What strength!! But don't forget there are many guys like you all over the world."


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2020 3:28 pm 
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All of that was very enlightening thank you,

I might opt of wyrding + intimidation roll for the bone snapping spells as suggested, like if the spell fails it makes the intimidation check harder and therefore prevents overusage on top of having risks of failure. I'm certain that this
is a very DND like way to think so with experience I will certainly end up adapting differently. I also like the RP aspect of your answer that would motivate the PC to not overuse violence or torture.

I think I will opt for a lvl 10 start with fast lvl ups until 12 and then 3 to 5 sessions per levels.

I'm aiming for a custom campaing but inside the FOTN universe, this way I can have a long term thing running. I have read the entire main book as well as the lords of the ash expansion so I have a lot of
fuel to start with.

looks like I have some work to do !

bests


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