Fateful Encounter: Of Pets and comPanions

“I really want Talana to have a pet bat.”

The above is what one of my players told me while sharing pictures of cute animals the other night. She’s a self-identifying goth, and relishes any excuse to slather on the black lipstick, so it would make sense to go bat over the more traditional dogs or fish. But it got me to thinking: How do I want to handle pets, and by extension sidekicks and companions, in Stockings & Steam?

The first question is: How important is the pet to the character, and to the narrative?

Companion as Background Detail

They’re just around, like the dog you see at the start and end of the movie with nothing in between. Give them a name, don’t forget to feed them, and move on to more narratively important things.

Companion as Aspect

Another simple approach, but this time with narrative weight behind it. Take an aspect that represents your pet, and invoke it as required or have it compelled against you dramatically. I don’t have to tell you how basic Fate works.

Companion as Extra

This is the most detailed and crunchy of the three approaches, essentially based off of the Companion rules [link: http://www.faterpg.com/dl/sotc-srd.html#companions%5D found in Spirit of the Century.

David Thomas over on Fate Core Google Plus Community has already beaten me to it, reprinted below:

Companion Stunts

My first urge is to take the revised SotC companion stunts and port them directly over.

However, since everything is simplified in Fate Core, perhaps companions could be done as:

Companion Stunt – (Cost 1-3 refresh)
You gain a Companion equal to a Fair Quality nameless NPC.
For an extra point of refresh, this companion becomes a Good quality NPC.
For a second extra point of refresh, this companion becomes a Good Quality NPC with 2 additional aspects and a stunt of their own.

I have no idea how I would do a mobs of minions stunt however.

There is a simple elegance to his approach. However I feel the need for something meatier for Stockings & Steam, a combination of the two. That is what I’ve come up with below, my first draft for the Companion Extra.

 

Extra: Companion

You have someone, or something, that assists you in your adventures. It could be anything from a research assistant to a knight’s squire, a wizard’s familiar, a magical girl’s  or even a ranger’s wolf.

You have a companion. It can be used during challenges, contests, and conflicts to assist you and grant a bonus to appropriate rolls.

Cost: Between 1 and 3 Refresh (see Quality below). An appropriate aspect.

Quality and Type: The companion starts out at Fair (+2) quality, and increases in quality for each additional point of refresh spent up to Great (+4).

Type: The type of the companion is the kind of situations that it’ll be used for. They are Physical, Mental, Social, and Magical.

Aspects: The companion has one aspect.

Skills: A companion may use its skills independent of your own if higher. A companion has one skill of the same rank as its quality, two skills at their quality -1, or three skills at their quality -2.

Advantages & Powers: The companion has Advantage Points equal to the amount of Refresh spent to buy this extra. Advantage Points may be spent on any advantages and powers the GM deems appropriate, as well as the following companion-only advantages:

  • Additional Type [1]
    Your companion is extra helpful and more widely skilled.
    Effect: Pick an additional type for your companion to have (Physical, Mental, Social, or Magical). This advantage may be taken multiple times.
  • Stalwart [1]
    Your companion is always by your side, even in situations where it should be impossible to take them with you.
    Effect: So long as the companion’s consequence slot is free, you can declare they are part of the scene without spending a fate point.

Stress and Consequences: Companions do not have their own stress tracks, but have a consequence slot that represents them being taken out or otherwise rendered useless. For a Fair Quality Companion it is a Mild Consequence, and upgrading the Quality also increases the severity of the consequence slot.

 

I’ll be playtesting this ASAP, as the next adventure for Talana and her pet bat draw close.

Today’s Lesson: Sometimes an easy blog post takes you 3 days and a breakdown to write. I blame bad friends and Tomb Raider.

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