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Colonial Gothic Design Notes: Fate Cards

July 14, 2007

One of Colonial Gothic’s cool features we have kept under wraps, has been the Fate Card.

What are Fate Cards?

They are the one of the features driving the drama of Colonial Gothic.

Colonial Gothic is a supernatural horror game, but it is one that is cinematic in nature. By this, the game places a heavy emphasis on large than life action. Large than life Heroes. Larger than life Villains. Large than life drama and events.

Taking inspiration from such films as The Patriot and Brotherhood of the Wolf, Colonial Gothic from day one was all about cinematic roleplaying. The 12º rule system is designed to be both modular, as well as light so that the cinematic style was possible.

12º is more than a light, modular rule system, it is also about allowing for drama. That is what the Fate Card does.

All Heroes have Fate Cards. Fate Cards are plot hooks which you can use to make the events your Hero experience have a deeper meaning. The basic premise in the design process is to give you an opportunity to flesh out difficult areas in your game’s pacing and provide players with the optional side quests. Fate Cards not only apply to your Hero, but you can choose to apply them to other Heroes.

All starting Heroes begin play with up to four Fate Cards. On the Fate Cards, you need to write one sentence o two sentences, that describe an event or plot reveal for your Hero. Any time during the course of an adventure you can elect to play one Fate Card, at any time, to alter the course of the plot, provided you have written the plot hook prior to the game session.

You may not use a plot hook for a mechanical advantage to escape a Villain—Fate Cards are simply meant to enhance the plot and provide an extra opportunity for you and the other the players to play through the new information.

Let me use two examples from my one own campaign. One of these cards were used recently, and another is one that has yet to come into play. Both serve as good examples of what Fate Cards do.

Card 1

The blood oath you swore to Rebecca can only be paid with your blood.

Was recently recently used in my last session. The players created their Heroes together and developed the back story, that Rebecca, saved Unca’s (Native Born Hero from the Mahican Tribe) who has been left for dead in the woods after an encounter with a dark shaman. Healing Unca’s, Unca’s swore to pay back Rebecca for her kindness. In the last session, Rebecca was about to be killed by a Vampire, when Unca’s player played his Fate Cards. The player decided that this was the perfect opportunity for his Hero to payback the blood oath. I ruled, that Unca’s was able to push Rebecca out of the way, just before the Vampire attacked, thus saving the Heroine from her death.

Sadly, Unca died in the attack.

Death, in most games, is not a moving experience, but for the group this was. The players had grown attached to not only their Heroes, but to each other’s heroes. By playing the Fate Cards, Unca’s player saved his companion, but also decided to ratchet up the drama by the use of the card.

Card 2

The sins of my father are now mine to carry and only with my suffering will my redemption come.

This card has not been played yet, but it is an example of a Card that has helped the player define who his Hero is. The Hero, whose background is one tied to one of the first colonists of Rhode Island, comes from a family with a reputation of being tied to the dark arts. The player, decided that his Hero would be one who is trying to redeem his family’s name.

Fate Cards are optional, and you do not need to use them to enjoy Colonial Gothic. They are one of the little features you can use to enhance your games.

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