Traits.Fabletop characters are made up mostly of Traits, which define their strengths, weaknesses, and unique qualities.
Argus the Woodland ScoutBase Traits
Might 2melee attacks, strength, athletics
Agility 3ranged attacks, reaction, stealth
Wisdom 2senses, knowledge, communication
Rogue +1stealth, mobility, rope, locks/traps
Nature +1tracking, forest survival, wildlife
Base Traits. All characters have three Base Traits that represent their general abilities: Might, Agility, Wisdom.
These Traits cover just about every kind of task in an action-based genre. When in doubt, ask the GM which is the closest Trait for the given task.
Bonus Traits. Bonus Traits are unique to each character, and represent professional abilities or other skillsets.
Example Bonus Traits
Custom Traits. Fabletop allows you to write in anything you want for Bonus Traits, but it's up to the GM to decide what is allowed.
Good custom traits are versatile, but not overpowered. As a rule of thumb, a custom trait should only be applicable to about 1/3 of the rolls your character will make in a typical game session.
However, you should start your first few characters using the built-in traits. They can be combined in a lot of ways, and were created with game balance in mind.
Rolling. To do something risky or uncertain, roll a number of dice equal to your most relevant Base Trait, plus any Bonus Traits that apply.
Stars. There is a 1-in-3 chance that a
Star will come up on each die. The more stars you roll, the better the result.
You only need 1 Star to succeed at most tasks.
-- sneaks by the sleeping guard --
Agility + Rogue →
-- snorts, then continues sleeping quietly --
Extra Difficulty. Some situations will require 2 or more Stars. Examples:
Moons & Skulls
There's a 1-in-18 chance that a Moon will appear on the first die.
This counts as a Star, and an additional Good Twist might happen.
Good Twists (examples)
There's a 1-in-18 chance that a Skull will appear on the first die.
This counts as a blank, and an additional Bad Twist may happen.
Bad Twists (examples)
Mixed Results. A Skull is not a "critical failure", nor is a Moon an automatic success!
-- slowly climbs rope --
Agility + Rogue →
Rojar pulls himself to the top of the cliff...
but lets the rope fall back into the chasm below!
Do Cool Things. Power Points
combine the idea of Hero points (or Fate points) and Mana systems often found in other RPGs.
In short, they let you fudge the normal rules in order to do remarkable things.
Extra Star. Power Points always add 1 Star to the roll.
Powers & Stunts. Power Points let you perform an improvised power or stunt based on one of your traits.
-- holds out hand to bird -- Friend, what happened here?
Wisdom + Nature + Power →
The sparrow flutters down onto your hand.
You see a brief vision...
Magic. Power Points are required to activate any supernatural ability, including spells and psychic powers.
Healing. Healing rolls recover 2 Life per Star. This can be distributed among any number of characters.
Defense. Defense rolls are not a part of regular combat, but a Power Point can be used to avoid the result of an attack. Each star absorbs 1 Damage.
-- swings massive warhammer at Argus --
vs Argus →
Argh! Uh... can I dodge?
Go for it. Remember to use a power point.
-- somersaults out of harm's way --
Agility + Rogue + Power →
loses 1 Life
Heroic Save. It happens all the time in the movies: A character is about to be smashed into bits, but is pushed away just in the nick of time!
Players can do the same thing with a Power Point. If a character is about to take a lot of damage, a nearby teammate can spend a Power Point to try and save the day. If the result is 2 Stars, all damage is avoided.
Good Twist. If the GM approves, a Power Point may be spent on a Wisdom roll to create a Good Twist, as if a Moon was rolled.
Can I just jump out and have soft landing as a good twist?
With a Power point, sure.
Wisdom + Power →
Rojar leaps out of the building and luckily... into a passing hay cart!
Regaining Power. Power Points are refreshed at the start of every session, or mid-way through longer sessions (after about 4 scenes). Because they are metagame stat, they are not typically recovered by resting in-game.
Cinematic Action. Fabletop combat is meant to be quick and exciting. There are very few rules, in order to focus on the action and to cut down the time players have to wait between turns.
This is your chance to perform the kind of stunts that appear in movies and books!
-- growls menacingly as he raises his jagged sword --
Hey ugly... I think you could use an attitude adjustment!
-- crouches and then springs off of the nearby rock for an overhead slice attack --
Might + Power →
-- is defeated --
Turn Order. To keep combat moving quickly, the GM acts like the director of an action scene. They simply decide who goes next, based on who is closest to the action or who is most prepared to fight. There are no extra rolls for "initiative".
If one side has the element of surprise, they will probably go first. Enemies can go any time, even between player turns.
Movement. During a turn, characters have enough time to reach the nearest enemy and attack. Basic athletic moves (e.g. jumping on a rock) don't require a roll.
Basic Attacks. For most attack rolls, each Star does 1 Damage. Simple as that!
Ranged attacks are based on Agility.
(see Attack Style below for exceptions)
Weapons. Basic combat items are treated as "props". They make no difference game-wise. This means you can choose your weapons based on what works for your character concept -- not what is optimal for the rules system.
For example, a warrior might wield a pair of dual scimitars or a huge wooden club.
Armor. Basic armor is also treated as prop. Special armor can be gained as Bonus trait, but it is rolled without any additional traits. Each Star absorbs 1 Damage.
Caution: Armor dice should be used sparingly. Even a slight imbalance can make a wearer virtually unstoppable!
Guns. Firearms do 1 Damage per Star, just like any other weapon.
This not only helps maintain game balance, but is also cinematic. In the movies, a sword-wielding ninja is often more lethal than a gun-toting thug!
Ammunition. As a rule, characters always have enough ammo. Reloading happens without wasting a turn. This prevent tedious record-keeping and is true to the spirit of cinematic fire fights.
However, a Twist might cause a character or enemy to run out of ammo at an inopportune moment!
Attack Range. On a typical battlemat, ranged weapons can reach anyone who can reasonably be seen by the attacker, assuming there are no other targets in the way.
A character cannot use a ranged attack while being attacked at close range.
Optional Combat Rules
Multiple Targets. After defeating an enemy in melee combat, any extra damage can be applied to another enemy within a few steps.
Basic ranged attacks only affect one target at a time.
Attack Style.Players can spend a Power Point to attack with a non-standard Base Trait, if it fits their character concept. This effect lasts for the entire game session.
This rule is to help balance characters who tend to use their highest Base Trait for most of their rolls.
Cover. Targets hiding behind cover will reduce 1 Star from most ranged attacks.
Suppressing Fire. Players can engage in suppressing fire, which never causes damage. Instead, rolling more Stars causes more enemies to be pinned down, unable to move or fire for one round.
Blast Damage. Instead of rolling damage dice, attacks like explosives and dragonfire deal a fixed amount of damage, and the defenders can roll to dodge. Each Star reduces 2 Damage -- very often, these situations are all or nothing!
Final Surge. Just before a major battle, the GM may restore some of the party's Life and Power Points, to prepare them for the extra challenge of the scene. Extra points can be rewarded based on how inspiring their rallying dialogue is.
Plot Armor. Some enemies are deemed too important to the overall story arc to be harmed or killed (for now!). The GM can bend the rules in order to protect the NPC, but is advised to grant 1 XP to the players as a reward for playing along.
Life & Death
Healing. Characters restore all of their Life after resting in complete safety. Healing powers require a Power Point (see above).
Defeat. When reduced to 0 Life, characters are Defeated. For enemies, this often means death. But it could also mean that they are knocked out so they can be questioned later, etc.
When Defeated, Player Characters are knocked out for the rest of the scene and lose 1 XP.
No Death. Player Characters never die, unless it is in a way that is meaningful to the story and is agreed upon by the player.
Players should respect this extra layer of protection and not flout the rule by doing excessively suicidal things. Being a hero means willfully entering dangerous situations, but good roleplayers will still find the best (and most entertaining) way to succeed.
Believability. The No Death rule is not as unconventional as it seems at first.
Movies and novels preserve the lives of important characters until the end -- or when their deaths have a dramatic purpose. Heroes don't die because they accidentally missed a Spot check and walked into a trap.
We read stories -- and want to create them via roleplaying -- to follow a journey, which includes coming back from failure!
Basic Gear. All characters begin with a weapon or two, and enough supplies for the current quest (e.g. food, water, travel gear). The lack of basic equipment should never be a major obstacle.
A dark cave! The orcs must have gone in there. Let's go in...
Do you have any torches?
Nope. None of you idiots said you bought any back in town. Too bad!
Trait-Derived Gear. Each character is assumed to have items that are appropriate for their Traits. For example, it's reasonable to assume that a character with the Holy trait will be carrying a holy symbol.
It is helpful, but not necessary, to write down what items you have in your Notes. If the GM thinks an improvised item is questionable, they may require a one-time Wisdom roll or a Power Point to "buy" it.
Bonus Items. The GM might give out magic items or other special gear, which can be added as a Bonus trait. For example, a Magic Sword that adds to melee rolls, or a Hi-Res Visor that adds to perception rolls.
Money. Money is not tracked in Fabletop, so that shopping doesn't take away from game time. Characters always have enough money for basic expenses.
As a rule, the lack of money should not hinder a quest unless it is a large expenditure that is part of the plot. In those cases, money can be temporarily be tracked by the GM until they have enough. For example, the party is stranded in a remote kingdom and needs to earn enough money for passage back home.
First Session. At the end of the first session, characters can add 1 Life or 1 Power.
Level Up. After every 20 XP, characters gain 1 Trait die, 1 Life, or 1 Power.
Trait dice can be added to an existing Bonus Trait, or added as a new +1 Bonus Trait. Base Traits cannot be upgraded.
Topping Out. While a character's story may continue, their stats are not meant to advance beyond 100 XP.
Cooperation. Unfortunately, disagreements are inevitible in tabletop roleplaying. This means cooperation is important, especially in a freeform game like Fabletop.
Try not to blow things out of proportion. Deal with disagreements in a constructive way by keeping an open mind, suggesting alternatives, or just letting it go.
Keep it non-confrontational. Never criticize another player or GM for doing things differently from what you would like.
Give & Take. Having a GM-vs-Player mindset can be toxic.
GMs should give players the freedom to do things their way, and players should accept that bad things will occasionally happen. ;)
As a GM, try to be consistent, but realize that sometimes it's okay to change your mind. In some cases, it's okay to reverse a previous decision in order to smooth things out. As a player, realize that the GM might not be totally consistent all the time.
Share the Spotlight. Give the other characters room to express themselves. Even if your character's personality is overbearing and obnoxious, it's bad form to use that as a reason to force yourself into the center of every interaction.
Likewise, if you notice that another player seems to be less engaged, find an in-character way to bring them more into the scene.
Have Fun. Always remember that it's just a game. The goal for everyone is to have a good time... and to have entertaining tales to tell!