Friday, September 5, 2014

Five or So Questions with Rob Trimarco on Fortune's Fool

Check out Rob's Kickstarter for Fortune's Fool Ultimate PDF Edition!

Tell me a little about Fortune's Fool. What excites you about it?

Fortune's Fool is a tabletop Roleplaying Game set in a fantasy version of the European Renaissance that uses tarot cards instead of dice as it's main conflict resolution mechanic.

The exciting parts about it are the ways in which players interact with each other, the tarot deck, and the GM. First, the GM never draws a card against a player. The players draw cards to succeed at skill checks or combat actions and then draw to dodge attacks or avoid actions taken against them.

Second, the character creation system is very simple yet robust. It is a life path system that helps players craft a story as they choose the attributes that are notable and special about their characters. Social class, religion, race, birth order, and other factors all contribute to a character's abilities, skills, and how lucky they are.

Thirdly, the game has within it a "Fate Twist" system which is a completely "meta" mechanic that allows the players themselves to influence the cards being drawn to steer the outcome in their favor. Players can "twist fate" at any point in the game even when it is not their character's turn.


What made you choose to use tarot cards?

Part of the decision to use tarot cards was the feel of the many decks that are out there to use. Many of them have beautiful art that truly helps to invoke the feeling of the setting and the mood of a game. We have used multiple decks when running it. One I have is very much in the style of old renaissance paintings and it has gold edges. Very useful for when I ran a game dealing with royalty and saving a prince from impending doom! Another we use is a fairy tale themed deck which we used when writing and play testing our Grimm Tales campaign supplement.

Another part of the decision was the multiple ways the deck itself could be used. For those that do not know about the tarot deck structure, The tarot deck is broken up into 2 sections. It has cards called "minor arcana" which consist of 4 suits with 14 cards in each (similar to the standard deck of playing cards we use today) as well as "major arcana" with cards like "The Magician", "The Hanged Man", and "Strength" of which there are 22. This variety allows us to use the numbers on the minor arcana cards, the specific suit they are, and the major arcana cards all as ways to express levels of success, failure, damage from attacks, spell effects, etc.

They all work together seamlessly and intuitively with the story being told and with the actions being taken by the player. The minor arcana cards determine success and failures on a basic level by comparing the suit and the number to your character's skill ratings and to which minor arcana card suits are considered "fortune smiles" or "fortune frowns." The major arcana cards represent critical successes and critical failures. If you draw a major arcana card and it is circled on your character sheet, the action is considered a "fortune shines"; a critical success of the highest order. If the major arcana drawn is not circled on your character sheet, your character has fumbled an action badly with a critical failure. These "Fortune Shines" and "Fortune Weeps" are determined during the course of character creation.


Tell me a little more about character creation. What do you think is vital to character creation in games?
Depending on how players approach participation in roleplaying games, they may view what's vital to character creation in different ways. Someone can certainly make choices to give them the best social or weapon skills. Making selections that raise their charm or attack numbers, and generally be amazing at certain aspects of a physical or social conflict. Someone else may think about their character choices as more of a storytelling vehicle and focus their choices on what is most interesting to them in the vein of defining their character's struggles or most powerful life events. I believe the vital part of the Fortune's Fool character creation system lies within this diversity and the ability to accommodate many points of view and play styles.


Twisting fate sounds awesome! How do you do it?
At character creation the number of times you can play a fate twist and which specific ones a player has are determined. The luckier a character is the more fate twists their player possesses. There are many different fate twists listed in the book and they all allow a player to affect the deck in many ways. From being able to peek at the top 3 cards of the deck to shuffling in your choice of major arcana into the top 5 cards.

Let's say, for example, in a scene there is a group of brigands attacking the player characters. The lead brigand has his flintlock pistol out and expresses a deep desire to shoot one of the characters in the face. In order to see if the shot hits, the player must draw a card to dodge. Let's call the player "Aaron." Aaron's draw must be lower than his dodge score or be a major arcana card that is favorable to his character in order for the shot to miss. Guns being very deadly weapons, Aaron decides to use a fate twist. This happens before any cards are drawn to resolve the action at hand. Aaron announces to the other players at the table and to the GM that he will spend a fate point and use his fate twist called "Devil's Laugh." This fate twist states that the Major Arcana card "The Devil" needs be shuffled into the top 3 cards of the deck. Since The Devil card is a "Fortune Shines" for Aaron if he draws it, the gunshot will not only miss but it will cause his opponent to fumble, causing the brigand to drop the gun or even have it explode in his hand! The degree of success or failure of a draw determines all of this so picking the right fate twist (or twists - many can be played before a draw occurs) definitely matters in any situation where life or death is on the line!

So the GM now picks up the deck and searches it for the card and when it is found he or she then shuffles it into the top 3 cards of the deck. Aaron now has a one in 3 chance of drawing a card that is really good for him so the tension of the draw is high! It's very exciting to see happen during play! Will the brigand's shot completely miss Aaron? Will Aaron's face be shot?Oh boy!


Will we be seeing more from you soon, and if so, what will it be?

We are currently running a Kickstarter project to enhance our PDFs. If it funds it will allow us to do the following: layer the art in the book to allow it to be viewed in "text only" mode so it speeds up loading and allows for slower devices to read the file easily, resizing the files for optimal viewing on a phone, tablet, PC, or other PDF capable device, linking the rules internally to different sections to facilitate looking up different rules and definitions we use in the book, and adding more original artwork from our favorite artists.

We also have a new supplement in the works called "Tales from the Ganges" that will detail the region of India! It will allow players and GMs to expand their game into the region with new races, skills, religions, spells, and a myriad of other fun bits.Did you ever want your character to ride a huge, demon possessed bull elephant into combat with your enemies? Well now you finally can! This supplement will breathe new life into a current game or bring inspiration to start a new one. It is currently part of our Kickstarter's stretch goals but even if we don't meet the goal this supplement will still be released just on a different time table.