Fate Core Sneak Peek: CrimeWorld

We are crazy-bouncy-happy to give you a sneak peek at John Rogers’s piece of brilliance, Crimeworld. (And really, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Fred crazy-bouncy-happy. Trust us on this one.) John has written so many things of awesomeness that we’re worried the website might explode under the weight if we list them all. Think Leverage. Transformers. D&D. If only he’d put them all together and write about criminals in giant robots who dungeon crawl, we could die happy.

Actually, that’s not a bad idea.

But in the meantime, we’re thrilled to give you a taste of the genre-bending awesomeness that is Crimeworld, where heists can happen in back alleys, casinos, and even space ships.

WHAT IS CRIMEWORLD?

In 1972 Paul Shrader wrote one of the first serious American essays on the Film Noir genre. It was titled “Film Noir is not a Genre”. As amusing (and wrong) as that idea may be, it’s relevant to our attempts to bring the cons and heists of CrimeWorld into our roleplaying games. When we create (or often, borrow) story worlds for roleplaying, we establish that story world’s genre signifiers. “Genre signifiers” are the elements of story world which stylistically define that world in its broadest sense. Fantasy has swords, magic and monsters. Steampunk involves zeppelins, gears, corsets, and often geared corsets. Cthulhu Horror reeks of moist rot and madness. Your Space Opera best have starship battles, ray guns and alien cultures.

The genre signifiers of the most famous elements of CrimeWorld — cons and heists — are much harder to pin down. The infamous pressure-sensitive floor? That element stars in many crime movies, but is also featured in the spy movie Mission Impossible. Conning your way past the guards by dressing like them — a plot point in both the World War II movie Where Eagles Dare and the sci-fi classic Star Wars. The train heist is in both Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and the first broadcast episode of Firefly. What’s the difference between The Dirty Dozen and Ocean’s 11?

Crime stories are tricky in that they don’t have a uniform set of costumes, props, stock characters or even attitudes. Crimes are ways of solving story problems. Crimes are a style of conflict resolution more than a genre, a collection of story beats and moments. The Read, the Hook, the Crack, The Blow.

So CrimeWorld takes a slightly different tack than most supplements. It’ll attempt to give you those storytelling tools in the most generic sense, without adding a bunch of specialized character building mechanisms, stunts and specialized skills. You should be able to drop CrimeWorld ideas into any setting in any genre with minimal disruption. Any world is CrimeWorld, if you’re telling a crime story.

THE SCORE

The Score is something of value which currently belongs to somebody else. It will, if all goes well, soon belong to you.

Why is it valuable?

“Well,” you might answer, “it’s money. A giant pile of money. Or jewels,  . . Or information we can sell. It’s objectively valuable.”

The Score’s High Concept

To build a Score begin with its High Concept Aspect. The High Concept is the physical form — and often vulnerabilities — of the Score. Much as a character’s High Concept can be invoked for good or ill, the Score’s High Concept should imply both advantages and disadvantages.

“A ruby-encrusted Faberge Egg” is hard to disguise as anything but a ruby-encrusted egg, but also small enough to be hidden in a variety of improvised containers. It will shatter if dropped, but is in theory water-proof.

“Mussolini’s 1938 Packard” is too big to hide under a trenchcoat, but can be driven from location to location. It’s a Score which provides its own getaway.

“The Names of all the undercover agents in Budapest” is just information. It can be duplicated, written into another medium, encoded to hide in other information. At the same time, that information can be corrupted by electromagnetic pulses if on a hard drive, or burned if on paper.

The Score’s Value

The Score’s other primary Aspect is its Value. This Aspect describes exactly how the Score is an intersection of competing needs. To illustrate using some well-known fictional examples:

In the movie National Treasure the Declaration of Independence is a “A Delicate Treasure Hiding a Dark Secret.” The government wants the document back, the historian-thieves want to preserve it, and the conspirators want to destroy it.

Jason Bourne seeks a file containing “The Dangerous Truth about Treadwell”. He needs the truth of his name; others need to hide the truth of their sins.

Han Solo, aided by an old man and a useless farmboy, aims to steal a “Troublemaking Leader of the Rebellion”. He needs the reward to pay off Jabba the Hutt, the Rebellion needs its leader back, the Empire needs her dead, and she’s going to go throw some elbows along the way.