View Full Version : [FATE 3.0/LoA] Warlords of Alexander

2010-12-21, 12:40 PM
I've been on a bit of a Hellenistic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellenistic_period)-era kick of late, and this idea has been fuelled by reading Alfred Duggan's excellent Elephants and Castles (about the life of Demetrius I of Macedon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demetrius_I_of_Macedon)). Now fortunately a lot fo the hard work of turning the era into a game-able setting has already been done for me.

Paul Elliott has written the excellent Warlords of Alexander (which you can download here (http://basicroleplaying.com/downloads.php?do=file&id=8)), which is designed for BRP. And is completely free.

He addresses the "why is this game-able" question right at the start, with who the PCs are:

Player characters are tough and rootless mercenaries, or wandering fortune hunters seeking a rich patron or perhaps rumour of a lost treasure hoard. The world they inhabit is dominated by huge and powerful kingdoms, massive fragments of Alexander the Great's short-lived world-spanning empire. His generals spawned a number of dynasties which now make interminable war on one another. All wish to be the next 'Alexander' - and the hoplite armies pay for these fruitless ambitions in blood ...

To which I would add that there's also plenty of scope for PCs to be agents of those powers (assassins, spies, diplomats, etc), or independents of various sorts (merchants running trading empires, for example). It's not just about soldiers and warfare (to be fair there's lots more besides in the book).

And then the setting:

WARLORDS OF ALEXANDER gives you a way to mix the vividly historical with the monsters and magic of Greek myth. We get both halves of Greece - as long as you enjoy a little 'imaginative interpretation' at the expense of rigorous historical accuracy. The aim of the book is firstly to map out the amendments and rules additions needed to convey the Greek setting. Secondly it is to provide a solid gaming 'hook' taken straight out of classical Greek history that can be used as a foundation for building scenarios and campaigns.

The hook I've chosen is the period of the Successor Wars, a violent and bitter struggle in the mid-3rd century BC between the loyal generals of Alexander the Great (and their sons and grandsons) for the remnants of that youthful hero-king's vast empire. It is Classical Greece writ large across the known world, with every mercenary a hoplite, the common language Greek, the Olympian deities worshipped from India to Italy and Greek city comforts (baths, agora, gymnasia, theatres etc.) available in hundreds of cities newly established throughout conquered territories by Alexander himself. This almost universal Greek culture stands in well for the accepted fantasy society that is a prevalent and unwritten standard in many RPGs.

In fact the Successor period is ripe for roleplaying in every way, mirroring the standards and assumptions of fantasy games: a common language (in fact the universal dialect of Greek in use at the time was called koine Greek, quite literally 'common'), numerous warring kingdoms, an accepted universal culture understood by most civilized folk, a well-known pantheon of gods, a well-known bestiary of monsters and supernatural beings and an international society that tolerates and even promotes heavily armed and armoured adventurers travelling freely in search of fortune and glory.

To which I would add that this is a fertile political background, with a three-way contest between democracy (characterised by Athens), oligarchy (often the reality in places without kings) and monarchy (given a new lease of life by the Diadochi). There's vast wealth if only someone knows how to find and plunder it (especially in the East).

So to the only problem I have, BRP doesn't really do it for me. But I do have a system I really do like for this, namely FATE 3.0/Legends of Anglerre. I've already had a go at something historical with an old idea of mine, The First Man in Rome (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=535497), from which I can merrily loot ideas.

Again I'm envisaging something a lot more historical, and less fantastic (even than WoA). There will be no "mages" tossing fireballs about the place, or indeed any immediate sort of magics. Thematic magic is divination, curses, healing and communing with spirits/the dead. I might allow a little on the nature side of things too. But nothing you'd really recognise in the fantasy staples. More on that when I get to it.


I think back to the usual freeform thing, 5-6 Aspects done via Phases, with 1-2 "campaign Aspects" determined by the GM. The character's origins can be informed by the list of Greek communities on p57 of WoA or foreigners on p79.


As per usual, a reworking of the Skills list, though I'm not entirely happy with it as yet. Mostly around the social Skills, still not decided how many and whether I'm happy with Prescence (which is also stolen from DFRPG, though the command elements have been stripped away). Also musing on whether to include a Performance type Skill, and whether oratory should be in there or under Prescence.

The provisional list is:

Art (Art - inc Oratory)
Athletics (Athletics)
Connections (Contacting)
Close Combat (Melee Weapons)
Crafts (Art, Artificer)
Deceit (Deceit and Gambling)
Doctor (Science)
Empathy (Empathy)
Esoterica (Powers Skills)*
Intimidation (Intimidation)
Larceny (Burglary, Sleight of Hand)
Leadership (Leadership)
Perception (Alertness and Investigation)
Physique (Endurance and Might)
Presence (Rapport+)
Ranged Combat (Ranged Weapons)
Resolve (Resolve)
Resources (Resources)
Riding (Driving and Survival: Riding/Animal Handling)
Scholarship (Art, Academics, Science)
Stealth (Stealth)
Survival (Survival)
Unarmed Combat (Fists)

*As usual, there is only one magic Skill in my hacks, because I don't like a proliferation of Skills in general. Access to specific Powers is governed by Stunts.

Once again I'm wondering if I should merge Stealth into Larceny and Survival. Also considering moving thrown weapons into Ranged Weapons, otherwise there's very little in there (bow and sling, basically).

I'm musing on 20 points, capping at Great (+4), though I may lower it to Good (+3) with column, rather than pyramid. Also considering requiring that everyone choose a Skill not on their list to be at Terrible (-2).

Stress Tracks

All tracks are base 3 boxes, Stress "as hit points".

There's a third track, Reputation, representing your external social/mental "health" - how others see you. It's the mirror to Composure which represents the character's internal resolve. Presence is the Skill which adds to Reputation.

Weapons and armour affect Stress dealt/taken as per LoA. Leather or linen armour is light, mail, lamellar or scale is medium, the old full hoplite panoply or a cavalryman's full-body rig is heavy.

I'm considering a variant on Reputation at least, and perhaps all the others where you get no base boxes, and instead it's based on two or maybe three Skills.


Generic Stunts are the order of the day, as a general rule one generic one equals two of the detailed ones from LoA. For example, Hoplite Training (functions as Armour Training and Shield Training).


To be able to do "real" magic requires three things. The Esoterica skill at greater than Mediocre (+0), an Aspect dealing with your gift, and some Stunts to give you access to actual powers.

The Esoterica Skill alone at higher levels does include knowledge of the forms of magic and other arcane lore, but without the relevant Aspect and Stunts, there is no arcane power behind the knowledge.

Only the following Powers are available:

Death (only the Speak to Dead Trapping)

I'm on the fence about Domination, Glamour and Transmutation, which seem a little too out there for the setting.

I'm musing whether I should only allow the Trappings, rather than make them accessible with a Stunt. I'm thinking something like the first Stunt gives access to the Trappings for one, next for three, third for five. With a Stunt each for (some) of those that are usually one Stunt per.

Furthermore, most or all magic requires a lot of preparation time, the correct components, a suitably attired location and knowledge of the right rituals. There's little instantaneous, spontaneous magic.

2010-12-22, 09:44 AM
Sounds good. I recently read Plutarch's Life of Demetrius; an entertaining read.

2010-12-22, 10:15 AM
I think I need to reinstate the Art Skill; it covers music and oratory, two things that were very important to Hellenes. There'd be some overlap with Scholarship - I'd allow it to also cover knowledge of works and styles and so on, though nothing practical like Art. I think leave the overlap with Craft as well - some art-forms require you to have practical skills.

2010-12-22, 01:50 PM
I guess, but what role do you envision it having in the game? I mean, given the tone of the introduction it does not seem very useful. On the other hand, it has been a while since I looked at the rules for FATE, so maybe that does not matter too much!

2010-12-22, 05:12 PM
I guess, but what role do you envision it having in the game? I mean, given the tone of the introduction it does not seem very useful. On the other hand, it has been a while since I looked at the rules for FATE, so maybe that does not matter too much!

It's potentially a useful skill in a social context, as well as covering a certain style of public speaking. I never know when a player might want to play an assassin who masquerades as a musician, for example.

Or be able to make Declarations like "I don't believe it! This is a genuine Praxiteles, do you have any idea how much its worth when we get it back to Alexandria?"