View Full Version : Badass Fairy Tales [No System, At Least Not Yet]

Archpaladin Zousha
2011-11-29, 01:11 PM
I've got an idea that I've been turning around in my head that I've been meaning to introduce here as some kind of RP, though I could use some advice on details. The idea here is, as the title suggests, badass fairy tales. Taking fairy tale characters, and going with the classic What happens after "Happily Ever After? question, and in this case, the answer is they become badasses and have adventures.

For example:

We all know the story of Hansel and Gretel. Two children are abandoned in the woods by their starving parents, find a gingerbread house in the middle of the woods, are captured by the witch who lives there and then burn her to death before she kills and eats them. What many of the tales neglect to mention are the details of that period of durance and what happened after. For Hansel was not merely kept in a cage and ordered to feast, but the which also ripped out one of his eyes, as she herself was blind, and Gretel replaced it with an eye from the witch's cat. And Gretel was indeed forced to cook and clean, not as the witch's slave, but as her apprentice. When they destroyed their captor, the light from Hansel's glowing cat eye led them home, and when their wicked stepmother saw it, it frightened her so that she died on the spot.

Their experience in the woods changed the two siblings. They'd seen the horrors that were out there, and knew that while they got lucky and escaped, who knows how many other children were out there, wandering into similar traps. As they grew older, they made a pact with each other that they would never be separated, and would use what they'd learned to seek out and destroy other evils lurking in the dark places of the world. Now adults, the pair have become mercenaries known for their fair prices, their spartan diets, and their incredible skill at witch hunting. After all, Gretel herself is now a true witch in her own right, turning the wicked magic of the hags and sorceresses against them, but constantly struggling to avoid succumbing to the dark impulses they stir in her. Hansel, meanwhile, has become a strong warrior, dedicated to protecting his sister as she protected him in childhood. He conceals his cat's eye with an eyepatch, but is unafraid to use it to navigate and to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies.

That's sort of what the typical backstory of a character in this game would be like. I've also got some ideas for the "magic system," namely that there are two kinds of magic: White Magic is the colloquial term for magic that is granted to mortals by the Faeries, and its practicioners are called Enchanters or Enchantresses. Black Magic draws its power from the essence of living things, usually through blood sacrifice, and those who practice it are called Witches (or warlocks in the case of men, but male practicioners of this magic are rare). Despite the names, neither is morally good or bad. Fae can be just as cruel as they can be kind, and some witches use their powers and wisdom to aid heroes.

That's about as far as I've gotten at the moment. Anyone interested? Have ideas? Please feel free to discuss them here.

2011-11-29, 07:05 PM
I'm sure there's a movie somewhere about Little Red Riding Hood & her descendants becoming werewolf hunters...

I think this is a cool idea. A world populated by badass fairy tale characters would be interesting.

Just don't eat any apples.

2011-11-29, 07:19 PM
This sounds like something the Faery's Tale system could handle well, at least for actual fairies. There's nothing in the system that prevents you from dark or "badass" games, unless you insist on characters spontaneously dying once they hit 0 HP.

Archpaladin Zousha
2011-11-29, 08:48 PM
I'm sure there's a movie somewhere about Little Red Riding Hood & her descendants becoming werewolf hunters...
Eh, that angle's been done to death. Angela Carter, Stephen Sondheim, you name it, they've made our naive, cape-wearing little girl into an action hero. :smallamused:

This sounds like something the Faery's Tale system could handle well, at least for actual fairies. There's nothing in the system that prevents you from dark or "badass" games, unless you insist on characters spontaneously dying once they hit 0 HP.
Really? Tell me more!

Anyone got any "badass" twists on other fairy tales players could use? Here's another one I came up with:

Lips red as the rose, hair black as ebony, skin white as snow. These were the defining attributes of the famed princess, Snow White. Her's is a tale that many know well. Fleeing the jealous rage of her stepmother, a witch of great power, she was taken in by a group of the little people, seven miners who lived alone in the woods near the mountains. After being deceived by her stepmother into eating a deadly apple, she slipped into a sleep of death, to be awakened when the glass coffin bearing her was roughly dropped, causing the piece of apple lodged in her throat to come free. Many also remember the fearsome punishment she inflicted upon her stepmother, forcing her to dance in glowing iron shoes until her feet burned away.

What few people know is what happened after.

While Snow White's marriage to her prince was initially happy, politics conspired to destroy it. The former kingdom of her stepmother was now hers, but many refused to acknowledge her, for the witch had done her best to paint Snow White as a monster that had been put down in the wilds. Eventually, Snow White's father-in-law, the king, decided to annex the rebellious land. War broke out in response, and it was Snow White's husband who led the charge. Fate, or maybe a dying curse of the queen, caused him to be stricken by an arrow, killing him instantly.

Snow White grieved, but soon was filled with rage. She had suffered greatly throughout her entire life, and it seemed the only way it was going to get better was to take matters into her own hands. Taking a leave of absence while her father-in-law continued the war, the widowed princess returned to the only people she knew she could trust: the dwarves. She told them of her desire to learn from them, claiming they owed her for working as their servant for years. When they asked what she thought they could teach her, she replied "Everything." The wee men taught her their ways: the strange magic of the Fae, how they crafted wonders that any mortal would envy, and how to swing a hammer so it might bend steel to her will or cave in the skull of an enemy.

About a year and a day later, the rebels had nearly annihilated the old king and his remaining forces. Pushed back to the capitol, they prepared for the worst, when as if from nowhere, an armored figure strode forth, armed with a mighty hammer and potent magics. Alone, this person cut a swathe through the rebels, forcing them to retreat. And when the cries of the dying were silent, she removed her helmet to reveal her pale white face.

Today, Snow White rules as queen of the now-unified kingdom, a gift from her dying father-in-law for her bravery. The people love and fear her, for she has become an intimidating woman, her body hardened by long hours at the forge and on the battlefield, and in addition to her prowess as a warrior, she has become a skilled Enchantress, gaining Fae power from her seven teachers, now royal advisers to her and ambassadors to the local Fae of her kingdom. She has yet to remarry, and very few of the neighboring royalty are willing to try, as she is such an imposing woman that most princes feel they can't measure up to her. She has willingly taken countless doses of exotic poisons from all over the world to build up an immunity to any toxin someone may attempt to use on her, because despite her experiences, she still has a fondness for apples.

Ridiculous? Most likely. Awesome? Absolutely!

2011-11-29, 11:11 PM
Really? Tell me more!
Faery's Tale is a dice pool-based light system based off three ability scores and a number of skills representing special abilities they can use. Essence is a combination of health and magical energy, and so expending Essence for magical effects has the chance of knocking you unconscious. A few highlights of the system:

There is a mechanic allowing the players to recommend additional challanges for a situation. Doing so will restore Essence to the character, assuming the challange is significant and implemented. Probably not very relevant for your idea specifically, but it's an interesting part of the system.

There are optional rules for Dark Essence - basically, Essence gained by doing something selfish, mean, or otherwise un-nice. It's rather difficult to get rid of (with rules for doing so) and tends to have negative side-effects, and so provides an incentive for characters not to do so liberally, only when necessary. (Specifically, using Dark Essence will convert normal Essence into more Dark Essence, and too much Dark Essence turns the character evil and into an NPC. It much be unused for a long time to revert back to normal Essence. Basically, short-term Essence benefit in exchange for long-term unusuable Essence, or full character corruption.)

The game uses d6 dice, with evens being success. Odds are successes by default when using Dark Essense. Minor point, but still a nice touch.

"Experience" is in the form of boons, magically-binding promised found in fairy tales or fae stories. They can be exchanged for actual promises, or converted into inherit bonuses (new skills, new equipment, and better stats).

The system centers around characters that are fairies - one of four types - and tends to be rather short. Most "monsters" are threats to a 6-inch character. As such, you'll probably need to homebrew new "character races" and additional skills, and possibly quite a few new creatures. It's an obvious fault for such a light and small system, but definitely one you'd want to be aware of beforehand.

The system isn't free, and probably somewhat difficult to find.

2011-11-29, 11:38 PM
The write-ups for the various fairy-tales so far are pretty awesome.
Have you thought about doing one for the Pied Piper? That story seems custom-tailored for some kind of twisted Bard.

My only concern would be if there are enough different fairy tales to pick from to get a good mix of characters. Maybe make some sort of rule that less-well know stories generate less powerful characters?

Also, would you consider allowing in fairy-tale-ish stories from non-European cultures? There are a good number of far-eastern stories that I'm sure could make nice templates.

Archpaladin Zousha
2011-11-29, 11:45 PM
I've done brief considerations about the Piper, the current idea being that he's an Enchanter, as his magic works based on deals and promises, but nothing in detail. Honestly, a write-up of the Piper would be more about what happened BEFORE the fairy tale that made him famous, rather than after: how he got his powers, what he used them for, etc.

For some reason I always imagine the Pied Piper to look something like Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull.

And yes, non-European "fairy tales" would be allowed.