As we get continue production on Cortex Plus, and gear up for Jadepunk d20, here is a list of things that we consider when modifying a system to be used for Jadepunk.
The traditional “level 1” D&D character will not work in a game of Jadepunk because they’re just starting out and establishing themselves as heroes. But Jadepunk is inspired by wuxia warriors and western gunslingers – the most capable heroes in all of fiction, right from day one.
Unique, Yet Familiar, Archetypes
The profession ratings in Jadepunk made characters conform, to some degree, to familiar archetypes, yet they were given the freedom to modify those archetypes as they see fit.
Similarly, professions should not feel like roles, but rather focuses on particular types of action. These characters have already left their former lives and have proven to be adaptable. Professions as ratings to roll with, as in the Fate Core version, made it feel like a character can potentially do anything in the game, to varying degrees of ability. So every character must, in some way, feel like they are capable of performing any action within the Three Pillars of Adventure (combat, exploration, and social interaction).
Character Backgrounds and Inciting Incidents
Part of what drives the drama of a story about a group of rebels is how they became rebels in the first place. That’s incredibly important, and should always hang over the character and their actions in some way.
The inciting incident, the thing that brought them forward to fight the rebellion, is just as important. It’s the turning point that led the character out of their background and into their current life as a freedom fighter.
While not available to every character, the ability to invent jadetech devices is important to the setting, and a subsystem that makes it feel rewarding and necessary, at least at times, is required to represent Jadepunk properly.
What is available to every character is the ability to use jadetech. Knowledge of how to work with jadetech, at least among citizens of Kausao City, should be as ubiquitous as computers are in the modern world: not everyone knows how to use them incredibly well, but the basic functions to get them to do what you want is grasped by most people.
The fact that anything could be turned into a temporary asset for a character gave the feeling that nothing in the world is sacred; the mission to rebel is all that matters. And when a player creates an asset that is later removed or destroyed, it gives the players a sense that the world is unforgiving.
Jadepunk’s duels require two things: that a variety of opponents can participate, despite differences of fighting styles or weapons (a gunfighter going up against a swordsman, for instance), and that they are fast and simple within the mechanics of the game.
The closer they mimic the core mechanic, the better (as a general rule of game design). However, this is not a hard requirement, so long as the result is satisfying.
Quick Scene Creation
The “scene fractal” (language that won’t work so well outside of Fate gaming). A way to make the scene an enemy when the players go off the beaten path. This may require that the game focus more on scenes than encounter composition, as that is a general concept of the original game (Fate Core) that Jadepunk was modeled on.