I’m writing and running a Fate RPG set on a college campus that I call Brewed Awakening. I’m working with one of my players to build a character and he has expressed an interest in Faerie-style magic. I’m working this up a bit more broadly to make it reusable, focusing on illusions and misdirection, and calling it Trickery magic.
Not familiar with the Fate RPG? Read the full rules here.
What is Trickery Magic?
Trickery magic is magic that covers objects or places with glamours, allows the caster to disguise themselves, and create false objects made of nothing. In more classic RPG terms, an Illusionist.
Playing A Trickery Magician
A trickery magician works best from the edges of a conflict or dispute, using misdirection to guide circumstances to an outcome that they would prefer.
Prerequisites: 1-2 refresh, depending on the gameâ€”one in Brewedâ€”and a high concept that declares you a trickery magician in some way, e.g. Lost Faerie Prince, Taught Magic By the Gnomish Illusionist League, or Loki, the Trickster God.
Creating illusions is the hallmark ability, allowing the caster to add elements to a scene that weren’t there before or alter the appearance of something already there.
Creating an illusion is either a Create Advantage or Overcome roll using the appropriate Approach, depending on the circumstances. As illusions are generally employed to trick someone they are often actively opposed, especially when interacted with.
Illusions require concentration to maintain. This means that a caster can have only one active illusion going at a time and if another one is cast the first one fades. If stress is taken while maintaining an illusion, make a roll against a difficulty set to the amount of stress that was taken or lose the active illusion.
The exception to this are Autopilot Illusions. These are illusions that have been crafted to last and in some cases may be very lightly scripted. For an additional two points (+2) of difficulty in crafting the illusion, it will last the entire scene with a basic script, e.g. chase, fight, make small talk, reply to the secret code with the word “Pineapple”.
If an autopilot illusion takes any physical or magical stress, it fades away.
Naja the lost faerie prince is pinned down behind the Pretzel Oven booth at the mall by gunfire from a thug hunting him. Naja wants to create a distraction so that he can duck down a hallway to get away.
Naja’s player says “I want to create an illusion of me firing a handgunâ€”which I don’t haveâ€”at the fire extinguisher, causing it to explode in foam and distracting this creep. Also, they will think that I have a gun.”
“Okay”, the GM says, “Since the thug will be interacting with the illusion he gets to be active opposition.” The dice are rolled, with Naja getting a +4 and the thug getting a +2, so Naja sets up the aspect “Faceful of Foam” and escapes down a hallway.
Later Naja has discovered that the mall is crawling with thugs and hides in a janitor’s closet. He wants to hide the door from their search so they can’t find him.
The GM thinks for a moment and says, “Sounds good. There are a lot of professional thugs searching you out, so I’m going to say this is a Fair (+2) difficulty and if you don’t want to concentrate on it that will make the Overcome roll Great (+4) to succeed.” The player rolls and only gets a Fair (+2) result. The player asks, “Can I succeed at a cost?”.
“Sure,” the GM replies, “Instead of covering the door with more wall, your illusion has shifted it down the hallway twenty feet. When the thugs find it, they’ll recognize it as an illusion and eventually find your hiding spot.”
“At least I bought myself some time.”, says the player. “Perhaps there is a janitor’s uniform in here…”