Jadepunk:Tales from Kauso City is an absolutely fantastic adaptation of the Fate system from Evil Hat. I could go on for a bit about how much I like the way they’ve tuned the Fate rules, but suffice to to say, you should go look at it, and if you have the shekels to spare, you should get a copy.
I’ve been toying about with the notion of what kind of a game I’d like to run. Most of what I play these days is storygaming, simply because that is what I’ve had the time commitment for, and because there is an excellent group in east side of the Seattle metroplex to play with. But if I want to run something with more of a classic RPG feel, it needs to be something that doesn’t take a lot of prep time. Because honestly, I don’t have a lot to spare, and that means the game would sputter out after a session or two. So, I need player driven plots, and I need good old fashioned dungeon crawls.
This also means I don’t want the game to move around (movement means more prep work), so I need an excuse for lots of accessible bits of dungeon near a common area. And I want the “many Kingdoms have risen and fallen before us, many things were lost, and some of them should have stayed lost” feel of a lot of the pulp fantasy of the early 20th century.
So, the setting. An oasis city (based on the real world example of Palmyra). An important trade route city that managed to stay independent because it was just far enough out from the major empires to be an important trade link, but not so close as to be absorbed (well, up until it decided to try doing the absorbing, but we don’t have to duplicate Zenobia’s territorial ambitions).
The era. The major civilizations have in fact fallen to barbarians. There is still trade (although diminished), and the deserts have grown since the great empires were at their peak. Our city (quite possibly named Palmar or Palmyr, since I don’t feel particularly inventive as to names at the moment) is, relatively speaking, a center of what is left of the knowledge of those days.
The structure of the city. The old city (behind the original walls) is the home to the aristocracy, the families that mattered back when the city was worried about keeping its independence from the great powers. This is the region that has the great houses, the gardens and pools, flowers, and small fruit orchards. The outer city (between the towering original walls and the new, less protective outer walls) is a winding maze of slums and middle class neighborhoods. And beyond that, the desert.
With that, we have a limited number of changes to make to the Jadepunk rules to make things work (see also, minimal prep is a good thing).
Changes to Professions:
Aristocrat becomes Leader, but mechanically stays the same.
Engineer becomes Artisan, and covers any craft involving making something (including potions, magical artifacts, swords, armor, and so on). Mechanically, again, it stays the same.
Scholar is also the profession that magic or psychic powers would be linked to, and as such mechanically it has Attack and Defend as appropriate when those powers (which are mechanically just techniques) are used by a skilled practitioner. Note that some of these techniques could be defended against with other professions.
There are three main population groups. The inner city, the outer city, and the desert nomads. Each player (regardless of character concept) assigns social penalties values of -2, -1, and +0 (one to each population group). These penalties apply to social interactions in that social milieu. These don’t have to match the character origin, you could have a high born Scholar who has spent most of her life searching the sands who has a +0 with the nomads, -1 with the outer city, and -2 with the inner city (who consider her mad, and not really fit for polite company).
We can remove the actual types of Jade since we’re not using that setting, and simply let artifacts be made out of whatever seems thematically appropriate.
And, that’s pretty much it. Everything else, from inventing schools of magic to schools of combat, to ancient relics can be done with the game rules as they stand.