Anyway. I'm running this game tonight, and I think I have time to make a character. Let's find out!
The Game: Fortune's Fool
The Publisher: Pantheon Press
Degree of Familiarity: Some. I played it at GenCon a few years back, and it was a good time
Books Required: Just the one, though there are apparently a few sourcebooks.
So, Fortune's Fool is a Renaissance fantasy game, played with a Tarot deck. There's a lot to like about it, and a couple of things that are a bit problematic. Let's get to it.
Step One: Race. That'd be human, dwarf, orc, goblin, elf, or halfling. I'm sure humans are "diverse" and "adaptable", because they always are. Yawn. (This is why fantasy games annoy me.) I'm gonna play a halfling, I think. No, wait! I'll play a goblin. Yeah. I have the beginnings of a concept.
Oh, but hang on. Goblins are not native to Europe, and they have restrictions on their religion, which is fucking stupid. Hrm. And the religion section explicitly says that not every race can choose every religion. Mental note, address that in my review.
Well, anyway. I guess I'll go back to halfling, then. As a halfling, I start with:
Agility 6, Body 4, Heart 6, Perception 7, Status 4, Martial 0
Fortune Smiles on Cups and Swords, and Frowns on Pentacles and Wands. I also get -1 Movement for foot-speed purposes, since I'm short.
Yeah, seriously. Well, I like playing male characters, so I'll do that. That gives me +1 Status (picking female would give me a penalty to Body and Martial. No, I'm not kidding), and I can choose one of four Skills. I'll pick Running.
Step Three: Choose Size. It's all relative, of course; even if I'm huge, I'm still just huge for a halfling. I think I'd rather be small (for a halfling). That gives me a -1 to Body, but a +1 to Agility, and gives me the Star and High Priestess as Fortune Shines cards.
Step Four: Age. Hmm. How old do I want to be? I had been thinking youth, a kind of scrappy halfling teen. I think that's fine. I'll take Youth. That gives me yet another +1 to Agility, a -1 to Heart, and a +1 to Perception. Also I get Lovers and Star as Fortune Shines (but I already had Star, so pbbt). I get one Skill Expertise Point.
Step Five: Birthright. This is, like, birth order. I want my character to be out on his own at a young age, and to have no real family, so Orphan seems my best bet. I get...holy shit. Another +1 to Perception and Agility, and another -1 to Body and Heart. I get Judgement and Hanged Man as Fortune Shines, and I get to pick some Skills. I pick Stealth Expert, Survival, Climbing, and Escape Artist.
Step Six: Native Environment. Well, that's easy. City. I get another bump to Agility, and Hierophant, Chariot, and Justice as Fortune Shines. I also get a Skill choice, and I want Art.
Step Seven: Social Class. Peasantry, please, which has the side effect of a +1 to Body, which I need. I also get Strength and Sun as Fortune Shines, and Construction, Driver, Lockpick, and Vocal Control as Skills.
Step Eight: Religion. See, if I were a goblin, I could be Muslim, "Occult," or Jewish, but not Catholic, because...I guess the Church doesn't admit goblins? I dunno. Anyway, I want Catholicism, so here we are. I get two Fate Twists, I get a choice of Latin or Arcane Sense, and a +1 to Martial Training...because...um. I have no idea. I'll take Arcane Sense, I don't see my little halfling as knowing or understanding much Latin.
Step Nine: Add One to a Selected Statistic. OK, so I need to total up my modifiers. 'Scuse me a sec. My stats now look like this:
Agility 10, Body 3, Heart 4, Perception 9, Status 5, Martial 1
Hmm. I think maybe Body, which I'm sure figures in to hit points.
Step Ten: Derived Traits. A bunch of quick math, done and done.
Step Eleven: Calculate Skills Draws and Spend Skill Expertise. OK, need to figure how to do this. Actually it's pretty easy. All Skills have a starting draw value (well, most do, some just modify other traits). Skill Expertise can just add directly to that; if I were older I'd get more. I'll add my lonely point to my Art Skill, making it 5 instead of 4. Oh, and there weren't nearly enough slots on the Skill section of the character sheet. Booo.
Step Twelve: Determine Wealth Level. I kind of want to be poor, honestly. I have to draw a card and see what I get. Wheel of Fortune, which is a special card and not on my sheet. Does that mean anything for purposes of this draw? No. And then I draw the Star, which is a Fortune Shines. It adds an effective 3 to my Status for determining my Wealth, which makes me Middle Class. Bah. Well, that's what happens with these lifepath-like chargen systems, I guess. I'll make it work.
Step Thirteen: Select Martial Skills. You know, if everybody has to be a little fighty, I'm glad that combat skills are on a separate track. Heh, this'll be quick. I have 1 Martial Training so I get 1 Martial Skill. I also get basic training in one weapon for free. So I'll assume I'm trained in a short bow, and I'll take Double Nock. Any fight this guy's in is going to be ranged, or else I'm stupid (and probably fucked).
Step Fourteen: Determine Fate Twists and Starting Fate Pool. Fate Twists are neat little things you can do with Fortune Counters to screw with the Fate Deck. I only get so many, though (just two, actually, because I'm Catholic; pagans get 1, but they can also use magic). I draw two cards, and get the 10 of Cups and the 7 of Discs (Pentacles). That means I get...Borrowed Trouble and High Roller. Which means what? Ooh, neat. Borrowed Trouble means that any time someone discards a Fortune Weeps that's a Fortune Shines for me, I can take it. High Roller means that I can make it so the next draw has to be resolved with a Major Arcanum (which means it's either going to be very good or not so good).
Step Fifteen: Tedious Shopping. Actually, it isn't that bad. I can have any gear equal to or lower than my Wealth rating (Middle Class). So some simple clothes, a short bow and some arrows, that'll be fine.
Step Sixteen: Change Shit. I can circle new Fortune Shines or buy other things by reducing my Fate Pool, but it's only 2 as it is. I think I'm good.
OK, my character's name is Calondrucio. Calo, as he's called, grew up poor on the streets of Venice, and lived in a disused room in a rectory off one of the cathedrals (he sneaked in and took over). He hangs around the workshops where stained glass windows are made, and fell in love with the process - he steals bits of discarded projects or broken windows and tries to make his own, but of course the best he can do is some sculpture. Since I'm Middle Class, not Poor or Destitute, let's say that a glazier - a gruff old dwarf named Stephano took him in and is teaching him the ropes. Stephano isn't in the best of health, though, and Calo wonders how much longer he'll really have.