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I'm running a Dresden Files game, and I think my PCs need a Bob. Because I need a mouthpiece and exposition engine.

But the description of Bob in Our World is skimpy at best, equating him to just a Lore check at +5.

I'm comfortable creating the story of our Bob equivalent. But how does the relationship with the PCs get modeled in-game? And has anyone used the existing Powers / Skills to create something like this in more detail?

My thought was to introduce the artifact / character and then allow the PCs to swap an existing Aspect for one related to it at the next opportunity. That Aspect will let the players use our "Bob" for Declarations, for effects, etc..

And if they don't, then I have all the control over Bob. I say when he speaks, and when he won't. What he knows and what he doesn't.

Bottom line: If they don't incorporate our Bob into their Aspects, then he's my plot device, my mouthpiece. If they do, he becomes a way for them to tell their stories and solve their problems.

Sound fair?

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I'm vague on the rules, but can't they use aspects even if they aren't associated with them? I know they can create them on the fly by fate point expenditure or a skill check, but I thought there was a way to pull an aspect out without needing it on your sheet. That said I think your idea is perfectly reasonable. (Random aside, Bob in the books is quite different from Bob in the TV show...I didn't know that initially). –  Cthos May 18 '11 at 22:30
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Players can create Aspects through Declarations, and they can discover existing aspects through Assessments. And yeah, show Bob is very different from book Bob. I understand why the show was different, but I didn't like it much. It's too bad, because Dresden would make great TV. On Showtime, like Dexter. –  gomad May 18 '11 at 22:40

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I honestly think your suggestion in the question is probably the best route.

There are major pros for the players if they pick Bob up as an Aspect

If they have Bob as an aspect, it becomes a good way for them to gain fate points by using that aspect to stumble into danger, as well as giving you a pretty good way to introduce plot hooks. If they want to use Bob to augment their die rolls, they could spend a fate point to gain a bonus to whatever roll/reroll (I'd guess lore or something else applicable that's an applicable use of an aspect, but I can't quite recall). Once you've got them hooked on their new Aspect, take it away, and toss them a plot point so they can go get it back.

If they don't grab him as an Aspect, well, you've got a plot device, but they won't be getting any fate from when he decides to throw them a bone.

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This is the solution I have chosen. The players know the consequences and at their next appropriate Milestone will decide whether to adjust their Aspects to include our not-Bob or not. –  gomad Jun 7 '11 at 22:01

Bob can easily be:

  1. An aspect
  2. A stunt
  3. an NPC
  4. a PC.
  5. A tool which grants a skill

Which is best varies by what role he's to play.

Bob as Character

Bob, as a character, has an unpleasant set of aspects to cope with:

  • Lives inside a token (the skull)
  • obligated to serve the owner of the skull
  • allergic to sunlight
  • porn addict
  • smart-alect
  • Brilliant but unprincipled
  • bodiless spirit
  • can't work magic

He likewise has only a few skills, but we can say clearly he's Lore +5, and probably Scholarshi +4.

The behaviors when owned by Butters are pretty much the same as for Harry. We really don't know enough about his time with Kemmler to judge, but the Kemmler-Chunk Evil Bob certainly shares most of them.

As an NPC, Bob's far less interesting, and really would be a waste.

Bob as seen in the novels is a playable but very limited character. As seen in the TV show, he's much more interesting, tho' limited in very different ways.

Bob as Tool

Bob as a tool is a Lore skill that can only be used in the presence of the skull, and only for knowledge checks.

But....

this overlooks Bob's ability to ride the cat.

Bob as stunt

Bob as a stunt is likely to be equivalent to a library in and of himself. So, one can do research using Bob alone.

Harry does so in several books. Including Cold Days. But again, this ignores his abilities to ride the cat.

Or he could be a +1 to magical actions across all three magical skills. Bob does certainly prop up Harry's Discipline on a few occasions.

Bob as aspect

This is a weak yet very broad application. Bob can be used to possess animals. He can be used in Lore checks, or Thaumaturgy. Or even Alertness.

Harry uses knowledge from Bob for purposes including all the following skills: Alertness, Burglary, Contacts, Conviction, Deceit, Discipline, Intimidation, Investigation, Lore, Presence, Rapport, Scholarship, Suvival.

But, as an aspect, Bob can be used to compel the player. Or worse, to declare that "Bob was wrong!" and take away from the role. Which isn't unprecedented in the novels, either.

Which to use?

It depends on what you want to do with Bob in the game.

  • If he's just a color bit to get bonuses, he's a stunt.
  • If he's unreliable color, he's an aspect
  • If he's a participant in the plot, he may be best as a character, even a PC.
  • If he's just a penalty avoidance, he's a tool or stunt.

Or, you can have him be two or more as needed. From the way Harry is affected, he's a character and an aspect and a tool. Some times, he's important (his player is there), others he's just a wizard's audiobook (his player is absent).

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Bob can use magic. When he has the memories from his time with Kemmler he nearly kills Harry. Its probably related to Bob being a spirit and the magic of necromancy. –  Zan Lynx Nov 17 at 2:01

In addition to Cthos' answer you can also let the lucky player take Bob as a stunt. This would give him some game-mechanic related bonuses.

The basic usage would probably be that The character has access to Bob's skill pyramid. If that's too powerful, assume that occasionally Bob takes over, and the character can swap skill pyramids, using Bob's but losing access to his own pyramid for the time being.

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I like that idea. It costs Refresh instead of an Aspect slot, so I think it has about the same cost associated. Is there a similar stunt you're modeling this on? It seems like a Lore stunt to me... –  gomad Jul 18 '11 at 14:59
    
Nope, just made it up after reading the Wikipedia article about Bob. –  edgerunner Jul 18 '11 at 19:19
    
Hmmm...Aspects are of fixed number, whereas Refresh can be increased through play. So maybe Aspects are in fact more valuable than Refresh... –  gomad Jul 18 '11 at 19:33
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I'd say make it both an aspect and a stunt. Aspect as a taggable story element, and stunt to add some interesting game mechanic. –  edgerunner Jul 18 '11 at 19:45
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Stunts-that-get-you-allies is a standard FATE thing to do, so this fits. –  SevenSidedDie Aug 11 '11 at 23:21

I would make Bob an NPC.

That way, you can have Bob say whatever you want when you want it said, and can pick and choose the information he has.

Following that, I would determine the information Bob has, the contacts Bob has, and stuff like that.

Should Bob have information that a player needs, like a description of someone, or an object, he can just tell them that (and if they're making a spot check for that person/object later, lower the dc by 3-5).

Or, should they need his knowledge on making potions/spells/whatsayyou, lower the dc by 5 for a skill check on making it for having accurate instructions and supervision (or if you feel like having Bob be evil, raise it by 5 for having inaccurate instructions).

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I am talking about doing these things specifically in the FATE-powered Dresden Files (DFRPG) system. This sounds very much like a d20 answer. –  gomad May 18 '11 at 22:12

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