Astral Projections – Mercy Thompson, VW Mechanic & Coyote

Cover art of Mercy Thompson Homecoming #1. © 2014 Dynamite Comics
Mercy in both forms © 2014 Dynamite Comics

Mercy Thompson is Patricia Briggs’ urban fantasy heroine. If you like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, you might enjoy the Mercyverse (14 novels, 5 graphic novels, and several short stories). Ms. Briggs’ takes on werewolves, fairies, vampires, and magic are very different from Mr. Butcher’s, however.

Mercedes Athena Thompson is the daughter of a rodeo barrel-racing queen turned suburban-mom-and-wife and the late Blackfeet bullrider and vampire hunter Joe Old Coyote (AKA Coyote the Trickster of Native American myths). From infancy–when she started turning into a coyote cub–to age 16, Mercy was raised by the pack of the Marrok, North America’s most powerful werewolf, “The Alpha of Alphas,” in effect. She had to be stubborn, defiant, and tough to survive that upbringing.

Mercy, it turns out, is a “walker”–someone who can shift into the form of one of the sentient creatures of Native American myth–Raven, Thunderbird, Coyote, etc. (For those who know their Native American mythology, this is not a “Skinwalker,” an evil witch who uses an animal skin to shift.)

After college, Mercy moved to the Tri-Cities of Washington, eventually becoming the apprentice of an infamous Fae weaponsmith turned VW mechanic and buying his shop. Mercy was hoping to evade the meddling of both her Mom and the Marrok in her new town. Unfortunately, she ended up literally next door to another Alpha werewolf, Adam Hauptmann, and his pack–and discovered the deadly and desirable Adam had been ordered by the Marrok to keep an eye on her.

Which Adam does by declaring Mercy his mate, without telling her, much less a by-your-leave. (Because Alpha Werewolves don’t ask people, they order them around.) Sparks–whole bonfires–of anger, dismay, and attraction are the result. Plus Mercy and Adam have to deal with everything from his pack resenting a coyote in their territory to vampire plots to the Marrok’s plan to have the werewolves follow the Fae’s example and admit their existence to the world.

Design Notes: This version of Mercy is based on the earlier novels, before she finds out Old Coyote (pronounced Kī oat) is an avatar of Coyote and before she accepts Adam’s proposal to become wife and mate. This makes her Aspects a little less powerful or easier to compel against her. For example, it is easier for the werewolves to make trouble for her using pack bonds because she doesn’t really know it works on her.

I found Fate Core and Fate Accelerated both ideal for statting Mercy, due to the flexibility and emphasis on narrative–as well as having some familiarity with those systems. You can probably use your favorite modern or superhero ruleset for a Mercy-inspired character (or a Mercyverse campaign!) as long as there are rules for magic, shapeshifting, and supernatural tropes.

It might also be possible to use either Dresden Files or the upcoming Dresden Files Accelerated RPGs (both Fate variants). The Dresden books do have shapeshifter mechanics, very appealing for a setting that features a coyote “walker” (shapeshifter) and lots of werewolf packs. However, these are more complex than the base Fate & Accelerated rulesets, and I feel that only someone who is both experienced with the Dresden RPGs as well as the Mercyverse would be able to successfully run such a campaign.

Mercy Thompson
System: Fate Core (Evil Hat Productions)
Genre: Urban Fantasy

High Concept: Coyote Walker. Mercy may shift instantly to that form. In either form, she can sense magic, see ghosts, and scent and hear like a coyote.
Trouble: More Stubborn Than a 300lb Werewolf! Mercy isn’t unclear on the concept of “Way outta your league, woman!” She just doesn’t give a damn. Mercy will take on anything or anyone who gets in her way or threatens her friends. Including stronger supernaturals–which is about 99% of them.
Aspect: Mate of Columbia Basin Alpha. The hot, charismatic, and deadly Adam Hauptmann has declared Mercy to be his mate–which both annoys and tempts her, as well as giving her often-unwelcome authority over the pack.
Aspect: Friends in scary places. The werewolves aren’t the only powerful allies Mercy has in the supernatural world. Some supernaturals and clued-in humans are wary of her because of her ties–but others won’t hesitate to target her to get back at her friends.

REFRESH: 3
Stunts:
Smell a lie across the room: +2 to all Empathy rolls made to discern lies, whether they’re directed at you or someone else.
Magic acts oddly on me: May use Fight in place of Will when defending against magical attacks or effects.
Best VW mechanic in the Tri-Cities: +2 to Craft to repair vehicles or similar engines.

SKILLS:
Rank 4 (Great): Stealth
Rank 3 (Good): Fight, Notice
Rank 2 (Fair): Athletics, Empathy, Will
Rank 1 (Average): Crafts, Deceive, Provoke, Shoot

STRESS 
Physical     O  O
Mental       O  O


Mercy Thompson
System: Fate Accelerated (Evil Hat Productions)
Genre: Urban Fantasy

High Concept: Coyote Walker. Mercy may shift instantly to that form. In either form, she can sense magic, see ghosts, and scent and hear like a coyote.
Trouble: More Stubborn Than a 300lb Werewolf! Mercy isn’t unclear on the concept of “Way outta your league, woman!” She just doesn’t give a damn. Mercy will take on anything or anyone who gets in her way or threatens her friends. Including stronger supernaturals–which is about 99% of them.
Aspect: Mate of Columbia Basin Alpha. The hot, charismatic, and deadly Adam Hauptmann has declared Mercy to be his mate–which both annoys and tempts her, as well as giving her often-unwelcome authority over the pack.

Approaches:
Quick +3 (Good)
Clever & Sneaky +2 (Fair)
Careful & Forceful +1 (Average)
Flashy +0 (Mediocre)

Stunts:
Smell a lie across the room: Because I am a part-time coyote, I can Quickly discern lies, whether they’re directed at me or someone else.
Magic acts oddly on me: Because magic acts oddly on me, I get a +2 when I Forcefully defend against a magical attack.
Best VW mechanic in the Tri-Cities: Because I’m the best VW mechanic in the Tri-Cities area, I get a +2 when I Cleverly create advantages when I’m working on vehicles with similar engines.

STRESS    O   O   O

CONSEQUENCES   [ 2 ]     [ 4 ]     [ 6 ]

Credit: Thanks to Empty Bacta Tank, for allowing me to bounce ideas off him (I think he took a Severe Consequence but he said it was “only a Minor”!) and for lots of good feedback on the stats.

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Linda Whitson

Linda Whitson

Contributing Writer & Copy Editor at D20 Radio
Linda Whitson is a long-time RPGer, amateur musician & artist, & an officer in the Rebel Legion Star Wars costuming club. Linda met her husband in an AD&D game and they have 2 teenagers, an anime fangirl daughter and a son who plays on his university's quidditch team. She is the Lead Mod of D20 Radio's forums and Copy Editor for the blog. Linda can be reached at GMLinda@d20radio.com
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