My thoughts on the Fate Core preview scenarios...

So, here are my thoughts on the first seven previews of things in the Fate Core Kickstarter. I am ranking them from least to most interesting to me. That doesn’t mean I did not like any of them, cuz I want to play all of them…but certain settings just call to me more.

Burn Shift (post-apocalyptic world)

My first thought is that I have never been much into the post-apocalyptic settings. But that is more of a personal preference than anything wrong with it.

Then I started to read it and it grew on me quickly. I like how it went above the Fate Core and dealt mutation in a way that was kind of cool. I also love the idea of flaws, since I want to put them in my own game as well. There is also a lot of room to create your own Burn Shifts (mutations) if you are creative.

Oh and the communities? Genius.  It just adds another cool layer to the character you are and what community you are a part of. They also get their own health and mental tracks and I find all of that pure win. They also give you examples of the communities in the existing world.

Using hazards as obstacles is something else I have thought a lot about with my own games, and I like how it was done here.

Overall, would definitely play this. Loved some of the ideas behind the world.

Camelot Trigger (King Arthur via giant mechas)

What I did love about this was how cool they brought in the myth of King Arthur and the Knights and incorporated it in the setting. It was just a lot of fun and how it was handled and because of that it peaked my interest in the setting quite a bit.

There was a lot of interesting things done with how the mecha was brought into the game.  It can also be two different kinds of games. One where you are doing things on your own, and another when you get into your “armour”.  Each part of the mecha can do different things. There is head, front, back, arms, and legs. Each one can have a different component (such as skill, or gaining a +2 to one), and there are a lot of options for those people that live to make a giant ass robot. J

That is not me though. Don’t get me wrong, would play the hell out of this game, but the genre is just not an exciting to me as a few of the other ones.

Still, getting to be a knight of the round in space? Very cool idea and I can see why so many people are excited about it.

The Wild Blue (the old west plus super powers)

The old west meets the superfriends. Er…sorta.

You are warden’s. You keep the Queen’s peace and you just happen to also have superpowers to help you. There are worse things you could have I suppose. From the start this sounded interesting, but that is due to the fact that I am playing around with an old west setting for Fate Core myself. But the addition of superpowers does give it a bit of a twist. 

The cool thing about it is that you can have a power, but it also has a cost that has to be just as powerful as the well…power. So you can say you have super strength, but the touch of iron hurts you. Or my favorite you can get a glimpse of the future, but you can do nothing to change it. Things like that. It makes for an interesting creation of a power. The cost doesn’t have to have anything to do with the power as long as it is something that is limiting.

They also did a decent job of a setting. Giving you different locations and a key NPC from each one. Which is a nice starting point if you decide to play the game.

Tower of the Serpents (high fantasy)

I love fantasy.

I always have and the game I am making is a fantasy game using Fate. So, I was very excited to read this and also do to how great Brennan Taylor tends to be in his games.

It was not what I was expecting, which isn’t really a bad thing.

The reason I say this is that this one was made for a world already set in place. It does not come up with magic or anything for your game; other than using Lore as magic. This was more of a scenario. With all of the other things I have read, I was just not expecting that. Again, that is fine.

The story is that you are hired to find an artifact from the Tower of Serpents. Then every other faction in the city seems to want you to hand it to them instead.

Once I got past all my misguided expectations, it was fun. The scenario is going to be about choice. Do you take it back to the caravan master? To the Triad? To the Governor? What about the Sorcerer?

So it becomes about choice and the dramatic effect of that choice. Very simply done, but with the potential of high drama. I like that combination myself. There are interesting sounding npc’s and enough factions for you to play more than one session, or just incorporate to your own game.

No exit (psychological horror)


Another one I really had my eye on. I love horror and have not seen anyone really tackle it well in Fate. There could be a good hack of it out there; I am just saying I have not seen it.

So you have are member in the community, but has made you forget who you are and wants you to be a drone. You wake up and it is time to get the %#&% out!

I liked it. I liked how the purpose of the game is to get your memories back and how you go about that. The management wants you to go back to your abode and carry on as before and will do whatever it takes to stop you.

You get a new skill Clarity. Which is an uber version of Will. It allows you to see through the illusions that Management uses to confuse you. You can spend fate points to trigger memories that you have forgotten. Or even destroy an item you had to create with each aspect in order to sacrifice that memory for a serious advantage. You don’t get the aspect back and if you lose all three, you become lost and become the drone they want.

All of this is awesome.

The Ellis affair (mystery, espionage, pulp)

I love a good mystery and have hoped someone would do it justice in a fate setting. So, I have been excited about this one from the onset.

Luckily, it does a good job of making it feel like a mystery. Set in the same time period as Spirit of the Century, it also has that pulp feel that I appreciated out of the game. Hell, you could use your existing Sotc characters in this game if you have them already.

One awesome thing they did which I will only talk about briefly is making a cool way to handle gambling. I am not going to go into it does a great job of inserting it into the game and making it sound like an actual game of poker (or whatever).  Being someone that likes to have a gambling skill, this made me happy.

There is a lot going on here and a lot of challenges for your players. Many dangers as you are dealing with spies, thugs, and even a large creature (along with trying to escape a flooded room). 

Overall it sounds like a blast to play. A lot of possible hooks for future games in this setting.  Very well done.
Kriegszeppelin Valkyrie (Pulp action with fighter combat and zeppelins)

This one was fun to read from the start. 

First of all, it had that Spirit of the Century pulp feel that drew me into that game five years ago. Combine that with the fact that you are fighter pilots (and damn good ones at that) it just seems like a lot of fun.

Taking place in 1919, just after the “Great War”, you find out that the Allies victory was not as complete as they thought it was. This would not be complete without a mad German scientist that has created machines that are rampaging Africa and the Mediterranean.

Your job? Stop them!

Sign me the hell up.

You choose your pre-gen (or make one) and pick your plane with whatever refresh it states and off you go to fight evil and gain fame!

I like that they have ties with the other pilots, but that can be friendly, or even rivals. Let’s face it, you are a fighter pilot and you want to be recognized for what you do. After each fight you are debriefed and then a fun sort of social combat can take place. You are debriefed by your commanding officer and a young plucky reporter by the name of Ernest Hemingway. This to me adds another layer to the game. You have to talk to your commanding office and state how well you did (i.e. how many kills) and it can turn into a social thing quickly. Especially if you are a rival of someone else that may not confirm your kills so they will look better…or even an ally that wants you to succeed. A lot of potential with this.


What I learned from the Fate Core fantasy game last night

So, I ran a session of Fate Core last night set in a high fantasy world.  It was the first time I have ran Fate in almost a year and the first time with the new Fate Core tweaks to the game.

So we got together and made characters and then ran a short scenario to check out how battle worked with the new system.

Things I learned:

I am a bit rusty on the rules, and made a few mistakes.

Also was the first time I have ran a game on hangout plus, so I hope I did not mess that up. :) Although I am aware that I do curse from time to time. 

Magic, although not really more powerful takes center stage due to the narrative flexibility. This isn’t really something new, but it was shown quite a bit last night. This is something I am still trying to figure out in our own game, but that is how it went down last night.

I got corrected today by Fred Hicks on something I did rarely. I was taught by the person that got me into Fate that you could compel someone to basically lose their turn. We had a discussion about it last night and it made me wonder about it afterwards. Fred said today that you should not do that. Ok, then….when Fred talks, I listen. It isn’t something I do very often, but one of the gamers was upset (not like angry, but he just did not like it) that it happened. That is fine…we all continue to learn and I will not be doing that again.

The battle went pretty smoothly and boosts really make the capability of someone getting hurt really badly, really quickly. It is still an amazing thing to actually see.

Character creation took a bit longer, but that was due to having someone play that has not played the game before. This tends to happen and is just part of the process.

As for our game. It was nice to just see a fantasy setting in action. I am running this as basically an ongoing playtest, and it went well for the most part. It has a long way to go but it was nice to see how the magic worked and it is continuing learning process.

We did have a good time, which is the point. Check out the video below.


Motivation is awesome....

So, I have worked more on the game in the last week or so than I have in almost a year.

It is a nice feeling.

I cannot deny that when Fate Core came out, it allowed me to look at the system again and everything just went from there. I feel great about the direction the game is going in my head and each day brings something new to what I am trying to accomplish. Now there is still a lot to be done and I am excited to take that next step with my friend Chris and move forward.

I even made my first character for the game last night. Keep in mind it is just the first one and I would imagine the end result will look a lot different, but I like the direction the skills have went in the game and I am very excited about working on the magic for the game.

As you know Evil Hat previewed the magic toolkit and a lot of my ideas I had were damn close to what I read. So that gives me a lot of confidence in where to go next. Especially since the game revolves around the four elements, air, earth, fire, and water.

Our game is highly inspired by the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher. Still, it is not that world since there are two major differences. .

The first one is that the world of Alera is influenced by the Roman empire. I man A LOT. This is part of what made the books interesting. They took a period of time that a lot of people have knowledge of and added it to this world. I am still not sure yet what flavor our world is going to be, but it isn't going to be Roman.

The second thing is the use of furies in the world. Furies are elemental spirits that characters in the book could use to do things by fury-crafting. Like an wind fury could make you faster, or an earth fury could draw strength from the earth. Also, the fury could take form, usually as an animal, and this would allow the caster to do more powerful things like healing or flying.

These are cool, but not in the game.

Mostly, I just love the elemental world aspect of the books, and that is what we took from it. The rest of it, although cool, not so much. I never wanted to make a Codex Alera game.

We are doing something kind of ambitious. Instead of letting the players create the world at the beginning of the game (i.e. The Dresden Files rpg), we are creating the world from the ground up. This is going to take some time to do and we still have to figure out a lot of how that will look. But the hope is that since the world is already created, you can just jump in and start playing...but also giving you enough information about the world that it gives you a starting point.

As daunting as that is, I like the idea and all those hours of playing Skyrim has helped me look at the world from a new perspective. :)

We are creating a world where there are two major factions vying for control. The Devout, whom just want to take all of the world's resources and use that power to rule...and are on the verge of doing so. And the resistance (don't have a name yet) whom are just trying to survive and take back their world.

Is the idea a new one, no. But it is the type of story I love to read and the type of game I love to play. Also,  I am hoping that with a fully flushed out world created, there will be so many opportunities for you to tell your own story.

Whatever that story may be.

I mean who doesn't love to do that? :)


Magic System Toolbox preview is here!

Magic System Toolbox
So, Evil Hat released a preview of the Magic System Toolkit yesterday and people went crazy. I don’t mean burn peoples house down kind of crazy, but dropping everything they were doing and reading this like a madman...madwomn...madperson? kind of crazy.

A lot of people (me included) have been looking forward to this, in hopes of seeing what kind of magic systems could be used with Fate Core. Yes, you could always break down the Dresden Files, but the magic system in that game can be a bit confusing for some people and I have not really heard of people going that route all that often.

I know I wasn’t.

I had been planning on using magic as a skill for a long time now. So, when I read the toolkit yesterday and saw that a lot of my ideas were almost identical to the ones that Rob made…well I was both vindicated and irritated. Vindicated cuz it is nice to know that I am thinking along the same lines as the creators of the game. Irritated cuz I had thought I was being original in my thoughts and now I am wondering if I need to twist them around again.

I do have an issue with feeling like I need to make something original. I am aware of the trappings of that, but after years of creating mechanics to only find out that someone had already done them…it is something that bothers me. Yes, I know…I need to let it go and move on. Just find what works and there will always be something you can tweak to make it your own.

I do think a lot of people are complaining about what is not in it. Which is ridiculous since (a) it was only a preview, and (b) it is designed to only help you, not do everything for you. Suck it up people and stop whining.

Last night’s playtest
So, a few people got online last night via hangout and gave the system a test drive.
The magic system was the stormcaller example they gave in the toolkit. The idea is that there are 5 great storms that are constant and our players could tap into those storms with a specific element. My character could call forth lightning and the other three could use earthquake, glacier, and inferno. So, with this magic system you have to choose stormcalling as a skill and you use it do all kinds of things. Set up barriers, attacks, maneuvers, etc.

We were failed government experiments that escaped and were out to find the truth.

My character was Derek Storm (yes, I stole the name from Castle)

Thunder is my name
My ex wants me to die
Shoot first ask questions later
I will clear my name
Walks in the shadows

So, we ended up casing a place that had the information. I snuck in and managed to get lost. The others sat outside and thought of was to get into the building. Ideas were: setting it on fire, calling the cops and then beating them up and taking their uniforms, charging in. They eventually set a dumpster on file and paid a fate point stating they had already procured firemen suits.

So we fought out way to the vault where information was supposed to be. All kinds of elemental stuff happening. The fire guy kept...well setting things on fire. Ice guy used ice to put up a barrier (which trapped me on the wrong side of it with 9 guys and “my ex that wants me to die.”. Earth guy did some cool thing with reaching into the building and opening up walls and such.

We got shot a bit, and I eventually killed my ex...or did I?. She had it coming, so leave me alone. The last thing I did was punch a large hole in the wall and then used air to jump across to another building.

All in all, we had a good time. The system flows much quicker than DFRPG does (which as much as I love the game is a great thing). There is a lot to tweak about it…but that is part of the fun. 

The one piece of advice I have is that you may want to stop before you run the game and get a clear definition of what you want the magic to do. Not because it is hard to figure out or anything, but mostly so you are prepared for the questions that are likely to come.

To me the barrier thing kind of got confused with how blocks used to work in previous Fate games. I like the block option, since it handles differently than someone having to get past an obstacle to be able to move. But that is just me.

This kind of thing will probably be a non-issue once you have played with it a few times.

Saying that, the barriers are damn cool and a lot of fun to handle in the game. The great thing about Fate is getting to say how you want the scene to go, and adding that to the game makes storytelling that much more fun.

Overall, we had a great time and I am excited about running my own session of this.


Thoughts on amount of skills...

I spend a lot of time now working on Fate. Part of it is just tinkering with a setting (like the Old West one I am making) and another is the actual fantasy game I am making using the system (Kushara’s Fate).

I am still trying to figure out just how I want to go about doing this.

My first question has to do with the amount of skill each player/npc will have. Fate Core’s highest skill rank is +4 Great and you have ten total skills. I both like and dislike this.

I like it because with only ten skills, it really makes you think about what skills you want your character to have. Mostly due to the fact that you don’t have that many to choose from and just makes it harder. It looks like this:
1 Great
2 Good
3 Fair
4 Average

But if your character is a fighter, you will obviously have that skill as your apex skill. Then maybe some kind of endurance or speed skills as well. The rest are just what you want your character to be. This is not an easy decision, since you only have a few skills that you are really good at.

The downside to that is just what I was saying. I sat here making a character last night and I must have played around with the skills for over thirty minutes, just cuz I could not make up my mind. It got a big annoying, but I also overthink things, so the annoyance did not last long. Also, if you don’t do it right, your character can be a bit lacking.

The alternative is to do what they did in DFRPG, which was to make +5 Superb the apex skill. It looks the same for the most part. It looks like this:
1 Superb
2 Great
3 Good
4 Fair
5 Average

This adds five more skills to the games and definitely gives more options to the player. I like this, but it does miss that sense of importance in choosing the skills since there are more to choose. An urgency that is there knowing that there is probably a skill you would like to have that is going to have to be left off due to not having any left.

I am going back and forth on this today.

This is why this is hard. Say my character is a magic user. One idea I have is that they choose the element and put it on what skill level they want. Like +4 Great Fire. That is the level they can cast at. But if they wanted to choose another element, it could be up to half of the higher level. So, they could have a +2 fair Earth. Or something like this. The idea being they have to have at least a +2 Fair to be able to cast a spell in each particular element.

+4 Magic (Fire)
+3 Will, spycraft
+2 Magic (Earth), agility, guile,
+1 Ranged weapon (bow), stealth, rapport, endurance

But if used the superb apex, it could look like this.

+5 magic (fire)
=4 Will, spycraft
+3 agility, guile, rapport
+2 Magic (earth), ranged weapons (bow), stealth, endurance, crafting
+1 wealth, melee weapon (sword), contacts, perception, survival

You get more skills, but I sometimes feel like you are just adding skills at +1 average to get it done. Skills that you don’t think you will ever use, but you have to put something there.

So, I am still undecided on this. I find myself leaning towards the way DFRPG does it, but then again, I don’t want the game to be TOO much like that. Is 10 skills enough for a campaign game? For a one shot it has worked well so far.

Decisions, decisions.


A Fistful of Fate

So, I have been playing around with an old west idea for Fate Core. I am now calling it a Fistful of Fate.

It is a town in the old west.

A town on the edge.

A town in trouble.

A town named Serenity Hill.

I just found the idea of having gunslingers in a game awesome. Everyone on the planet is making some kind of hack of Fate Core (which is a great thing), and this is one of the ideas that just make smile. Pit a posse of lawmen (or women) against a rough outfit of lawbreakers, a town on the edge with two families at war, and possibly a third that no one will see coming.

So, as of now, I am just trying to get the skill list done in a way that I am comfortable with. It is the old west, so the skills should have that feel. This is probably not the finished list as I keep coming up with more slang and ideas from other people as to what they should be called.

Each skill then lists what isn't normal name would be in Fate.

Six shooter=guns
Long gun=rifle
Rope use=lassoing
Silver tongue=rapport

It is still a work in progress, but I am getting a lot closer to running the game.


Diaspora book review

So, let’s get this part out of the way. I am NOT a sci-fi guy.  Never have been, never will. Sure I like some sci-fi things, but once you get into the hard sci-fi stuff you typically lose me.

So when I heard a little over a year ago there was a sci-fi Fate game, I did not really want to have anything to do with it. Then I joined G+ and met people like Brad Murray and others talking about how awesome it was.

I just now got around to reading it all. J

So, obviously it is a Fate game.

You start by doing something that I think would be so awesome to do and lord knows it read well enough. Cluster Creation. Yes folks, you get to create the universe the game will take place in, and then roll to see how the different planets connect to each other.

Brilliant is the word that comes to mind.

You can roll the four fudge dice for the system attributes (technology, environment, and resources) and look at the results.  It goes from +4 to -4 and all in between. For example we will use technology, a +4 gets you a T4 which means that tech has advanced so far it is on the edge of collapse. Earth right now is at -1 which is considered the atomic age, and -4 means they have any tech at all…i.e. the Stone Age.

Just was just 3 of the 9 things you could get, but you get the point.

You roll for all three and voila, you get your worlds. You then have to give each world a few aspects and off you go to character creation.

A lot of the rest is basic Fate stuff, so I won’t go into much of it other than to say there are A LOT of skills available since there are so many different things you can do in this gamel

Then there is the social combat in the game. I have heard for a while how good it is. I am not going to try to explain it, cuz I don’t really understand it after reading it. Let’s just say it is very interesting, but I really need to see it in action.

I also loved how they wrote small examples of the game and how they felt like miniature stories. It was great stuff to read.

The bottom line is that it was a fun read. It is not typically my kind of game. I am not sure I would want to run it though. A bit too crunchy for me with some of hard sci-fi stuff, but definitely want to play.