Sliding Towards Simplicity

Disclaimer: When I’m talking about crunchy, rules-heavy or simulationist games in this post, I’m not implying they’re bad–hell, play what you want–but they’re just not for me.

As you might gather from the disclaimer above, I’ve never really been a fan of simulationist games or ones that have vast tomes of increasing complex rules, TBH I’m surprised that I like FFG’s Star Wars so much given the number of specialisations, bonuses and other stuff that is in there, but I suppose preference is a fickle beast. Since sometime last year–probably even before that–I’ve been noticing that my preferences have been moving towards simpler and simpler RPGs. Whether you want to call them RPGs or Storytelling games is an argument for another time, I’m going to stick to using RPGs in this blog entry.

If you’ve seen any of my stuff online you’ll know I’m a big fan of the Fate and Dungeon World games, both of these have–in my opinion–a nice clear central mechanic that pretty much everything else in the rest of the game references, and for a long time I thought that was the big lure of these games for me, but I’ve also started taking an interest in OSR products.

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Fate Star Wars Idea

I’ve recently had the good fortune to play in a Dresden Files Accelerated game using the preview rules that Lloyd ran, I very much enjoyed it; one of my favourite bits of the game was a mechanic dealing with a new type of condition that effectively acted as a power pool for some of your other abilities, each one normally came with a condition that you could tick to refresh your pool at the cost of gaining some sort of longer term complication or disadvantage. Continue reading

Matters of Fate: Random Tables

Love them or hate them, random charts and tables have a long history in RPGs, whether it be to determine wilderness encounters, a random bauble gained at character gen or any number of other potential things. Continue reading

Matters of Fate: Shortest skill list?

I’ve been thinking a fair bit about skill lists, Approaches and Professions in the Fate system, in preparing my Storm & Sail game (starting next weekend) I’ve decided to go with a Profession based system, but it has got me thinking about just how many skills are actually needed in a Fate game; if you love the current amount of skills that’s grand, I’ve no problems with that, but this post probably isn’t really aimed at you.

Recently my wife Hannah has been running a game using Aspect only fate, essentially the skill rating you add to your dice rolls comes from the number of aspects you have that are applicable.

For example: If you had “Best gunslinger in the county” and “Quick on the draw” as aspects and found yourself in a shoot-out then you could claim +2 as your skill level, one rank per applicable aspect.

This system seems to be working really well at the moment although it does involve a bit of adjudication as to what aspects are applicable in certain situations, and having players who aren’t going to attempt to manipulate the system to get the best rolls in any and all situations; very similar to some of the potential issues that Fate Accelerated can face depending on the level of player buy-in to the spirit of the system.

It also got me thinking about the World of Darkness series of games where attributes are organised into three categories, physical, mental and social, I started thinking about whether or not these three “stats” could be used to replace the existing skill list, and I believe that they could be. Those three labels cover pretty much all situations that I can think of, trying to be diplomatic with somone, roll social, trying to recall ancient lore, roll mental, fighting a pirate, roll physical.

Now I can hear some people complaining and saying that there wouldn’t be much variety using this system, however I think this is where the stunt system can more than adequately pick up that slack, you want to play a character who is more dexterous then brawny, then take a stunt or two that benefit you in those sort of situations, and vice-versa if you want to be the brutal but clumsy barbarian. Although it might be worth the GM being a being more lenient with the situations that stunts can apply to.

Final Xsplit Layout for Storm and Sail Game

As you may know I’m preparing to run a pirate-style fantasy game using a version of the Fate rules that I have compiled, taking inspiration from several different sources. I’ve also been experimenting with the free version of Xsplit in an attempt to make the game more visual for those watching it and as a helpful aid to my players, I’m pretty happy with the layout I’ve now got and have uploaded a small video test of it (you can see this by clicking on the video link below).

Features I intend to use via Xsplit for this game:

  • Changeable backdrop images.
  • Gold coins as fate tokens that can be moved.
  • Screen capture of the players with their fate points below them and their characters name and aspects above them.
  • Overlay-able map of the New World.
  • I also have a second screen set up that can function as a whiteboard.

Storm and Sail: Profession-based rules re-write

As those of you who read my blog will be aware I am currently preparing for a fantasy-Fate I am planning to start in a couple of weeks that will take place in a setting (very) loosely inspired by the Carribean in the 18th Century.

Up until recently I was writing the rules for the game and merrily looking at subsystems for scale, vehicles and all manner of things and slapping them into the Google Doc that I was writing, then it occurred to me that the more I was adding the less and less the game was resembling the elegant simplicity of the base Fate system and was turning into something far crunchier. Now that’s fine if you like crunchier rules (and if you do version 1 of the rules I wrote is here), but it’s not really my bag, one of the things I love about Fate is how versatile the basic rules system is and I generally prefer to stick closely to it. This left me with something of a dilemna, I wanted to have vehicles of different sizes and two magic systems, so how could I include them and keep the game simple.

It was at this point I turned to a game that has rapidly become my Fate crisis-bible, and that is Jadepunk by Re-Roll Productions; I ran a campaign of this game a short while ago (you can see the videos here) and thoroughly enjoyed it, I remain impressed by how thoroughly the designers managed to get across their vision of their gameworld whilst at the same time avoiding the trap of just adding a buttload of new rules to the Fate system. One of the things I loved about this system was that instead of skills the characters had ratings in six professions that they used for their various rolls, so I decided to use this as inspiration for my campaign.

I also decided to keep the names of the two magic systems but trim down the mechanics in the extreme, concentrating more on what they bought to the game fiction.

You can check out the documents I’m working on by clicking the links below:

I plan to continue updating them as necessary until the beginning of the game, the rules are mostly done but the background will be reworked and expanded at a later date.

Storm & Sails: Reference Document

Okay, so I’ve started the planning for my forthcoming Storm & Sails campaign, I’m currently working on a gazetteer style Google Doc that will contain setting information and character creation for the campaign so that my players can peruse it. Although it is not complete the document can be viewed here:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rKn4veeiiylh69GJUmuL8Q_516A6ZEpVj04CngiUto8/edit?usp=sharing

I’ll be updating the document over the next couple of weeks, once it’s complete I’ll be turning it over to my players to get some feedback before we start getting into the serious business of making characters.

New Campaign: Storm & Sail

As you may have read in my previous GM Tips: Campaign Fatigue post, I’m taking a break from running my 3Brothers D&D 5E campaign for a short while; during that break I’m going to be running a finite fantasy mini-campaign (probably about 10 sessions in length). To give me something different to get my teeth into whilst I’m having a break from my 3Brothers game I decided that this game should be more high-fantasy, and having always had a soft-spot for pirate stories and the like decided to make a nautically based campaign.

I plan to be posting updates over the next few weeks as the campaign ideas are fleshed out and then make as much of the setting as possible available as a PDF on this blog, so if you like Fate fantasy or the idea of swashing a buckle on the high seas stay tuned 🙂

In the meantime I’m adding images that are inspiring me for this campaign to my Pinterest account, you can check that out by clicking on the link below:

https://uk.pinterest.com/largejo/pirateage-of-sail-imagery/

All About Aspects: Star Wars Fate II – Force-wielding Boogaloo

After my first post about running Star Wars games using Fate Accelerated Edition I got a great response and it compelled me (see what I did there?) to try and write some of it down as a cohesive document.

I got some great feedback from Sam Dimercurio after showing him the rough version of the document and Wayne Peters was good enough to point out that Scott Wegener, one of the artists on the excellent Atomic Robo had already done some great work with regard to running Star Wars in FAE (you can find his document here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/12C27OiWxnBz5_DanJX6UQceGKHUbPMdBLLin91q5bYk/edit)

Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth I have unashamedly borrowed some of the excellent ideas from Scott’s article and incorporated them into my own version of a FAE Star Wars hack, many thanks go to Scott for making his document available to people on Google+.

In-case it needs to be said, this is a fan hack only, no challenge is intended to any copyrights and nor should it be sold for profit in any way, it’s solely designed to allow people who love FAE to add Star Wars to their Fate games.

You can find my version here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByVpAo4rxDGuQWVLWUhNNy1DV1E/view?usp=sharing

 

All About Aspects: Star Wars Fate

I’ve had the idea knocking around in my head for a while to combine my love of Star Wars with my love of the Fate RPG, those of you who’ve gamed with me know that I’m a big fan of the FFG Star Wars games, I’ve played in a lot of games and ran some, all of them have been very enjoyable and I love the narrative dice mechanic used in the game.

So why bother using Fate then?

That’s a good question, and for me it stems entirely from a couple of little niggles I have, my first is that character creation in FFG Star Wars is great if you have the books and all the material in-front of you, there’s plenty of options there to keep the crunch-meisters happy but it’s easy enough so that those of us who don’t find looking things up in rule books all the time quite so compelling, can still get along with it. However, if you are a player who doesn’t have the rulebook then things become a little more difficult, it’s a lot more involved to coach people through creating a character, especially if they don’t have the facility of using some of the excellent character generation programs available for the system.

Whereas creating a Fate character is fairly simple (especially if you’re going to use Fate Accelerated like I’m planning to), the rules are available for free online and, for my money, it is a lot more easily accessible and easy on the pocket, although I appreciate that not everyone finds the Fate rules as easy to understand as I did.

Plus I think the high-fantasy, heroic, action vibe of Star Wars would work well with Fate and I’m interested to see how it would work.

Uber Simple Fate Hack

Okay, I’ve looked at a few Star Wars Fate hack and most of them pretty much started laying on additional details and systems to deal with stuff, which is understandable in a sci-fi system with extra tech and cybernetics etc, but it’s not really the simple one-shot vibe that I’m going for so here are my suggestions for a very simple Fate hack.

Aspects

You have 5 aspects as normal, they are as follows:

  • High Concept: as per Fate Accelerated Rulebook
  • Trouble: as per Fate Accelerated Rulebook
  • Species: the characters race, pick one thing the race is good at and something they are bad at, make it clear in the aspect so invokes/compels are clear.

    For example: Wookie – immensely strong and powerful but prone to berserker rages.

  • Planet/System of Origin: Where your character grew up, again pick one thing that people from that place are good at and one thing they are bad at.

    For example: Citizens of the Imperial are excellent at politicking but not used to surviving in primitive environments.

  • Signature equipment: Pick one piece of equipment that is signature gear for your character and again give it one thing it’s good at and one shortcoming.

    For example: My souped up blaster does a lot of damage but it’s prone to over-heating.

Approaches

These are chosen as per the Fate Accelerated Rulebook.

Stunts

Chosen as per the Fate Accelerated Rulebook, if someone wants to be Force-sensitive, then in addition to having their high concept mention it, they must also take a Force-sensitive stunt, this costs the same as a normal stunt and does nothing on its own but gives narrative permission to do things that otherwise would be impossible using the Force, if a character wants to be good at specific applications of Force-powers then they can take other stunts to reflect this.

Player: I want to leap over the gap between the platforms, is that possible?

GM: Normally no, but you do have the Force-sensitive stunt so I’ll allow you to make a roll to jump it.

Player: Can I persuade the storm-trooper that I’m not the person he’s looking for?

GM: Well since you’ve just strutted up to him in a rebel uniform normally no, but you are a Force-user so I’ll let you make a difficult roll to use the Jedi mind trick on him.

What about spaceships and vehicles though?

Spaceships would be genned in a way similar to mooks, they would have a couple of things they’re good at:

My tramp-freighter is a very fast ship with good manoeuvrability.

And a couple of things they’re bad at:

However its weapons aren’t so great and the sensors have only short-range.

When a person in the ship is using systems in an area the ship is good at then get +2 to their rolls, when it’s a system the ship is bad at they get -2 to their rolls.

Ships would have a stress track and consequences similar to characters but would only be affected by weapons on a similar scale to them.

Conclusion

I think this is a fairly simple way to use Fate Accelerated to run a Star Wars game, it looks okay but I’d have to see it in play to test how it really works, I might have a go at running a game with these rules in a few weeks time.


 

Circuit board tree image designed by Mastermindsro, you can see the full design here.