The quest for inclusive space combat continues

So, continuing on from last nights post regarding how my game went, i’ve been giving more thought this morning to how I can improve space combat in my Rogue Trader FATE game, in order to get to the point I want the space combat in my game is going to have to meet two criteria:
  • The space combat should be short/quick enough so that any people not involved are not sat out of the game for an extended period.
  • It should involve a series of rolls rather than just a single dice roll.
Dissecting what happened in yesterdays game

When we were engaged in the space combat part of the session yesterday, the turn sequence ran as follows:
  • The navigator piloting the ship moving the ship.
  • The Lord Admiral making the shooting rolls.
  • The Enginseer making rolls to repair.
  • Alternating people making rolls for the other fleet ship (crewed by NPCs).
I made an attempt to have players whose characters hadn’t acted in the last round roll dice for the NPCs to keep them involved, however, I can appreciate that rolling a few dice isn’t the same as having your character actually involved in the situation unfolding, the same level of emotional investment isn’t present IMO. There were occasions when people whose characters weren’t directly involved used their abilities or fate points to help provide bonuses to those people (whether PCs or NPCs) who were making the rolls.
Gaining FATE points

Another (very valid) point that was raised after the session was that when people were suggesting compels for their Aspects in order to gain Fate points, only the person gaining the fate point was actually benefiting, however, in a lot of cases the complications arising were affecting or stymieing the efforts of other players who were not benefiting directly from the accumulation of fate points.
So what is the solution?
My current plan is to distill the space combat down to a small series of rolls rather than an extended sequence of rolls; for example, i’m currently thinking that i’ll have a combat be resolved using the following rolls:
  • The ships pilots position their ships, this provides a modifier to the next stage for whichever ship gains the advantage.
  • Rolls are made for ships weapons, the number of shifts providing the total damage done to the opposing side.
  • Repair rolls are made, the number of positive shifts repairing the amount of damage done.
  • The amount of positive/negative shifts that each ship has remaining will be totaled and each side in the conflict will tally up their totals.
  • Total damage is allocated to the various ships by the commander of each side in the conflict.
  • The side with the least positive shifts in total is “Taken Out”, if they’ve taken a lot of damage then they may have been destroyed, or they may have been forced to surrender.
This should allow a combat to be kept reasonably simple and short and on a narrative basis with a number of dice rolls that can occur simultaneously.
In terms of Compels, I believe this is something that I can solve through my GMing by assuring that the complications arising from Compels are more personal and directed at the the character of the player receiving the fate point.

So how did the game go?

Well that’s today’s Rogue Trader session finished and the players all safely off home, it was the first try of my ‘simplified’ space style rules (as mentioned in this post) – so, sat here after the session has finished and the dust has settled I find myself asking the question “so, how do I think the session went?”

Space Combat

I think the simplified space combat was definitely a step in the right direction, it certainly flowed better than our attempts at using the original FFG rules space combat; however, despite my best attempts there were still moments when some of the characters were not involved very much in the events unfolding because they were limited in how much they could effect the space combat. I’ve had some frank discussions with my players at the end of the session and my current thoughts on the matter suggest the following options:

  • Expanding the repertoire of potential actions available to include more characters – this is one possibility but also involves adding an additional layer of complexity to the combat that I am keen to avoid.
  • Have the players who are not involved take over the parts of named NPCs who are influencing the combat – again a possibility although i’d really love to keep players as their own characters as much as possible.
  • Reduce the combat to a single roll or short series of rolls allowing all the player characters to contribute fate points – this is currently my favourite option since it reduces the length of combats meaning that players wouldn’t be sat out for so long but the potential of a single drastically bad roll would be mitigated by the potential fate point expenditures.
  • Run each space combat as a series of small encounters involving all characters, the result of each encounter adding to the overall success or failure of the overall combat.
I have a month to think about it before the next session, so i’ll definitely be giving some thought to potentially using one of the above options when we next have cause to run some space combat.

Character Generation for God Machine Chronicle game

We’ll myself and the other five players for my God Machine Chronicle game met up last night to define some more details about the setting and create characters ready for the first actual session on 05/07/13; this was my first experience of using the Game Creation advice chapter from the FATE core rulebook so I was interested to see how it would go.

Designing the Setting
You might ask why I needed to design the setting when (if you’ve read some of my earlier posts on this subject you’ll know that) I’d already specified that the game was going to be local scale and take place in a fictional East Midlands council block called Specto Vale? Well I’d left the setting of the game world fairly loosely defined, of course I had a few ideas kicking about that I wasn’t immediately going to reveal to the players (since part of the idea behind a God Machine Chronicle game, and indeed any World of Darkness game is discovering the horror behind strange occurrences) but I wanted to get the players involved in coming up with some of the other setting elements. The rationale behind this is simple, if players create parts of the setting then they are invested in it and are more likely to be interested in it.
Setting Issues
Following the guidelines in the FATE corebook we decided to come up with a couple of current issues (that already exist within the setting) and a couple of impending issues (problems or concerns that have just started to make themselves known). After a bit of head scratching and discussion we arriving at the following:
Current Issues


  • Organised crime.
  • Racial tension.
  • Milk/local cats going missing.

Impending Issues


  • Residents being evicted.
  • Potential demolition/repurposing.
I wrote these issues down on index cards as we discussed them and, during the discussion, any interesting people or places that we mentioned were also added onto there own cards; we ended up with a stack of about 15 or so cards at this stage, including concepts and things such as:
  • Crime/racial tension.
    • Eastern europenas.
    • Tension between long time residents and influx of immigrants.
    • Graffiti tagging, racial slurs.
    • Conflict between new/old criminal elements.
    • Flags hanging from balconies.
  • Evictions.
    • Manager evicting housing association people to cram in the more profitable immigrants.
    • Residents association pettitions.
  • Missing milk/animals.
    • Escalating problem.
    • Has been reported- no action taken.
    • Connected with crazy cat lady?
    • Connected with chinese restaurant?
  • Residents association.
    • Do-gooders.
    • Door knocking Christians.
    • Leaders of the local scout movement.
    • Community events.
  • Crazy cat lady.
    • See the character from The Simpsons.
  • The manager.
    • Conservative MP.
    • Similar to the fat hacker from Jurassic Park.
  • Eastern European Immigrants.
    • Wage slaves.
    • 500 to a flat.
    • Right wingers (organisation).
      • Owner of the Red Lion, won’t serve them.
    • Illegal immigrants.
  • New criminal element.
    • Youth criminals/new blood.
    • Gangsta wannabees.
    • Chavs.
    • “Attack the Block.”
    • “Kids.”
  • A stalker.
    • Huge coat and hat.
    • Scary male.
    • Hangs around.
    • “1 Hour Photo.”
    • “The Watcher.”
    • “Mine Hunters.”
    • Infatuation?
  • Old polish criminal element.
    • Dying breed.
    • Boris the Blade – “Snatch.”
  • A man smuggling in immigrants.
    • Bartek Prusees.
    • Bringing in Polish Immigrants.
    • New blood.
    • Scarred, tattooed villain.
      • Danny Trejo.
      • Robert Kcvepper.
    • Nasty piece of work.
  • Newsagents/bargain booze.
    • Asian man running shop.
    • Illegal poker nights in back room.
    • Dodgy cigs, bootlegged booze, misc cheap meat.
  • Chip shop.
    • Legitimate family business.
    • Old patriarch.
    • Always open.
    • Once a week does free meals for homeless.
  • Red Lion pub.
    • Plastic, sticky floored pub.
    • Known rough pub.
    • Boarded up window.
    • Cig machine with no cigarettes.
    • Mesh over bar.
    • Man who knows a man.
    • Old man drunks.
  • Chinese takeaway.
    • Cat meat?
    • Human meat?
    • Sex trade cover.
  • Young prostitute.
    • Taken under wing of older prostitute.
    • Likes older men.
  • Older prostitute.
    • Over 50.
    • Doing it to put her daughter through ollege.
    • Cougar.
    • Has a thing for old Polish men.
We then started creating the characters; it took a little while for people to get the idea of Aspects, but once the ball had started rolling most of the players seemed fairly comfortable with the concept, Stunts were a lot easier to explain.
After some discussion and noted down of stats we ended up with the following character concepts:
  • An eccentric old shut-in with ties to the Polish mob.
  • A multi-lingual hospital worker and self-confessed ‘Lambrini Girl.’
  • A young female ex-chemist turned drug dealer.
  • A jack-of-all-traders bar stool philosophising lorry driver.
  • A wiry criminal problem solver.
Following the creations of concepts we moved on to creating links between the characters; I asked each person to come with an incident in their character’s life and link two of the other characters in with it. This section of the character genning was very good fun as the players discussed things between themselves and began filling in some more detail about theirs and other people’s characters.
  • The criminal problem solver: Hired the truck driver to retrieve a shipment of drugs from Eastern Europe (via his contact the shut-in) in order to provide them to the dealer.
  • The truck driver was approached by the problem solver to move some of the drug dealers supplies up north as a favour, he was injured whilst on the job and trying to effect a minor repair to his lorry and get chatting to the hospital worker whilst in the waiting room.
  • The drug dealer was providing the criminal problem solver with a cut from her dealing, she knows the truck driver as the “pick up man; she frequents the same chip shop as the shut-in and has spoken to him a couple of times.
  • The shut-in has chased away the stalker when he was following the hospital worker.
  • The hospital worker was feeling sorry for a patient in pain and, knowing that there was a dealer living in the same block as her, bought some weed for the suffering patient; she bumped into the criminal problem solver (who was there to pick up his cut) whilst she was there.
So how did the character generation session go overall?

Overall I thought the character/game creation session went extremely well; it took a few minutes for the players to wrap their heads around some of the elements that are most different IMO from standard roleplaying games (Aspects for example), however, once this hurdle was out of the way and I had explained to the group that the best Aspects were those that could be used in a positive way but that also suggested elements of plot or complications that could occur this progressed fairly rapidly. It was extremely gratifying to see all of the players getting excited by their characters and talking about how they were connected and what parts of the setting would most influence their characters.

In total the character generation probably only took us an hour of so, even with me explaining some of the concepts and going through how some of the FATE rules worked; the rest of the time was spent elaborating on various plot elements and discussion of the game setting.
So to sum up I have a stack of index cards full of interesting plot pointers and things that capture the players imagination, five very interesting and different (but connected) characters and several interesting threads (such as the missing milk/animals, the stalker and the crazy cat lady) with which to draw the characters in to the machinations of the God Machine.
Really happy with how that turned out and can’t wait to run the first session in a couple of weeks 🙂

Game generation for a game that you're already playing

As people who are reading this blog are no doubt aware, we originally began my Rogue Trader game the House of Black (the original post about the game is here) using Fantasy Flight Games rules for the game however we later switched to using the FATE core rules for the game for a number of different reasons; since the game was already well under way and we had established our sector of space (using a combination of the rules from Stars of Inquity for Rogue Trader and Diaspora for FATE) we never really looking overly much at the parts of the FATE core book that discuss sitting down an collaboratively creating parts of the setting. Although I did my best as the gamesmaster to ensure that the players were involved in the creation of the game background (aided by some great suggestions in the Diaspora rulebook) the actual FATE core guidelines and tips for this fell pretty much by the wayside.

This seems like a great shame to me; i’ve been reading through that section of the book in more, in preparation for the character creation session of my God Machine Chronicle game recently and there is some very good advice included there about creating connections between the characters and getting them to have input on background elements and NPCs that will have some resonance for their own characters. To a lesser extent we have done some of this already as a matter of course, but getting the players to invest more in a game is always worthwhile in my opinion.
Is the Game Creation Section of FATE only useful during the initial stages of a game?
In my opinion the answer to the above question is no; although the characters in my Rogue Trade game have explored a couple of the star systems in our Sector there is always more to see and more people to meet, this is one of the great appeal of science-fiction RPGs to me, space is vast and filled with all manner of species and different sights. The game creations section asks some important questions to help create a setting for a FATE game:

  • What are the main issues in the setting?
    • Current issues – problems that exist in the world already.
    • Impending issues – things that have only just started to become a problem or an issue.
The core book recommends that you choose at least two of these issues; it occurred to me that, although we have the Ancient Enemy already established as an Aspect of the campaign for the Rogue Trader game, there is ample room to explore other themes and that having the player characters give their input would be a great idea.
The book then advises you to make the theme into Aspects and jot down names for some of the important places and NPCs that are connected with them. Given that the players have just reached a Significant Milestone in my game with their exploration of the Ancient Enemies abandoned base and the realisation that the xenos race are actually ancient machine beings that once laid claim to the sector, fought the Eldar to a standstill and sacrificed their own souls for immortality, it is my plan to go through some of the Game Creation stages in the book with my players; up until now the focus of the game has almost exclusively been on the Ancient Enemy, it’s time to broaden out the focus of the game and give the players far more say in their future as Rogue Traders 🙂

Simplifying space combat in my Rogue Trader hack

Having spent an awful lot of time recently working on my FAE NWOD hack i’ve been going to great lengths to keep the rules as simple as possible, capturing the feel and mood of the World of Darkness without bolting on loads of unnecessary additional rules and sub-systems that would slow the game down without really adding all that much to it; as well as the character generation session for my God Machine Chronicle FAE game this weekend i’ve also got another session of my Rogue Trader FATE game on Sunday (not to mention playing in a Pathfinder game that a friend is running on Saturday) and so i’ve been leafing through my hack rules in advance of the session.

The plan for the next game has always been to include a couple of space fights in them; since we changed to using the FATE rules we haven’t really gone in for any big space combats as we adjusted to using the new rules and it’s about time IMO that we test drive the hack rules for space combat. Originally the space combat rules in my hack were very much based on the Diaspora rules with a few tweaks and alterations by myself; the players have a number of build points which they use to purchase skills, aspects and stunts for their ship with each ship having multiple stress tracks and various other bits and pieces. Although I was quite pleased with it when I first finished writing up that part of the hack, looking at it now the rules really do seem a little bit over the top and more suited to a strategic wargame or miniatures game rather than a narrative-based RP game.

With that in mind I decided to dust off the rules and see if I could simplify them using some of the lessions that i’m current learning from Fate Accelerated Edition.

Ship Construction

The first step, I decided, was to throw out the notion of variable build points (based on vessel size) to create a ship and the use of multiple stress tracks. I decided that i’d give the ships some basic skills (the words in blue show the skills that players can use instead if they are crewing that section(if applicable)); the players can pick one at Great (+4), one at Good (+3), one at Fair (+2) and the remaining one at Average (+1).

  • Engine (drive(spacecraft)) – used to make maneuvres and initiative rolls
  • Hull (crafts(tech use)) – used in defence and affects stress tracker
  • Trade (resources) – used for trading and maintenance
  • Weapons (shooting)– used to make attack rolls
These skills would receive a set number of levels to be allocated between them (as character do when they are created), each ship (regardless of size) would receive a number of Stunts and Aspects; larger ships could be achieved by taking a higher Hull Skill, this would add additional boxes to the ships Hull Stress tracker in the same way as Physique does for characters.

Ships would have a refresh of three fate points, deducted by 1 for everyone stunt beyond the first that was taken, they would also receive 5 Aspects (as with normal FATE characters).

By default the ship would receive 2 stress boxes and 3 consequences boxes (with the standard 2, 4 and 6 values) in the same way as a character.

  • If the Hull skill is Average (+1) or Fair (+2) then one more stress box is added.
  • If the Hull skill is Good (+3) or higher then two more stress boxes are added.
  • At Superb (+5) or higher an additional mild consequence slot is added.

Stunts could be purchased in the same way as FAE or FATE allowing the characters to justify under what circumstances they would receive the bonus; one that I was going to give them was the following (since it has been established that the ship has this bit of tech).
Stunt – Teleportarium

Once per game as long as the ship is in the same system it may move up to 10 people to another place in the same system from the ship, or back onto the ship.

Another stunt that would like possesses by the flagship of Admiral Blacks fleet is:

Stunt – Large ship

This stunt adds an additional stress box to the ships character sheet.

Combat Zone Layout

I decide to use three zones for space combat (that I would represent on the table with index cards) with a single ’empty’ card represent the vast emptiness of space and the other two each containing something related to the systems aspects. For example: if the combat took place around Catan Prime then there might be an asteroid in one zone and a burning world.

These elements will be Aspects in their various zones and function as normal Aspects, for instance someone could spend one of their fate points to gain a +2 to a defensive hull roll because they are taking cover behind the asteroid.

Ships would only be able to fire/engage with enemy vessels in the same zone but would be able to move between zones freely on their turn as per the FATE rules, possibly with a roll if there was some sort of impediment to movement (like an asteroid belt or something similar).

Music for my GMC session

Although tomorrow’s (21/06/13) session is for the players to run through the generation process with me and help create links between the characters, NPCs and other setting elements I have already been thinking about appropriate music that could be played in the background of the generation session and then continued through into the game proper. I’ve never really made a great deal of use of music beyond having a couple of quiet tracks playing in the background since I normally prefer not to be fiddling around with music tracks on the computer when I could be describing the action of a game, I also find that if I don’t keep track of where the music is then it’s possible for a tense IC situation to be ruined when the track abruptly changes to something less suitable. On the opposite side of the scale though i’ve played in tabletop RPG games where music has been used to great effect; the main proponent of this (at least in games I have played) has been Simon Webber who normally has a speaker rig and extensive collection of soundtracks that he knows very well and uses to the benefit of his game sessions whenever he runs something.
One of the things that Simon does very well in his sessions is varying the tone and pacing of his descriptions so that it fits with the current music that is playing, normally queuing up some appropriate tracks at the start of the scene and then tailoring his prose to fit in with the pace and mood of the music. Another aspect that I have quite enjoyed is the use of certain music pieces to act as ‘theme tunes’ for certain NPCs or plot elements that are going to recur during the game; as soon as one of the recognisable theme tunes starts it give you the player (although not your character in most cases) a feel of what is going to occur and (if the music belongs to a major villain who has not yet made himself known in the present scene) can result in a lot of tension and atmosphere as you wait for the other shoe to drop and for the villain to make their inevitable appearance.
I’ve really enjoyed creating my fake hack for my God Machine Chronicle game and would like to make it a memorable experience for the players; given that the game has a fairly small focus and is only slated in for 4-5 sessions worth of play I want to pull out all the stops in order to make the game as exciting and gripping for my players as possible, both so that the game sticks in their minds and to get some enthusiasm up for their participation in a Demon: the Descent game or Mummy: the Curse game that I play to run later on (probably using my FAE hack). During the game I intend to make extensive use of index cards to track things like Zones, Aspects and NPCs, mainly because they are easy to reference, move about and relatively simple to transport along with my printouts of the quick reference sheets and the character sheets that I have designed for the game; it occurred to me that it would be very easy to note down a specific track or music on the index cards should an NPC, Zone, etc deserve their own ‘theme-tune.’
I’ve been building up a fairly respectable collection of soundtracks for a while, however I always think it’s good to get some additional ideas and so I put out the question on the G+ Game Master Tips community. A number of interesting suggestions were made:
I investigated the suggestions more closely and tagged several for future use during this (and other) RP sessions, particularly I found the Two Steps from Hell youtube channel extremely interesting with some great atmospheric and oppressive music on it that would be eminently suitable for use in a World of Darkness game. 
When I got home from work it was time to fire up my copy of media player and begin trawling through the collection of soundtracks that I have built up; since the settings of both the God Machine Chronicle and Rogue Trader are fairly dark I decided to compile a single list for both games and jot down locations and names of tracks that might be suitable.

First on my list was the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack, which had a good mix of eerie acoustic stuff and pounding drumbeats that would work well for the science fiction genre and also for the industrial modern era of the NWOD. I trawled through a number of other soundtracks (including the Final Fantasy Movie soundtrack, Terminator, Interview with a Vampire and others), creating a number of playlists:

  • Calm/serenity
  • Chase
  • Choral
  • Combat
  • Drifting in space
  • Generic industrial
  • Horror
  • Madness
  • Military/marching
  • Posh/upper floor
  • Realisation
  • Romantic
  • Sorrow
  • Space combat
  • Suspense

I also picked a few random tracks because I thought they fight in well with the idea of the God Machine or a particular concept in WH40K.

Hopefully this will give me a fairly decent selection of tunes to use as background in my game.

Mankind leaves Earth – Microscope Game Session – 19/06/13

Had a cracking game of four player Microscope this evening, detailing mankind leaving earth and the eventually destruction of the planet.

A visual representation of the game in Excel format can be found here.

Thoughts on Microscope 19-06-13

As mentioned in my last brief blog entry (available here) myself and my wife Hannah sat down to do a test game of Microscope last night; although the game is recommended for more than two players, it does provide some useful advice on how to adapt the game for only a couple of players.

Basic Premise

The basic premise behind Microscope is that a group of players each create a fictional timeline or history between them using a number of different constructs that can be nested inside each other

  • Periods: The largest division of the history, a very large chunk or time that can cover whole centuries depending on history (in my transcript the ‘Golden Age of Dragons’ was the first period in the game).
  • Events: Events cover specific events that happen during a period (in my transcript the ‘First elves are born to the wild magics of the forest’ is a scene within the ‘First age of elves (creation/birth of species)’ period.
  • Scenes: Scenes are the smallest unit of time and answer specific questions related to any event (in my transcript the ‘What finally caused the Dragons to unite against the dwarves? | Sighing Mountains | Harrad a Dwarf Engineer-King killed the last pureblood dragon to build a great skyship’ scene answers a question about the ‘Dragons unite against the Dwarven Empire when Dwarf Technicians begin hunting Dragons for the innate magic in their bodies’ event which is itself part of the ‘Last great dwarf Empire is destroyed in the First Dragon War’ period.
How is this done?

At the start of the game the players are directed to collaboratively come up with a brief ‘mission statement’ or summary for their timeline (in our example we chose ‘A dark power rises and is defeated’ and then to create the first and last period in their fictional history (for our example we chose the first period being ‘The Golden Age of Dragons’ and the last being ‘The Dark Lord is defeated.’
Players then create a palette of ingredients that are either approved or banned from the history, banned ingredients are those story elements that you might expect to see in the genre of the timeline but that the players have agreed not to include (in our game Hannah chose to ban beastkin races from the timeline) whilst the approved ingredients are things that you might not expect to see in the genre but the players have approved for use (such as magitech in our example game).
Once this is done each player adds a Period or an Event to the timeline, placing them anyway that they see fit within the rules; the game uses index cards written in a portrait orientation and laid in a line to represent periods, place in landscape orientation underneath Periods are the Events that occurred within them and Scenes are also written portrait and are then placed in order behind the Events that they are answering questions about.
An example layout diagram is shown below for clarification:
Play then proceeds with one player being designated the Lens each turn, the Lens gets to add a couple more elements than the non-Lens players during a turn and they also define the Focus at the start of the turn. The Focus determines what plot element the game will focus on this turn, it can be anything, but every element placed on that turn must be connected with the Focus. Once a Focus has been decided on the turn then moves through a number of phases with each player putting down their own element on the timeline; the Focuses are written (we used a single index card for this) in a list with the name of the person who came up with them next to it.
The rulebook provides clear guidelines on how to write cards for the various different elements (Periods, Events and Scenes), it also directs you to put a circle at the bottom of the card and colour in the circle if it is a dark/negative element or to leave it blank if it is a light/positive element. Personally, although the writing was extremely clear and concise, enabling us to quickly press on with our game, neither myself or Hannah could see what point there was in the dark/light circles at the bottom of the cards, although I suppose that they may be useful as a general measure of whether your setting is overwhelmingly light or dark.
During their action players have complete narrative freedom to make up anything they want and put it anyway on the timeline as long as their entry is connected to the Focus, doesn’t contradict anything already in play and doesn’t include anything from the banned list; the game suggests that other peoples should only be allowed to the ask the current player for clarification and should not be able to offer any narrative advice or suggestions, keeping their ideas until creating their own elements. I found this a very enjoyable part of the game and several times I spent phases setting up something, only to have it turn out different when either Hannah introduced some of her own elements or when I changed my mind based on how the timeline had altered since my previous phase.
Once all the phases have been completed, the player to the right of the Lens chooses a concept from the last turn to become a Legacy; the only restrictions are that the Legacy has to be some that appeared in play this turn and it should be something that the Legacy-chooser is interested in exploring in more detail. There can only be as many Legacies as there are players, and if you want a new Legacy then you must replace your old one (either with a new Legacy or a previously discarded one).
After the choosing of Legacies has been resolved the Legacy-chooser then gets to make an Event or a dictated Scene then is connected with one of the Legacies in play and place it on the timeline. Once this is done the turn ends and the next player becomes the new Lens. During our test game, since we only had two players, we ignored the Legacy limits and just wrote them in a list on a single index file, this seemed to work reasonably well and certainly didn’t impact on our enjoyment of the game.
There are guidelines in the book for roleplaying out Scenes and filling in the details of precisely what happened (although the outcome is decided at the beginning when the Scene is created), however, because of our limited player numbers and time, we chose to simply dictate the Scenes and write down the outcomes rather than RP through them, although I think that given more time and players the RP element would be an interesting avenue to explore. The rules for RPing Scenes are written in a similar informative and easy to understand fashion as the rest of the book.
Overall I thought that the book was extremely well written, allowing you to jump into the game with a minimum of prep and reading, the only thing beyond the book being required is a pack of index cards and some pens (although i’m sure other media such as flowchart software, a wipeboard, a piece of paper or others could easily be substituted); despite starting off with a fairly standard fantasy idea for our sample game it quickly developed into an interesting history that went to a number of places that I didn’t expect when startin the game. I think that the game is great as long as all the players are comfortable with creating narrative details off-the-cuff as it were, although I think that people who prefer a more structured form of RPing might find it more challenging; it also seems that the game would be a a great way of having a group sit down and create the history of a setting that could then be used with another system to actually run a more traditional RPG in.
A very enjoyable book and evenings entertainment that I highly recommend 🙂

The Original Idea

At the start of 2012 I decided, after having taken a break from running any RPG games following a two year stint as the Head ST of a live-action Hunter: the Reckoning game that the time was right to get back to running a tabletop game, probably something on a monthly basis since finding time to prepare and run a session isn’t quite as easy as it used to be; so I rang up a few of my friends who I hadn’t role-played with for some time and asked them whether or not they’d be interested.

The original idea, oddly enough, was to run a World of Darkness Vampire: the Requiem game set in New Orleans and we started off running that, however, after a couple of months I started to struggle to come up with ideas for the game; whether it was writers block or just a slight burnout on the World of Darkness left over from running my Minds Eye Theatre game I don’t know, but rather than attempt to struggle on month after month I sat down with the players, laid out my problem and suggested that we switch to a different genre of game in order to give us a bit of a break from the modern day horror style games that we’d all played so much of in the past. Looking through my collection of RPGs I decided that it might be nice to attempt some kind of dark futuristic setting, and having always been a fan of the background of Warhammer 40,000 (if not the current ludicrously priced iteration of the actual wargame) I decided to go for once of the 40K RPG lines from Fantasy Flight games.
After speaking to the players we decided on the Rogue Trader game, the piratical game of spaceship trade and noble houses amongst the Imperium of the 41st millenia appealed to the player and myself. Characters were reasonably quick to generate although a goodly amount of book flipping was involved, the delay lengthened slightly by the fact that the rulebooks were so expensive and so we didn’t have one copy per person.
Eventually we had our party though:

  • Lord Captain Fortunus Black: Young member of an ill-omened Rogue Trade dynasty called the House of Black, despite several run-ins with the Inquistion the family (ruled from the shadows by the aged and secretive Macharius Black) had managed to avoid the revoking of it’s Trade Warrant.
  • Navigator York Benetec: The twisted, hulking form of the jaded navigator guided Lord Captain Black’s ship the Lunatic Pandora through the shifting tides of the Immaterium.
  • Chief Confessor Cornelius: Zealous member of the Ecclesiarchy ministering to the bodies and souls of the Lunatic Pandora’s crew and bringing the zealous fires of purification to the alien and the heretic.
  • Enginseer Prime Pak: Once a lowly hive ganger on a polluted industrial world, through his technical ability and the patronage of the Adeptus Mechanicus, Pak had raised his lot in life and become a devoted follower of the Omnissiah.
If the character generation had been fairly quick, the ship generation to create the Lunatic Pandora took far longer and bogged down a good part of the generation session, this was partly because my players couldn’t decide what sort of stuff they wanted on their ship and partly because the rules weren’t very clear regarding the effects of certain shipboard components. Eventually however we got everything sorted and we ready to start gaming.