Professions in FATE?

A comment from Marcus Morrisey in response to my previous post about specialised skills started me thinking about professions and how they could be used in FATE or FAE.

I’m currently playing in a short Hunter: the Vigil nWoD that features Professional Training as a merit (and this has been adopted into the core nWoD rules as of the God Machine Chronicles revised rules being published); in nWoD Professional Training is a 1 to 5 point merit that you purchase at character creation, each dot gives you certain benefits related to the profession, including:
  • Appropriate contacts & allies.
  • Experience point breaks on skills related to the profession.
  • Additional specialist skills.
I think that the profession merit could be utilised in FATE and FAE in a number of different ways; a few of them are suggested below; please note these are only suggestions and there are no doubt umpteen more ways that Professions could feature.
Professions as Aspects

This is the most obvious way of using a profession and i’m sure that many characters in FATE and FAE already have High Concepts and/or other Aspects that feature their professions, allowing you to invoke them when appropriate and gain either a +2 bonus or re-roll something when the roll is applicable to your profession.
Professions are reflected this way currently in both the Rogue Trader and God Machine games that I am running.

Professions as Approaches/Skills

Professions could also be represented by a Skill or Approach and could be given a rating/level like any other Skill or Approach; whilst I think this would be fine for FAE (since most of the approaches are quite broad) i’m not sure how well it would work for FATE core and it may lead to a situation where a player is constantly just rolling the same score since they utilise the Profession Skill/Approach for everything.

Professions as Stunts

Professions could also be represented as a Stunt, perhaps adding +1 to rolls and challenges that fall within the purview of the profession; this is a fairly broad scope for a Stunt, however, if each player was allowed to take a Profession Stunt then I don’t see that it would be particularly unbalancing.


God Machine Chronicle – The world according to Maggy Pike

IC blog of first God Machine Chronicle Session
Written by Kelly Grimshaw
Reproduced with permission from the author.
Ok so my life didn’t work out the way my parents planned it. By now I should be on my way to professorship of something or other rather than a uni drop-out living in a run down tennament block.

I don’t usually write down stuff diary style its not my thing and to be honest how repetitive is got woken up at stupid past arse end of midnight because someone has run out of weed? 
Well either I am going to have to tone down the strength of my latest batch-not hard being a failed chemist/botanist or I have to face the fact that reality is a lot more fucked up than being high as a Hindu cow. And I suppose that writing it down may make more sense so here goes…
It all started off normal enough. Kathy had come round for her usual and some of the medical strength for her MS suffers, we were enjoying a quiet smoke when Brian almost knocks the door off its hinges. Luna, a blue Staffy with grey eyes goes bat shit crazy as she is a dog that likes her peace and here stomps bulldog all over that. While I’m calming the mutt down he tells Kathy that Mr Lung- the owner of the local Chinese has had the shit well and truly knocked out of him and Smoky Joe had found him behind the bins- what Joe was doing there is a question that I don’t really want answering to be honest.
I tell her to go while I finish bagging up and I’ll meet her down there.
While I’m blissfully unaware of what’s going on it all cracks off.
I drop Kathy her birthday bag and as I leave a gang of lads are trying to make their way through a locked door. According to one of the lads who visits now and again Mr Lung has been nicking the local feline population and turning it into that nights chef’s special. I tell him how stupid it sounds but high on hormones they still try to get into the take-out. 
I nip round the back and tell Kathy its all clear and we and the lung family wander off back up to hers.
Nothing out of the ordinary for a snow day in the block? Wait it gets better…
When the lads come back followed by a scary looking old man by the name of Jakub it turns out that there was moggy in the freezer. No I don’t mean dressed and ready to cook I mean a cat in a sack in the freezer, fur, teeth, claws the job lot.
While I’m making a brew for everyone the cat defrosts and is apparently live, kicking and ready to disembowel someone for the pleasure.
After the shock wears off I give it a bowl of milk and then open the door- more for our safety than puss’s. I have no idea why but i have the inclination to stroke it as it wanders off- I’m a soft bugger like that and when no one is looking I have been feeding the ones that look a bit worse for wear. THE THING WAS STILL FROZEN! when I pulled my hand away frost was melting with the heat of my skin!
Well I tried to tell them but they took no notice of the stoner until I poked my head out of the door to see if it had dropped dead to find 3 sets of shining eyes staring at me, that is apart from when a man looking like an extra from a western comes stalking up the corridor. They vanish- I don’t mean scatter as cats do when something bigger than them turns up, I mean one blink they were there and the next it was empty space.
The more abled lads go after him- I really am not sure why, if a cowboy with a burlap sack wishes to haunt the corridors then that’s his business.
So I keep Kathy and Jakob company as Mr Hat seems to have spooked her more than she is letting on-oh got to remember to lend Luna to her for a day, sometimes the sound of a dog can scare away unwanted attention.
When they come back they tell me that Miles (Mr hat) is under the impression that the cats of this block DONT DIE!-yep Mr tinfoil believes these cats are Immortal. Not only that but if we go back and see him tonight then he will have proof. I am a vegan and if this includes ritual sacrifice to the great Isis then we are going to have an argument, tin foil protected or not. 
Makes more sense? 
Nope none at all

God Machine Chronicle – Brians Log: Stardate something or other

IC blog of first God Machine Chronicle Session
Written by Simon Webber
Reproduced with permission from the author.
I can honestly say the last few hours have been the most spectacularly crazy-assed hours I’ve had since that stag do in Prague. I’ve only been back in the country for 48 hours, stocked up me home and thanks to this snow, and I mean snow in a biblical context, I couldn’t get my rig back to the yard. So I figured it would be best to empty it of all my kit which I did and I was heading back to the the tower when I saw Joe. He was carrying a chinese.
Now Joe’s a nice kinda of guy, but his idea of a chinese takeaway was not mine. He was literally carrying the man over his shoulder. Beaten he was, proper beaten, within a inch of his life, so he was. Well. I had to share with Joe that the man was in no fit state. Joes a nice lad, but he’s none too bright when it comes to TLC. 
So we like , take this Mr Lueng back to his takeaway after I use my keen skills to determine that he was indeed beaten badly , by metal poles and the like. We took him back home, to his mother in law, and his daughters. Well, We’d hardly been there five minutes and no sign of a black bean chicken, when 6 hoodie youths turned up intent on giving all and sundry of a chinese persuasion a good kicking for nicking all the cats in the area.
Well, I wasn’t having any of that. You see I’d run up to that pretty Kathy’s place, the nurse, and had brought her down to look see at Mr L. Well, I felt kinda responsible that she was there. So I told the little wankers to fuck off off in no uncertain terms, backed up as I was, with a solid representation of future consequences as provided by Smokey joe. In this case, a broken jaw.
Well, that was another mess to clear up, poor Rob, but if you will cheek your Elders, they are going roll up their sleeves and dispense a can of kick ass all over your face. 
You see for some reason or other, this wayward lads thought that Mr L was stealing all the cats and making dishes out of them.We told them there kids that this wasn’t the kind of pussy lads their age should be getting all worked up about. They agreed and ran off. We saw them off and I went back to check the freezer while Joe talked to some old Pole. Mr Yak something or other, I’m bloody terrible with names with few vowels. God I miss Carol Vorderman.
Anyway’s I only opened the bloody freezer to find a satchel with a blooming frozen cat in.
Well. needless to say my first reaction was I won’t be rushing back to buy a chicken and black bean in a hurry, i don’t care if it comes with free crackers.
But even after this reaction I couldn’t help but feel something wasn’t right about this. It kinda reminded me of that episode of Next Gen, when Picard and the crew are duped into working against a governments enemies only to learn the whole thing was as stitch up and the Crew make right on from what they did wrong.
Anyhow, that said. we took that Rob home, little scamp, and settled him down with some of that there weed. Sorted him a pot noodle and we buggered off back to Kathy’s.
So I showed them all this frozen cat in a bag, which didn’t so much as agree with kathy, bless her. She did her rendition of the Exorcist and damn near could have ruined me boots. I was sorry like, as I didn’t think she’d react like that. But anyways, things went even crazier from there, and not in a nice Dr Seuss kinda way.
That there Cat came back to life and scampered off, and there was some fashion challenged mental case who spooked Kathy. I spotted him in the corridor with a bag dead similar to the one we found in the freezer and he matched the description Mr L gave when we asked him about the bag in the same bloody freezer.
So I ask the guy what his bloody game is and he girly slaps me and runs off.
Well you don’t get away with that sort of unsociable behaviour with Brian Best. They don’t call me the bulldog for nothing, you know.
As it happens I hunted him down like Boba Fett horny for a bounty. Joe caught up with me at the mans flat see. Joe knows I am a man of action and we have this mutual respect thing going on. I don’t mind him watching me back, He’s a dependable sort of fellow if a bit blunt, but I keep him out of trouble.
So we barge are way into this Mr Creepy Mc Fatfucks flat, and by god it looked like the set of Buffalo fucking Bills..
So then there was this keen interrogation, I plied him with some reverse Klingon techniques and he spilled his story like a toddler without a lid on his juice cup.
Fucked up doesn’t even cut it. Undying cats. It’s the honest to goodness story. No doubt there’ll be some ancient Egyptian relic in the basement too, or a stephen king burial ground underneath the flats. I going back to see what proof this lanky puff has and Joe, well, he knows I’m a man of action and he’s coming for the ride too. I like Joe, I look after him.
Anyway, best keep my strength up and get an ice pack for my face. I can’t decide between the culinary delight of a Findus Crispy pancake or that Iceland beef and peppercorn sauce. Either way, I’m chilling out with me strongbow and revisiting me Original Series. Beam me up Mr Scott, it’s all goin Cat shit crazy down here…

God Machine Chronicle – The Secret of Specto Vale – Session 1 Writeup

A huge snowstorm is howling outside the crumbling tower block of Specto Vale in the East Midlands, early 2013 has seen terrible winter weather hit a country ill-prepared to deal with such conditions; the result has been people confined to their homes and roads packed with snow and ice, becoming impassable to all but the sturdiest of vehicles. Several feet of snow have piled up around the base of Specto Vale, the ground floor holding a handful of shops, takeaways and a single public house the Red Lion, after a few weeks all contact with the outside world has been cut off by the constant flurry of white falling from the sky, people have emptied the shops of what little food they still contained and most of the businesses have closed their doors. Up on the 13th floor an old polish gentleman Mr Jakub Bodak makes his way along the dimly lit corridor outside his flat, the mans walking stick tapping its way along the concrete, barely carpeted floor of the building; the floor is quieter than the others, something of a local mythology has built up about the strange folk who make their home on the unluckiest floor of the building, and that’s just the way that Bodak likes it, keeps people out of his businesses. Today however, he has some business of his own with Samuel Carson the manager and owner of Specto Vale who lives (if rumours are to be believed as the sole occupant) of the buildings top floor.

Reaching the limit of the elevator, Mr Bodak is forced to walk up a small flight of stairs from the fourteenth to the fifteenth floor, he is greeted by the overweight, blustered figure of Mr Carson who ushers his tenant into his warm office and offers him a cup of coffee from a bag of fine columbian beans sat on the side; it would appear as though the scarcity afflicting the lower floors has not yet reached the lofty heights of the fifteenth. Jakub expresses his concern that he has heard rumours that numerous people have been ejected from the building due to a slight falling around on their rent, in order that immigrant families can be crammed in to make the management more money; tactful as ever Jakub phrases his concern without mentioning the money aspect but pointing out that such ‘re-allocations’ may damage the sense of community in the building. Still blustering Mr Carson says that he will look into what Mr Bodak has said (although his tone suggests anything but) and dismisses the elder gentleman, saying that he is sure they both have work to do; dissatisfied Bodak returns to his flat.
Joe “Smokey” Thomson is stood out the back of the flats in a covered over delivery area, smoking a cigarette when he hears a strangled cough from behind one of the snow covered skips; investigating he finds the badly beaten body of Mr Lung, owner of the local Chinese Takeaway (one of the many businesses that contributes to Thomson’s monetary income), slumped by the side of the skip. Picking up the injured man Thomson began to head back towards the inside of the building, clods of white powdery snow falling from the injured shop owner.
Brian “Bulldog” Best had finished emptying the cab of his lorry, it had been sat unused in the delivery bay since he had returned from his last job; Brian had been carefully extracting his portable DVD player and a selection of Star Trek DVDs, planning to bed down until the storm had passed. As he turned round a figure carrying what appeared to a be a sack or a bundle of sticks loomed out of the white sleet flurry, slowly resolving itself into the shape of “Smokey” Thomson carrying the injured body of Mr Lung over his shoulder; after some initial confusion Brian helped Thomson carried the injured chinese man to the door of the closed takeaway. Banging on the door and shouting lead to Mr Lungs two teenage daughters and mother-in-law opening the door and helping them bundle the injured Mr Lung inside. Having worked several times as a hospital emergency driver, Brian recognised that Mr Lung appeared to have been beaten several with some sort of implement and that he needed some immediate medical help; remembered that a hospital worker lived on the fourth floor he went off in search of Cathy Williams.
As he passed by the door of Maggy Pike, local hippy and well know purveyor of herbal relief, a familiar smell drifted out from under the door and Brian could hear the voices of Maggy and Cathy talking inside; thinking it a stroke of luck he knocked on the door and was soon explaining the situation to both of the women. Accompanying him to the takeaway Cathy was able to use her emergency medical supplies to stabilise Mr Lung and make him as comfortable as possible, although the elderly gentleman drifted off into unconsciousness. After leaving the herbs that Cathy had purchased for one of her patients behind Maggy left and began making her way back home, she passed by half a dozen young men wearing an assortment of hoodies, one of them carrying a crimson spattered bike lock, luckily none of them paid too much heed to the young Ms Pike, one of them even stopping to ask her about buying a ten-bag. 
Upstairs on the thirteenth floor, Mr Bodak watched the unfolding events from his flat window; picking up his stick Bodak began making his way downstair, but his false leg and age slowed him down a lot.
The youths began to hammer on the door of the chinese takeaway, shouting for them to send out Mr Lung, they began to shout about Mr Lung being responsible for the local cats disappearing and that he was using them in his takeaways. Braced behind the door Cathy and Brian were holding their own when Thomson asked them to open the door; fronting up to the leader of the mob, Thomson warned him to leave and then, when he didn’t respond, smacked the youth in his jaw, the loud sound of a cracking jawbone echoed down the corridor, although Thomson took a crack on his arm as the youth wildly swung his bike lock. Seeing their leader go down so swiftly the other youths lost their courage and turned tail, Thomson carried the injured youth outside and dumped him face down in the snow.
By this time Bodak had made his way down the stairs, both being connected with the old-school criminal element, he and Thomson warily recognised each other and it was clear that Bodak both disapproved of the youths actions and approved of how it had been dealt with. Brian and Thomson picked up the youth with the broken jaw who, through painful clickings of bone, said that his name was Rob Smith and he really believed that the chinese were stealing the local cats; attempting to allay his fears the youth was taken to his flat (a dirty, messy affair), given some pain relief by Cathy and was then warned not to interfere again, Brian telling him that the youth had learnt a valuable lesson.
Returning to the takeaway Brian began to root through the chest freezer of the takeaway, finding it mostly empty aside from a few bags of frozen vegetables and a batter rucksack; with a sinking feeling Brian removed the rucksack and peered inside, a frozen feline with clouded green eyes stared back at him, unmoving from the bottom of the bag. Taking the bag into the main room Brian showed its contents to the others, which resulted in explosive vomiting from the squeamish Cathy, Brian was about to carry the bag away when he felt it twitch and, with a screech, the cat (now seemingly alive) leapt from the bag and quickly disappeared out of the door of the flat. Lung has regained consciousness and seemed entirely surprised when the cat was mentioned explaining, via his daughters interpreting, that the bad was not his, a man in a large duffel coat and a hat had paid him £50 to stash his bag in the freezer.
Following the cat outside Brian spotted a man with a thick coat and wide-brimmed leather hat, the man was carrying a burlap sack that he tried unconvincingly to tuck into his coat; Brian spoke to the man briefly, although when he mentioned cats a look of fear crossed the man’s face and he slugged Brian on the chin before taking off, dropping his sack in the progress. Brian, nursing his jaw, picked up the sack; although it was empty there were traces of what looked like animal fur clinging to the inside of the sack.
Later, whilst escorting Cathy back to her flat, Brian and Thomson spotted the strange animal-napper watching them from the top of the stairs, Brian gave chase and was in time to see the man dive into a flat on the 6th floor. Attempts to verbally convince the man to let him in didn’t succeed until Thomson arrived and made some (thinly) veiled threats, finally persuading the man to let them in. The man’s apartment appeared as though it was decked out for a survivalist apocalypse, tins of beans and dried food were stacked in orderly piles; a large blueprint of the flats covered one of the walls, it was studded with red pins and a long red line connected a flat on the 13th floor to the 15th floor diagram. Miles explained that he had been one of the pest control specialists who had recommended getting cats to control vermin problems in Specto Vale, since then he had fallen on hard times and had moved into the apartments  volunteering to keep an eye on the vermin problem as a favour to the management.
Miles outlined a fantastic tale that the cats in the block appeared to be behaving abnormally, they were watching people and congregating in certain areas; the most fantastic element of the tale was that apparently Miles had seen a number of cats be apparently killed and then emerge unharmed, he had stored one in the freezer of the chinese takeaway apparently planning to return and examine it later. Although initially believing the man to be crazy, Brian found himself thinking back to the supposedly frozen cat and how it had revived once the rucksack had been removed from the freezer; the two men left with Miles promising to show them proof if they returned tomorrow evening.

Character sheets for the God Machine Chronicle

Having finished working on the character sheets for my God Machine Chronicle game (run using the FATE system), in preparation for the first actual (post character gen) session i’ve typed up the character sheets in neat and added pictures (chosen by the players).
Thought i’d post them here so people could see the sort of Aspects, Stunts, etc that my players and I are including in our GMC game.

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 🙂

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.

FAE character sheets for God Machine Chronicle

Although my NWOD Hack for FAE isn’t complete i’m going to be holding the character genning session for my game on this Friday (21/06/13 as of writing), handily because this short campaign doesn’t involve the players portraying supernatural creatures I only need the basic rules that have already been decided on in order to run it and can continue to work on the supernatural rules at my leisure (i’m hoping that the FATE toolkit comes out soon since there are some intriguing ideas that have been mentioned that may work well with my hack).
The character sheet is available here in Excel format (i’d recommend downloading the spreadsheet to your machine since it seems to look a bit poor when viewed preview mode.
Below is the initial summary of the game that was made available to the players:

***
The chronicle takes place in the Specto Vale block of council flats in the east Midlands; built in the late 19th century to help alleviate the housing problems caused by the Second World War and as a potential future model of urban living the shortcuts taken by the construction crews quickly became evident as cracks both material and social began to rise to surface amongst the community, culminating in the late 1960s when five apartments collapsed killing the occupants.

Hastily repaired the tower block was pressed back into service, although most of the more affluent members of society had fled, making it a haven for less desirable members of society, students and people of low income; crime and drug use has steadily risen in the early 2000s and many unemployed were transferred to the cheap, badly maintained Specto Vale block. A fierce sense of community has built up amongst many people in the block, leading to a rise in youth gangs who haunt the underground car park and the now almost deserted open spaces that designers once touted as proof of modernity, leaving some residents huddled in their homes fearful of what stalks the corridors of the block.

Outwardly Specto Vale seems just like any other block, limping along and slowly rotting from within, or does something more sinister lurk behind the decay?


***

Musings on Fate Accelerated Edition

I’ve been recently considering using some version of the FATE system to run the God Machine Chronicle World of Darkness game that i’ll be starting in a week or twos time (i’ll be putting up a post about the GMC game separately at  some point in the near future); having become increasingly non-plussed at the more complicated rules systems inherent in many roleplaying games and given my recently switch to using a slightly adapted version of FATE core rules for my Rogue Trader game (there is a post on that here and my FATE hack is available for download here) I started considering using some version of FATE to run a world of darkness game.

Obviously a world of darkness game involving the various supernatural strains that populate the game world would require some sort of consideration for the various powers and abilities of the different creatures; luckily for me my GMC is a short-term (4 or 5 sessions only) that is going to feature entirely mortals and so this isn’t a hurdle that I need to handle at the moment (although several individuals on the various G+ communities have been extremely helpful). Adam Boothroyd suggested that I might want to have a look at Fate Accelerated Engine, a streamlined version of the FATE core system.

Size
Looking at FAE the most immediately obvious difference between it and FATE core is the size of the two PDFs, with Core weighing in at 300+ pages and FAE only being about 50 pages in length; skimming through the book it seems that a lot of the stuff that has been trimmed is the abundance of GMing advice that has been provided in the Core book, this is understandable and the FAE book itself isn’t shy about pointing out where you can locate stuff in its parent tome. 

Approaches
Another major difference is that, unlike Core, FAE eschews the use of the more common skills present in most RPGs, instead positing the use of six approaches describing the manner that characters approach an action with rather than a specific skill (for example, instead of looking at your Fighting skill you might look at your Forceful approach).

The six approaches described in the game are:

  • Careful
  • Clever
  • Flashy
  • Forceful
  • Quick
  • Sneaky
    They are rating from 0 to +5 using the FATE ladder in the same manner as skills in the Core.
    Aspects
    Aspects work pretty much in the same way as the Core system with one Aspect being chosen as the ‘High Concept’ to sum up the character and the other representing some sort of ‘Trouble’ that throws up challenges in the character’s life. Aspects can be invoked by the player by expending a fate point to either give them +2 to a roll or to completely re-roll their original result, as long as the action fits in with the Aspect in question; for example if the player had Aspect ‘Crack shot with a pistol’ then he could invoke it to give him an advantage when making a trick shot with a pistol.
    Players and other people can also compel Aspects to add complications or twists in the game plot; this is the main way of earning fate points within the system.
    Stunts
    Stunts work similarly to the way that they do in the Core game with the exception that skill swapping stunts are no longer part of the picture. Two types are stunt are posited in the game system:
    • Stunts that give you a +2 bonus in certain situations
    • The second type of Stunt allows you to make something true, do something cool or otherwise ignore the rules in some way.
      The explanation of what Stunts can accomplish is extremely clear in FAE and should be easy to explain to people unfamiliar with the rules.
      Gamemastering Advice
      The Gamesmaster chapter that is offered in FAE is extremely concise, but very useful; the advice on creating opponents suggests giving them a +2 bonus to things that they are good at and a -2 penalty on things that they are bad at, a couple of aspects and a couple of stress boxes, this is an extremely simply way of defining the opponents that can be done without the GM having to agonise over Skills and Stunts.
      There are some other differences, such as FAE only using one stress track but the majority of differences have been covered by the points above.

      Overall I think that FAE is an extremely worthy addition to the FATE school of products and it is certainly one that i’m planning to use for my God Machine Chronicle; I think that FAE would certainly be a good alternative for a game where you want to get started quickly or have to introduce new people to the FATE rules system. The two systems are also very compatible and, with a little tweaking, I find it hard to imagine how anything designed for FATE Core wouldn’t be usable with FAE.

      A highly useful RPG that I look forward to trying out 🙂