Player Tips: Help your GM help you

Player tips articles offer a short series of tips to help you brush up your skills in certain areas, the lists aren’t exhaustive but keeping them in mind should help you develop your playing style.

In this player tips article we give some advice on how you can help your GM to help you.

Please note: These tips are not intending to be exhaustive or provide a “one true way of roleplaying” (since TBH I don’t believe such things exist), they instead offer suggestions that have work for me and that you might like to try in your own games. Continue reading “Player Tips: Help your GM help you”

DBJ’s Ultra Rules Lite System

Davae Breon Jaxon posted his ultra rules lite RPG system to the RPG Tabletop 1-shot Group the other day, it reminded me of a mix of Dungeon World, Numenera and Aspect Only Fate (which is no bad thing), I liked it so much that I wanted to share it with other people.

Please note: I had no input into creating this, full credit goes to DBJ, I’m simply boosting the signal 🙂


Committing to a System

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about why I find certain new systems a little difficult to get into, it takes me a while to pick them up, whilst some older systems (like the OWOD system) are very firmly lodged in my mind; now this might not seem like much of a problem but it can be frustrating, since you tend to hit that point of fully understanding and mastering a new system fairly near the end of a campaign (or at least I do). As someone who hasn’t really tended to run a lot of consecutive games using the same system, by the time I swing around to running the same system again I normally have to brush up on the rules again, whereas with OWOD I went through a period in my student days where I was running and playing in many different games all using that system, so I really had a chance to get into it and learn how it worked.

So why am I rambling about this? Well I’m currently running a Star Wars campaign (you can see the videos of that by clicking here), I’m loving the system but, like most games it takes a little bit of mastering; myself and my players are starting to use the intricacies of the system a little more (we are running session 8 of the game in a couple of weeks), but again I fear we’re only going to hit that sweet spot where we’re all up to speed and really comfortable with the system a little further down the line. This seems a shame, and so I’ve decided that, rather than my normal behaviour, running a single game using the system and then moving on to something else, that when my current Edge of the Empire campaign game finishes (although that won’t be for some time yet) I’m going to follow it by running another Star Wars game. I may decide to run Age of Rebellion or Force and Destiny instead of Edge of Empire since these games use the same rules system, but I definitely want to master the system more.

RPG Review: Force and Destiny RPG by Fantasy Flight Games


  • Product Name: Star Wars Force and Destiny Roleplaying Game
  • Author: Multiple
  • Genre: Space-opera
  • Size of the book: Approx 450 pages
  • Central game mechanic: Dice designed for the game with special symbols


Continue reading “RPG Review: Force and Destiny RPG by Fantasy Flight Games”

NWOD condensed cheatsheet for Call of the Wyld Game

One of the things I really enjoyed when playing the excellent NWOD games run by Amy Williams at the recent UKGE (you can read my post about that here) was the condensed/simplified version of the NWOD rules that were used; these worked great for a one-off session and are something I was keen to carry forward myself.

Since i’m going to be running a Changeling: the Lost one-off soon I decided to have a go at putting together a condensed NWOD cheatsheet to give to my players (very few of whom have played NWOD before).

You can view the sheet by clicking on the link below:

NWOD condensed cheatsheet

Handling Absent Players in Fate

Handling Absent Players in Fate
We’ve just gone through the lean winter months of RPing running up to Christmas when family events and real-world commitments start to really make it hard to get a game going, even regular groups start to experience trouble (unless extremely commited) as plans have to be made and re-made in order to accomodate all the many various social events and other things that occur in the time surrounding Christmas; having had to reschedule a number of games recently due to this my thoughts have recently turned to how to handle absent players in my online Fate game.
I’ve recently been reading “Odyssey: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Campaign Management” (a review can be found here, and it contains some good advice for setting down the rules of the social contact between the GM and the players in a roleplay group; from that and my own ideas i’ve been able to start formulating some rules that I intend to adhere to in my game going forwards to help minimalise last minute disruptions/cancellations, i’ve noted them below and then gone into my reasoning in a little more detail.
  • Choose a more regular time for the game to take place.
  • Determine how many players are the minimum for the game to go ahead.
  • Come up with rules for how to handle the characters of missing players.

Choosing a more regular time for the game to take place
At the moment we tend to negotiate the date for the next session when we reach the end of the currently running one, initially this was because the players had trouble committing to a more regular time (due to altering work rotas, etc) and it was thought that through choosing it nearer the time it would minimise the amount of absences; this hasn’t really proven to be the case and I feel that not having a regular time causes players to feel less committed to the game or likely to be able to make plans around a session date, so it is my intent (at the beginning of next session) to discuss a regular day for the game with the players, if someone can’t make the odd one then hopefully the next couple of points should still allow the game to progress.
Determine how many players are the minimum for the game to go ahead
My current minimum of number of players for whom i’ll run the normal game is going to be 50% of the player party (in this case 2 players), should I have lower than this then, rather than abandoning the game, I will run a flashback/side-quest for the player that I do have, filling in some part of their character’s history and will then return to the ‘present day’ of the game when we have 50% or more players.
Come up with rules for how to handle the characters of missing players
My current plan is that the characters of any missing players will be available as an Aspect that can be used to aid the players who are present, for example, if Gunnar Kron’s player can’t make it then the group will gain “Gunnar Kron, haunted norse warrior” or something similar as an Aspect, although Gunnar would not take part in a combat or encounter normally, if a PC found themselves in a situation where Gunnar could conceivably help then they could spend a Fate Point and invoke Gunnar Kron like any other Aspect.
I’ve not yet decided what i’d do regarding potential compels on these Aspects.

Fate Accelerated – Ships

I have decided to trim down the Approaches of vehicles somewhat since I don’t think that all of the standard player Approaches are required; I have decided to go with the following Skills/Approaches: 
  • Speed : Representing sailing speed and maneuverability.
    • Used to attack if ramming.
    • Used to defend if attempting to avoid damage via maneuverability.
  • Combat: Representing the ships ability to both deal out punishment and to receive it.
    • Used to attack with cannons or other weapons.
    • Used to defend if attempting to deal with damage via the ships innate toughness.
Below are the list of statistics that I have come up with for numerous different ship types:

I have amalgamated stress with the number of crew a ship possesses; for each point of stress the ship has 10 crew, during a combat each of these can be used to soak one level of stress (in addition to the option of using the ship’s consequences). Any ship reduced to half crew or less has it’s Approach/Skill scores halved (rounding down) until it can replenish crew (the ship stress boxes can only be ‘healed’ by taking on more crew).
If a player character is onboard then they may choose to take stress intended for the ship on their own character instead should they so wish.
Each of the ships received two fate points that can be used with it’s Aspects, and player characters can also use their own fate points to aid the ship, but only if they have an appropriate Aspect.
The Stunt Cannons means that when a ship fires it may target all enemies is the same zone using a single roll, the enemies then make seperate defence rolls to avoid harm as normal; any differences in scale are added/deducted to any stress caused after defence rolls have been made.

Fate Accelerated – Vehicles

Anyone who has read this blog will know that i’ve devoted a considerable number of posts to trialing various methods of represented spacecraft for my Fate Core Rogue Trader game and that, after a lot of consideration, I settled on a fairly narrative style of adjudicating them.
Recently in my Serpents Fall G+ hangout Fate Accelerated fantasy game the players have captured a pinnace (a small ship) from an enemy pirate; inevitably at some point the players will want to make use of this ship (and quite rightly too) so i’ve started early musings about how to represent the ship (and potentially other vehicles) using the Fate Accelerated system.
These are my early musings:
  • Vehicles should have the same basic approaches as players (Careful, Clever, Flashy, Forceful, Quick & Sneaky)
  • Vehicles should also have Aspects and Stunts in the same way as players.
  • Vehicles should not have stress boxes, only consequence boxes (because it’s more interesting when a ship or vehicle is hit to have it cause a noticable effect).
  • Players should be able to take vehicle stress on their characters if they choose in order to spare the vehicle damage (and to represent being injured by falling masonry, timbers, etc)
  • Players should be able to substitute their characters Approach score for certain of the ships default scores.
  • Vehicles should have some indicator of scale and how this affects their interactions with vehicles/individuals or smaller/large scale.
I hope in future posts to expand on this and come up with some quick and easy rules for vehicles in Fate Accelerated 🙂

Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 18: RULES BREAKDOWN

I’ve been asked a couple of times to give more details about the actually rules, etc used during the sessions, but since I didn’t want to break up the narrative I thought that i’d separate this stuff out into it’s own post, let me know what you think.
The original post can be found here.

With the second wave of enemy ships approaching Lord Admiral Black looked around at the ragged remnant of his fleet and took stock of the force that he has to take on the encroaching heretics, his flagship, the Venerus, was largely untouched (aside from some minor cosmetic damage), the Lunatic Pandorawas functional but had sustained heavy damaged and the Rod Hant was currently fighting off boarders from the first wave of the enemy, and they had only a couple of days before the mainstay of Lorgar Khan’s fleet arrived.

Each of the ships used in this combat had a series of stress boxes worth 1 stress and no consequences; medium ships has three such boxes, with larger ships having four and extremely large ships having five. The ships broke down as follows:
Venerus (players flagship) [] [] [] []
Lunatic Pandora (players) [] [] []
Clan ships (including the Rod Hant + the enemy clan ships) [] [] []
Dark Omen (traitor space marine battle barge) [] [] [] [] []
The Venerus has been established as having an elite crew previously in the game so received a +2 bonus to attack/defence rolls, the Rod Hant was severely damaged in the previous combat and so received a -2 to attack/defence rolls.
The Dark Omen is also crewed by elites and so received a +2 bonus to attack and defence rolls.

Over the course of the first day Admiral Black helped Captain Pak repel the boarders on the Rod Hant and eventually they succeeding in killing the last one, although a lengthy check for sabotage and explosives did means that they did not have time to fully repair the extensive damage that the Rod Hant had sustained in the previous combat. Realising that, in their present shape, they could not hope to challenge the mighty Battle Barge of the traitor AstartedLorgar Khan they concocted a desperate plan whereby they would use the ancient teleportarium aboard the Venerus to teleport a fire-linked collection of krak missiles and other explosives into the engine room of the enemy vessel.

The players were offered the choice of thoroughly ensuring that the Rod Hant was free of sabotage, but in return not having time to repair it (and taking a -2 penalty in the fight) or repairing it but potentially having some saboteurs or explosives on board (that may have been used for compels later); knowing that the fight was going to be a close one they chose the former option.

As they readied themselves for combat on the second day, Admiral Black sat on the bridge watching the approaching fleet, his wife at his side and placed his head in his hands; suddenly he was no longer on the bridge of the Venerus but was standing in the royal chambers on his homeworld of Telec Prime, groups of panicked medical technicians were running down a corridor towards a room that he recognised as belong to his father Macharius Black, almost without thinking the Admiral followed them. In the room Macharius, looking sickly, his eyes yellowed and his face (which bore a striking resemblance to that of the Admiral) pale, he was railing against the med-techs who appeared to be informing him that his treatments were no longer proving effective; shouting that there was none to take his place leading the family if he died, Macharius ordered them to send for his sons, there must be other technology out there that could preserve his life. 

One of the established character Aspects of Lord Admiral Fortunus Black is that he suffers from blackouts; the player was offered a fate point to reveal some of the plot using this Aspect and accepted leading to the above scene unfolding.

A voice called out to Admiral Black and he jerked awake in the command chair, his wife Lady Dominique Decusis-Black was shaking his arm and looking at him in a concerned manner, but he waved away her concerns saying that he was fine. Captain Pak had finished adapting one of the damaged murder servitors from the Lunatic Pandora and had wired it into the trigger mechanism of the bomb that they had constructed, as the first enemy ships entered range and began to open fire with macro-batteries Pak began to have the teleportarium chamber prepped for dispatch; Navigator York Benetec had been psychically scanning the area and relayed the coordinates for the likely location of the engine room about the enemy battle barge. 

The Venerus was discovered and salvaged in-game with an archeotech teleportarium aboard it, this has been modelled in Fate using a Stunt that once per game session allows them to teleport a small party (or the equivalent mass) from anywhere within the same system to the Venerus or from the Venerus to anywhere in the system (that they have the coordinates to). In desperation the players decided to use it to transport a large amount of explosives aboard the approaching battle barge, their tech (Captain Pak) was required to make some risky rolls to connect them all up without explosive results, but he easily passed them.

As his mind probed the area of space around them, Benetec felt another presence and, sensing that it was not hostile, allowed it to make contact with him; Benetec found himself on a prosperous world of fluted silver towers and happy people, the hazy psychic projection of the chaos sorceror Kantor Pilusfloating next to him. Pilus showed Benetec how his homeworld had been devastated by the Astartes after their leader had attempted to use forbidden sorcery to warn the Emperor of treachery from within, “although we were right, this was our reward” mocked the sorceror with a touch of sadness in his voice. Pilus attempted to persuade Benetec that if they just handing the ancient recording device to Lorgar that much bloodshed could be avoided, Benetec refused and broke off the psychic connection. 

York Benetec’s player was offered a fate point to reveal some of the plot (in a manner similar to the blackout earlier) and accepted; this scene was RP entirely sans-dice and was more about the choices that the player would make.

The space around Strive filled with escape pods and short range craft as the survivors of ruined ships on both sides sort to make their way planet side; the remaining enemy clan ship attempted to flee, laying mines to cover it’s tracks but it was destroyed by the Venerus, York Benetec was able to use his psychic powers to direct the ships mine defence lasers to target and take out the remaining mines. Meanwhile the Rod Hant had picked up a signal coming from an escaped enemy shuttle that was recognisably Adpetus Mechanicus in origin, moving to intercept, Captain Pak discovered onboard the rogue tech Vorl whom they had previously (on the insistence of the Vitanteur Syndicate) ferried to Footfall from Hiveworld Decusis; Vorl claimed to have been captured on an enemy raid and to have pretended to defect, in his gratitude at having been rescued he revealed Lorgar intended to use the ancient recording device to locate something in the system that would allow some sort of “rebirth.”

The actual combat was played out identically to a normal combat (using attack/defence rolls) with the two elite crewed ships going first and the rest following in no particular order (I generally went player ships first and then enemy ships), each point of stress taken ticked off one of the ships stress boxes. Players were allowed to spend their fate points to re-roll/boost their rolls for ships that their characters were on, as long as they had an appropriate Aspect; this mainly came into play with Admiral Black since his Aspects are mostly based around being a ship’s Captain and they pretty much allowed the Venerus to come through the combat unscathed.
Due to the speed of the vessels involved and the distances under consideration I did not use zones in this combat simply alerting the players when the enemy ships were entering range; the Venerus had moved to the other side of the moon to conceal itself, I had Admiral Black make a command roll against the command roll of Lorgar Khan, the players won and thus were not spotted until too late.
A fate point was offered for an additional complication and, when accepted, this lead to the pickup of the Adeptus Mechanicus signal from the rogue-tech Vorl and some additional information about Lorgar Khan’s goals being revealed. 

Relaying this information to Admiral Black, Captain Pak headed down to planet in a landing craft and began broadcasting a signal to draw any survivors from the Lunatic Pandora to them, as they began to arrive in dribs and drabs he was happy to see that Captain Polaris had survived (apparently after a crew member had knocked him out and put him in an escape pod); however the surface of the planet was rapidly coming a war zone as the survivors from both sides began to battle through the streets.

 Because it didn’t seem very interesting to just rule that everyone was dead (and as a lead in to the next session) I rules that a lot of people would have made it to escape vessels and would be heading for the nearby moon of Strive (where the player characters spent much of the previous session).
This nicely sets up a battlezone style scenario for the next game and allows for a more satisfying confrontation with the enemy other than just blowing up his ship (whilst still rewarding the players for their inventiveness with the teleportarium, since they have deprived Lorgar Khan of much of his mobility).

Engage Improv Drive, Mook speed ahead!

In my last post about space combat in my Rogue Trader game ( for anyone interested) I talked a bit about using a narrative system for space combat; in my session earlier today however I found that the players moved through the plot I had envisioned fairly quickly and onto a space combat scene which I had not entirely scripted out.
In a moment of inspiration I decided to use the mook rules from Fate Accelerated, given any ships with an advantage in the combat +2 to their attack/defence rolls and giving any ships with a disadvantage a -2 to their attack/defence rolls; each normal sized ship was given three stress boxes with smaller ones being given a single stress box and larger ships being given five. We then just played the attack out as a fairly standard combat with the players rolling for their own and allied ships with myself rolling for the enemy ships.
The system seemed to work fairly well and we got through two space combats in a fairly small space of time, no-one was sat around bored and we paused every now and again to check on the overall tactics of the players and highlight important moments in the combat. We also had a few good compels where one of the ships was allowed to keep fighting in an almost crippled state in return for being boarded and another ship was allowed to remain undestroyed but was forced to withdraw from the fighting.
This seemed to work great and I highly recommend using the mook rules from Accelerated if you ever have a need to improv an encounter in a Fate game.