Planning for my first G+ game

Okay, so a few friends of mine who I do LARP (Live-Action RolePlay) with and myself were chatting a while back about tabletop roleplaying and I was telling them about some of the games that i’m GMing at present; now most of them live a fair distance away and a couple of them were lamenting the lack of tabletop RPG action in their area, also, although we all meet up for weekends of LARP there’s not quite the same impetus to travel the length of the country in order to do a single night of tabletopping. Given that a few of us have been getting more into Google+ and Youtube recently (https://www.youtube.com/user/MrLARGEJO/) and i’ve seen numerous recording ‘actual-plays’ of people using G+ hangouts to play RP sessions over the net we talked about doing something similar; now life, as it often does, got in the way and we never really got to do anything about it as we were swept up in the chaos of the 2013 Lorien Trust LARP mainline seasion.
Recently I decided that we really should make an attempt at actually pushing forward with a session, partly because i’m keen to experiment more with G+ hangout roleplaying and also because i’m interested in seeing what it’s like tabletopping with people whom i’ve only ever really done LARP or boardgames before (both of which are quite different); so I set up a facebook event and arranged a date (this Sunday evening), but then of course we were left with the question of what do we play?
I have numerous RPGs on the shelves in my room but, given that this is the first TT experience for a couple of the players and that it was our first time at RPing over G+ I wanted something that was simple to pick up, kept the game very dramatic and allowed it to move along reasonably rapidly since we only have about four hours of gaming realistically since most of us have work the next day, I want to cram as much game into those four or so hours as possible. As usual when I want a good game to introduce new-comers to TT RPing i’ve turned to one of my favourite systems, Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) along with a brilliant G+ Fate roller extension (http://www.diceboy.com/).
One of the players is quite new to TT and wants some sort of easy to get into fantasy game because, although new to TT, the LARP that we do is fantasy based and he has experience of lots of fantasy films; this is fine, i’ve already done some consideration of how to adapt FAE to a D&D-esque setting (detailed in previous blog posts). For this game though, i’ve decided to keep things simple (anything not mentioned below is as it is in the core FAE book):
Aspects: In addition to their High Concept and Trouble, players will also have a Race aspect (dwarf, orc, etc) that can be invoked (as normal) whenever they perform an action that fits with the concept of their race (i’ll be keeping it pretty simple and stereotypical for this game, orcs are brutish and violent, dwarves are rigid, stoic craftsmen, etc etc).
Magic: In order to have magic a sorceror must have the Aspect ‘Sorceror’, they must also have a Stunt (or Stunts) that defines their type of magic; for example, a sorceror may have the Stunt ‘Fire magic’ and all of their spells will involved heat or fire in some way. Magic will use the normal action rules as described in FAE (attacking, defending, etc).
Equipment: Unless taken as a Stunt equipment is assumed to be of insufficient quality to make any real difference to the dice rolls, if taken as a Stunt then it can add the normal +2 to an appropriate situation.
Taking inspiration from the recent Dungeon World session that I ran, I intend to use the player character Aspects (and a brief Q&A with the players at the start after character gen) to create a rough map of the world and detail out the major threats/challenges, once we have this i’ll run with what i’ve got and see where it goes from there. Assuming all goes well with the technical side of things then the game will be recorded and uploaded to my Youtube Channel  when we’ve finished the session.

FATE musings: Merged FATE and D&D next

As people watching my youtube channel may be aware I recently reviewed the playtest D&D Next material that has been released:
Whilst looking at the D&D material it seemed obvious to me that the creators of D&D Next had realised that the crunchier rules systems were slightly falling out of favour currently and that a new crop of more storytelling orientated games were proving increasingly popular with the RPG market.
I was idly doodling away at some ideas after filming the video and thinking about how one of my Rogue Trader players isn’t a particularly massive fan of the FATE system, when it occurred to me that D&D Next would be eminently adaptable to work with FATE, perhaps more so than any earlier edition of the game.
I’ll admit that i’m mainly coming at this from a Fate Accelerate Edition (FAE) point of view since that’s my FATE system of choice at the moment; lets have a look at the D&D Next character sheet:
Ability Scores
The standard six abilities familiar to any D&D player, STR, DEX, CON, WIS, INT and CHA – these could easily be used as your approaches in a FAE hybrid.
Skills
D&D Next doesn’t appear to have a skill system in the same way that previous versions of D&D games do, however there are class and racial abilities (plus feats although these are an optional subsystem in Next) that give you bonuses to certain rolls. Most of these work in such a similar way to Stunts that any conversion would be very simple.
Weapon & Spell Attacks
Although FATE (and particularly FAE) don’t by default offer a lot of granularity to weapon damage, there are a couple of systems suggested in the FATE core book that would work fine and numerous variants available; assuming of course that the FATE GM wants this level of complexity for weapons.
The same pretty much goes for armour.
Class Features & Racial Traits
Racial traits are a small group of bonuses acquired for being a dwarf or an elf for example; these could easily be wrapped up in a single racial Aspect.
Class features might be a little more difficult since generally FATE characters start off more competent than the standard first level D&D character but they don’t advance or change as much; by representing class abilities as Stunts this can be simulated in a couple of possible ways:
  • Allow the PCs to start with a few more Stunts before their refresh rate starts to drop.
  • Increase the frequency of milestones within the game.

Lore
This is a new mechanic for D&D Next where you receive a bonus on intelligence rolls if you have that particular area of Lore ticked on your character sheet, again this is easily accomplished with Stunts or Aspects.
The Advantage

One of the main new mechanics that I like is called Advantage/Disadvantage, basically if you have the advantage then you roll 2D20 instead of one for a test and take the highest result, if you have the disadvantage then you take the lower result.
I can think of a couple of ways this could be done in FAE:
  • Keep it the same, a players rolls his 4DF twice and picks the higher or lower result.
  • If the PC has the advantage give them a free re-roll without them spending a fate point and the player chooses which result to use; if they are at a disadvantage then the opponent may force them to re-roll and the opponent chooses which result for them to use.
Spells

Spells and magic would be a trickier conversion and it’s one that has been covered extensively elsewhere; to keep things short I would suggest an Aspect that allows you to use magic and then having either a Stunt or an Aspect for each spell.

Things I learnt making an RPG youtube video

Inspired by several members of the Youtube RPG brigade and various youtube footage that I had watched about tabletop RPGs I decided to have a go at making a couple of videos myself and uploading them to my youtube account (the results can be seen here for anyone interested). The videos that I made were fairly spur of the moment affairs using just the built in webcam on my laptop, without any real planning (or experience of handling video footage); although the videos didn’t turn out too badly in my opinion and most people were fairly kind and constructive in their feedback there were a few things that became obvious that I thought i’d pass on in this blog to anyone else who is thinking of making Youtube RPG videos:

  • Have some notes ready to prevent stumbling over words or rambling.
  • Make sure that any props or the like are ready to go or (preferably) have them edited in afterwards to save fumbling around for a book (or whatever) during the video.
  • Do a quick rehearsal or run through of what you plan to say first, this helps enormously when you come to record.
  • Have a play around with some of the free video manipulation software available on the internet (i’ve been doing this myself and plan to incorporate what i’ve learnt into my future videos).
  • Talk clearly and concisely, trying to minimise long pauses.
Overall I quite enjoyed the experience of making the videos and definitely plan to make some more in the future (I would recommend anyone at least try it), i’ve gained a few subscribers and have had some encouraging comments; hopefully by following the advice above i’ll be able to make some slightly more published videos.
If you plan to make some videos and are perhaps looking for some more advice, you could do worse than joining the YouTube RPG Brigade G+ community.