tremulus rpg & The Game of Whit’s sneak preview

I’ve backed the Kickstarter for the Tremulus, a Lovecraftian horror rpg. Based on the Apocolypse World rpg engine, and influenced by FATE and Fiasco, this looks just down my street. Can’t wait to receive it and be able to give it a whirl.

The tremulus Kickstarter can be found here.

In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying the sneak previews on the Game of Whit’s blog here: A Game of Whit’s: tremulus, especially their online game, a bit like a choose your own adventure book, with readers voting on the next step. Beautifully written. Go read and vote.

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FATE Horror Skills – First Draft

Spent a little while working through the Call of Cthulhu and Spirit of the Century skill lists today to help produce a list of skills for my FATE Horror hack. Here’s where I’ve got to so far. Want to work on the names to make them a little more evocative of a 1920’s type setting

  • Knowledge Skills (what you know): Arts, Engineering, Humanities, Languages (like Diaspora – higher rating, higher number known), Law, Medicine, Occult, Psychology, Research (how to use libraries etc.), Sciences, Theology
  • Physical Skills (what you can do): Athletics, Constitution (determines Health stress track), Drive, First Aid, Fortitude (?) (determines Composure stress track), Locks, Perception, Pilot, Ride, Subterfuge (sneak, disguise etc.), Survival
  • Interpersonal Skills (how you relate to others): Contacts, Intimidate, Leadership, Oratory, Persuade, Social Standing (use to reflect social class),
  • Combat Skills: Unarmed, Firearms, Weapons
  • Other: Resources (determines Wealth Stress Track like Diaspora)

Depending on how I work mental health into this (Sanity in CoC terms), there might be a Stress track with related skill for that too.

How does that sound? Anything obvious overlooked? Any better name suggestions (looking for a 1920s, British vibe).

Hacking FATE for Horror

Toying with the idea of hacking FATE for use for horror games (Gothic Horror? inevitably inspired by the flavour of Call of Cthulhu, but not necessarily using this setting) Thought I might post some of my thoughts here as I go.

First steps, decide what needs looking at in the system to adapt it for this genre. Which bits need to be tweaked?

  • How many Aspects does each character have? Not a fan of 10 as in Spirit of the Century, and so will probably err towards 5-7. What should each Aspect refer to – background, relationship to other characters etc. How can this reinforce the genre?
  • What Skills can they chose from? Are they developed as a pyramid, or a column, or something else? Will need to think here about using evocative names rather than bland generic ones to conjure up the desired feeling.
  • Should Stunts be available? Thinking possibly not – don’t want the characters to be special because of what they can do, rather because of their personality. The setting seems to call for exploring normal humans facing extraordinary things.
  • Do I use Stress Tracks? If so, which ones?
  • With a clear nod towards Call of Cthulhu, do I need some way of measuring a characters sanity? If so how – with a Stress Track? Or through Aspects being given (like Consequences) to indicate their mental condition if they deteriorate? Perhaps this could be coupled to a Sanity Skill – when faced with a shock to the system, the players roll against this. If they fail, they gain either Stress to a Sanity Track, or pick up Consequences relevant to the amount they failed by.
  • How about using Templates to reinforce some of the genre stereotypes in character generation?

More another time…

Review: The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game: Volume One: Your Story

The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game: Volume One: Your StoryThe Dresden Files Roleplaying Game: Volume One: Your Story by Leonard Balsera
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought this on the back of Evil Hat’s first outing with FATE, The Spirit of the Century, as part of a burgeoning love affair with the FATE rpg (roleplaying game).

For those who don’t know what an rpg is, its a game of collaborative story telling. One player comes up with the story and describes what is happening (often called the Games Master or GM for short). The other players design characters who will feature as the heroes in that setting. They get to describe what their characters do in response to the scene that the GM sets. The GM then, using his imagination and the rules in the game, determines what the outcomes are, and so it goes.

This particular rpg is based upon the urban fantasy series of novels called The Dresden Files – modern pulp if you like with a cast of vampires, werewoves and other fantasy tropes set in modern times. The books are a fun read, if not overly demanding on the little grey brain cells, but as a gamer, to me they instantly called out to be used as an rpg setting – hence this gem!

FATE is the rpg system used behind this book. At its heart it is a very simple game, but with layers of complexity that can be added to it, building up the crunch level as desired. Its a large book, not so much because of the complexity of the game, but because it is bursting with full-colour pictures and written illustrations of how the rules work. In places it seems a little disorganised, but this is inevitable with such a large work. Personally I love it. It’s use of FATE’s Aspects – simple phrases used to describe the character – really lends itself to this particular genre.

I suspect I’ll not use it for playing within the world of the Dresden Files all that much – to be honest vampires and werewolves aren’t particularly my thing – but will certainly adapt it for use in other urban fantasy settings. Already I have used it to run ‘Day After Ragnorak’ games, and have campaigns based on ‘War of the Flowers’ and the Fables series in mind.

A great game. Recommended!

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FATE Core & Strands of FATE

Fred Hicks of FATE fame has just posted an off the top of is head summary of the core rules of FATE 3.0: http://www.faterpg.com/2011/the-core-of-fate-core/

For those who are shy of the big tomes that have been written for the FATE games to date, this provides a simple overview of the rules with little in the way of frills.

Having just acquired Strands of FATE, Mike McConnell’s attempt to write a generic FATE ruleset in a single book, it will be interesting to compare the two.

Review: diaspora

diasporadiaspora by B. Murray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a brilliant scf-fate rpg. Haven’t the time to do a full review just now, but had to sing its praise. A simple implementation of the FATE system, it does what it sets out to do efficiently and effectively. This is one game I intend to use lots. I think in FATE I have finally found my rpg alongside Pendragon

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Pulpy Madness

In need of fast inspiration! Tomorrow night I am running a games set in the world of The Day After Ragnarak, but rather than running it with its default system (Savage Worlds) I am using FATE, specifically of the Dresden Files RPG variety. This will be my first game using FATE, either as a player or as a GM. Having offered to run it a week or so back, but with not so much response, I thought we would end up board gaming and so put it to one side to focus on prepping some Pendragon scenarios I’m writing for a Fenland Sourcebook (a personal project, not one that’s been commissioned!) Then, yesterday, all of a sudden, it’s game on. Two days to plan the game, learn the system and produce the character sheets and other handouts. Serves me right!

Quite nervous about running it now. Instinctively I like what FATE is trying to do. I love the concept of aspects and what reads as a fairly free and flexible system, but I’ve never seen it in action and so I’ve no idea what it will turn out to be like in practice. As for finishing the plans on time, this suddenly seems to be a good time to put some GM Prep-lite plans in place as previously mentioned.

Making GM-Prepping Easier

Just read an interesting article on prepping for GMing roleplaying sessions: Prep-Lite Manifesto- The Template
I know that I try and prep too much and can veer towards the railroady if not careful. Might try following this template for my next session – particularly useful as I’m using FATE/DFRPG which lends itself to this with its aspects.
Have recently also been using 3×5″ index cards a lot in prepping and running games, specifically for NPCs although I may extend that to locations too. Before a session I prepare one for each major NPC – a name at the top, and a few introductory lines describing them, bullet points really. As the game goes on, I write down facts that are discovered (or improvised as played), and encourage players to write their PCs interactions with them on the cards too. This helps keep track of these aspects, and allows me to grow and develop them as NPCs in and between sessions. I also make a few more generic NPC cards too – for example a set of standard knights in Pendragon. These characters, I’m discovering, have a habit of coming to life and developing surprising roles as we play.
As a preacher, this concept of a template is an interesting one too, is there something in this idea that can help me make my sermon prep more effective too, focussing on the important and leaving the unimportant to one side etc. I’ll come back to that sometime!