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RPGs and more

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Making FATE Games Challenging

My Tian Xia group just finished their campaign, and it was quite the epic ending if I do say so myself. I had expected them to prevent the world-devouring beast from hatching out of its egg and thus save the world. Instead… “The moon is a giant egg?!? We need to bust it open and see what’s inside!”

And they did, too.

Moving forward towards the next game, I threw 3 elevator pitches as I often do about what the next game would be about. They opted for a post-apocalyptic dystopia with themes of survival and creating the future. And they want to use the Dresden Files RPG.

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Sticks & Stones, Rubber & Glue = Successful RPG campaign

When you and your friends sit down to an RPG you invariably get to the question “what characters should we choose so we can be successful?” The answer to this can often be different based on the types of players and the type of campaign you are playing.

What we would like to remind you is that at the core of playing an RPG game you are trying to tell a story. No matter the setting/world/system, a way to guarantee enjoyment in a story is to have some kind of drama. In a physical campaign like a D&D game or Pathfinder game, this drama can usually come from the fighting and the chance of death. In other systems the drama can come from a more social aspect and how the different characters interact and what happens after. No matter what kind of campaign or system you are running, we have the 4 types of characters that can guarantee you a successful campaign.

We believe, that to tell a successful story you should use these 4 character roles: stick, stone, rubber, glue. Now, the idea of having 4 different character types in a successful story is nothing new, if you are familiar with Humorism this may seem very familiar. There is even an interesting CRACKED video  that covers that as well as a TV TROPES. The types of characters we are going to be talking about have different temperaments and provide a different purpose. We believe these 4 types of characters ensure a longer more successful campaign.

Below, Joshua and I have a little conversation on these 4 character types. Enjoy!

The Stick

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Creative Challenges 3

I am not sure if anyone besides me ever does these, but they have been a lot of fun for me to write and to try out. The theme for these challenges: skirting failure. We are looking at ways that games often fail and daring ourselves to get close without actually falling over the edge.

Just like last time, these challenges are targeted at FATE gamers. You should be able to adapt them to other games, but it will take a little effort. Granted, these may be risky enough that you don’t even want to.

Challenge 1: Kill a Player Character

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Learning from Surprises

I’m going to take a short break from the Swords of the Skull Takers series to talk about surprises in games and how we learn from them. Surprise!

I used to think there were only 2 types of surprises in gaming. One: when the GM threw in a shocking twist of events on purpose to give the players a surprise (the bouncy bar maid is really an assassin sent to kill you). Two: when the players do something so random and seemingly stupid but the dice rolls make it actually work (I drink a fire resistance potion. Now set me on fire and catapult me to the enemy boat). In my younger, naïve, linear thinking days I labeled these 2 types of surprises good and bad, respectively.

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Skull Takers Adventure pt. 3

(OOC list: hatchet [6 of spades], backpack [World], Candice [Hanged man]. Health: wounded)

Day 6

I made myself some bandages for my knee. Candice left without me again today. I suppose that’s ok. It hurts a little when I walk, and I don’t think I would be able to run fast if I had to.

That’s a very scary thought. I do not want to think scary thoughts right now.

Candice came back with a glowing rock. It was not purple like the lights. It was more of a dark blue earie light that it gave off. She called it a star and has been cuddling it since she got back. If I die with the diary on me, then she will die with that star in her hands. That is how you will know us.

Unless the dark ones take it. I don’t think they take anything besides…well…but they might. Candice also has scars on her neck. Almost like rope burns. She was probably into things before the dark ones came. You can probably still find the scars on her body if you look.

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Skull Takers Adventure Part 2

Day 1

My name is Anne Darcy. I have found John Brighten’s journal. I hope John does not mind if I continue his story where he left off. I have not been injured or become sick, but I think about my death all the time. If I die, will I matter? Will anyone know me?

I know John because he kept a journal, and so I will keep his journal as well. If the dark ones get me, like the must have gotten John, and my altered body is found, please know who I am and miss me. I will take John’s hatchet and pointy pole as well, though I fear I will never be able to use them effectively.

I am definitely not staying in a house tonight. I am currently sleeping in an upside down bus in the ditch. It does not look like anyone could be in there when you see it from the outside. I like that about the bus. There are also no dead bodies in the bus, altered or not. That helps too.

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Predicting Unpredictable Players

Today’s article is geared more towards GMs, but I hope dedicated players will be able to pull some things about it. After all, this is about you from the GM’s perspective.

Players are unpredictable.

If your world is at all rocked by that statement, then bless your heart. The rest of us probably learned this the first time we ran a game. Maybe at first we thought it was our fault; that he hadn’t prepared enough for the adventure. Eventually, if a GM sticks with it, then she will come to the inevitable conclusion that no matter how much she prepares, she will never be able to predict her players’ actions.

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Pets in Fate

I once ran a campaign where one of the players had the goal that their character’s pet goat would kill a dragon. It came from a long discussion about how there were always goats around dragon nests in Skyrim so they were probably the secret guardians of humanity that…well, I’d probably better not try to explain it actually. That would take a whole other post.

For this post I would like to talk about pets, specifically having a character pet in Fate. We love them as players, we agonize over them as GMs, and we talk about them years after the campaign is over. Fate Core actually does a very good job of making sure that you can build a variety of pets depending on what you want them to be able to do, mechanically.

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World Building for a Fan Fate Game

FATE Core is often used to play games based on preexisting worlds established in anime, book, movies, or television series. Sometimes we as gamers make the mistake that this means we don’t have to establish our game world because a rich one already exists.

Now I am not saying that traditional methods of creating the gaming world as you go, or just having the GM create the world for that matter, are always bad ideas. And perhaps the task sounds too daunting, and you would much rather delve into a dungeon right away then figure out how many air nomads are married in the Eastern Air Temple or which type of starships are available in a certain sector of space.

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The Impossible Juggling Act

I once ran a FATE game where I decided to take inspiration from a YouTube series that made fun of roleplaying games. I put a lady of the lake in the game that was going to give the heroes a chance to prove they were the chosen ones and take an amazing weapon to be used for their own. Of course the catch was that this lady just wanted to mess with adventurers and gave them random bits of junk that she promised was the magic sword she was to grant the chosen ones.

Then the guy in the group that is usually very quiet and constantly giving up treasure to other members of the group that want it more spent every fate point he had to be accepted for the task. Apparently he is a HUGE fan of Arthurian lore, and he so badly wanted to be the one to wield my game’s equivalent of Excalibur.

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