Tabletop Gaming News for December.
Tabletop Gaming News for December.
We asked some Fate players things they found confusing about Fate and below are the results.
Aspects and fate points can be challenging to understand, but with some patience and an understanding group you can usually get past the challenges with some easy rulings. Something like “I see what you want to do, but it doesn’t really make sense for the story right now,” can simply bypass a confusing situation all together.
Stunts, on the other hand, can’t really be bypassed. Once they are created, they are there. Once a player takes it and pays for it, it is a real part of the game. If it is too powerful, a GM cannot bypass it so easily. If a player doesn’t know how to use it, it becomes a waste of their refresh. And since stunts are persistent, any problems they cause will not go away after just one session.
Probably the MOST confusing thing about stunts is the open-ended invitation Fate Core makes to design your own with a pirate’s code analogy of guidelines. How can players and GMs judge what stunts abilities will fall in that sweet spot of “limited enough in scope to feel special when you use them, but not so narrow that you never see them come up?” Especially with a game like Fate Core where everyone works together to driver the story.
We’ve touched a bit on making stunts before, and we probably will again soon. But for now let’s take a look at 3 rules when dealing with stunts, three things that you must never EVER do.
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.
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.
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.
So today I thought I’d try something different. I’ve been working on a mystery one-shot (which can be found here) set in the early 60’s where the player characters have to solve the murder of a Private Investigator that was employing them. And since I think best by typing out my thoughts, I figured I might as well post about it.
Why Make A New System For A One-Shot Game?
So a while back I made a post where I stated that FATE is not for everyone and it is not for every situation. I stand by that still. But I was surprised to find out just how many people disagree with me on this issue. A number of Kickstarter projects have had people demand FATE versions of their rules in exchange for support. Gamers have refused to participate in events unless someone runs a FATE game. And of course people that try to design their own FATE settings are being told that their rules are not “good enough” for FATE.
That last one really hits home since both Taylor and I have been designing our own systems based on TV shows we love. I mean, isn’t one of the big advantages of a system like FATE supposed to be that we can play in a Star Trek, Air Bender, or Firefly setting?
If you don’t know where to start, a good place is always the beginning. The beginning for Star Trek is the Starfleet Academy. Any non Vulcan or Vulcan/Human character starts the Academy at age 18 (18 skill points) and with a refresh of 3. Vulcans and Vulcan/Humans start the Academy at age 22 (22 skill points) and 5 Refresh. While most fate games give you free choice as to what skills you can have and where, being in the Academy requires some skills to be at least at +1 (Average):
As with any normal FATE game, this universe needs skills. I tried to keep physical skills and social skills at a similar number because I want this game to be even between physical conflicts and social conflicts.
Skills: Physical=9, Social=9, Mental=4
(p)Athletics = Physical Initiative. Agility and running
(s)Contacts = Who you know, hearing rumors
(p)Craftsmanship = Making and repairing mechanical things
(s)Customs = Understanding groups of people. Languages known.
Star Trek has a wide variety of species with a wide variety of life spans. In keeping with the simplicity of FATE, I decided to have a mechanic that only deals with 2 different life spans (3 technically if you want to include immortal beings). The first is the normal life span of just over 100 years. The 2nd, is a life span of around just over 200 years. A species would naturally fall under the first life span unless otherwise noted in the Species Trait.
I also decided to tie Skill rewards and Refresh awards to age. Though, there will always be special instances where a player can earn additional Refresh for their Character. Characters that live the usual 100 years start out at age 18 with 3 Refresh. For characters that live 200 years they will start out at age 22 with 5 Refresh. For most of a characters life every year will get them a new skill point. So, if you want to quickly create a Captain that is 50 years old you can already know that he is going to have 50 skill points and work from there. As a character gets older the rate at which they earn Skill will slowly decrease.