Atomic Robo beta session 1

While I don’t want to spoil any of the default adventure that will likely come with the game, I do want to babble at length about the first session of Atomic Robo.    We ended up with a group of 5 players (it was almost EIGHT) and it turned out to be a good number– even when the party got split a couple times it was still manageable.  With eight it would have been MADNESS.

Character Creation

This was SHOCKINGLY fast for any RPG game with 5 players.  We used the ‘no math’ version of character creation, and while people had a week or so to think of a concept, the work on the ground was minimal as some only had a name coming into the session.  Aspects are always tough to work out (but worth it) and stunts can just be added during play so that did not slow up much.  It’s difficult to make a stunt for players that have never played the game before as they typically break some sort of rule and when you don’t know the rules….

The only real confusion that may get worked out in the final is the Modes sharing skills that then get a bonus to the skill in the highest mode.   For example if you have a skill that’s shared in your Action and Intrigue mode, the mode with the highest rating has that skill within it getting a bonus of +1.  This, plus the pluses for skills during character creation on top of it, caused a great deal of erasing on the character sheets for everyone.  Players had to pick their modes, then find the skills that overlapped and bonus them, then add their bonus skill points on top.

Play

Well, it’s FATE so you’re not going from room to room killing 66 Gnolls!  Smooth. That’s how I describe the sessions I’ve run of FATE and Atomic Robo was no exception.  Looking in the book for stuff? Almost never.  Players engaged?  Almost always.   Like I noted above, we had a party split two times and it can be handled handled easy on both ends because you are not looking up Grappling or obscure charm rules or building a dicepool for 5 minutes (a shot across Cortex’s bow there).  There’s always explanation about Aspects and invokes and compels and the new thing called ‘bonuses’ for new players of FATE and it can still be difficult for everyone to get until they see it in action.  The main economy driver, getting compelled as a player, is easy to understand so there wasn’t any issues there.  Using aspects in all the possible

Combat

There was only one fight so far and it seemed to go– fast!  Actually attacking is very easy in FATE without any stunts and even with stunts it’s quite simple.  Stunts in FATE are different than Stunts in Exalted or Feng Shui as it’s really just the word they use for a ‘Power’ of some kind.  Where it gets crazy for people from the D&D world is the “Create Advantage” and ‘Block’ actions in combat.  These are both very easy once figured out.  Creating advantage is essentially using a skill that you have that you THINK the enemy does not have a good defense against, not to do damage, but to create an Aspect, either on yourself, the enemy or the area you are in.    This aspect can later be used by you or someone else to ad bonuses to an attack that WILL do damage.   There are other narrative effects of Aspects as well– i.e. if you have stunts that can be used under water you better get your opponent in there somehow.  It’s all very fast and loose, but not at all to the level of say Amber diceless.   My favorite part about FATE combat are the ideas of Zones for movement and distance.  I think almost every good RPG is using that model now (including Marvel and WFRP 3rd).  This means maps, even 3d ones, can be easily created and used but in addition, it makes ‘no miniatures’ play very easy to do.

 Brainstorming!

The best thing about the session was the brainstorming.  This is in a type of scenario where the characters are trying to figure out some type of problem presented in the plot.  Because it’s FATE– what the characters figure out turns out to BE the plot.   Each player rolls dice based on applicable skills and the winner in a round puts forth a FACT about the  problem.  This is typically derived from the plot so far, but may be something they’ve deduced via science or intuition.  After 3 facts are created a final roll off for the ability to create the hypothesis is granted to the victorious player.  Aspects can be used, invoked, etc as normal.   They hypothesis then becomes an Aspect in the story.  While this isn’t necessarily the actual final thesis, the facts created become facts in the story.   This is pretty friggin’ awesome as it frames up a new way to create campaign or story aspects.  I can’t mention the Hypothesis created by the group– but it was INCREDIBLE.

Overall

Well we are playing again this weekend, so we’ll see if it continues to hold up.  Again it’s just a beta, but it looks like it’s quite close to the final based on the quality of the system.  The Updates to FATE Core are nifty and streamline things even more (if you can imagine that).  I’m looking forward to not just the game, but what other people do with it as well down the road.

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