Happy 40th D&D!

Ye old blue book....
Ye old blue book….

Wow.  If I was to point to one single thing that influenced me more than anything else, it would be D&D, both playing it as a kid, trying not to play it as a teenager (to be cool) and then moving on to better games as an adult (better being Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay for the most part) and just all around gaming– D&D was the gateway drug!  I’ve spent some of my tiny amount of leisure time this week going through some of my old RPG shit and trying to ID the path I took through the hobby.  I think it’s this (bold means I feel it was a huge influence):

D&D Basic (blue book) > Moldvay Basic (boxed sets) > AD&D (sort of, since it really fucking sucked and we just used the Basic rules with the AD&D monsters) > Gamma World (ahem…shoplifted copy I shamefully admit..)> Champions > Star Frontiers > Paranoia > Call of Cthulhu > Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles > Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay  (this lasted all through college and beyond) > Werewolf  > Feng Shui > Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition > Exalted (this got me back into RPG’s seriously around 2006) > Dresden Files/FATE > Marvel Heroic Roleplaying > Carolina Death Crawl > ???

Now, of course, it’s all about the narrative style games and I haven’t played a D20 in years.  13th Age will be the first delve into a modern D20 since a single session of Pathfinder about 4 years ago.  Of course, 13th Age IS a mash up of narrative and D20 crunch, so we’ll see how it plays  vs FATE and vs 3.5.

That said, there have been many awesome RPG’s that came out in the last couple years and even just last year besides 13th Age:  Fate Core, Numenera, Fiasco, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, Carolina Death Crawl are all huge additions to the genre that are moving the ball forward– it’s really tough to pick what to even run!

Looking forward to 2014, we’ll have D&D Next, Exalted 3 and what looks like a crazy interactive game by Robin D. Laws: HillFolk.  While I feel the new version of D&D is already out and it’s called 13th Age, I’m interested to see what D&D Next is able to do.  Let’s face it, Pathfinder has the ‘miniature heavy’ version of the game locked so Next will either bring it back towards the OD&D versions already handled by Labyrinth Lord and Lamentations of the Flame Princess or try to take Pathfinder head on (which is sort of 4th edition after all).

I know some of you have already been roped into many of my experimental games (playtest of fate core, carolina death crawl for example) and it will continue…

Ah… I guess I hate generic RPG system books

Lament this!
Lament this!

I hopped on both the Fate Core 3 and Cortex Hackers Guide kickstarters earlier in the year with no regrets and while this is NOT a review or discussion of the systems included in these books, nor the layout, nor the art or anything content wise by any means, I don’t like either of them and here’s why: they are generic RPG books and little did I know– I can’t fucking stand them! There’s really nothing more boring than a system without a reason to use it and while I really like both Cortex and FATE, the ownership of these books is fundamentally useless to me– and I can’t even get through reading them….at all. Imagine trying to learn Advanced Squad Leader or Mystic Realm (both very difficult games to learn) without having a strong affinity to the gaming theme they represent. Could you get through such rules? I thought I could, but I can’t. Not ever.

Let’s take Lamentations of the Flame Princess as an example of a similar game to the of the books above in that it still presents a sort of generic system for running Fantasy RPG’s first off. Lamentations uses the most generic and nearly universally familiar OD&D system (Moldavy Basic essentially), changes a couple of things (like only fighters get +1 to hit at levels) and then tells you how to run a Fantasy game with it. There is a (very strange) adventure in the back, but other than that there is no description of the Lamentation’s world at all– just about what survival Fantasy Horror gaming should be like. Yet, while the system is one most of us are intimately familiar with (being the basis of all D20 play ever anon), Lamentations, while not including much in the way of a world, has a very clear Swords and Sorcery /Survival Horror focus for the game, the art and writing; a setting that makes what you are getting into with the game extremely clear. It is not a base rule set for any genre it is a base rule set for Swords and Sorcery. Of course we know from the years gone by that D20 has been used for everything under the sun with some incredibly weighty systems (Pathfinder, 3.5, etc.), but that’s not what Lamentations is doing. Instead it’s laying out a well-known set of rules within a specific paradigm even WITHOUT a massive world-spanning gazetter included in the base package. I love Lamentations and it will be my go-to D&D game if I ever give that a whirl again, and who can deny modules like The God the Crawls or FUCK FOR SATAN to boot? Most importantly, I was able to get through the text of the rules, the GM advice (which is amazing and goes far beyond anything I’ve ever read for running an actual group of players) and the supplemental materials. Why?

Let’s talk about Cortex and Fate– both excellent rule-sets. At the moment I prefer Cortex a bit more because, those of us that love Exalted want to play high powered crazy fights in less than 8 hours a piece. While I really enjoy exploring a new RPG system, what I don’t like, and this is a recent discovery, are these tool-kit only rulebooks. While clearly laying out what can be done with the system and the system itself (in the case of FATE 3), there’s absolutely no hook at all saying to me as a GM, i.e.: the person that will have to put all the work into the game for the most part, that I should try to make stories for this. It’s more like saying: ok you as a person should make an RPG out of this– and if you have time for that type of thing you are in a completely different demographic. Even the awesome Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, whose setting I really have no interest in at all (apart from Guardians of the Galaxy) gave myself and my players some framework to WANT to play. When I pick up FATE 3 and peruse the Hackers Guide for Cortex… I fall asleep, LITERALLY. There’s just nothing there but laying out an RPG system which, while incredibly important that it’s not pure shit (I’m looking at you Twilight 2000), it’s extremely boring when extracted from any sort of genre framework to spark the imaginations. It’s like one side of the brain is satisfied while the other one just sits there, bored off it’s ass.

Then, there's Exalted.
Then, there’s Exalted.

Dresden Files (FATE 2), while not that fun to play as any sort of Wizard, are essential books for my RPG library as a basis around how to create that TYPE of game (modern Wizardry) with FATE. Marvel Heroic Roleplaying (CORTEX), again while not a specific world I am interested in playing in was yet another awakening to what is possible for handling high powered, superheroic RPG’s. Even very difficult systems like Legends of Wuilin (which will likely never see print) Strange Fate (FATE 2 on crack) are extremely interesting books because they weave the stories you are going to tell in with the system it’s presenting. While you are reading the SYSTEM you are also beginning to create the stories that you will tell together with your group–and I think this is absolutely key. Sure some people that want to make a FATE or CORTEX game may love the generic system books, but for me, it’s just a waste.

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: First Session and random thoughts (feelings?!)

1981. You had a wank to this image.

Supers RPG Games.  What can I say about them briefly?  They are a guilty pleasure at best and at worst a one shot farce where people make characters that are walking beer mugs named Mr. Frothy.  Over the long years I’ve run the Hero System, TMNT and Champions and while they didn’t totally suck (TMNT, embarrassingly  was probably the best in play), each had their quirks.  The Hero system has a lot of “Math.”  Champions took forever to make a character build (our first experience with a points buy as kids) and the fights took a long, long time.   Even for us children, they were fun dalliances from the serious stuff like D&D and Call of Cthulhu (and Gamma World)–not the stuff of a long campaign.  Once the cynicism of the late 80’s set in along with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, there was no going back to the genre. A Supers games was all fighting: there wasn’t much narrative other than punch the shit out of some Viper agents and take down Armadillo with a RKA before he has a chance to act.  While fun, the other factor was that your character didn’t build up with experience– they came out of the womb about as powerful as they were going to get.  I think very very few sessions of Supers games were played for these reasons, but we did spend much more time making characters.  Somewhere I have a pile of moulding character sheets for Champions with all the Xmen, Rom the Spaceknight and probably ridiculous characters like Devil Dinosaur and Kamandi (the last boy on earth you know).  This is where time was spent on these games, not the play itself.

However, in the last 20 years, two games hit the shelves that can only be described as Supers games: Feng Shui and Exalted.  in 2007, the capstone on the superhero genre hit the shelves in the form of Exalted 2nd Edition.  Think Exalted isn’t a supers game?  Look at it. Seriously.  While Exalted has it’s problems, some GLARING problems, the setting and the ability for a system to FEEL like you are playing an uber powered individual with nuanced power sets really put everything else I had played before back on the shelves (including Feng Shui). Everything in the “Supers” genre, from ICONS to Kerberos Club to the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying is trying to capture that magic that Exalted brought to the table while trying NOT to fall into the traps Exalted did from a system perspective.

That said, now we are older and have responsibilities other than finding a dark corner to beat off in or making sure we actually eat something other than funyons during a given Summer day spent in a dank basement.  There’s no time to make characters, there’s barely time to PLAY a game, much less know the rules to the extent Champions/Hero system requires. And let’s not even get into the whole Exalted 2nd edition complications.   So we turn to FATE-like games with a focus on narrative and player-fiat rather than system heavy simulation.  While it uses what’s called the Cortex system, MHR is, in essence, FATE with the D&D dice (and lots of them).  This is not a bad thing.

While I had read the MHR rules once through and skimmed them again right before play,  I must admit, I was largely unprepared for being the GM (Watcher).  I understood what the Doom pool was, how dice pools were made for actions, but had a good deal of fuzziness around the nuances rules.  Of course, the first scenario is about the best I’ve read in a Supers game– all full on combat with other super villains– an asston of them pouring down.  In fact ,there are so many that mobs of them show up as Mooks and you can spend dice from the Doom Pool to ‘power’ up some out of this huge list of D-grade villains like Scarecrow, Mentallo and Tiger Shark in the back of the book.  I planned on the entire session being combat, and oh yeah, it was.  While some players shudder at session-long combats, don’t let that throw you off– it went surprisingly fast for what it was–a MAJOR throw down.  Running four major super heroes (Thor, Iron Fist, Iron Man and Wolverine) vs seven+ supervillains including one A-lister in the form of Carnage his bad self actually worked.   Trying to run seven villains and all their powers at once in the first session of a new game seems totally insane– and at first it was, but characters don’t have a ton of powers that you can’t remember at all (like Exalted), so you’re not overwhelmed.  It’s what you do with those powers both in the narrative and with your dice that make the difference (again, remember this is FATE-like).   I fucked up a few times, sure, like using Living Laser’s LIMIT on his power set as a power (stupid me) and not quite doing Count Nefaria’s powers right…but compared to running 6-8 mere Dragon Blooded in Exalted, it was a total cakewalk as a GM.

Given that the core system is essentially FATE, I must comment on the change in dice in MHR from the Fudge ones.  Unlike FATE, you have a dice pool that you build from your character sheet, from resources and assets (like a tire iron you picked up, or a tank you are about to throw in the case of the Thing) or enemy consequences.  You roll these dice and select two for your ‘to hit’ roll and select one die for effect.  The effect die number showing has no meaning, just the size of the die.  Your opposition rolls against that ‘to hit’ number to dodge or block, building a pool in the same manner you did to hit and also selects and effect die and a ‘to hit’ roll.  Essentially whoever gets higher gets to fuck the other character up– the only difference is that the attacker gets to do so for free and the defender has to spend a Plot Point to apply his effect.  This means the dreaded WHIFF factor is nearly gone– if you miss, chances are you are going to take some damage in return.  Players thought the counterattack mechanism was overpowered, but really, what it comes down to is a roll off and whoever wins can hit– attacker for free but with no information (dice haven’t been rolled) the defender ‘at cost’  but with all the information (dice are already rolled).

Damage takes the form of a die type and is either a consequence (like being wrapped in cabling) or some form of Stress (like FATE).  So, if you have D10 damage, that’s not only a track to see how fucked you are, but bonus die your opposition gets to roll against you.  Once it’s over D12, you are out of the scene and take some real damage.  Damage can happen FAST.  In the first exchange, if Thor hadn’t had a Plot Point to invoke his invulnerable power, he would have been one-shotted by Living Laser. The heroes were one shotting villains all over the place– and some of these guys were plenty ‘ard.  Like FATE, when you are in combat, things HAPPEN.

The dice pool mechanic was pretty quickly picked up by the players but it must have been crazy for them in the first hour or so.  They were able to build their pools quickly throughout the game– though I think it wasn’t exactly correct because though you can use a die from each ‘section’ of your character sheet, that doesn’t mean you are legally allowed to.  For example if you were trying to punch someone, you can’t use a “criminal master” D10 for your free trait die– it just doesn’t make sense.   My only complaint is that I hate D4’s: hate rolling them, hate reading the numbers off and hate stepping on the fucking things late at night. Otherwise the dicepool works really well.  It’s not as fast as FATE, but it doesn’t take forever and seems to squeeze out narration.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the powers in the game.  Powers are called ‘Power Sets’ that include all special effects and a limit.  Most characters have but one power set, but some have 2-3.   The special effects are things like: “Remove your Stress die to the doom pool and step up your next attack effect die by one rank” and really represent the player’s powers in the game.  The Limit is some condition that shuts down the power set (like Iron Man having his armor power shut down by an EMP).  These limits were tough to integrate during the first play– I just didn’t know if I was supposed to show them to the players or not.  You do not play with a GM screen and nothing is hidden from the players so I would assume they could just look on the enemy sheets.  Again, the number of powers and effects are manageable and it’s possible to run a shitload of NPC’s with no problem: something that cannot be said for ANY other Supers game I’ve played.

Ok…there are a few A-listers that are pretty cool…

In summary, the first session was chaotic but showed a lot of potential for the system.  I need to run the game again (and explain the rules better to the group) to see if players get bored of the system and all the dice or if it stays fresh.  Like most other Supers games, there isn’t really any reason to use or get experience points– but they are there and there is some leveling up, but for the stock Marvel characters– who cares?  In short, MHR really this blows away Champions and the Hero system because I could sit down and run the game with little to no prep, much like FATE. With practice, I could probably make up villains on the fly during play.   The issue, creatively, is I’m not sold on and RPG based around MARVEL, you can’t really make characters easily and while the system isn’t tied to the setting all that much, who on earth has the time to make an alternate setting?  That said I will run this fucker again, despite the fact that the main characters have underwear with them on it that your kids would wear and lunchboxes and toys from the 70’s and are pretty much played out story wise (I never noticed how fucking LAME wolverine’s ‘Japanese’ backstory really was– oh the 80’s…) but it would be nice to get off the generic Marvel heroes in the book (FF, Xmen and Avengers,with the only B-listers being Power Man and Iron Fist) and onto stuff like the Lesbian Space Adventures of Phyla-Vell or you know… something closer to EXALTED.

FATE Core kickstarter soon

Golden Gunman, Ting Ting and Silverback…l oops wrong system!

Set up to fund the art and get feedback, the FATE Core Kickstarter is a low amount (3K) and as soon as you get in on it you get a demo version of the system (with no art obviously) at any level.  If you’re interested in what they are doing with the system, you can throw a buck at it and get the goods.  The image shown as a teaser (a Robotic Gorilla, a KILLER-esque dude with pistols and a chick with a sword) screams Shadowfist/FENG SHUI to me, which is not a bad thing at all.  Since the core rules are likely to be quite generic, it’s going to be up to other systems designers to apply it to the worlds of fantasy and science fiction where needed.  Will this blow away some of the older versions of FATE?  For sure Dresden Files and Spirit of the Century will be dinosaurs BUT I think Kerberos Club (Strange FATE) and Bulldogs are still completely viable builds off the older versions.  Bulldogs because of it’s simplicity and clarity and Strange FATE because it totally hits ALL the numbers for a high-powered/super hero game with both the way powers are built and the tier levels (which let you replace a fate die with a D6 based on your tier compared to the opposition).  That said, the new FATE Core will probably push the developers of both of those games further into RPG bliss land.

I’ve had a good times with FATE the too few times I’ve run it–Dresden Files as well as the Atomic Robo beta.   The FATE system makes more complicated systems look WAY too complicated in comparison because FATE strips down everything to the minimum of what you need to run an RPG game without turning it into freeform madness or diceless chaos.  When I look at WFRP 3rd edition and the Marvel CORTEX system– I just see complexity over the top of what is essentially FATE.  Granted WFRP has all the neat stuff in the box and some really awesome ideas to it with the stances, action cards and party card, but CORTEX seems a bit too complicated for what it needs to be.  Exalted– well that’s a different beast entire…

Anyway here is the link to the kickstarter.

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.


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


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.


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.


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.

Awesome RPG initiative system

the game looks to be the tits.

The new Marvel RPG is all the rage this week and it’s only out in PDF format so far. It’s very Fate-like, except it uses a bunch of the funny dice like D&D and is very abstract where stuff like Champions/Hero (and Exalted) are very precise and crunchy. While I find it completely impossible to imagine running an actual superhero RPG with my group, I like reading about the systems. I’m a bit of a Systems Addict actually so I stumble upon stuff of variable usefulness. Yesterday my stumbling came across a post about the Marvel RPG initiative system by one of the FATE creators, and apotheosis followed.

Initiative is a tough nut to crack in pen and paper RPG’s because of turn angst.  Ideally you want something that rewards players who have spent some sort of resource for their speed, whether it’s in items or their character build or even gotten a good die roll, but as RPG’s have moved towards characters taking ‘actions’ or a ‘scene’ or in Marvel’s case: a ‘panel,’ rather than attacks (with or without the stunts we so love now since Feng Shui) you don’t want some characters dominating the combat scenarios by getting to take a turn more than other player’s characters because then those people without fast characters just sit there… and sit there.

This has typically been solved, unsatisfactorily in my opinion, by a ’round the table’ method where everyone rolls a die, maybe modified, and gets to go in that order, or someone on the player side goes first, then it goes around the table with the GM going last.   In contrast to this method is the tick-based systems of Exalted and Champions, where a character’s actions determine how long it is until they can take another action.  While this is the most realistic of the systems and fun when all the players (not necessarily the NPC’s) have the same action counts, woe is it to be the archer or a player with a high tick attack action– because you sit there waiting and waiting to take an action, only to take one and have to wait and wait again.  While the tick systems are the most tactically deep, in practice, when you have outliers like someone too fast or too slow, it breaks down in play (i.e.: don’t play an archer in Exalted)

As this post discusses, the new Marvel RPG has a hand off mechanic where the player or NPC that takes and action gets to choose who the next actor in a fight is and this is simple and downright brilliant.  There is tactical depth, the ability to team up attacks, the ability to out-manuver your opponents by making them take their turn before they want to, etc.   What’s more, this could easily be tacked on to ALL non-tick-based initiative systems and looks to work just as well for social or physical conflicts.  Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay? Yes.  FATE (Dresden, Bulldogs, Anglerre) in all the incarnations I know of?  Yes.  Even in OD&D this could work.  Sure, some skills players have in each RPG may not work with this in some systems, but they could simply be adjusted since the ‘actor’s choice’ mechanic is so simple.

FATE! first session

I got a chance to run a FATE-based game last night using the Dresden Files rules.  Instead of going through the usual world-building session that would lead to an extensive campaign, we played a published one-off adventure so people could get the feel of the system.  I chose “Night Fears” as it seemed the simplest both in the low power level of the characters and the fairly simple scenario of kids showing up to a purportedly haunted house to spend the night.  Of course since there are Fae born characters and a ghost talking kid, the house IS haunted.  My goals were to help the players to learn what the Fudge dice were for, how to use skills (the easy parts), and how to use fatepoints to invoke, tag, and asses Aspects.  Also, since FATE has a pretty unique damage system, I wanted them to understand what Stress and consequences were.  I’m a newb myself, so these were also things that I understood in the abstract, but didn’t know how they actually played out.

The characters, pregenerated high school students included a Faeborn trickster, a religious kid whose faith actually gives him some supernatural power, a kid who can see the past (a bit) by focusing in on an inanimate object and a normal girl who is just real sensitive to her surroundings.  Nothing too powerful at all so there wasn’t going to be any running around with axes or gunplay.  What’s cool about this scenario is that these characters start off incomplete without all their skills and aspects chosen and this really gave the players a chance to start to understand what aspects are and how they are derived.  Night Fears has a section devoted to a series of questions to ask the group where the players themselves have a large hand in defining why exactly they are at the house and what they’re each doing there that night.  After a half hour or so, turning the answers to these questions in to aspects became a breeze, and a lot of fun too.  What the aspects actually DO was still a mystery at this point.

Because it was kids in a haunted house, I’d say 80% of the game play we got through was player on player interaction.  Since they were trying to scare each other out of the house, they started doing attacks (social or mental) on each other via ghost stories or trying to freak the others out with tricks.   This ended up causing consequences almost all around the table.  Of course, the house itself slowly starts to do these things to the kids as well (of course!).  Most of the characters took consequence aspects like ‘freaked out’ or ‘creeped out’ but one player took “huddled inside my sleeping bag” which forced him to walk around with his sleeping bag around him from that point on.

We didn’t get all that far, obviously the shit starts to go down the nearer it gets to midnight and I felt as a GM I wasn’t doing all that much (my NPC’s were not ‘active’ much during the session, but people had quite a bit of fun I think.

My main questions are:  When does some sort of argument become an attack– there was a fight over a flashlight (verbal) and in Exalted, you can actually ‘win’ the fight via social combat and get the flashlight, but in FATE, it seemed like the players would be just laying on consequences/stress that didn’t specifically resolve the argument over the flashlight.  Plus if you have social stress from the fight about the flashlight– should this carry over to a fight say– about going upstairs alone?

Environmental Aspects– these are aspects on the scene itself that can be invoked or tagged– but as a GM, if I invoke a scene aspect, who gets the Fate point?  Who pays it?  I’m still not totally clear on those bits.

All in all, a good time and not the usual Exalted 4-6 hour combat mega-bloodbaths I’m used to running (which are also good!).

Bulldogs funded!

some sort of ewok/ badger style alien...

Looks like my first Kickstart backing has made it’s mark and is going to press shortly.  While this one worked out, the Kickstart system is essentially ‘pledge to buy it before it exists’ which is a huge risk of something totally sucking ass.  You don’t get charged until the funding goal is met so you’re covered if it doesn’t make it’s funding (and most projects on there don’t).    I think a few lessons from watching this and some other projects–have your shit close to done, if not totally done, so you can show off pieces to people and let them know that “hey this is not just an idea, this is something real, we just need funding to publish it or get through X phase.”  Artwork is also key at the funding stage.  If you can put together some good comps that spark the imagination in people, the cash is probably going to flow pretty well.  One kickstart I saw had a description of “I don’t want anyone to steal the idea” which is silly because HUNDREDS of people have had the same idea and will probably not get it executed.   Needless to say, that had no funding at all.

So I’m looking forward to seeing the Bulldogs book and will be checking Kickstart for good stuff which I’ll post.  The awesome thing is that this system totally circumvents the current publishing system while allowing people to not have to take out big loans or self-fund their (good) ideas.

My first Kickstart backing

Bulldogs: Sci-fi that Kicks Ass

Kickstart is a place where people can put up products they want to develop along with a cost to start. They then solicit pledges from people and if the project $ goal is met, the project (supposedly) commences.  Of course, most of Kickstart’s stuff is crap, but they do have a bunch of games up there, most are just crap ideas that will never see the light of day, but some are really interesting and I bit on one of them: a pulpy sci-fi pen and paper RPG using the Fate system called Bulldogs.   As there are pledge rewards, pushing them 50$ or so seemed like a good idea since, if the project goes through, you get a copy of the book along with certain pledge levels: essentially buying it before it exists.

This is definitely something I want to try for a couple game ideas I have kicking around, so I also figured I’d back a project and see what happens.

For those privileged enough to currently suffer through my Exalted campaign, no worries: I am not switching systems!  Exalted, burrs and all, is just an awesomely fun game to play, and as my heaving bookshelves can attest, I’m in it for the long haul.  This could turn into a discussion of the Fate system and why it’s so intriguing, but that’s a dog for another day.