Thursday, 26 November 2015

FAE Thinking

My only experience with the FATE tabletop RPG was wonderful. Granted we struggled with the system in a heap of ways, but the overall effect was brilliant as the mechanics shifted the game logic into some wonderful narrative directions. Then there is the simplified version, FATE Accelerated - FAE which pairs back some of the system while retaining the coolest pieces.

While I havent played FAE yet (keen to do that though) - one of the tricks that reading the rules presents is having players roll their biggest stat all the time. That is largely because skills are replaced with Approaches which describe how you do something not your inherent skill a the task itself and this approach is what confers the roll bonus. So if you are a Flashy character and you can perform an action in a Flashy way then you get your +3 or whatever to the roll. Is this a problem or will players go with the story and feel of the game rather than the mechanics??

Rob Donoghue from Evil Hat Games has a nice post on this 'Wrestling with FAE' where he posits some thoughts on how to adjust the engine to help. I was thinking last night that another approach might be to instil more flavour into the approaches themselves that enhances the double edged nature of many of the FAE Concepts. So rather than just Clever we have 'Full Geek Out'. Then if a character is only being a somewhat careful then that’s just +1 rather than the full ‘Soooo Precise’ they might otherwise get. So Max +1 unless you go the all out on the approach.

Here is the kind of flavour I was envisaging. Apart from inviting more roleplaying from the heroes, it might hint at different costs for success or impacts from failure:

Quick = Race is On
Clever = Full Geek Out
Forceful = Unleash Raw Power
Flashy = Look at Me, Look at Me
Careful = Soooo Precise
Sneaky = Shadow and Blame



We were talking the other day about giving space for characters to interact with each other during the game itself. Often the 'plot clock' brings its pressure to the game, making incidental conversation or finding out about backstory elements a contested thing when there is some actual big problem or situation which requires the characters attention. Having everyone ok with taking time from the plot pressure to have a side conversation is tricky as it can feel like a distraction, though ultimately awesome. I note that this is really hard to force, having a spot in the game setup for characters to not follow the plot is a sure way for it to not really work out, it should feel natural.
One side aspect of this is the etiquette around multiple conversations going at once. This happens often if the party gets split and some of the characters are discussing how they are going to deal with X while another character is doing something cool on their own. Should we all display enough interest in every player's story to listen to the one conversation at a time or should we allow all these overlapping conversations to flourish - esp if they are all nicely in character??

While we are here, how about a few more interesting Tabletop RPG things that look cool:

Penny for Your Thoughts is very clever for such a simple thing - using some of these ideas in other games for character creation could be fun.
I couldn't resist ordering 'It's Not My Fault' already - even if it is just for inspiration.
Built on the Apocalypse World engine, Masks look great, though I missed the Kickstarter.
Then there is Cloud Dungeon which brings some 'art' to the tabletop RPG experience = sweet.
Another Kickstarter is the English version of Shinobigami which looks dramatic.
Last thing for today is Michtim, I like the idea of emotions being stats.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The New Party

Our new 13th Age campaign is one session old now, with our characters having got through their first fight in the first room of the vast Stone Thief living dungeon. After our recent Tremulus game we decided on a lighter game and some fun characters in a fantasy romp.

Here is the group, and a pretty quirky group of adventurers it is too (L-R):

Human monk cursed to be a gorilla when caught trying to steal the temple's golden bananas

Burly Dwarf-Forged Sorcerer-bot destined to save the 14th Age

Petalate Seal Maiden of the Order of the Wild Rose (healer cleric) carrying the child of the High Druid (my character)

The Beast
Experimental weapon created by an alliance of the Archmage and the High Druid, now escaped and able to transform into different animals, likes dire-bear form (druid)

Wood Elf Paladin with a determination to see the end of the Stone Thief!

The pic was all done on the Surface Pro 3 in Photoshop - starting with a quick pencil layer then lots of hours spent doing my version of inking. This took me way too many hours, I need to find a faster way to get this sort of effect, esp when I am not confident with the lines. I will work on the colouring next and repost with some WIP pics as well another time.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Mad Max

I really loved Mad Max Fury Road in the cinema and while it was still fun at home on BluRay it lacked some of the grandeur of the giant screen. What a fascinating film it is, such a simple plot that is a few hours of incredible car chase with moments of emotional or expositional breathing space slotted in - yet it works oh so well. The cinematics, stunts, colour, music - just a wonderful piece of action and emotion on the big screen.

We actually had Peter Pound, one of the principle artists, in to do a guest lecture for one of the courses here at UNSW Built Environment recently. It was great to not only see the original drawings but to get a better glimpse behind the scenes. As he works principally using traditional media, each revision of the design for say the War Rig was a new drawing - and a beautiful drawing at that.

Peter Pound Concept Piece

Some links to cool things:
Mad Max Fury Road Official Site
Art of VFX Article
WETA Workshop Article


After watching again I am a little more inspired to try the Apocalypse World game in its original setting - the book is superb. Would give us as players a chance to delve deeply into our own version of this style of world, to see how humanity and individuals might deal with such the hardships of such a time...