A Meet Missed

Stannis Stadium is an immense, red marble Coliseum, packed with roaring crowds. Overhead, immense 40′ high holograms replicate the gladiatorial duel going on below. The 1st Hounds squad anchors their line in the marsh, probing the advancing 3rd Light Horse…

In a luxury box above, we see Arcon 005, Jack Turner, and Leon Iococa enjoying the spacious box… but their attention wanders frequently from the action.

Leon spends a lot of time studying cameras that he placed along their entry route, keeping an eye out for disaster. Similarly, Arc stands outside the door to the box, on alert for interruption. Only Jack is in the games’ spirit; he places small bets while waiting for “Mr Johnson” to arrive.

He’s late; several matches pass uneventfully. Animals from Mumun are savaging Tacituar, when the situation changes. Leon and Arc’s preparation is for good cause; at the stair base, several members of the Praetorian Guard gather and move in a coordinated group towards the stairs leading to the team’s luxury box.

Fortunately, Jack switched the electronic signature of their luxury box with the adjacent box. Arc ducked in, stepping behind the door in the box’s bathroom doorway, so his presence outside wouldn’t give away their location.

The guard stormed up the stairs, peeling off guards to block the business level intersection, while the remaining guards continued up the stairs. Confused by the altered electronic signatures, the guard struck a more respectful pose and knocked on the adjacent luxury suite. While the Praetorian Guard spoke with the VP next door, Jack identified the service trapdoor in the floor. Leon placed a camera in the box and they fled down the maintenance ladder.

It wasn’t many rungs down the ladder before Leon heard the click of the door override through the camera relay, and watched the guards spread through the chamber, seeking the fleeing team. Eventually Leon spoke through the camera relay, asking them what was going on. They demanded to know where the senator was–they knew that whoever this was had snatched him, or was part of the distraction that led him to elude his guards. Since they’d done no such thing, the team decided to put some space between them and the pursuing Praetorians…

Arc’s trade-craft got him through the perimeter security without breaking a sweat. Leon and Jack, however, carefully worked their way through the crushing parts of the crowd, exploiting every advantage to remain unseen.

The team gathered back together in the preset subway station. Leon relayed the story of how an “Irene” had come to the office two weeks ago with “an invitation from her boss” and passed tickets to a box at today’s Gladiatorial Bouts. Obviously things hadn’t gone to plan… or it was a setup.

Jack commed Lux and had him pass along a message to the Praetorian Guard who had stormed the box where their aborted meet had taken place. They passed along Irene’s photo (from her ticket drop) and had Lux run down her home address. Leon rented a ground car that Arc drove toward her apartment, where they set up surveillance.

Sometime later, a pair of Praetorian Guards showed up to investigate Irene’s. Leon called Irene’s phone, then a second time when she didn’t answer the first time. She answered… and Leon let her know that he knew the guards were present, that they were watching. She put him on speaker, where Leon explained that they’d gone to the meet that Irene had set–and that the team had no idea who she’d represented until the guards showed up. Despite some reserve on the guards’ part, Leon pointing out that they had no need to expose themselves with the call was persuasive.

The team watched them lead Irene away for further investigation and gathered to plot their next step. Jack started calling his network of ex-military contacts; after a few “heard nothing” calls, he got through to Cosma. She’d heard some things he might be interested in…

They set a meet for an hour, then drove to arrive 45 minutes early. Leon dropped off Arc and Jack, then parked the car in a garage a few blocks away, ready to respond if called. Arc took a seat at a separate shadowed table and worked his way through a club sandwich methodically, while Jack fiddled with the camera he’d placed in the hall, keeping an eye out for Cosma.

Her information was pricier than expected, but she had a time and place for them to investigate. In the background, Lux sorted through camera feeds, finally catching a pair of men approaching… someone, probably the senator, and firing a concealed dart into the senator’s back. He stiffened; they walked him to a nearby alley where a distorted blue flash-perhaps of a taser-could just be made out.

Diaspora: Gathering Resources

What is Diaspora? It’s a science fiction game, a little less fantastic than Star Trek or Star Wars. Ships still spew reaction mass to travel, it’s a world without transporters and replicators (*probably). The short hand was “Traveler with Fate” — so a modern, less cumbersome system, in a traditional GM & Players role, but without 1970s roleplaying tech.

Basically, it’s useful for a universe somewhat like Firefly with slightly more “realistic” (or just different) ship limitations. In the first session, we’ll generate a cluster of 8-10 or so systems that are close enough for trade and travel. There’s a cool methodology that uses random prompts to encourage us to each create worlds, then link those worlds together with a rough diagram of history, trade connections, etc. Cluster generation is collaborative–we each create the worlds together at the table.

Then we make the characters, who will (probably) become a ship crew that travels between systems. The default idea is that you’ll be independent merchants traveling the black, slipping between systems to turn a profit–but maybe you’ll be explorers, or diplomats trying to defuse the cluster’s crises, or even “archaeologists” exploring the ruins of collapsed cultures. (We might make characters in the same session that we create the cluster–or it might be the second session if we get elaborate with the cluster generation.)

Now that we have the characters and the universe they’ll explore, we’ll launch into play.

Some resources:
Diaspora G+ community
VSCA’s Diaspora page. Which includes the Diaspora SRD, if you’re interested… plus a number of quick references.
Astrobit Diaspora play aids
Diaspora files on BGG
Atomic Rockets, and their common misconceptions page.

Worlds/Campaigns-
2011 Cluster Generation at RPG Meetup
Harmonium Cluster
Labcats play Diaspora
Angels and Omens campaign sessions, campaign setup
A pocket full of star dust

BlueMax Studios, Diaspora

NPCs you’ll meet while traveling
Ship with token
Battlecruiser
Spacehabs mostly cool pictures of space habitats
Random prompt: Aunt Chelsea’s planet
Colors of Blood Earth chemistry discussions
Cool spaceship illustrations
Simple world building from tectonic plates through wind cells and climate zones
Fate SF
Notes on Engineering Goals of Starship Designers

Background info on Stars
Star Gen
Random Star System generator.
Orion’s Arm stellar links page.
Planetary map generators

The Jedi mind control is working… on Fate designers

Recently, two different Fate designers have been starting up Star Wars campaigns and discussing how they modify the rules to match.

Rob Donoghue’s take: Shadow of the Sith blank character sheets, completed characters, and rules.

Meanwhile, Mike Olson has been working on a Faith Corps of Rebels for this weekend’s con. Overview, Maintaining Tone, Long Lasting Conditions, and Ships.

Each looks like a fun interpretation, though I don’t know Faith Corps (I haven’t seen the book yet), so I’d probably go for Rob’s take for now. Interestingly, both use a series of defined consequences, rather than Fate Core stress & consequences. I wonder if there’s a reason they both moved toward that design space…

Bulldogs, Fate Core Edition by Galileo Games

Bryan and I discussed the old Bulldogs game in the past, but this new edition was the first time I read through the game myself.

It’s a good setting, with a lot of the Diaspora/Traveler/Firefly feel of tramp freighters crossing the galaxy, trying to make ends meet. The decision to set the game mostly in a balkanized neutral zone between two great powers does a great job of reinforcing the feel of small-fry trying to keep under the radar. Smuggling and the like are a sure result.

The character creation section is good, with another good discussion of Aspects. Alien Species are handled well-they come out as flavorful, but not just stereotypes, with common aspects and species abilities that replace stunts. And the Aliens are pleasantly alien. Sure, there are a few Aliens that are basically humans (with or without scrunchy noses), but space slugs and tripeds are great. Similarly, there’s a nice implementation of Credits and Gear.

The debate around heirachry in ship games is settled in Bulldogs by making the Captain an NPC representative of the company. Everyone has an aspect reflecting their relationship to the captain.

Anyway, rather than lots of detail, I’ll just end with: this game looks great. I’d be happy to play it.

King Brion’s Heir deconstructed PCs

I’m going to create the PCs as three “snap together” segments to create a complete character. The idea first came to me when planning out my Spirit of the Century game, but I realized that I’ll work well too for this–and prevent me from falling into “it should follow the novel” expectations. I’ll pass out blank character sheets and

Core Concepts

  • High Concept: The Rightful Heir
  • Trouble: Precious, but still a kid
  • Skill: Empathy +4
  • Stunt: You’d be a fool to cross me: +2 Provoke when overcoming opposition by reminding them that you’ll soon be king.
  • High Concept: Deyrni Duke (or Duchess)
  • Trouble: Reviled by the Church
  • Skill: +4 Deyrni Power
  • Stunt: +2 to Notice Deyrni Power manifestations
  • High Concept: King Brion’s Brother
  • Trouble: Obligations to the Throne
  • Skill: +4 Fight
  • Stunt: Leader of Men: +2 to Rapport with Pages, Squires, and Knights trained at Rhemuth.
  • High Concept: The King’s Confessor
  • Trouble: The Episcopate has many demands
  • Skill: +4 Rapport
  • Stunt: +2 Stealth to avoid the notice of your superiors.
  • High Concept:
  • Trouble:
  • Skill: +4
  • Stunt:

Strong Elements

  • Aspect: Deyrni Halfblood
  • Skills: Lore, Deyrni Power +3
  • Stunt:
  • Aspect: Hidden Deyrni
  • Stunt:
  • Skills: Deceive, Stealth +3
  • Aspect:
  • Stunt:
  • Skills:
  • Aspect:
  • Stunt:
  • Skills:
  • Aspect:
  • Stunt:
  • Skills:

Bookwyrm and new D&D links

Bookwyrm is coming soon; we’re beginning to wrangle GMs. Patrick and I are in charge of the indie track… and there’s a lot of people who’ve previously run that we’d love to see again. My GM recruitment post is here.

Beyond Bookwyrm, two recent developments in D&D:
web browsable basic D&D rules and a hyperlinked D&D FAQ (for AL)

Also, WotC is recruiting players to write adventures and website articles for D&D.

And Fate…
Fate new player’s guide

Recent finds

Simple World, a purpose built Apocalypse World hack for one-shots.

FAE con “pregens” — an excellent technique. I can’t get no…

Making characters was fun. I didn’t want to do full char gen at the Con, even with a simple game like FAE. Too long, or more likely, choice paralysis. Nor did I want to do full pregens as a big part of Fate’s fun is the group making the decisions. So I mooted a card based idea, and ran with it in the end. I wrote 6 high concepts onto cards and let the players pick.

This got great buy in straight away. None of this is set in stone and I deliberately wrote Aspects with flex in them. Then, Troubles, on another six cards, and again with plenty of flex and some obvious conflicts written in.

At this point the players were brainstorming away and looking at each other’s picks. This was a big plus for me. Usually with pregens, players are so intent studying their own paper that they don’t pick up on the other PCs. With this, everyone was super aware of the party, all of it.

Then I put out some rules in the form of some pre picked Approach numbers, written on cards, taken straight from the FAE book. (see page 10). Easy. Then I killed the entire party.