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

Atomic Robo by Evil Hat

I wish I was more familiar with the source comics… but so far I’ve been good about resisting reading them during work.

It’s Fate, but they have an interesting character creation system using “Modes” that somewhat streamlines character generation by having you pick three of four modes and ranking them +3, +2, +1. The modes have associated skills, and where they overlap (a skill is on both lists), they auto-bump up, so the overlap isn’t wasted. Plus they have weird modes beyond the standard 4, to model specific concepts from the comic (like being an Automaton or dinosaur).

Something I really want to see in play is brainstorming–a structured way to bring science and similar “background” skills into prominence, by letting you influence the problem you’re trying to solve. Plus brainstorming is a competitive/cooperative thing… you’re all working together, but if you win by the most, your idea is true and the other players have to work their ideas around it.

I haven’t played it yet, but I’d like to.

Fate and Fate Accelerated resources

I just spent too long tracking this down, so I’ll keep it here for reference.

Contests under fire (a contest/conflict merge)

fate-core-important-links
Community Fate Core Extensions

Mousguard via FAE: Guard Mice Accelerated

Doyce: Gaming with Kids, and FAE tutorial

From Making Stunts, is a stab below, leading to a randomized version by Fred Hicks called Stuntmaker.

STUNT TEMPLATE

Still confused on how to make a Stunt? How’s this handy chart- just match one of the WHAT’S with any appropriate WHEN:

WHAT
Grant +2 to a specific action using a specific skill…
Switch one specific skill with another specific skill…
Add an action to a skill (ex. you can now Attack; now Defend)
Ignore a simple rule (ex. can’t use a skill twice in a challenge)…
Add a +2 opposition to a specific thing (ex. block moving; writing in code)…
Grant a 2 stress hit…
Cause a mild consequence…
Create an Adventure (no free invoke) that takes a Fair +2 roll to remove …
Upgrade a boost to an aspect (with free invoke)…
Switch ANY skill with a specific skill (Requires TWO “Whens”)

WHEN
…when attempting something that’s your speciality (ex. expert on Languages)
… in a specific circumstance (ex. when you’re On Fire; when you’re Surrounded)
…once per scene
… when you pay a Fate Point
… when doing a specific action (ex. Overcome, Create an Advantage, Attack, Defend)
… when you succeed with style for a specific action (Attack, Create an Advantage). This replaces a Boost, and is optional.
… when you invoke the aspect related to the stunt (this costs an invoke or fate point, and replaces the +2 bonus.)

Ex. I have an evil witch. I match the “cause a mild consequence…” with a second half. “Once per scene” would work. Or if I want more color, maybe, “when you succeed with style (instead of a boost.” I like the second one better, as it means her bonuses are other’s downfalls.

When in doubt, the safest, easiest stunt template is “+2 to a specific skill, when doing a specific action (overcome, create an advantage, attack, or defend) in a specific situation.” For example, “My Little Burro”: +2 to Drive when Creating Advantages when in your favorite humvy, “Burro.”

Fred Hicks: That’s a good list. My only quibble is the “when” option of “… when you pay a Fate Point” because paired up with a lot of the WHAT’s it’s not really different from not taking the stunt and just spending the fate point on an aspect invoke as needed. Typically when I have a stunt cost a Fate Point, it’s because it’s granting a 3-shift equivalent benefit or something else pretty potent instead of the standard 2-shift equivalent benefit.

Assessments, Declarations, and Manuevers

From http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FateRPG/message/16305

Assessments, Declarations, and Maneuvers are all the same action, the way I look at the system. As individual applications, they’re framed differently. Assessments ask the GM to come up with something that in the story-space is already true, just discovered. Declarations empower the player to come up with something that was already true. Maneuvers empower the *character* to assert something new and now true.

Fred

And from Grant: If the GM is amenable, an Assessment may also allow a player character to ‘discover’ an element that the GM hadn´t even thought of previously. In this manner the Assessment works like a Declaration (see below) with the player stating that his character has identified a weakness, Aspect or other feature. The GM sets a Difficulty for the Skill roll to see if the character was correct in his Assessment, or whether he was mistaken. If the roll fails, the GM may wish to impose a temporary Aspect on the assessing character to reflect this, for example ‘Mistakenly believes the security cameras to have a blind spot’.

Pulp theft caper

Tagging and Compelling Scene Aspects

A great exchange (though long) about how and when you can/should apply location aspects. (From the FATE mailing list.) The following is my nickle summation, though the whole dialogue is an excellent one.

  • Compel a scene aspect when: It complicates the narrative in an interesting way.
  • Apply difficulties due to the situation when: Players are already invested in the scene, or an obstacle affects all sides equally.
  • Ignore mechanical penalties when: Failure doesn’t advance the plot interestingly. Rolling against a boring obstacle doesn’t do much for the story; move on to describing how it slowed/impeded their efforts but get on with the story.

Here’s the thread. Lenny is responding to a general question about scene aspects and difficulties:

As a player or GM, you can tag a scene aspect to give yourself a bonus or to compel for effect. On one level, that’s mainly about simplicity; SotC has a fair amount of crunch to it already if you use every rule in the book. So “penalties” are always positively facing; they’re bonuses for the person who’s going to roll against you or for the obstacle that you face. Ultimately, if there’s no resistance, then failure isn’t particularly interesting, and hence it doesn’t matter.

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