Review of 2016

There are plenty of more socio-political aware blogs providing commentary on the atrocity that was 2016. I don’t have much to add to that, only to say that, even disregarding international events, personally this has been the worst year of my life.

I played some cool roleplaying games though 🙂 Continue reading

CAMELOT Trigger: Armoured Human NPCs

Tournaments, duels and frank exchanges of views are a staple of the Arthurian romances – as much as, if not more than, full military conflict. In the universe of CAMELOT Trigger, the Emergent might be the ultimate enemy, but that doesn’t mean that human knights don’t have plenty of reasons to clash.. Noble houses manoeuvre around one another, and beyond the Round Table, pirates and brigands take advantage of the turbulence to prey upon unwary travellers. And then there are those truly villainous souls who willingly serve MerGN-A herself…

Last time I provided a few Emergent NPC statlines for GMs to use in their games. This time I want to expand that range to include human adversaries. In each instance, I’ve provided an archetype of human opponent, then an example character who fulfilled that role in my campaign (with stats!). Continue reading

CAMELOT Trigger: Emergent NPCs

I love CAMELOT Trigger. I love the setting, both the strength of its elevator pitch (“What if the Knights of the Round Table piloted mecha to fight robots in outer space?”), and the extra details that spark the imagination, without including too much to constrain it. And I love the system for mecha construction and combat, which brings an extra level of tactical thinking to Fate conflicts, reflecting the military-focus of the genre. We finished our campaign last weekend, and I’m still buzzing with excitement from a campaign-well-done.

I don’t love the example NPCs. Continue reading

The Third Horsemen: Final Thoughts on the Dystopian Universe Beta

Disclaimer: This post concerns the beta version of an unreleased game. The commentary below may not reflect the contents of the game’s released version.

Evil Hat’s Dystopian Universe beta is now closed, and the last of my feedback is submitted. Bound as I am by “disclosure pledge” obligations, it’d be remiss of me not to conclude our campaign story, and provide one final bit of feedback. Continue reading

The Third Horseman: Initial Feedback for the Dystopian Universe Beta

Disclaimer: This post concerns the beta version of an unreleased game. The commentary below may not reflect the contents of the game’s released version.

A tsunami of post-it notes. That’s my stand-out memory from the first two sessions of the Dystopian Universe RPG. One of the players (or more than one, or less than one MAYBE I’M BLUFFING) ended up with a secret that required them to pass on notes to the GM, and I guess everyone wanted in on the act. Continue reading

Dystopian Universe Beta: Character Generation

Disclaimer: This post concerns the beta version of an unreleased game. The commentary below may not reflect the contents of the game’s released version.

Last week we had our character creation session for the Dystopian Universe RPG. Whilst we were missing a player, that didn’t prevent us cracking on with a systems overview and setting generation. Our fifth player, a Fate veteran, didn’t require quite the same level of education, and has now mostly confirmed what his character is going to be too. Continue reading

How to Run a Bad Leverage Game

Back in my university days when I pretended I was going to be a screenwriter, I read some useful advice about getting your work reviewed and edited by someone else: when someone suggests that a part of your writing has a problem, they are usually right. When someone suggests a fix to that problem, they are usually wrong.

The other day I ran a one-off game of the Leverage RPG. It was… well, it wasn’t exactly terrible, but it was weirdly uneven, and my players were far from satisfied. We discussed the game afterwards, and the prevailing view of the players was that the game system had problems which had accounted for our mediocre experience, in spite of our determined efforts to have fun.

But I don’t think I agree that Leverage is a bad game. Continue reading

“This Goes Right When…”: Philosophy of Aspect Invocation in Fate

Fate is one of my all-time favourite RPG systems, but after a hundred or so games, there are plenty of things I’ve learned to dislike. Perhaps the thing I dislike about GM’ing it the most is how often you’re required to say “No” to players. There are so many calls to be made in Fate – stunt balance, compel penalties, the legitimacy of invoking an aspect – that the book gives a little guidance for, but mostly leaves for each gaming group to work out on their own. And whilst table consensus is usually the best way to make those calls, the players have a conflict of interest, because they always want their characters to be awesome. That pitches the GM into the position of naysayer, if any semblance of balance is to be preserved.

Antagonistic GM’ing isn’t my thing. I’d far rather manage storytelling collaboratively. So rather than shutting down players with a “No” over and over again, I’d far rather teach them how to get me to say “Yes” – to approach the distinct elements of Fate with the same mindset that I do. That way, everyone is on the same page, which makes telling a story together that much easier. Continue reading

Ferrymen: Attack on C5 (and other heists in Fate)

Part 5 of the Ferrymen series, a long running home campaign adapting Diaspora to Fate Core.

Been busy recently – partially with some exciting RPG stuff I unfortunately can’t talk about right now – so today’s Ferrymen post is long overdue. My subject is the player party’s break-in to the Carthaginian Consultancy’s fortified headquarters, a dramatic set-piece from the end of our last arc, that had been foreshadowed from literally the first session of the game.

Undoubtedly, the impact of this moment was derived from the shared history of the player party leading up to the encounter. But the mechanics used to evoke the unique challenges of the heist played their part, I think, and a lot of that could be equally applicable to any GM preparing a heist or similar set-piece for a Fate game. What follows is partly mechanics, partly GM advice, but mostly just extrapolation of material from Fate Core. I hope that having it all in one place will nonetheless be a useful reference. Continue reading