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Showing posts from June, 2013

Making My Marchland Unseelie Court

As mentioned a couple of posts ago, the actual Marchland book separates the European fae-blooded into seasonal courts, not Seelie and Unseelie. This was also the set-up in Dark Ages Fae and I couldn’t wrap it around my brain there either. It’s just too many factions and I can’t really be bothered with that for a duet game, so I’m making up my own Seelie and Unseelie courts. I can’t remember any of the NPCs from the actual Marchland except for Lilly Barnes and that weirdo Theo, so these are all my own goofy invention.

Erik Alderman
High Concept: King of the Unseelie Court of Brighton Bay
Trouble: All the gods-damned humans
Aspect 1: Hard-bitten survivor of four hundred years of war and politics
Aspect 2: Not all trolls are stupid and ugly
Aspect 3: Casual cruelty

Careful: +1
Clever: +3
Flashy: +2
Forceful: +4
Quick: +2
Sneaky: +3

Stunt 1: Because I am smarter and less savage than the average troll, once per session I can act first in combat when I unleash my true savage nature.
Stunt 2: Because I w…

Making My Marchland Seelie Court

Marchland contains one of my pet peeves: super-mysterious embedded NPCs with no game stats.I presume this is meant to help fuel a Marchland GM’s imagination and allow her to customize the setting to her vision, but I frankly find it annoying.If it doesn’t have stats, the players can’t kill it; if the players can’t kill it, then player agency is denied; if you’re trying to deny player agency, then these NPCs are even more precious snowflakes than the player characters – and that sucks.
(Feel free to substitute “combat” for “kill” and assume “combat” includes “argue with,” “trick,” “humiliate,” and all the other things PCs should be able to do to NPCs.)
(Also, I’m a bit cranky and groggy today.)
Because of that, I need to assign some danged stats and figure out who’s who and what’s what.Because Una Sheridan’s primary allegiance is to the Seelie Court, I’ll start with them – and I’m going to use FATE Accelerated Edition (FAE) because I can do that without flipping back and forth between …

Making My Marchland

I’m more re-creative than creative; give me an established setting or characters and I’ll dig into them and find ways to reinvent and use them, but I struggle with flat-out inventing things.(I would have made a great hack comic book writer or DC editor.)Because of that, I knew I was going to need help coming up with an urban fantasy setting.I went on DrivethruRPG and took a look at the Dresden Files RPG: Your Story book for FATE and Marchland for Savage Worlds and concluded that Marchland was half the price of the other.Back to Savage Worlds we go.
Marchland gave me a lot of what I wanted – a functional fictional city, a basic cosmology, and fae creation rules that aren’t just super powers revisited – but I’m going to have to rework a few bits and add a few more.Separating the European fae into season-based courts instead of the Seelie and Unseelie didn’t work for me in Dark Ages Fae and it doesn’t work for me here, the various fae and Manitou tribes are barely described, and none of t…

The Monkey

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I like to pretend I could have been a vocal actor.I’ve got a set of funny voices that I’ve used so many times over the years that I can speak in them for hours without breaking character.These voices have become stock characters in our duet games, practically Eternal Companions to Robin’s Eternal Champion.One of them is my favorite NPC.His name is “the Monkey.”
The Monkey is a leering, irreverent rascal.His voice grates with a boyish cackle.He is a thief, a trickster, a man with a plan.When pressed, he can be sensitive and mature but vastly prefers being an irresponsible man-child.His greatest desire is to live free but he’ll do anything for the woman he loves.The Monkey is, bluntly, my impression of Tony Oliver’s voice for Lupin III.
The Monkey first appeared way, way back in our original duet game – an Old World of Darkness Land of Eight Million Dreams (“changelings of the east”) campaign starring a nyan (cat-girl) named Fuyuko.His name in that campaign was Monkey Mask, a hanuman (m…

Spitballing Urban Fantasy Ideas

So I was writing a different post and realized I really, really want to jump into a new campaign because the current one is getting into emotional territory that I just don’t want to play because it strikes uncomfortably near the recent family drama.So what does that mean for the next game?
The genres we’ve played least in the last thirteen or so years of duet gaming are modern urban fantasy/paranormal romance and science fiction.Since I don’t think I can talk Robin into playing a Star Trek game, the urban fantasy setting seems the best choice.The question then becomes one of how I want to handle this modern setting.
Do I want it to be modern “modern?”It’s tempting to set the game back in the ‘90s as an excuse to listen to old grunge rock CDs for background music; it also cuts down on the presence of cell phones and internet searches.Frankly, I’ve got a pretty contentious relationship with the millennial generation, so playing again in that brief, shining moment when Generation X mat…

Thinking About Sexy Monsters

In my ongoing attempt to become everything I once hated (storygamer, bicyclist, etc.), I am seriously considering making my next duet campaign an urban fantasy setting – by which I mean fairies and vampires living in the modern world, not Lankhmar or Waterdeep.
I know, I know.I’m surprised, too.
The reason for this interest in urban fantasy is pretty simple: it’s 90% of the TV I watch.The price of buying a house a couple of years ago was giving up cable, so it’s pretty much all Netflix and occasional Blu-Ray boxed sets. Robin and I have spent several nights each week for the last year working our way through the first seven seasons of “Supernatural,” devouring the first season of “Once Upon a Time,” and finally catching on to “Lost Girl.”Just to space out the remaining unseen episodes of “Supernatural” and “Lost Girl,” we’ve started sampling “The Dresden Files,” the US “Being Human” (which we hope we’ll like more than the British version), and “Hemlock Grove.”Netflix is full of urban…

Er...

Stunt 2: Because I am an alien Christ-figure, I get a +2 when I Forcefully Defend innocent bystanders. Umm…I hadn’t seen “Man of Steel” when I wrote my FAE Superman stats last Friday.As many have commented, Zack Snyder kind of forgot to include that character trait in the movie.I can assure you that stunt was not meant as a dig at the film; I enjoyed the movie and can even excuse the slight mischaracterization on the grounds that it is literally Superman’s first adventure in the film’s continuity.
(I enjoyed it partially because I never made the mistake of forgetting that this was a film by Zack Snyder, director of “300.”)

FAE Batman and Superman

Creating characters for FATE Accelerated Edition (FAE) is pretty damn fun.  Here's everybody's favorite superhero and that guy who's in that movie that just came out.
BATMAN*
High Concept:“I… AM… BATMAN!” Trouble: “I made a promise on the grave of my parents…” Aspect 1: “Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot…” Aspect 2: “The world’s greatest detective.” Aspect 3: “Where does he get those wonderful toys?”
Forceful: +3 Clever: +2 Sneaky: +2 Flashy: +1 Careful: +1 Quick: +0
Refresh: 3
Stunt 1: Because “I am the night!,” I get a +2 when I Sneakily Attack mooks. Stunt 2: Because I am secretly billionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne, I get a +2 when I Carefully Create an Advantage using my wealth. Stunt 3: Because I am a ninja in a Dracula costume, once per session I can exit the scene without anyone seeing me leave.

SUPERMAN
High Concept: “It’s SUPERMAN!” Trouble: “Strange visitor from another planet…” Aspect 1: “Faster than a speeding bullet…” Aspect 2: “Stronger than a locomotive…” Aspect…

FAE and the Zorro Test

A starting character in FAE can have up to five starting aspects (one of which has to be the character’s “high concept” and one of which has to be a “trouble”), the usual spread of approaches, a refresh of 3 (how many FATE points the character starts with), and up to three stunts (minor situational aspects that either give a bonus to a specific approach in limited circumstances or allow minor player control of the story once per session).The really awesome thing about this process is that I don’t have the FAE rulebook handy; I’ve already memorized character creation.
Perhaps the most important question to ask of any game system is “Can I make Zorro?”The answer from FATE Accelerated Edition (FAE) is “Yes, you sure can.”
ZORRO
High Concept: "Zorro!  Zorro!  Zorro!" Trouble: “As Don Diego, I pretend to be afraid…” Aspect 1: “Out of the night, when the full moon is bright…” Aspect 2: “This bold renegade/Carves a ‘Z’ with his blade…” Aspect 3: “The fox, so cunning and free…”
Flashy: +3

Initial Impressions of FAE

Unable to resist the siren call of free pay-what-you-want and pirate cat-girls, I downloaded FATE Accelerated Edition (hereafter, and throughout most of the book itself, referred to as FAE – which makes me want to do a bunch of “Lost Girl” awful fae-themed pseudo-puns).As I recently mentioned, I feel Savage Worlds isn’t doing a good job modeling the kind of story Robin and I are telling in our current duet game and I’m willing to experiment with another system.A quick read-through and a single session’s worth of play have me thinking FAE might be the system I need.
(A caveat: Contributing to this shift in thinking is a shift if playing style.An increase in pirate campaign sessions and the wild ‘n’ wooly, action-oriented mess they were led to a greater desire on Robin’s part for more story-oriented, dialogue-heavy role-playing.I can’t blame Savage Worlds for not suiting my needs.It isn’t you, baby; I’ve changed.
I can, however, report that the tactical – heck, I’d call it tactile – du…

You have my attention, Evil Hat

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There's a pirate cat-girl on the cover of Fate Accelerated Edition. Obviously, this bears further reading...


Musings

2013 has been a pretty cruddy year for me in many, many ways.Financial problems, illness, serious family drama, and the accompanying writer’s block have kept me away from the blog.I’ve missed writing, but I’m not even sure what to write about anymore.
I’ve been feeling a bit disconnected from Savage Worlds in the last few months.The Savage Worlds blogosphere is far from the vital, interconnected RPG community that the OSR represents.The community is found almost exclusively at Pinnacle’s forums and I’m just not a forum kind of guy.While Savage Worlds is still nominally my system of choice, Robin and I have spent most of the last month’s worth of duet games not even getting out the character sheets and dice.
Admittedly, the problem there is that we’re telling the kind of story Savage Worlds just isn’t able to handle: a literal apotheosis.Our story is set in the world of Mythika (home to the awesome but equally unsuitable faux-old school game Mazes and Minotaurs) where Nyssa of Peleos,…