Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My JackerCon experience - playing FATE

This last weekend there was an online convention being organized among the fans and friends of the Happyjacks RPG podcast. It was all happening on g+, after you signed up on the events posted in timeslots in the podcast forums. Luckily for me, some people scheduled events at a time when it was not in the middle of the night here in Sweden. So, jumped in and played a session in a g+ hangout.

First I had to setup a laptop with a webcam, which I did not have on my main machine. Then I actually did a test hangout with my wife just to understand how it worked. It felt like I had never used a computer before. Finally, I was ready. I can say from the start that it worked quite well, even though it felt a bit awkward to switch from the Roll20 window to the Hangout window to actually see the person speaking. But, all in all I think this marks the beginning of more online play on my part, if I can only manage to get all the duck in a row in the messy world of international gamerdom and timezones.

The game was a secret, only to be revealed when we "sat down at the table" so to speak. Had I known more about the source material I might have been able to immerse myself even more. We played gummi bears. Yes, from the children's cartoon. Silly but funny.

Our GM had decided to run the game using Fate Accelerated Edition, a slimmer version of the recently concluded FATE Core rules release. I have not played FATE before in modern times, and it was great to get the opportunity to try out a new game system. I own the FATE books, but sometimes you get a better perspective on the game not by reading, but by playing it with someone who have ironed out the kinks, and can show how it's done. I love that aspect of convention play, and I'm a bit sad it doesn't seem to be done much in these parts where freeform play is popular in the convention arena.

How did it work? Quite well! We had an aspect that defined our character, a bit like the class define who you are in D&D. Then we had an aspect defined as a trait that would get us into trouble, either with the setting or another character. In general that is a great idea, I think. There were some other abilities, but those were the ones I fixated on. We went nuts and acted like cartoon characters for a couple of hours and laughed a lot. Thanks a lot to the organizers and to our GM Mike!

One thing I though you could grab from FAE, and maybe import into other games. In contrast to FATE Core, you don't have skills but instead have something called Approaches. Since older editions of D&D don't have skills, many have pondered the question of whether that is a feature, or a indication that something is missing. I wont take a firm stand on that question, but for your edification I will tell you something about how Approaches work, and you can decide for yourself if you like to maybe include something like that in your D&D game.

Approaches are basically words that describe how you do things. They are Forceful, Quick, Careful, Clever, Sneaky, and Flashy. So, if you want to bypass a door, you can do it sneakily or forcefully. I guess you see what those two options entail. I think the way you do it in FAE, add your rating in that Approach to your diceroll, might be borrowed to other games. Maybe you have a few points to spread around, or decide one Approach is dominant and the other recessive. It could be a cool way to differentiate that 1 in 6 roll to intimidate someone if you choose to do it your favoured Forceful way, or the Clever way instead. If you roll under your stat with a d20 or 3d6 a bigger bonus than +1/-1 might be used depending on how much you want those Approached to influence play. I think there are interesting possibilities in this system! Fool around with it, and if you try it out, I'd love to hear how it went.
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