Showing posts from January, 2017

First Experience with Fate Accelerated Star Wars

Last night we had our first experience at using Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) to run a Star Wars game. This was my third attempt at running a game using some variant of Fate. An Atomic Robo game went ok while an attempt at a homebrew urban fantasy game using FAE didn't really work out.

It will require a few more game sessions before I declare absolute victory but this session definitely did go far better than previous attempts. The session itself was a little rough on the technical side - one player was having sound issues (times like this I miss having an in-person group) so had to drop out and another had to leave a bit early. Real world stinks.

I'll do a writeup of the session itself at a later point, this is more focused on my experiences running the game. The game is a pre-Episode IV Star Wars game, set a vague amount of time prior to Episode IV (close to it, but we've not fully nailed down if it is a few months or years). They are Rebels going on missions for Senat…

Prepping My First Fate Accelerated Star Wars Game

Assuming all goes well we'll be trying out a Star Wars game using Fate Accelerated for our next game session.

This has been a rather busy two weeks - the new semester has started for my part-time pursuit of my Master's, my wife is taking an advanced course in pursuit of her professional teaching license (she currently has her initial license), I've begun a new role at work, and took my daughter to her first political protest. I had a lot less time to prep for this adventure than I normally do.

So what have I learned? Fortunately, it looks like prepping a Fate Accelerated (and presumably a Fate adventure in general) doesn't seem to involve as much statting up of characters. Given stat generation is incredibly quick in Fate (making the major NPCs took maybe a minute each) what I realized is I've a bit more freedom to allow my players to run off the beaten path and adapt on the fly.

What I am nervous about is getting the flow of Aspects and Fate Points right. That…

Hyperspace Travel as Airplane Trips in Star Wars

Rewatching the Star Wars films and animated series, one thing I'm noticing is hyperspace travel seems to be an awful lot faster than most role playing games tend to assume. For example, in Rogue One, the protagonists bounce across the galaxy in fairly small vessels without anything really in the way of comforts. The Rebels series does show a ship with crew quarters, but one still gets the impression of fairly quick travel times.

My own thought is the model of considering FTL travel in Star Wars as being akin to ocean travel may be a bit off the mark - it seems closer to modern airplane travel, where one might have an overnight trip but is unlikely to need full accommodations.

That said, there are still some destinations pretty far off the beaten path and we do see the suggestion of trade routes and hyperspace lanes. I'm still contemplating how, if at all, I want to make use of these thoughts in our upcoming game. What connects the worlds of a sector? What does it mean for wor…

Fiction Review: The Shining

Stanley Kubrik's film version of The Shining casts a rather long shadow over King's original novel. Jack Nicholson did a masterful job portraying Jack Torrance, caretaker of the Overlook Hotel as he goes insane. However, the Jack Torrance of the film is rather different from that of the novel. To paraphrase Stephen King, of course he goes crazy. He's played by Jack Nicholson.

So let's take a look at the novel on its own. Set in the then-contemporary mid to late-1970s, it tells the tale of the Torrance family. Jack Torrance, the father, is a moderately successful writer who was fired from his teaching position for beating up a student who had slashed his car's tires. Jack is a recovering alcoholic who did not stop drinking because he broke his preschool son's arm but because he and his wealthy friend, Al, after a night of drinking, struck a seemingly abandoned bicycle on the road. What was it doing there? Did they hit someone? Jack as a child adored his own fat…

Prepping FAE Star Wars

After a brief Gaslight/Pulp Cthulhu game in the autumn, this winter we'll be playing a Star Wars campaign using Fate Accelerated. The game will be set some time prior to Star Wars: A New Hope, with every possibility of advancing beyond it.

I'll likely post my impressions of Pulp Cthulhu actual play at a later point. My overall impression was it worked fine but I think I have a preference for a classic-era and style campaign. That said, I liked gaming in the late 19th-century and I think I'd really enjoy a non-Cthulhu adventure game set in that period.

The decision to use Fate Accelerated came out of a desire to use something less complicated than Fantasy Flight Games' various Star Wars RPGs. They are great games and I enjoyed Edge of the Empire but with my pursuing my master's degree part-time and taking on a new position at work, low prep-time is a must. We gave some thought to Star Wars D6 but decided to go for something a bit more on the narrative side.


Reflections on Ringling Brothers

I read this weekend that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be ceasing operations this May.
When I was a kid in the mid to late 1970s and the early 1980s, I used to spend a lot of time visiting my grandparents and uncle in Brooklyn, New York. Though I originally hail from there, most of my childhood was spent living in Connecticut (and a few other places). However, I did spend part of kindergarten living with my grandparents and spent many school vacations there.
While my grandfather took me to a ton of places in New York City, for whatever reason it was my uncle who would take me to see Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus every April vacation at Madison Square Garden. I also remember seeing it at the Hartford Civic Center as part of a high school band trip back in 1989 (also notable at that trip I picked up a trade paperback copy of The Dark Knight Returns on that school trip).
I used to have a blast at the circus. For whatever reason I remember these cheap…

Star Wars: Analyzing Anakin and Padme's Relationship

I've been rewatching the Star Wars movies over the past few weeks in bits and pieces. Watching Attack of the Clones I'm coming to understand what my problems are with the Anakin/Padme relationship and the missed opportunities - and what worked.

I do believe the fact that neither Anakin nor Padme are really equipped for a serious relationship was in fact intentional and probably a good dramatic choice (assuming it was). Anakin has spent his life first as a slave with his only real tie to his mother followed by a life in a quasi-monastic order. Padme has also spent a life of service, first as queen and then as senator. One gets the impression her personal life is fairly close to non-existent. Anakin can't see beyond the immediate "omigod I'm in love". Padme sees things a little more clearly, but nowhere near enough to view the possibilities of a relationship in any realistic manner.

Clearly Palpatine wanted them together - it kept her out of the Senate at a cr…

Old School Computers in Star Wars

I'm old enough to remember quite well life before the internet - at least the internet as we know it today, When I was in college in the late 1980s and early 1990s going online was a process - the modem on my PC would connect to a BBS or to UConn's dial-up line to allow access to mainframe and Unix systems. Being poor college students. we'd often shamelessly copy installation disks to share games.

I was reflecting on this with the whole Death Star plans plot of the Star War films Rogue One and A New Hope. There's some really minor spoilers for Rogue One here so if you've not seen the film you might want to stay clear - though in all honesty, it's nothing major.

In Rogue One, to obtain the Death Star plans on Scarif, the team has to reach a massive vault and retrieve the plans from that vault. They get transmitted to a Rebel starship whose crew copies them onto a data tape or disk of some sort - the same plans that Princess Leia passes on to R2-D2. At no point …

Examining the Rebellion Prior to Star Wars: A New Hope

The default Star Wars RPG campaign tends to be a Rebellion against the Evil Galactic Empire. It's actually been a while since I ran such a game - my previous Star Wars campaign was focused on smugglers and bounty hunter type characters who, while not fans of the Empire, were not outright Rebels. During the WotC era I found the Knights of the Old Republic campaign to a lot of fun. Taking place some 4,000 years before the Star Wars films, it dealt with the Republic fighting threats like the Mandalorians and the Sith Empire. Dark Horse Comics first explored this era in their Tales of the Jedi comics, followed by BioWare's Knights of the Old Republic video games. Dark Horse later did their own Knights of the Old Republic comic - one of the best Star Wars comics written, dealing with the renegade padawan Zayne Carrick and his motley group of companions. Though no longer a part of the official Star Wars canon, the tales remain fantastic and are now available from Marvel Comics (at …

FAE Luke Skywalker

I've been giving some thought to Fate Accelerated and Star Wars. As an exercise I've tried a build of Luke Skywalker as of Episode IV. As I went through the building process it became clear there's an infinite number of ways to build a character in Fate but I overall am ppleased with the build I came up with:

Luke Skywalker (Episode IV)

High Concept: Farm boy seeking to be a heroTrouble: Over my head off the farmOther: Best bush pilot in the outer rim territories, learning to trust the Force, my father’s lightsaber

Careful: +1 (Average)Clever: +1 (Average)Flashy: +3 (Good)Forceful: +2 (Fair)Quick: +2 (Fair)Sneaky: +0 (Mediocre)

Because I am learning to trust the Force, gain +2 when I carefully attackRoom for 2 more at three refresh
Refresh: 3

For aspects, I tried to think what Luke was like in Episode IV. His high concept is that of a dreamer. He wants more to life than what he has on the farm - moreover, he wants to be a hero. Never his mind on where…

Film Review: Moana

I've a 14-year old daughter who has been lobbying me to write about Moana on my blog so Vicki, this is for you.
My family saw Moana on Christmas night and I was lobbied for a follow-up viewing on the afternoon of New Year's Day. While the image at the top of this post indicates it is from the creators of Zootopia and Frozen, much of the creative team worked on Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and The Princess and the Frog. I can safely put it in the top tier of Disney animated films.
Moana tells the story of a girl, Moana, who lives on an island ruled by her father. She is heir to his role of chief. The island is a paradise, providing everything they need. Moana is a dreamer, being called to the sea. However, going out beyond the reefs around the island is considered dangerous and forbidden - and as a result her father, who is overall supportive of her and very loving, constantly discourages her urges to go out to sea. Her paternal grandmother, "the village crazy lady", …