Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Fate Halloween Trial Run AAR

So, a late After Action Report on my test run with Fate Core. I ran a one-shot adventure that I found on-line, a convention scenario that said it could be run in three hours, including the choosing of characters. It was titled "Spirit of the Tentacle," and was a Cthulhu-themed adventure using the Spirit of the Century rules, built on an earlier iteration of Fate.

Prepping the adventure took a lot more work than expected. Fate Core defaults to much simpler characters than Spirit of the Century, with fewer aspects and skills. This appealed to me, not only because I've read complaints about Spirit of the Century that the vast number of aspects and skills made characters too hard to challenge, but also because my players, being unfamiliar with the game, would probably have an easier time with simpler, more focused characters. At the same time, the characters created for the adventure were more  like parodies of pulp characters, goofier than I expected in a Cthulhu-style adventure.

So I spent some time rewriting origins and stripping down skills and aspects and bringing in some of the iconic characters from Spirit of the Century to replace guys like the Mexican masked midget wrestler.

Then there was the scenario itself, which had its own problems. There was what seemed like a neat action opening, except that--after I'd already declared I was running this scenario--I discovered it was a classic railroad, designed to funnel down to only one outcome, no matter what the players did, which I HATE. But I did what I could to make it interesting.

The adventure was supposed to run in four acts: the action opening, an investigative phase, a party where they meet the guy who gives them the MacGuffin to beat the monster, the big action finale. As it turned out, we spent more time discussing the rules than I expected at the beginning, and then the big action opening went WAY longer than I'd planned.

Part of it was players being unfamiliar with the game system. But a large part of it fell on me. I was simultaneously 1) unfamiliar with the rules myself, 2) being very lenient about what I was having the opposition do, because I didn't want to discourage the players, and 3) being even more extra-lenient because I felt bad about the railroading and didn't want the players to feel like they'd had their time wasted.

By the time we finished the opening scene, we had gone over two hours into a 2 1/2 window for playing the adventure (after the discussion of rules and character sheets was done). There was no way to finish the rest in our remaining time, and really, no one--including me--was very invested in finishing the story anyway. Not having had a hand in creating the characters, the players weren't very invested in them, either, and unable to play their aspects to the hilt because they didn't always know what they meant (one of my biggest problems with Fate, actually--aspects are not always written in a way that immediately tell you what they mean or how they should be played).

Looking back now, given the spooky nature of the game, I could have and should have played the opposition much harder (yes, sargon, you were absolutely right about this, and I wish I had taken your hints) and kept things moving. But we were all learning.

But this was all being done as preparation for starting my own game, one I've been wanting to run for almost four years now (looking at some of the documents I've put together for the game, I see that one of them was created in February of 2010). I'm really excited about the campaign background I've put together, but that's because it's set around a lot of things I love, that my friends may not be as enthusiastic about. I've finally sent out some background information to let people see a little of what I'm shooting for, but I haven't gotten any feedback yet.

If the game does come together, I'm hoping that the Fate Core system will work out well for me. If not, I can switch back to one of the other systems I've debated using, like Open d6 or Champions (I actually have character write-ups done for several of the NPC's in Champions 4th edition terms). But Fate has been especially good for me in terms of spurring my creativity and getting me to fill in the blanks on the campaign world in a way the other systems weren't. I'm hoping that will translate into a fun game at the table.