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Randy Oest
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How to model "Fish out of water" scenes in Fate

What is a "Fish out of water" scene? It is a scene (or series of scenes) where the PCs are out of their depth. Travelers in a foreign land, being a new kid in the high school, etc.

I'm running a campaign where the PCs will be traveling to a distant and foreign land and I wanted to simulate that they were out of their depth and that doing basic things was going to be more difficult.

The Solution is using the Scale rules, albeit modified. The scale rules are meant for combat, so I'll have to apply them to Overcome and Create Advantages.

The simple solution, and likely the one that I'll use, is to declare a difficulty as I usually do and apply an additional bonus based on the scale differences.

Rosalie wanders the streets of the foreign city, bewildered by the different customs while tracking the assassin and trying to gather information on where the assassin is. The GM sets the difficulty at a +3 but because she is in a foreign city she has never been the GM adds another 2 to the difficult to make it 5 to represent how much harder it is here. (Scale 0 at home, Scale 2 in this city)

Later in the game Rosalie has befriended a local who helps her navigate the streets. Because of this the GM reduces the scale to 1.






I've stolen the concept of The Retro from our Agile processes at work to improve myself as a GM.

A retro is where you say something that went well, another thing that went poorly, and something that could be improved at the end of a sprint. Everyone gets a chance to weigh in.

At the end of every game session of my new Fate campaign—the Royal Pride of Musketeers—I do a modified retro where I ask the players "What is something that you enjoyed, didn't enjoy, or feel could've been done better?"

The feedback has been really good! The positive things tell me what I'm doing right and the negative ones help me figure out what isn't working.


Once again my +DriveThruRPG publisher payment covers my +Patreon giving. It is a wonderful balance.

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We used Microscope for some RPG world building. The players loved it and we came up with something that I find delightful.

You can see what we came up with in my post and check out the Trello board.

We played online using Trello to track the game. This was perfect except for one thing. I nested scenes as comments in Events and that hid them from view.
To kick off a new RPG campaign, called the Royal Pride of Musketeers, we used Microscope with the players to build out our own fantasy world.

The seed for the game was The conflict between magic and intellect in a dangerous world. This was because our heroes in the campaign would be using muskets and intellect to stop an evil magocracy from returning to power.

What happened next was a rich history of the world.

To summarize: The dawn of magic was heralded by the breaking of "The Gates" which let demi-planes overlap with ours. This led to the Dragon Lords coming to our world and ruling it, peacefully and with honor. Until their offspring, the Dragon-kin, usurped power by tricking the Senate.

This led to the Great Closing, where most, and the largest, demi-planes were once again sealed off in a giant flood that nearly wiped out civilization.

The world in chaos, the merchants formed guilds and ran the world quietly. Eventually one such guild, the Sorcier, took power overtly and kept it through all means, including violently.

The lost technologies of the era before magic began to resurface and a gunpowder revolution wrested power from the Sorcier and threw down the magocracy and instituted democracy.

https://trello.com/b/Ic8j0wvm/royal-pride-of-musketeers


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To kick off a new RPG campaign, called the Royal Pride of Musketeers, we used Microscope with the players to build out our own fantasy world.

The seed for the game was The conflict between magic and intellect in a dangerous world. This was because our heroes in the campaign would be using muskets and intellect to stop an evil magocracy from returning to power.

What happened next was a rich history of the world.

To summarize: The dawn of magic was heralded by the breaking of "The Gates" which let demi-planes overlap with ours. This led to the Dragon Lords coming to our world and ruling it, peacefully and with honor. Until their offspring, the Dragon-kin, usurped power by tricking the Senate.

This led to the Great Closing, where most, and the largest, demi-planes were once again sealed off in a giant flood that nearly wiped out civilization.

The world in chaos, the merchants formed guilds and ran the world quietly. Eventually one such guild, the Sorcier, took power overtly and kept it through all means, including violently.

The lost technologies of the era before magic began to resurface and a gunpowder revolution wrested power from the Sorcier and threw down the magocracy and instituted democracy.

https://trello.com/b/Ic8j0wvm/royal-pride-of-musketeers


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We're doing worldbuilding for my new campaign, Royal Pride of Musketeers, tomorrow night. (See more at https://www.facebook.com/notes/randy-oest/royal-pride-of-musketeers-campaign-idea-3-of-3/10157423454535241)

In preparation for character creation next week, I'm starting to write up an example of character creation. On of the things that I do with character aspects is make the players write out at least one invoke and one compel for the aspect. I consider this a litmus test for aspects.

---

Evan decides that he wants to play a middle-aged sage in the service of the Royal Pride of Musketeers who as a young child was an apprentice to a Sorcier wizard for a few short months before his parents rescued him the night the revolution came for his master. This left Evan’s character with a little knowledge of magic and a deep curiosity. He wants to learn more but that is a dangerous path in today’s political waters.

The first thing that Evan does is write down “Sage for the Royal Pride of Musketeers” for a high concept. The GM and Evan chat and decide to make the character a bit more active and rename the high concept to "Journeyman Soldier of the Sorcier Library”.

Now Evan has to figure out a trouble concept and for this he decides that his character’s probing for magical knowledge has led to him being intertwined with the local thieve's guild against his will. Perhaps they have incriminating information and are blackmailing him? Evan leaves the specifics up to future gaming and writes down “Blackmailed into the Ombre Gang”. He isn’t sure who the "Ombre Gang” are but that’ll flesh out in play.
Evan now has the following aspects:

- Journeyman Soldier of the Sorcier Library
- Blackmailed into the Ombre Gang

Now that Evan has a few aspects, he is ready to start writing up example invokes and compels.

- Journeyman Soldier of the Sorcier Library

Invoke: While in combat with a Singing Witch, Evan wants to make his defense roll better by saying that “I’ve read up on this style of singing magic and I make myself less vulnerable to it by dancing in time with music, which helps reduce the potency of the magic.” The GM agrees and takes Evan’s fate point, giving him a +2 to his roll.

Compel: While in the noblewoman’s manor the GM holds up a fate point and says, “I know that you and the group have an timely objective, but you just can’t help yourself from investigating the library along the way…”. Evan agrees and gets a fate point as his character meanders off in search of the library.

- Blackmailed into the Ombre Gang

Invoke: You are trying to enter the noblewoman’s house quietly and you recall the last time that you were here. You were a masked man sending the head of the house a message from the gang. You fear getting caught but you already know the main layout of the house, gaining a +2 to your Stealth check.

Compel: You’ve cornered the Sorcier thug your group is after and you feel proud, until he uses the Ombre Gang safeword. Now your obligated to help him evade capture from your friends.










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I'm starting a new campaign and I thought that I would talk about that process here. [1]

First, figuring out what to play I started out by going through my notebooks and finding three game concepts that I was interested in running and that the players would be interested in playing, which turned out to be three fantasy options.

Of the three options, the players choose The Royal Pride of Musketeers. You can read the concept at https://www.facebook.com/notes/randy-oest/royal-pride-of-musketeers-campaign-idea-3-of-3/10157423454535241. You'll also find the other two concepts linked off of that one. (They've been put back in the notebook for future use.)

Next, how to build the world I love Fate character creation. It brings the group together as a whole as the players make their characters together. By the time the first game starts each player has a good idea what the other characters are about.

But what about the world? This game isn't based on already existing IP, like Star Wars or Forgotten Realms, so how can I give the players a sense of the world? By having them help to create it. How do I do that?

Enter Microscope, which is a game unto itself about creating epic histories. I've long loved the game and yet I've never had the chance to play it, until now. I've written up the rules we're going to use for that game at http://drinkinganddragons.com/wiki/RPM:Rules/Introduction_and_Worldbuilding#Worldbuilding_.281st_session.29.

We do out worldbuilding next week. Then a week after that we do character creation. I'll keep ya'll posted, if there is interest.



[1] I would post it to my blog, but that is down at the moment and I haven't the time to put it back up.

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Looking for feedback on some abilities that I (mostly) wrote.

I'm about to start up a new fantasy campaign. For skills, I'm going to use Skill Modes[1]. The skill modes are Combat, Intrigue, Banter, Aristocrat, Naturalist, Sage, Acolyte, Commoner. You can find the list of skills for each at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1DkfbhrOtJBtFYYaZiLt8Z7gsYBo8FxKsS5YIEcVlHPw/edit#gid=0

In addition to the players picking 3 skill modes, they will have the option of choosing an ability from one of the three modes. Each ability is written to be thematically and mechanically interesting. They are not analogous to stunts.

- Do these abilities sound interesting?
- Do they seem reasonably balanced[2] with each other?
- When selected you get all of the abilities listed under each skill mode.

-

Combat

Wounded (lasting): Combatants have an extra lasting condition that they can use to absorb four shifts of physical injury. When you’re Wounded, death is on the table when you’re taken out. To begin recovery, another character who is capable of seeing to your injury must overcome an obstacle of Great (+4) or higher, in quiet and ideal conditions (as in, not in the field). You recover fully at the end of the next session. Note that this ability was completely lifted from the Dresden Files playtest as-is. I love it.

Intrigue

Wanted (sticky): The Wanted track has five check boxes. When you are Wanted, you’re in some amount of trouble with the law. People know who you are. They might even be a little afraid of you. You can use that to your advantage. When you trade on your reputation to convince someone to do something for you, you may check off boxes of Wanted for a bonus on the roll, +1 per box checked.

The more boxes you have checked off, the more trouble you’re in; if you only have one or two checked off, you might get hauled in for questioning if you get taken out of a scene. With four or five checked, you might be imprisoned instead. In addition, any law enforcement agents looking for you get +1 to their rolls for each box of Wanted checked.

Every scene you spend not getting in trouble with the law (and not generating more heat) allows you to clear one check box.

Note that this ability was nearly completely lifted from the Dresden Files playtest. I modified it a little.

Banter

Center of Attention: When you check this box, you are the star of the show. You gain a situationally appropriate aspect to reflect this in the scene for free. When you do this you gain a boost that you may give to another character, provided it fits in the narrative.

Talk Our Way Out of It: When you are the Center of Attention, you may use Rapport to defend from physical attacks as you attempt to confuse or negotiate your way out of the situation.

Aristocrat

Favors (sticky): The Favor track has three boxes. You may check a box to call in favors at any time, gaining +2 for each favor on any roll which would narratively apply. (Yes, they may all be stacked on a single roll.)

As you trade more and more favors you are drawn into the web of your connections and this will complicate your life. The only way to uncheck a favor box is to do a favor in return. Sometimes these favors are simple and only require an Overcome roll (+2, +4, or +6) to repay but from time to time there may be in-game ramifications to repay the favors.

Naturalist

Quarry: When you check this box, write down the target of your quarry. You need to have time to examine or consider your quarry, usually a few minutes or more. This may be a single creature or a small band of creatures. Until you declare a new quarry you gain +2 on Overcome and Create Advantage rolls to find or set a trap for them and Weapon:2 when attacking them.

At Home in Nature: You can survive only in nature for any length of time comfortably.

Trackless Step: You are skilled at traversing the environment and leave only a trail that the most skilled may follow. As a result, you may only be tracked by someone with a Survival skill equal to or higher than your own or someone who has an aspect related to skilled tracking.

Sage

Preparedness is Key: Any time that you create an aspect by researching a solution, gain an extra free invoke on that aspect.

Obsessed: Check this box to gain a +4 to any research roll while also gaining an aspect that represents what you gave up to get that knowledge, e.g. ''Up All Night'', ''Owe a Favor to a Minor Devil''. This aspect has a free invoke on it for the GM. Uncheck this box when this aspect has been resolved.

Acolyte *

*Grace: The Grace track has three stress boxes. When you check off a box of Grace, choose from the following:
* You gain Armor:2 from opponents of your faith for the scene.
* You gain Weapon:2 against opponents of your faith for the scene.
* You gain a +2 to an Overcome roll to aid another in removing a condition or aspect.

Commoner

Better Teamwork: When you work together with another character, instead of giving a +1 bonus you give a +2 bonus to the roll as long as you aren't the one making the roll.

Overlooked: When you check this condition, you are no one of consequence for the current scene and you gain a narratively fitting aspect until you take an action of consequence.

[1] https://fate-srd.com/fate-system-toolkit/skill-modes
[2] Balance is a finicky thing. What does your gut say?
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