Friday, September 25, 2015

New arrivals

Last two weeks I was traveling through Europe on a long excursion with my family. We used almost every transportation possible - plains, trains modern and old fashioned, cars.... We met some rarely seen family members and old friends, and we visited some great museums and parks (mostly the ones appropriate for small kids).

During the trip I used downtime to immerse my older kid, who is now 5 years old, deeper into gaming. A nice RPG called Hero Kids was a great help in the process. As usually, I used magnetized board and 10mm figures mounted on metal washers to secure stability of the setting while on the move.
Here we are playing introductory adventure from Hero Kids in Euro City train.
My son just loved the game.

After returning home, I found two packages waiting for me.
Smaller one was from Sophia Brandt, owner of the Die Heart blog. Recently, she made a giveaway on the blog, and I was a lucky winner of printed set of Game Master's Apprentice cards.
GMA is a great tool for solo roleplaying, and I hope to use it very soon in one of my games - maybe even as part as my ongoing Fate Diaspora and 5th edition D&D dungeon crawl campaigns.
Bigger package was fulfilled kickstarter reward - copy of the new board game called Space Cadets: Away Mission.
I could not resist the urge to play this game immediately, and I am very satisfied with the first impressions. The game keeps to its promise of reviving feeling from the golden age of SF, really is easy to learn but difficult to master, and the way the success dice are distributed makes it a novel experience.
I am looking forward to playing next mission.
All in all, satisfying two weeks in every aspect.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Thoughts on Fate Solo

Fate as solo engine has been already discussed on several blogs, like Solo Roleplayer, No one to play with or Solo RPG voyages.

Following them, I just wanted to add my own 5 cents.

When I first started with Fate, I planed to use driver like 9Qs to run my game, but it turned out there is no need for that.
As Roryb from No one to play with correctly noticed - Aspects is really where it’s at.
To achieve something in Fate, player needs Fate points, and the pool is running empty fast. In order to fill it back, player needs to compel to one of the aspects and include complication, and that is usually enough to drive the story forward.

Of course, spicing things up is always good.

Solo roleplayer offers this through Fate oracle, a way to answer yes/no questions with a twist. The problem with this is the fact that oracle is already incorporated into Fate game, and there is no need to remember another one.
Binary questions in Fate are answered through Create advantage action using in-game mechanic. Simply, instead of asking a question "Is the door locked?" and assigning probability,  player can try to create "Unlocked" aspect on the same door, by assigning difficulty for the task. If he fails, door is locked, and then the player can use Overcome action to try to unlock them. On the other hand, this approach offers no twist in AND/BUT range.

Solo RPG voyages introduces twists through random events triggered when all marked sides of the dice show only + or only - signs. The idea is further extended on the blog.

Following this idea, I tried to incorporate it into Fate to add AND/BUT twist to the built in oracle.
Here it is:

Every time the player rolls dice against fixed difficulty (usually to make Create advantage or Overcome action) look at the symbols on the dice. 
If two or more blank sides are visible, result is success of failure as per rules with added AND.
If at least one combination of + and - is visible, result is success of failure as per rules with added BUT.
In case of the dice combination + - _ _ BUT and AND result can either cancel each other, or you may select special case of success/failure with both AND and BUT.
In case of the re-roll use the second set of dice.
The issue that AND or BUT relate to can be selected by the player or invoked using some sort of Random idea generator.

Chances table if AND and BUT cancel each other: 
AND ------21/81 or 26%
BUT-------37/81 or 46%
No result-23/81 or 28%

Examples of this system in action can be seen here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

First stalker missions (Diaspora/FATE solo session)

Continued from here.

Once The Sting emerged in The Zone polar space, F-Mouse prepared for her first mission. Near the location Sting selected to dock she could see (D6=)6 shuttle slipstreams ready to take her to the surface. She decided to test them in order they are, so she selected first from her left.

Shuttle slipstream 1

What I see: Fingerprint, Well, Horned helmet (RSC).

After shuttle landed, F-Mouse noticed a garden labyrinth,  with well in the middle. Labyrinth walls were not at all high, and she could jump over them, but they were made from some really thorny plant.

Create situation aspect - Path through labyrinth. Create advantage action with difficulty 2, using Recon (1). Roll -1 (+ - - _), fail BUT: Building + Fight (RSC).

F-Mouse could not detect a pattern through the maze, but she noticed that thorns react to insects that come close to them, and even fight each others if they start growing too close. Seems that plants will attack any intruder who enters the labyrinth, and F-Mouse was not happy about this. She wanted to investigate that well. So, she decided to risk pulling through that maze.

For this I used contest rules, where F-Mouse used overcome action (Agile 1) and thorns tried attack action (Profession: thorn plant 2). F-Mouse rolled 0, plant -1, resulting in tie. Plant gets a boost - blocked passage. Also, according to contest rules, something strange happens: Alarm clock waking up somebody, Monster from the bushes (RSC).

Thorn wall moved, and blocked the entrance into the maze. F-Mouse looked across the plants and noticed a human figure standing up by the well, stretching as just awakened from long sleep.
It seems that F-Mouse waked up one of the ancient inhabitants of the system!

In this moment I decided to compel to the system aspect "We are still here" to make a complication and take a fate point (pool rises to 6). What will the newly awaken men do? Whip, Knock-knock (RSC).

Zone immortal took his whip to chase away the trespasser.

Locals in the zone all have skill Profession: Zone immortal 7. Since he is using a whip across two combat zones, so out of the normal range, he gets -2 accuracy penalty, bringing him to 5. F-Mouse uses Agility 1 to evade, adding armor from skin vest (defense 3) to a total of 4. Zoner rolls -1, F-Mouse +1. F-mouse wins ans rolls away to safety.

Even though men was rather far, whip crack was dangerously close. Close enough for F-Mouse to get  the message. She turned and made a running start towards the shuttle. She may be returning from her first mission empty handed, but she met Zone immortal and lived to tell the tail - more than many stalkers could say.

Back on the Sting.

I made a maintenance roll to see if I can afford a space in a ship after coming empty-handed. Zone is a R4 system, so I need to roll against difficulty of 4 using wealth 0. I rolled 0 (+ - _ _), and tagged "Hitchhiking through galaxy" (one Fate point used, 5 left) aspect for -2 shifts as final result. I marked second box on wealth stress track.

Returning empty handed made  F-Mouse worry about her financials. If she does not bring something to captain, he might throw her out from the ship. Of course, she could always offer him to maintain the ship drive during the return trip, but she still felt uneasy about her first result.

Shuttle slipstream 2

What I see: Volcano, Cactus, Dwarf miner (RSC).

After good night sleep, F-Mouse took second slipstream shuttle. It landed at the feet of heat radiating mountain. Some thorny plants she knew from the day before grew here and there on the mountain sides, so she made a mental note to avoid that areas if possible. Mountain seemed to be hollow, and holes that resembled mine entrances were scattered everywhere on the slopes.

Create situation aspect - safe corridor. Create advantage action with difficulty 2, using Recon (1). Roll +2 (+ + _ _), success AND this is the corridor that leads to some kind of treasure.

Create situation aspect - unopposed road to the tool-room. Create advantage action with difficulty 4, using Operator: mechanical (5). Roll +1 (+ + - _), success BUT: Pill, Footprint (RSC).

F-Mouse selected one mine entrance where the heat was not so distinctive, and descended into the mountain. She felt better immediately,  leaving open spaces for the safety of the corridors. This place reminded her of her beloved ship tunnels. She knew spaces like this, such corridors usually ended with the tool-room or storehouse. There should be no dangers this way, she thought. Tool-rooms are never locked or protected. Nobody likes to work, so if you took the trouble to come here and take a tool, you probably need it and you are also authorized to do it.
She was right. Corridor took her to the mining tools storage. Unfortunately, it was not in good condition. Earthquake or some similar event moved all tools from their places and piled them in one big iron mountain. F-Mouse tried to pull some good looking peaces of equipment, but she disturbed equilibrium and everything collapsed on her.

F-Mouse is under attack from falling tools, accuracy 4, penetration 2, damage 2. She defends with her alertness 2 helped by snakeskin vest 3-2=1  for total of 3. F-Mouse rolls -4, debris rolls +3 for a total of 8 shifts! I decided to use Snakeskin vest aspect (4 Fate points left) to make a re-roll. Second roll is +2 so better. Total result is 2 shifts victory for debris. I mark first two stress boxes on both Health and Composure.

Our hero was alert, she have seen falling parts and tried to react and step back from the main impact of the falling metal but failed, and the mountain fell directly on her back. All she could do is to haggle and hope that her elastic snakeskin vest will deflect the metal parts.
Dust settled. broken equipment was laying all around our hero. She could feel the bruisers all over her body, but nothing was broken. Snake's skin did it's job.
F-Mouse took a short rest and then started looking around for some still functional peace of equipment.

Overcome action with difficulty 5 using Operator: mechanical (5). Roll +1 (+ _ _ _), success AND she finds two good tools. 

Soon F-Mouse detected not one, but two operational peaces of mining equipment. One was automatic drill worth 3 cost shifts and another one a precise hand drill used to remove precious stones from their rock beads, 2 cost shifts worth. She put the small drill into pocket, but the big one looked cumbersome.

Overcome action with difficulty 1 using Strength (0). Roll +2 (+ + _ _), success AND she didn't even get tired doing this.

But it only looked that way. It was superior peace of technology made by advanced race of humans - and it was actually rather easy to carry.

Back on the Sting.

F-Mouse give the big drill to the ship captain. This eased her mind, for it was enough to pay her stay on the Sting for the moment. Captain also informed F-Mouse that the Sting will stay in Zone for 4 more days, before moving to Outpost. This was good, she had time to run one or two more surface missions and maybe find something that can be used in one of her homelands.

Big drill was sold for 2 wealth shifts, enough to clear wealth stress track. Since captain got something, I will not perform maintenance check for next 4 days, but I will see if the captain will have some request once they return to Outpost - probably through social mini game.

To be continued....

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Freedom-Mouse (Diaspora character creation)

In Fate RPG, and therefore in Diaspora also, character creation is a storytelling process, with some limitations.
First thing I needed to do is to see from what system my character originates. I rolled d6 and got 5 - New Hope.

Now I have two phases to create a character and generate 4 aspects, based on the place of origin.

1. Growing up: 
Freedom-Mouse (F-Mouse for short), belongs to the family of initial settlers. She was third generation in her family line born on New Hope.
When all your ancestors lived in the tight corridors and tiny locked areas of the colony, one gets used to move in claustrophobic surroundings and starts feeling uneasy when confronted with the open space.
The New Hope colony is a place for all kind of people. New settlers, each with its own story, arrive on daily bases, so F-Mouse learned to respect this diversity.
Aspects: Agoraphobia, Judge not, that ye be not judged.

2. Starting up:
F-mouse trained as drive engineer, and with her ability to work in tight places she was drafted by the Outpost fleet as a maintenance technician on slipstream ship called Wrench. While serving there, she learned to fix ship's equipment sometimes even when there were no tools, materials and spare parts available. She got enough knowledge about the Zone technology that she become able to jump start some ancient artifact without any knowledge what it is and what is its purpose.
Aspects: It works when I am around, Fixing in a makeshift way.

Next two phases should be interaction with other players. Since there are no other characters, interaction medium will be Rory's story cubes.

3. Moment of crisis: Bombardment (destroyed space ship?), Snake
Upon her travels, Wrench was unfortunate enough to be attacked by a pirate ship from Nest. Battle was short, and Wrench crash landed in flames on the Desert planet in Nest system. The part of the ship where F-Mouse was separated from the main part of the hull earlier, and that is how she survived. She was still in bed situation as her agoraphobia started kicking in the desert.
By luck of the fate, she crossed path with a giant desert snake. F-Mouse killed the snake, and survived by eating it's raw meat.
Furthermore, she battled her fears by squeezing herself inside the snake's skin - there it was tight and dark just like inside her beloved slipstream ship corridors.
After several days, F-Mouse was discovered by the members of the Serpent warrior tribe. After encountering a women who performed ancient rite of killing desert snake barehanded, they accepted her into the tribe as a battle sister.
With a help of local smiths, F-Mouse converted snake's skin into a bulletproof vest - her lucky charm.
Aspects: Snakeskin vest, Serpent tribe battle sister.

4. Sidetracked: Judge hammer, Lens
Coming from different culture, F-Mouse found it difficult to live all the time by tribe rules. In order to prevent being judged by the elders of the tribe, she volunteered for stalker training - as stalker she will be useful to the tribe,  and will be able to return to her beloved space. F-Mouse passed the test thanks to her incredible eyes for details, ability rare among the desert tribes.
Aspects: Not made to follow rules, Not seeing the forest for the trees.

Final phase is free-form again.

5. On her own: 
So, F-mouse found herself aboard the ship called Sting, as it emerged in The Zone space. She was ready for her first descent as a stalker, hoping to bring back at least two artifacts from her first mission - one for the Serpent tribe and one for her family on New Hope.
Aspects: Woman with two homelands, Hitchhiking through galaxy

5. Operator: mechanical
4. Survival, Drive enginering
3. Health, Profession: stalker, Operator: electronics
2. Resolve, Alertness, Intimidation, Zero-G
1. Agility, Brawling, Recon, Operator: animal handler, Culture/Tech: New Hope/Nest///Zone (with aspect Woman with two homelands)

Have a thing - a glue or similar to connect two things or fix a hole
Swamp a skill - Profession: stalker can be used instead of Brawling but only in the zone
Military grade Drive engineering - to be defined

Health 5, Composture 4, Wealth 3.

Fate points: 5 + 5 at the beginning of first combat encounter.

She is now ready for her first adventure.