Friday, April 28, 2017

History of Universal RPGs (Part Seven: 2012-2013)

I’ve run several “multi-world” campaigns: Amber Diceless, the original Crowsmantle, and Ocean City Interface. They seem like a great idea: switch up to generate energy, try out different games/settings, maybe burn through a backlog of purchased scenarios. But as I’ve learned they’re harder than they appear. Here are my top five pieces of advice for HMs thinking about these. I have more but let’s keep this short:
  • Uniformity: I’ve run some of these campaigns with multiple systems. That gives you flexibility, systems tuned to a specific genre, and a chance to use up all your rpgs. But you pay a high, high price in teaching time. Players can’t get comfortable with a system before they’re whisked off. You’ll quickly discover which players don’t dig mechanics.
  • Carry Over: Even if you use a Universal system you need continuity between the worlds and the characters. A simple linking story or parallel elements for the worlds is enough. For characters something about them should carry over between travels. It could be a key stat, advantage, flaw, aspect, appearance, name or even character class. That fights against the discontinuity of the campaign’s premise. In my card-based game, players’ decks change between worlds, but key cards remain across all of them.
  • Stakes: Establish stakes. Players need to have a reason to act in these worlds. Perhaps they’re fighting a larger evil, perhaps they need to solve problems to get home, perhaps what happens echoes in their homeworld. These don’t have to be heavy, but they should make the world feel like more than a passing adventure.
  • Episodic: Frame sessions as episodes. Aim for a complete beginning, middle, end for that session’s story. You can have some overhanging business, but generally you want the players to a) feel satisfied and b) not worry about hanging threads from every place they’ve been. If you’re aiming for a longer campaign, consider returning to worlds. That heightens the stakes. Provide downtime sessions- a return to a hub or real world. That can set up the larger meta-story. This shouldn’t be too heavy or it will overwhelm the portals.
  • Collaboration: Find out what worlds the players want. Let them suggest genres or pick from a list. Focus on those and give each player a world they’re kind of the “leader” of. When the group goes there, that players gets to fill in the gaps. It encourages buy in. Go for a reasonable number of worlds: one per player plus a hub or meta world. Then you can cycle through and get to everyone’s favorite.
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I only include core books here. I’m also only listing books with a physical edition. I might include an electronic release if they’re notable and of significant size. At the end you’ll see some miscellaneous entries, covering borderline or similar cases. Some selections came down to a judgement call. I’m sure I missed some releases. If you spot something Universal I missed from 2012-2013, leave a note in the comments.

1. Bhaloidam (2012)
Sometimes I hit a game that boggles my mind. Bhaloidam's one of those. It's an rpg with a strong board game element. Each player has an individual gameboard. You place and move tokens on that board representing ego and will. You have “sources” which determine limits on the six character-defining elements. These then determine the six "influences" for your character. In the Kickstarter video they show how Fire (Wit) and Wind (Agility) includes the influence "Sleight." So Sleight is both the "Agility of your Wit or Wit of your Agility." I’m sure that’s clear, right? To take an action you move Will to an influence and then roll three different custom dice. The results determine cost, maximum exertion, and timing. Then you narrate what you're doing based on those results.

Bhaloidam's odd, and falls into the category of fiddly table tricks (along with Fireborn and Weapons of the Gods). It funded on Kickstarter. The last post on the KS site mentions a version 2.0 in progress. There's also apparently a free CC version with print and play components. But the actual site for the company has vanished, replaced by someone's blog. So actually finding real info’s tough.

2. FateToGo (2012)
Before Fate Core came out, we'd seen several companies rework the Fate 3.0 SRD. Versions ranged from super-elaborate (Strands of Fate) to super simple (Awesome Adventures). FateToGo leans towards the latter, a version developed for one-shots. It's a German boxed set called the "Steel Case edition." It includes the books, dice, fate tokens, and cards. The actual character sheets look close to Fate Core. I like the pick up and play idea here. It would be interesting to see a small-form starter box for modern Fate. There's a promotional video and site (In German) you can see here.

3. Victory System (2012)
A generic repurposing of the "Inverted 20" system which powered the most recent edition of... Hot Chicks, the Roleplaying Game. Apparently it is backwards compatible. Victory System looks to be a classic stat plus skill with point-buy character generation. The few reviews don't do much to show how it stands out from other universal rpgs. As of this writing the three on DTRPG include one longer description and two short vague statements. "I enjoy the victory system it is a very well designed system. Though it may be different than what people are used to it is more than worth trying and i highly recommend it to any DnD fan looking for something new." I include it since there's a PoD version.

4. Act Ten (2013)
Kickstarted in 2013, Act Ten has an anime vibe. It reminds me of OVA or BESM. The art's by the designer and it has a cartoony look. The inconsistency of that, combined with odd layout elements makes it harder to read than it has to be. YRMV. Characters have ten stats plus eight sub-stats. You combine one of those values with a skill value, then roll a d10. That's compared to a set or rolled opposition value. While the core resolution's easy to get (Unisystem without an exploding die), the rules add a lot of fiddly chrome to that.

Like the anime systems mentioned above, players can do point build adjustments and ability construction. That falls into three types. “Special FX” represents powers. “Tunings” represent skill specializations and feat-like effects. “Traits” cover advantages and disadvantages, with mechanical effects. Act Ten has mid-range crunch for gamers who want to play with the nuts and bolts. That's great for players who like that. But it doesn't make a compelling case for using it over other mid-crunch systems. There's a QS available online, worth checking out if you're interested.

You're setting the bar high when you call your game "The Awesome System." The name suggests a game that isn't going to take itself too seriously. That’s reinforced by the cover images of a transforming android wailing on a stringless electric guitar. I had a hard time finding info on TAS. The publisher's website has expired and one online review link led to a suspended account. I'd been hoping to find a copy of the quickstart for it, but its not on DTRPG, only their defunct website. You can see their funding pitch here.

Awesome System has five stats and 32 skills. It's a mid-range point buy games, with 100 points as the default. There's a short list of advantages, but they aren't generic. In fact they seem oddly specific for a Universal game (Ancient Chinese Proverb, Rock Star). As with most point-buy games, weaknesses add to your points. Characters are rounded out with powers, after which you calculate the half dozen derived stats.

To resolve an action, you roll d6 equal to stat. Any sixes "explode". You add your skill to the highest die rolled and compare that to a difficulty or opposition. Characters can "stunt," based on situation and talents, allowing them to add all the dice together. Awesome does have an interesting piece of tech. For initiative you roll Speed Dice. The GM counts from 6 down and you can take an action any tick shown on your Speed Dice. If two of you Speed Dice come up the same number, that action becomes a Stunt. It sounds neat, but I'm not a fan of games with different # of actions for characters. That's potentially a huge imbalance. Speed Kills.

Awesome's decent. The artwork's a mixed bag but the layout's clean. It has some crunchy bits and bolt ons (Movie Magic, Rock Battles, Tempest Powers). It also includes some adventures. It reminds me the most of Screenplay and Action Movie World. It wants to simulate those high octane tropes.

It does contain one of the most mixed-message statements on gender inclusivity: 
"A Note About Gender Pronouns. Our company is not sexist. As a matter of fact, play-testing of the Awesome System has contained 500% more lesbian kissing while both girls were firing Uzis than any of its current competitors. However, throughout this book characters and players may more often than not be referred to as “he” While this may at first appear to be pushing our female audience away, it is due entirely to our “S” keys breaking while we were writing the Sassy Sultan of Sirius Seven’s Sly Snake Soldiers Sourcebook. We’ll be getting the keys replaced as soon as possible and we hope you ladies won’t be put off until then."
6. EABA v2 (2013)
EABA's appeared on these lists before. As I described it earlier, "In EABA attributes generate a die value (so Strength of 7 gives you 2d6+1). Die values shift at +3, so the steps are xd6+0, xd6+1, xd6+2. Skills give additional dice. PCs roll that pool and take the best three die results, plus any modifiers. That's compared to a difficulty. While EABA steps back in granularity and difficulty from CORPS, it still has a simulationist approach to things like combat. The game has a lot of numbers. As a result the hex-based character sheet looks intimidating."

I wanted to draw attention to this edition, specifically designed for tablets. We've seen hyperlinked documents and some apps, but not full automation for rpgs. EABA v2 includes:
  • "pop-up navigation menus
  • fully hyperlinked
  • built-in dice roller
  • semi-automated character sheets
  • ability to import pictures directly into character sheet
  • on-screen mapping
  • one-click character creation
  • savable changes so you can have your own library of custom characters, NPC's, vehicles, maps and so on."
Storium's the closest to being a fully electronic rpg product, though that hasn't caught on as much as they hoped.

7. Fate Core (2013)
Fate's impacted my gaming more than any other rpg in the last ten years. I can still bring the crunch (Rolemaster, 13th Age, Mutants & Masterminds), but I've lean toward lighter systems. Fate Core has rules and sub-systems, but you can grok those easily. Armed with Fate dice, paper, and pen, I can easily run a campaign, no rulebook needed at this point. Fate came out of Fudge, first with Spirit of the Century. That version saw other developments including the popular Fate 3.0 SRD. Fate Core smartly evolves that system.

I've described Fate generally before, "It offers a more abstract approach to than those systems. Fate builds on the earlier Fudge System and has had several editions/ evolutions. It uses a set of unique dice- six siders with 0, +, and – sides (2 each). Rolling a set of four yields a value from +4 to -4, with most results in the middle. A 2d6 variant is possible, subtracting one die from the other, but it offers more swingy results. Players generally roll dice for actions, add a value (skill or approach), and compare it to the opposition’s value. Fate gives players several ways to affect and modify dice results after rolling."

The Fate Core kickstarter did incredibly well, generating $430K+. That gave us an additional Fate System Toolkit, Fate Accelerated, Fate Worlds, and eventually Fate Core as PWTW pdf. The new edition cleans up across the board. It standardizes some things like Stunts and Action Types. It clarifies Aspects and trims their number to make them more manageable and focused. Fate Core adds a host of new options and approaches. I'd argue, and I may be terribly wrong about this, that Fate combines flexibility and structure better than any other Universal rpg on the market.

If you're interested in Fate as a whole, check out my Fate System Guide for Gamers. That's from 12/14. I need to update that in light of some of the amazing releases since then.

8. Frakkin' Epic (2013)
An odd one. Frakkin Epic comes from Beau M. K. Prichard who worked on Zombie Orpheus Entertainment’s JourneyQuest and Rude Mechanical. He also has a web-series. He put this one out through a "Jumpstarter" you can see here. So this is someone with a strong connection to rpg culture who knows online media. Despite that I can't find any reviews or description of how it players. I had to uncover a Reddit thread about obscure games to discover it is "Fate-like" "but uses a single d20." The designer's description gives almost no sense of how the game actually works:
“Conceived and birthed on a con road trip, Frakkin' Epic is the halfbreed offspring of RPGs, general nerdom, improv performance, and limited resources. Easy to play and simple to learn, Frakkin' Epic was designed to play with nothing but a piece of paper and a smartphone or a couple of dice. This book includes all you need to know to launch your own game, including rules, tips, guided situations, and your very own starter scenario. Frakkin’ Epic isn't just a game, it's about unleashing the awesome in your players, telling a story together, and telling it in as big a way as possible. It’s simple, it’s easy to learn and teach, and mostly it’s about getting out of the way of yourself and your players to let the most exciting, ridiculous, incredible shenanigans take place.”
Yeah, marketing copy is more about driving excitement-- I get that. But somewhere on your website you should also talk about the "game" itself.

A smaller rpg, with a stated goal of collaborative play. It uses attribute + skill + d10 versus a difficulty or opposed roll. Light Weight looks simple but it has some figured stats, grid-based conflict, and combat maneuvers. That combat system has an interesting mechanic. You compare your attack roll to the defender's resolve roll. If you roll 6+, but less than the resolve roll, you reduce their resolve and continue on. If you beat the defender's resolve roll with a 6+, then they’re taken down removing them from the fight. I'm curious how that plays at the table. It seems fast andreminds me of Mutants & Masterminds, where a character's saves against damage decay from hits.

Combat's where most of Light Weight’s crunch happens. When you buy new attacks you have to divide points between precision, damage, and features. You can add your skill to your roll or an allies on a turn. Characters can burn out those skills for double effect. On the other hand, the rest of the system's simple, if not absent. There's an assumption you'll be able to handle those parts of an rpg on your own. Overall it's not a bad little game and it has with nice art. However the price-point's a little steep for some. The 48 page core pdf runs $10 on DTRPG at this time.

10. Polymorph (2013)
When I was a wee gamer, I didn't know what “polymorph” meant. Based on context clues from an older gamers’ Villains & Vigilantes session I thought meant “turn to clay.” It wasn't until the mid-80's that a flip through of the AD&D Players Handbook revealed the actual definition. That discovery explained the the etymology and why Rob angry that one session. Anyway, Polymorph’s a good name for universal rpg, one wrapped in rpg history.

Here's a synopsis of the short version of Polymorph’s rules: Characters have four attributes (1-4 rating). They can have 'flair' which adds to that if appropriate (Creative, Truthworthy, Manipulative). You also have skills rated 0 to 3. When you make a check you roll d8's equal to your attribute, plus 2d8 if you have the right flair. Then you check the target number on the dice, which is 6 minus your skill. If you hit that or better of a die you get a success. Two successes means the action is complete. If you split you attention for multiple actions you'll want different colored d8s. Easy, right?

Throughout Polymorph a weird swing throughout between light mechanics and specific detailed sub-systems. Flairs aren't like aspects, flexible and tailored to your character. Instead each attribute has three specific ones you either have or don't. There's a simple skills list, as well as some choices for troubles, principles, and other small bits. Combat wants to be light, but has hit locations. When you take damage, you place tokens on those locations on your character sheet.

Polymorph’s based material is stripped down generic. The main book includes several campaign frames: horror, fantasy, and enhanced characters (i.e. supers). These add new mechanics, general advice, and adversaries. The fantasy section's the longest, with a magic system included. The art varies from terrible to decent, but the text has lots of typos.

11. Short Order Heroes (2013)
An rpg in the loosest sense, Short Order Heroes consists of a deck of 108 cards. Each has a number value, trait, and illustration. If you want to use this as an rpg with resolution, you draw a card and see if its value beats the default difficulty of 4. You then can shape the action description using the card’s trait. Traits and situational modifiers can also affect the difficulty. It’s bare bones out of the box, but the website includes optional rules to deepen these mechanics.

Short Order Heroes serves mostly as a character generation tool for any game. By drawing three cards, you can assemble a mix of traits for anyone. This makes them an ideal aspect generator for Fate. It's a nice product and worthwhile for inspiration and pick up gaming. A good buy if you’re not expecting a fully-fleshed universal rpg. Currently they have several sets available.

12. Sixcess Core (2013)
A substantial rpg from Ben Rogers, designer on the slightly obscure Promised Sands rpg. That used the "Trinary System" of 3d10.; Sixcess returns to d6’s. The generic cover gave me few expectations. So I wasn’t expecting the opening designers’ statement. I hadn’t see reviews citing religion in Promised Sands, but Sixcess comes out of the gate with it.
"The writers of this game system are Christians who believe in Biblical truth. We are presenting a worldview based upon these beliefs. We are not intending to convince you that we are right (though we would like it if you come to that conclusion). We are not trying to make you change your ways. We are not aspiring to “convert”...We are followers of the teachings of Christ. We are believers that the Bible is the word of God...Again, let’s reiterate: This is not the Christianity your momma warned you about."
Sixcess has you rolling a dice pool of d6's based on stat + skill. The GM sets a target number (TN). Each die that meets or beats that counts as a success or a "Tick." But each success which meets "The Mark" (always 6) counts as 5 Ticks. Any die explodes into a reroll if it rolls a Mark. Super high difficulties require players roll multiple Marks. While it's not too crazy and there are some other twisty add-ons like modifiers and cross-reference tables.

Character creation's pretty involved. You have 24 sample races, most looking like they fell out of someone's house campaign. Advantages, disadvantages, magic, powers, and gear take up about a third of the book. There's a bestiary and GM advice, but no examples of worlds built using the mechanics. Sixcess is overall OK, leaning towards mixed crunch: simple elements with tons of additional mechanics, powers, and details. Imagine overelaborate Savage Worlds.

The religious aspect doesn't intrude, with a few exceptions. ("Regardless of the gameworld, there is only one God– YHVH.") A Kickstarter for a Sixcess version of Promised Sands successfully funded in late 2013. That has not delivered as of this writing.

“A Storytelling Game about building worlds & challenging your beliefs within them.” Spark’s written by Jason Pitre. I’m biased because I’ve briefly spoken to him and he was tremendously nice. Spark puts an emphasis on world-building, something I dearly love. Players can do this from the ground up or published settings (the book includes four). You begin by picking three Beliefs for the world (ex: “everyone has a price,” “those who bend do not break”). You’ll be challenging those key ideas in play. The GM assigns dice to the world’s attributes (Body, Heart, Mind, and Spark). This sets default opposition and colors the setting. You then select Factions for the world. Finally you create Faces, inter-faction ties, and agendas. I’m truncating a lot. It’s a solid process and well worth looking at for any GM. Pitre’s also written a version of this world building system for Fate, A Spark in Fate Core.

Characters have beliefs chosen after the initial concept’s decided. Spark uses a simple set of details for your character: attributes with die types, talents covering skills and experience, and a set of personal history questions. Play is interesting in that in order to gain the currency of play- Influence- you have to challenge your character’s Beliefs.

There’s a lot more. It’s actually amazing how much game Spark has in this small package. (SIG). Pitre has also released a striking, Planescape-flavored supplement for Spark, Sig: Manual of the Primes. I recommend Spark for anyone looking for a structured, collaborative narrative rpg.

14. Miscellaneous: PDF-Only
A few select choices.
  • Awesomesauce The Roleplaying Game Trollhammer Edition: A free small rpg, with a great name.
  • Cheat Your Own Adventure: A lightweight, GMless, love-letter to Choose Your Own Adventure books. You collaboratively play through, flipping back to previous pages as necessary.
  • D6 Epic: Another variation on WEG's d6, this time from a publisher better known for the Honor Harrington space battles game
  • Gateway (F/X): Has an odd publisher blurb, suggesting that while the base game has some mechanics, GMs as a rule have to sit down to create "portals" with specific bolt-ons.
  • Saga: A game that specifically calls out problematic tropes. "There are no racist stereotypes, restrictions, or penalties! Races and their individuals are diverse and multifaceted as in reality."
  • TNT (The Narrative Toolbox): From the designer of Prowlers & Paragons. Die rolls determine who has narrative control over a moment.
15. Miscellaneous: Universal Adjacent
Games with highly open play, but limitations on the framework, theme, or subject matter.
  • Dog Eat Dog: A game about colonialism and oppression. While it focuses on a Pacific island, I've seen it repurposed to cover a variety of colonial-like interactions. It's a bit of a cheat to put it here, but it gives me the chance to link to the SUSD review of it.
  • Kingdom: One of my favorite games. You play members of a community which is trying to survive in the face of challenges. While you share that aim, you may have different visions of the kingdom's evolution. You can see my write-up here.
  • Non-Essential Personnel: A small game about playing the henchmen to powerful protagonists and antagonists. Can be used in multiple genres. I'll also point you to the not-entirely-terrible Witless Minion.
  • The Play's The Thing: A game about actors trying to rewrite their roles within a Shakespearean play. I like the way this allows the players to take old material and repurpose it.
  • A Tragedy in Five Acts: A Game and Play of Roles: The other Shakespearean game to arrive this year. Both came out of the 2011 Game Chef. This is "competitive roleplaying game in which players plot, bargain, and bid against one another to make their characters the central figure in an impromptu five-act tragedy created by the group as a whole. Everyone comes to a bad end, but that's the fun - and the winner gets to name the play!"
History of Universal RPGs (Part One: 1978-1993)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

"I Have Lost a Hell": Dresden Files Accelerated AP & Thoughts

I just finished three sessions of the forthcoming Dresden Files Accelerated for The Gauntlet Hangouts. I had a great time with them. I participated in the DFAE playtest and liked it then, but the revisions make it even stronger. So I’ve pulled together some thoughts about it. I like Fate and I dig this implementation

You can see the AP videos for our game here (Session 1, Session 2, Session 3).

1. Harry Who?
I’m not a Dresden aficionado. I watched a few episodes of the show and read one of the books. While I own the original rpg I skimmed it for system rather than background. My deepest contact with the setting has come through DFAE. The book does a great job distilling that information and putting the interesting bits out front. It clearly deals with the “present” circumstances of the book series, but that doesn’t get in the way. The layout choices in this version-- inserted marginalia and post-it notes-- felt much less obtrusive than in the DFRPG. Overall it’s a great presentation and it allowed me, a novice, to run sessions with verisimilitude.

2. Laws of the Night
The book tightly breaks down the Dresdenverse’s “Laws of Magic.” It lays out the Laws (Thou shalt not transform others, Thou shalt not invade the mind of another) and the context clearly. In fact the whole chapter on the regulatory and political nature of the setting sets the stage well. Dresden Files feels more high adventure and drama than World of Darkness. But it shares the intrigue and maneuvering that accompany high level WoD games. In that way it’s closer to Urban Shadows, just without the built in PvP and high risk of mixed success.

3. Put it on the Mantle
DFAE has a killer tech: Mantles. We’ve seen Fate “Worlds of Adventure” with archetype examples. Mantles feel like character classes-- in a good way. Each mantle has unique conditions and stunts, as well as key stunt(s) you get when you choose it. You can still pick stunts following the standard FAE formulation, but the Mantle stunts are more interesting and powerful.

I haven’t run the numbers, but DFAE shifts the classic Fate stunt-building restrictions. Instead they’re crafted on what’s appropriate and thematically interesting. Not all mantle stunts are created equal and I’m cool with that. Some of them, especially those for Wizards, require heavy player development and input. I’m OK with that. The game holds together and even feels right.

4. What Condition Your Condition is in
DFAE uses “conditions,” to add depth and flavor to the mantles. I’ve always appreciated that Fate characters could have multiple stress tracks to represent important elements in a game. For example you could have Reputation for one with social intrigue or Wealth for a resource-based game. DFAE takes advances that concept. Mantles have unique conditions representing their focus.

They’re both a damage and a resource track. For example, example the Law Enforcement mantle has three distinct conditions representing how much attention they’ve drawn for abusing their status. On the flip side, the Criminal has an explicit Heat track. Gain too much Heat and you’re hauled in for questioning. You can gain Heat from actions, but you also mark it to power some stunts. Again DFAE shows the remarkable flexibility of Fate. By stepping outside the box, they’re able to add new mechanics GMs can use to shape settings and archetypes. Some conditions can be marked to pay the cost of high level magic.

5. The Price of Ceremony
Magic-focused mantles have stunts to cover day-to-day spells. But DFAE includes a system for “Big Magic.” This isn’t restricted to Wizards. Non-Wizards can develop fictional justification for rituals, though they don’t have access to some cost-paying elements. The system’s simple and easy to use. I liked the DFAE playtest mechanics, but this streamlines that. There’s a simple way to calculate the difficulty, based on what you’re trying to do. You then pay costs, and here’s the neat part. Failure on the ritual casting roll doesn’t necessarily mean failure. It just determines who gets to pick the costs, the player or the GM.

6. Parity Party
A vampire, a wizard, and a cop walk into a bar; which one gets initiative? I like how DFAE (and Fate in general) handles the concept of balance and parity. Any two characters can have the same effect. One may be better at some things, but given creative thinking, dramatic license, and actions, they can be on equal footing. That’s a big difference from games based on levels, points, and ranks. DFAE acknowledges the differences in power by the use of scale. It re-presents Fate’s scale rules smoothly. A mortal versus a vampire has to work to overcome that scale difference. But even if they don’t, it isn’t completely debilitating. The system strikes a balance that feels right for the kinds of games I want.

7. Mystery Gang
I love mystery games. But one player in our session echoed something I’d heard before, that Fate isn’t good for mysteries. I disagree. Sure Fate has flexibility and collaboration, but that doesn’t have to undercut presenting a problem to solve. My usual approach is a Gumshoe/PbtA hybrid. If players look for clues and have an appropriate skill, I offer them basic information. If they want to go for more information, they can make a roll. That roll risks consequences (drawing heat, costing money, eating up time). Depending on their success, I let them ask questions about the situation.

DFAE offers more Fate-imbedded approaches to detective work. It talks about the costs for failed checks and then breaks investigations into three types, defined by obstacle and structure. Player collaboration comes in the form of putting forward hypotheses. I like the ideas here. It isn’t how I structure things, but it makes better use of Fate’s own tech than I do. I’m glad to see these kinds of rules and advice.

8. Flip City
The original Dresden Files has great city-creation mechanics. They’re well integrated into character creation. Its drawback can be the sheer number of aspects generated. DFRPG city & character creation can take a session unto itself. Fate Core dials that back and FAE moves even further. That’s been my preference: smaller lists of setting and character aspects so that they have more weight.

DFAE consolidates the city-building mechanics to something the group could easily do in under an hour. In our video recording, went through the process quickly. We chose Detroit, since we wanted to echo Dresden, but not use Chicago. We identified four factions: White Court Vampires who feed on greed, desperate in the fading city; a Werewolf-tied group thriving on criminality and destruction; leftover Golems/Clockworks from the time when mechanomancers filled the city; and Ghost Cabals which we didn’t define but sounded cool. We established a few elements to use (tension of settlement & decay, small scale problem, big magic) and avoid (PvP, morally ambiguous bad guy).

Overall I dug the streamlined process. It worked especially well for online and short-term play. You could easily expand that with more details and connections to PCs if you wanted. Or you could use something like Microscope for that purpose.

9. Parish is Burning
I’m going to say something awful: New Orleans leaves me cold. I’ve run several games set there, always at the behest of folks who love the city. But the place has never grabbed my imagination. I’ve researched and read about it in prep, but it remains solidly meh for me. So I winced a little when I saw the sample city provided would be the Orleans parish.

But the section didn’t disappoint. It’s a solid example of how to organize and build a city. It follows the game’s own structure and rules. We begin with an overview of the major factions, then discuss the points of conflict, and then get background and character sheets for the major characters. The material doesn’t overstay its welcome and offers guidance on how to approach this. Unlike the Paranet Papers, it provides you just enough info to play from without info dumping.

10. Sell Me on a Game
I dig Fate, especially once I grokked how it worked. I’ve brought elements of it into the homebrew we use for many campaigns. In particular I’ve liked Fate Core, with the rich skill system, stunt lists, and slightly more involved rules. Fate Accelerated seemed like a clever but thinner version. I’ve changed my mind on that.

DFAE’s shown me you can do really interesting things with the simplicity of Approaches and unique sub-systems. This has firmly shifted me over to a Fate Accelerated fan. Though I still dig Fate Core, I’ll be reaching for Accelerated first for basic play and hacks. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

500 Cyberpunkish Names

Ashutosh Paradise
Child Daksha
Olinski Loss
Vikas Misiak
Helmet Master
Chaudhry Child
Flaminio Mist
Chalk Anirudhh
Steel Cryptic
Sanat Vinaya
Warren Manami
Boar Lover
Ratti Imagawa
Caiazzo Jasper
Isabell Bobko
MacGriogair Mcintyre
Ai Warlord
Glorifying Dharmavira
Gemstone Rain
Sinha Kuranosuke
Knight Nymph
Tanya Matsuko
Hadley Vasumati
Young Acid
Raman Petal
Fang Vinay
Taneja Manacle
Munenori Maiden
Joel Lord
Enlarged Ramesh
Heart Neon
Driss Denmaryk
Den Anton
Wave Werewolf
Citadel Twentieth
Svante Crushing
Brobutl Rachna
Victoro Cherian
Patterson Ray
Florence Buczynska
Alias Books
Kanak Strasburg
Bali Servant
obufusa Cursed
Cook Kubilus
Mië Wing
Noriyori Esther
Kathia Presta
Fanny Granite
Discordant Jurian
Manuel Silver
Ryan Pandey
Loving Xie
Wickes Sniper
NíScolaidhe Cryptic
Zylphia Kieber
Tomone Worshipping
Grandjean Gothic
Muni Slutsky
Harris Amaya
Mind Zilá
Lachman Azure
Mad Ghost
Bitterness Steiger
Silver Elisabeth
Richy Tobin
Ice Gina
Tara Manacle
Sunna Blowtorch
Hattori Orchid
Moonsilver Masatoshi
Sundering Hanusa
Dalal Praising
Annihilation Cloth
Sally Kozloff
Face Sharmistha
Asia Shobha
Plutus Crawford
Mikie Ninurta
Tsunami Dolinski
Makary Odalisque
Al-Tayyeb Gerwin
Takayoshi Kelly
Copper Lila
Mockus Ketaki
Alias Serge
Kanetsugu Tora
Bodhisattva Manju
Consuming Shield
Nori Great
Rufus Okita
Pallavi Serpent
Dot Faulkner
Unlamented Seat
Flak Andris
Neena Sawhney
Mahavira Jans
O'reilly Rakesh
Vyas Viola
Wason Decimo
Roborn Dalenky
Variya Gunter
Ignazio Tsunenaga
Tyranny Annihilation
Jack Ginny
Tomiju Vibhuti
Second Alderdice
Chui Maitreya
Tak Excellent
Narang Kusagra
Athanasiou Pulkit
Satiated Eduardo
Kameyo Victorie
Stok Hiram
Master Mainchín
Rust Flowing
Ore Smith
Ekström Charan
Tor Sanjog
Satayu Wesley
Fulop Coxand
Pain Dubuisson
Anger Sjöholm
Diminished Ii
Tarpana Everardo
Sìle Lalla
Ottelien James
Blindfold Vitkus
Lord Groge
Mist Heerwagen
Freitag Bail
Bradley Feodora
Kemp Seraphina
Void Jessamine
Fayyad Preshea
Strewth Kramar
Selma Oda
Nagayasu Hōjō
Uppal Dead
Lonsdale Jue-Chuo
Mccoll Drunken
Saunak Ognibene
NicCruadhlaoich Tamara
Hundredth Doshi
Medard Fearghasdan
River Demeter
ÓCathal oshitaka
Bert Johnsson
Lover Ooka
Whiskey Grasmick
Thorwald Moroz
Dass Frida
Constance Unfettered
Boar DiBerardino
Cruz Sane
Takenaka Nagakura
Devantaka Drive
Drakenberg Charity
Meera Undefeated
Doerr Devin
Ogasawara Buccini
Ōtomo Turing
Golden Smalbrugge
Forsberg Kirchner
Skies Venom
Elisha Kikkawa
Masako Cursed
Laugh Strange
Fuwa Flak
Momo Naoie
Tokimune Cerulean
Thomas Gudrun
Lalima Macris
Surya Kagekatsu
Lea Edifice
Mariann Gunda
Sophronia Hiroie
Sinnett Wolstenholme
Bockus Nagamoto
Chiyoko Narain
Chadha Anya
Ujiyasu Lady
Kozma Jain
Gaffy Dobrow
Procession Eagle
Seth Chokei
Ore Bogdán
Norbut Klara
Flip Petal
Jones Quantum
Number Takakage
Satyavati Egidio
Nikita Belly
Bright Dominik
Ginchiyo Seventh
Rai Andō
Eracla Grim
Avinash Aroused
Gaby Mccarthy
Henk Gitika
Rainbow Sunrise
Exultant Ekachakra
Lucian Satyen
Amol Ramaswamy
Sagacious Mukul
Major Nagamasa
Pirate Lemken
Bright Anzu
Camila Zachariah
Sunder Stream
Jansson Pacho
Soulsteel Mattie
Arima Edna
Bairbre Saffron
Rat Malas
Nirupa Pearl
Neele Manacle
Anthes Hari
Killer Mohini
Nitro Bureau
Hatsu August
Ashwin Ishida
Orchid Bella
Hurley Manoj
Chinami Wave
Sawyer Ashwini
Lundholm MacPhàidein
Laura Mitsuharu
Wada Herbert
Bhaltair Data
Cryptic Risa
Bashō Knobben
Micajah Killer
Merz Ajit
Grey Ramiro
Olivia Pale
Tamaki Ruin
Shindou Unfettered
Beneficent Koto
Millee Keisuke
Hitotsubashi Gun
Ádám Ore
Porter Anshul
Seoras Galinis
Ankur Nankervis
Rogue Bindiya
Lover Narcyz
Ebon Lord
Rati Usami
Hunter Stanley
Molis Kikuë
Kairis Kojima
Willow Nettie
Jeevan Koko
Christodoulou Madhav
Coen Abramov
Runciman Kazi
Beneficent Kamakshi
Srikant Mander
Din Kato
Wattan Sudarshan
Lotus Georgia
Flowing Suté
Hisa Bolotin
Allen Magnuson
Naomasa Iagan
Urjavaha Plummeting
Walton Vermillion
Armor Grinder
Rokosz Gandhi
Gilmore Kiyoni
Price Master
Minerva Prokop
Fujitaka Onyx
Parnika Iginia
Eliza Viviana
Crater Simkus
Domhnall Stephens
Final Vault
Katsumi Loes
Zoe Sharp
Sunrise One
Muadhnait Valeri
Mist Israel
Félix Mckenzie
Fuji Twentieth
James Gate
Cox Bunny
Colbert Blitz
Jayant Sergi
Charlotte Hepner
Jatin Tiger
Sunrise Kennyo
Prachi Guardian
Rezső Abi
Prison Patrido
Besson Pain
Dhananjay Mechanation
Ireland Hikaru
Hill Spider
Yoshimichi Viswanathan
Godelieve Seshadri
MacTuirc Verma
Som Lala
Harris Shruti
Dhawan Skies
Vinita Joyous
Grey Sobha
Jubilant Kura
Johal Patrick
Meson Bronze
Lucian Overload
Thérèse Kazue
Takatoyo Bawa
Rajagopal Toshikatsu
Sayoko Bala
Rancorous Khalsa
Nozomi Someina
Prasoon Mand
Gurkin Masked
Bhavsar Citrasvana
Sumanna Geronimo
Gavan Alabaster
Vikrant Dani
Chu-Kai Vaisakhi
Jeff Banshee
Shukis Shintarō
Duskin Medard
Yoko Taga
Yashodhara Kova
Robert Mazzetti
Crozier Shiho
Koemi Garden
Rosenquist Ekta
Oak Sood
Angry Tapti
Aeson Shikha
Cipher Zou
Spigot Macklin
Abád Mather
Stewart John
Buch Omy
Jayani Aleksander
Deena Serena
Stag Florieke
Myrtle Imai
Intonation Vineet
Genevieve Gijsbert
Temple Granqvist
Grasshoff Stream
Vivek Lamberta
Asvin Phoenix
Nobutomo Caetana
Radgärd Dead
Nobuchika Azure
Devouring Ten
Oza Edit
Schroth Ami
Bailey Boulle
Purohit Martin
Kowaleski Jinx
Narayan Kazutoyo
Mathieson Marianna
Trusha Kai-Zu
Crimson Wable
Shere Prakash
Butterfly Rantidev
Ivan Grievous
Marlina BenAbdelaziz
Anna Angel
Kazushige Yuka
Marble Iris
Rogue Tearing
Lecia Bornholdt
Dawn Blind
Bishop Forsaken
Alloy Citizen
Masako Fourth
Tokiwa Del
Vairaja Cliff
Pau Kissing
Albert Levi
Jonathan Ran
Lind Lyuba
Pohl Komal
Braga Largo
Promire Chandra
Doctor Varun
Smirti Grigas
Nyoko Nimrod
Dòmhnall Tomb
Serial Jaya
Palmer Thrashing
Léonard Eeada
Walia Rosalina
Haeffner Sorrowful
Kakar Ox
Giertych Rout
Refuge Alice
Goda Maksim
Juda Upendra
Sandy Gour
Shark Hatano
Tapi Redoubt
Mellor Rose
Random Valiy
Kaedé Klukas
Dai Plot
Tyranny Annaisha
Forova Sparrow
Moss Hellberg
Tear MacIlleDhòmhnaich
Soul Sour
Finger Lance
Doctor Nene
Moon Naina
Shackle Wali
Nayak Maitryi
Xue Nitro
Faga Keane
Canino Ore
Kaylock Bhandari
Izō Kiko
Chhabra Shigetsuna
Foster Master
Débora Bunny
José Rüdiger
Bhalla Goodwin
Suri Gavrie
Kortman Rui
Stanton Gustafson
Toufiq Roelofs
Worshipping Venkatesh
Lysagh Spyridon
Síoda Thumpston
Durmada Doi
Wilfred Starmetal
Komara Mega
Shah Lord
Prisha Elm
Number Davidson
Tami Vault
Brewer Cyber
Cho Hardesty/Hardisty
Tapesh Lawrence
Markowski Ōta
Jibran Lodewijk
Hermine Binson
Running Lord
Alaine Oksana
Tadaoki Gamo
Kumar Turtle
Mary Rachna
Owl Deviant
Sumitra Hiroshii
Marsaili Corinna
Nagi Pitters
Motochika Rao
Zaccardi Miskinis
Ravana Mcneil
Asharya Tulasi
Perry Jackpot
Hammond Sour
Elm Jade
UíhAinbhthín Walla
Agrawal Panagakos
Angry Cat
Sriram Mclachlan
Wreckage ÓGlaisne
Watanabe Collier
Sessai Zandra
Kura Knife
Kanetsugu Stack
Ezra Kiyotsuna
Ramachandran Zasha
Tower Zlotnik
Fourth Eugeniusz
Ijuin Kageyu
Campisi Rupali
Krantz LoCastro
Spenkelink Popoff
Nora Maffia
Liddle Dubow
Bentzen Citizen
Lady Johnny
Sabharwal Kazan
Ora Anand
Chip Silveira
God N’Ait
Wilkinson Tsuru
Percoco Basu
Jade Seventh
Stalwart Dance
Halder Keszo
Matsudaira Mullen
Mariska Hasegawa
Invincible Oishi
Bittencourt Butler
Nelson Shaila
Third Stallion
Menkous Mek