Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fate: Wild Blue Yonder

Session 1 - World and Character Creation - and The Grapples Fly!
My regular gaming group and I decided to play a Fate Game based on the world of the Wild Blue Yonder comic.
Check it out here:
Be sure to check out the video!

Here's the opening blurb from the comic:
"The world was dying. Radiation and pollution consumed the earth. To survive, one had to move even higher into the skies. Giant aircraft were built, homes for the chosen few. People left behind labor in mines to supply energy to those far above, dreaming that they too will one day be rescued from death and decay. Life in the sky is a brutal war for survival. Pilots and jetpack warriors desperately fight to protect their own. One fleet soon dominated the wild blue. Commanded by the Judge, they take what they need. The fittest shall survive. There are those that whisper of one ship that never refuels. A craft that lives on the beams of sunlight high above the clouds. It is The Dawn. And all in the sky would kill to possess it..."

Feel free to check out our World Building Document, which I have updated with all the characters used throughout the game.

World building and character generation probably took two hours or so, which left me just enough time to run a quick conflict to introduce them to the world and see how Fate works:

• The Valkyrie had just cleared a storm. The PCs were on deck securing any loose planes and gear. As the final clouds part, a patchwork pirate ship slides out from behind one of them. Before an alarm can be sounded, five grapple lines spring forth and capture the Valkyrie - pirates come clambering across.
• Brony takes to angling one of the Valkyrie's propellers to cut one of the lines. He succeeds, but binds up the prop in the process.
• Coop jumps in his plane while Pix releases the restraints and pulls the chocks.
• Flak does what he knows best and starts jumping on the pirates, axe in hand.
• Saboteur pirates make their way across and start harassing Brony big time. He suffers some consequences early.
• Vimn runs to Brony's aid and patches him up mid-fight.
• Coop is making quick work of enemy planes. Flak eventually grapples up to him.
• Brony keeps repelling the saboteurs and Vimn keeps him on his feet.
• Meanwhile, Pix is clambering across one of the lines to the pirate ship...

Session 2 - Repelling the Pirates
• Pix climbed aboard the pirate ship and disabled all the engines, then escaped to the fuel room.
• Brony shut down one of the props on the Valkyrie, causing the Valkyrie to slam into the pirate ship and sending them both into a spin. Pix got doused in fuel.
• Brony powered the prop up and tilted it into one of the balloons holding the pirate ship up, shredding it. This is what starts the pirate ship on its way down.
• As the ships separate, it snaps one of the grapple lines - three remain.
• Coop shoots out one of the hard points on another cable. He also shoots down one of the enemy planes spraying the deck of the pirate ship with burning fuel. During this dogfight, Flak is whiplashed into the rigging of the pirate ship and disappears. His com goes dead.
• Vimn (the doctor) makes his way to the deck, grabs a blow torch, and starts cutting one of the remaining two lines. He gets assistance from one of the brigands.
• Rail (the captain of the Valkyrie) also grabs a torch and starts cutting the last line.
• With all lines cut, the Valkyrie is spared, but the pirate ship goes down like a deflated parachute - on fire...

Session 3 - Salvage Rights
• The prisoners from the pirate ship were lined up on the deck. The Crone chose four who could stay. The rest were to be returned to what remains of their ship.
• Brony, Coop, and Vimn kitted up to drop off the remaining prisoners, salvage what the could from the ship, and hopefully rescue Flak and Pix - if they're still alive. Both Vimn and Brony decided to bring a couple of the "keeper" prisoners along (Names: Nikodeimos, the brigand who helped Vimn, and Perious). Four soldiers also joined the group and they took off via helicopter.
• The non-keepers were dropped off a good distance from the crash site. Brony shoots one for good measure.
• Upon reaching the crash site, the team spotted a VTOL aircraft and mercenary team dispatching any survivors.
• The team set down a distance away and unsuccessfully attempted to sneak into the wreck.
• A brief discussion and deal was made. And then the bullets started flying (at Brony's command). Coop recognized one of the mercs just as this started.
• PCs win, but lost two good soldiers in the process.
• Coop checks out the merc he recognized. The merc grabs Coop and burbles "Hyperion" as his last dying breath.
• Nikodeimos leads the group through the wreckage to the central stores. Brony has to torch open the door, but this weakens the structure...
• They rush in to grab as much of the stock as they could, however Coop and Vimn hear a dragging sound coming from the corridor on the other side of the room.
• Vimn checks it out and finds Pix! (Crushed leg, smelling of fuel, and dragging 15 gallons of fuel behind her, but alive!) A quick splint from Vimn and she's up, but hobbling.
• No sooner is she up, than the whole structure starts giving way.
• Insert montage here of the group hauling a ton of stuff down rickety corridors, beams falling, Brony cutting through them, everyone except Brony dives out just as the whole thing collapses, with Perious yanking Brony out at the last possible second.
• They catch their breath, load up the helo and VTOL, and hey, Vimn read about flying a VTOL once!
• They are now merrily on their way back to the Valkyrie, but out of the corner of his eye, Brony sees something... the Judge's Wraith jet fighters!

Coop's Log:

After dropping off the unwanted prisoners a few miles away from the wreckage of the pirate ship, we discovered a VTOL beat us to the crash site and was battling the surviving members of the ship.

I expertly managed to land our heli on the other side of the ship unnoticed. Unfortunately, once on foot, we ended up face to face with the mercenary crew that eliminated those who managed to survive the descent. I recognized an old but familiar face in their crew and was attempting to let engineer (and I use that word since it fits his title and not his obvious lack of skill) Brony know, when Brony pulled out his weapon and opened fire.

After succeeding in the firefight (in spite of losing two men from our security force), I reluctantly walked to the person I recognized. In his last breath he confirmed we were both on the Hyperion. Rifling through his personal effects, I found and pocketed a picture of the ship that was my childhood home before it was destroyed in a battle with these same people I now find myself among - and will destroy in kind.

Not wanting to make his loss meaningless, I managed to compose myself to the best of my ability and helped salvage supplies just before the wreck collapsed upon itself. Brony fell behind and barely survived, until the otherwise useless cabin boy of the pirate ship saved his worthless life.

We loaded the supplies onto our heli and the VTOL (which was piloted by Vimn?!?). Just after take off, we encountered a patrol of Wraiths. Even though I have worked with them in the past, we needed to avoid them. I will need to send a message to the Valkyrie about our delay. I hope I remember to not use an open channel and to not accidentally reveal the Valkyrie's position. *wink*

If Brony asks about Hyperion, I will remind him that the ammo used in the fight was more than we got from the salvage. It all could have been avoided and we could have worked together and split the salvage. If he brings up the VTOL, I will remind him of the 2 crew members whose death he needlessly caused and that I could have talked my Hyperion friend into killing the other members of his merc unit and joining our crew. If Rail allowed the old man Vimn friended and Brony's idiot to join, why not someone useful? ...I could have also used his help in either destroying or taking over the Valkyrie...

That is Coop's story and he is sticking to it.

Session 4 - Flak's Back!
• The group had just finished rescuing Pix and scavenging the downed pirate ship and were heading back to the Valkyrie helicarrier when they were spotted by some of the Judge's Wraith fighters.
• A pitched air battle was fought between the four Wraiths, the helicopter, and the acquired VTOL.
• Flak arrives on the scene (after climbing down the mountain), makes a daring leap onto a nearby Wraith, and dispatches both the Gun and the pilot. He eventually joins the fray.
• The end result: helicopter crash landed in a nearby valley, VTOL safe, one Wraith escaped, one Wraith captured by Flak, and the remaining two Wraiths (and all Guns) down.
• As the group transferred supplies from the helo to the VTOL, they were attacked by giant mutant bobcats who tore Perious ("Sandwich") in half, killed one of their soldiers, and seriously injured their pilot Coop before Brony finally put them down.
• We left off as the reunited group is looking for a flat spot further along the valley to wait to hear back from the Valkyrie...

Session 5 - Not in Kansas Anymore
• With Flak in a stolen wraith and the rest of the group in a stolen VTOL, they decided to find a clearing and wait for the Valkyrie to report back its new position.
• They decide to set down in a flat spot where a couple valleys merge, next to a strange rock.
• Once down, a hatch opens up in the rock, a crazy old coot steps out expecting a delivery from his boy Ellis, and realizes that Ellis is no longer on that VTOL. He curses the group ("You killed my boy!"), trundles away, and slams the door behind him. At which point, four hardpoints in the "ground" open up, revealing automated turrets that shred the Wraith and damage the VTOL before running out of ammo.
• Brony and Pix charge through the hail of bullets and attempt to disarm two of the turrets and Flak charges for the hatch, axe raised.
• The turrets retract, so Brony and Pix decide to ride them down. Flak gets the hatch open and he and the still-injured Coop enter the "rock". Meanwhile, Vimn, Nikodeimos, and the remaining soldier hang out on the VTOL in case the Valkyrie calls. Way to split the party, folks!
• Insert montage of the various PCs making their way through what appears to be a heavily damaged ship but heavily retrofitted with both found scrap and organic bits - think the Professor from Gilligan's Island's creations, but on steroids. Oh, and fighting autonomous robots.
• Pix makes her way to what used to be the mess hall and, after a brief robotic scuffle, starts gathering leftover individually wrapped snack cakes.
• When Vimn hears Brony over the coms getting crushed by a bot, he rushes into the complex, leaving Nikodeimos and the soldier behind.
• Eventually, Brony, Coop, Flak, and Vimn make their way to what appears to be a hangar filled with all manner of scrap. Flak takes on six bots and proceeds in keeping them dancing in a confused ballet ("twerking") as the others take pot shots.
• Once the bots are defeated, the crazy old coot comes over the intercom, tells them to get off his boat and releases ALL the bots.....

Session 6 - It's Alive!
• Brony, Flak, Pix, and Vimn rush back to the heart of the ship. Realizing he is in the carcass of the Hyperion, Coop clambers up into a vent and makes his way to a different part of the ship...
• These cobbled-together robots are being deployed to attack the PCs from every manner of device. The most insidious: imagine the main hallway a barrel of a revolver. One section of the hallway is the cylinder of said revolver. Every time the cylinder rotates, it deploys more robots.
• Nikodeimos has good news and bad news: the Valkyrie has reported in, but another batch of Wraiths has arrived. The sound of bullets ricocheting off the hull can be heard.
• The PCs, sans Coop, battle their way through. Pix is the first to arrive to the atrium, places her crate of snack cakes on the lift, and waits patiently for the rest.
• Brony is next and being chased by an amorous robot. He is in a rush to get topside to "feed" his pistols more bullets. He jumps on the lift and starts it. It's bad enough that he leaves the group behind, the straw that breaks the camel's back (Pix) is that he casually unwraps a cream-filled yellow cake and downs it.
• Pix clings to the bottom of the lift and attempts to knock Brony off. She succeeds in grabbing one of his guns out of his hand, which is worse. What follows is a strange combat ballet of Brony, Pix, and robot, while the lift ascends and descends.
• Meanwhile, Coop reaches the end of the vent. It opens up into the side of a massive shaft. The floor of which is slowly ascending. He drops down onto it, finds a hatch, drops through that, and lands in what appears to be the old man's quarters. He recognizes the old man as Elias, the Hyperion's unstable mechanic.
• The quarters continue to ascend, eventually coming to rest outside, on top of the conning tower (previously the strange rock). The old man's room is now the bridge of the Hyperion!
• Coop realizes Elias means to get the Hyperion airborne and, preferring the Hyperion laid to rest and not reanimated, tries to reason with Elias.
• Coop fails. The methane engines rumble to life and the Hyperion breaks loose from its former grave, taking flight once more...

What the Hyperion may have looked like in a previous life. By Steve Jung

Coop's Log:

Somehow, this miserable Valkyrie crew was able to down those Wraiths But once we landed, we were unable to protect ourselves from wild animals. I was wounded and others in our group were killed by them.

After landing upon an apparently buried large vessel, we encountered another familiar face. I could not believe what I saw. It looked like a bad dream of my boyhood home - the Hyperion run by an insane old version of the Hyperion engineer, Elias.

After battling his robotic creations, which made me ill to watch, I managed to find Elias. In spite of my best efforts to stop him and his engineered monstrosity, the Hyperion is once again airborne.

I'm not sure of his plans, but this crazy old man and this hunk of junk are family, and after years without, I don't want it to end.

Session 7 - Finale
• We left off with Brony, Flak, Pix, and Vimn, and a handful of patchwork robots in or near the heart of the Hyperion. Coop and the Hyperion's clinically insane engineer are on the new bridge of the Hyperion as it begins to take off. Nikodeimos and the remaining soldier are fighting off Wraiths. They all see the Valkrie in the distance!
• Brony and Pix settle their differences, Vimn finally pulls Flak away from the robots, and they ascend to the deck as more robots pour in.
• Once topside, Brony sprints to get ammo for his guns, Flak sprints to take on a couple of Guns, and Pix and Vimn try to get to the bridge of the ship through a rusty hatch.
• Elias, the old coot, deploys the automated turrets, but they still chatter without ammo.
• Coop radios the captain of the Valkyrie, Rail, and tries to convince him that the only thing between the Valkyrie and the rest of the Judge's fleet is the Hyperion.
• Nikodeimos is still battling the Wraiths and the soldier cuts down one of the Guns.
• Vimn, noticing the Gun Flak is fighting has the perfect pry bar, runs up, jump kicks him (again: Medic!), grabs the bar, and tosses it to Pix.
• No longer in combat, Flak fires his grapple at a Wraith overhead, and disappears from the deck.
• Pix gets the hatch open, ascends some stairs, and barges in the bridge. Once she sees the old man, she attacks him immediately!
• Brony, Vimn, Nikodeimos, and the soldier grab ammo from the VTOL and rush to load the automated turrets.
• Coop grabs Pix and tries to convince her that their only chance of getting back to the Valkyrie is on the Hyperion. She's not buying any of it, screaming, "Traitor!"
• Flak scares the crap out of the pilot of the Wraith, then plants his axe through the canopy and into his head. Brony and Nikodeimos dispatch the remaining Wraiths.
• Vimn and Brony make their way to the bridge. Flak steers the Wraith via axe-pilot interface towards the bridge, and then crashes through the window on his grapple line.
• With all the chaos going on, Vimn pulls the "Do you trust me?" card and gets everybody off the bridge, save him and Elias.
• Vimn and Elias have a heated, but civil exchange (even for a crazy coot), but neither gains ground. Vimn wants the old coot to cherish his accomplishment and live on AWAY from the Valkyrie. Elais simply wants vengeance. The exchange ends when Elias points the NOW ARMED automated turrets at the Valkyrie, and Vimn shoots the console.
• At the sound of the gunshots, these events occur:
  • Flak kicks open the locked door
  • Brony storms in and shoots old man Elias
  • Coop shoots Brony
  • Nikodeimos shanks Coop in the back
  • Pix beats Coop into submission
• Seeing that his world has reached his level of normalcy and that his plans have come to fruition, old man Elias wanders over to the front window of the bridge and breathes it all in.
• And Flak plants an axe in his head.
• Nikodeimos explains that The Crone tasked him with sussing out the traitor amongst them. Now that he has succeeded, how did Coop wish to die? Answer: quickly.
• Meanwhile, Brony reaches into the guts of the console and manages to cut the engines.
• Pix runs out to the VTOL, gathers parachutes, and gets everybody suited up - except Brony, who, now seeing he can have the ship to himself, tries to get the engines fired up again.
• As soft white flowers bloom in the sky, Brony finally gets the methane engines to rumble back to lifCRASH!!!

Coop's last words:

"My name is Bill Cooper. I was a fighter pilot on this ship, the Hyperion, when it was attacked by the Valkyrie. Thanks to the engine modification made by our chief engineer, Elias, I was able to outmaneuver the man who became your captain, causing him to crash into your ship just before mine exploded.

I was living a life as a mercenary pilot for hire when I saw your aircraft at that dock and your crew inside. I managed to kill one of your pilots and replace him, with the intent of causing your ship to suffer the same fate mine did.

I could not believe my luck when we encountered my former shipmates and the rebuilt wreck of my home. Though we failed to destroy your ship, I will take comfort in taking down some of its best crew ... and your hack engineer. I am bleeding out - please put me out of my misery."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How I Track Aspects in Fate

I noticed that, when using index cards or sticky notes to track aspects for Fate games, the table would get cluttered or we'd lose an aspect or two. It occurred to me that, with a small enough dry-erase board, I could track situation aspects and boosts in one place and for everybody to see. Fortunately, Target carries a 10" x 5.5" magnetic dry-erase board complete with a combo-marker/eraser for $3.59!

As you can see, I divided it up between situation aspects and boosts. I included check boxes to indicate free invokes: empty box = two free invokes, / = one free invoke, X = no free invokes available. I initially did this with permanent marker, but forgot that dry-erase markers actually erase permanent marker. So I did it again and then used packing tape to laminate over the text.

As an added bonus, the whole thing fits in my Fate binder!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Fate Core Character Cards

For the past couple of months, weather permitting, I've been running our group's first Fate Core game. It's based on the comic Wild Blue Yonder.
Last time I ran a Fate-based game was Spirit of the Century and I had the players fill out 3" x 5" index cards by hand. This was great as I had everyone's skills and aspects in front of me and could sort them by initiative order. Unfortunately, they were inconsistent and hard to read.
This time around, I decided to print out standard cards that the players could fill in. Initially, I stuck with  the 3" x 5" index cards, but found that they were a little cramped. I then moved up to 4" x 6" index cards. These proved to be more complete, easier to fill out, and, incidentally, easier to read.
I also ended up making a card for tracking multiple unnamed NPCs.

Both cards are available for use:

If you end up using them, please leave me a comment as to how well they work for you.

Star Wars Edge of the Empire Combat Tracker

So, for Free RPG Day 2013, I decided to run the free adventure for Star Wars Edge of the Empire - Under a Black Sun. Since this was my first time running a SWEotE game, I decided to draw up a combat tracker that included the various range bands and their respective difficulty ratings. One of the players brought some Star Wars miniatures, so we used those directly on the sheet to track movement and such. It really helped clear up how combat played out.

Since you may find it useful, here it is: EotE Combat Tracker (PDF)