Brian (and the rest of us) all had our first game of FAE. And it was loads of fun. Brian talked a little bit about the setting, which we had different degrees of familiarity with and then we got to deciding what was going on, and what mattered.
The Avatar is Gone – We decided to set this before Ang was awoken, when everything is way out of wack because there hasn’t been an Avatar in 100 years and people are loosing it. The Air Benders are more ascetic than ever, separated from reality. Meanwhile the Fire Benders are waging war on all of their neighbors, conquering everyone in their path.
Crossroads of the Earth Kingdom – We decided to start in a part of Earth Kingdom besieged by Fire. Lands previously owned by Earth had been conquered and Earth’s forces pushed back. What was once a small town was now a major thoroughfare for both refugees and military transports.
From that we decided to make characters in the military. People fighting to protect the Earth Kingdoms for one reason or another.
Osha – The troubled waterbender. Osha was raised to protect the tribes of the north, but was using her knowledge of battle to aid earth now. Also, being away from her family allowed her experiment with the taboo Blood Bending without raising suspicion from her tribe.
Ataru – The Angriest Air Bender came down from the mountain because he was infuriated that the Air Kingdom would do nothing in this war. He believed they should fight, and fight he would.
Akane – The Earth Bender soldier who wanted to protect her homeland and her family. She wielded tremendous power, but was compromised by concerns for her own family.
Liu-Chen was a cobbler from the Earth Kingdom who’s lands had been conquered by Fire. Once a refugee, now a volunteer soldier, she was still terrified of Fire’s wrath, and felt helpless to fight it.
Haruka was a defector from the Fire Nation. Though she did not Bend, she came from a very powerful family in the Fire Nation, and from them stole the scrolls which taught the Fire Bending technique. Her brother Haruki was a general in the Fire Nation (and a powerful Bender) and he personal sought to bring her back. Dead or alive.
I dug our group. We were kind of misfits by nature. That’s the spirit of Fate really, the protagonists always (because of their High Concept and Trouble aspects) stick out. They don’t fit in the rank and file, and so of course have adventures of their own.
I also liked that we played a mix of Benders and non-Benders. As much as I love crazy bending power, I played a non-Bender because I wanted to explore if I could have just as much fun with FAE *not* having super powers when others did. (Spoiler: I did).
After our characters were made, Brian added two new setting aspects: Defending No place and Rump of the Army. Essentially, in all this fighting, we had been relegated to the far, far reserves, where nothing was happening and we weren’t doing any good. Liu-Chen was pretty happy about this, but the rest of the characters were infuriated. Haruka wanted to get her scrolls to a general or strategist that could use them to fight the Fire Nation. Osha wanted opportunities to practice Blood Bending, Akane wanted to protect her people, and Ataru, he just wanted to get in a fight.
It didn’t take much to provoke us. A sneak attack the previous night, followed by silence the following night that left us all anxious there would be another one. Sure enough, when our commanding officer ordered we sit and wait, we all snuck off (even Liu-Chen) to be part of the action.
The Play is the Thing
Once we broke the line, it was on!
Brian gave us some obstacle to overcome to get out of camp without being detected. We got at least one significant cost, which led to a twist of finding some Fire Benders trying to sneak across the line themselves!
Fight! That led to a big conflict as jumped into their midst. We did all the normal conflict bits: attacks, creating advantages, etc. It was fun fight, mostly against the mooks. One thing they did was set off a signal flare, which spun into into a contest later (see below), but otherwise they were mostly fodder. This is where I had a lot of fun, showing that Haruka’s training with Fire Benders (that was actually her stunt) allowed her to get inside their defense and bat away their arms before the could throw fire into her face. With some bad as kung-fu and cartoon style choreography she was able to hold her own against them. This is also mechanically of course, because there was really no distinction between a Bender and a non Bender, but I wanted to make sure we could maintain that sense of capability in the fiction.
After the fight, we figured out that the signal flare was for, a giant juggernaut that the shock troops were guiding across the field in the night with their flare. It came rumbling after us and we realized we had to get to the Earth lines to warn them… and Fast! We handled this a s contest and each of us got a chance to contribute. Some by running, some by slowing down the giant death machine, and some by helping to move along our captive… by way of Blood Bending their unconscious body into moving on its own!
We arrived and there was much rejoicing. When the sun rose we saw the giant juggernaut which we had immobilized shake with impotent rage as the Earth catapults destroyed it! We got medals and were finally appointed to do what we did best. It was a very New Hope kind of end.
Thoughts on this game
Like others have, I noticed that pretty much every roll was made with a +2 or +3 approach, and like Fred noted on FateRPG.com, I really didn’t think that was much of a problem. More it showed how the protagonist figured out clever ways of using their strengths to fight a problem.
I really dug some of the social issues in the game. There was a strong sense of the non-benders as 2nd class citizens, and I certainly played a character with something to prove. A lot of that was called onto the carpet early on, and came up in different ways several times. We also had some distinct notion of the what the different nations thought of each other. I dug the tension there.
I had a lot of fun with Liu-Chen, specifically trying to form a bond with her in the midst of all this violence. At one point I grabbed a Bender and put him in a “Five Dragon Choke Hold” (create advantage) so she could punch him out. Good times!
As my first experience with FAE, I was quite impressed. Very good system for doing a pick up game and slapping an existing setting right on top of.
Pic of the game: