Actual Play – Invitation to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (9/21/2013)

FAE-Bookcover_300x450GM: Sean Nittner
Players: My daughters and birthday friends
System: Fate Accelerated
Setting: Potter-verse

For her birthday I gave my daughter two copies of Fate Accelerated and a set of Fate Dice. I told her I would run a game for her and her friends in any setting, but that next time we played FAE she was going to run for me. She’s 11, time to get this ball rolling.

She opted for the Potter-verse, which is a nice setting because it’s so easy to slot kids into. It occurred to be that it was especially appropriate that she was turning 11, as I could send her an “invitation”.

I wrapped her parcel in orange paper and twine (magic twine mind you) and then included a letter, which was an invitation to Hogwarts (as 11 year olds get on their birthday) along with a caveat that in order to keep the muggles from getting suspicious, we would be pretending to play a game of Fate Accelerated. If you think about it too hard it doesn’t work, but don’t think that hard, she loved it!

A parcel for my little.

Yup, we broke out the sealing wax.

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Little witches and wizards

Everyone made their young wizards and witches together. I had to play a bit of interference to make sure one characters concept didn’t appropriate the others, but we were quite happy with the results. Most of the trouble aspects ended up being unintended or exaggerated consequences of the high concepts.  For example Anubus Pok was a water elementalist whose trouble was that she needed to be around water. Some of them varied a bit, Crystal Stone was the youngest witch at Hogwarts but was also an Orphan.

Stunts went really well. In fact I think a stunt is where you make FAE into FAE-X. In this case stunts made FAE into FAE-Harry Potter.

Here were some of them:

  • Flashy Magic: I get a +2 when I Flashily Create an Advantage when making distractions with magic.
  • Flaming Hair: I get a +2 when Forcefully trying to scare someone with my flaming hair.
  • Magic Twine: Wrap someone or something up once per game by saying the magic words.

We also had one “I am batman” character. He had no name (literally, both his name and high concept was “no name”) and immediately filled out all of his aspects with powers like “Illusions”, “Invisibility”, “Nature Elementalist”, etc. When I told him the values to pick for approaches (one at +3, two at +2, etc) He entered numbers from +10 to +15. His one stunt was “Be in infinite places”.  As a young gamer, excited about being all powerful, I knew that it would be an uphill battle to address each of these issues. Instead I just had him change his approaches and then left the rest with one caveat. The reason he could be invisible, or be in infinite places was because he was a ghost. He didn’t like the idea of being dead at first but I eventually got him to warm up to it when Peeves the Poltergeist acknowledged him as one of them.

Arriving at Hogwarts

We started out the session with each of the new students arriving at Hogwarts for the first time. They got off the train, onto the boat with Hagrid and then to the great hall. Only one of them was accidentally left behind. Someone had missed Crystal Stone [Compelling her aspect of being without a family] and her boat started drifting away with her on it! Her new friends came to the rescue with some water evocations to bring the boat to shore and a helping hand once she got there. Thanks friends!

Something is up with the sorting hat

I described the teachers as all being a bit on edge (I know, unimaginable) and trying to hurry the children along through the sorting ceremony. When the first PC went up to be sorted (Lily Figrazz, our friend of magical creatures) she spotted a raven in the rafters just as it swooped down, swiped the sorting hat off her head and flew down a corridor. In an attempt to catch it, Mrs. Mcgonagall slammed the doors shut with a Colloportus spell, but it was too late. The raven slipped past and only left a single tail feather trapped beween the two massive doors that slammed behind it.

What followed was a merry romp of children ignoring adults, sneaking off, and finding the sorting hat. They used various magics and clever ingenuity to get through the magically locked door and track the raven back to a hidden chamber. There they found a grump goblin holding the sorting hat and surrounded by mounds and mounds of things: books, a globe, a large chest, several pairs of night clothes, a silver shimmering sword and may others. The goblin had been pulling things out of the hat but in frustration it would not give him back the fine set of boots the hat had “stolen” from him.

The children captured the goblin and turned him in, along with the sorting hat, finally ending with a resounding cry from the hat of “Gryffindor”!

Aftermath

If the game wasn’t fun, at least it was tasty!

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Thoughts on this game

It was a short game and one full of interruptions. Parents arriving, pizza and desert being served, and sometimes totally unrelated tangents. The kids had fun though, and I think planned to keeping playing their characters in stories they told.

My little one told me she has read FAE and is ready to run a game. I’m excited to see what she does with it!

Gaming with kids is great. They really surprise me with their range. They can be totally sweet and helpful or totally vicious and brutal.

Having one very reluctant player also poses interesting opportunities. Do you let them hang back until they want to contribute? Do you try to entice them to interact? I did a little of both and it worked reasonably well, but I could tell the energy of the table suffered. What was previously a really excited group (this player came to the game late) got much quieter and more pensive as we waited for his responses.