Actual Play – Save Game (7/30/2015)

Save GameGM: Sean Nittner
Players: Jason Herald, Donny Harbilie, Amanda Green, Adam Green
System: Fate Core
Fate World & Adventure: Save Game

My first game slot was a two hour game and Save Game was picked. Woot, I’d done a lot of preparation for it, including making Zelda, Samas Aran, Spy Hunter, and a Tetris block as characters.

For being a Evil Hat guy, I don’t actually run a lot of Fate (as evidenced in my past actual play reports). So I did a bit of brushing on the rules (read: I read Save Game) and made some characters (see above) and talked to Rob Wieland (creator of Save Game) on the internet, and generally considered the games that I was drawing inspiration from. Zelda, Super Mario Bros., Bionic Commando, Contra, Metroid, and the like. What kinds of things happen in those games, and what kinds of unexpected things happen as well.

After some time, I felt prepared!

Magna MonkThe play is the thing

In a two hour slot we were able to get the characters picked, create some signature moves (my standard half baked method of Fate char gen), and reviewed the rules enough to get going (first 20-30 min).

Then we ran through the troubles in Tar Zangeles, including

  • A fight with the Mohawk Ratz, which the diffused by convincing their leader (the Big Cheeze) that fighting them was a mistake (combo of Taunt and Chat).
  • Saving a kid on the beach from a glitched shark and learning of Landshark Larry’s trouble.
  • Making their way through the Grand Banana Hotel, sneaking past the impenetrable guards, scaling the collapsing hotel (thanks anti-grav tires) and finally knocking the big monkey off his perch.

Good times were had by all!

The heroes of Tendoria

Actual Play – The Secrets of Cats (11/30/2014)

The Secret of CatsGM: Sean Nittner
Players: June Garcia, Julie Dinkins, Christine Hayes, and my daughters
System: Fate Core
World of Adventures: The Secrets of Cats

As project manager of Evil hat I play surprisingly few Fate games. One part because I’m usually playing games at conventions and I take what’s offered, one part because I like to play the new-hot-sexy game de jour and one part because Fate is a bit like work for me. Despite loving it, I see it A LOT and so an idea really has to get me excited for me to run it. The Secrets of Cats got me excited.

I’ve run several games of Cat for my girls in the past and I know that the idea of playing magical cats is pretty, well, magical. I mean who doesn’t want to believe that your cat staring at the wall like there is something there is actually protecting you from an evil spirit trying to get in?

EndGame Square One game days have usually been on weekends I have my daughters so if I run a game, it’s a kid’s game they can play in. On November 30th, all of those would align, so I signed up to run The Secrets of Cats!

Note: I worked with Richard Bellingham (the author), Rob Donoghue (who reviewed the outline), Lenny Balsera (who worked with Richard as a system developer), Josh Yearsly (the Editor), Fred Hicks (layout and art direction) and Crystal Frasier (cover and interior art) on this project, so it was pretty damn cool to see the fruits of their labor turn into a game at a table I was GMing!

Half-baked Characters

TSoC uses Fate Core with minor tweaks in the skill tree and some additional stunts. Any time I run Fate Core, I make sure the characters are at least ready to play. In this case it meant giving each cat a Name, description, three aspects (High Concept, Trouble, Burden), Skills selected (as there are some new ones like Territory and the four types of magic), Magic Stunts and normal stunts.

What this left open was a True Name aspect, a fifth aspect, and technically two stunts (one magic and one mundane) though I only encourage players to add in another stunt if it looks like they are trying to do something that doesn’t quite fit, or if they are using a skill they are bad at in a way that it sounds like their character should be particularly skilled.

I though this might be a bit too restrictive but it worked out great. The players quickly made their cats their own but describing their activities like Tuffy (the big bad tough cat) requiring a fealty from Oregan in the form a single dirty sock from each of her burdens (the family she watched over). They also talked about their burdens and fleshed them out much more than I had. Overall they warmed to the cats very quickly.

The adventure is a Secret…

Okay, it’s not actually a secret at all, but since I ran the adventure in the module Silver Ford, I don’t want to give away too many spoilers. Suffice to say the cats went on a merry adventure, got in some fights they didn’t mean to, but saved the day in the end. The surprise finish was that our visiting cat, who really didn’t have a home found one, NOT WHERE I WOULD HAVE EVER EXPECTED. Turns out there’s a lot to say for how much having a pet can change a old cantankerous man’s disposition.

Thoughts on the game

I wish I took pictures. We had a cool map with aspect cards all over it and several drawings of cats. This was the best I could piece together afterwards.


The group I had clearly really understood cats. Whenever June’s cat Patches was outside of her own territory she immediately showed her belly to whoever owned the territory she entered. But in her home…it was HER RULES.

Bruno was hilarious because he was such a “people” cat. All of the fire crew loved him so when he saw something making off with one of their fire helmets if of course gave chase, and was almost run over because of it. Car are scary!

Many good times, and easily something I could imagine campaigning. Tuffy gained some new territory but could he hold onto it. What would Spark’s family (read: burden) do without her? Could Bruno stop the spirit that was starting fires in his town and causing his Burden’s so much grief? I’d love to play and find out.

Here are the pre-generated characters I used. Oregon, Patches, Sparks, Tuffy, and Bruno

Actual Play – Big Bad GM 2013 (10/6/2013)

FateCoreBookCoverGM: Eric Zimmerman, Joe Harney, Ezra Denney, Bryan Hitchcock
Players: Tiffany Frederickson, Ray Massie, Dennis Baum, Mike McFarland, Cait Youngquist, Bryant Durrell, Joe O’Neil, Michael Garcia, David Zarubin, Shawn Endresen, Jason Walters, Steven Kaye, Ralph Wolterbeek, Vanessa Brannon, Paul Meyer, and Eric Lytle
Judges: Sean Nittner, Mike Bogan, Bruce Harlick, and Leonard Balsera
System: Fate Core and Fate Accelerated.

This was the big bad showdown of 2013. The event where four GMs are given three secret ingredients and tasked to run a game on the fly. They get no time for prep and all the game/character creation is done at the table.

Secret Ingredients

These were release just before the games began:

Genre: Romantic Comedy
Locations: Dark Woods
Antagonists: Greedy Capitalists

Here were our contestants:

BryanHitchcockBryan Hitchcock

High Concept: The Metal Friar
Trouble: So Many Games, So Little Time
Aspect: Six-string Troubadour

Your Adventure: One year at Dunrdacon in the 90s, one person showed up out of six who signed up for a Werewolf the Apocalypse game. An hour after start time, I finally managed to rustle up a full table. Some of them had never played a White Wolf game at all. But we managed to have a fun game, slay a Nexus Crawler and end it with a climactic duel between two of the PCs for leadership of the pack. Awesome game in spite of an awful beginning.

If you could be any one in any world: The Doctor, but the Metal Realms version. #13.

Eric ZimmermanEric Zimmerman

High Concept: Pop Culture Anthropologist
Trouble: Daddy Issues
Aspect: “…just rolled three negatives!”

Your Adventure: Wild Talents. In a Roman superheroes game, the final bad guys, essentially Germanic Gods, take a surprise shot at the PCs, but instead of fighting back, the PCs talked them into a parley. I had no idea what was going to happen. They wrestled with the moral dilemma of betraying Rome (especially the Emperor who can control them) because they could not disagree with all of the “enemy’s” complaints. It wasn’t until after it was over that I realized the game didn’t falter, but something amazing just happened.

If you could be any one in any world: The Great A’Tuin from Discworld

Joe Harney BBGMJoseph Harney

High Concept: Reenacting Renaissance Man
Trouble: Doesn’t deal well with Stupid
Aspect: Rules Jedi.

Your Adventure: There was the one time where Aphrodite stabbed the Earl King’s Daughter’s Gay White Court Vampire Husband in the heart with the Spear of Leonidas.  Does that count as going good or bad, or both?!?

If you could be any one in any world: Either a Dresden Shide Lord or a 40k Space Marine



EzraDenneyBBGMEzra Denney

High Concept: Paranoia Proselytizer
Trouble: There are other games besides Paranoia?
Aspect: Why are there plus signs on these dice?

Your Adventure: Is this where I tell you about my 20th level Kensai Evoker? Because he was pretty sweet…

If you could be any one in any world: Werner Herzog, or the Funbot 3000

The play is the thing

These four GMs ran some amazing games, and some of them had to work their asses off to do it. Bryan’s game self-identified as “were not a rom-com crowd.”

In the end, judging was really, really hard. Hard enough I’m not doing it again next year. We had several criteria:

Use of Ingredients (10 points)
System Mastery (5 points)
Pacing (5 points)
Player Enjoyment (5 points)

It was tough, the score we close. Close enough we almost awarded two winners. Bleh. It was hard

Big Bag GM Winner

After the judges debated, discussed, and drew swords, we settled on the 2013 Big Bad GM Champion:


Actual Play – Freight with Peril (8/16/2013)

FateCoreBookCoverGM: Sean Nittner
Players: Six great Gen Con attendees who had never played Fate before
System: Fate Core

Never mix business with pleasure. That was the less on I learned over and over again at Gen Con. For most of Thursday and Friday my boss was calling me every hour asking for help because a server went down and our users couldn’t access their files.

Justin Jacobson, of Blue Devil Games, also made the same mistake I did, and brought his job along with him. In the middle of Gen Con he was doing work, and the work happened to happen at the worst possible time, when he had a game scheduled to run. Luckily it was Fate Core, and I was happy to give it a shot.

Freight with Peril… from the author

“Freight with Peril” is an extended Fate™ Core scene for 6 PCs. It was originally designed for use at Gen Con in 2013. It is intended to be run using 6 PCs within a two-hour period (allowing some time for introductions and wrapping up).

About Dawning Star

DAWNING STAR is a sci-fi setting published by Blue Devil Games. It was originally published in 2005 using the d20 System rules from Wizards of the Coast and released under the Open Game License. In 2013, Blue Devil Games relaunched the setting, using the Fate™ Core rules from Evil Hat Productions. DAWNING STAR is a “firm” science setting, grounded in real-world, existing scientific knowledge but extrapolated beyond current understanding. So, while there are numerous xenomorphs populating the Helios system and the mysterious “psionic” alternate dimension known as Red Truth, we try to ground these elements in actual science.

In 2196, scientists discover a large object on a collision trajectory with Earth. The free countries of the world unite to evacuate as many people as possible on large transport ships. As the fleet is leaving our solar system, it inadvertently interacts with a long dormant gateway station, and the ships are scattered across the galaxy. The setting follows the fate of one of those ships, the Dawning Star.

The Dawning Star finds itself in the newly named Helios System and settles on the planet Eos, similar in composition and atmosphere to Earth. There, the evacuees seek to rebuild society. In the years that followed, the humans have come to learn that they are not alone on Eos or in the system. In fact, there are numerous alien species there, remnants of the long dead Star Confederation. For the setting relaunch, the timeline is advanced several years. Another evacuation ship makes its way to the system, and the evil vaasi have begun an invasion with the intent of total annihilation.

One of the setting’s great strengths is its versatility both in focus and style. It supports a variety of different sub-genres, from Space Western to military to space opera, played in a variety of ways, from ultra-gritty to over-the-top pulpy. In fact, before running the scene, talk with the players to get an idea of their preferred playstyle and tailor the scene accordingly.

717The play is the thing

My players were great. Mostly their background was Pathfinder, and they had never played Fate before, but they took to it very quickly. Without ruining the adventure for anyone, I think it’s fair to say there was plenty of opportunities for action and tough character choices. Their collective responsibilities and motivations served as great seeds for compelling aspects and sticking them in all sorts of sticky (and awesome) situations.

One of my very favorite twists early on was that one of the players asked me if people normally carried firearms. Ironically it was the one player who played the alien race that asked this, so I turned the question back around on him. “Good questions, why do you roll Lore to Create an Advantage and find out.” He hit the difficulty and created the situation aspect “Everybody is packing”. Suddently the train they were on was part of the wild west, and differentiating innocent bystander who was carrying a gun from deep cover operatives became MUCH harder! That is really when the game picked up steam.

Thoughts on the game

Racism came up at the table. And I was glad to have an opportunity to address it. Every player at the table was white and we had a game where every character was human except one. who played a pseudo-indigenous insect like alien. Early on one player described his character as xenophobic, and soon after another player join in with him. Right then I pulled back the curtain and asked everyone to consider that trivializing or romanticizing racism with the excuse that we’re playing a game, still doesn’t make it okay. If your characters are racists, then let’s address that issue as a serious one in the game and treat it with respect as a major problem in the setting. Or lets leave all that bullshit out of our game. The opted for the latter. I was very happy I caught that one early on.

Actual Play – Fight Fire (4/13/2013)

FateCoreBookCoverGM: Morgan Ellis
Players: Eric Fattig, Eric Lytle. Sean Nittner, Julie Southworth
System: Fate Core
Setting: Fight Fire by Jason Morningstar

I’ve really wanted to see what Fight Fire looks like in play since I first heard about it. A very specific system designed to emulate a very specific thing. When the doc was floating about and I first checked it out I saw that the skill list had changed to just nine skills, things like vent, and extinguish. Similarly the fires themselves were more than just “on fire” but had their own skills like spread, and burn, and had ways that they acted specific to fires themselves.

Jason took the idea of a Fate fractal and really ran with it. Though the core mechanics were the same, you wouldn’t recognize this as looking like any other Fate game. There was also a technical element to it. Certain thing had specific effects in game. For example if you use the vent skill you can either “Vent for Life” to let the smoke out so people can breath, but also gives the fire more oxygen to burn or you can “Vent for Fire” which smothers the fire, but makes smoke worse for anyone inside. These choices matter in this game.

We made our characters, the Roofer who was always late on his alimony check, the Irons who had dreams of making it big as a chef, the veteran Can who was bucking for promotion, and the rookie Vent who was trying to prove herself.  We did some relationships mapping during character creation. The Roof’s ex-wife was the Can’s daughter and all that sort of deliciousness.

Fire is a living thing

That’s a situation aspect on ever fire you fight. It isn’t a single threat you stamp out, it’s a living thing fighting to survive and grow. We started our game with a call “Apartment fire at 1732 Whimett Ave”. When we arrived the thing was a mess. A woman trapped inside, open fires in at least two rooms, and spreading.

We started up following protocol: Vent, Enter, Search (VES). That lasted about five seconds until problems started altering our plan. Irons had forgotten his mask, which was bad. Our Vent ran it to rescue the woman with a broken hip, but consequently wasn’t venting, and Cans sprayed his propellant but the hose wasn’t coming in for him to get more water.

This was generally a result of failed rolls that we push through anyway with significant costs. All grist for the mill. We saved the lady. We put out the fire. We all made it home alive.

At the Firehouse

We realized the game has no skills or mechanics for downtime interactions. I mean, there is the grease skill for getting funding and equipment, etc, but it’s hardly the normal breadth of personal skills that Fate Core normally has. We talked about this at the table, about how we wanted to handle it. Do we skip over personal scenes and go right to the next fire? We pondered if that was the intent of the game. After some discussion we decided we’d use the aspect compel mechanics to push tension and then Morgan framed a scene for each us, dealing with our trouble aspects. It was good stuff. We saw different sides of our characters as our personal lives reared their ugly head.

One fun conclusion we came to was that because we had no skills besides fighting fires, we should take from that the idea that fighting fires is all we’re any good at, and that we’ll generally just fail over and over in life outside the fire. It was a good premise, and watching our characters suffer a bit was lots of fun.

MVA = Many Viscous Aspects

Okay, it really stands for Motor Vehicle Accident, but the way Morgan presented them, as a series of horrific situation aspects we had to overcome, I think my acronym is better.

The MVA was at the North East corner of 2nd Ave and E Houston St. It was terrible, a car wrapped around a power pole, with leaking gas coming out, a sparking power line hanging precariously low, a meth lab in the trunk, a dying driver, noxious fumes, and a meth’d out passenger. JESUS.

The thing about this was, I could believe it. Things are that messed up sometimes. The way Morgan handled this was really just a series of aspects we needed to overcome, but some of them morphed from one problem into another one when we failed rolls. It was good times. It was also a great example of not being able to save everyone. The driver was bleeding out bad and using the jaws of life to get the passenger out, meant him sustaining trauma he simply couldn’t sustain.

My favorite part of this particular “fire” was when Morgan compelled my “Acting Lieutenant” aspect to say that the city didn’t have my name on file to authorize cutting the power to the power lines… so Irons had to cut up the box and do it for us. That was brilliant!

Thoughts on this game

It was still not in the printing stage when we played, which means after I got to talk to Jason and Brian Engard (the system developer) and Brian added in a bit about how to handle play at the Firehouse, which I think is a great addition.

The game was a ton of fun and I think would be more fun the more acclimated we became to the implicit constraints (moving between two rooms with the door open still isn’t a trivial action if the room is filled with blinding smoke and/or a raging fire).

Morgan, as always, was stellar. He’s a very pro-player-fun GM and it shows every time he runs. Great time.

Lytle… how could you let the captain go like that? For shame.


Actual Play – Camelot Trigger (4/13/2013)

FateCoreBookCoverGM: Sean Nittner
Players: Mike Bogan, June Garcia, Tyson Fultz, and Eric Fattig
System: Fate Core
Setting: Camelot Trigger by Rob Weiland

FateCon was this Saturday the 13th at EndGame. Two sessions of nothing but Fate games. Good times. Since I very first got my eyes on Camelot Trigger, I’ve been wanting to run it, and this was my first chance to do so.

I’m working for Evil Hat now as project manager, so I get to see a lot of of the products as they are being produced. That is awesome, but it also means I have a lot of exposure to them not as a gamer, but as a project manager. It was really great to play Fate Core and enjoy it as a gamer again.

The Camelot Trigger setting is one of Arthurian knights, along side giant mecha robots. As I read it, it is extremely anachronistic, which I love. I imagined the people drinking from pewter chalices, and talking about handmaidens and “thine honour” right up until the point of starting the joust, when they would, you know, jump into an 80′ mecha and thrash each other with them.

I was recently having a discussion about game prep, and I boiled my prep (and execution) of games into five steps. So I’m going to give them here, and show how they were used in this game.

  1. Give players some setting and character expectations (like “You’re knights an Arthurian setting, but you also fly Mecha armor!”)
  2. Ask them questions to flesh out their characters and the world (“is your marriage a loveless one?” along side “what are the alien invaders, and why are they a threat to humankind?”)
  3. Present them with a threat that we have established (in step 1 or 2) that they care about AND that they can’t ignore.
  4. Let them respond as they will, offering opportunities to be awesome, and opposition (usually crafted by them) until there is a natural lull…
  5. Hammer them with #3 again but this time a different threat. Some kind of twist on the original, or something else we established (in step 1 or 2, or through play) that they care about.

It was awesome, as confirmed by my tweets!

Step 1. Put a whole in the box… wait, wrong list.

Step 1. Establish the character and setting expectations. I told the players about my rough ideas for the setting, and the characters that I had started. I told them together we would finish off both the world and character creation. Here were the characters, their situation, and their Armour (mecha).

ElaineElaine the Bold (hee, in bold)

Elaine started (in my hands) as a cross between Theon Greyjoy and Brienne of Tarth. She was a hostage in house Andell after the War of Titans,but had never truly been accepted into the family.

Her process in battle was undisputed, however. She and her house Stuart “Gor-Tank” were a menace on the battle field. And yeah, that gorilla mecha, that’s totally for Fred Hicks.


CorrynSir Corryn Andell, son of Duke Orion.

Corryn is an exceptional student of the artificial intelligence MerLN, and has crafted an amazing transforming Armour with that knowledge, but he’s doomed by his own passions.

Corryn is married to the Lady Merrowyn, but in love with his older “sister” Elaine. I imagined him as a Arthur/Lancelot figure in terms of his love plots, full of duty to his house to be a good husband, but secretly (or not so secretly) loving his sister. There is of course a bit of Jamie Lannister there as well, you know loving his sister, but in this case it wouldn’t be incest (she’s a hostage, not blood related) but would certainly be forbidden.


MerrowynLady Merrowyn

I just love that name, Marrowyn. Not sure why but it conveys a lot of confidence and clear-minded focus to me. Merryn of house Ferrun has just married Corryn, providing military might from her family to secure the house Andell’s legitimate rule, and been made a future duchess in the process.

The political pressure of representing now two houses, however, is unbelievable.


MelinoreSir Melinore

A justice of the regent (i.e. lawman), sir Mellinore is the officiator of many ceremonies as well as judge of disputes. He didn’t get this position on his own however, he’s deep in debt to house Stuart (Elaine’s house, and rival of the Andell’s).


Step 2. Asking questions about the world and the characters

I went around the table asking questions to figure our more of what was going on in the world and we learned of the threats, both alien and personal.

We started with the outside threat. The invaders are a sentient virus, called the Emergent (name taken from the default setting since we couldn’t think of another) that corrode and corrupt armor. Once they have captured armour, the re-design it in their own horrific image.

Threat: Emergent – Sentient Virus

Closer to home, I said that the first Emergent attack happened long enough ago old rivalries which were temporally forgotten have now reared their ugly head. Who on earth was a threat?

We started with a rival house (always a good start in my book), house Mordirgaine. Yeah, I liked that name. Their beef with house Andell, Lady Rowena Mordrigane was supposed to marry Corryn, but he called it off… and was now married to Merrowyn of house Ferrun. That gave the house plenty of reason to have a mad hate on all of the player characters.

Threat: Rival house Mordrigaine


The characters started half-baked, with a great, good, and fair skill, as well as a high concept and trouble. The rest of the skills slots and their other aspects were left open, however, to be filled in during world creation and in play.

We started with Corryn, and found out that he had attempt to best the Space Apes of the Moon in a tournament to prove that Humans were the greatest Armour pilots in the solar system. Space apes? Awesome.

Melinore though, knew this could not pass. if the Andell’s bested the Space Apes, it would create an untenable political situation for earth. To prevent him from competing Melinore sabotaged Corryn’s Armour… making it inoperable.

Everything was accounted for except Elaine. Knowing Corryn could not fight in his Armour, she gave up her own, the House Stuart Gor-Tank (defeated by house Andell, mind you) to Corryn so he could compete… which he did in her name… political disaster!

Some great aspects came out of that.

Elaine: Corryn wins at my expense
Corryn: I think I’m subtle, I’m not.
Melinore: Deception is a necessary part of valor.

More quests

Normally, if you wanted everyone to have their stories tied together each character would have an adventure (which I was calling quests) and two other characters wold aid or complicate it. In this case, we already had enough connections backed into the characters, that I only called for two quests, you know, so we could get to the playing!

This time we started with Merrowyn… and the rescue of her younger sister, who had been whisked away by dastardly rogues, only she wasn’t kidnapped, she was running away from home.

As we got to talking about them, these rogues in their smaller “peasant” armor, how they had become a roving menace in the land and thus created a new problem for the realm:

Threat: Dastardly rogues in “Peasant” Armour

With that…we started the action!

Step 3. Present a threat they care about and that they can’t ignore.

I asked everyone how they felt about starting the game at the nuptials. The big tournament that happened right after the wedding. It seems like a good time, one rife with potential problems. They were down so I opened a scene with Lady Elaine trouncing a rival opponent (in Armour of course) at the tournament… the rival opponent was Rowena Mordrigaine, who cried foul!

Elaine was challenged as a cheater. Melinore had to adjudicate the claim. Merrowyn and Corry wanted to keep peace on the their wedding day. Boom!

Step 4. Let them respond as they will.

This ended up being even more awesome than I expected. Elaine and Rowena got in a duel (one with swords instead of Armour). Melinore officiated it, cheated and declared Elaine the winner without blood drawn.

We got a good chance to engage the mechanics here. We started with a couple very common overcome rolls. Melinore didn’t want a duel to happen in the first place, he failed the roll and opted not to pay the significant cost (of becoming personally implicated in favoritism) and instead allowed the duel to proceed, with him officiating. Merrowyn requested that no-one die in her wedding day, and succeeded on that, setting the terms to first blood only.

To handle the actual duel, I opted for a challenge. It was early in the game, and with only one PC involved, I didn’t want to jump into full blow conflict. Plus, since our goal wasn’t death, but first blow, a challenge seemed to be the best choice anyway. Melinore started it off by cheating. He drew his own sword and drew a circle in the sand, but using the stunt Thumbs on the Scales of Justice he created an advantage “smudge in the circle” and declared that first blood or leaving the circle would disqualify you.

Based on that I set the challenge rolls as a Daunt roll to brag of your prowess in battle, a zeal roll to stay inside the circle, and finally a melee roll to either draw first blood or force the other contestant out. The first two had passive resistance, the last one was contested. Elaine won with flying colors, but the melee roll (which was by fare the toughest) was rigged by Melinore, who pointed to the smudge and called that Rowena had stepped out of the circle. She was furious… and there was much rejoicing.

Corryn saved the day (which could not end with a hostage besting a great house) but including yet another Armour duel, between himself and Sir Alric of house Mordrigaine (Rowena’s older brother) who trounced him mightily (a significant cost to his failed Intrigue roll).

We continued to the feast afterwards, which was a blast. We had the situation aspect “Gossip flowing like wine.” We found out that Merrowyn really didn’t have a problem with Elaine and Corryn sharing affections as she “preferred the fairer sex” and to keep Elaine from revealing that, she offered her a position as one of her handmaidens.

Corryn spotted Rowena and her brother Alric plotting and then followed him into the wine cellar where he caught him poisoning a bottle that was to be served to Merrowyn… which turned into a great chase through the keep!

Melinore got wind from a deputy that during the feast several security systems had been disabled. Perhaps it was routine maintenance, but something seemed amiss. He followed the trail all the way to the treasury room, where unsurprisingly he overheard the dastardly rogues trying to lighten the financial load of house Andell. Melinore was brilliant, and with clever use of his unoccupied but threatening looking Armour, convinced these dastardly rogues that they would do far better to be paid deputies of him than criminals locked in chains.

Step 5. Present another threat and repeat

Just as things reached a point of uncertainty between the rogues and Melinore, Alric and Corryn, and Merrowyn and Elaine, that’s when the trumpets sounded! The Emergent were attacking!

This was great. Personal rivalries set aside, the Emergent had identified a high concentration of their enemies in one place, and decided to make a large scale assault!

We had some mad dashes to get into armor, followed by a gigantic explosion of lasers, missiles, and Ferrun scythes. The battle had four zone, lots of combatants, and plenty of damage to spread around.

The giant Medusa headed mega-armour and dozens of snakes attacked from above, while two corrupted Emergent, one the corrupted armor of Melinore and Merrowyn’s little sister, erupted from the ground. After a valiant battle (read: conflict) the Emergent were defeated and Camelot was saved!

Pic of the game afterwards


Thoughts on the game

One of the recurring quotes in the game, which I thought was pretty awesome: “Worst wedding day ever!”

Sometime in the middle of the game, I asked “I wonder what happens to the pilots of the Armour when it’s corrupted by the Emergent?” I pushed in the end (the the disappearing sister’s armor showing up all corrupted) to find out. We got cut off on time, but that would have been a cool way to open the next session, with the armour popping open.

I was really excited about the Rob’s Camelot Trigger. The setting is a ton of fun (knights + mecha) and the mechanics are really fun. I didn’t talk about them much here, but each suit of Armour gives you five locations (things like head, chest, arms, legs, etc) that each either grant the user a Great [+4] skill, or a stunt. And these are always flavored with the technology, so a head unit might have an Advanced Targeting system (Notice, or in this game, Mark, +4), legs could have or Retro-Rocket Thrusters (granting +2 on Zeal (Athletics) rolls to move between zones). Then, when the armor is damaged, instead of taking normal consequences or stress, the wearer can shut down systems (out of fuel, damaged, overheating, offline, etc). I love this system, because it covers both how the pilot is tougher in armor (they have 5 whole systems they can shut down in place of taking stress or consequences) and allows things to break all over the place, which is fantastic.

I really, really enjoyed Fate Core. Fate Core is is THE Fate game for me. The success at a cost and the boosts really work for my style of play.

Actual Play – Star Wars: Episode II – Bad Ass Mother Fuckers (1/29/2012)

GM: Morgan Ellis
Players: Karen Twelves, Duane O’Brian, Eric Zimmerman, Sean Nittner
System: FATE
Setting: Star Wars – Clone Wars Era

Morgan started off this game by setting the mood, and he did a really good job. He told us “we’re not playing angsty teenagers stuck on water farms, we’re playing bad ass Jedi, leading an army of clones to war. We’re doing lightsaber-fu, force backflips, and blowing up death stars. You’re all Jedi and you’re all BAD ASS!” (or something to that effect, I’m paraphrasing here).

And he didn’t lie. None of the characters presented were anything but kick ass. The archetypes presented were:

  • Reckless Pilot
  • Jedi Scout (read ninja)
  • Jedi Mystic (read samurai)
  • Jedi General

Originally, before I knew we were all playing Jedi, I was excited about the idea of playing a clone, but after he laid out that bevy of bad assery I was more than content to pick up the general and play my “leader of men” aspect to the hilt.

We got all our characters and like most FATE games, they were half baked. They had most of their aspects, but only the top three skills. For me it was Leadership (+5), Blaster (+4) and The Force (+4). Lightsaber was originally on there at +4 but then we realized I didn’t have Blaster and one of my aspects was “Trusty Blaster” so I dropped Lightsaber down (assuming there would be plenty of other awesome lightsaber-fu from the others, and I wasn’t wrong).

Morgan was pretty fast as lose with the use of skills, I used Leadership as an attack (sending clones in to blow shit up) in social conflicts (inspiring people) and as a block (via my Defensive Tactics stunt). So overall, Morgan was telling us, I expect your characters to bring the awesome.

One of the first things we had to do was add a final aspect to our characters, on that tied us to the dark side in some way. This ended up being the aspect that tied us all together. I stated it off with “My Brother, Sith Lord.”  It’s a classic, but this seemed like a classic kind of game. I was a middle aged general, of course my brother was a Jedi who turned to the Dark Side.

Eric picked up that ball and ran with it. She had fallen in love with him “My Husband, Sith Lord.” Duane followed right after, he was playing her brother, who had been trained by “uncle Ki”, now “Darth Dire.” Finally Karen finished it off. She was the master Jedi Duelist, so off course it was her that had to face him and took of his arm in her “Battle Rage”.

Nice, we all had Dark Side traits, which Morgan used frequently as compels, allowed us to draw on the Dark Side just like Sponsored Magic works in Dresden Files (YS 183,287). We all had white chips to start with (Force Points) and most of us picked up a couple red (Dark Side Points) ones along the way.

I make Gai-Wan Katarn (my character) a total caricature of Samuel L Jackson as both Nick Fury (including the eye patch) and Jules Winnfield (Pulp Fiction) plus a little bit of Hannibal from the A-Team.  And yes, the beautiful symmetry that Liam Neeson played both Hannibal and Qui-Gon Jinn the Jedi Master, was in the back of my mind. He was a cigar smoking, blaster at the ready, bad ass. So much fun!

 The game is the thing

Morgan clearly wasted to posit a macro level situation, i.e. what is going on in the universe at large, and then let us carve out our own story to tell in that space. We’re in the clone wars, Jedi and Clones vs. Droids.  This was pre Order 66, but it was looming in our heads (part of the reason I wanted to keep the clones with us all the time).

We started on a muddy swamp planet fighting an army of droids, and of course, stealing the location of their secret base. As our ninja Duane’s character produced the stolen information after the epic fight against a droid juggernaut and from that we “made a plan” to go destroy it. The quotes were there because in classic FATE fashion, we made a plan by making some declarations, creating some scene aspects and then narrating ourselves breaking in (while leaving the bulk of our forces on the mud planet Ordo Martel so as to not raise suspicion of our small elite force making the attack).

We broke in, stole uniforms, hacked systems and made it all the way to the power core (on a gas cloud planet filled with lightning storms) and were just about to blow it sky high when of course, Darth Dire and his companions dropped down on us for the final show down. I stole the kill on Dire and took him out with a social attack “There is still good in you”. Much to the chagrin of Karen’s fully Battle Raging duelist “You stopped me from killing him! Again!!!”

Thought on the game

If I haven’t made it clear already, Morgan did a fantastic job of making us all kick ass Jedi. There wasn’t as single one of us who wasn’t both an action hero AND a likeable character.

The way Dark Side points worked in the game seemed a little hinky. Maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention but it seemed that when someone was tempted by the Dark Side it was the equivlant of invoking an aspect (+2 or Reroll) AND they got a Dark Side point  they could spend later to do the same, so it was almost like getting two FATE chips (in this game Force Points), one to spend now and one to spend later. I didn’t get the impression that that was the intention, but it worked okay. Also, after a scene the Jedi has to roll resolve against an attack from the Dark Side based on the number of points, but also that wasn’t clear if it was point earned, spent, or both.

The result being a mental attack, which could presumably turn you to the Dark Side if it took you out, or at the least give you consequences, which I quite liked. What this meant is that theoretically if you were losing a fight, you could call on all kinds of Dark Side power to win it, but then mechanically speaking, most likely you would be taken out by the Dark Side after the fight and be turned, which I think is pretty damn brilliant.

Speaking of attacks, stress, etc. Morgan decided on the first time we got hurt that fuck it, let’s not use stress, let’s just go straight to consequences, which I think, given the extreme power of our characters, was a great call. We didn’t get hit often, so when we did, it had to count. This also made the final fight go a lot faster, as the same applied to the NPCs.  So, in general, I was delighted with this resolution.  As a side note, I think (but I’m not sure) that the way he handed the droid juggernaut was just to give it extra consequences (maybe two minor, two major, one severe, or something like that), which I also think is a brilliant way to make something “tough” and still give the players the sense that they are being effective when they hit it. Much more so that just doing stress.

Also, Morgan didn’t use any weapon or armor rules, which heightened the  SotC feeling that tightsabers heavy blasters and thermal detonators were all just there for flavor, what won the fight was the heroes. I liked this very much.

The Force was handled a little like “Mysteries” in SotC. We could use it for all kinds of little cool things  like summoning our lightsabers to us, sensing each other’s presence, etc. but if we wanted to use it for something crazy bad ass like lifting ships out of bogs, sensing things across the galaxy, or parrying blaster bolts back at the shooter, we need a stunt for it. And the stunts were simple, they read “use The Force to do XYZ.” Mine was a “Battle Meditation” which allowed me to roll the force to create fragile +3 aspects for my allies. Originally I conceived of it as a strictly mental thing, like as a general I had a mental map of the battlefield and could convey that to my allies, but it totally wasn’t flashy enough for the feeling of this game, so instead it was using the force to drop a thermal detonator in a key location and give them all an entry for attack, or something like that.  I was happy.

Morgan started each scene with a list of five or six aspects that he allowed us to tag for free. We of course created a ton of aspects ourselves and like most FATE games, the table was covered with aspects throughout the game. I think giving us a free tag on the aspects was very generous but I think it was also a great way to encourage us to use our environment. Much like stunt dice from Exalted (1 for cool description, 2 if it uses the environment, 3 if it makes everyone say “aww shittt”) I really liked that we were more prone to use the cool stuff around us because frankly it was free.

On that note however, Morgan was really good about not accepting “I tag that aspect for +2” he made us all lead with the fiction asking what about that aspect helped. I think in FATE, because it can get very number crunchy it can sometimes be easy to lose track of the fiction and reduce our narration to simple game mechanics, e.g. “I attack him”. Morgan was great about keeping us on track.

The player camaraderie was really great at this table. I’m all for players getting into each other’s shit, messing with one another, but at this table the vibe was very Three Musketeers… hmm, who was our D’Artagnan?  I bid for Athos! It wasn’t until the very end when we were fighting Darth Dire, who was very important to all of us, that we ever came into conflict with each other. And the cool thing about this was that it meant we could all play around with the Dark Side without any of us being the other’s keeper. It someone turned, there was nothing any of us were going to be able to do about it.

The game was tight. No lose ends, unexplained plots, or superfluous NPCs (except maybe Dire’s buddies, but that was cool, they were just interesting and tough mooks). Dire ended it (having turned back to good) with a warning “beware the chancellor!” Awesome.

Actual Play – GM Throwdown – (4/30/2011)

Contestants: Mike Bogan and Matt Steele
Players: Tim Carroll, Matt Klein, Michael Ripely, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Karen Twelves, Sean Nittner, Ben Hartzell, and Merewyn Boak
Judges: Brian Isikoff, Wayne Coburn, and Bruce Harlick

Here it was again! The Iron GM Throwdown at EndGame. Karen Twelves organized another throwdown between GMs, this time the two picked from the last competition (here and here). This time the contenders were Mike Bogan (don’t even get me started on his “new” name) and Matt Steele.

Choosing Players

We randomly drew dice (of different colors) to determine who would be in each game. And then something really creepy happened. Karen, Tim, Ben and I all ended up in Matt’s game, which was super eerie as last time Matt, Karen, Tim and I were in Brian’s game. We were suspicious enough that we took all our original seating positions.

Secret Ingredients

The judges announced this contest’s secret ingredients (three instead of four this time, I think and improvement)

Genre: Super Heroes
Antagonist: Ninjas
Location: Underground City

Nice list. After the fact I started thinking of Exalted, Feng Shui, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and anime like Slayers or Ninja Scroll. Unfortunately that I didn’t think of those earlier (see below).

The Game – “Fat Cat, you’ve gone too far!”

Matt threw out a couple options, that we could go for straight up super heroes (4 color style) or masked vigilantes. The latter seemed more fitting with the pulpy nature we’ve become accustomed to in FATE, so that was a pretty easy choice.

We started throwing out character ideas. Ironically, although I felt very active in the character creation process (I’m a total back seat GM), I was the last to thing of a concept.

Karen had an idea immediately. “I was to be a newsie!” Now the fact that I just watched Newsies with Karen and Lovesong a week before I’m SURE had nothing to do with this. She started in immediately with a New York accent and from there is was pretty easy to determine that we were playing in New York Empire City in the 20s prohibition era.

After that ideas came rolling out. Ben was a farm boy, who came to Empire City to save the farm. From who? The fat cat developer that was buying up all the land in Ohio (or whatever nowhere state he was from, didn’t really matter). Boom, we had a our bad guy, Matt pulled the name right out of Ben’s Lips: The Fat Cat.

Pretty quickly on we could tell that Karen and Ben’s characters were going to be fighting over who was the “kid” of our crew. More on this in a bit.

Tim wanted the man from the orient with strange mystical powers. A staple in any genre. He grabbed a hold of the Fat Cat as one who did him wrong, and decided to make it personal, the Fat Cat had killed his brother!

By the time these concepts were out there I knew we needed a character to pull them all together, and thus was born Mike Steele. A veteran of the Great War who fought along side the Fat Cat and while in Germany together they discovered “Things known that cannot be unknown”. Mike returned from the war and put his fortune into the steel industry, where as the Fat Cat publicly pursued political power but in private became a practitioner of the occult.

Mike had tried to stop the Fat Cat through economic, legal and social means but he had grown to powerful. The game started on the cusp of the elections and the Fat Cat was a shoe in for mayor of Empire City. Mike, along with his small crew of vigilantes knew that if he became mayor, the Fat Cat would be unstoppable. After endless frustration (and some cases a pummeling from his goons) trying to fight the Fat Cat through legal methods, these brave four decided they must don mask to protect their identity while they delivered the Fat Cat a swift serving of JUSTICE!

The Game is the Thing

Most of the game was really the characters playing off each other. Karen and Ben were competing for Mike’s approval as the new kid. Tim’s character was embroiled in his brothers affairs as worrying all of us and Mike was painfully honest and blunt. This created many antics as we pursued the Fat Cat’s crimes.

Matt had some trouble getting us into the “underground city” because being players we went all over the place. Eventually ninjas got us there though, because when a ninja jumps you in the middle of Empire City, you’re got to find out where they are coming from… which of course was the UNDERGROUND Empire City, a pocket dimension Bizzaro world ruled by the Fat Cat.

The finale placed us on top of a roof of a skyscraper, which, being the upside down world we were in was just “below” the ground above. Don’t think to hard on that one, it’s a pulp adventure.

It turns out the brother was not dead, but would be soon. The Fat Cat would use his life blood to fuel a ritual that would permanently lock the underground city in place, his own evil empire to rule.

We did what heroes do. We saved the innocent, defeated the bad guy, and looked sharp doing it! Hooray for JUSTICE!

What rocked

Well, as the last GM Throwdown, this whole even was a ton of fun to participate in. Thanks Karen for making it happen. There is so much energy and camaraderie in the room, everyone is sitting around trying to make their game the best game possible, because even though the GMs are the ones competing, everyone wants “their” GM to win. It’s like rooting for a team and being told you can play with them! MADE OF AWESOME.

Matt’s name game me inspiration for Mike Steele, the Man of Steel. Rather than being Superman though, he had built a suit of power armor, but this thing was no Iron Man suit. It was powered by coal, weighed a ton, made a ton of noise and took forever to get going. When ninja’s first attacked as we saw them on rooftops, Mike engaged the “jump jet” to leap on top of the building. This involved ratcheting the strings down in a suit like you would a crank powered arbaest. Later, the farm boy opened the hatch to his coal burning stove and created an impromptu flame thrower, it was literally throwing flaming coals. Awesome!

The group dynamic was great. We all had a little something to prove to each other (especially Karen and Ben’s characters) and the journey was not just one of stopping the Fat Cat, but of coming together as friend and family. I really saw this as a great “you meet at a tavern” adventure because by the end I could totally see this band of heroes sticking together to fight villainy.

Three secret ingredients is definitely the right number!

What could have improved

When the judges came back to the table, The GM formerly known as Mike Bogan, aka The Ultimate Superfly TNT Dolemite GM Ninja of All Time, was declared the winner. I’m sure Mike’s game was awesome, I mean he won, but I had this bad feeling afterwards that we could have made Matt’s game better. The criteria the judges used had them tied almost across the board but Mike won for better implementation of the antagonists. Like the prior competition, the antagonists (in this case ninjas) felt tacked on and a little out of place in Matt’s game. The note I made above about really crafting the genre to match the antagonist had me disappointed; I wish I had said “Let’s do Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” as ninjas would have blended in perfectly. Ah well, there is always next time.

We were cut short on time and I kind of wish the GMs had just a few for minutes for wrap up. I get that the time crunch is part of the competition, but as a player I was sad that we didn’t get the end until after the competition in a post mortem. Note to self: If I’m ever in one of these watch the clock and jump to the end when I’ve got 30 minutes left. Allow exactly two rounds of action (everyone does two things), narrate the rest of the fight and skip to the epilogue.

Actual Play – Iron GM (9/25/2010)

GM: Brian Isikoff
Players: Tim, Karen, Matt and Sean
Judges (I know, judges!): Carl and Bruce
System: Fate – Spirit of the Century

This was it! The Iron GM competition between Ryan Macklin and Brian Isikoff. What started as a joke, then a challenge, then a joke again, became a real show down thanks to Karen Twelves.

Competition Format

Each GM would have four hours to run a Fate game that incorporated four secret ingredients for four players! The time included developing the game, creating characters and playing.

Secret ingredients

Adversary: Pirates
Genre: Horror
Location: Secret Temple
Item: Secret Weapon


Needless to say while pirates, secret temples and secret weapons all dovetail easily into a fate game, horror was a bit of a stickler. We bounced around a number of ideas and soon found ourselves in a modern era setting, akin to the 50’s Cold City. We wanted tension between countries, zeppelins, occult powers as well as budding science, and that time/setting offered it all.

Character Creation

I started off wanting to be a disappointment to my father. That was really my whole shtick to start with. We fleshed that out somewhat, he was a renowned scientist, one how had discovered the shadow world but “died” before he could go public with the information. Enter James Orion.

Matt hopped on that pretty quick. If I was the budding scientist trying to continue my father’s work, he was my father’s partner, a British gentleman, Sir Reginald. This created some instant tension between us, which was great, but ended up being hard to maintain (see below).

Tim wanted a pilot, someone who had seen horrible things and just couldn’t return to normal life because of it. As we were all part of the Society, they eventually scooped him up and told him that the knowledge he had was real and could be used. As it turns out, he had visited the Plateau of Leng, and was really the only one who knew the way back. Jack’s primary skills was Resolve, reflecting how it wasn’t his skill at piloting but his “grit your teeth and carry on” attitude that kept him going.

Karen added another dynamic to the group. Paranoia. It was clear that James and Reginald disagreed, but Katya, the “former” Russian spy really made us all wonder. Throughout the game it was never clear if she was sincere, a double or possibly even triple agent. I like messed up romances so I asked Karen if Katya and James could have had a relationship at one point. She jumped on it but added a twist that he was a mark during a job for when she used to work for the Russians. She was just trying to get information out of it. From that stemmed to great aspects “One night with Katya” and “It was just a job”.

The game

I think Tim wrapped up the game pretty well here in his LJ post here:


Throughout the game Carl and Bruce kept taking notes asking Brian how he was incorporating an element, or if we had been compelled yet, or how many fate chips we had. Though an interruption, this was great fun; they kept the excitement of a “competition” pulsing through our game the entire time. They weren’t just eye candy either, Bruce and Carl took their duties very seriously and although I never saw their notes, the furious scribbles they were making on their clipboards indicated they were recording and exhaustive analysis.

Carl in particular was very excited to use his Iron Chef line “That would be good fried” when talking about some pirates transformed into hounds of hell.


It sounded like Ryan’s game was a rocking good time but the judges crowned Brian the Iron GM.

Next contestants

Mike Bogan and Matt Steele were chosen to face off against each other in the next competition. I’m looking forward to another round!

What rocked

The themes Brian and the group for that matter brought to the game were awesome. Nazi occultists, unrequited love, a son’s pride in his Father, an outcast soldier, the believing and the skeptic, a divided spy… The list just keeps going. This stuff really fueled the game. We had so many great moments in the game driven by these themes, how wasn’t it going to be awesome?

I’m a real character masochist at heart. I love to see my characters suffer and persevere. This game I got to do that… a lot. I started with my character’s trouble “A disappointment to my Father” and that gave me something to start with, then as Karen described Katya, she seemed like perfect romantic foil for James. She was cold, uncaring and focused on the getting the job done, pretty much his opposite. Further, she tended to believe Reginald’s explanations over him… which made him go even crazier.

The highlight of trials for James, however happened in game. I took a hit from some undead abomination and rather than suffering for stress took a consequence “Weakened by Necrotic Energy”. A consequence that Brian (and the other players for that matter) tagged over, and over… and over again. So much that the injury ended up becoming a link back to the Nazi occultist… who turned out to be Karl… who turned out to be my Uncle… who turned out to have been my fathers previous partner before Reginald. By the end I was speaking in both Otto (my father) and Karl’s voice as my consequences kept getting pulled and made worse. This was just too much fun for me, so I rode it all the way till the end, where James became the inheritor of their foul plans and the next instrument of evil.

Throughout the game players tended to invoke their aspects and in doing so create complications. Jack was protective of children, which several times save the kids but put others (including himself) in more danger. As I was about to fall out of a cargo bay door (trying to trick a hound into leaping out of a plane) I invoked my “one night with Katya” which forced her to make an athletics roll to pull me back in.  Her roll failed and ended with both of us hanging on for dear life by a fire hose out the back of the plane. Through some crafty maneuvering on Jake’s part and with “centrifugal force on our side” we made it onto the wing and back in… the entire time though James was trying to patch things back together with the very annoyed Katya. Having a romantic tiff while hanging onto a fire hose from the back of a plane… gaming gold!

Brian’s employment of horror was particularly laudable, especially given the system. He started things creeping and ramped up throughout the game. Beyond the Nazi occultists there were also some personal revelations on the part of Jake, James and Katya that they weren’t quite the person the player might have thought they were in the beginning. This created some great mold breaking moments when the characters had unexpected reactions to their circumstances.

For being all something Brian pulled out of his ass, this game was admirably constructed. Intrigue, pulp horror, and Nazis. A winning combination.

I stole this one from Fattig, but it was worth it. “We’ll burn that bridge when we get to it” is just a wonderful aspect!

What could have improved

We knocked Brian someone for not incorporating the “pirate as adversaries” theme more fully, but frankly as far as the enjoyment of the game goes, I think he made the right call. They were present, but only nominally so, whereas the other three elements really shined through. I think if he tried to make pirates more prominent the other elements would have suffered.

The essential point of disagreement between the scientist and the student of the supernatural didn’t work out so hot. For one, I wasn’t really equipped with the scientific jargon to argue against his claims and two, they became irrefutable within the first scene. We faced creatures of reanimated flesh and bones. They seemed to shimmer in and out of existence and left me with a necrotic wound. I tried to hold up the good fight for a while, but even doubt became impossible when Karl transformed six pirates into undead hounds of hell. Had I been a little more on the spot, I probably could have come up with a scientific rationale that incorporated wondering “how” this happened, rather than to try and prove that it didn’t happen at all.



Narrative Control – Episode 36 – Dare to be Stupid

Hi, and welcome back to Narrative Control. This week’s episode was a bit delayed. Justin and I both went to GenCon last week and my recovery time is not what it would have been 10 years ago. But here the episode is, edited and with better audio quality than the last (cheating on account of the fact that the last one was recording at a con). This week Justin and I are talking about one of John Wicks’s Play Dirty videos. John, as always, has some great ideas, thing we wanted to expand on, specifically playing to fail, or in other words “Dare to be stupid.”

Hosts: Sean Nittner and Justin Evans

Length: 25:04

Show Notes

[00:27] Intro to the show and a super short GenCon review.
[01:05] Promo for White Wolf blogcast:
[01:33] A failed roll. Wait. I still find Lando?
[02:47] Inspired by John Wicks’s Play Dirty Video: Players, Players Everywhere (
[04:20] Succeeding all the time doesn’t make for a good story. Heroes aren’t de-protagonized by failure.
[05:56] A paraphrase of John’s youtube clip “Do Stupid Stuff.”
[06:25] This is counter to our intuition. Both of us usually want to see our characters succeed.
[07:05] Why do we feel the need to succeed. Fear of hitting a dead end or having their characters become failures.
[08:21] Fate System. Aspects describe both strengths and weaknesses of the characters. Encouraging player by giving them a fate chip for being compelled to foible. (
[10:00] Also puts the idea out there that you start the game flawed. We agree in advance that you’re going to stumble over something of your choice.
[10:49] Mouse Guard. Explicit encouragement to fail. Story structure -> Twists -> Advancement! (
[12:19] Players can also put their characters at more risk using their traits. Encouragement to stack things against yourself.
[14:38] An example of using traits against yourself.
[16:30] This is something that players have to get used it. It appears counter-intuitive at first.
[17:00] A voice from a player “Anytime I hear the word “Fail” I cringe” (
[18:22] Does externalizing the threat remove the sting of failure?
[19:51] Justin: It feels strange to look for ways mechanically to defeat myself. I’d rather put more at risk for a greater reward.
[20:55] Consequences stated up front in Burning Wheel and they are negotiated between the players and GM.
[21:54] What about times when heroes just fail? Example: Harry Dresden fails all the time.
[22:52] Failure is fine… but the story can’t end. This happened all the time in Burning Warcraft (

Direct Download: NC_Episode_036.mp3