My third game of the day was the one that, prior to the convention, had given me the most stress.
Originally, game designer Ryan Macklin had been scheduled to run a game of “Mage” converted to use the FATE Core system (a somewhat more complex version of FATE Accelerated, previously discussed(. But for various reasons Mr. Macklin had been forced to cancel only a little over a week before the convention, and Sean Nittner had put out a call for GMs to run in that slot.
I stepped up.
Originally, I thought I was stepping up to run a game that was already prepared, but it turned out that Mr. Macklin had no notes and no pregen characters, so I had to do things from scratch. After a couple of days worth of trying, I decided that with all my White Wolf stuff still packed in the garage, there was no way I was going to be able to put together a satisfactory Mage game starring the Void Engineers on what then amounted to less than a week’s notice. But one of the points of this game in particular was to highlight the way that FATE Core handles magic, so I needed a high magic scenario and setting.
I chose Green Ronin’s “Blue Rose” as the setting, because as a Romantic Fantasy game it would be pretty high in magic, and it looked like converting the characters wouldn’t be entirely exhausting and agonizing. I thought I could convert a lot of the feats from Blue Rose into stunts without much problem. So off I went.
Another problem – I only had the Kindle version of the rules, which was well enough for the planning, but I worried about not having a print version for the game itself.
Finally, I knew that switching GMs at the last minute would disappoint some people.
But undaunted, I threw myself into the project, read through FATE Core and the portion of the FATE Core Toolkit that dealt with magic, made up a diverse bunch of characters, most of whom had magic, and then planned the outline of a game. Instead of a plot on rails, I decided that I would just give the characters a goal and let them get to it as they pleased, since I didn’t know whether I would have a full house and which characters might be included or left out.
In the wake of Apocalypse Pony I was pretty apprehensive – the “don’t plan out the scenario” approach had failed me badly for that game, and here I was relying on it again.
And I only got two players. One of whom had been in the Apocalypse Pony game.
The game, it was a resounding success!
The other player and Sophie hit it off immediately. They talked through which characters would be fun combinations to play with and which would compliment one another, and eventually settled on the Vata’sha Ranger and the Rhy-cat Scout. Both were good at being stealthy, neither one was particularly a strong fighter. And between the two of them, because they were good players who worked well together, they managed to pull off an amazingly successful rescue with very little in the way of violence.
The pair were members of the Sovereign’s Finest, an elite organization in Aldis who act as the direct representatives of the Sovereign. They were being dispatched to Kern, the kingdom of the Lich King Jerod because rumors had reached the Queens ears of a large group of refugees who wished to escape from Kern to Aldis in order to be free. Both players played their characters well and to their strengths while invoking a lot of aspects to set up situations where their weaknesses were largely cancelled out. It really was a wonderful bit of roleplaying to watch, and I felt privileged to be a part of it. Honestly, you don’t get to see that level of trust and mutual cooperation often when two strangers sit down to game together for the first time, and it tickled me to see it here.
So despite the low number of players, the game turned into a rousing success, probably the best thing I did at Big Bad Con this year, and a fitting end to the convention