Sunday, September 14, 2014

Gen Con 2014 (Part 2)

In my last post I wrote about my Gen Con experiences around Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, but I got to play a number of other great games as well. The DCC community pretty much guarantees a great time at the table, which is a contrast to the crap shoot that playing a Gen Con game with random strangers can be. I suppose I got lucky this year as all of my games were a lot of fun and I encountered no serious breaches of gamer etiquette (or my personal sensibilities). I always brace myself for such things in a Con setting - so this was a welcome relief.
I'll stop the veiled complaints here. [Well.. allow me one overt complaint: I hate crowds and it becomes a trial to endure being awash in a sea of humanity for so many days in a row.]

Onward to the games. First up is:

FATE


I backed the Fate Kickstarter based on murmurings in the gamer community about how great the Dresden Files game was and how Fate would prove to be even better. When I got a chance to read through the rules I became more and more impressed with what they had done and found much of the mechanics behind the system to be pretty brilliant. My trepidation for embracing a story telling game melted away into a fascination with this refreshing approach to role playing games. [Aggressive disclaimer: The wafting stink of bickering over OSR vs. Storytelling Games be damned. A good game is a good game and I enjoy both ends of this spectrum].
I put together an adventure based on Welcome to Night Vale that takes place on Street Cleaning Day (listeners to the podcast will know how frightening of a scenario that creates, and those who don't listen should). My game was fun, but I came away from it feeling like the players didn't get out of it what I wanted them to. I felt like players needed to be pretty familiar with the rules to have it click and flow well during the game. I'd blame my own inexperience coupled with the players unfamiliarity more than I'd blame Fate's system.

The game I got in on was Elhal: The Harvest ran by +Phil Vecchione. His familiarity with the world of Elhal (Phil being one of the creators) and his obvious time spent on preparation had his game run smooth. This was how Fate was supposed to feel. I quickly had an idea of who my character was, what motivated him, and how I could use that in the game. Using cards to represent Situation Aspects and placing tokens on them worked well in this game. It didn't play out like resource management minigame inside an RPG like I feared it would. Rather, it became a way to keep track of all your options while keeping the story and action flowing.
It should also be said that a Con game of Fate is a vastly different flavor of play from what the system offers holistically. You don't have time in a four hour game to create characters, much less design the world in which they populate. The Fate core system offers that character/world creation into the hands of the player more so it gives overall control to the GM. This breaking from the traditional power dynamic between the GM and the players is a refreshing intent and genius of Fate. The point here is that I thought of Fate as a great new system that would fail outside of a regular campaign, but my experience here proved me wrong.
I lurk on the Fate G+ group and the community there is active with enthusiasm and support for not only the published core material, but independent creators and homebrew hacks. This is great to see and I hope that it propels Fate into the regular canon of RPGs for years to come.

That's it for now. Part 3 coming soon.