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.