Sunday, April 20, 2014

Four-Color FAE: Supers Gaming via Fate Accelerated - pt10

New Sentinels member, Quorum
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Heroes Assembled!: First Session, World and Character Creation

It's been a while since my last post about playing Four-Color FAE; but as of this writing we are currently five sessions in, and so far it's been a blast.

As we will be exploring in future posts, Fate Accelerated has managed to work as well in practice for Supers play as I hoped that it would in theory. Any problems encountered at the gaming table thus far have been due to my shortcomings as a GM, rather than being system-related.

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If have read my earlier posts, you will know that I already had a clear picture of the outline of our game-world before our group sat down to play. As the game's GM, I felt that it was a good idea to establish from the outset what sort of world I did - and did not - want to build stories in. My basic expectations were:

  • No grimdark. Although I certainly wanted to avoid playing a G-rated game with no real consequences, I wasn't interested in playing a game of grey vs grey morality, complete with girlfriends being located in refrigerators. This should be game of heroes vs villains, rated PG...or PG-13 at worst.
  • The PC's are awesome. Fitting back into the 'no grimdark' rule, this shouldn't be the sort of supers game where the heroes are so outmatched that they can barely make a difference. Every player at the table should be confident that their hero has what it takes to save the day...even if at a cost.
  • A world of wonder. Everyone - including the GM - has permission to do crazy, amazing stuff in play within the bounds of their character and/or the story concept. As in superhero comics, the fantastic should regularly rub shoulders with the mundane as friendly neighbors.
Fortunately for me, the players agreed that this was also the sort of game that they were looking to play as well: helped by the fact that two of them - Pete and Gary - were both fans of the modern animated SC Universe, especially Justice League, Young Justice and Batman: The Brave and the Bold

Since the world-building guidelines in the FAE main-book are rudimentary at best, we knew we wanted a more robust system for creating the major issues of the world. Fate Core presented such tools, but Pete suggested that we try out the Fate supplement A Spark in Fate Core to ask the questions and present the answers that would make up the world in play. 

Per the document, we all listed some basic inspirations we brought to the table ('List Media'):

  • Gary - Legion of Superheroes
  • Me - Monkeyman and O'Brien
  • Pete -  X-Men
  • Shay - Hellblazer

We then expanded on these media inspirations to say what important elements we wanted to see in play ('Gather Inspirations'):

  • Gary - Real Heroes!
  • Me - Gonzo Fun
  • Pete -  Family Relations
  • Shay - Working Your Reputation
We then moved on to discuss what the scale of the campaign would be. I then piped up with my personal 'grand vision' of the campaign world: 

This world is now recovering from a dark age, where the lines between hero and villain had become muddied. During this ear all of the major villains were exiled or destroyed by a Justice League/Avengers/The Authority type group called The Enforcers, led by the ultra-powerful meta-human Invictus (a Superman expy). 

Although at first motivated to restore justice and order to a world gone mad, eventually The Enforcers established what amounted to a benevolent dictatorship, striking down anyone - individuals and governments alike - that didn't match their vision of a Finer World. 

Then, roughly a decade ago, all of the active Enforcers members disappeared (in what Pete dubbed 'The Omega Event'): somehow neutralized by a powerful and mysterious force of unknown origin. 

The only clue left behind by the entity (or entities) responsible for this event was a message displayed worldwide on every display screen in the world, in every written language, that read:

"The future is yours now."

Everyone liked this idea, so we endeavored to build the campaign based around this premise. Since the 'cosmic level' heroes were now all gone, we decided that the current hero groups should be smaller and regional. Although our team certainly could expand to become the world's new 'Justice League' as the game progressed, we certainly wouldn't start out that way. 

I suggested that maybe we could do city-based heroes to start, citing Jump City of the Teen Titans cartoon as inspiration. Like Jump City, I thought it would be cool if the city was West Coast based rather than East-Coast/Midwest based: especially since we already knew the culture of a West Coast city (we all live in the greater Seattle area, IRL). 
New Troy: the city of tomorrow...today!
After some discussion, we decided to set the game in the fictional city of New Troy; a Pacific Northwest city that is a mashup of Seattle and Vancouver, BC in a world with a decades-long legacy of superhuman champions and threats.

We then created some major 'Facts', 'Sparks', 'Issues' and 'Faces' to round out our campaign world. Some of which are explored more fully in the document linked at the bottom of the article, but the major players active in the campaign include:


Emma Hunter Hull
Formerly known as The Enforcers member 'Mirage', she had retired to pursue her business interests as chairperson of New Troy's Hunter Corporation. Although no longer active as a hero, she serves as the main supporter and advisor to the fledgling New Sentinels




Shadow Syndicate
A mysterious group of high-tech equipped thugs, led by an oligarchical leadership structure. Little is known about the group's inner-circle, but they are known to be led in field by the masked villainess Lady Destine. Group MMO includes the theft of high-tech and prototype-level technology, corporate espionage and blackmail.


The Fist
Former second-string super-criminals, who have concluded that they can be more effective working together than apart. What they lack in power and competence they make up for in experience: each one of them already knows the wrong way to execute a plan, which illuminates the right way to do so.




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Now having comfortably fleshed out our setting well-enough, we now moved forward to making our characters. Both Pete & Gary came to the table with their characters 90% created, so discussion about their characters was mostly about how they fit into the campaign. We then helped Shay cobble together his character from scratch.

The resulting characters were:

Quorum

Handyman Jimmy Novak was forever changed by a lab-accident that allows him to split into five mentally-linked duplicates. Each split not only expands his physical abilities but also his mental acuity - when all five 'dups' are active he expands from average intellect to genius level prowess.

Jimmy is very conflicted about his powers. He feels that when he is duplicated, his vastly increased intelligence makes him into a different person, and he’s not sure he likes that guy. Unfortunately, Quorum feels the same…

Nemesis: Id & Super Ego (Karen Vargas). Created by the same lab accident, Karen can now split into two super-powered threats who represent the duelings halves of her psyche. She blames Jimmy for her current situation.

Mercury Man

The fastest man alive! Secret ID: Max Munroe. Super-Speedster by day, billionaire playboy by night: a man with a decidedly mixed reputation in his public identity.

Son of Enforcers member Moleculon, his father manipulated his genetics in the womb using his powers. Max discovered his abilities in his teenage years.

Nemesis: Mean Streak (Vanessa Dunn). The fastest woman alive! Daughter of the super-villain Howling Fury, she is the only being known able to match Mercury Man's amazing speed.


Arrowhead

During his teenage years, Lance Flynn discovered that he could manifest psionically-generated weapons and projectiles, provided that he had a physical object to 'focus' those energies.

Ever-confident in himself - even when this confidence isn't warranted - as adult he began his super-heroic career as the solo hero Arrowhead; using his psionically created arrows to mete out justice on the streets of New Troy. He was recruited to join the New Sentinels by Emma Hunter-Hull, who had easily deduced his secret ID.

When not fighting crime, Lance is a checker at local houseware/hardware chain Home Mart.

Nemesis: Muramasa (Hana Mitsurugi). When not possessed by the demon-sword, Hana is really a nice, bright young girl. But the sword always seems to wind up in her hands again; and when armed with the magic blade she is a vengeful terror. Her mystic sword can cut through any material, save those protected by powerful enchantments.

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Next up, a recap of our first full play session: Issue 1 'With Great Power..' pt1.

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New Troy Gazetteer (Google Docs)