Thursday, April 24, 2014

Actual Play: Lasers & Feelings

What you hope to avoid in FTL
Two coworkers and I gave Lasers & Feelings a shot, a one-page RPG for doing some light and fast sci-fi stuff. It's set up to be generically Trekkish, but we agreed to tweak our assumptions to be more like the space roguelike FTL.

I got thrown under the GM bus, and rolled the following for Space Adventure:
  • A Rogue Captain 
  • Wants to Build/Synthesize 
  • A Pirate Kingdom 
  • Which Will Reverse Time
While I boggled over how I could make something make enough sense out of those results to be playable, Joe and Chris went through the very simple 4-step character creation process.
Clarke Isaacs is totally not this guy
Joe made Clarke Isaacs, a Dangerous Engineer (4) whose goal was to Keep Being Awesome. Chris made Mono, the Raptor's Android Doctor (3) who loved solving Weird Space Mysteries.

Isaacs and Mono convinced the crew (rolling above their Feelings number) that they needed to find some riches to possibly purchase more medical pods because Captain Darcy, incapacitated during an encounter with an implacable and malevolent Pregame Metaplotholian Entity, was clinging to life in the ship's sole pod.

Also, with the captain incapacitated, they were no longer receiving pay.

Isaacs used the ship's sensors and found a distress call in a nebula, but it was a pirate trap (he failed the Lasers roll)! A 20-year-older eyepatched Captain Darcy flying a junky-looking but dangerous pirate ship attacked them (after some failed Feelings attempts). Both crews ran to their starfighters, including the PCs. During the battle, Mono managed to get his ship disabled and started drifting helplessly through the nebula. He used his android tech to hack an enemy fighter, but screwed it up so instead of ejecting its pilot, it ejected him right into Mono and they spun off into space sans ship.

Isaacs tried to tractor beam them both back, but he had to slow down and Evil Captain Darcy was able to shoot down his fighter too. Now the two PCs plus one alien pirate were floating in space, so Isaacs made a jetpack out of the poor alien's airtank and they boarded Darcy's ship, which was... from the future! Mono talked to the AI on the ship and learned that it was indeed their own captain who was attacking them. Had their timeline continued unchanged, the Raptor's crew's lust for riches would turn into full piracy and they would never try to heal their captain. Eventually, the poor medical pod figures out what was wrong, heals Darcy, he wakes up pissed, kills his crew, and finds an alien race grateful for his help in some past endeavor, and they send him back in time to make sure things progress differently.

Back in the present, Isaacs accidentally convinced the AI that it should be unto a god and it opened all the airlocks, happily solving the issue of the pirates attacking them. Yay! It then started plotting a course around a nearby star that would bathe the remaining lifeforms inside its hull with deadly radiation. Boo!

Working together, Mono and Isaacs rolled bunches of Lasers dice, wrecked the AI, stole the advanced medical pods from its sickbay, and healed Captain Darcy from their timeline.

We stopped there because... paradox. If the Captain's healed in their timeline, he never comes back with a future ship with the advanced tech needed to heal him ZOMG 5000XP let's go back to work now.
Great Scott!
Lasers & Feelings was a blast. We finished the whole thing in about 40 minutes. It does what it says and doesn't do much more, but that's fine. It works really well when you're thinking on your toes and can chain one disaster into the next. So... like... nearly every gaming session I've been in, then. Give it a try!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Four-Color FAE: Supers Gaming via Fate Accelerated - pt12

Since I am still working on my second-session synopsis, I thought it might be fun share some of my villain builds with my readers in the interim. 
Here is the mystically-possessed super-villainess, Muramasa
  • Aspects
High Concept: Nice girl possessed by a demon-sword
Trouble: The sword grants me strength...and rage
Other Aspects: Fascinated by Japanese mythology; Niece of Zen-do; My enemies shall be cut
  • Approaches
+3 Flashy
+2 Quick, Sneaky
+1 Clever, Careful
+0 Forceful
  • Stunts
- As My Blade can Cut Through Anything, I gain +2 to Flashily Create an Advantage when using my fearsome sword against obstacles.
- Since I am as Beautiful as I am Deadly, I gain +2 to Flashily Create an Advantage when dealing with those susceptible to my physical charms.
- As I am Like a Leaf in the Breeze, I gain +2 to Quickly Overcome physical opposition that stands in my path.
  • Refresh: 3
  • Stress: OOO
  • Mild (2):
  • Moderate (4)
  • Severe (6)
Power Facts
  • The demon-blade Muramasa grants Hana a warrior’s spirit and reflexes
  • Supernaturally enhanced, the blade can cut through anything not protected by magic
  • Hana quickly reverts back to her normal, easygoing personality if too-long removed from contact with the sword. In this form, her aspects are changed to reflect this, and her Flashy and Careful approaches are switched.
  • Background/Personality:
Quote: “This vessel tires of being a good girl; it’s more fun to be the bad girl. But you like bad girls, don’t you?”

Hana Mitsurugi is a student-teacher of Japanese Mythology at New Troy Pacific University, and the niece of Andrew Mitsurugi (aka. Zen-do).

When the Muramasa sword was brought to the New Troy Pacific Heritage Museum for display, she was excited to study it. But the evil sword soon gained a grip on her; causing her to evil acts at night that she would not recall performing the next day.

Eventually her nightly reign of terror was stopped by the hero Arrowhead in one of his early adventures, and the demon-sword was returned to it’s rightful place.

But the sword is now bound to Hana; and somehow the blade winds up again and again in her hands by happenstance, even though she professes to want nothing more than to be free of it’s curse.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Four-Color FAE: Supers Gaming via Fate Accelerated - pt11

New Sentinels member Arrowhead takes aim
As promised, here is a synopsis of the first gaming session of our Four-Color Supers game, New Sentinels, powered by FAE 
There is no discussion about game-mechanics in the synopsis itself, but I will be examining how they came into play in the postscript. 
Game Synopsis - New Sentinels, Issue 1: "With Great Power..." pt1

As evening sets upon the metropolis of New Troy, team organizer Emma summons the New Sentinels to their HQ, The Ready Room.

Jimmy (Quorum) is already on the scene, working upstairs at the Ready Room Bar & Grill as a bar-back. Excusing himself to his boss Molly (who knows that the bar is a front for the team HQ), he and Emma board the elevator down to the team HQ below.

Meanwhile, Touchstone Industries President Max Monroe is in a board meeting when he gets the call. Quickly ducking out of the meeting, he races across town at supersonic speeds, arriving just as the elevator doors close; already suited up and ready in his heroic identity...Mercury Man!

At this moment Lance (Arrowhead) is cleaning up throw-up on aisle 9 at H-Mart. Answering the call, he charms his female boss into letting him leave early, slowly making his way through rush-hour traffic via moped to meet up with the team.

New Sentinels HQ, 'The Ready Room': interior
Manning the teams super-computer, resident teen-aged supers expert Taryn Reid gives the low-down along with Emma:

Although the Inca treasures for the upcoming 'Secrets of the Inca' exhibition at the Schliemann Museum of Antiquities arrived safe and sound, the Inca mummies bound for exhibition did not: and the panicked government of Peru has asked for the team's help, provided that they use the utmost discretion.

As Arrowhead finally arrives on the scene, the team decides to visit the landed plane formerly carrying the mummies, now parked in an abandoned airfield in Baja California, Mexico.

Mercury Man offers to race ahead and investigate, but Emma wants the entire team on this. So instead they load up the team jump-jet with Quorum piloting. The track lights guide the way to the hidden cliff side exit, and with a whoosh! the team is off and away.


Arriving in Mexico a few hours later, the team is confronted by skeptical Mexican federales. But Quorum - using his super-intelligence gained when split - has learned fluent Spanish on the flight: and while he distracts the police Mercury Man and Arrowhead investigate the abandoned airplane.

What they find there is disturbing: the pilot on the black box describes a bizarre 'green light' stopping the plane mid-flight, before cutting out completely. Investigating the cases holding the ancient mummies in the storage area yields even more worrisome information: they are clearly empty, and show signs of being broken out of from the inside.

The only other evidence left behind from this strange crime is a symbol - clearly Mesoamerican in origin - burned into the ceiling of the storage compartment of the craft.

All of which begs the question: what happened to the missing crew?

Quorum tackles the question with his duplicates - and finds evidence of footsteps leading into the wilderness beyond. Mercury Man acts immediately on this new lead, by racing into the night and searching every nook and cranny until he finds the missing flight crew and passengers: tied up, and dazed by thirst and exposure, but still thankfully alive. One by one he carries them at breakneck speed before depositing each on the tarmac.

At last useful, the Mexican federal police act to provide the surviving crew of the downed flight with food, beverages and blankets. Using the flashy charm he normally reserves for the opposite sex, Arrowhead is able to glean more information about the fate of the doomed flight from the now recovering crew and passengers:

Each remembers the strange green light surrounding - and then stopping - the plane, before they themselves were frozen in place by it.

Then memories of a presence- more felt than seen- moving through the plane, before it and a group of shambling figures led them into the woods, binding them helpless to the surrounding copse of trees.

Finally, they described a terrifying circle of greenish light, as the figures and their apparent leader vanished before their very eyes!

With this, our New Sentinels conclude that they have learned all that they could here: and further care of the members of the flight as well as the plane itself are best left to the Peruvian and Mexican governments.

Wary with concern about what they have learned thus far, our heroes re-board the jump-jet and begin the supersonic flight home.

While in the air they forward the photos taken of the mystic image burned on the plane's ceiling; Taryn's analysis reveals it to be a pre-Colombian representation of the Inca god Supay: Lord of the Underworld, and Prince of Demons.

Instinctively concluding that the next target of whatever force downed the plane might be at the museum itself, they vow to stand guard over the treasures there, waiting for whoever- or whatever- might come to claim them.

New Sentinels team Jump-Jet: CAD model shown
The jump-jet lands in the parking lot of the Schliemann Museum of Antiquities in the dead of night.

Having radioed ahead, the museum security team is already aware that the team is coming to help, and they are given the 'grand tour' of the museum by flashlight courtesy of security head George Smart.

While Arrowhead and Mercury Man enjoy the sights - Arrowhead being careful to stay within seeing distance of the Inca treasures - for his part, Quorum keeps one split in the museum, sending the rest out into the crisp April night air to patrol the perimeter.

Quorum notes how very quiet the Paris Hill neighborhood is compared to his own neighborhood, where the thin walls of his apartment shares the music, arguments and lovemaking to all that care to listen. But this reverie is broken up when he sees a flash of greenish light flare bright, and then quickly fade on the roof of the museum.

He then immediately radios a heads up the team; and true to form, Mercury Man instinctively races up to the rooftop to be first on the scene.

There he finds seven figures: swaddled head to toe in black ski-gear, complete with masks. Way too much coverage for a crisp spring evening....even for burglars.

Having caught his opposition by surprise, Mercury Man attacks one of the figures with lightning-quick speed; the figure loses it's balance in the tussle, and goes tumbling off the roof: landing with a sickening thud below!

Mercury Man has no time to wonder if he has accidentally killed a man though, as the remaining six figures rapidly close in on him with apparent murderous intent...

Meanwhile in the museum gallery below, Quorum regroups his splits into one before racing up the stairway to the rooftop. Not wanting to mess with the stairs, Arrowhead wills a psionic arrow and grappling line into being; he shoots into a skylight above, then contracts the line until he rapidly accelerates to - and through! - it, emerging from a spray of shattered glass onto the roof.

Mercury Man is grappled by a particularly burly interloper - but he manages to free himself at the cost of leaving part of his costume behind, and off-balance from the experience.

Arrowhead sees a teammate in trouble...but before he can react he catches the attention of two of the interlopers himself, who begin to make a bee-line straight towards him! He doesn't hesitate though: drawing back his 'bow' he fires a psionic arrow at one.

It falls lifeless to the floor; more than lifeless, really, as it seems to be frozen into place and lands like a fallen statue.

As Mercury Man dodges and weaves fluidly though the clumsy attacks of the cloaked figures, noting Quorum finally arriving at the rooftop door via stairs as he splits into his five duplicates...

The final panel of this issue is a splash-page; viewpoint behind Arrowhead's drawn bow, and looking towards Quorum and the Mercury Man surrounded by black-clad figures.

What I hope reads here as the tightly plotted first act of an action movie (mystery revealed, investigation, and first contact with the opposition), really was just a lot of me floundering as a GM to play catch-up with my players. It somehow had not occurred to me that the team would want to investigate the landed airplane itself, so I had to make up much of what they found there on-the-fly. 
Nor did I think that they would have the wherewithal to stake out the museum at night: during which time I had planned for exactly nothing to occur! 
But it all worked out pretty well either way, and when we wrapped things up that evening mid-battle both Pete and Gary (playing Quorum and Mercury Man, respectively) were excited to see what emerged next session. Arrowhead's player, Shay, was a bit less enthused- but that is a story for another day. 
There was a bit of a learning curve for everyone involved: this was the very first time Gary and Pete had played FAE - though both were familiar with Fate Core - and there was some discussion about what the characters could and could not do on occasion. Shay in particular struggled with this, as he is more accustomed and comfortable with 'crunchy' systems.
On my end, I suspect that the past year and a-half of fantasy GM'ing really impacted the flavor of the sort of narrative I was prepared to present in play: I played my cards close to my chest, and cranked up the 'mysterious' knob to eleven. Which isn't at all bad, just maybe not the tone I should have set for the campaign at the get-go. 
If I run another supers game in the future, I will instead follow my gut and start with a bank-robbery, or an adventure in an undersea base. You can't go wrong with either of those options. :-)
Having said all of that...the mechanics worked great! We had a speedster, an archer, and a duplication guy operating side-by-side with no real gap in overall effectiveness between any character. As this was the main design goal for using FAE to begin with, I'm putting the choice to use the system itself in the 'win' column.

Next Issue: Night Battle at the Museum!

The Ready Room (Google Docs)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

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

New Sentinels member, Quorum
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.

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!
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.


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:


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.


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.

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

New Troy Gazetteer (Google Docs)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bulldogs! Review Pt 2a- Crew Creation

One of the changes from typical FATE games that really grabbed me when reading the Bulldogs! core rulebook is the chapter on Crew Creation. Specifically, the fact that the chapter is titled Crew Creation and not Character Creation. Its not semantics - the process starts top down, with characters emerging at the end, and it really helps sell the flavor of the setting.

Now THIS is a Bulldogs! crew! I'm requiring at least one of my players to have their character roll up their pants leg.
First up - the players create a ship that serves as their home base. If there were a High Concept aspect for Bulldogs!, it would read thusly:

TransGalaxy, an interstellar shipping company, runs a cargo operation they call Class D Freight. The company buys cheap ships, crews them with anyone who applies, and insures the hell out of them. These ships run high-risk cargo—hazardous or volatile materials, deliveries to hot zones or hostile planets, etc. The idea is to make good money on the deliveries that actually arrive, and to collect insurance on those that fail. The crews of these Class D ships are nicknamed “bulldogs” because of the Class D Freight logo. Class D crews also have a reputation for not letting go once they've got hold of a job.

Simple and wonderfully evocative! 

Again, its the players who are creating the ship, not the GM. I'd imagine that in many games the GM would create the ship and captain in advance. The fact that the writers explicitly state that the players generate this content makes me giddy. The players assign three aspects to the ship: Concept, Problem, and Strength. I would have liked to see some text in this section referring to the actual mechanics of ship creation, a section later in the book though. In that chapter, sidebars do a bang-up job of walking you though the process of building the starting ship, but I think I'll talk about that a bit more in a later ship rules review.

A Class D Freighter - art by Dan D.
Next up, the players create the captain of the ship. This person calls the shots, and while perhaps not overtly resented by the crew, certainly makes things difficult. The captain also has three aspects: Concept, Trouble, and Leadership. Essentially, this spells out how this person came to have this crappy job, how this person makes life difficult for the crew, and his/her leadership style. While the designers speak about allowing one of the players to be the captain, the recommend this person as an NPC, which, in my opinion, is the best approach. Structurally, the captain can serve as the 'mission-generator', can work as a limit on funds, and can serve as a complication for the players whenever necessary. While no detail is provide here in regards to the captain as a mechanically functional character, Galileo Games has a free download of sample characters here, in which the captain is a fully fleshed-out character.

By this point, the players should have a whole lot of flavor and narrative to inform the characters they wish to create. The players then decide what power level they want the game to have, from barely able to breathe at Fresh Meat, to John Matrix levels of power at Serious Badass. This determines the starting refresh, skill-cap, and skill points available.

Finally, its time to make characters! This follows the standard FATE format in most ways, though the Phase 1-3 steps from FATE core are bypassed here. This even has an in-game explanation, as the PCs are from different walks of life, ending up as bulldogs in a myriad of ways. After choosing a species (which I go into here), there are ten aspects the players craft:

Heritage (2): You can select two aspects from your species list, or make up others to reflect your upbringing.
Homeworld: This can be where you are from or how you grew up.
Personal Strength: What does your character do well?
Personal Weakness: You know your character is a fuckup somehow.
Associates: This represents the people in your past - are you running from them? Resourceful contacts?
Desperate Situation: Nobody chooses to be a bulldog; life forces it upon you. How did life screw you over?
Job: This is what you do on the ship - how you fit into the rag-tag team.
Shipmates: Like the Phase 1-3 aspects, here you represent some connection to the other characters.
Captain: &*#@! captain! This aspect describes your 'unique' relationship with said authority figure.

The authors do an outstanding job providing examples of these aspects, as well as suggesting how they can they can be invoked and compelled. For example, I love this Personal Strength aspect:

“Keys? Who needs keys?”
Invoke: you can get things started without keys, “Just attach this, plug this in, tap here, and…voila!”
Compel: when you do need keys, “You forgot the keys again, didn't you.”

Suggested skill trees are then provided for each of the power levels you selected previously, catered to a thematic distribution, to create characters who specialize in only one skill, maybe have two at their peak, or are really good at loads of skills, not not outstanding at any.

With whatever refresh is left over after assigning your species abilities, you may then use this to purchase stunts. There are many suggested stunts in the book; some unique, some widely-used FATE stunts re-flavored. The writers recommend players create their own stunts to match their characters, and provide guidelines about how to do so.

The last step I would expect to see in this process, outfitting your characters with starting gear, does not make an appearance in this chapter. While I would have liked to have seen that here, its detailed later on, in the section describing how to buy and trade things. This process is rather open-ended and narratively flexible, allowing characters the chance to start the game with more than just a beat-up blaster pistol and some worn Kevlar.

In summary, the presentation of the character creation process as an end-result of world-building, while certainly not a novel concept these days, is done very elegantly. Well-thought out examples of fictional players doing the same are interspersed throughout the process, and plenty of colorful examples of aspects go a long way towards stirring a player's imagination. 

Next time, I'll share the gonzo approach my players took in setting up our upcoming game. SPOILER ALERT (highlight text to read): My players are insane.