Campaign Creation: Messing with FATE

If you tune in regularly to the blog you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking all I play is Pathfinder. I’m the Venture-Captain for Edmonton, Golarion is my current favourite setting, and I am currently GMing three different Pathfinder campaigns. But despite that busy schedule, I do find time to cheat on Pathfinder play other role-playing games.

One of those games is FATE. I’m relatively new to the system, but everything I’ve read I’ve loved. So when my buddy Scott wanted to start a FATE campaign and invited me to play I jumped on-board. As we developed the ideas for the campaign we decided to set it in an alternate version of our own city of Edmonton. As part of that process, Scott asked each of us to come up with two Faces and two Places to populate our world. I thought I’d share what I created.

While the other players chose to create people and places from scratch, I used actual people and places here in my neighbourhood. I like making alternate versions of actual locations and people for games like this, and I did similar things when I ran both Shadowrun and D20 Modern games set in Edmonton. So if you’re local these might seem familiar; if you aren’t, here’s a little taste of my town.

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Faces

Mike Perrino – Mike is the owner/proprietor of Whyte Knight Market. Mike seems to know what anything (or anyone) is worth; as a result he’s become the go-to guy for folks looking to buy and sell the weird, wonderful, and worrisome. You might not like the price he offers (or the price he charges) but Mike will buy and sell anything, from a bulk lot of lightly used 1920’s bed pans to a simian phrenology statue to that weird thing that’s hung on the Market’s wall forever. It’s also common knowledge a good story might help you get a price down or an offer up. Because it’s common knowledge, your story had better be pretty damn good.

Known Aspects: Size You Up with a Glance, Amuse Me

Sam the Hat – A fixture of Whyte Avenue’s bar scene, Sam the Hat is easily spotted by the stack of cheap cowboy hats he wears on his head at any given moment. A friendly Cree man of indeterminate age, Sam appears to make his living selling his hats for a Twonie a pop to drunk bar-flies along the Avenue. Always friendly, always with a joke or a bit of clowning…and always with a stack of hats. Sometimes dozens, sometimes as few as three or four, but never running out. Maybe he has them stashed all along Whyte Avenue. Maybe some unseen partner drops them off to him. Maybe he’s Wesakechak (that’s Whiskey Jack to you).

Known Aspects: Can’t Help But Smile, Fear the Clown

Places

Whyte Knight Market (Whyte Avenue) – Some might call it a curio shop, some might call it a junk store. But if you are looking for something truly weird or eclectic and can’t think of who in the world would sell it, chances are the Market has two of them. You might just be able to find anything on the shelves or hanging on a hook. And sometimes you find things you didn’t even know you needed until you saw them. For a price, of course.

Known Aspects: The Weirder the Better, You Might Just Find You Get What You Need

The Strathcona Hotel (Whyte Avenue) – The Strat, as she is affectionately known to locals, has stood on the corner of Whyte and 103 Street since before there was a Whyte and 103rd Street, or any street, really. They’ve prettied up the outside and slapped a nice historical plaque by the door, but everyone knows the Strat for what it is: a flophouse. If you need a cheap place to hang your hat undisturbed, the Strat has a room for you. In fact the Strat always seems to have a room, regardless of how many folks check in. At least no one will bother you.

Known Aspects: Bigger on the Inside, Can Not Disturb

Any FATE players out there? What Faces and Places have you created? Share in the comments if you are so inclined.

GM Resources: One Page Dungeon Contest

There is such a wealth of Game Master resources on-line, I often find something extremely useful and then lose track of it. The One Page Dungeon contest is one of those resources, and I’m indescribably happy to have found it again.

The contest idea makes it cool enough: design an interesting dungeon (including map) which fits on a single side of a standard sheet of paper. This limitation forces the entrants to strip away any extraneous elements and focus on the essentials of their dungeon design. You might think this would lead to a lot of 1 or 2 room , simple dungeon sites. And luckily you’d be wrong. Every year the contest draws page upon page of amazing and imaginative designs, both in the content of the dungeon and the design of the page layout. Many of the entries, while great encounters, are also stunning to look at; fitting the maximum amount of dungeon on a single page leads to some incredible examples of cunning art and design. If you’d like to challenge yourself as a designer, I highly recommend entering the contest. This year it ends on April 30 and complete rules can be found here.

Now it sounds fun and worth a look. But what makes this a particularly good resource for GMs is the contest has been running since 2009, and all entries in the contest must publish themselves under the Creative Commons license. These two things make this site a veritable toy box for the busy Game Master. There are literally hundreds of excellent dungeon sites available, all of them perfect to print and play. Many of the entries are system neutral, or are at least rules/setting light, so time spent adapting to your game will be minimal. I’ve already grabbed a few to use in one of my current Pathfinder campaigns, and my total time spent working them up was 10 minutes, including print time.

A great contest and a great resource. If you have time I highly recommend just scrolling through the gallery. For me the tour was worth it just to come across a one-page dungeon set inside a certain demon idol familiar to 1st Ed. D&D players. I’ll be running that one soon…

Leaving the Den

Those what know me know I suffer from SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. Long story short, lack of sunlight during winter triggers seasonal depression. I have several coping mechanisms to allow necessities (like work), but it does tend to leave me hibernating for much of the winter months, like a nerdy bear.

This year’s hibernation has come to its inevitable end, and I am wandering back into the wild. That means you’ll see much more activity around the blog as I get back to the work of play. If you waited patiently through the posting drought, thank-you; rain clouds are coming. If you didn’t, well, you’re likely not reading this anyway. But maybe you’ll find your way back.

To ease in, today’s post is just some gaming related personal news. I’m working on a buffer right now; I thought a lot about gaming (and played a fair amount, when people came to the “den”) , so I have some stuff to share in the next while. But for today, let me catch you up…

– My buddy Devin and I are hosting a regular monthly board game day, and I’m pretty excited about it. Devin wanted to play more board games and so did I, so he had the idea to just set a day and play with whomever shows up. I’m supplying the play space, we sent out an initial run of invites, and we’ll add to the invite list as we go. It’s a great opportunity for us to try new board games, as well as playing with different people since we won’t be sure about who will be there every month. So if you live in Edmonton and want to join us the last Sunday of every month, leave a comment.

– I am probably playing Hearthstone more than is good for me. But it scratches a CCG itch I didn’t know was still there. Blizzard has done a great job making the game fun and 98% douche-free, that last through the simple expedient of not having any sort of chat function between the players. The free-to-play but pay-to-play-better model does mean I run into the occasional “wallet deck”, but I’m used to that from my (ancient) Magic:TG days (Ice Age was the last expansion I played). As long as I keep having fun I’ll keep playing, so if you’re playing as well look me up. Username is Argentbear.

– While nothing will ever knock Pathfinder out of top spot, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire is firmly in my second-favourite RPG spot at the moment. I’m playing in one campaign and about to start play in another, and I can’t get enough of this game. Smart mechanics and great setting development, both in service to creating good role-play, all in the Star Wars universe? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend you get on it. And don’t let the funny looking dice throw you, you’ll pick that up in no time.

That’s it for now. If I think of anything else I’ll pop back and add it in. Otherwise, look for regular posts to trickle in this week, with the return to regular flow starting next Monday. Soon the GM and Player advice will start flowing like it never went away.