Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fate: Dark and Stormy report #8

With pockets full of gold pebbles, the party left the zombie's burial chamber behind, heading down another narrow hallway they had passed earlier.

Rwake crept cautiously down the hall, torch in hand. Elros and Leo followed closely behind, ready for anything. At the end of the hall, Rwake held up a hand for the others to stop. They had come to a new room. Through the doorway, they could see the forms of various sized bodies. They appeared as cocoons, wrapped in gray, silky threads. With keen awareness, Rwake noticed fine nearly-invisible strands crossing every which way over the open door. He moved his torch forward and watched as it snapped and melted the strands away. "It is as I thought," he said. "Spiderweb."


A huge stream of web gripped Rwake and pulled him into the room where the PCs could see the form of a monstrous black spider. Rwake quickly tried to cut through the strand of webbing connecting him to the spider, but his blade only stuck fast to the web. He began burning through the web with his torch, but the spider was only shooting more webbing, entwining him from the waist down.

Meanwhile, Elros readied himself in the doorway while Leo ran around to the left, flanking the spider. The spider lunged its hideous head forward to chomp on Rwake, but Rwake, quick and strong, reached out and grabbed a hold of the pincers, holding back the spider's bite. He took this window to use his "sqeak, squeaker, sqeakin" skill in an attempt to calm the massive creature. The spider's resolve roll was not enough. Rwake achieved 4 shifts. I decided to give the spider 4 composure stress. We agree that was the best way to play this out. After all, the spider's nature is to kill and eat, so being sidetracked from that seemed, in a way, detrimental to its mind.

Elros took action from the doorway, casting Energy magic, which succeeded against my set difficulty of +2. His spell grabbed Rwake with magical energy and pulled his body against the tension of the web. Rwake went floating back, stopping just in front of Elros, hovering in midair, the spiders web still connected, but pulled taut. It was a struggle of magical power against the physical sturdiness of the spider's web.

J and AC decided that it would be better for Leo to have the Mastercraft Shortsword that Elros had carried off from the knight's tomb. J paid a fate point and explained, "Hey! As it turns out, Leo's the one who took the sword!" This was a very good use of a fate point - an example of exactly what they can be utilized for. Wielding the sword, Leo discovered that this amazing weapon was surprisingly light and easy for him to grip and swing.

Leo leaped forward and sliced downward with the shortsword, attempting to sever the stretched web still gripping Rwake's floating form. His roll came out at -1. J used Leo's "Make me proud, son" aspect to reroll, drawing on Leo's need to live up to his father's expectations. The reroll came up Mediocre (0) - only a slight improvement. Spending another fate point, he added a +1 to his roll - bumping it up to Average (+1). I decided this would be reasonable for such a special weapon, especially since the web was already pulled tight. The sword severed the web, and to the astonishment of all, did not stick to the web. It sliced clean through.

This moment brought up a discussion. In SotC, players can take a Weapons skill. I didn't like the idea of each player taking a generic skill that made them good at all weapons, so I asked them to specialize. Leo's specialty is thrown weapons, as we've all seen. So when he decided to use a close range melee attack, the question arose - "How good is Leo at sword use?" I offered this option to J: how about you use the sword for the rest of this adventure, and say that when you have time, Elros is training you to use it. Then, when we start the next adventure, you can add shortsword to your weapons skill. J and the others liked this idea and agreed to proceed that way.

As soon as the web was cut, the released pressure launched Rwake back into Elros, tumbling them both to the hallway floor. The spider reared back in frustration, screaming a spider's vile chirping scream. Spotting Leo as the closest opponent, the spider swung a long front leg into Leo, collapsing him back several feet into the wall, causing 3 health stress to the little Lufan.

Rwake, still entwined from the waist down, sat up as well as he could and shot a blow dart at the spider, piercing one eye and causing 4 health stress. Since the dart was poisoned, the spider is required to roll for endurance every subsequent turn.

In the mean time, Elros jumped up (supplemental action = -1 to roll), crossed a zone (-1) and launched a direct attack with his sword. He rolled a -3, giving him -5. Invoking his "Death defying" aspect, he rerolled, totaling +3 this time. The spider rolled a +4 total on his defense. Elros' attack turned out to be valiant, but not enough.

During this action, it was requested by one player that maybe I should compel Elros' "Death defying" aspect to force him to go after the spider. I felt that this wasn't a situation where that would really be useful because the situation didn't really call for a death defying action, and because Elros' intent was already to attack the spider, so using the aspect would actually be beneficial for him. So that's how we played it out. It was a good chance, anyway, to discuss when compels would be appropriate. We're all still trying to understand these new features in Fate 3.0.

Next week, Leo's up!

Post game feedback was interesting. One player, used to Fate 2e reported that the new system feels like it is taking away from the fun because it feels so rules heavy compared to the freeform nature of Fate 2e. This player felt that our discussions and decision-making and ruling and joking during our sessions was wasting too much time which could have been used enjoying the imagination experience.

Another player, also accustomed to Fate 2e, felt that the tedious discussions and struggles of learning the new system were worth it. He seemed glad to discuss them.

The last player, used to several systems other than Fate, seemed completely content, very much enjoying learning the workings of a new system. This player loves reading RPG books and studying new systems. He explained that Fate 3.0 is a far cry from his heavy d20 experience, but he is thoroughly enjoying it all the same.

This spectrum of feedback raises a common issue for me as the GM. How do I keep all the players happy? My encouragement to the first player was to continue making the system work the way he wanted it to. That very approach is, in fact, encouraged by the Fate designers. Color should be prevalent above all. The system should be made to conform to our style of play and our idea of fun. So the goal is now to encourage every player to communicate well with the rest of us on their preferences and ideas, and to each contribute to making the game play out the way they each find to be fun. It's certainly a group effort, with a few complications, but I think this group can work it out. I reminded the players that this short adventure was our chance to break ourselves in to the new system, to struggle through the new mechanics in a throw-away type of generic hack-n-slash adventure. The next adventure, of my own creation, will hopefully suit everyone's RPing needs much more. It's the classic balance between mechanics / rules and cinematics / acting. Both must be carefully employed to maximize the fun. That is really the challenge of a roleplaying group as a whole.

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