This is the start of hopefully many* recountings of the Fate campaign I am currently running. I hesitate to use the word ‘narrative’ because at this point the first session was a couple months ago and I don’t take very strict notes (or any, really), so I don’t have any way of going back and telling you what characters said in the moment or remembering the most intricate details. I hope that this will prove to be marginally entertaining nonetheless.
The idea behind this campaign was: “What would a RPG version of Amnesia be like?” As such, the main hook of the game is that all of the characters were to have amnesia (shock!), and slowly recall their memories over the course of the game. I can tell you right now that what followed that thought was game that is absolutely nothing like Amnesia, because RPGs are crazy, hectic experiences (this is to be encouraged) and having five characters wander through a dark corridor without saying anything to each other would be really boring (this is to be discouraged).
As the person running the game, I create the setting and most of the characters with whom the players interact. The players then run amok, deciding how their characters are going to respond to the situations they find themselves in. I have a very loose** game style that depends heavily on improvisation. Before the game started, the players and I sat down and hashed out the general setting, and I created a few people and places on my own, but beyond that I let the players go wherever they wanted and trusted myself to fill in the details on the fly.
Fate is an RPG not entirely dissimilar to it’s more famous cousin, Dungeons and Dragons. You role dice (though only ever four, six-sided dice and preferably they have cute little ‘+’s and ‘-‘s on them) and add what you get on your dice to your skill total. Unlike D&D, however, Fate actively encourages character building, development, and roleplaying , mainly through a mechanic called Aspects. Aspects are words or phrases (generally witty or catchy) that describe your character in some way. You can then use your Aspects later to give yourself a bonus to an action as long as that action relates to your Aspect in some way. You can also earn Fate Points, a kind of mechanical currency that allows the players to use the bonuses described above, by having your Aspect get you into trouble. Furthermore, in the character creation process, the players pass their sheets around and write about how their characters’ stories intersected in the past, which tends to create these amusing (and often intricate) little details that affect how the characters interact with each other in play.
I’m using some slight modifications to the standard Fate Core rules. The first is that characters don’t have hit boxes. Any damage they take will result in stress, making combat much more deadly. The second is that the characters don’t have any stunts. In fact, I didn’t even tell my players what they are, so they have no idea they exist (until now, I suppose)! Players start with two refresh anyway, to lower natural character strength and encourage roleplaying. The third change the characters started the game only with their character’s name, High Concept, and best skill as a representation of what the characters could remember about themselves at the start of the game. Players filled in their skills while playing as they saw fit. Aspects were slowly expanded upon. Over the course of the first few sessions I handed players two notecards. On the notecards were descriptions of an Object or Need related to their past. Players were not allowed to fill in their third aspect until they had received one of these notecards. Their fourth and fifth aspects were created by revealing one of their notecards to another player, and having that player write a story involving their character in that notecard.
I’m putting all of this online for a few reasons. First, it can serve as a memorial for the wacky nonsense that went on in this campaign. Second, I thought other people might be interested (or disgusted) to read about the things we came up with. Third, since I’m starting a gaming blog, I figured I’d imitate my inspiration as closely as possible. I feel that this is a good start to being a solid ripoff.
Of course feel free to share your own campaigns or roleplaying stories either here in the comments or as a link to your own blog.
Finally, while this post is pretty tame, future posts may be… less so. I’m telling this to you now so you know what you’re getting into. Posts that have what may be considered to have graphic detail will have a disclaimer.
Anyway, thanks for reading! We’ll see how this goes.
*I’m lazy. No promises. **Read: lazy.
The game takes place in the 1820s on a small (fictional) island called Galway, located in the English channel. The island has two major cities, Galway itself, a fishing town built hundreds of years prior, on the western coast and Minsley, a mining town that had been developed in the last 10 years due to the discovery of coal in the island’s hills. See the professionally detailed map below:
The players had varying levels of detail about their characters at this point, but that was okay. The idea was to have a vague sense of who the characters were and fill it in from there as the characters recalled their memory. All of the players knew that they were starting with amnesia, but what they were doing on the island was a mystery to everyone (except for Sam).
In an attempt to keep confusion to a minimum, I present to you the five characters as they were at the start of the game (as opposed to all the little details that have grown into a convoluted mess by the time I am writing this).
Iago Chadwick (Player: Emile) High Concept: Solitary Spelunking Scholar Best Skill: Investigate Iago is a professor and explorer of caves (a speleologist, even) who went on an ill-fated trip to Haiti some years ago.
Oswald Tuck (Player: Tom) High Concept: Travelling Magician Best Skill: Deceive Oswald is an up and coming stage performer, well-travelled throughout Europe, and had started to make a name for himself in the larger cities.
Miles Cooper (Player: Rick) High Concept: Failed Inventor Best Skill: Craft Miles was an inventor with many lofty ideas that never quite panned out. His last experiment destroyed his home and killed his wife and children, leading his life down a darker path…
Charlie Stone (Player: Ron) High Concept: Undercover Irish Spy Best Skill: Rapport Charlie was born into a notable Irish Catholic family, who shipped him off to boarding school in order to better train him to fight the Anglican powers in the British Isles.
Sam Smith (Player: Jenny) High Concept: Illegitimate, inbred, orphan waif raised by the island Best Skill: Notice Sam was born a bastard to a noble house from the Isle of Galway. The family gave up Sam in order to keep the truth of his conception a secret. The boy was then raised by many different inhabitants of the island in succession, who would receive large sums of money from a mysterious source in exchange for taking care of the otherwise unwanted child.
As details about the interpersonal relationships between the characters are expanded upon I will try to make updates to this list in the session posts themselves, so new readers don’t become confused.
With all that out of the way, we’re ready for Session 1 – Some Bones and a Cold, Wet Swamp (coming soon!)