Monthly Archives: November 2014

Everyone gets 15 Minutes of FAE

Everyone gets 15 Minutes of FAE

I need to talk about  Sleepy Hollow.

I’d heard that this show was quite good, but I am classically late to any and all TV phenomena.  I just tuned into it a few days ago, and it is a very fun show! It is a modern-day retelling of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” in which Ichabod Crane finds himself awoken in the present-day, where he must fight off supernatural foes with the aid of Lieutenant Abigail Mills. The show isn’t always at the high end of the truth and reason scale, but all I really ask of a show in those cases is that it entertain me when it stops making sense.  If you can entertain me when I make major suspensions of disbelief, I’m all good.

The plots in this show are pretty clever and the cast is at once likable, believable, and intriguing. Most importantly, dear reader, this show makes a great starting point for a roleplaying game.

I think every RPG nerd spends time figuring out how to translate his favorite piece of media into a storytelling experience. Statting up protagonists is an activity as old as roleplaying itself.  RPGs model some version of reality of fiction, so why wouldn’t you expose some of the fiction and reality you consume and live to some statting?  Statting characters becomes simpler the more you do it, and the more experience you have in the system you are using to stat.  The problem in my mind is how do you mimc the tropes and highlight the dramatic selling points of the show? That’s much trickier.

The problem for me comes in having to move from narrative to quantities and numbers.  How can I make the narrative arcs of the shows fit numbers?  Yes, I can develop systems and mechanics for this, but what if I want to just get something together really quickly? Let’s say I want to play Sleepy Hollow as an RPG in about 15 minutes?

This is the part where I want to introduce you to Fate Accelerated.

You can stat up a character really quickly using approaches (which describe ways to do things, not just raw stats) and Aspects, which allow you to move from narrative to natural language, which is a much smoother transition.  Once you have that, the main conceit of Fate with invocation of Aspects and Stunts is generally great tech.  If you want to develop a more advanced ruleset, you can add the additional layer of tech and rules that Fate Core provides without missing anything.

Even better, you can get some genre/show-specific items for free with little effort.  I decided that I wanted to highlight specific approaches and aspects of Sleepy Hollow, but instead of adding in a lot of new rules, I added different approaches. The approaches tell you a lot about the game you are playing, and act as world-building attributes. The fact that my Sleepy Hollow FAE approaches are Historical, Supernatural, Fighting, Investigative, Lawful, and Rebellious tells you an awful lot about what is happening on the show, doesn’t it?

In addition, the Aspects that you use give you a lot of information about the characters and the setting. You can use normal Aspects like High Concept and Trouble, but since Sleepy Hollow often spends a lot of time in the past, I also added a Flashback Aspect, which lets a character tell a story from their past as they invoke it.

All of these were easy to add, and I had the skeletons for this in about 15 minutes or so.  Then I just started making characters, and we’re ready to play!

I’ve been thinking about doing this for awhile, and now that I’ve done it I would suggest that everyone familiarize themselves with this ruleset and use it to put it to use.  If you want a fast way to tell your own versions of the stories you like to read or watch, I just don’t know if there are better systems in terms of ease of use and fidelity. Please try it out!

And while you’re at it, take a peek at my 10000% free, fan-friendly FAE adaption of Sleepy Hollow.

Five Fires Beta

Five Fires Beta

I wanted to make something that spoke to my soul.

I love RPGs, and I love hip hop.  I know that there have been games that have focused on urban life, but for my tastes most of those focus too much on violence and/or gang culture and not enough on music and culture. I wanted to make a game that used what I love about hip hop and that would focus on the artistic side of it. I wanted a game that was really about making art, and one that would focus on people with everyday problems who use the criminalized expression of hip hop to help them solve their problems or just to relieve the stress that their problems cause.

I made Five Fires to do just this.

In Five Fires, you play a regular person with extraordinary talent in one of the elements of hip hop — graf-writing, b-boying, MCing or DJing — who is looking to get exposure for her art, solve problems and find her own way through life.  Play is meant to take roughly an hour per session and each campaign, known as an Era, is six sessions long. At the end of an Era the problems yo’ve solved and the exposure you’ve gained lets you determine how your character’s story ends.  If you want to play in the same city afterwards, you can start a new Era in that city with a brand-new crew. What do they do with the legacy of those in the previous Era?

This is  beta for people who like RPGs and like art; this game is meant for those who like hip hop who don’t yet know that they love RPGs; this is or gamers who love RPGs and hip hop and want a game that speaks to those loves.

If I can be blunt, I really wanted to make Beat Street: the Game, because I love that movie and it says the things about hip hop that I want to say.

It’s in beta right now, so there are typos and some playtesting to be done.  There is a lack of setting text, so it is assumed that you know something about 80’s hip hop (though you can pick any time period of rap and play through it easily).  The game is also very, very player-directed, which allows the GM (titled the Opposition) to focus on a few things with no prep but requires players to be more pro-active

I hope if you love hip hop that this game speaks to you on some level. Here it is.

I want to thank everyone in my Patreon for their support, and all of my playtesters (I will enumerate everyone in the full edition of the book).