It also gave me an excuse to finally roll all of those sweet Fate dice that I bought.
The crazy idea was to come up with a genre that the players voted on, make up characters, and come up with a scenario that would last for the rest of the night within that genre, with those characters. Hopefully it would be entertaining, and maybe introduce a few people to Fate that hadn't run into it before.
In addition to the props, handouts, and character sheets, I also brought along Engine Publishing's Eureka. I'm going to plug it because it's a great book, even though I was more or less able to come up with a scenario just from talking to the players as they were making their characters.
I brought my Fate dice, a few dry erasable pieces of foam board that I found in the office supply section of the local store, as well as a dry erase marker, character sheets, a list of genres just to narrow down some of the voting, and handouts of page 44-45 from the Fate Accelerated book.
I did, however, forget all of my glass beads. So many glass beads. Instead of glass beads, then, I noticed that the FLGS had some of Fantasy Flight's random colored tokens in stock, so I picked up a package of blue and a package of green, and I was all set for Fate points.
The foam board is what I used for writing down scene aspects. At the top of it, I wrote the overall campaign aspect, and then I would draw a line to add in at least one aspect for the current scene. The scene aspects weren't always the most inspired, but they worked really well for the one shot, so I'll forgive myself.
Since the group voted "action horror," I decided to do something different and make deformed evil Celtic giants in charge of all of the evil going on in the world, to flavor the bad things as a bit more "evil fey" than "vampire" or "demon." The examples I came up with for "action horror" for the group were Buffy, Supernatural, and Blade. The group spent a lot of time talking specifically about Supernatural, with a few Buffy jokes between, so I started picturing Supernatural style scenes. Specifically this led me to thinking about the group being on the road, encountering local cops, and staying in a hotel while investigating the rumored evil.
The group had a fairly easy time with their high concepts, and it didn't take too long to hammer out troubles and a few other aspects. I will freely admit a few of the aspects were looser than I would have let the players use in a longer term campaign, but they worked fine for a one shot.
I was fully prepared to let the group skip a few stunts to get a few more fate points, but almost everyone tried to follow the formula for the standard "+2" stunt. Most of them worked fine, and a few of them ended up being a little too broad, but again, it worked fine for the one shot, and it was something that, had we spent all night making characters and detailing the setting, we could have probably hammered out rather easily.
Our protagonists ended up being a bookish librarian that liked sweater dresses, a bagpiping Irish voodoo witch doctor with a talking skull on his belt, a pretty sleezy paparazzi photographer, a wizard in training, and a horrible big game hunter with a propensity for saying awful bigoted things and carrying big guns.
Our first encounter was a simple encounter with some local police, which could either let them enter town in their own vehicle, or in the back of the police car. Despite the big game hunter throwing out lots of insulting commentary, the group didn't get arrested, and ended up staying at the local hotel.
At the hotel, the group was attacked by fetches, evil mirror versions of themselves with hard, sharp, glass edges. Everybody was separate to start, but started to converge as the fight started. As I was improvising, I was trying to come up with a number of stress boxes and a good "named" skill on the fly. The fetches had "your worst nightmare +4," and three stress boxes.
The game went really well, and everyone had fun, but this combat scene definitely drove home that your first session in a long term campaign really should set the tone for the game. With open ended aspects and the degree of narrative control you have in Fate, the game is going to go into gonzo territory pretty quickly unless everyone agrees at the outset that they won't go there. Why do I say this?
The Irish voodoo witch doctor asked his skull what kinds of herbs would help against the Fetches, and he proceeded to cause his own to sneeze so hard that it exploded, then he began creating an ambient herb cloud asset to his friends by shoving the herbs in his bagpipes and blowing them out into the hallway and into the faces of the Fetches. The librarian also managed to club her Fetch to death with a book that she was reading. The paparazzi was blinding his foes and created assets with his flash bulb, and the apprentice wizard and the big game hunter used more "conventional" means of just blasting their foes until they shattered.
The big game hunter managed to actually bargain with a little old lady from the town that "knew things," which allowed the group to find the spot in the woods where a Fey Crossroads existed, allowing dark and evil things into the world. There they found a huge shadow creature guarding the crossroads.
Did I mention things getting gonzo before? I did, didn't I? By the end of the fight with the shadow fey guardian, the PCs had found the big game hunter's t-shirt cannon and fired it at the shadow creature, causing it to be constricted, the librarian had found a diagram in her book that hurt the creature, with the help of the apprentice wizard, the Irish witch doctor fell inside the creature, the big game hunter had the taint of evil seep into him, the librarian was squicked out by tentacles touching her, but they managed to prevail and defeat the huge shadow creature.
It never got to this, but had the players ended up in jail, since one of the players had mentioned Red Caps, the little murder fey would have been sneaking into the prison to kill them in the middle of the night. It's a lot of fun designing the session based on the players random commentary.
We had lots of fun. Great one shot.
What did I learn?
- In a long term campaign, the whole first session really should be devoted to making sure you express the tone and fine tune the characters so everyone's expectations are on the same page.
- It's not as hard to get people used to the idea of aspects and stunts as I thought it might be.
- I kept forgetting that when someone takes a consequence, it could be invoked for free once after it was taken.
- I forgot to pay the player a Fate point when I invoked one of their aspects for my characters to gain a +2 on their roll, although that only happened a couple of times in the session.
Looking forward to the next time I can run this, and I'm thinking I may specifically see if everyone is interested in a Fallout style post-apocalyptic game next time rather than an open ended scenario.