[FATE] Starblazer First Session

So, I started running my Starblazer game a few weeks ago, right before Thanksgiving cropped up. So far, we’ve only run the one session, but I think it went pretty well (from what I heard from the players).

I’ve been working on science fiction setting ideas over the past two summers, but hadn’t yet had an output for them—my old group had established games what needed finishing, and finding new gamers can be an arduous task. What I did know was what system I wanted to use: Starblazer Adventures. (Come to think of it, you can track back most of the setting construction to the point right after I purchased the Big Red Book.)

FATE is a very dynamic system, flexible and fast and with plenty of granular crunch to tack on if needs be—essentially, everything I wanted from Savage Worlds, and was disappointed with repeatedly. (Though I can blame a lot of that on bad GMs who knew the system less than the players.) Still, I had some reservations about it; namely, finding people interested in it, and teaching them how to play. So far, I’m trying to take things slow and add on new concepts after some familiarity with the basics.

While I had some general ideas on setting, most of the basics of the actual game I left up to the players. (Too many disparate ideas, and tying them together would result in some hybrid abomination of space noble mecha jockeys working for the military police. Who were also rebel/pirate infiltrators.) In the end, the players opted for a Firefly-esque one-ship smuggler group, with the following characters:

  • Han Sulu, Womanizer Out-Law
  • The doctor from Cannonball Run (literally)
  • Ex-military operative, assassin, and bullet sponge
  • Genius engineer with a fascination for Precursor alien relics

They ended up with a simple transport run, wherein they had to smuggle a group of mercenaries into the Neo-Russian Bloc so they could pull a heist on a military-industrial company. In hindsight, not as much for the characters to do, but I knew it was going to be a short session when we spent an hour or so dealing with starting equipment and backgrounds. It ended up more comic than I’d planned when the doctor wormed his way in for an interview at the company the mercs were hitting.

Despite their frequent hopes to flush oxygen out of the cargo hold, killing all the mercs, they let them live. And they were paid with an alien macguffin, which I don’t think anybody realizes the importance of yet. (Probably best, though it does remind me I need to flesh out the setting some more.)

After that, I threw in the Orbit Five one-sheet from the amazing World Without Syn—partly because I love space hulk, and partly because I wanted to keep it simple. The only downside was the short time-frame, so it ended up going pretty quick and skipping a lot of the horror depth to finish on-time. The actual one-sheet is fantastic, if a bit short (the one-sheet nature); it has a fantastic application of Plot Stress, and good examples of zones (as well as setting Aspects, in each zone).

I switched the alien entity into a kind of corrupted AI, trying to force the players to do things for it; they decided to brave the security warbot and get the hell out than find out what the ship wanted them to do. Also, the original is very vague in why the players would show up here, other than altruism (the distress beacon); my group needed fuel, so the AI-masquerading-as-Captain  told them they could salvage whatever they needed.

Two things in FATE I’ve noticed so far:

  1. Despite what I’ve heard people crying about, high rolls are very, very frequent, even in d6-d6. I’ve been leaning towards what other people have been doing for difficulties: White Wolf-style Good (+3) or Great (+4), with extra effort increasing the ingame results (as-written). Also, I need to remember to factor time into the equation; it may take forever to do something, and extra successes decrease the time spent.
  2. Mooks are worthless on their own, partly because of the above. This dates back to when I ran a modified form of After the Rise for a late Halloween game; when a player makes an effort of +8, he can single-handedly clean out an entire mob of zombies. Even with basic Great characters, Strobe alone was cleaning house. (Granted, it became a lot more interesting when the game jumped the tracks, and I had wanted to run something mindless to get people’s minds away from stress to begin with.)

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