Thursday, February 20, 2014

Five Valentines For Freeport

Our third game at Con of the North was on Valentine's Day evening. (The first Valentine in our account!) It was a Fate Freeport game using (perhaps not surprisingly) the Fate Freeport Companion. This was a two hour on-the-fly session.

We started PC generation with a few scenario-framing pieces:
  • The players were the senior crew on a pirate ship;
  • Periodically, they harbor in Freeport; and
  • The pirate ship had come into Freeport harbor yesterday. After a night of carousing in the harbor, the PCs had come back to their ship to find that Captain Valentine (the second Valentine!) had been arrested and taken away by the Sea Lord's Guard. The charges? Her diffident crew reported simply and succinctly: "They said she was being arrested for high crimes against the Sea Lord." Of course the crew who witnessed the scene didn't ask any further questions of the Sea Lord's Guards; that's why they're called shiftless.
The first tasks I gave the players were to come up some aspects: a High Concept and Trouble aspect for their captain, and a Ship Name, High Concept, Trouble, and What's In The Hold Now? aspects for their pirate ship. 

The PCs decided that the captain was a human with a noble air. They also thought that she was beautiful, but that it was difficult to tell that for certain because of her disguise: Captain Valentine's face always had a healthy covering of dirt and grime. Still, many people were curious about who she was, which was often a source of unwanted attention both on and off the ship.

Captain Valentine
  • High Concept: Grunge Princess, Captain of The Scurvy Gnome
  • Trouble: Many people are curious about Who is Captain Valentine?

The Scurvy Gnome: A heart pierced by an arrow, impaling a rotten orange

The players decided the details of the ship pretty quickly too. It was a pirate ship, for sure. But it also did a healthy trade in (somewhat) fresh fruit. The hold was full of oranges. They decided that the ship's Trouble comes from its crew; the crew were mostly Hobbits (the players were quite keen on calling them Hobbits and not Halflings), and quite a lazy bunch. Nobody taking initiative. Smoking ganja up in the crow's nest. And so on, and so forth, to the breaka-breaka dawn.

The Scurvy Gnome
  • High Concept: Pirate Ship and Pharmacy (I'm doing a bit of retconning here)
  • Trouble: Lazy, shiftless crew
  • What's In the Hold Now?: Fruit that's out of season
The ship's device (see the picture and caption above) was the third Valentine!

Next, the PCs created their characters. Since we were doing character generation on-the-fly, all they needed to create was a High Concept and a Trouble for their character (a few players created all five before we began play, or added some during the course of the game), along with Fate Freeport's Approaches Skills which have the same names as D&D's core attributes (i.e., Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma). Stunts were optional, although most players created some.

The players created a mix of fighter/rogue types: two Hobbit PCs, two humans, and a half Ogre who played the entire game speaking like Sling Blade. That had us in stitches. We had one very sneaky Hobbit thief (more on him later), and a demolitions expert as specialists.

I had readied a character sheet with everything necessary to create a spellcaster character, in order to save the players some time should someone want to play a magic user. To my disappointment, no one did; it was an Illusionist with a nice selection of spells. (But another version of this character became the PC Doctor Haint in my Weird Adventures game the next evening.)

I broke open my brand new pack of Fate Valentine Dice (the fourth Valentine), and we began play! Of course, when the PCs stumbled back onto their ship from a night of carousing, it took a while for the Lazy, shiftless crew to mention that the Captain had been arrested. But as soon as the PCs learned this detail, they headed straight back ashore, and headed for the Fortress of Justice in the walled quarter called the Old City.

On their way across the city, the player of the Hobbit thief handed me a note. It said that he had paid the Captain of the Sea Lord's Guard to arrest the Captain. OK, so a bit PVP, but here's a player solving the whodunnit for the GM. You can't buy player buy-in like that. So we went for it.

It seems this sneaky Hobbit thief was in love with the human Captain, and that Valentine had rebuffed him. The note was the fifth Valentine, a Bad Valentine, a nasty Valentine by nasty little Hobbitses.

The Captain of the Guard wouldn't let Captain Valentine go for free, and the Hobbit wasn't copping to the deed, so a deal was negotiated. The PCs were to go to the harbor, and sink a ship called The Cheerful Canoe. They agreed, went to the harbor, and saw the ship in question.

Their jaws dropped.

The Cheerful Canoe was a bit of a misleading name. The ship was cheery and yellow for sure, but sometimes a canoe is not a canoe.  This one was a gigantic golden ziggurat barge (yes, a quasi-Melinbonean battle barge crewed by silk swathed albinoes; the players quickly began referring to the crew as The Leech People).

The pirates spotted the barge's Ahoggya stevedores, who were busy loading and unloading huge crates at the docks. They hid in some shipbound crates, and were loaded onto canoes headed for the battle barge. Beforehand, they prepared and placed demolitions in some of the other crates.

They got onboard. There was a fight. Then a big boom from one crate, followed by another, followed by some other VERY BIG booms as the battle barge's magazine exploded. The ship took on water, our pirate raiders dived overboard, and the battle barge began to sink in earnest.

Of course, the pirates were first in line to claim salvage rights to the ship they had sunk!

And Captain Valentine was freed, with no one the wiser about the unrequited treachery of the Hobbit thief.

All in all, a fun, and truly weird adventure for Valentine's Day evening!


  1. Hmm. Look at the cover of the book; I count six Valentines.

  2. That's the secret Valentine! You gave it away! :)

  3. Greta write-up. Not only does it some like a fun adventure, but it explicates the system elements nicely (relevant to us FATE novices).

    1. I'll post some PC examples when I do the Weird Adventures write up tomorrow. We also have a couple of new Eikones. :)