Sunday, January 10, 2016

SNSO! Strange Stars!

Last night was my first time running a Saturday Night Space Opera! event for our open group of players! I had eight players show up for my Fate Strange Stars game, which ran from 6 PM-10:15 or so at the Fantasy Flight Games Event Center.

We started with character generation, and that went pretty smoothly. I gave everyone a copy of the Strange Stars setting book, and copies of chapters Ch. 2 and 3 of the Strange Stars Fate Rule Book, which cover character generation and clades (races), respectively.

Jay's PC, and improvised Fate points!

The characters were:
  • Shrike, a space-ninja. Shrike stands for Synthetic Humanoid Reactionary Intelligent Killing Engine. Shrike was a true human in a "robot suit." His goal was never to give up the game that he was not a machine. One of his aspects was a stock phrase: "I am NOT a human being!" 
  • Dorchah, a Blesh (a crystalline insect with the downloaded memories of a human medic) with telekinetic abilities. This was the first time the player, Deanna, had played a tabletop RPG, although she is a World of Warcraft guildmaster! By the time of the climactic battle, she had really grown into her role as a combat medic, telekinetically putting respirator masks on the crew to protect them from nanites, and brewing up combat drugs to juice up the Hyehoon PC!
  • Butkowski, a burly, ornery Smaragdine engineer. We're pretty sure Butkowski couldn't be his real name, but he was so touchy that his crewmates didn't want to push on this issue. In the climactic battle with a Van Vogtian Coeurl in a cargo elevator, Engineer Butkowski pulled a trick on the energy starved beast!
  • Bhat Akana, a Voidglider. His name comes from the Hindi word meaning "Wonder." A bit before the climactic battle, Bhat Akana used his Voidglider senses, which include "hearing" way into the EM range, to determine that Shrike was most definitely not a robot! This was a very clever use of Voidglider base abilities skills.
  • Tcar, one of the feathered but flightless avian uplifts of the Hyehoon clade! Looking at Eric's character sheet after the game, I noticed he dropped in a Star Trek reference, listing Tchar's homeworld as Skorr! Tchar was the ship's pilot, but used his claws to great effect in the battle with the Coerul!
  • Taan, was a unique Moravec created by the most experienced Fate player. Taan is roughly humanoid, with three Waldo-like arms. Taan specialized in Creating Advantages during the combat, distracting the Coerul with the hypnotic gyrations of his three robotic arms, and in the last moments of the battle leaped onto the Coerul's back to distract it further.
  • Arkadina, an extremely chipper and talkative member of the angelic Deva clade. She felt truly called to battle against the Coerul, seeing it as her opposite: a demon from the darkest depths of hyperspace, and a grave existential threat to her god. She landed many blows against the monster, and even managed to slice off one of the tentacles emerging from the beast's back!
  • Aasimar, an androgenous Yantran technoshaman. She was committed to nonviolent diplomacy - even in the midst of battle, and Created Advantage against the Coerul by going into a trance and beginning a compassionate death trance for the beast. Every time Aasimar used her powers, her gender affect switched; the player created the gender pronoun indicator below (a tiny table tent) so that the changes were visible to the other players.

Fate is opimized for a group of 3-5 players and a GM. I've run Fate of Tekumel games with eight players, and that worked OK, but eight is really a big table to manage for a fast and furious Strange Stars game!

Here are a few things to make a big game like this go smoothly:
  • Bring enough Fate point chips for everyone - OR, be ready to improvise with little pieces of paper. I seriously underestimated how many players we would have! Fortunately, Jay Mac Bride had brought along some colored index cards. People made their own Fate points using the cards, and I folded cards in half to create little one-use Boost table tent indicators.
  • When big groups get excited, everyone is talking at once, and less extroverted players, who may have good ideas, can get frustrated. Enforce a more structured flow of play, rotating the action from player to player either clockwise or counter clockwise. I did this at the mid-game break at one player's suggestion. It made a real difference at the table. If memory services, this  procedure was part of the normal sequence of play with Diaspora too.
  • Table tents with character names are critical. 
  • I also create a GM map of players around the table, like the one below.

  • Finally, I use a Leuchturm 1917 journal for all my notes - work, reading groups, and game prep - and in-game jottings. I use Bullet Journal notation wherever possible or to-do lists and record keeping. It really helps to have everything in one place, with a quick method for notes.

The players were very engaged, had high energy, great ideas, and pushed the action forward at a breakneck pace. It was a great game to GM on the coldest night of the winter.

No comments:

Post a Comment