Thursday, January 31, 2013

Don't Be Afraid To Make Things Tough For Your Players

The title paraphrases an email that Starblazer Adventures' lead author +Chris Birch sent me a while ago about the FATE scenario I am playtesting for Project Generations. Last night we wrapped up playtesting. Players had great suggestions for finalizing the scenario for publication, which I'll be digging into this weekend.

But today I wanted to talk for a moment about the penultimate combat we had last night. It was brutal. I used the FATE Drop Dice tables I have created for Project Generations to generate a series of zones around a Landing Bay, position allies and adversaries, and quickly statt up the major NPC and their minions.

It was cyberzombies and controller robots against our the three players, with their "allies" standing on the sidelines and watching everything go down. In Starblazer Adventures, weapons provide bonuses to the amount of Stress racked up by a hit. That contributed to a fast and furious battle.

A battle in which our pilot, Lightning, used the just-landed shuttle as a weapon. She fired its beam weapon at the opposition (and I narrated one cool laser-ricochet mishap), and also hover-swung the shuttle around using it to dislodge some cyberzombies who were attempting to board.

Unlike the PCs last encounter with cyberzombies and controller robots, these were fast zombies, controlled by two beffy robots who waded into the fray - quite unlike the cagy stickman controller robots in the last encounter. These robots did some damage.

One PC, Antonio, suffered two Consequences; he lost an arm with one of them! Another PC, Buffalo the Robot Fighter, wracked up three Consequences, one of which was Extreme. He ended up with a horrible gash from mouth to cheek, sort of like this:

The Joker Drawing by Carlos Velasquez
 Not ideal, especially when you are the diplomat and power-negotiator!

The controller robots end up ever worse, KIA, with three Consequences each. One lost an arm. The other lost its head. Both kept on fighting, while the consequences racked up on both side.

Our heroes eventually prevailed, but it was close. And Antonio ended up with something he really wanted: one of the controller robots' crab-claw hands as a prosthetic. Granted it is a 150 lb. prosthetic, and the graft was done by someone with a rather, well... theoretical grasp of human anatomy.

So Antonio ended up looking rather like poor old Vina from the original Star Trek pilot, "The Menagerie":

He was nevertheless pretty happy with his new crab-claw prosthesis.

My experience with both Starblazer and Diaspora has been different from Spirit of the Century, where PCs rarely took Consequences. Combat in these two games manages to be both fun and risky.

It will be interesting to playtest FATE Core in Tekumel in a few weeks and see how combat works with the refined and streamlined FATE engine.

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