Recently, Andy McQuoid asked on Google+ for suggestions running a Diaspora campaign with a colossal derelict ship to explore—and that ship is actively trying to kill the characters. He also said, “ I am also unsure if I present the whole ship as one big Social Combat scene, or to break it down into the component areas, i.e., bridge, engineering, medical etc. and run scenes in there. If this was a Traveller game I would draw up the plans of the ship and have the characters proceed room by room. However, I think Diaspora offers a better, story based way of doing this that would be much more satisfying to do, and I want to showcase some of the great things in the minigame toolkit that Diaspora offers.”
I was reminded of my Solar System game and my post on how to prep for it. I wrote the following in response.
I would treat it as an old-school megadungeon and therefore structure game along missions. The session begins and log files show a certain percentage of extra heat radiation. There must be an unknown energy source in the ship. Outer hull sensors report increased infrared around the 1.7km line…
Prepare a sheet of paper with ideas. List NPCs (machines, programs, robots), rooms and the challenges they pose (stuff to reconnect, overcome, evade), tidbits you want to reveal, decisions that need to be made, consequences you’d like to see, and so on.
Make special note of mini-games you want to run. I’d suggest none on the first or two session but then one or two for every three hour session you play. This can be a social conflict, a platoon combat, a larger combat with a lot of zones, etc. Prepare those little maps and rules before-hand in order to make it a smooth experience.
The game itself is the structured along the challenges, players looking at their skills and deciding how to go about it, resolving the skill checks, invoking aspects, enforcing consequences, revealing interesting parts of the background and leads to new missions for future sessions.
Every now and then, I’d make sure to add adventures outside the ship. Visiting a system. Contacting other ships, etc. But it all follows the general outline above.
Vor zwei Jahren hatte ich mal meine Fate Variante Der Geist Mesopotamiens vorgestellt. In der Zwischenzeit ist Fate Core erschienen, und ich habe mir die Sache mal angeschaut. Ein paar Dinge sind mir sofort positiv aufgefallen:
- Fertigkeitenpyramide endet bei +4
- Anzahl Aspekte auf fünf reduziert
- Anzahl Schicksalspunkte auf drei reduziert
Ein paar interessante Vereinfachungen im Detail – mir gefällt’s! Wenn das Teil nur nicht über dreihundert Seiten lang wäre. Aber das kennen wir ja schon. Deswegen habe ich mein PDF einfach überarbeitet. Meine Fate Variante ist immer noch nur 4½ Seiten lang.
Und ich habe die Dokumente auf GitHub gestellt.
- Der Geist Mesopotamiens (PDF)
Was mir noch fehlt ist eine Proberunde.
Für unsere Montagsrunde brauchte ich eine Adaption von Spirit of the Century und Diaspora für eine hellenistisch-babylonische Kampagne. Insbesondere war mir wichtig, von den bestehenden Büchern weg zu kommen. Das Spirit of the Century Regelbuch sind mir viel zu lang. Die Beschreibungen der Skills sind langweilig, die Stunts verwirrend, Gadgets kompliziert, Spielleitertipps unnötig, Hintergrund sowieso anders. Und von Diaspora brauche ich weder Cluster Generation noch Platoon Combat, und Social Combat wollte ich einfach live zeigen. Die Ladder für Schwierigkeiten, Zeit, und all die anderen zehntausend Dinge brauche ich auch nicht. Und bei den Skills brauchte ich natürlich einen Ersatz für Schusswaffen. Und ausserdem habe ich gerne deutsche Namen für die Dinge wenn wir am Abend sowieso auf Deutsch spielen. Irgendwie mag ich es nicht, wenn wir Deutsch spielen aber alle Talente und Ausrüstungsgegenstände Englisch sind.
Heute war Feuertaufe! Der erste Spieler ist schon mit einem Charakter nach den Spirit of the Century Regeln mit fünf Stunts gekommen und hat wegen Begleittier und Gadget sich je +1 im Kampf gegeben. Ich hatte keine Lust auf eine grosse Diskussion aber das nächste Mal will ich wie bei Diaspora einfach mit have a thing ohne Bonus spielen. Ansonsten hat die Kurzfassung sehr gut geklappt und die richtigen Bücher wurden kein einziges Mal aufgeklappt. Damit hat sich eigentlich gezeigt, dass eigene Kurzfassungen der Regeln mit eingebauten Hausregeln auch wirklich schnell zusammengestellt sind.
Nur die NeoOffice Bastelei war mühsam.
Update: Die neue Version wurde mit LaTeX erstellt!
Update: Die neue Version ist nun auf GitHub.
I just listened to 2d6 Feet in a Random Direction episode 55 with Ryan Macklin and Brian Isikoff talking about the GM side of the EndGame Iron GM competition. What I really liked about this show was hearing two GMs comparing notes on two similar FATE games. Choices to implement, timed aspects, character creation, what they did to get players talking, how they handled having no time to prep at all, how they handled the themes they were given which they did not like, and many things besides. It was real, hands-on, useful information, with context, commentary. Simply inspirational and awesome.
Does anybody know of similar hands-on GM oriented episodes? There are a lot of broad, theoretical advice shows. But this episode was about the nitty-gritty details of running a game delivered in a conversational style. I’d like to listen to one or two similar shows.
I’m running a biweekly Diaspora game in a Traveller Subsector. The party had just crash landed on a planet after being shot down by a gunship using space combat rules and made it to the base on a sort of social combat map with the opponents being earthquakes, a sea monster, and a patrol of aliens. Inside the base, they saw the overgrown and partly disassembled remnants of the ship that had brought the alien infection to the system and decided they were going to hook their diplomat-hacker up with the central nervous system running the base. I asked the table whether they felt like another map and combat but Harald reminded me of another technique I often use: Just go around in a circle and ask each of the players what they’ll do to help solve the problem.
Four players, four rolls. I said you need at least two successes. First attempt by Thomas at finding a quiet corner fails spectacularly. The aliens get spin. Second attempt by Florian at fighting the immune system of the mega-organism fails spectacularly. The aliens get spin. Third attempt by Harald at hooking up the hacker fails spectacularly. The aliens get spin. Whoa!! The last roll comes up and I ask for the stakes. What’s going to happen when Jörg fails? I say he’s going to be taken over and integrated into the base if he fails. He says “w00t!?” He doesn’t want to take the consequences for all the earlier failures. Harald volunteers to take a severe consequence that would change his result into a success – “infected by an alien mind”. Yay!! Jörg manages to reprogram the alien factory in order to make the resulting ship something they can use. Victory!
As the session was about to end, I give the diplomat-hacker the following choice:
- will you try to get off-world as quickly as possible with the intelligence you gathered, ie. leave safely but without resolving the situation? No fight, no loot, minimal plot advancement.
- will you man the ship as soon as possible, head over to the wreck of the old ship to rescue an ancient artifact, delaying long enough that you’ll have to fight your way out of the system? One space combat, but save artifact.
- will you confuse the three ships in the system in order to gain enough time to penetrate the central nervous system of the base, eliminate the threat, and then try to get off the system? One personal combat, and one ship combat, but resolve situation.
They picked #3 – Alien 2 style. So proud.
Bye bye Traveller category – our gaming group has decided to give Diaspora a try!
- One player left the campaign because he’s working in Berlin during the week and can’t play in Zürich on Wednesdays.
- Another player said that the campaign wasn’t really working for him.
- That leaves only three players – and one of them very busy – and a game master.
- I said that I felt the system was pushing us into micro-managing things we only cared for on an abstract level; basically we weren’t interested in anything involving money: trade, maintenance costs, equipment costs, etc.
- Three of us had given Spirit of the Century a try; we liked FATE but didn’t like the rulebook.
- Harald and I had read the Diaspora book and liked it.
Today we had three hours. First we discussed the state of the campaign and decided to switch to Diaspora. I printed out character sheets, skill reference sheet, personal combat sheet while Harald explained a bit about the rules. Then we converted our Traveller characters. It went pretty smoothly. The free form aspects are a real boon.
We assigned a system to each one of us, and said that we’d convert the UWP to the Diaspora stats on our Campaign:Kaylash subsector wiki. We’ll convert them as we go. Technology, Environment, Resources, and three aspects, that should not be too hard. We already have a map and a lot of info on some of the systems.
I don’t think we need a Diaspora cluster. Perhaps I’m missing something? The benefit of having small clusters might be a localized game suited for people that like to switch campaigns often? We’ve been playing our biweekly game for a year, now. I think we want to keep playing in this subsector and we want to keep exploring our characters for quite a bit more.
Wish us luck!
Tonight we’ll play in my Campaign:Kaylash Traveller campaign again. I’ve played Spirit of the Century twice in our regular experimental Monday one-shots and liked it. The game uses the Fate rules, which are based on Fudge. I’ve been a long time Fudge fan even though I never got to play it before. (I did prefer the “subjective” rules, however.)
I had heard about the new Traveller-like Fate-using Science-Fiction game Diaspora.
So when Haarald started comparing Traveller and Diaspora (in German), I was intrigued. Instead of getting eight pseudo-realistic stats and a multitude of trades codes from Traveller tables, you get three meta-stats, and some aspects. The question I’m asking myself is how much do the Traveller subsector generation rules afford the typical gameplay? Can you make good use of Diaspora without having played Traveller before?
I think you can. You’ll use Diaspora and it’ll end up being colored by whatever background you have: Mars, Earth, and Venus; or Corruscant, Tatooine, and Dagobah; or whatever they’re called in Mass Effect. I haven’t played in Traveller’s Imperium – is it an essential element of the game? I don’t think so. But perhaps the subsector generation rules and it’s implied setting generate a suitable campaign map.
I’d love to read more comparisons between the two.
|Traveller Stats||Traveller Trade Codes||Diaspora Stats|
|Law Level||High Population|
|Tech Level||High Technology|
I’ve selectively read the Spirit of the Century rule book in anticipation of a one-shot. It’s called a pick-up game, but it’s not easy to pick up – it just seems to lend itself to little planning and episodic play. I discovered Diaspora at a friend’s place, and it seemed smaller.
I like small books! Hopefully the rules are quicker to read.
I’m interested in replacing the skill list with free form qualities à la Subjective Fudge of Zo. Too bad the skill list available from their website is a plan ol’ skill list.
But unfortunately the price is not my friend:
|Shipping and Handling||$12.89|
Maybe I’ll take another look at my friend’s copy before buying anything.