Sundog Millionaires: Escape From Soab

sundogbannerLast Sunday, we finally managed to get the gang together for our first Fate Core Star Wars session. I spent the first part of the session going over how the system worked – the Ladder, rolling Fate dice, the different outcomes, the different action types, using Fate points, and compels. Then, we jumped into the actual adventure.

Those of you interested in a narrative account of what went on in the session, you can see it in the wiki Adventure Log. This post is going to be more of an analysis of the game from the GM’s point of view ((And, with the way the Obsidian Portal wiki is set up, I think this is going to be my pattern for this game.)).

Done reading? Okay. Here we go.

The first important thing I wanted to teach the group ((Because only two of them had played any real amount of Fate games before.)) was compels worked narratively. They understood the mechanics of compels, but I wanted to make clear that accepting compels ((And compelling themselves and each other.)) was shining a spotlight on that bit of the game that they felt was important. So, my plan ((Which I had discussed ahead of time with Jopsi’s player.)) was to have the gang retrieving something valuable from an archaeological site, and then compel Jopsi’s aspect Always Mixed Up With Smugglers to have some smugglers show up and try and take it from them. And then I’d wing the rest of the adventure.

It was a decent plan, as plans go. And, as plans go, it went almost immediately upon encountering the PCs. I started by saying that they were on a planet, and asked them where it was. They said it was in the Soort Cloud, and then Jowkabukk’s player jumped in with the idea that they’d had to drop out of hyperspace here because of the Sundog‘s Trouble aspect of Maintenance Backlog. That made me rather happy, as I tossed him a Fate point and changed the narrative to show that they had made an emergency landing on an unidentified planet to try and scavenge parts.

So, instead of a relic of a lost time, they were salvaging an ancient reactor set-up to get Sundog off the ground again. That didn’t mean I needed to abandon the idea of bringing in the smugglers, though; I had them start talking about hauling it back, and then had the smugglers show up, calling Jopsi out. I tossed Jopsi’s player a Fate point when I brought in the smuggler and, instead of waiting for me to tell them about who the fellow was, he started off telling me who the smuggler was. This was approximately the conversation:

Me, as smuggler: “Jopsi! I know you’re in there! Why don’t you come out and show me what you’ve found for us?”

Hal: “Is that Drago?”

Jopsi: “Nah, that’s Kaylan.”

Trask: “Why’s he after you?”

Jopsi: “I… might have… slept with his wife.”

And so I immediately added the aspect I Will Destroy Jopsi Tanoor! to Kaylan’s character, and Jopsi suddenly had a nemesis ((Which reminds me, I should talk to Jopsi’s player about the option of using the minor milestone from this session to reflect this. Not that he has to, but I need to make sure he’s aware of the possibility.)). That gave the whole fight a nicely personal touch. It also really drove home for the group how being compelled can make things awesome for your character.

And that, I think, was the final bit that made the game click for the group. The gang opened up, playing with compels and aspects, and really going to town in a fun, cinematic way. A few other highlights:

  • Jowkabukk using a forklift to push some smugglers into a radioactive fissure, then getting stuck in the driver’s cage as the forklift started following them, thanks to a compel of his Big For A Wookiee aspect.
  • HK-86 taking a Shorting Out moderate consequence in order to put the Supercharged ((I think it was a different aspect, but close enough.)) aspect on himself at the beginning of the fight.
  • Hal invoking the Soort Cloud aspect Here There Be Dragons to add the security droids to the mix.

They tied things up for the initial battle in pretty quick order, and I got to show them the concession rules, with Kaylan conceding when things turned dramatically against him, and again during the showdown at the Sundog, when Trask used the Jedi mind trick on him.

The final challenge in the scenario was escaping the now-activated defence platforms that were firing on them. I set it up as a zone they had to pilot through, with ten shifts of damage in it. For every shift generated by a piloting check, one shift of damage would be offset.

I have to say that I was thrilled at the way the group pulled together for this bit. Everyone did something to create advantage for the final piloting check. By the time the pilot ((Jowkabukk, if you care.)) rolled the dice, there were four or five aspects in play for him to invoke – for free – in his attempt. He managed the roll pretty handily, and the ship flew through the enemy fire without taking any damage.

We called it a night at that point, having had a pretty full evening. All in all, I am tremendously pleased with the way the game went. Everyone got into the spirit of Fate Core pretty quickly and, if there were a few moments of confusion and some missteps in the mechanics, well, that’s par for the course with a new system.

The best part was the almost audible click as they got it. That moment when they realized the power of aspects and the coolness of compels – the beating heart of the Fate Core system. When, led by the two DFRPG veteran players, the whole group made the realization that, in a conflict, Create Advantage is often a better tactical choice than Attack. And that unlocked a plethora of cinematic stunts and general coolness.

I’m looking forward to the next session.

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