Worlds Enough, and Time

The other day, Rob Wieland ((Who is a pretty awesome guy; he ran a Firefly RPG game session at GenCon last year that I was lucky enough to play in.)) let me know that he had hacked together a Fate iteration of 7th Sea, a swashbuckling adventure game set in a fantasy version of 17th-century Europe. It was always a cool setting, but I was never a big fan of the system, so seeing something like this made me very happy.

Actually, Rob did something even cooler than write up a Fate version of 7th Sea. He wrote up two versions: one for Fate Core, and one for Fate Accelerated. Now, using the hacks requires knowledge of the 7th Sea setting ((No, it doesn’t, really. You can use the hacks and make up what the setting-specific stuff means. And they’re easily adaptable to other swashbuckling settings. But if you want to play in the 7th Sea setting, you’ll need info about the setting.)), but even if you don’t have that knowledge, the constructions and choices made for the game are a great example of how the Fate system can be hacked to support a setting. And the fact that there are both Core and Accelerated versions for your perusal means that you can see two different ways to implement a setting.

And, of course, Rob’s posts got me thinking about the Fate Worlds books: Worlds on Fire and Worlds in Shadow.

These books are presented as volumes of settings for Fate Core. Each one presents six different game settings, complete with NPCs, specialized mechanics, and other story elements. Some of the settings are effectively one-shots or short campaign frames that you can use to extrapolate out to full campaigns, while others are much broader. All are eminently lootable for your own settings. Here’s what you get:

Worlds on Fire

  • Tower of the Serpents is essentially a swords-and-sorcery one-shot adventure. The setting is is more implied by the adventure than explicitly discussed, but it meshes with a lot of the examples in Fate Core to give you a solid foundation to start playing a low-fantasy campaign.
  • White Picket Witches embraces all the tropes and tangles of modern supernatural soap operas as you play inhabitants of a small town where witchcraft allow the five families to effectively run the town. There are some great rules for dramatic face-offs, social conflicts that deal with status and dominance. There’s enough stuff here to kick off a whole campaign, and the drama and relationship interactions will just keep generating stories as long as you want it to.
  • Fight Fire is a campaign frame about fire fighters. It splits its focus between the dramas of the fire fighters’ personal lives and some wonderfully detailed rules on how fires work and how they are fought. Even if the whole setting doesn’t grab you, looting the fire rules for another setting can make the idea of a building catching fire far more terrifying ((And thus more fun.)).
  • Kriegszeppelin Valkyrie lets you play a famous WWI fighter pilot of your choice as you hunt down the titular airship to end the Kaiser’s threat once and for all. It’s effectively a single adventure, though one that will probably take a few sessions to play, and it can easily be used as a springboard into a pulp 1920s game.
  • Burn Shift is a kind of post-post-apocalyptic setting. The apocalypse has happened, the terrifying struggle to survive has happened, and now things are settling into a new status quo, and you get to play the folks deciding what that status quo is. You get all the wonderful mutant character options you’d expect in a whacky Gamma World game, coupled with a situation where you can choose the directions society is going to move. The resolution of the default starting situation will probably take several sessions, and will generate more follow-on goals and problems for the characters, building the campaign nicely.
  • Wild Blue is… okay. Follow me here. Wild Blue is a western with superheroes and faeries. It’s got some of the feel of the ancient Celtic superhero ((Oh, come on! The Fenian Cycle, with Fionn mac Cumhaill, has all the tropes of superhero comics, including the fan culture surrounding the heroes! It would work!)) campaign that I keep toying with in my mind, moved up in time to the old west. If that doesn’t grab you, the super power rules are quite lootable for other games. But this is a complete campaign frame with lots of potential.

Worlds in Shadow

  • CrimeWorld is less a setting than it is a setting overlay. It’s written by John Rogers ((Yes, that John Rogers.)), and it gives you advice for bringing cons and heists into any setting you might like. It’s a good primer for anyone wanting to run any sort of caper game in any setting and any system ((I’ll also point you towards the Leverage RPG at this time.)).
  • Timeworks is, as you might guess from the title, a time travel setting. The twist is that Timeworks Incorporated is a small company of time travelers ((Mainly ex- or not-so-ex-criminals.)) employed by corporations to adjust history to favour their clients. The corporate set-up is clever, and the time travel mechanics are solid and flavourful without becoming too arcane.
  • The Ellis Affair takes historical fact – the mysterious death of Earl H. Ellis, a Marine Corps spy in South East Asia in 1923 – and uses it to launch a pulp spy/mystery story. This is a single adventure, though one that will take a few sessions to play through, I expect ((Though I can also see it being scaled down and sped up to get through is a single session for a convention or similar.)), and provides a lot of good advice for running mystery adventures in Fate.
  • No Exit is a single scenario, probably playable in a single session. The idea is that the characters are tenants in a housing complex where they can’t leave. The exact nature of the complex is left up to the GM to determine, and play revolves around figuring out what’s going on and, possibly, escaping. There are lots of nice, atmospheric bits to help play up the isolation, claustrophobia, and paranoia of the setting, and some advice on expanding the idea for longer play.
  • Court/Ship is set in Versailles in 1754. Lots of fancy food, court politics, intrigue, some duels… and aliens. Aliens who are invading in secret. They kill and eat humans, then wear their skins to pass among them. So, into the debauched court of Louis XV comes another scheming faction to mess with folks. The setting has hints for running it as a short, medium, or long game, and plenty of information on the time period – complete with relevant aspects.
  • Camelot Trigger was written by Rob Wieland ((Remember him? Told you he was awesome.)), and takes the Arthurian Round Table and puts them in giant robot armour to battle the robotic armies of MerGN-A out among the planets of the solar system. There are special rules for giant robot armour that can be ported to other giant robot armour games, and the skills get a nice tweak to reflect the space chivalry of the setting. Lots of solid stuff for a lengthy campaign, or for a pleasant session or two of diversion.

So, there it is. If you’re a fan of Fate Core or Fate Accelerated, but are wondering what to do with it, these two books should go a long way towards helping you out. I recommend you pick them up, even if you’re just looking for inspiration.