Friday, January 11, 2013

What's all this then?

I suppose if you are one of the two people reading this who aren't ad-bots you noticed that there's been a bit of weird sci-fi diary posting going on.  Well last session my RPG group all sat down to create the setting and characters for our next game, Diaspora.  Diaspora is a FATE based game and so I'm pretty stoked to try it out.  I found the book was both compelling and a bit frustrating since it was done in a very narrative and conversational way but could use some better organization and perhaps even a bit more deconstruction on some of the FATE concepts at least relating to character creation.   Still it's pretty cool.  It took us all evening to work up a cluster and some characters so we could start playing next session and I thought it was a really fun way to kick off a campaign.  It was kind of like the game of Fiasco but more buildy and less gamey.  I had no problem with that since I love world building and especially collaborative world building.  I had no trouble building my system and it was fun setting up the cluster and everything.  I found that it was hard to build a good character in that session however.  I think that it was a great way of building a framework for a character, especially how they are integrated  in the setting, but it wasn't easy figuring out how the character worked, how they thought or what they wanted.  FATE starts characters off as whole people and advises if you want character progression you build it in by elevating and lowering skills or changing aspects over time which I can grok, but it's harder than it looks starting out.  Perhaps my problem is  that because I'm a big proponent of emergent story I'm not used to including that arc into my character.

Anyway I'm eager to figure it out.  I kind of knew what I wanted to play but I wasn't entirely satisfied with what I had  built on the fly.  The basics were all good and I felt at one with the setting, however I had no idea about how the aspects I had jotted down would get me the character I wanted to be playing.  There was a disconnect between the aspects and what I saw my character doing.  The skills I picked were better but I must admit I chose them more to match expected challenges I'd likely face and less to provide a dynamic character story.  I know it was problematic as soon as I finished and when everyone in the group was reading of similar list of high skills like alertness, resolve, stamina I could see they were doing it too.   Experience with other games has prepared us to maximize our mechanical skills over designing characters based on a narrative arc.

So I used the framework of the character story I had, the setting material and the inter-player connections, and started writing a first person narration.  That was even more fun than the quick build (but it couldn't have happened without that short outline).  I found that the extra room of the narration really filled out the character in a way that a couple quick short paragraphs and shoe-horned in aspects and skills did not - especially for planning the character's arc.  I am certain that there are people that can do it that way, quick thinking thespian sorts that can come up with a complex persona in a few lines but I had really mull things over and let the character emerge.  I found the character telling me most things I wanted to know about their motivation, their skills and what level of skill they had from the narration which I think is the way it's done.  If you've played FATE before you probably trying to figure out what my problem is since it's all clear and understandable to you - well piss off because it wasn't.  I just had to work through it myself.

Anyway here are the links to those narrations all in one place.   I found them amusing as well as helpful. I might even continue on some kind of narration as we play.

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