Saturday night is for Fate
Stay Online night!
I’ve waited a year and a half to use that phrase, but for various reasons, it’s taken a while. Following the spirit of Fate Core, our first session was dedicated to the long process of world and character creation. A few changes to the regular paradigm I’ve had to accept in running Fate Core is the role of the GM and the pace of the game; I feel less like a GM whose role is to push out improvisation quickly while maintaining the logic of the world and more like the creatives editor at a comics book company. There is definitely more deliberation involved in aligning the desires and understanding of everyone at the table, and this is particularly true of the world building session where aspects and stunts are invented.
Loosely following the amazing resource of the Spark in Fate Core supplement (absolutely free!), we covered a lot of ground! Here are some of my notes.
Going around the table, everyone (including me!) was asked to throw out a favoured piece of media to draw inspirations from. We already knew this was going to be a VRMMORPG genre fiction game, so tossing in Sword Art Online, Log Horizon, and .hack wasn’t necessary.
Rachel gave Garo: The Animation; Mahar, the Kushiel book series; Pao, Devil Survivor. I tossed in Ghost in the Shell.
From these, we drew our inspirations. Pao, citing also the Caliburn Arc in SAO, stated he liked references to real-world mythology. Mahar also preferred a world analogous to the real one, kind of like in Log Horizon. (I don’t know how well I can accommodate that explicitly, but it’s in there subtly.) Rachel likes stories about adventuring heroes in a world that also has the quiet moments spent with normal, everyday people. Mahar and Pao added a desire for slow-burn intrigue and gray morality. My contribution was that I liked the issues of identity and perceived reality that arise from the advent of full-immersive or body-altering technologies. (I’ve had a long time to think about that.) We all agreed to a mid-scale game with focus on parties and guilds rather than one deeply personal or extremely epic.
Our genre, of course, is VRMMORPG genre fiction tinged with fantasy and (possibly cyberpunk-ish) science-fiction. The adjective selected to flavour the game was “cooperative,” forcing more emphasis on groups and group dynamics.
It was then time to create facts and ask questions. This stage took the longest and isn’t as specific as the example in the Spark supplement, but it greatly added definition to the setting.
- The VRMMO has a World-Wide (as opposed to Single City Setting) Player-base
- All players exist on a single, expansive server that still has plenty to discover.
- The game is PvE… or Player vs Everything. (Officially, the term is PvX, but this is more entertaining.)
- There is nearly unrestricted open world PVP. All PVP is announced: region invasions are declared and scheduled by primary stakeholder groups, while personal combat can be refused by paying a unique currency (with attached timer to prevent permission spam).
- AIs (our term for the NPCs of the game universe because the meta of a game in a game gets confusing) are dynamic intelligences. They can be biased, start guilds (which players can and have joined), own regions (typically a player-only system in contemporary MMOs), or be tied to regions like land gods or aristocracy.
- Quests are connected to an AI protocol that dynamically invents new quest content through information gained through human myth, fiction, and social media, like SAO’s Cardinal System.
What keeps players subscribed?
- The ability and desire to be pioneers. There is a wealth of unique quests, objects, and objectives players can achieve for bragging rights. There can definitely be a great fear of missing out on some events.
- An unregulated player-run economy with its share of champions, villains, and con-artists.
- In-game currency can be used to purchase real world items from a kind of Amazon-like store.
- A massive skill system attached to a class-less character paradigm. A great wealth of possible system-assisted skills gained through training, questing, guild achievements, and hidden parameters.
- Fate Online is the only game/service with full immersive capabilities, as such, it serves as an escape for many from an unpleasant real world.
What is the real world of this game like?
- Close to (but not yet a) regulated cyberpunk dystopia with a deep sense of dissent and distrust for world governments.
- A shifting power from government control to corporate control. Mega-corps gaining personal armies.
- Lots of small-scale military conflicts worldwide that serve only the powerful and burden the populace.
- Economic and cyber warfare common.
- Basically, the real world kind of sucks a lot.
What are the guilds like?
- The top guilds are explorer/military mega-guilds.
- They often engage in guild vs guild wars over prime territory. Some have enough land to be considered small sovereign nations.
- Even the crafter/market guilds feud often. There are often attempts to even make extinct certain rival styles of crafting by eliminating AIs and players.
What other troubles exist in the game?
- Too many players have begun “siding” with the demons and making reclamation of demon-controlled zones more difficult than the learning AI already makes it.
- The guilds are too busy fighting each other for prestige. A lack of inter-guild cooperation is perhaps the most major trouble preventing progression.
- The demon AI is learning effectively from player tactics and retaliating with brilliant success because of the distraction of the top guilds. The newest expansion, The Chosen Ones, is in fact a response to this high volume of demonic victories.
We also constructed three issues, a legacy issue (which just happened), a current issue (happening now), and an impending issue (we can see the cracks) to generate current events amidst this backdrop. This step reminds me most of the Powered by the Apocalypse fronts system.
LEGACY ISSUE: The Demon Offensive
ASPECT: “The AI Can Not Be Trusted.”
CURRENT ISSUE: Legendary AI Succession Event Appears
ASPECT: “Cut-Throat Market.”
IMPENDING ISSUE: A Major Guild Breaks Down
ASPECT: “Game Worlds Abhor a Vacuum (of Power).”
After all of that… it was finally time to get to character creation. Finally. This is where I really got to feel like an editor. We’re still hammering out the details on the characters, but I feel that the extra time spent on that before the first true session will pay dividends.
Pao created Luca Saturday, a Glory-seeking Battlesmith who is Too Obsessed with Being on the Leaderboards, Shines Under Pressure, and believes Rules Were Meant to be Broken. Saturday is a male nightkin played by a Japanese hermit. The aspect “Rules Were Meant to be Broken” is currently under review, and an offline-related aspect still needs to be made.
Mahar’s character is Ysabeau Gabrielle, a Well-known Innovative Stormcaller who has an Annoying Fanbase that does not Respect my Privacy, Want of Nothing… Except Attention! and is a Thundercaller. Ysabeau is a female weaver played by someone in Scandinavia. S/he has a website for showcase and discussion of magic combo-making. We’re still working out the details on this character too.
Rachel created Alberic Sixwright, a Champion Duelist for Hire who is a Disgraced IRL Celebrity Fencer, the ‘Peerless Blade’ Titleholder, and an Easygoing Plant Collector. Alberic is a female beastman who used to be a male character and still hasn’t renamed to reflect the change.
Aspects caused the most trouble; everyone still hasn’t filled up to five yet. Nobody took an item-based aspect as of yet, nor one that really ties strongly with specific people or organisations outside of their guild.
The last thing we did was define that guild.
Pao called out the name “Phantom Braves” as it was already late and we were working on stock names. One of the available, free-to-join starter guilds on launch day (before access to guild-creation services), the original guildmaster is a Beastman AI; the current is a PC motherly paladin-type named Wilhermina Broker. As a stepping stone guild, many players leave and have left it, but of those that remain, about half belong to Ysabeau’s annoying fan base. Some exceptional players remain as officers, such as the PCs, but the level divide between veterans and newbies is huge. The veterans often join with a larger guild for progression efforts, but unfortunately, that guild is the prominent one falling apart. It has a tavern base in a town not far from the Last Free City of Talos. The guild will probably be renamed as “Shadow Puppetry” before it gets locked in.
Between now and the next session, I will be plugging this information and more onto the wiki. Next session is (tentatively) on March 14th!