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So, I went out to GM the first session of the in-person Fate game we planned with the other players. Who are a guy we already knew, and his two friends.

(Content Note: Fictional pepper spray, and sibling abuse.)

The Premise

One of the characters was a mad scientist college student, one was his (doormat) assistant who took the same classes, and one was a Fighter-class fantasy adventurer who stumbled upon their "Time Fridge," when it teleported them to an alternate timeline.

Yes. Time Fridge.

(Name shamelessly stolen from the Faulty Logic webcomic.)

The Scenario

The doormat assistant somehow made his way through the frat party going on in his friend's house, and into the secret door leading to his mad scientist lab. He had finally worked up the courage to tell this guy that he was through being a "henchman!"

Of course, the mad scientist completely brushed that aside, and started going on about how awesome his new invention was. "It can freeze time!" he said, of the refrigerator / freezer.

Just then a campus security rent-a-cop, who had come to break up the party and noticed the hideout door was ajar, burst in wearing aviator sunglasses and brandishing pepper spray. "Step away from the fridge!" he barked. It was obviously some kind of fancy meth lab, that these frat kids had cooked up.

The mad scientist gaped at him. "This is not a fridge," he protested. "This is the FUTURE!"

And that was the point where we all burst out laughing, and I had to put down my orange juice really fast.

The rent-a-cop wouldn't budge, so the mad scientist used the high-intensity LED flash in his scarf to blind him, startling him so much that he accidentally pepper sprayed himself in the face. (He probably deserved it.) The mad scientist and his "assistant" then fled into the Time Fridge ...

... which landed in a snowy, subarctic wasteland, where the sun was a black disc that glowed faintly around the edges.

Also the assistant somehow turned into a cat. He (the character) was not very happy about that.

The Postmortem

Some of our happiest moments, growing up, were sitting around the dinner table with our brothers just "playing pretend games" / RPing. With, or without, dice and rulebooks.

This felt a lot like that did. It was silly and fun, and dramatic at times, and everyone was telling the story together. Except that unlike when we played with our brothers, the other players didn't violently put down anything that threatened their fragile male egos. I mean, these players were all guys too, but one of our brothers really had the "fragile masculinity" thing going on, to the point where we could tell what threatened him most by how forcefully he derailed things and humiliated our NPCs.

The other seemed most threatened by compromise, so you can imagine how that went.

Also, their idea of humour always seemed to be tormenting our characters. We learned to see it as funny, I guess.

Anyway, Pathfinder-ness

The mad scientist's player spoke with us after the game, asking our opinion on how to integrate Fate Core with Pathfinder.

It really struck us how different the two systems' approaches are. One encourages the GM (Game Master) to design everything on her own, and to apply maximum scrutiny to players' actions and choices. For instance, this person liked the idea of Fate Points and Aspects, but thought at first that they should only be used outside of combat, or on social skills. He was also planning a game where the players had little input on what happens.

We suggested getting everyone in his group together to plan what the story and characters will be, and related our experience of having everyone design things in a vacuum versus meeting up like our group had. We also suggested letting the players be something other than human, which he thought would be good for simplicity's sake, and we brought up examples like "what if they've seen Inuyasha and want to play someone with wolf ears?"

We saw this as doing our part to combat Pathfinder's obnoxious anthropocentrism. >_< Any sort of diversity is an uphill battle with Pathfinder, though, because it ties story "fluff" to rules "crunch" so strongly. Meanwhile, Fate Core doesn't dictate that (for instance) "Dragons have twelve Hit Dice and are too powerful for our game!", and instead asks you what a dragon character's strengths and weaknesses are and how they would make for an interesting story.

It's a thing books and movies do well, but tabletop roleplaying has really struggled with it.

Anyway, the mechanical idea we had was that a Pathfinder game could use Fate Points and Aspects instead of Hero Points or Action Points, and that invokes and compels would work just like in Fate. Except that where Fate has those let you add +2 to a roll or re-roll all the dice, in Pathfinder you can choose one:

  • Spend it before you roll the d20 to gain Advantage on the roll, or

  • Spent it after you roll to add +1d6 to it.

"Advantage" being the thing D&D 5e has, where you roll 2d20 and take the highest. Meanwhile, the GM's compels could subtract 1d6 from your roll or give you Disadvantage on it.

You'd probably have to tweak this somewhat, but it seems close enough for an alpha. >_>b

And now back to our show

All in all, it was a really fun experience and educational as well. ^^; I feel like I'm learning a lot about game design, which is now my Dream Career, by playing out these new games on the table. And seeing just how much they empower players, GMs, and creatives.

This is what I wanted, long ago, with the "Fursona Project" and "Fursona Code" and "Become Your Fursona" website. At their core, at the most basic level, I wanted people to be able to live as their personal characters, and have a common design vocabulary and resources to help express what they're like. I'm still learning the historical reasons why, but d20 and Pathfinder did not deliver on that.

From what I am seeing, Fate Core has delivered on that promise.

Now to see if we can kick off this online campaign properly.

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