Different Horses for Different Courses

Last night we played a game of FATE Accelerated Edition (FAE) based around the Roman legion again.  It was one of the better games I have ever played (run by +Dan Hall ) but that is not necessarily what I am here to discuss.  See, after the game ended we chatted for about half an hour to an hour about game systems that we have played and how they ran.  We talked pretty much around systems that the others had not tried.

There is a lot of support in that game for story specific games so I discussed Earthdawn which has crunchy mechanics, but mechanics that enable a story to be told.  In fact the idea of an Earthdawn player is to build their character’s legend.  I also spoke about how a lot of games do the right thing setting wise but then encourage the wrong kind of stories to be told.  Who cares if you find a big pile of treasure, what is more important is how did you come about it?  Who owned it and how do you live with taking it?  It is the personal responses of the character that I look for in a game and to me these are the right kind of stories.

Two of the “new guard” games.

In last nights game of FAE there were some hard decisions my character, and others, were put through.  I have a slave (played brilliantly by +Stuart McDermid ) that was called on to naively do one thing that seemed morally correct to him, while the other legionnaires did what I needed to be done.  The end scene was of my character (an Optio in the Roman Legion) asking my slave to leave so he did not have to witness me kill a druid that were close to his own faith.  The slave defiantly stayed and advised if I was going to have to do it I would have to do it in front of him.  I did but after a moment of pause and the dynamic began to shift.

To me the story of how the druid came to be a problem is secondary to the primary story of what is occurring between Decimus (my character) and Rhys (Stuart’s character).  That is where the real entertainment and story is for me.  That interaction is what drives us forward.  There was also the conflict that occurred for Seutonius (played by +Scott Cadoo ) who is soon to marry into the culture that reveres these druids.  But he is first a roman legionnaire and he seeks to do his best by Decimus as he is a leader that he respects.

We all agree that it is fine when getting into RPG’s that it is about killing the monsters and grabbing the loot.  It tests your limits.  Modern games though are building on the stepping stones of actions and reactions for the players.  it is about learning through play and exploring characters.  With FATE and FAE it looks at the main portion of character creation being defining parts of the character.  The Apocalypse World and hacks are all about relationships and how they have and do define your characters actions in the current environment.  Sure, some of these games at the moment would be called niche games but they have masses of support among the community of role players.

Games like Lords of Gossamer and Shadow, known largely because it is dice-less, is really a focussed character driven game.  Taking the dice away removes the min maxing of skills and turns the entire game into a conversation about who and what your character is and why they are involved.  It causes the player to really consider what their character is and what they do as well as why they do it.

This is of course all my own opinion.  A lot of people may just care about the nibbles and socialising while gaming and be happy with open the door, dodge the trap and kill the monster to steal the loot.  More power to you if you do.  For me, it is providing a good considered performance that makes sense in scope of the character.  Let me know what you think in the comments.  Until next time, keep rolling!

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