Saturday, February 16, 2013

Time Heroes of Fate - First Con Demo Review and Session Report

SoupCon 2013

Today I attended SoupCon, a little local convention at the campus of the college a mile or so from the house. We arrived at eleven this morning and headed down to the "One Shot Room" where Ashley and I set up a table with the Time Heroes of Fate characters, a few sets of Fate dice and poker chips for Quantum Points. After the table was set up, Ashley went to look around the convention while I sat back and waited...

and waited...

and waited.

It was a couple of hours before people showed up to play. I was starting to get concerned there wouldn't be any takers when Addam Love, the president of the Superior Alliance of Gamers and Associates (SAGA, the group putting on the con) came to sit in on it. Not long before, Frank, a member of the face-to-face group I haven't had the opportunity to play with for some time, came to visit and also decided to sit in on the game (at least until he had to leave). With those two and Ashley, it was enough people for me to start running.

After the first scene (dropped the players into a conflict because who doesn't love in media res starts), a friend of Addam's brought her boyfriend and another friend in, making a total of five players. She just wanted to watch, which was perfect as I had only planned for a maximum of five players. Everyone laughed and dove headfirst into their characters, only come back to the real world for air when Addam as president had to step away for an interview or to answer questions about an event coming up. In short, 100% buy-in. I couldn't have asked for a better response for the first time I ran my homebrew Fate Core game.

After the event ended and clean-up was finished, I overheard someone in the hall talking to someone else saying he was disappointed he hadn't gotten there in time to sit down and play the game (he was in and out observing during the session). Additionally, I heard several comments from the players regarding how exciting and hilarious the setting and the system were. For the first run through, it seems I've hit a home run!

I did notice a few things I need to do before running Time Heroes of Fate at Plattecon or Berserkon, though.

1. Get some business cards or something made up for GWO, directing people to the FB page/this blog/the main website. There were some people interested in playing again and an easy way to contact me would have been a good idea.
2. Print out some kind of small banner or a GWO logo to place on the table. If people like Time Heroes of Fate, I should start promoting the sites so people know where to get news on the homebrew stuff that I do.
3. I need some kind of printout description of exactly what Time Heroes of Fate is all about. There wasn't a ton of traffic today, but while I was talking with someone about Fate Core and/or the setting as they walked by, it would be nice to have a document to reference (or for someone to read if they walk up in the middle of the conversation.

In regards to the scenario itself, I found one thing that could use some work as well.

- Compel more often. Much like it took the players the first encounter or so to start getting the hang of invoking aspects, it took me quite some time to remember to compel aspects. On the plus side, once the players started invoking their aspects, they started compelling themselves as well.


Alexander the Bebopedonian (or Alexander and the Greats)

A Session Report from the GM

Players - Pregen Characters
Frank Stalker - Professor Derek "Oklahoma" Bones, professor of history, part-time adventurer
Addam Love - Lorenzo Lorenzo, portly plumber from Jersey
Lee Bos - Ted Wilco, friendly janitor from the future (joined after the first scene)
Dave Brand - Jacob "Ace" Hollister, gambler from the wild west (joined after the first scene)
Ashley Ishmael - Malcolm, a survivor of the le Fey apocalypse

Lifestyle Aspect: The Frigid North
Franchise Stunt: Jacked In - Any Investigation rolls using computers gets a +2 bonus

Intro Scene - the Mission
I narrated this information to everyone before getting into the first scene. The Great Merlini had informed the characters that Morgan le Fey had found some leverage to use against Alexander the Great to lure him to her side. Under her command, he formed a bebop rock group called "Alexander and the Greats" who were currently touring cross-country and inspiring thousands of fanatical fans to join le Fey's side in the Time War. Merlini had just received information that someone from within Alexander's own camp was plotting his demise and was going to assassinate him before the next show. The magician has sent the characters in the hopes that investigating and bringing this information to the Macedonian leader would sway him, if not to Merlini's side, then at least from le Fey's.

Scene One - Battle with Bebopians
I started the scenario in media res. The characters were in the middle of a battle with "the Bebopian Infantry," a group of fans who had been camped out at the DECC (Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center) for days in an attempt to get tickets. They were dressed in Alexander and the Greats t-shirts with designs that made them look like Macedonian armor and wearing Jayne-style hats designed to look like helmets.

Highlights of the Conflict (as I remember them offhand):
- Oklahoma Bones grabs a fluorescent light fixture with his whip and pulls it down onto a group of Bebopian Infantry, creating the aspect "Fluorescently Dazed."
- Lorenzo plunges several infantrymen in the face.
- Malcolm uses his "I've Read About That!" stunt to pull some spectacular martial arts skills from out of nowhere, dropping an entire group of infantry in one attack.
- Okie uses the velvet rope to bind an entire group of his opponents.
- Lorenzo attempts to trip a group of infantry with a power cord and fails miserably. The same group then mobs him and he ends up taking six points of stress damage (maxing out all stress boxes).

After a few rounds, the group mops up the floor with their opponents. Lorenzo attempts to intimidate the three who are wrapped up in the velvet rope. His roll ties their will roll. I decide to grant him a boost, which he then passes to Malcolm. Malcolm uses his "I've Read About That!" stunt again to say he has read police procedurals about good cop/bad cop and succeeds his roll by a huge amount. 

Story wise, Lorenzo tells the Bebopians that his plunger has been in disgusting places, hasn't been washed in a while and they don't want it in their faces, so they'd better talk. Malcolm swoops in and plays the nice guy, sweet-talking the group and asks where Alexander is hiding out pre-show. They don't know, but they do say that two of the Greats, P-Tol (Ptolemy, an Egyptian-themed rap artist when he does solo musical work) and Per****as (Perdiccas, a hard rocker so fond of profanities that his very name has to be censored) are bumming around town. They share that P-Tol is at the Pyramid casino and Per****as is at the local mall. Lastly he imparts that the two don't like each other and are constantly trying to one-up each other in Alexander's eyes. 

 (this is where the players of Ted Wilco and Ace Hollister join the game)

After the interrogation, Okie and Malcolm decide to break into the ticket booth (it wasn't open yet) and steal backstage passes, "just in case." Lorenzo's "Straight Shooter" aspect is compelled and he fights to step in and stop them. Malcolm gets Ted to keep Lorenzo occupied while they snag the tickets. The janitor uses his "Jet Pack Mastery" stunt to tackle Lorenzo to the ground just long enough for the heist to get pulled off.

Scene Two - Flashback
I actually ended up skipping this scene, as it wasn't necessary and the first conflict took long enough that I thought it best just to cut it. Initially this was going to be a scene where I begin by starting a story and then passing it around the table. Each person adds some to the story and once it has wrapped back to me I would tie it up with how they came to be at the DECC facing off against a bunch of Alexander's fans.

Scene Three - Choosing Sides and Planning
A debate happens between party members about whether they should approach P-Tol or Per****as with the warning about Alexander's possible assassination. After much deliberation, they choose to go meet T-Pol and so the group makes their way to the Pyramid casino. They reach this decision because Oklahoma Bones (who lives for excitement) says that the mall would be full of innocent kids and families while the casino would be full of gamblers.

They head over to the casino and find it even more full than usual. Malcolm scans the crowd and finds where its thickest. He spots P-Tol in the middle of that crowd, but it's too thick to get through. Ace, Malcolm and Ted perform a team Deceit action. Malcolm hops up on the bar and shouts that Alexander is in the building while Ted and Ace slip into the crowd, "reacting." This thins the crowd just enough for Malcolm to slip through and whisper something about an attempt on Alexanders life and making Per****as look bad. P-Tol tells him to meet him in the VIP room in an hour so he can finish his turn on the slot machines and sign autographs.

In the downtime, several of the characters compel themselves for Quantum Points, forcing themselves to roll and attempt to steal chips (Malcolm), reprogram slot machines (Ted) and scam poker players (Ace). Unfortunately for drama, but fortunately for them, they all succeed at their rolls. *Note, I now think that perhaps I shouldn't have had them roll and simply had them auto-fail at attempts to cheat the casino. Ah well, it still worked out ok.

After the hour is up, they head back to the VIP lounge and find P-Tol sitting by himself, waiting. He immediately asks who the assassin is. No one knows and the rapper waves that off. He then mentions that Malcolm said something about making Per****as look bad. He said that if they can do something to embarrass his frenemy, he will gladly get them in to see Alexander.

The group agrees and leaves the casino. On their way to the mall, they come up with a plan to put laxative in Per****as' drink and cause a toilet to flush backwards, all while live streaming the event to YouTube. Deciding this is the best course of action, they arrive at the mall.

Scene Four - A Nasty Prank
The players are extremely excited about this plan. It is agreed that initially, Ace (with a +3 Deceit score) and Lorenzo (with his +4 Crafts score) will disable every toilet stall in the mall except for one and rig that one to spray violently up when flushed. Simultaneously, the other three will do a team investigate/notice roll to find where Per****as is. Both situations resolve spectacularly.

Ace heads back to the group that has found Per****as in the food court while Ted heads back to the rigged bathroom stall to install nanocameras and live stream a feed to the internet. Ted handily sets up his end of the prank. Back at the food court, everyone else performs a team roll using Deceit/Resources to bribe the employee working at the taco place Per****as is known to like to slip the laxative into his drink. It's a close roll, but it succeeds. Lorenzo and Ted return and everyone gets food and sits to watch the show.

Towards the end of his meal, everyone hears a loud gurgling, followed by a string of bleeps coming from Per****as. He then leaps up and races to the food court restrooms. Within moments they hear more censored profanity and the rocker runs back out, making for another mall bathroom (the one that is working). He moves so fast his own security can't keep up with him.

The characters bring up the internet on their mobile devices and watch the live feed. They see Per****as enter the stall and sit, going about his business loudly. After some time he flushes the toilet and is covered in brown, brackish fluid as the toilet sprays upwards. He bleeps some more, then groans and sits back down on the toilet. *Note - At this point, everyone at the table is laughing hysterically. The combination of the situation and my actually saying "bleep" instead of swearing whenever Per****as swears is too much for them (and myself). Ashley told me on the way home that she was actually crying, she laughed so hard.

The characters return to P-Tol and hear him laughing even before entering the VIP room. He says he'll gladly bring them to "Al" immediately. He also says they went above and beyond in the task he set before them.

Scene Five - Final Confrontation
P-Tol brings the heroes to the hotel Alexander is at and sends them to the penthouse in the elevator. He says he has stuff to do and leaves them to talk to his leader. In the hallway outside the door, they find Alexander's security unconscious and the door ajar.

Inside, they find Anti-Daddio (Antipater, a black beret-wearing, black turtleneck-wearing, black pants-wearing beatnik) standing over an unconscious Alexander with a half-empty vial of liquid. With him are nine of his own entourage (broken into three groups of three for the upcoming conflict). Anti-Daddio tells his men to leave no witnesses and the conflict begins.

Highlights of the Conflict (again, as I remember):
- Okie uses his whip to knock the vial from Anti-Daddio's hand
- Ted uses his jet pack to nab Alexander and fly high speed out of the penthouse and into the hall
- Ace shoots at a goon standing in front of the window and knocks him out of it. The roll succeeds so well that the guy he shot is grabbed by two of his companions and they end up pulled out of the top-story window as well.
- Lorenzo uses a stereo power cord to electrocute Anti-Daddio, injuring him so badly he has to take a consequence and gains the aspect "Involuntary Twitch."

It took some effort and damage on the part of the heroes, but they succeeded at fighting off Anti-Daddio's men and the villain ends up unconscious on the floor. It's then that Malcolm compels his own aspect "I have a Nemesis" to realize that Anti-Daddio is an ancestor of his nemesis and so pours the remaining poison down his throat, killing him.

Ted Wilco uses his nanobots to purge the poison from Alexander's system and he awakens. Alexander thanks the group and says that he can't help them because Morgan le Fey has a solution to a problem he can't solve back in his own time. He says that a man laid a massive knot on the ground in front of him and promised to peacefully surrender his country if Alexander can undo the knot. Okie recommends he burn the knot as the phrasing wasn't "untie it" and if there was no rope, there'd be no knot. Alexander thinks and says that would work. Finally, he says he can't join Merlini, but he will no longer work with le Fey and will take his men back to his own time. With that, the scenario ends.

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