So, the two sessions of Agents on the Edge of the Galaxy have finished, and now, as is traditional, I will present my GM notes and thoughts about the game. But first, links to the transcripts:
- Episode 1, involving asteroids, ambushes, pleasure planets, and bar brawls
- Episode 2, involving infiltration, revolution, sabotage, more bar brawls, and chefs
And a few summarizing quotes:
Zagor says, “This is the most metrosexual spaceship I’ve been on for a while.”
Heron says, “You could put different colors of gum in the pockets and call it bubblesort.”
Reig says, “I probably *do* secrete acid, at that.”
Tesher says, “Well, I am obviously disguising myself so well that even I don’t know who I am yet.”
Squee says, “But, let’s see, I get a free tag for the window sabotage, and I’d also like to tag The Food, It’s Awesome”
Garue hides his mace in a cabbage.
And now a little more detail.
As you can see from my notes, the actual game stuck surprisingly close to my expectations. I’m not sure why this was. I think it’s partly due to the group (including me) having a pretty consistent vision for the setting (which I think is often not the case with the games I run), and partly due to being smarter about writing up GM notes. I’m pretty good at ad-libbing as a GM, so I think it’s been a mistake in the past to focus on writing up NPC groups to interact with or to present pressure on the characters — inevitably the PCs don’t go anywhere near the groups. But this time I tried to focus on possible scenes that individual characters would like, and we actually hit a bunch of them.
Other worked-well stuff: I did a pretty good job getting more aggressive with the scene framing. Our groups can get a little bogged down in discussions and planning, and in trying to follow up every single lead, and I don’t think those go very well with a Star Wars kinda feel, so it was probably good to cut that short (I’d like to figure out a less heavy-handed way to do that sometimes, though — “Ok, she has disappeared and you can’t find her no matter what you do, so you go back to the ship!” is kind of lame GMing). Not having any damage, only consequences, worked well as far as it went — only one person took a consequence in either episode. Also, we seem to be getting a little more familiar with FATE as a system — I saw some blocks and some adding aspects to assist other people’s actions and good stuff like that.
Still need to work on: The main thing that I’m still worrying about is a big snarled problem involving skill levels and challenges and combat. One part of this is I think skill levels were a little too high (or, I suppose, difficulties weren’t high enough — but it seems like with FATE it’s nice to keep stuff in the -5 to 7 range where you have vocab for it, so better to scale stuff down). This was exacerbated by having six players, so generally there was someone with a relevant Superb skill and aspect. Anyway, this felt like it made it a little difficult to get appropriately challenging opposition, both in and out of combat (but players like to succeed, so this isn’t all bad).
The larger part, though, is combat felt like way too much work, and as a result I was simplifying, and I think I’m simplifying the wrong things. Again, part of the problem here is six players — it’s just a lot of combatants to have to deal with. And part of the issue is me being unsure about the right challenge levels to use: if I want to oppose a weapons-specialized player with a group of guards, how many guards should I use if they’re skill Good? How many if they’re skill Great? But also there’s just a thing where I tend to get into combats without knowing exactly what the objective of the combat is (and I tend to keep it purposely a little fuzzy to make up for challenge adjustments on the fly), and without setting up situations in which there is anything more sensible to do than just use your best combat skill repeatedly. I’d had some vague plans about some kind of giant mecha fight the PCs would have to team up against and use aspects to defeat, but it never came up in-game. Oh well.
And speaking of simplifying, I have a bad habit of dropping defense rolls for NPCs, and forgetting to have them make attack rolls; there’s just so many rolls to make! I guess for the first I can switch to just using their defense skill as the target number for the PC’s attack (instead of their skill + 4dF), since in theory it should average out the same. For the latter, maybe I should just sort of have a single “danger” roll for each PC every round on their turn that they resist with some appropriate skill, and work out what the danger is in story terms later on — just to get into the habit of doing this roll every round of combat.
Oh well, live and learn. (I do think the setting is pretty decent, though; I’d probably be up for running more games in it.)