Nov 042009

Hello again,

I’ve delayed writing a review of Spirit of the Century (SOTC)  by Evil Hat for, well, really, no good reason. I didn’t have a blog at the time I ran these. No excuse, I know. SOTC was the first FATE-based game I had purchased. Oh, I’d purchased a few FUDGE-based games, but this FATE thing was new. I thought I’d give it a fair shakedown. I even found a Meet-Up that was semi-local to me and joined a group. The GM of that group moved on after a couple of games and I took over. The Actual Play (AP) sessions I’ll be posting are a record of the games I ran with the exception of the very first one, because that is a PDF I’ll be posting for download after it is cleaned up (i.e., readable).

Mechanically, FATE takes the typical D&D player a little time to find their footing. The aspect system takes a little getting used to. In practice, I had a group of folks with mixed experience levels. So, most of the learning curve was pretty smooth overall.  SOTC has the advantage of being simple for a player to enter and exit an ongoing campaign, because all characters are at the peak of their careers. No tedious leveling up to the fun stuff.

The setting is open. It is loosely set in the 1920s and revolves around an organization of heroes who call themselves Centurions. My take on the setting carried a steampunk flavor based off my intro adventure about a dangerous cult from ancient Atlantis fronting a proto-Nazi terror cell in Brazil. The action centered around a floating city of ex-convicts, sky pirates, and cultural outcasts. But enough of that; I loved SOTC and ran it for the better part of a year for a variety of characters. I had a few regulars and a bunch of drop-ins.

Our scene opens in a popular Etheropia (flying city, currently hovering near Rio) bar on open mic night.

J = Jolly Roger, the Sky Pirate

UJ = Union Jane, Bad Ass Crowdbreaker

TM = The Musician (Guitarist/Werewolf)

MM =  Minnetonka Mike (Gun Man)

D = Darken (Stealth Expert/Living Shadow)

J, UJ, TM, MM & D were all in a bar on Etheropia.TM was performing with a guitar. UJ & J were sitting at a booth. MM was at the bar (he’s a crack shot ex-circus performer cowboy drinker type). A beautiful auburn-haired woman who looked like she was in charge of something was there. D decided to try to seduce her. MM decided to eavesdrop on the action, while ordering a drink. D detected him and surreptitiously told the bartender to give MM a lousy drink. D was so insulting in his come-ons that the woman, who’d introduced herself as Captain Petra, captain of the Sky’s Mistress (a dirigible), pulled a lightning sword on him. He took it from her. Somewhere around this time a bunch of members of the Gray Sharks (they were members of the pirate group whose flying fortress the party attacked in the last adventure. They were manufacturing a hallucinogenic drug called “sky ash”) revealed themselves to be in the bar and attacked the party. J decided to throw a brass exploding monkey in the middle of them.  UJ dove under the table and MM started shooting. TM attacked (eventually he experienced “Blood Rage,” one of his aspects, in which he became a homicidal maniac). Everyone defended themselves, basically, although D might have caused some of the opponents to back off because they thought he’d be extra-dangerous since he didn’t know how to use a sword. He ended up breaking the sword. J tried to shoot Petra and/or her minions, but D put himself between them and J, so J shot him instead. Eventually, all the Gray Sharks were killed, but Petra and her all-female minions kidnapped D. MM, who’d had some experience dealing with animals, convinced TM not to attack the rest of the party (since now that all the opponents were dead or gone, the Blood Rage compelled him to try to attack anyone who was left), and TM transformed back to normal. One of TM’s biggest fans, Luigi (and there had been fans mobbing TM in the bar before the fight started) turned out to work for the “port authority” or something, and he was able to lead the party to where the Sky’s Mistress was supposed to be moored. UJ used her influence to tell the dockworkers to delay the dirigible, since it was in the process of trying to leave. All the workers went on break. Once there, UJ also faked a document to order the dirigible to stay docked, with help from a fellow unionist. So Petra had two of her women shoot the mooring ropes. Oh, yes, while the rest of the party was concerned with trying to keep the dirigible  from leaving/getting onto it before it left, Petra had mostly stripped D and tied him up and fetched some olive oil and a cage of weasels. D was hoping to be rescued soon. TM had climbed onto one of the mooring ropes, trying to enter the dirigible. After the mooring ropes had been shot free of the dock, MM and UJ managed to jump and grab onto the flying-away ropes. MM got his own rope; UJ jumped onto the rope TM was on. MM wasn’t able to get in at first because the closest door was closed, but he shot the lock off or something, because he eventually got in. TM was able to open a door close to him and UJ, & they both climbed in. Everyone had to make Resolve rolls to not be stunned by the appearance of D, who had in the meantime managed to slip free of his bonds, grab the box of weasels & was threatening the crew members who were there (oh God). In the meantime, J somehow had found his own way into the dirigible, possibly using his jet belt, and had gone to the cargo hold, where he found mechanical stuff. All the crew members who were in the room with D (except Petra, who had withdrawn) surrendered. One said, “Please get this weasel off my leg.” Petra had gone through a door, and TM and UJ followed her. I don’t remember exactly the sequence of events hereafter, but at some point four or so semi-humanoid robots attacked MM and J. J couldn’t hurt them with his lightning guns or re-engineer them or something like that, because all the robots (except maybe for the engineer bot; see below) were steam-based. TM & UJ ended up getting attacked by wolflike robots, whom they defeated. TM and UJ got separated; I think TM went off to help MM and J. MM shot at least one of the robots in this vulnerable spot they had that looked like a green glass plate. After those robots were taken care of, J and MM went off and found the engineer who had designed all these robots, who was alone in the engine room. Oh yes, J had at some point surmised that Petra had copied some of his technology. MM intimidated the engineer into surrendering. She said she was Petra’s prisoner. He asked her to stop the dirigible. She ended up releasing more wolf robots, & shedding her human-looking skin to turn out to be a robot herself.  D put himself between J & Petra as J was preparing to shoot, and J shot him. Somehow D had confronted Petra again, and she stacked so many modifiers on him, so to speak, that she made him her willing servant. He ended up with a new aspect: “In Love with Petra.” She said she’d been looking for a second-in-command. She allowed him access to some controls which would release more robots on us, which he did. (There turned out to be a maze of tunnels in the dirigible that had allowed her to escape). UJ tried to go to where all the noise was, but she was blocked by six marines who ran in and were about to start assembling something. She talked them into telling her what they wanted to build, and into leaving the dirigible (which had by this time landed on the dock).They were going to build a self-destruct device. UJ talked them into believing she would finish making the device for them. After they left she looked into the boxes of materials and found mechanical stuff she didn’t recognize, including some stuff that glowed. She decided to toss the boxes into the ocean. In the meantime, the others were fighting the engineerbot and her wolfbots. MM managed to pin her under some of the wolfbots, and he or J shot up all but one of the wolfbots on her. UJ headed for where the others were. On her way there, she saw Petra and D in a lifeboat thing, and D was rowing it away. UJ entered the room and stabbed the engineerbot in an eye with her battle staff, thus blinding her. She was blinded for only a moment though; she pulled out a screwdriver and repaired her eyes. I think it was MM or maybe it was J or maybe it was both of them, but she ended up being damaged by one or both of them so badly that she decided to shut down. They tied her up. The remaining wolfbots were destroyed; they had been severely damaged. J and MM decided to claim the dirigible. The party searched it and found two things:  a link between Petra’s group and the Gray Sharks, and the other was a letter from Goodwin to Petra, asking her to meet him. Goodwin was a police officer who, for reasons yet unknown, killed his family in the last adventure. He’d gone missing from his job. He had been noticed lurking in a warehouse near the place where the biplane was parked that the party then used to fly to the Gray Shark fortress, but the party didn’t confront him at all.

It is clear to the casual observer that gameplay can twist and turn as players generate their own content within the GM’s setting. This adventure would have been a fight against the Gray Shark pirate clan. But, instead the players played Fate points to link Petra’s group of pirates to the Gray Sharks. Originally, I had intended Petra to provide the troops and ships for an epic battle. It still worked out that way in the end, but Petra ended up firmly on the enemy side of things. She took her pet player with her, as well. :)

Tons o’ fun.

Thanks for reading.

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