Hello! Dave Joria of Tangent Artists here with the fifth stop on the Fate World Tour.
Today we’re covering the Fate World “Save Game.” Video game nostalgia, here we come!
Creators: Writer: Rob Wieland. Editor: Joshua Yearsley. Art: Brian Patterson.
Elevator Pitch – 8-bit video game heroes barnstorming through corrupted video game worlds.
Themes – Action / Adventure, Drama, Video Games, Nostalgia, Dark Fantasy
Description – THE GLITCH HAS COME TO TENDORIA. A vicious computer virus threatens to corrupt the entire internet, and the only ones standing in its way are the characters from your video games.
8-bit heroes battle monsters and corrupted files—it’s Wreck-It Ralph meets Lord of the Rings in a fight for the fate of the world!
This 56-page Fate Core adventure provides a complete world to adventure in, including randomized character generation rules, ideas to govern digital adventures, and new Fate point hacks. PIXELS ARE FALLING. IT’S UP TO YOU TO SAVE GAME!
Mechanics – Subset – Unique Skill List
Hearts & Lives – Hearts replace stress; unlike stress it doesn’t automatically disappear after a scene. Instead, damage goes away with items you can purchase, with an overcome roll, or when you lose a life (see below).
Lives – Replaces consequences. If you are taken out in a conflict, you may spend a Life to jump back in (without waiting until after the conflict). You can buy lives back with coins.
Coins – Replaces Fate Points. Compared to Fate points, coins seem to fly fast and loose; this means you might see 2-3 times the number of coins be collected and spent compared to FP. Case in point, there’s a new way to earn points during a conflict, known as a Combo pool; if buying in, each player could potentially earn 3 or more coins in a single scene (though it is a gamble). Players cash in coins for upgrades, lives, and healing items.
GM Coin pool – The GM’s fate point / coin pool increases with each stage; the closer to the big boss, the greater the amount by a large factor.
Skills Unlocked – Each skill can only handle two of the four actions. Stunts can be purchased that “unlock” additional actions for skills.
Hax – The “magic” or uber-stunt system. This is expensive, both requiring a skill (that can’t be used without the stunts), and a coin cost. Glitch Mutations. Antagonist NPCs often use these (making it a nice reference and resource for building new NPCs that’s not overwhelmingly long).
Speed Run and SideQuests – When Rob wrote each stage, he also included additional Sidequests. Then, he provides recommended lengths / modes for running the game. A group can do normal mode (normally 1 sidequest, 1 session per stage), a speed run (no side quests; obstacle + Zero – multiple stages per session); or a marathon style metroidvania (all the sidequests, 2 sessions per stage).
I really enjoyed this setting; part of the reason that this review took longer than normal is that I wanted to big deeply into every part of it. Some of my thoughts:
Tone – To my surprise, the tone of the piece is surprisingly dark, bordering on Grimdark. This is not inherently a bad thing (it’s actually quite original). However, I would keep it in mind when picking your play group. A group of 20+ year-olds are unlikely to mind playing the dark “Dr. Chompa” adventure as written. However, if playing with a younger group of 9 year-olds, you may wish to create an original stage from scratch that is less severe. (When in doubt, robots make pretty harmless NPCs).
Great for one shots – I can see how this would be great for one-shots, or for conventions in general. This is true with both normal mode (one stage) and with speedruns (all of the stages).
Speedrun – I have one concern regarding speedruns; as written, it seems to encourage the play format to be: a. visit a stage and have only a short scene or obstacles; b. big conflict with the Zero; c. Rinse repeat. Without playing it, I predict that with conflicts making up 90% of the action, the action might get a goal. With this is mind, I pass on my normal recommendation when running a long Fate game; try to separate your conflict scenes with a non-conflict scene in the middle. Maybe the 2nd stage involves racing the corrupted Dankey Kang in a contest, or involves defusing a live Rob-Bomb in a tense challenge.
Skills Unlocked – I love this mechanic, and will steal it the first chance I can. Reason 1: the beautiful symmetry of having each skill have only two actions makes it both easy to remember, and wonderfully fair. This would normally be great in any setting, but it is particularly justified for a video game world. Why? Let me explain:
The only downside of the Fate rpg system is that it’s so loose, that any hard rules are often hit with resistance. For example:
Player: I want to use my Physique to attack and crush them.
GM: You can’t, Physique isn’t an attack skill.
Player: Why not? I can break a door in half, but I can’t break a person pinned to the ground?
GM: Because… you can’t?
Of course, you can ask the player to pay a fate point to temporarily or permanently gain the ability to Attack with Physique, but that’s not the point; the point is, the player sees a rule added for a mere arbitrary reason that doesn’t match the physics of their world.
However, in a Save Game, being told “you can’t attack with that” is fine, because you can argue, “because you aren’t PROGRAMMED to attack with that skill.” Also, by calling any inaccessible actions, “Locked,” Rob has made a forced restriction seem more fun; it’s not that you can NEVER attack with that skill, but rather you can’t attack with that skill YET. When a player finally gains a skill to unlock it, they have the added joy of unlocking an achievement. (Also, kudos to whoever created the great character sheet at the back of the book).
Coins – I enjoy the novelty of showering players with coins / fate points. My only concern is that I fear if it would disrupt the Compel economy; who would accept a compel for 1 fate point, when you have 7 already? Some ideas:
- Have some warp pipes that lead to shops in the middle of a stage; let players level up (and more importantly, unload their coins). If players want to save up for something big, offer a “piggybank / gift card” system. Merchant: Tell you what… for each coin you give me now, I’ll give you 2 coins worth of store credit when you visit the main shop after this stage. What do you say?
- If coins are in high supply, I would recommend doubling or even tripling the amount of FP when compelling; offer 2-3 coins to accept a compel, or 2-3 to refuse.
Likewise, the GM Pool of Fate points would be heavy stocked too. Make sure any new NPCs you create have lots of aspects, don’t skimp on the using GM pool.
Hacks (Clarification: World hacks, not the mutation)
Here are some fun hacks and setting ideas.
Note: In most of these hacks, the PCs would know that they are part of a computer world. “Save Game” is a rare video game setting in that the characters are not meta-aware that they are in a video game.
Reboot – I could easily see using Save Game to visit the 90s show Reboot without any real tweaking (with maybe a slight focus on PC game nostalgia vs. console.)
Captain N – You could recreate this classic TV show about a teen gamer sucked into an all-star team of video game characters. Alternatively, I could see merging this the Fate World “Nest,” in that a whole team of humans are sucked into the games of their youth.
Matrix – For a serious twist; you’d want to focus on the skill Hacks for extra special fun.
Wreck-It Ralph – As a fun twist, why not pull a “Wreck-it-Ralph,” and have all of the PCs be Villains, saving the day from the corrupted heroes? Prove that Bad-guys aren’t Bad GUYS.
Iron Street Combat – I have yet to read this newest video-game-inspired Fate world, but I bet there’s some way to combine the two.
Lastly, based on what video game world you want to visit, you might want to read one of the following Fate Worlds
- Underwater – Like Echo the Dolphin? Try Deep Dark Blue
- Western – Tweak Blood on the Trail for fighting Glitch-Vampires on the Oregon Trail!
- Space – For a space setting a la Metroid or Star Fox, try Andromeda, Red Planet, Sail Full of Stars
- Food – For food-based games like Diner Dash, Tapper, or Cooking Mama, try adding Uranium Chef (had to work at least ONE shameless plug in this article)
- Music – For musical games like Guitar Hero, try another new setting, Til Dawn
Sorry for such a long delay between posts, everyone. I’ve been working hard at finishing a prototype of my newest card game, “Don’t Go In There!”
It’s a game themed around slasher movies.
I’ve got one playtest in, and it went fantastically (more on that another time). I’m praying to test more and tweak it until I can have a prototype ready for Origins Con.
Here’s a sample of one of the cards:
Speaking of which, Dave Joria will be at Origins Con! Tangent Artists will not have a table there, but we may have some of our Fate Accompli products coming (more on that as it develops).
As for the next Fate World, tell us what you’d like to see! Shall we do another early world, “The Secret of Cats?” Skip Ahead? Put in your requests, on this blog, or on twitter @DaveJoria.