Friday, July 30, 2010

FATE steampunk characters

My wife and I are playing in a very enjoyable steampunky alternate history game on Sundays. Our characters have been selected to take part in the first U.S. mission to the moon, which is happening in the late 1890's.

I'm such a thin-skinned perfectionist, I always find something to complain about even in a game I'm really enjoying. So let me get that out of the way:
  • I have some minor gripes about the FATE system, and Fudge-based games in general, but I think I'll mostly save them for another post. The system is somewhat lacking in granularity and gradation, and you never want to be the underdog.
  • The lack of a published setting means the players aren't really sure how far to take the steam-punk and pulp elements (the cliff-hanger of the last session suggests to me that the GM pictures both being more prevalent than we PCs have assumed thus far).
Those both are pretty minor complaints. The game is rolling along at a great pace, and our characters and situations thus far are pretty memorable. We've had to think on our feet, and narrowly avoided some dire fates.

Here's the stats for the character's my wife and I are playing:

My character is Basil "Boyo" Munsby.

Basil is a former member of a New York street gang. After getting in trouble with the law, he was ordered into the Navy by Judge that wanted to scare him straight. After he served his time, he decided to go prospecting for Gold. Instead of the yellow metal, he stumbled across a vein of Phlogiston, the rare mineral that the U.S. Government in the setting is now using to power it's expedition to the Moon.

As far as NYC street gangs go, the Bowery Boys were "pretty boys", and almost respectable. So, while Basil is clearly our adventuring party's resident cold-blooded murderer, he can still dress sharp and hide his psychopathic streak if he needs too. He's uncultured "new money", but at least he doesn't look out of place.

I either bribed or intimidated my way into this expedition, on the flimsy excuse that my experience mining Phlogiston will be useful when we get to the moon (which is clearly full of the stuff). So far I've mainly proved my worth by killing foreign spies that tried to sabotage or infiltrate our mission.

  • Half-Mad Bowery Boy: 2
  • Court-Ordered Military Service: 1
  • Phlogiston of the Sierra Madre: 2
  • "New Money" Adventurer: 1

  • Confidence Man: +0
  • Dirty Fighting: +2
  • Fireman: +1
  • Intimidation: +3
  • Midshipman: +0
  • Mining: +1
  • Petty Larceny: +1
  • Politics: +0
  • Sense Treachery: +0
  • Survival: +2
The various criminal-related skills are mostly from his time as a hoodlum, but so is the Fireman skill, as the Bowery Boys ran a volunteer fire-department.

Survival and Mining are mostly from his time prospecting, but he had some rough situations out there in the wilds that further expanded his Intimidation and Fighting skills.

Midshipman was a mistake, and needs to be renamed. He spent some time on a ship in the navy, and I chose a word I'd heard but apparently always misunderstood. I thought Midshipman was an enlisted rank. Looking on the web now, I realize Midshipman is actually the lowest Officer's rank. I should replace it with "Seaman" or "Leading Seaman". I could believe that he's got what it takes to get promoted once while at sea (he's brave and focused), but he's not Commissioned Officer material.

My wife's character is Theresa White.

She's an inventor and engineer. I don't know much of her character's backstory. My wife is at work, so I can't really pick her brain right now, but I've got a copy of her character sheet. Here's what I do know about her PC off the top of my head: She's a published author on various scientific topics. She was the women's fencing champion at college. Margaret E. Knight is a colleague, friend, or role-model of hers.

  • Nine Impossible Things Before Breakfast: 2
  • Obsessed With Technology: 1
  • Unhealthy Curiousity: 2
  • Women's Fencing Champion: 1

  • Alertness: +1
  • Athletics: +0
  • Electrical Guru: +2
  • Here's What I Need: +0
  • I'm Published: +0
  • It's Never Been Done Before: +1
  • Melee: +0
  • Phlogiston Specialist: +2
  • Technological Gadgeteer: +3
  • What Is That?: +1

In our second session she built some mechanical shackles with a 10-hour time lock, so I wouldn't have to kill the enemy that had surrendered to us. We were on an out-bound train, so as long as he couldn't get free till we'd reached our destination, we didn't need more blood on our hands. Or so she told me. :)

The rest of the play group includes a Pinkerton, a daredevil escape artist, a journalist, an employee of the Vanderbilts, and a young Smedley Darlington Butler. Smedley Butler is one of my personal heroes, so I'm kind of jealous that one of my fellow players had the idea first.

Our second session ended quite unexpectedly with the cliff-hanger of a dog-fight in space. We've been attacked by rocket ships from an as-yet-unidentified nation. Just when you thought it was safe to go into orbit...

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