18 November, 2015

The FUBAR rewrite - Setting up the Actual Play

I've been working on some play examples as I rewrite FUBAR. Instead of random scenes that describe rules, I'll be working through an entire sequence of how a FUBAR narrative unfolds.

I'll be using most of the same character's that were illustrated for the Walkabout explanatory comic.




Here's the first bits that I've been working on...

Gathering a Group
Jenny has decided to start a session of FUBAR, she knows a few regular gamers who enjoy action movies, and who might be interested in playing a rules light game where players can drive the action as long as they don’t mind taking a few risks and chaotic story twists. She knows of five players who might be interested: Alice, Ben, Carl, Diana and Ed (she knows this group play well together because they played a few “Walkabout” sessions together recently).

Cinematic Play
To get the players into the mood, Jenny suggests that the players watch a couple of appropriate movies over the course of the next week to get in the mood. She suggests they watch something action packed (offering suggestions like Kingsman, Red, or anything from the Fast and the Furious franchise), something cyberpunk or near future sci-fi (like Minority Report, Lucy, or Chappie), and something involving heists or revenge (like Snatch, Oceans 11, or Ant-Man). Jenny tells the players that these movies need to be pretty grounded in reality, but with a bit of a twist to them, and to think about types of characters found in the movies, the types of actions they engage, scenes they are involved in, and the way stories unfold in them.

Getting Some Ideas

When Jenny tells her players to draw inspiration from movies, she makes sure to confirm that they aren’t focusing on a single character or even a single movie. The game will pull elements from all the movies, as well as elements of real life, pop culture, comics, and music. The players are told to not necessarily think of characters they want to play, but the kinds of characters who might be found in these stories, or characters who should be in the stories but aren’t.

Making some Characters 1
Jenny could have made each of the players create a pair of characters, or could have generated a range of pre-made characters for the players to choose from, but she decides to take a path between these extremes. With five players, plus an oracle, she pre-generates 6 characters (Alonzo Jones, Frog, Agent Lincoln, Preacher, Doc Titanium, and Ginger Rust). At the start of the first session, when everyone gathers to start the new game she gets everyone (including herself), to create a character of their own to add into the mix.

Alice has been watching the TV shows “Mr. Robot” and “Sense8”, so she is drawn to the idea of having a suave hacker in the story. Maybe an Asian woman who doesn’t know martial arts, but because she’s Asian every simply expects her to, this character uses her ability to bluff (and other people’s preconceptions) to avoid direct combat by faking these skills. Thus Yoshida Kamiko is born Alice chooses to make her a “Face” who spends her time in “Cubicles”. This character is known for being “connected” and having an array of custom “software” that gives her access to data other people can’t reach. She picks two actions from each characteristic, and from the 12 optional traits (two positive and one negative from each of the characteristics) she picks “Security Pass” [+], “Friends in High Places” [+] and “Not the Face” [-].

Ben has noticed that a lot of the characters in action movies get pretty beaten up, so he decides it might be good to have some kind of medic around (he doesn’t know that Jenny already thought of this but that’s OK). He develops Vasquez M.D. as a disgraced bio-surgeon who genetically manipulated himself in some way and has now been banned from formally practicing medicine. He leaves the rest of the backstory vague, choosing characteristics of “Bones”, “Tunnel Rats”, “Tough” and “Genetic Advancement” (and a pair of actions to go with each). From the available array of traits, he picks “Medical Kit” [+], “Poison Tolerance” [+] and “Distinctive Appearance” [-].
On the other parts of the table, Carl makes a character named Mr Norrington, Diana makes Lady Antoinette, Ed makes Hasani Athiambo, and Jenny makes a character named C4.

Making some Characters 2
All of the characters are placed into the centre of the table, and each player randomly redraws two of them. They are each told to choose a character for themselves (this will be their lowlife), and a character who will be a rogue (possibly an ally or an antagonist).

Alice draws Mr Norrington who she likes and decides to keep as her Lowlife, she also has Preacher who will be used as a Rogue.

Ben has drawn Hasani Athiambo (Lowlife) and Agent Lincoln (Rogue)

Carl has Alonzo Jones (Lowlife) and Ginger Rust (Rogue)

Diana has Yoshida Kamiko (Lowlife) and Vasquez M.D. (Rogue)

Ed has Doc Titanium (Lowlife) and Frog (Rogue)

Jenny redrew her C4 and Diana’s Lady Antoinette (both of whom will be Rogues because she’s the Oracle of this game)

Jenny rolls a die to randomly see who will end up with a relationship to each Rogue, the result is even so all the Rogues are linked to the Lowlife on the player’s right (the name of the Rogue is written on a relationship card and given to the relevant player). No one at the table knows how these Rogues are linked to the lowlifes yet, that will be revealed through play.

Mr Norrington is connected to Frog
Hasani Athiambo is connected to Preacher
Alonzo Jones is connected to Agent Lincoln
Yoshida Kamiko is connected to Ginger Rust
Doc Titanium is connected to Vasquez M.D.

Tying the Group Together (Before or After)
As one last thing before the story begins, Jenny gets each player to choose another player’s Lowlife to link their Lowlife to. This connects the group together and also works as a quick way to show the group how the dice generally function in the game.

Alice chooses that Mr Norrington is related to Alonzo Jones in some way. she rolls 3 dice and scores 2, 5, and 6. 5 is applied to “Relationship Success” (a close relationship), 2 is applied to “Relationship Sacrifice” (Mr Norrington owes Alonzo Jones a favour), and 6 is applied to “Relationship Story” (A chooses that the lowlifes used to work together).

Ben chooses that Hasani Athiambo is related to Doc Titanium. After rolls (3, 3, 5) and allocations, it is determined that Hasani and Doc have a loose relationship (3), due to the high roll Doc owes Hasani a favour (5), and they negotiate that the Doc has patched up Hasani a few ties in the past, and Hasani has occasionally turned a blind eye to the Doc’s drug habit (3).

As the group proceeds around the table, they learn that Alonzo is linked to Kamiko (Tight, No Favours Owed, “Dated in the past, still good friends”), Kamiko is linked to Doc (Loose, Kamiko owes Doc, Former Neighbours), and Doc is Linked to Mr Norrington (Loose, No Favours owed, Cousins). Strength of relationship, and favours owed may change during the course of play. 

Next the play examples will start moving through the basic elements of play, and gardually introduce more advanced concepts as the rules are introduced in the text.

Rereading through this (which was written about a fortnight ago), I've noticed that Lowlife is used as the word for "character". I've been retty picky in recent revisions to ensure that Lowlife is now only used as a replacement for the term "player", in FUBAR, the characters are generally now referred to as "scoundrels". Time for some editing.

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