I want to get Distant Adventures wrapped up this month, primarily because I’m trying to do the Nagademon event with it. Which is basically Nanowrimo (which is a novel writing challenge where you write 50,000 words in November, or 1,667 a day). Nagademon is making a game in the month of November.
Anyway so far I’ve run 3 sessions – 2 with the same group to wrap up the story, and 1 with a similar story/setting but a different group (which we’ll also be wrapping up next week). The setting involved was Pirates of the high seas. The players were assembling pieces of a map that their deceased pirate parents left them, then they follow the map to treasure (cursed, of course, to make them age rapidly [like a year a day]). They break the curse by throwing a golden monkey head from the treasure into a volcano.
The game played very well, and once everyone got used to it flowed quite naturally. There were some complaints about player agency (given that losing a situation is akin to a “party wipe”, but that’s hard to grasp when your character has resulting non-combat outcomes they don’t like). I also found I needed a way to extend situations in the cases where someone reached their Momentum goal, but we still had more story to tell. Such as “the navy ship is closing, what do you do to prepare?” and the scene is over before the actual confrontation. Some of that comes down to me learning what kind of Momentum goals to set. I also am tending towards being a bit freer with Fate, as in players get 4-5 to start instead of 2. Anyway all these ideas will be integrated into the next revision of the rules, which I think I’ll try to do before my last session of the month next week.
Raw Feedback Notes
+++ From Playtest on Nov 8 2021 +++
– Overall went well, used the Pirate theme/setting. Situations felt a bit like a coin flip sometimes, and also player agency was sometimes missing
– Expand Character Creation section, sort of like FU Universal system, to include some guidance on what “things” can be, like mentioning archetype, cliches, careers, etc.
— Also mention just choosing 3 “things” to start, and add 2 more after the first situation or two, once you have a feel for the game
– Way to regain Fate on other roll results? “Go for a Fate roll” and try to get Doubles or something instead of a streak?
— Unlikely downside but might lead to stalling a “safe” situation to stock up on Fate?
— Also throws the math off if a player intentionally takes a turn off from generating Momentum
– One piece of feedback was each situation felt “like a race”…not sure if good or bad thing
– Have a way to remove Storyteller Momentum instead of generating your own?
— Seems like it’d only be useful RIGHT before the Storyteller is going to win the situation
— Likely just indicative of other problems with player vs Storyteller Momentum pacing, that more reasonable solutions will fix
— Using a reaction to a Dud for this could be a good middle ground
– Having a “thing” to not is too big of a swing on dice odds? 25% to 55% Dud
– Players help setting up the story and locations worked well
– Rules need to have a section on situation “scope”, to talk about how broad it can, such as our 1-month long voyage vs arguing with a bouncer to get in
– Note that after a failed Decisive roll that’s the end of it, the players have to find a different avenue to approach the situation
– Mention that you can permanently lose “things” as well, like equipment, or from removing a phobia, or change them in a campaign (instead of just adding new ones)
– Storyteller should use less “things”? Or balance another way, since no thing is pretty punishing, especially if Duds are going to hurt even more
– Duds didn’t feel impactful enough – losing a “thing” didn’t matter with 5 in even long situations, and Storyteller seemed to have an unlimited supply of “things”
— Reacting on Duds instead? Person targeted by the roll can do something back? Like do a flat roll for the best streak they can get, which then removes Momentum from the other group (could be cool!)? Or just adds Momentum to their own group?
— Definitely want a Momentum change on a Dud, but should still always remove a “thing” if it was used
– Other uses for Fate?
— Force Storyteller to re-roll a result (basically means it’s SUPER hard/unlikely for a Storyteller to get a Perfect as most players would spend to prevent)
— Also arguably more powerful than the current use of getting a re-roll
— Challenge a narrative outcome that a player doesn’t like, or lessen the effect of it, such as being paralyzed which the character really isn’t interested in working through, so they spend Fate to “Challenge” and…do something? Turn it into a Decisive roll off?
— Or does allowing the forcing of a full Storyteller re-roll achieve the same thing with less cruft?
— Could have 1 Fate = 1 re-roll, and 2 Fate = force Storyteller re-roll, to balance the effectiveness?
– Storyteller goal should almost ALWAYS (like 90%+ of the time) be bigger/longer than the players. Remove the note about “lower goal = favorable situation” too
— This is because the Storyteller has a lot of narrative control and things to throw at players, that they just react too, so to balance it out in the players favor overall they should generally have a lower Momentum goal
— Example from play had 7 situations: players won 4 and lost 3. Some were quite close though, and with the other changes (like Fate = force Storyteller re-roll) could already balance it enough
– Make a title page with picture (maybe that old one from my Java Traveller game?), author name, website, version number
– Add more examples and help for each section, kind of like FU Universal does
*- Don’t worry about page count or formatting/fitting perfectly for now. Just get content fleshed out then do that later
+++ 2nd & 3rd Playtest in mid Nov +++
– 4 Fate is a good number (maybe even 5, to make it easy to match “choose 5 things, write 5 Fate”)
– Spend 2 Fate to force Storyteller re-roll is good
– Dud = Slight to opposing group Momentum is good
— Mention the person the roll was against gets to describe what happens, like a reaction
– Longer Storyteller Momentum was okay-ish, but doesn’t need 80-90% of the time, maybe half the time
– Mention “wrench” concept in rules, of throwing in obstacles and difficulties
– New sheet for tracking Momentum that doesn’t require writing/crossing off items/printing paper works well
— Still include old sheet, for those that don’t want to gather a bunch of tokens/dice/markers for the new sheet style
– Situations sometimes end before the story is resolved, which is a huge problem
— Add a concept of “Overtime” that can be done by the Storyteller to lengthen a Momentum goal
— Keep the current Momentum score, so if you’re ahead you stay ahead? Resetting gets confusing because do you get your things back?
– Need rules for what happens on a Decisive roll if BOTH players roll a Dud
— Worse Dud loses? What even is a “worse” Dud?
– Players can get a “Cascade” which is when a Slight combines into an Average and combines again into a Perfect
— Let them change the entire scene/environment, sort of like how the Storyteller adds wrenches
— Change is not specific to their character, and is more a thematic element that can be utilized (potentially by both sides)
— Example would be “pirates spill out of the nearby tavern to help us against the navy”
– Rename Storyteller role to Referee (or something), to encourage the idea that all the players tell story elements too