+Cheyenne Rae Grimes requested to play this game. I don't run a lot of sci-fi, certainly not hard sci-fi, but it might be fun. As always, however, I prefer to expose myself to the system a little bit. I think it's safe to say that somewhere in the glittering cosmos, there might be a mall planet.
Maybe not. But anyway, on we go.
The Game: Diaspora
The Publisher: VSCA
Degree of Familiarity: I've run and played a lot of Fate, but never this game in particular.
Books Required: Just the one.
Diaspora is, as I mentioned, a hard sci-fi RPG in early Fate. We start, as in many Fate games, by making characters in a group, but here we also make systems (as in, star systems) which are joined into a cluster. FTL travel happens within this cluster.
Now, I really like the group chargen thing, but as before when I've similar games, I shall just have to wing it.
I just need to do one system; if we had a group, we'd each do one. I make three rolls, one for Technology, one for Environment, and one for Resources, and then I put it all together and try to make it make sense. I have my Fate dice; 'scuse me a moment. OK, I get T0, E-1, R0. Hrm. Nothing stellar.
Well, reading the descriptions of all this, this system has one survivable world, enough resources that it doesn't gain anything by importing, and technology sufficient to get off-world and explore, but not to have commercial spacecraft. Let's say that the system (called Haynor) has a few planets, but one (Thohn) is closest to the star and therefore has just enough heat to sustain life. It also has a weird orbit, so it when it was colonized years ago, the folks doing the colonization figured it would stay warm longer than it did. It's been colonized for a good long while, but the inhabitants are starting to figure out that this ice isn't really going anywhere...it's getting worse "year" by "year." The space-tech that they used to come here is obsolete and doesn't do well in this environment, but it works well enough to get off-planet. Problem is, there's nowhere better to go.
The sky on Thohn is white or gray. There's always a thin layer of snow (in the warmest places) or a layer of permafrost (in the places that really suck). Sunshine is a universally accepted reason to stop working and run out under the sky, because it only tends to last 15 minutes or so. There's not much life, other than people (colonists).
Now, normally I come up with two Aspects for my system, and then the group would help come up with a final one that represents the system's place in the cluster. But since I have no group, I'll do all three. I'll give it We Are a Hardy People (representing the fact that inhabitants of Thohn tend to be pretty tough, given how damn cold it is), The Only Way Out is Off (the planet self-sustaining, but not for long), and, to give it a place in the cluster, Forgotten System (Haynor isn't even in a lot of history books).
All right, now we make my character in particular. This works a lot like other Fate games. My first thing is Aspects. I'll wind up with 10 of them (this is something that changed in Fate Core, and I'm glad of it, because 10 is too much).
Phase One: Growing Up: This is meant to establish my home system. I suppose if I had a group and we did group system/cluster design, I'd have a few to choose from, but as I don't, my guy is from Thohn. His name is Myler Shaunessy (I like "Myler", kind of in the same vein as the names in Hunger Games; they sound real, but just unreal enough to let you know that the setting isn't ours). So, Myler's from Thohn. We'll say that Myler's father worked himself to death out in the snow; hypothermia is the most common way to die on Thohn, and if you get working hard enough you fall victim to the "I am freezing to death but my body thinks it's warm" issue. So dad died when Myler was just a boy, and his mother is somewhat distant because of it. I'll take All Work and No Play Makes You Dead and Home Fires Burn Bright. I see Myler as yearning for the family that ice took away.
Phase Two: Starting Out: Myler wanted to get the hell off Thohn, but passed up several opportunities to do so. Why? What's so special about him? Well, we'll say he's a Master of Spatial Geometry; he's got an affinity for that kind of math, which is very hand when planning space flights. But although he could have shipped out pretty much any time, he didn't want to leave his mother behind. When she finally died (a lung condition exacerbated by the cold), Myler felt there was Nothing For Me on Thohn anymore.
Phase Three: Moment of Crisis: This something that created change in Myler. Let's assume he shipped out a month after Mom died. The space flight was planned perfectly, but one of the other crew members fucked up his calculations, and the air mixture was off. The crew started to hallucinate from lack of oxygen (or too much, who knows) and Myler wound up hiding in an escape pod while the others killed each other. The Massacre Aboard the Celestine haunts him still. He launched the pod and was picked up by another ship with jump capability, and spent a month in quarantine. I'll take Lost in My Own Mind as the other Aspect; Myler is smart and contemplative, but he's withdrawn and prone to daydreaming.
Phase Four: Sidetracked: This is about things out of my control. Normally this would involve one of the other players, as would Phase Three, but since I don't have a group, I'll assume that one of the other players might be on the ship that rescued me. That player's player might have seen that I had Blood on My Hands, the implication being that Myler might have killed one of his crew and forgotten or lied about it. I'll also take an Aspect of Killer Instinct; Myler is not someone to fuck with. He doesn't engage casual threats, but if you're really intent on hurting him, he doesn't hesitate.
Phase Five: On Your Own: This is "now". (We're at now, now. When will then be now? Soon.) Myler seeks clarity, I think. He wants to leave behind the trauma of the Celestine and the grief of his childhood, but to do that, he needs to find happiness and peace. Troubled Genius is good, I think, as an Aspect. I think Myler keeps his quarters cold (he's just used to the ambient temp being low) whenever he can, and is Painfully Formal to people around him.
Right, that's Aspects. Now, Skills. These work in a pyramid, and it's all laid out on the sheet, so that's nice. I know I want Science as my Apex (level 5) Skill. I'll take Navigation and Engineering as my level 4's. For the level 3, I'll take Survival (learned growing up), Stealth (he's just naturally quiet) and Resolve.
For the level 2 Skills, I want Repair, Pilot, MicroG, and Close Combat. And finally at level 1, I take Intimidation, Computer, Brokerage, Assets (some money is good), and Alertness.
For stress tracks, I have three boxes in Health (since I have no Stamina), 5 boxes in Composure (since I do have Resolve) and four in Wealth (since I have Assets).
Now, Stunts. I have three of them. Unlike Spirit of the Century and Dresden, this gives me things that stunts can do across the board and information on building my own. So. I want to be able to use Science in place of Charm; Myler's not terrible good with people, but he's very, very smart, and he can dazzle people with his quiet knowledge. I can use Science at 3 without a Fate point, or at 5 if I spend one. I'll take Military-Grade Navigation, which allows me to place three ships during the detection phase of ship combat. I don't know what that means, but it sounds cool and vaguely geometrical. Finally, I'll use a stunt to add another Consequence; I'm Resilient. I use 4 consequences instead of 3 (it doesn't say if that applies to all tracks, but if not, Physical).
And that's it! Neato.