It took some doing, and finagling, and even a bit of bribery, but I finally managed to get a gaming group together to begin a game of Diaspora. We had tried gaming together before, and had really enjoyed setting up the game. However, not one of us had run a FATE game before, so the game play itself was not quite right, and we had problems trying to introduce new characters into the game later on, which derailed the game.
I have loved, truly loved and enjoyed, every FATE game’s setup phase. Diaspora just multiplies the fun astronomically. Literally. The first thing you and your group will do when starting your Diaspora campaign, is create the galaxy in which you will set your game. Each player rolls their FATE dice, generating three statistics for their system that define the technology, environment, and resources of that system. Then together you construct a story of why the system has those statistics, and how they relate to other systems in the galaxy. You also roll dice to determine which systems are connected by the slipstreams, the way ships are able to travel between systems. Our galaxy ended up looking like this:
This time, as opposed to our last play where we had two or three systems capable of slipstream travel, we had only one, Xantium. The others were either fairly insular, or as hard pressed for resources as Xantium. We each started coming up with ideas for characters, and ended up focusing on the following three systems. For now at least.
Xantium: T 2, E 0, R -2, Slipstream Use, Garden World, Needs Imports
Aspects: Masters of our Destiny, Keep calm and carry on, Negotiators
Xantium is the ruler of trade and travel in this galaxy. Not overtly militarized, thats done more quietly, but dedicated outwardly to diplomacy and mutually beneficial trade agreements. They have a long trade route involving four other systems (Opaline, Mandal, Totes, and Kerchak). With most they have typical trade agreements. On Kerchak (see below) things are a little different. Two characters, Captain Fitzhugh and Julia Fairchild, hail from Xantium.
Opaline: T 1, E -1, R 0, Exploiting, Survivable World, Sustainable
Aspects: We’re getting restless, Oooh, how much is this shiny thing over here?, Let’s make a deal
Opaline is kind of the shiny new idealists of the galaxy, always looking for the next thrill. They jumped at the offers from Xantium to ride along as traders, and tend to purchase manufactured goods from Xantium, just to have the latest and greatest new toy. The pilot of our group (Beryl) hails from Opaline.
Kerchak: T -1, E -1, R 0, Atomic, Survivable World, Sustainable
Aspects: Where did we go wrong?, Getting a little tight, Survival of the Fittest
At first I thought this one was going to end up a bit silly for my tastes. The players working on Kerchak made it an Ape dominated planet, as in, the main intelligent species are all more like apes, or chimps, or other monkeys, than they are like humans. They have a bit of a chip on their shoulder, and rightly so, as the other races tend to look down on them as less evolved. They have a complex social structure composed of many tribes which may or may not be getting along on any given day. Xantium has taken advantage of this as much as possible, sending ground teams down to trade with one tribe or another. Two players, James Khaaang and Mack Blackback are from Kerchak.
I won’t go into great detail on our characters here. I think we are still getting a feel for them, since we have only actually played through one session. But here is a quick summary:
Captain Fitzhugh – The captain on a Xantian ship isn’t really in charge of the ship. He is an agent of the government, appointed to the ship, to make sure all transactions have the official approval of the Xantian government. On board ship he is subject to the Merchant, but on ground teams he is in charge, especially on Kerchak missions. Fitzhugh is our natural leader, who had a bit of a run in and was defamed by Julia, and impressed Mack during a mission to Kerchak. He is well respected, if a bit rough around the edges.
Julia Fairchild – An excellent diplomat, on paper. She was top of her class, but was offended by being forced to work on Kerchak rather than the post she feels is her destiny, hence the defaming of Captain Fitzhugh who was her commander through that mission. She is especially dangerous when dealing with the religions of other cultures, and shattered some of the myths that Beryl had based her life on. She’s still taking her destiny in her own hands, and upset with the Xantian government for getting in the way of her career.
Beryl – An excitable pilot who loves to shop. She’s eager to sea the galaxy, but tends to step on toes, as her upbringing was not exactly multi-cultural. She had a snafu with James, where she offered to buy him as a pet. Her whole world was shaken up after her run in with Julia, so she is actively looking for the truth in all the situations around her, even if she continues to get things wrong. She’s also good in a fight, and is very loyal to Captain Fitzhugh.
James Khaaaang – Spy chimp. I can’t help it, I really enjoy that phrase. James is sneaky, intelligent, and keeping his eyes on everything. He keeps secrets well, and is an excellent assassin, sent into other tribes on precise missions. After his run-in with Beryl he is leery of off worlders, and though he will take what he can get from them, will never really trust them. He has a small contingent of stealthy chimps that can come to the rescue when needed.
Mack Blackback – A young gorilla, charged with the protection of James after their joint incident with Beryl. It’s more of a punishment than an honor, but since Mack is a dutiful guy, he is obeying the rules. He live strictly by the ‘survival of the fittest’ rule of his world, secure in his place as the top of the order on the planet. The ape world has a slightly higher gravity than other other planets, and so in addition to his already impressive stamina, his numbers count for a little more than the off worlder stats. He is impressed with Captain Fitzhugh’s sense of honor, and is a little less leery of the hairless ones than James.
So that was the setup session for our new Diaspora game. Hopefully soon, I will get up the report of our first session. It was a good time, and I hope I can keep things moving in a fun and interesting manner.