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Hans Messersmith
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With your head held high and your scarlet lies You came down to me from the open skies It's either real or it's a dream There's nothing that is in between
Twilight, I only meant to stay awhile Twilight, I gave you time to steal my mind Away from me.
I had the good fortune of being able to run a session of The Kerberos Club (Fate Edition) at Hammercon III in Hamilton, Ontario, on November 4. Here is a brief report, with some thoughts on the game.

The scenario I created was entitled "the Affair of the Seven Dials". It was set in the Middle Era, in 1864. I started off the session in this fashion...

"The Affair of the Seven Dials began with the Ambassador of the Apes of Ophir trying to eat one of the servants at the Kerberos Club..."

And went on from there, with the players investigating why the Ambassador felt compelled to try to eat the servant, the discovery of the new drug, Red Lady's Slipper, and the connection between this drug and the growing immigrant faerie community in the Rookery of St. Giles.

I created some pre-generated characters (stealing heavily from Michael Moorcock and Sexton Blake...)

* Lucas Moreland (from the rulebook)
* Dr. Archibald Monroe (from the rulebook)
* Lt. Henry Corvallis Elliot - test subject for Her Majesty, and operator of the Javellin Mk III Pneumatic Musculature, which allows him to travel at the astonishing speed of 75 MPH!
* Trison Detsen Rinpoche - 12th Kagyu Lama, and Ambassador of the Kingdom of Shambala to the British Empire.
* Monsieur/Madamoiselle Zenith - a Sinister Albino, well known for gentleman/ladylike villainy but currently experimenting with virtue out of boredom
* Ms. Una Persson - amnesiac meta-temporal adventuress
* Phoebe Hexcomb, a.k.a. the Sage of Birds - most recent in a long line of Lambeth witches

Fortunately for me another game was cancelled, and so I had a full table of 5 really excellent players. They played all of the characters above except for Dr. Monroe and Phoebe Hexcomb. Darcy, who played Zenith, immediately asked whether she could play that character as being of completely ambiguous gender, which I agreed to with glee. We then had some fun for the rest of the evening as everyone who tried to politely address (now) Professor Zenith had extreme difficulty deciding which gendered pronouns were appropriate.

I won't go into details with respect to the fictional content of the game. Like many investigative type games it involved the characters searching for clues, and me providing them. However there were a few notable events that I think point out the brilliance of the basic FATE aspect/fate point system.

* At one point, Trisong Detsen Rinpoche was making his way through the Rookery, looking at the extreme poverty that surrounded him. As one of his aspects was "Infinite Compassion for all Sapient Beings" he started handing out Shamballan coins to people on the street (and probably wrecking the English economy in the process, with the amount of wealth he was spreading). I immediately grabbed two fate points and waved them at Trisong's player and said "Wow, I think you are handing out so much money that word of you will get around, I mean REALLY get around" with a tone of menace. (IN KC Fate, some aspects called Convictions and Major Complications are compelled with two, not one, fate). The player immediately accepted the fate points. Later, when the players arrived at Kewish and Kewish, Pawnbrokers, where they believed the sinister Mr. Bloom's criminal organization was coordinating the distribution of Red Lady's Slipper, the awful Gilbert Kewish was well prepared for their arrival, showing them a Shamballan coin that an informant had passes his way.

* At another point, the characters were in a pub off Leicester Square, doing some investigation. The player of Ms. Una Persson suggested, based on her aspect "Synchronicity and Deja Vu" that she had been to this pub before, and knew there was a special room in it. I immediately grabbed a fate point and said to her "Oh yes, Ms. Persson knows of a room here, she is absolutely certain of that...and her memories of that room when she finds it are going to be very, very wrong". The player grabbed the fate point, and then described Ms. Persson wandering up stairs, remembering a room. I described the memory as being all of sunshine, and of really pleasant interlude spent with a gentleman in a powdered white wig. When she opened the door, of course, it was filled with cigar smoke and geezers distributing the boodle from a recent jewelry store robbery.

The session ended with a battle between the characters and the Brothers Kewish (a pair of twin Cornish Giants), some redcaps (which I described as Scottish midgets with MASSIVE BOOTS), and a swarm of vicious and bloodthirsty pixies. The characters were forced to retreat, but only after Lucas Moreland learned what he needed to know from the mind of Gilchrist Kewish.

All of the players expressed their enjoyment of the game in most gratifying terms, and I myself enjoyed it tremendously.

Some thoughts on Kerberos Club - Fate Edition:

* I really love the setting.

* It's not as good a convention game as Spirit of the Century. The Unique and Strange skills take some getting used to, and if you didn't make them up yourself, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what your character can do. This was not a fatal, or even annoying, blow to the game session, but it did mean a fair amount of time was spent explaining rules mechanics.

* However, I think it is a really good game. Once you get the hang of what your character can do, it flows pretty smoothly.

* The Power Tiers are a BIG deal. In KC - Fate, skills are rated in power tiers (Extraordinary, Supernatural, etc.) as are difficulties. If you are using a skill that has a higher power tier than your difficulty, you can replace one or more of the four fudge dice you roll with a normal d6. This means that it is routine for the result of a roll to be +9 or more when using a higher power tier against a normal tier difficulty, an unheard of result in other FATE games. As a GM, you need to be prepared to accept that when the characters are using higher Power Tier skills they will simply dominate and do whatever they want unless you are giving them opposition in the same power tier.

* This version of Fate is by far the most tactical version of Fate yet. There is a rock-paper-scissors quality to the game; if the players can find a spot where they are using their high power tier skills versus a normal power tier defense of their opposition (regardless of venue, physical, mental, social), they will be able to dominate that opposition (and vice versa). This is not unique to KC - Fate, it exists in most super-hero games, and can be mitigated by spending fate points, but it is there. As an example, when the characters were fighting the Brothers Kewish, they kept trying to hurt them on their Health Stress tracks. As Cornish Giants, the Brothers Kewish were VERY tough in this area (Armor 2 plus Supernatural power tier defense). In addition, while some characters were using Maneuvers to put some very entertaining Aspects on the Brothers Kewish, they were then to some extent squandering those free tags for ineffectual amounts of Health stress. Meanwhile, the Brothers and the redcaps were really beating down hard on the characters that had no higher power tier physical defense.

* Another tactical element is the use of Maneuvers plus the free tag for a COMPEL, instead of just the bonus. The character playing Trisong Detsen Rinpoche had been able to get two sticky aspects on one of the Brothers: "Dizzied" and "Tied up in a long Red Scarf". He then pulled a pile of furniture down on top of the brother, giving him "Buried Under Furniture" as an aspect. At this point, the players really wanted to get away from the scene, so I suggested that the player playing Trisong use the free tag on "Buried Under Furniture" to compel me to just stay under the furniture and not give chase, and compel the other aspects as well if I decided to buy out from the first one. This was a light bulb moment for the players, and it's too bad it happened right at the end of the session. The power of maneuvers plus compels suddenly became clear to them.

I am really excited to run a campaign of this game at the earliest opportunity. After I have run it a few more times I will be doing a more fulsome review.
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Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
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explanation does not equal excuse
Awesome- glad to see it went well and the story sounds great. Your observation about using tags to cause enemy compels is an excellent one- and something I need to get my players in the habit of thinking about. Great write up!
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Mike Olson
United States
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Good stuff -- glad you enjoyed it!
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