Someone is WRONG on the internet. . .again!

Rather than writing (which I should be), I found myself sucked down a rabbit hole I normally know better than to avoid: Quora.

[With apologies for my post title to Randall Munroe and his great comic, specifically Duty Calls.]

This is the question that snared my attention: What is your opinion of the FATE RPG system (the one with the fudge dice)?

TLDR; I didn’t add an answer of my own. Francis Dickinson nailed it. +eleventy

However, another never-played-Fate maroon felt compelled to vomit into the void. I won’t reprint Ryan Marshall’s answer except to point out that his entire experience with Fate is that he “powered [reading] on through [Fate Core] anyway” already operating on the presumption that he didn’t like it. Confirmation bias much, bro? Feel free to downvote his answer at your leisure.

Here’s my answer to his bloviation (also featured on Quora with slightly different formatting):

You’re missing some crucial distinctions, Ryan.

For the sake of argument, I’ll stipulate to your (and my daughter’s) premise that Captain America is “the perfect soldier.” Steve still has plenty of opportunities to accumulate Fate points. Any reading of the things that happen to him during any comic or movie in which he is featured demonstrate this narrative fixture. He has weaknesses in the form of human interactions and emotional blind spots. His primary Trouble could be expressed as Loyal to a Fault. It drives the entire plot of The Winter Soldier.

Also, consider that a player in a Fate-based game accumulates fate points whenever her character is compelled to a decision or an event by an aspect. It does NOT have to be that character’s aspect. Any aspect in play is eligible for compels and invocations at any time. You could, in theory, make your personal version of Steve Rogers as “perfect” as you like and still accumulate a fate point when the GM drops Ironman on your head by compelling the game aspect Obey the Law. Whoops.

Let’s play “Name that Aspect.” I’ll bet you can come up with the character “flaw” that compels Steve NOT to turn over Fury’s flash drive to Pierce in The Winter Soldier and thereby become a fugitive and an enemy of the state. Hint: It rhymes with An Overdeveloped Sense of _____.

In Death We Trust, Part 1 (#Modernity #Fate)

New-to-Fate players make Modernity games awesome and fun to run!

I had the pleasure of introducing a new table of players to the system tonight, and they’ve come up with a fantastic game for themselves to play. All their ideas.

  • There is a rift in the veil widening in Houston.
  • There is a burgeoning necromancer in town capitalizing upon the rift and exacerbating it.
  • The heroes now include:
    • A ghost of uncertain provenance and problematically inconsistent corporeality
    • An occult warrior for social justice (and unrepentant yarn-bomber)
    • A full punk, natural born technomancer
    • An earth guardian spirit born of rage against unrestricted fracking
    • A teenage medium (think “occult Nancy Drew”)

For an all female cast, the Phase Trio got particularly graphic and naughty. In just the three phases of character creation, the players imagined:

  • Canopic jars that act as occult power sources (batteries or generators) when filled with fresh organs.
  • A monster that escalated from its original pattern of subsisting upon the terror of its dying victims to thriving on the terror of an entire neighborhood when it began returning the body parts of its victims to their loved ones.

And those two were just for starters… Based on the aspects that they’ve imagined for themselves, there will be blood every night! (Having more than one nurse in the group may be an aggravating factor in the splatter department. =)

Stay tuned. Part 2 comes next Tuesday. We’ll see how our heroines fair against “real” story opposition.

Hope in the face of tragedy?

almost april fictionA good friend of mine just made the world a little better place.

Deb Ferguson has been working on this contemporary tale of one teenager’s struggle with overwhelming issues, and what she learns about the larger world outside her own misery.

It helps us all to look outside our own four mental walls (and outside our own typical genre!) once in a while.

I’m proud of Deb’s accomplishment and the story she has shared with the world in Almost April.

Go buy it! You’ll feel better about yourself.

Unexpectedly entertaining AND uplifting?

On the advice of Howard Tayler, I ignored my Marvel instinct. You know, the one that reminds you of all the horribleness that a bad comic book movie (or TV show) can bring. I’m getting too old to waste my time on bad entertainment. (Agents of Shield, for example, is still on TV because Fox only cancels good shows.)

But, Howard’s taste is often in agreement with mine, so I gave it a try… I packed up the family and drove an entire five minutes to the Alamo Drafthouse.


Although they kicked off with a scene that was REALLY tough for us as a family. Several people that we love very much have either recently been diagnosed or recently passed on due to cancer. Watching my wife tear up at the beginning, I was VERY afraid that the movie wouldn’t be able to recover from starting its first scene on a deathbed. Ouch.

But it was almost like nobody at Marvel was involved in the writing! They found a storyteller or two who know their craft, and trusted them to do it right. They put together an amazing show, entirely without any time wasted on exposition, and still managed to convey depth and richness of characters and universe that usually takes more than 122 minutes to deliver. Because I’ve never read the GotG comics, I don’t know where Groot comes from or the details of Rocket’s origin, but the movie alone made me want to find out.

Like Howard said in his review, I want to go back and watch it again with a notebook just to learn at the knee of some fabulous storytellers.

Sure, there was the obligatory Stan Lee cameo (well-mocked by Rocket) and the characters’ origins are all shrouded in trials, tribulations, and orphan’s tears (I’m sure that there’s a rule against superheroes having a normal, middle-class childhood, functional parents who love them, and growing up in a Cleaver-type home), but the fun part is where the heroes go from there and how they grow. (My inner 10-year old was screaming at them NOT to give the infinity stone to the Xandar. You’re going to need that later, you idiots! Heh.)

The only cringe-worthy moments for me (besides Starlord repeatedly embarrassing himself, but that’s Chris Pratt’s schtick; they did choose the perfect guy for the character – and the writers kept him from getting insufferable) were some of the supporting character names and place names. That’s where the Marvel really leaked through. Knowhere? Thanos? Xandar? Ronan the Accuser? Korath the Pursuer? Drax the Destroyer? It’s like somebody went to the J.R.R. Tolkein School of Naming Conventions and only paid attention during The Naming of Gods And Demons 101. Although, I thoroughly enjoyed Dave Batista’s performance as Drax, he didn’t need an over-the-top title any more than Groot did. Speaking of Groot, I expected his one line to get really old, really fast… But great writers and great actors kept that from happening. As much fun as I’ve had at Vin Diesel movies in the past, I think they found his dialogue sweet spot with three words. He pulled off so many different context-appropriate inflections of “I am Groot” that I was impressed. But… Wherever there was a stereotype or a caricature, I could see the Marvel origins bleeding out, and it made me a little sad.

But not enough to ruin the movie!

The promise at the end was “The Guardians of the Galaxy will return.” At least I hope that’s the promise. (Not that there will be another Howard the Duck movie. That would really [CENSORED] me off!)