May 29, 2008

An Evil Hat Demands It

And so we must comply. Ok, not really, but I felt it sounded cool enough. If you look at the post below, you'll see that someone going by "evil hat productions" (likely someone representing the publishing company, but hey, it's the internet) asked me why I thought Spirit of the Century would be ideal for Indiana Jones-style adventures. I then thought to myself, "That would make an excellent post topic."

First, in non-spoilery terms, it "aspects" that really make it work. To be honest, I'm only vaguely familiar with SotC's system (FATE), but I think I've read enough about it to say that these are really the game-maker when it comes to situations like this. Aspects are character attributes that can be used, compelled, and tagged by the players and GM to get bonuses and achieve goals. They make it possible for players to achieve things slightly outside the normal bounds of their character's skills (this can be represented by a +2 on a skill roll, for instance).

Secondly, the Indiana Jones movies are in (or near) genre for the game. It's meant to provide an environment for pulp action with characters already at or near their prime, which Indy is - at least during the first three movies. This means that your standard story elements of coming into power are generally in the past for the PCs. It also means that trying to achieve just that takes some finagling in the system.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull spoilers below the fold. (This is something I'm testing with this post)

To give an example of what I would deem to be potential uses of aspects in one of the movies, I'll be examining the scene(s) pretty much immediately after the moment in the trailer where Indy pulls out the rocket and fires it.

Let's assume the following aspects exist: the scene has the aspects of "Jungle", "River", and "Cliff"; Indiana has the aspects "Trusting", "I've got a bad feeling about this", and "World-class Adventurer"; Mutt has the aspect "Foolhardy Adventurer" (this probably isn't the best name for it).

There's a few examples I'm gonna pull out of this. First example, though not in chronological order, is when Mutt gets caught up in the canopy of the jungle. This is an invocation, by the GM, of the scene's "Jungle" aspect to get Mutt stuck up in the trees. Of course, Mutt's player turns that right around on the GM and uses the "Jungle" aspect again to say "Well, there are vines in this jungle" and then uses his "Foolhardy Adventurer" aspect to swing from vine to vine back towards the action.

Second, I could see the GM compelling Indy's "Trusting" aspect when Mac tells him that he's a double-agent. The GM would do this to get the character to accept the NPC back into the party, despite any mistrust Indy (and his Player) may have towards him.

Third, I see a similar compel when Marion is about to go off the cliff. Indy gets compelled by his "I've got a bad feeling about this" aspect to question why she's driving them off the cliff and to try to get her to stop. Obviously this doesn't work. Marion on the other hand, uses the scenes aspects to say "I'm driving off the cliff, b ut I think there's going to be a tree to catch us and guide us into the river."

Like I said, I haven't played (or even read the actual rules) for Spirit of the Century but I think it's great for this kind of thing. I'm highly tempted to purchase it, and I can definitely see myself possibly adopting aspects into other games.