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Old 06-25-2020, 03:30 AM   #1
fengmd
 
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Default GMing an FGO-Inspired Game?

Hi all, sorry for all this text! So, since the end of December 2019 I’ve been running a GURPS 4E game for six players with 700CP characters loosely inspired by characters from/similar to those found in the game/anime Fate/Grand Order (FGO) (the Type-Moon fandom/wikia page is a dumpster fire compared to the FGO one for the mobile game, imo, but your mileage may vary).

Everything leading up to the game’s first session went well (introduction to the system with Lite manual, character creation with my supervision/feedback/vetting, etc…) but, as is the case with many games, finding a time we could all consistently meet proved to be a challenge. Only three of my original players from December have remained in the game, while the other three-four slots have been in somewhat-constant flux until about a month ago when I managed to find three players that seem willing to stick with their characters and my campaign.

And while only a couple players had any knowledge of GURPS to begin with, the group’s managed well enough with the Lite and Basic Manuals, and even though I’m not running a rules-heavy campaign, there have been a lot more moving parts to keep track of compared to what they’re used to, but I digress.

For one thing, I know I’m not the only person to post on these fora about GURPS and FGO, and my questions are not about statting characters, but the composition of the 700CP character (Servants, as they’re called) party is from
oldest player character to newest:

1. Naval hero Sidero (Yi Sun-sin), player experienced with Pathfinder/D&D
2. Egyptian Cat Goddess Bastet, player has 0 tabletop experience, but listens to a lot of D&D podcasts
3. Slavic folk witch Baba Yaga (and her Chicken Hut, lol), their player is a few years older than me, has lots of tabletop experience, some with GURPS too
4. Achilles, recruited off FGO subreddit, so a gamer first, but has some experience with D&D
5. A Proud Tengu, also from FGO subreddit; lots of tabletop experience and enthusiastic, but 0 GURPS knowledge
6. Francine Descartes, last from FGO subreddit. Totally new to tabletop RPGs.

There’s also a Katsushika Hokusai/Oi character I made to help guide the party at some points.

Anyhow, the game began with the Servants/Demiservants being sent back (from TL10) to 19th century Crimea to deal with a singularity/Significantly Dangerous problem that occurs during the Crimean war (1854). The group’s traveled around the peninsula, visited a sleeping underwater eldritch city, fought off something like the Dunwich Horror in an abandoned town, and just visited a church where a strange rite had recently happened, and they were ambushed by something like Dagons.

As of last session, the party is still at the church, with a dead priest and they’ve discovered scraps of what seem to be parts of the Egyptian Book of Gates. This is also the session where I had to stop halfway and tell them I had no idea what to do because what I’d originally aimed for them to do (get to Sevastopol and figure out what’s causing all the chaos?) was not longer really making much sense after throwing in Lovecraft stuff and now Egyptian mythology. So I clearly need help. I’ve asked them what they want and two players said:

“Personally I’m looking for a balanced roleplaying and combat experience with stakes, when out of game I want to feel like the choices I make matter, make me make hard decisions like asking me to choose between what are basically ultimatums, I want be able to interact with NPCs who are their own people and don’t feel like they exist merely for the sake of being a plot device, and I want to play in a world where it feels like it could exist on its own without a player ever touching it, and for fights and dungeons I don’t have too many requests other than asking you don’t make it difficult for the sake of being difficult (like old arcade games that are difficult just to pad play time).”

And

“I have little experience with tabletop RPGs prior to this, so I came in with no real expectations (and so far, I'm pleasently surprised). Most of the points Overlord cited seem valid to me, though if I have to add my own touch, I would say to balance the campaign so that each character has a least a moment to shine. Like having a fight with a particularly tough ennemy that managed to knock down most of the characters and the team has to rely on the brawler specialists to win what seems to be an battle of endurance, having a time where you need to track down a certain character in a wild environnement that makes use of the hunting characters, having a time where the well-known characters from a land uses their fame to open a few doors for the group (could have done that with Baba Yaga since it's in the right setup), having complicated puzzles that require the inteligent characters of the bunch to wreck their brains on it, etc (though I do realise how difficult it would be to balance that with a team of players can be absent from the game at the last minute).”

I am inclined to agree more with the second person's feedback because I wanted to try using some challenges that aren’t just fighting things. Really, 700CP fights on a regular basis kinda get boring and I’m having to hit them with lots of penalties if I want to challenge them at all.

Does anyone think this game can be saved? The player with the most experience half-jokingly suggested that I just send the party back to the future to regroup and figure out where/when to go from there, which is just fine if more than a couple people in the group RP’d their characters more. To be fair, I haven’t really introduced many, if any, memorable or dynamic NPCs aside from Oi/Hokusai. I was considering having Florence Nightingale make an appearance, though, but that feels ex machina sort of, doesn’t it?
Any input is appreciated because I need help for tomorrow afternoon’s game and don’t want to let them down like I did the last session by cutting it short halfway through the session time.

Thanks!
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Old 06-25-2020, 07:34 AM   #2
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Default Re: GMing an FGO-Inspired Game?

You've got players and you've got a flexible premise, so I suspect the game can be saved.

A few comments:
  • You sound like you don't know what's actually going on in the crimea. This is something you should probably have figured out as soon as you can. When you know who the actors are and what their goals are everything gains a measure of logic, consistency, and direction.
  • Good NPC's don't have to be famous historical people or from fiction. In your description above you have a bunch of places to hang interesting NPCs. The leader of the local army can be a colorful figure. So could an especially competent scout. A priest, researcher, or treasure hunter that seems to be tracking the same thing they are could be an ally, rival, suspect, or all three. victims of the attacks can have solid personalities.
  • Don't worry about bringing in Miss Nightingale feeling "arbitrary". We've got Baba Yaga, Bastet, and Achilles wandering the crimea fighting Lovecraftian Monsters and discovering ancient egyptian magic. The Genre dictates that Florence IS involved, one way or another.
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Old 06-25-2020, 01:56 PM   #3
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Default Re: GMing an FGO-Inspired Game?

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
You've got players and you've got a flexible premise, so I suspect the game can be saved.

A few comments:
  • You sound like you don't know what's actually going on in the crimea. This is something you should probably have figured out as soon as you can. When you know who the actors are and what their goals are everything gains a measure of logic, consistency, and direction.
  • Good NPC's don't have to be famous historical people or from fiction. In your description above you have a bunch of places to hang interesting NPCs. The leader of the local army can be a colorful figure. So could an especially competent scout. A priest, researcher, or treasure hunter that seems to be tracking the same thing they are could be an ally, rival, suspect, or all three. victims of the attacks can have solid personalities.
  • Don't worry about bringing in Miss Nightingale feeling "arbitrary". We've got Baba Yaga, Bastet, and Achilles wandering the crimea fighting Lovecraftian Monsters and discovering ancient egyptian magic. The Genre dictates that Florence IS involved, one way or another.
Thank you so much for the feedback and ideas! Your second recommendation is particularly inspiring. :)
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Old 06-25-2020, 07:03 PM   #4
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Default Re: GMing an FGO-Inspired Game?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fengmd View Post
(...) Does anyone think this game can be saved? The player with the most experience half-jokingly suggested that I just send the party back to the future (...) Any input is appreciated because I need help for tomorrow afternoon’s game and don’t want to let them down like I did the last session by cutting it short halfway through the session time.
Thanks!
Hey there,

I think you should look for the book GURPS - supers. It features ideas that could help you manage the CP budget of your characters.

Maybe you should start another story, in the same universe. When my players reach high CP amounts (over 500), their characters become part of the universe’s “historic figures” and we start another game with about 250-350 CP. Sometimes the players find their own past characters as NPCs (as allies, patrons, enemies, etc.), it’s really nice.

As I see it, a 700 CP character is a very seasoned character. IMO the problem of playing with high CP budgets carries issues such as overlapping abilities (among the party), the need of micro-managing the characters abilities to create challenge (stuff as imposing the penalties you mentioned) and sometimes needing to think about NPCs that require the same budget of CP as the PCs to present a challenge.

Fewer CP means your people has to think about their role in the party. Of course, it is not a guarantee they won’t have overlapping roles… for that matter you need to talk to them and have them talk among them during character creation.
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Old 06-25-2020, 09:13 PM   #5
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Default Re: GMing an FGO-Inspired Game?

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Originally Posted by Hide View Post
Hey there,

I think you should look for the book GURPS - supers. It features ideas that could help you manage the CP budget of your characters.

Maybe you should start another story, in the same universe. When my players reach high CP amounts (over 500), their characters become part of the universe’s “historic figures” and we start another game with about 250-350 CP. Sometimes the players find their own past characters as NPCs (as allies, patrons, enemies, etc.), it’s really nice.

As I see it, a 700 CP character is a very seasoned character. IMO the problem of playing with high CP budgets carries issues such as overlapping abilities (among the party), the need of micro-managing the characters abilities to create challenge (stuff as imposing the penalties you mentioned) and sometimes needing to think about NPCs that require the same budget of CP as the PCs to present a challenge.

Fewer CP means your people has to think about their role in the party. Of course, it is not a guarantee they won’t have overlapping roles… for that matter you need to talk to them and have them talk among them during character creation.
I'd totally reboot things with new, lower CP characters if all the players had had more play time with the characters they've already made, but as it is, I just introduced three characters and it would feel wrong to just be like, "okay, let's make entirely new characters!" But that is a possibility in the future because I like the idea of having some continuity with the old characters making appearances as patrons or whatnot.

One option might be to have them assume the roles of human Masters, who are...well, human and in no way approach the CP of a their servants. But in order to do that, I'd need a good lead-in that I haven't figured out yet, lol.

Thanks for the feedback, though!
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Old 06-25-2020, 11:12 PM   #6
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Default Re: GMing an FGO-Inspired Game?

Regarding lower CP characters, it was revealed for some time, for FGO, that often the MC Master travels not with a group of fully summoned Servants from the home base, but what are sort of weaker copies called a "shades." Normally they travel with only one full Servant, and the rest are those weaker copies.

You could probably use something like that as an excuse for a lower CP character. Like they're sort of weaker copies being sent out while the originals are staying put back at the home base until the full characters are needed.

Last edited by warellis; 06-25-2020 at 11:15 PM.
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Old 06-26-2020, 07:56 AM   #7
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Default Re: GMing an FGO-Inspired Game?

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Originally Posted by warellis View Post
Regarding lower CP characters, it was revealed for some time, for FGO, that often the MC Master travels not with a group of fully summoned Servants from the home base, but what are sort of weaker copies called a "shades." Normally they travel with only one full Servant, and the rest are those weaker copies.

You could probably use something like that as an excuse for a lower CP character. Like they're sort of weaker copies being sent out while the originals are staying put back at the home base until the full characters are needed.
Yeah, I've got it set up now that all the characters are Demi-Servants, because I originally thought it would be difficult to have the characters play as Masters OR Servants because it seemed weird to have one player character as Master commanding another player character Servant as a Servant.

If they could play as Masters and still keep their current Servant characters as Allies, that may work? It would take a little tweaking, and Allies aren't really supposed to work like that are they?

I'm going to try continuing the game this afternoon, and still have a few things to figure out I guess...
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Old 06-28-2020, 10:58 AM   #8
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Default Re: GMing an FGO-Inspired Game?

Had a family emergency and couldn't continue the game, but it turns out half the group couldn't make it anyhow. Funny how those things work, right?

I did make some headway on what I will do though. I think continuing the game as it is, with the 700CP characters is doable, because they're still servants with little utility outside of combat situations.

What I was thinking is that instead of making it some ominous force that's trying to destroy humanity, what if it's some-one, trying to seek revenge for the loss of someone they cared about? Their power, for some reason, is only limited, at the moment, to only the Crimean peninsula.

The party will need to figure out all this, and also, what if someone in the party was, at some point, and in some way, responsible for the loss of this person this enemy is seeking revenge for?

Thanks again for any input! :)
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Old 06-28-2020, 03:16 PM   #9
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(...) If they could play as Masters and still keep their current Servant characters as Allies, that may work? It would take a little tweaking, and Allies aren't really supposed to work like that are they?
I would tweak this and consider the masters as dependents.

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(...) I think continuing the game as it is, with the 700CP characters is doable, because they're still servants with little utility outside of combat situations.
How do they earn CP? Wouldn’t they be able to buy the skills and become competent at using them relatively fast? For example, if someone has very high IQ, then a single point at several "detective skills" would be enough to turn the tables.

You could allow your players to play as the masters, and have them solve the stuff the servants are not supposedly good at. The masters should have a 150 CP budget plus disadvantages; I would put the servants apart from this budget, because they do not correspond to the 100 CP base to estimate their cost.

This I would ask the GM:

Will the campaign become a detective story? Why would we invest 700 CP in combat skills if we are not going to play with them?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fengmd View Post
What if someone in the party was, at some point, and in some way, responsible for the loss of this person this enemy is seeking revenge for?
It could be, if you tie this to the events your party has played in your campaign. I think it's better than having you suddenly intervening their character's backstory (as in a retcon).
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Old 06-28-2020, 04:39 PM   #10
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Default Re: GMing an FGO-Inspired Game?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fengmd View Post
What I was thinking is that instead of making it some ominous force that's trying to destroy humanity, what if it's some-one, trying to seek revenge for the loss of someone they cared about? Their power, for some reason, is only limited, at the moment, to only the Crimean peninsula.

The party will need to figure out all this, and also, what if someone in the party was, at some point, and in some way, responsible for the loss of this person this enemy is seeking revenge for?

Hmmm... thoughts....


Civilization in the Crimea is really old... it had Greek colonies on it when Rome was just one Italian City on it among many. You could feature ancient ruins from back then, or maybe a sunken ship: it was a big shipping hub. You can pull from ancient Mediterranean culture, or from old Slavic lore, or both.



As for what's making the "Hole in reality", or however you want to spin it, I have a few different ideas you could use.

  • An building, structure, or other device for keeping evil sealed in a can was inadvertently destroyed as a result of the war, and now the evil is trying to get out.
  • Some individual with supernatural talent and skin in winning the war is performing a ritual or rituals to cause chaos in an attempt to win the war. They may be a member of the warring parties, a civilian caught in the crossfire, or a time-traveling meddler who want the war to go a certain way for some reason.
  • Someone is hunting supernatural secrets on the Crimea, and is using the war as cover to steal, break down, and have the occasional mishap go unnoticed (or at least less noticed). They may also be pushing things along intentionally...
I've got this weird image of ghost ships raised up from the sea bed as fun element you could add into the game.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hide View Post
This I would ask the GM:

Will the campaign become a detective story? Why would we invest 700 CP in combat skills if we are not going to play with them?
I don't think the intent is to turn it into a detective game: its to wrap a narrative around the action. Combat is cool, but its more cool when it matters.


Quote:
It could be, if you tie this to the events your party has played in your campaign. I think it's better than having you suddenly intervening their character's backstory (as in a retcon).

That depends on your players. You've got 2,000 year old characters there. Some players might want you to ask permission before inserting characters into their backstory. Others will enjoy it. Still others may want some control, but would enjoy short flashbacks or questions about the relationship with the introduced character.
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