Space Race 1895 Actual Play

So, I officially started my limited-run Space Race 1895 campaign today. Here are some notes about the game.  As the name would imply, it’s a steampunk game, and I’m using FATE 2nd Edition rules.  It’s at my home, and I have 7 players (!).

The first half of the game session was taken up by character creation, and then there was an initial brief encounter to help get the feel of the game.

The Players

  • John Reiher played his Grandfather, Ben Reiher, a railroad engineer working for the Vanderbilts, who’s along for the ride as a trusted confidante looking out for the family’s interests
  • Laura Mortensen played Shana O’Shea, a tough Pinkerton employee who’s been hired by the Edison Company to safeguard their valuable patented technology and see that the ship makes it to its destination.
  • Kam White played Victoria Tebitt, a well-published science journalist who will be documenting the trip for posterity.
  • Rolfe Bergstrom played Boyo, a rough-and-tumble confidence man from the Bowery who managed to strike it rich and is a minor partner in the venture.
  • Sarah Bergstrom played Terry White, a genius inventor and mad-gadgeteer employed by Edison to keep the ship ship-shape.
  • Cliff Hare played Lt. Smedley Butler, a Naval officer, who is to be the group’s chaperone and protector.
  • Erik Hendrikson played Adam Gee, a dashing devil of derring-do, who’s along primarily for his publicity value.

The Mission

After being commissioned in the American Lunar Expedition Company, the group is to travel to a secret destination where the ship is waiting for launch!   They are to get to the moon and secure the valuable phlogiston deposits there before the other Great Powers can do so, and bring some back home.

The group met at the US Naval Observatory building in Washington City, District of Columbia and were briefed by a an august assemblage of industry captains, military and civilian officials, and noted scientists, and told to get on a train to Kansas City the very next morning, where Lt. Butler would make a secret contact who would inform them of their secret destination.

The set out for an evening of drinking at the posh Willard Hotel, but before they could get there, they were ambushed!  They easily defeated the interlopers.

They were arguing about whether it would be safe to go barhopping in Georgetown, when Lt. Butler and Shana O’Shea noticed that the carriage had stopped.  When Butler poked his head out window, he was fired upon by several assailants who had taken up defensive positions.  It was an ambush!  And their driver had jumped overboard and was running away!

Ben Reiher jumped up topside and took the reins, driving the carriage right towards the attackers, in an attempt to run one or more of them down.  Boyo lept out of the carriage to chase down the escaping driver, Adam Gee lept out and jumped on an attacker, restraining and hog-tying him (in world record regulation time).  The Lieutenant, O’Shea, and Tebitt returned fire from the carriage while White used her MacGuyver like skills to fortify the inside of the carriage, effectively giving it a bit of armor.

When all the smoke settled, the carriage was stuck on a berm, Boyo had completely dominated the driver and physically hauled him back to the carriage, Gee had captured an attacker, and the other four lay dead.

The two survivors were roughly interrogated.

They were all Southern sympathizers, and one of them had a telegram from Ottawa, which seemed to indicate the British Empire had employed them to waylay our heroes!

The surviving would-be hijackers were handed over to the local police, and Lt. Butler decided to change plans… rather than stay at the Willard as planned, they would instead head to the train station immediately and board the next train going in the direction of Kansas City!

And… that’s where we left it for the evening.

Thoughts on the System

I’m using FATE, which is the underlying system used by Spirit of the Century and Dresden Files (although there are some differences, particularly with Dresden Files).

I like the system, but I think I had the players roll the dice a bit much.  In future sessions, I’m going to reduce that a bit, I think.

It was my first FATE combat.  And, frankly, the reason I put the ambush in in the first place was to test combat out a bit, and gauge the power level of the party, so I know what to throw at them in the future.  I hadn’t intended for the fight to be all that challenging, but it was far easier for them than I had anticipated.  This is good to discover early on.

I’m not sure how “mooky” to make the mooks.  In Savage Worlds, for example, the bad guys die as soon as they take a wound.  FATE doesn’t actually have that rule, but I did that anyway, and I think that’s part of what made the combat so easy for the players.  However, if I had used the normal wound progression for them, I don’t think the outcome would have been much different, it just would have taken longer.  So I think giving them better skills would have been in order.  Also, I only made a +1 advantage for their superior position, and I think maybe it should have been a higher bonus.

I simplified character creation somewhat… instead of letting the players build skills phase by phase, I just told them they get one Great(+3), 2 at Good(+2), 3 at Fair(+1), and 4 at Average(0).  This way, they get 10 skills,  one of which is a specialty.  I think it worked out well.  Using FATE’s recommended method would have taken a while with 7 players, and I don’t think would have made the end result any better.

The players took some great Aspects, and I can’t wait to put them in situations where they’re invoked.  Some of my favorites:

  • Corporate Shill
  • Phlogiston of the Sierra Madre
  • 9 Impossible Things Before Breakfast
  • It’s the Amazing Adam Gee!
  • Disturbed Loner
  • Mean Streets of Boston
  • Never Say Die

There was a bit of confusion about Aspects versus Skills in some situations, and I think I was a little wishy-washy about that.  There’s some overlap there.  All in all though, I think the characters are all pretty well defined,  and the party members complement each other well.

Erik pointed out that the adjectives in Spirit of the Century are different, but the progression ladder is essentially the same.   Average in SoTC is (-1) I think, and in vanilla FATE it’s a (+1).


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2 Responses

  1. […] commenting about his FATE 2.0 game Mark mentioned that his combat was much easier than anticipated. While there are some decided differences, FATE 2.0 mechanics are […]

  2. […] commenting about his FATE 2.0 game Mark mentioned that his combat was much easier than anticipated. While there are some decided differences, FATE 2.0 mechanics are […]

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