Saturday I ran a small playtest for Fate of Tekumel, this time using a variant of the character generation and magic rules from the Fate Freeport Companion. They worked pretty well!
I had two players, Marc and Rob, and Chirine ba Kal as an observer. Chirine wrote a blog post about the session here. Marc and Rob created characters who belong to the same clan and lineage. While they share the same heritage, they have embarked on very different walks of life.
Marc created Tlamal, a spy with experience in the Legions; his character is a master of disguise, and always has a knife handy when he needs it. Rob chose to play Niko, a priest of Qon. For this playtest, he selected six spells from Guardians of Order's Tekumel: Empire of the Petal Throne, and I translated them into Fate Freeport Companion's spell mechanics. This was really great, because I really wanted to start testing out spell mechanics.
As a brief aside, during the character generation process Chirine showed us Professor Barker's own illustration of a priest of Lord Qon, a Stability deity and the Cohort of Lord Belkhanu, Lord of the Excellent Dead. Qon's priests wear a beast mask; the mask has a long toothy snout and is similar in appearance to that of a jackal. Think Anubis and you have an idea where Professor Barker was coming from with the regalia of Lord Qon's priests.
The adventure had the two PCs heading from the city out to the countryside to collect past due rent from a set of villages that were part of the clan's fiefdom. The tribute had not been paid for several years, so our PCs hired some enforcers. They also hired a guide. This is particularly important since maps are not that common in Tsolyanu. Experience and local know-how really matter if you are trying to get somewhere.
After paying the requisite bribes to the Captain of a Sakbe road guard tower, they headed for the distant forest. On the other side of that small forest were the villages that owed them tribute. The PCs and their retinue made camp just before reaching the forest. They set a watch, but in the morning they discovered their cash box was missing. A number of the guards were also missing various shiny items.
The PCs could hear giggling from the edge of the Seyukh Forest. Our heroes realized that they had been victimized by one or more of the creatures known as Kuruku, "The Small Giggler"! Marc's character Tlamal gave chase with a few men-at-arms. They entered the forest, hot on the trail of the creatures. Soon they heard other, more chilling sounds: the whooping laughter of a pack of the spiny-backed Hyahyu'u beasts, who soon had them surrounded.
Tlamal parkoured up a tree; his troops tried to do the same, but lacked his athleticism. They settled for using their spears to hold back the Huahyu'u. A bit later Tlamal took a one-two action: he feinted and distracted a beast by dropping a spiky Durian-like fruit down near it, and then dispatched the distracted beast with a carefully hurled knife.
Seeing the battle from afar, priest Niko cast the spell Acceleration on himself and raced into the forest. His retainers struggled to catch up. After a few moments, Niko was on the scene, and cast Hands of Kra the Mighty, crushing the windpipe of another beast. The third turned tail and ran.
I learned a few things from the playtest:
- Rob, who was new to Fate, got a handle on the system very quickly - although I completely forgot to introduce the concept of declarations
- Marc made use of the Succeed at a Cost rule - the first time ever that someone has in one of my Fate Core games
- Rob chose to take a shift of Mental Stress rather than spend FPs to cast his spells. That was a prudent expenditure and he was still very effective in the fight - even though he took a bunch of stress in the combat
- Marc underscored the importance of creating text boxes in the eventual published game to explain various aspects of Tsolyani culture. One quick example of this is the importance and ubiquity of discrete bribes to make things happen. The social game in Tekumel.
- The spells in T:EPT worked well enough, but we'll be going back to War of Wizards, and Swords & Glory, Vol. 2 before the next game. I want to try building some spells based on the descriptions in those two games.