True Tales of a Gaming Harlot

Last summer, I gave up on D&D. True story. I could probably write pages upon pages about what went wrong, but it doesn’t really matter. D&D is a great game. I especially love 4E. But sadly, me and D&D just weren’t meant to be.

Which is OK. Life happens sometimes, we all move on. And, uhm, move on I have…

See, I find myself on a bit of a gaming glut. Binge gaming, if you will. After years of monogamy to D&D, I now want to try every game that gets even the least little bit of positive word-of-mouth. I have suppliers, dealers, connections, and best of all, other people to aid and abet my gaming spree by playing with me. If you can imagine myself, clad only in the soft whisper of nerdy t-shirts and blue jeans, rolling around atop a pile of fresh, new-to-me games, well…

Boy. That’s some mental picture. I think I need a moment.

AHEM. At any rate, my resolution for this year was to acquire more experiences and fewer things, and to that end I have managed to turn gaming into my personal crusade to get my grabby little hands on every cool experience to be had out there. We are barely into April and already I can declare my mission a rousing success. And there’s so very much more gaming to come!

After a too-long hiatus from gaming (and life in general), I began my new adventures with a system I had flirted with in the past, albeit somewhat unsuccesfully. Still, I had players who were interested, and willing to try again because we saw the promise of greatness within the system, something fairly simple that seemed to build into any infinitely complex sets of gaming experiences, and we were intrigued. The system? FATE, and most specifically, the Bulldogs! variant that would allow me to carry out my dream of doing all this IN SPAAAAAAAAACE.

1. I love it. Character creation was involved (expect it to take a couple sessions, at least, especially if you’re unfamiliar with FATE in general, as we were) but dynamic. Aiding that was something I have SHAMELESSLY stolen from DM Samuel of RPG Musings infamy, which was basically a sort of interactive questionnaire to easily and flawlessly build character history between PCs. In the end, we came up with a ragtag band of white hat smugglers, tooling around the galaxies in a stolen ship (with all kinds of hidden surprises).

2. Transitioning from D&D to FATE has had its hiccups. We’re still trying to get the hang of the narrative devices, and admittedly our first session was more a series of skill rolls than story telling. Still, in their first adventure, they managed to stop their ship from a slow crash into a planet, invade the holy temple of a cult of hive-minded bee people (or BEEPLE…or actually, toward the end as it turns out they were kind of mindless on their own, ZOMBEEPLE), murder a baby space cthulhu and blind the momma space cthulhu long enough to escape with their lives…and a wee bit of loot, so despite still adjusting to a different way of thinking about in-game narrative we seem to be doing all right.

3. We have a guest gamer for the next game day, so I wrote up a throwaway PC just for her, and I’m downright giddy about how awesome the character is. Not her stats, or her gear, or her special moves, but the fact that character creation created a cohesive NPC with a personality and a past and while I cannot and will not have control of the NPC while she is being played by our guest, I can tell you that I based her off this character, and for once making a character wasn’t a series of trying to squish weird powers into a character concept and reflavoring everything and hoping it blends. Nope, I sat down with the book and a sheet of paper and flawlessly built her. I cannot tell you how giddy I will be to see her in play!

4. I’d definitely give it a hearty RECOMMEND.

How about you? Ever played Bulldogs, or any other FATE variant? How did you like it?


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Author and artist for the Vanity Games webcomic (, a retro-futuristic post-apocalytpic romp through a land of broken science and corrputed magic. A lover of all games, tabletop, board, video, or otherwise, and an avid consumer of nerd / pop culture.


About J. J. Sloane

Author and artist for the Vanity Games webcomic (, a retro-futuristic post-apocalytpic romp through a land of broken science and corrputed magic. A lover of all games, tabletop, board, video, or otherwise, and an avid consumer of nerd / pop culture.
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5 Responses

  1. My introduction to FATE was through Diaspora, another SF FATE RPG. I enjoyed it but the particular adventure was a little dry. I found it a bit difficult to make the mindset leaps in character creation and play, but it sold me on the system. I picked up Bulldogs last year, hoping it would get me a little closer to what I was looking for (more space opera-esque, less hard sci-fi). Life got in the way last year, though, so I’ve yet to put together a game. Hope to this year and, like you, a zillion other games!

    Welcome back to gaming and ‘grats on the column. Love the comic, too, my Discovery of the Week!

    • 😀 Yeah I had to make a choice between Diaspora and Bulldogs! and went with the latter since it seemed to suit the Firefly / Farscape type adventures we wanted to have.

      If you do set up a game this year, I want to hear all about it!

      And I’m glad you’re enjoying the comic, as well 🙂

  2. I’ve picked up Spirit of the Century because I heard of fate and I love pulp, but I haven’t managed to find players for a game. I played a Dresden 1-shot at a local game day and I’m sold!

    I really, really want to play more FATE.

    What’s weird is that I look at other RPGs now and I see Fate or aspects of it everywhere. That could be my mind super-imposing it over everything. Now that’s what I call inspiration 😀

  3. I came to FATE from Spirit of the Century. I got the core book a few years ago, but I haven’t had much of a chance to play it, except for a few times last year, including a couple of sessions at PAX. Of course, I haven’t quite got the hang of running conflicts yet, but the character generation is a blast. It could be a game all by itself.

    I also played Bulldogs! for a few sessions. If didn’t grab me.

    I’ve converted the skill rules in Spirit of the Century for use in Eberron. Both settings are two-fisted pulp adventure, so I think it will work well, if I ever get a chance to try it.

    • Bulldogs! had a simpler chargen process, but you’re right–some of my players actually missed the longform character creation that pretty much was a game all on its own 🙂

      I can totally see the parallels between SotC and Eberron, though! If you ever give it a try let me know!

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