Rakehell At Gaelcon

Using the FATE system for Rakehell started out as a marriage of convenience. I’ve loved parts of FATE since I first played it – Aspects are a wonderful piece of game design, some of the stunts are very creative, and the whole game is nicely simple yet comprehensive – but I had intentions of writing up an original system for the Rakehell setting when I first started. After Gaelcon, I’m now committed to using FATE for it.

Admittedly, one of the reasons is nakedly commercial – FATE’s got an established userbase and is very popular. (Dresden Files is a huge success, Strands of Fate is sitting right on top of Drivethru as I type). What really sold me on the system for Rakehell, though, was the use of Compels. In my previous experience with FATE (primarily SOTC), Compels only got used once or twice a session, and even then mostly on NPCs. We were all playing Pulp Heroes, so there wasn’t much scope for conflicted emotions and self-destructive drives.

In the Gaelcon playtests, Compels were flying all over the place. All the characters had really passionate, conflicted goals, and coupled with the downward-spiral mechanic of gaining Infernal aspects, Compels meant the characters were tempted to embrace more and more damnation to pursue their goals. Half the time, the players were compelling other players, hitting True Loves and Desires for Revenge all over the place. At my table, Jack rode into Hell to rescue Jane, while Timothy tried to Compel Elizabeth to come with him and flee England. She refused, and his True Love got swapped out for Broken Hearted. By the end of the game, two of the PCs were in Hell, two more set off on a quixotic quest to find Heaven, and poor Tim Kestrel was last seen setting fire to Eden House.

A challenge in future development will be encouraging this sort of operatic, tragic, compel-driven play.

  1. Before play begins in SotC, the group of players collectively defines how their characters know one another as part of the character creation process. Rakehell could twist that process to force each player to define how one other character presents one of the chief threats of his own PC’s damnation, and a second character is one of the last remaining obstacles to his own PC’s redemption. You choose one Aspect of each of these characters that is somehow involved in your own fate. Then you Compel those relevant Aspects during play when your character faces or avoids his destiny.

  2. I was already planning on having the players collectively build a Nemesis, and the idea of having different players involved in your damnation or redemption could feed into that very nicely.

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