Wednesday, May 01, 2019

The Patronage Of Paranormal Friction

You may or may not know, but I have launched a Patreon page. The reason for it is to help with funding the development of my paranormal fiction inspired and Fate-based role-playing game called Paranormal Friction.

If you have followed the blog for a while you'll know that this is something that I've worked at for a while now. I recorded a couple of YouTube videos for a couple of the very earliest playtest sessions. Honestly, I always figure that this would be something that I would write mostly for my own personal use and probably print off copies to use at conventions or home games.

The cover at left is a dummy image that I made up a couple of years ago out of some free clip art. I like the colorfulness of it.

It was probably close to twenty years ago now that I first encountered the genre of paranormal romance. I was at a Half Price Books, when I still lived in Cleveland, and as I was wandering and randomly glancing at shelves, I saw a book with the title Bitten, by Kelley Armstrong. You may have heard of Bitten from the Canadian-based television series that aired on SYFY in the United States (at the time of this writing it is available on US Netflix and I recommend it strongly). Since that book I have traveled through the worlds of Armstrong, Patricia Briggs, Gail Carriger, Devon Monk and others.

The books were filled with witches, magicians, werewolves, vampires, Fae and other things that go bump in the night (sometimes with a little grinding as well). What drew me into the fiction was things like the well-defined characters who were more than hard-bitten and grizzled anti-social loners. These were people who loved. People who had friends. People who were members of a community, who cared about the people around them and the places that they lived. I mean, yes, sometimes these characters wanted to be left alone so that they could drink their coffee in peace, but when bad things happened to people close to them, they got a to-go cup.

What I wanted, for a long time, was a role-playing game that would let me play games like the stories that I was enjoying. Some of them were close, on the surface they had supernatural creatures and people with weird powers, but the games fell out of step with fiction quickly. They aren't bad games, but they aren't what I was looking for, either.

I wanted a game that was simple. A game that could allow characters to have connections to each other, and to the world, in ways that were not only fictionally meaningful during play, but also could have some mechanical bite to them as well. I wanted the much-ballyhooed mechanics that "get out of the way" during play.

I have been a fan of the Fate rules since before Spirit of the Century ever came out. Those early free PDFs were so close to the game that I wanted, and unfortunately the variants of Spirit of the Century had an annoying habit of getting more complicated than they needed to be. And then came new versions of the rules: Fate Core and Fate Accelerated. I found the system that I needed to use in Fate Accelerated. The idea of approaches is a brilliant one, while being simple enough that I am surprised that no one hit the idea sooner in RPGs.

If you haven't played, the idea is a simple one. To streamline mechanics they came up with the idea of "What if, instead of coming up with a list of skills that outline what a character can or can't do, we instead come of with a list of ways in which a character approaches a situation? What happens when they do something forcefully or cleverly instead of having skills for all of the sciences, and the different ways that they can hit something?" It was pretty radical. And, it also opened up ways to achieve success in a situation without necessarily resorting to violence as well.

Don't get me wrong, there can be plenty of fighting and violence in paranormal romance fiction. It is just nice to be able to also have ways in an RPG where players can think outside of the box of combat when deciding their characters' actions. All of this meshed together for me, and I started combining material from the various Fate SRDs into a document and compiling it with the explanations that I have come up with for players who have never played the game previously, as well as codifying some of the things that I do when I run games for people.

I try to run my games as cooperative venture as I can. The story creation rules for Fate Core are nice because they give everyone in the group some level of input into the creation of the game's world.

So, all of this went into a pot, and over time as it cooked Paranormal Friction came out of it. I hope that you check out my Patreon page and, if my blog has given you any interesting content over the years, support me as I work to get the final yards of development done for it. There is also a Discord server for talking about the game linked through the Patreon page, and I hope to develop a community around the game.

Right now, as soon as you support the Patreon you get the current copy of my WIP document for Paranormal Friction in a text format PDF. There are still things that I am working to add to the game, and a few rough spots to smooth out yet. Hopefully you will become a part of the journey to get Paranormal Friction to the end, so we can all have a finalized game of it.