How Do I Play?
Welcome, new player! In short, we are playing using the Fate Core rules, as modified to fit the setting of Spaceward, Ho!. Strictly speaking, we’re playing a “new” game called Spaceward, Ho!, but that’s pedantic and not completely true yet, so nevermind :)
If you’d like to get up and running on Fate Core very quickly, I recommend you check out these two places:
Download Fate Core: Specifically, the “Fate Core in PDF, Kindle, ePub (zipped)” download will net you the base game system as a digital download immediately, or you can visit sites like Drive-Trhu RPG to purchase it at a price point you’re comfortable with. Print versions are also available.
Fate Core Basics: The Fate SRD is an online rules compendium, similar to the SRDs available for games like Pathfinder and Dungeon World. It contains all the rules information from the Fate Core book, and there are even rules/systems from Fate Toolkit, Fate Accelerated, and more available to peruse.
If you want to get started with the specific rules for this campaign, check out the following documents!
The Quick-Start Guide gives a quick, basic breakdown of important Fate rules and concepts, plus an overview of the Races, Skills, and Starship Skills in Spaceward, Ho!.
The Species Cards document gives a slightly more in-depth explanation of the various races you can play as in the game, including 3 Species Aspects you could use if you play one, plus information on the species’ special Stunt and Extra (if applicable). There’s also a couple of short paragraphs about their usual appearance, demeanor, and history.
Character Creation – Species Info & Sample Builds walks through building a character in Spaceward, Ho! incorporating the special rules mentioned below. It has more information on each species than the shorter Species Cards doc above, dedicating a full page to each, and then it has a short section at the end that gives some sample “builds” for archetypal characters like Rebels, Spacers, and Traders.
Finally, Skills & Stunts talks in detail about the 22 Player Skills in Spaceward, Ho! (including some new skills like Hacking and Psionics), plus gives many example Stunts you can use on your character, as well as guidelines for making your own. If you want to play a Psion in particular, I recommend reading this, as that Skill—like most “magic systems” in RPGs—has a few of its own rules.
Significant Differences from Fate Core
In contravention to the “base” rules of Fate, we’re making a few changes to fit the flavor of our game better. These changes will be summarized here, and the end of this section, I’ll eventually place a link to download a more complete Player’s Guide to Spaceward, Ho! in convenient PDF format. Please feel free to read on.
- Starting Refresh – In Fate Core, every character gets 3 Stunts for free, plus 3 Refresh, up to 2 of which can be “spent” on additional Stunts. In Spaceward, Ho! we’ve modified this to include an extra free Stunt (so, you can “spend” up to a maximum of 6 Stunts, leaving yourself with 1 Refresh, although you cannot have fewer than 4 Stunts or more than 3 Refresh).
- Aspects – In Fate Core, each character has 5 Aspects – Their High Concept, Trouble, and 3 “Phase Trio” Aspects. In Spaceward, Ho!, this has been expanded to 6 total. The new one represents a Species Aspect (chosen from or made up to align with your race’s listed Aspects).
- Aspect Permissions – Some of the new Skills, Stunts, and Extras in Spaceward, Ho! require you to have an Aspect representing or “allowing” them. If you want to be a Psion, or own a starship or organization, you should roll this “permission” into an existing Aspect (e.g., if you want to own a Starship Extra, it could just be a mention in your High Concept, like Roguish Captain of the Stolen Freighter The Millenium Falcon).
- Resources – In some builds of Spaceward, Ho! there are significant changes to the Resources Skill, making it act like Physique or Will and give you Stress boxes and Consequence slots to show your money situation. Since the group has decided that they don’t want to play a “trading” campaign at this time, we are just using the basic version of Resources as described in Fate Core.
- Starships – It’s possible for characters to own and operate Starships in Spaceward, Ho!, and there are a number of rules attached to this. First and foremost, if the “party” owns the vessel, one or more of them (ideally just one) must “spend” an Aspect to “gain” the Extra on their character sheet and become its Captain. A decent starting vessel (Fair +2) can be “had” easily during character creation; more significant vessels can be “purchased” with a high Resources Skill and/or earned in-story. Additionally, any character with access to a Starship (for instance, if someone else in the party owns one or they’re an employee flying one “for work”) can work a “Starship Role” into any of their Aspects, making them a Crewmember. I’ll explain a little more about Starships and Crewmember Roles below and in the Player’s Guide.
- Starships are generally rated like a Skill, and this represents a general idea of how powerful a given Starship is. Generally speaking, Fair (+2) Starships have two Aspects (A High Concept and a Trouble), plus one "Starship Skill" at Fair +2 and two at Average (+1). Better Starships gain additional Aspects (starting with a "Strength" for Good [+3] Starships and one or more Free Aspects thereafter for Great [+4] or better Starships) and improved Skills (for instance, a Great [+4] Starship has a single Starship Skill at Great [+4], one at Good [+3], three at Fair [+2], and four at Average [+1]). Starships also receive a number of Stunts equal to their Rating (e.g., a Good [+3] Starship will have three stunts) when they are commissioned.
- Starships can be Upgraded similarly to characters at Milestones and may also receive bonuses or upgrades based on the plot from time to time. These Upgrades, however, are contingent upon a successful Resources roll; a failed roll can either apply Stress/Negative Aspects to the ship’s owner or result in a substandard upgrade (depending on circumstances, this could be a Consequence or a Negative Aspect that must be repaired at a later time).
- Generally, a Starship will operate at its own Skill levels as directed by the Captain. If a Captain’s related Skill is higher than the ship’s (e.g., her Ranged Combat is at Great [+4] while the Starship's Beam Weapons is only at [+3]), she can grant the Starship a Teamwork Bonus of 1 or just use her Skill rating if it’s better. However, a Captain can only take a single action with the Starship at a time!
- Other party members can also use their Skills on the Starship, but they’ll be better if they add a Crewmember Role to their Aspects. For instance, the team’s Engineering expert might make his Trouble Aspect be The Crescent Starfire’s Drunken Engineer. He’d be able to use his Great (+4) Engineering Skill in place of its own Average (+1) Repair rolls during a firefight. If a character tries to take an action that seems like it’s outside of the Role their Aspect suggests (for instance, if someone with the Crescent Starfire’s Hotshot Pilot Extraordinaire High Concept wanted to fire the Starship’s Projectile Weapons), they can still grant a +1 Teamwork bonus.
- * If you’re not a Crewmember, you can still grant a +1 Teamwork bonus to a starship, as long as your related Skill rating is equal to or better than the ship’s. Basically, if you’re a Crewmember, you know the ship well enough to push it beyond its limits; if it’s not “your” ship, you aren’t quite as effective!
- Extras – Some elements of a character just don’t fit perfectly into Aspects, Skills, and Stunts. For instance, owning a Starship can certainly be part of one or more Aspects, but the Ship itself could probably use a “hard and fast” definition. Therefore, by default, each character can have one or more Extras. Many of these will come up organically in-game (maybe the character comes across a fabulous piece of Ancient Ones tech that grants them special abilities), but some can be bought and sold, like Starships. These Extras may indicate an additional cost (for instance, owning a Starship requires a character include it in an Aspect), and some can only be temporary (an Ancient Ones Cluster Bomb—however awesome!—is still gone once you use it to blow something/someone up).