On Saturday, Shaun ran Fictive Hack in the Awesome Isles. The write-up is here. My character, Spender, continues to be awesome. I spent 42 Awesome Points through him in 5:25. I haven’t got to play him for 4 months, and this is his second outing, but it’s cool to be 7th level, halfway to 8th. If you want to level fast, the advice I gave after Spender’s last outing is still good, at least for my situation. Spender has 3 talents, and one of them is a book.
I call my staff the “get-off-my-lawn stick.” Also, for his spellcasting, I describe him casting his mystic attack as drawing a bunch of glowing runes in the air with his finger, then snatching a few of them in a handful and flinging them at the target to detonate with a bang. So then when recharging a rested talent, I pull them in to me and glow for a second. And racing into hand-to-hand where I’m reasonably sure I’ll be boosting my damage, I swirl my stick around them and they cling to the head with sparkling pain just waiting to connect.
The flexibility of the system continues to be cool. One bad guy built up an energy bolt, and I tried to counter-spell it. Shaun shrugged and allowed it, even though it was ambiguous as it wasn’t quite a magic spell as such (but it was energy). It would have done 5 Wounds to a party member. I counter-spelled, so the bad guy took 1 Wound, but Shaun said I took one, and the target took one, because it wasn’t really a spell. No worries! I spent the 2 Awesome Points and dispelled the energy, and my party member survived. Love it.
I know it is a little more complicated, but I love armor-as-damage-resistance instead of armor-as-binary-force-field. We were beating on minions in heavy armor, and it was a question of whether or not we could either hit well enough or overpower that armor with damage. That’s a better question than can you hit it yes-no.
Also, I love the flat-ish combat in Fictive Hack. Using talents gets bonuses, but it doesn’t matter if you got those talents at first level or at fifth. When things get bad, Spender resorts to his staff (damn undead were somehow immune to transmogrify, to my chagrin.) Cool fighters still miss sometimes, and marginal fighters can still spend Awesome Points and occasionally score a hit to the face. It was not awkward being in a party that ended up somewhere around levels 2, 5, 5, and 7.
A word of encouragement from a DM who occasionally gets to play: players, go out of your way to figure out how you are going to be together. Don’t make the DM do the heavy lifting. We had a new character join us, who didn’t have a combat focus. I hired him to carry my pack, as I’m an old guy, and worked on building a relationship with him so it wasn’t weird when he decided to accompany us into danger. When we get to a scenario where his charming skills are more key to the plot, he’ll still be with us, but we didn’t leave him out as a civilian so the DM was forced to split the party or ask the player to make a new character or something. And the new guy threw knives, spent Awesome Points to find a wooden clog to throw at a zombie, and got a musket to snipe foes. He did just fine. Players–help the DM focus on your adventure, not on how to make you go and how to keep you together.
Shaun, our DM, drew inspiration from the Necron to provide a massive disaster in a city so the city became a dungeon crawl environment. Then we had a few massive dust-ups at the end and emerged bloodied but triumphant, in the traditional fashion. Thanks Shaun!