Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Merry Magical Holiday Special

This Friday, as a place holder for my group between ending a story arc in our Halo game and me taking over again to conitnue our L5R game, I'm running a one shot. The one shot will, hopefully, get us through the session where we'll be down two players - enabling us to start the 4th generation of my L5R game on the first session of the new year.

What did we decide to do for that one shot? Well, we're taking a break from the doom, gloom, darkness, and despair for something a little more merry and a lot more magical. In short, we're doing a Magical Girls one shot, and toay I want to talk about how we're doing that.

System of Choice: Fate...Kind Of
For system we went with FATE Core. We chose that because it is fast to make characters for, and has a simple resolution mechanic that is designed to work well with arguments or fist fights. I cut down the skills to a more Fate Accelerated kind of speed, but beyond that it is just god, simple, and fun FATE Core experience.

Each player is getting 4 aspects (High Concept, Trouble, and 2 other aspects) and they get 3 skills (out of fitness, smarts, confidence, support, and training.) Once they have those, they have a character.

But You Said Magical Girls
I did, and I intend to deliver on that. I'm not stealing a world for Magical Girls - though that was a tempting thought - and instead just making one up from scratch. The heroes, who can be magical girls or boys, are helping Princess Winterway in her fight against the dreaded and evil Doctor Gaslight. The bad Doctor attempts to harvest emotional energy from the people of the world with a number of generals/lieutenants/monsters/etc and the magical girls and boys try to stop him and keep the world full and vibrant with emotions and energy. It's a simple concept but it works.

Working with that, and keeping to the tropes of the Magical Girl anime genre, we settled on three aspects to define the world and theme of the game. Those aspects are:

  • Friendship Trumps All
  • Emotions Are Magic
  • the Battle of Good vs. Evil
Friendship Trumps All
Is a pretty common theme in both boy and girl anime, and especially in Sentai Team and Magical Girl shows. The idea is simple. There is no adversity that a group of friends can't overcome, and you'll never be stronger or more capable of changing the world than when fighting for your friends. I put this aspect front and center to let people know that, but also because a game about Magical Girls (and boys) is ultimately a game about Friendship.

Emotions Are Magic
Paired with the idea that friendship trumps all is the idea that emotions are their own source of power and magic. You think a character is scary when they're pissed? Wait until you see the devastation they can unleash because they're in love, or they suddenly have their despair taken away and realize what is truly important (i.e. friendship.) Also, with the world hinging on the evil Doctor harvesting emotional energy, this aspect lets me bring some more fun tricks into play.

The Battle of Good vs. Evil
While also serving to fit the game neatly into prescribed tropes for the genre, this also does something else for me. Namely, it reminds me that this game doesn't, and shouldn't, be morally complex. Even if this turns into a campaign, it can embrace simplicity. There is a villain. There is a hero. There may be heroes who become villains. There may be villains who become heroes. Either way though, there is right and wrong and a firm line between them. Magical Girl stories are rarely about the shades of gray in between (Madoka Magica doesn't even really cross this line except, possibly, with Kyuubi) and so this serves as reminder that there is Black and White in this world.

Feel Free To Run Your Own Version
Those few things together make it all work. Obviously I have an adventure in mind (Doctor Gaslight has pulled a Carmen Sandiego and abducted the coming new year for his nefarious purposes) but the adventure is less useful to other GMs as the world and the reasoning. Feel free to play with it. For some reason a lot of ideas for this world have come to me very easily during planning. Maybe it will turn into a campaign at some point. Maybe not. As long as it is fun this Friday, that is fine by me.

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