“In the dystopian future of 2020, the President of the United States is a reality TV star, enacting law via social media, fishing nets litter the oceans and the world takes away an accessibility tool as punishment. The police gun down unarmed children. Nazis are publicly supported by people calling themselves gender critical; their joint cause is controlling how people talk, dress and where they can pee.
So when an experimental pilot goes back in time and accidentally nukes London during the Great War, continuing to alter history doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.”1
Now maybe that jarred you, and that’s okay. Hopefully the first paragraph bothers you more than the idea of the second considering what we’ve seen in our society today, what we’re facing, and what we need to change. Well Ace Adventure wants to do that, and with the completion of a successful kickstarter it will! There’s a bit of pulp time travel, crazy hijinks, accidental technological fun, and as the creator Brian Liberge notes on their kickstarter: “It’s also wicked gay kid.” The gay Rhode Islander in me loves this.
I will add/remind that in full disclosure Brian is the MC of the monster hearts game I play over on Gehenna Gaming, but that’s also why I had to talk about this game. Brian is creative, fun, exciting, and this game is all those things. On top of that, Natalie Pudim (also of the monster hearts game) and of Charm Person Games was our MC for this adventure, but more on our game later. I just wanted to call out that yes, I know these people personally. This isn’t a sponsored review or anything. I love them like I love my friends and family at home, at Order of the Amber Die, here at Know Direction, at Roll for Combat, and of course Gehenna Gaming.
So thankful for these friends and this gaming community that has helped me through 2020! Can ya tell I felt guilty for not doing a thanks article again like I did last year? Thank you for your support too!
Okay, back to the fun. I was excited to play this game for the above (Brian made it, Natalie would MC and she’s awesome), but also I’m a big fan of the FATE system (got some dice and all), and I love the principles set forth by the game:
- Have fun telling a story
- Embrace spectacular failure
- Remember, the world is flexible
That first one is important, especially for a one shot but for any game. We’re here to play a game and have fun, so let’s do so together! The idea of embracing spectacular failure (and oh boy did I) is a particularly wonderful principle. Sometimes you’re going to fail, and sometimes in a major way. This isn’t about winning and avoiding death, it’s about having fun after all so when you fail, lean into what that does for the story and have fun handling it! When it blows up big, go for big drama, big action, big suspense! I knew I was in for a good time with that, but the flexible world is a draw for me too. The rules remind you that unless it’s being stated not to be present, it could be. Of course, there’s the other consideration: if it could happen in a comic book, it could happen in the game. It is your game to make of it as you will, together, and have fun doing so. It may get outrageous, but that’s part of fun! Be creative, enjoy the rolls, embrace failure, and make the game a collaborative joy for you and those participating, GM included!
And how do you do that? Well besides embracing your character (whether original or one of those provided by the comic-style design of Ace Adventure) through your roleplaying, you’ve a few key actions at your disposal. Ace Adventure is built upon a modified form of FATE accelerated by Evil Hat. The GM is going to have a target number in mind for your actions that could have a chance of failure. They’ll ask your Approach, which you’ll answer by noting if you’re trying to be Clever, Charming, Forceful, Precise, Quick, or Sneaky. That approach has a value typically -1 to +2. After rolling your Fate Dice (which could result in a range from -2 to +2) you’ll have your total. Maybe you feel that’s not enough to meet the GM’s target difficulty. The rules allow you to spend a FATE point to call upon an aspect you have to get a bonus, granting you a bonus of +2 or a reroll.
Ah but maybe you want to embrace spectacular failure! Before a roll you can compel yourself and get a -2 to your roll. You’re more likely to fail, but you’ll gain a FATE point you can use later! I may have done this… Should your result tie, the GM will give you an option to succeed but they’ll get to make a move to advance the story. Beat the difficulty by 3 or more and you succeed with style, allowing you to set up advantages on the event, object, or target that you might even be able to use later! In fact, creating an advantage is one of those key actions you can use. You can also overcome an obstacle like removing an explosive, attack a target that is attacking you, or possibly defined like when you want to save that fair individual who maybe got kidnapped by the villain of the tale!
Creating an advantage is perhaps the primary action you’ll use. You might be discovering something about your target (“In Love”), finding a clue at a murder scene (“Bloody Footprints”), or even creating one to use later like “Broken Steam Pipe” to help blister your target adversary! Succeeding with style here gets you that free use of the aspects, two in fact, so it’s very valuable to also embrace spectacular success!
Failing won’t mean you’re out of the scene or even the game. They’re are four tracks to harm so you can take a little punishment before even worrying about a really bad situation. Even then, embrace the failure, feel the drama of a dire situation, and call on those friends to help save you!
I was actually thrilled for another reason to play Ace Adventure. Natalie informed us the setting would be the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade! I watch it every year with the family, much to the chagrin of my younger brother. Having a game where we’d seemingly take part was exciting. We’d been called in by Herbert Strauss out of a need to protect it from those who would spread fear and chaos. Who exactly was up to no good, we couldn’t be sure but we were certain they worked for or with Anarchy!
I was willing to play any character, but I got to play Ace Adventure, the time traveler herself! As it so happens – and I love this – Ace is deaf, but she hasn’t let it slow her down. In fact one of her aspects is Anti-Ableism: I Can’t Hear You and I Don’t Care! I spoke to the team about wanting to play this right and with respect. While she’s good at reading lips, there’s an expectation of sharing information by text (thanks to our comms from the inventor Whitney King as well as using sign language! After a glorious arrival, showing up another party that had already arrived, we were ushered into a fine dinner with Mr. Strauss and many others. At one point the conversation turned to someone calling for attention and I’m wondering how many noticed I didn’t have Ace respond at first until she noted everyone else looking in that direction.
While I don’t want to spoil the plot in case you get to play the adventure, I wanted to note where I chose to compel myself, taking that -2 in order to get a FATE point. Well, I failed pretty spectacularly let me tell you. Ace was chatting up the dinner guests to get information on who was there, their motivations, and get a feel for the assembled. One of them was Mr. J Edgar Hoover of the Bureau of Investigation, which would one day become the FBI. One of Ace’s aspects is “Struggle: Whoops, That Hasn’t Happened Yet.” I decided she talked a bit more than perhaps she should have, noting the fear and propaganda was over-exaggerated based on Ace’s knowledge of the future. In fact, communism was just a red herring! I may have been excited to make a Clue reference too. Well, Mr. Hoover heard, called Ace out in front of everyone, and she had to race back to talk war stories with Mr. Strauss while the rest of the team continued some investigations. WE also made some hilarious advantages to use against the scene or the adversaries like “In Awe”, “No Pressure”, “Festive Controlled Bears” (yes you read that right), and “I Know How This Works” but did we? It was a hilarious actual play.
I was pretty amused with myself, but it was really the rest of the cast that blew me away. The hilarious Mckenzie Wilkes played our inventory Whitney as mentioned above. Game designer Brian Soulliard played ace reporter, Carrie Wilde, and our dear creator Brian played the tough sister-Ace-didn’t-know-she-had “Queen” B. Adventure. Between Whitney’s mad inventing (snow machine) and Carrie’s diving in for the scoop and the details, let alone jet packs, lightning, and daring plane saves, I couldn’t stop cheering and laughing.
I really don’t want to give away the rest of the plot either (suffice to say combat was had), because you too could play this adventure! Charm Person Games (where Natalie is a professional DM) can run this game for you, should you desire to invest in Ace Adventure. In fact, they have $50 off game bookings right now! You can also get more updates on Ace Adventure and Brian’s other works by checking out Beer Star Games! I know you’ll have a blast like I did!
Down with Anarchy!
I wasn’t quite sure what to name my article series when I first started but the idea of showcasing or discussing things that make me excited, that I find new and interesting, or maybe I’m otherwise passionate about seemed to fit with the idea of Investing In something like the Pathfinder 2E mechanic. To use some magic items you have to give that little bit of yourself, which helps make these things even better. I like the metaphor of the community growing and being strengthened in the same way!
I also want to hear what you’re Investing In! Leave me a comment below about what games, modules, systems, products, people, live streams, etc you enjoy! You can also hit me up on social media as silentinfinity. I want to hear what excites you and what you’re passionate about. There’s so much wonderful content, people, groups (I could go on) in this community of ours that the more we invest in and share, the better it becomes!