Wardens of Ouon: Lessons From Gen Con
As I mentioned in my Gen Con recap post, I ran three sessions of Wardens of Ouon to great success. In the process, I learned a few things.
FAE is Certainly Accelerated
Wardens of Ouon uses Fate Accelerated Edition, which boils the Fate Core rules down to a lean story engine ready for pick up-and-play gaming. And boy, does it hit that goal well. I joked with author +Clark Valentine that I could go back to my room and re-read the entire book before my first game. The book reads quick, and the game plays even quicker. None of my slots went the full four hours, but they all had satisfying, complete adventures.
The Map is the Adventure
Wardens of Ouon begins with map creation, in which the players generate the Forest of Ouon and establish aspects for and connections between its various locations. The GM seeds the map with the Heart of the Forest location, where the unicorns meet, train, and share counsel. Then each player adds a location. If there is an obvious connection to another location on the map, they can add it. Otherwise, the GM goes around and asks questions about the locations, eventually boiling down to an aspect, and adds one or more paths connecting to other parts of the map.
Knowing that we would begin with this process, I didn't come into my games with any plot or characters prepared. I let the ideas for the adventure grow out of the map the players provided for me. Inevitably, some location or another would spark my imagination and I could roll from there. For some reason, people love to add caves or other underground locations to the map, and those make for great adventure opportunities. All kinds of unpleasant things live underground.
The Deck of Fate Works
I ran Wardens of Ouon not with Fate Dice but with the Deck of Fate, a deck of cards that reproduces the probabilities of those dice. Of course, since it's a deck from which you remove cards as you use them, the odds shift during play, creating a flow of results that has a memory. (I actually used two decks, so the GM's good fortune would not taint the player's luck.)
In addition, the deck includes sun and moon symbols on each card from which to hang fun mechanics from, like the Court bonus I use in Wardens. And there are three cards with an eclipse symbol that I use as a "reshuffle the deck now" marker. Thus, if you're having a run of good draws (and depleting the high-value cards left in the deck), you can eventually replenish them.
The biggest problem with using the Deck of Fate is that it is not as ubiquitous as Fate Dice. You can walk into a game store and see the lovely packages of dice, but you have to seek out the Deck of Fate and have it printed on demand by DriveThruCards. This limits the Deck's utility for referencing in a published product. Which brings me to my last point.
Wardens Wants to be a Thing
After my first session, my three players actually asked to stay and talk about what they liked about the game. They asked if I was planning to publish. I had to say that I was thinking about it, and I am.
Wardens of Ouon is definitely going to be a product. It's a versatile setting that can appeal to kids and adults. The rules are simple but robust. It's just a matter of me finding the time to write it, commission art, and have everything laid out in an attractive format.
So, you know: one of these years.