A Big Red Letter Day

  • 17 Replies
A Big Red Letter Day
« on: April 26, 2013, 03:43:16 PM »
This is a hack I'm putting together for my group. It's the AW mashed with aspects from FATE instead of using stats.

The premise:
"In A Big Red Letter Day you play a courier jet set for metal, daring deeds and delivering mail to the scattered survivors floating in the atmosphere among the remains of a broken world."

So, the adventures of postal workers with shotguns making their rounds on the floating remains of a destroyed world while looking for a happy place to die. The psychic maelstrom is called The Echoing Storm and it has a physical form, occupying the space where the destroyed world used to be, so it's always on the horizon.

Here's a link to the playbooks (first sketches, mainly) and the sketchy overview:

The docs assume some familiarity with aspects (as my group is). Feedback or crits would be awesome. It's in an early stage and probably a number of things don't work like I think they're going to work.

Re: A Big Red Letter Day
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2013, 10:48:10 PM »
This looks really interesting!

Re: A Big Red Letter Day
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2013, 10:59:39 AM »
Looks neat! The Illustrated is fuckin dope.

The instructions for rolling are a little confusing, because it says you keep 2 for the move and then you keep some of what's left over. I think it's supposed to be that if you miss, you get to keep all the Fate Dice you added, but on a hit, you only get to keep a few, right?

Re: A Big Red Letter Day
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2013, 03:49:40 PM »
Everyone in my group thought The Illustrated was cool...but nobody played it. It was like everyone's second choice if their first playbook choice was nabbed.


Yeah, that's right.
-On a miss, keep everything.
-On a hit, you can decide which 2-dice are your effort, so that you can keep fate dice if you're willing to take a 7-9 result, even if you could get a 10+ if forced to take the sum of the 2 highest dice.

Say they rolled a 3, 4 and a 6. They could choose the 3+4 to represent their effort (always keep the 2-dice representing your effort). Since the remaining die was a 6, they can return it to their pool. That part of it was a success. My group liked it. They could choose the 4+6 for the 10+ result, but lose a fate die -or- choose the 3+4 for the 7-9 result and keep the fate die they risked.

We're on a different iteration as far as stats go, so the dice mechanic changed. Aspects as stats was less fun than the dice mechanic to support it. We have stats now. Stats are closer to a Lady Blackbird setup where you add dice for tags, though the tags are attached to base stats (Force, Cool, Magnetic, Sharp and Weird) instead. Trying to keep the ability to roll more than 2-dice.

Aspects became Keys, which is what they really wanted to be in this hack and having them pull double duty as stats was too much weight when we played it.

Re: A Big Red Letter Day
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2013, 05:21:26 PM »
Starting to update for version 0.3. Here's the 0.3 version of The Illustrated to show what I meant in the previous post about moving to tags like LB:


Some of the moves make reference to a single or double+, a single is one hit in the dice pool and a double+ is two or more hits rolled. A dice pool, 5-6 is a hit and people tend to roll 5-6 dice for something they're good at, 2-3 for the not so good at. The probabilities of 1-hit / 2-hit given 2 to 6 dice being rolled maps close enough to 7-9 and 10+ on a 2d6 (0 to +3) if I properly used the probability calculator. A benefit of hits is on moves like Read a Person or a combat move is hits can equal options you can pick. It also ties in neatly into a baseball metaphor. Someone gets 4-hits, dude that's a home run and they're rounding the bases at their pace.

Building your hand is adding a number of dice your stat gives you, then 1 for the style and 1 for each triggering tag within that style. I admit it's more of a love letter to Lady Blackbird and my group who because of FATE like having word manipulation as part of the game, that just doing a straight up number bonus...it would be an easier hack.

Re: A Big Red Letter Day
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2013, 01:42:25 AM »
Looks pretty rad!



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Re: A Big Red Letter Day
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2013, 01:09:12 PM »
Wow.  This looks really fun.  I really like the feel evoked by the different playbooks.  The sage is probably my favorite in that regard.

Any chance of seeing the new (v.04) basic moves, etc.?

Re: A Big Red Letter Day
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2013, 03:17:10 PM »
I'm cleaning everything up for my other group who I might get to play it with (unreliable schedule-wise). I'll post that when I finish it, but here's the basic moves following Ghost Lines' basic moves closely. I waver on including a Go Aggro equivalent. I currently don't have it as a basic move.


Re: A Big Red Letter Day
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2013, 11:26:05 AM »
Here's an update of all the playbooks and a player's guide:


There's 9 playbooks, which I thought would be enough, but my group has 7 people, which only leaves 2 books free. Not giving people many options for choosing another playbook. Blurbs for each:

The Beast sequesters its rage, acts as guardian of the crew and eats to its heart’s content.
The Captain is the fucking captain, she commands the ship and her crew. Don’t cross her and she’ll have your back until the end.
The Clutch, almost inexplicably, gets to the right place just in time and you’re way past fist-pumping for joy when The Clutch enters the scene stage-left holding exactly what you needed.
In this broken world, The Provocateur appears as an oasis in a white hot desert, promising all the water you need.
The Illustrated man or woman has skin covered in ink which flows and moves like ghosts that manifest in the world.
The Pilot is an ace who protects the ship and stares death in the face laughing. She knows it’s not her time and even if it was, she’d never betray her fear.
The Quixotic believes the world is still a fine place, broken, shattered and lost its way; but, it’s a place still worth the fighting for.
The Sage brews something for the occasion, acts as the conscience of the crew and will probably save us all someday.
The Toker makes breaks and bakes their brain staring into the Echoing Storm. He or she is like a neo-post-retro-cubist making strange devices, and uses the insight gathered from the Echoing Storm to deconstruct creation to its component parts.

Re: A Big Red Letter Day
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2014, 10:57:55 AM »
I see you updated the Google Drive contents. The Geistkonen is the shit!

Did the Heartbreaker not get updated?

Re: A Big Red Letter Day
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2014, 11:32:00 AM »
We're in the middle of playing through a pretty big revision of The Red Letters (v.05) which isn't in the Google Drive. Mechanically, it's done something different with the Lady Blackbird style tags. While the group enjoyed them as ways to easily customize their playbook and describe how they go about things, having to invoke them over and over got old when playing more than a few sessions. What wound up being cool when you first got to use them turned into a chore through extended play. 

The Heartbreaker was renamed The Provocateur.

My updates for v.05 haven't yet been made outside-the-play-group friendly yet.

Thanks for checking stuff out.

Re: A Big Red Letter Day
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2014, 01:33:47 PM »
Can't wait to see the revision. I just discovered this yesterday, and I'm enthralled.

Re: A Big Red Letter Day
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2014, 09:25:02 PM »
I also can't wait to see the revision!

Re: A Big Red Letter Day
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2014, 02:13:35 AM »
I have questions! Mainly about two things: sway and stress.

How has your group reacted to having sway (instead of Hx or Bonds)? How do they tend to use it? Is getting sway an important thing for the players, do they try and hold it over others? Are they more inclinded to go for a fast convince or manipulate instead? What did players think of the questions + statements used to generate sway in chargen? (I think these are cool)

What does stress look like in the fiction? Do PCs take stress a lot? How often do players choose reactions? What kinds of situations have PCs gotten into when trying to de-stress?

And just in general terms, I'm curious as to what role these two things have played in your game. I'm also looking forward to a new version!

Re: A Big Red Letter Day
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2014, 04:56:33 PM »
Sway and Stress are the two biggest implementation questions I'm dealing with.


The question and statement thing was very well received and worked extremely well in setting the dynamics of the characters. Players commented on how it really helped them map the characters. On the other hand, actually using sway as a thing during the game was hard. It wasn't something anyone actively tried to use and I didn't do a great job of hammering it either. Red Letters is more like Monster of the Week in that players have a common problem they're trying to fix. Based on the core activity of how we've played, there isn't a huge benefit for holding sway over another PC for many characters.

We're trying DW style bonds right now to see if its a better fit.

Keys generate enough conflict and confluence of interest to replicate a level of inter-party squabble that you see in Firefly, so I'm not sure Bonds are necessary. My instinct now is to keep the question/statement thing as a tool for establishing the cast and as bait for MC moves, but dropping the Sway/Hx/Bonds portion as a PC-PC move mechanic.

What is a thing though is taking pieces of your Deep stat from Black Seas of Infinity for currency with NPCs and organizations.


Stress usually comes from a Custom Move, "When you enter Coconut Flakes's lair and pass through his trophy room..." "A Collector lands on the ship..." "Pullman's goons brandish their weapons and close in around and behind you as you approach their prophet..."The trigger often represents when PCs enter hostile territory, a threat imposes their will or they encounter paranormal or psychic phenomena. Mental damage is harder to describe, which is why I liked reactions when I saw them in Black Seas as a way to show it.

Conditions are the mind's way of protecting itself from Despair. When your stress track is full, you fall to Despair. Despair summons the Collectors from The Echoing Storm (the psychic maelstrom thing which "destroyed" most of the world), who will take those in Despair and all who gaze upon them into The Storm. Despair means you can no longer live in reality as an exile and must return to the falsehood of paradise that the storm provides.

When I had it where a reaction reduced the stress they suffer, players always without exception took a reaction to reduce stress. If they took "Aroused" they were under penalty until they reacted in a way to satisfy their arousal. These were really awesome in how players reacted to discharge the condition they were under. Things like anger or fright lead to pretty straightforward actions. Instead of being quiet and let The Captain speak, the angry Illustrated goes on a massive rant against Sho-Nuff, while surrounded by 30 of Sho-Nuff's finest. One character got rid of their aroused condition by trying to seduce a town's Doppelganger (sort of like an AW grotesque), failed, leading to another PC to take advantage of the aroused PC while in the Doppelganger's lair to provide a distraction so she could steal something from the Doppelganger.

Thanks for asking those questions. It helped me refocus.