Session Zero: A|State
Life is hard out here for a Troublemaker.
A|State. from Handiwork Games:
“Step inside a baroque urban nightmare, the world of a|state. In The City you’ll fight off threats to your canalside home, trying to make this grim and haunted place safer and better, somehow. a|state brings a new, hopeful approach to the much-loved Forged in the Dark ruleset. Your ability to Care counts as much as your ability to Fight.”
Baroque > cyberpunk. But punk for sure. Plenty of oppressive adversaries to push back against. But stats like Care, Hope, Morale… now we’re playing for something different. The setting grabbed me first, brutally evocative. Enough rough touchtones to keep it from being jarringly unfamiliar…but you don’t know this place. I think the Forge in the Dark mechanics is a nice fit.
We ran through session zero for A|State offline. We will play 3-4 sessions on twitch.tv/actualplay and see what we see from there. The players have chosen the Activist, Dinginsmith, and the Lostfinder playbooks. We jump over the character creation process to start with the corner generation, where we live, and where the action goes down at. I felt the character options might be decided easier if we know more about where we are. The librarian player pulls up an ancient rendering of a Baltimore area pitched by our Baltimore player. Looking the maps over, a warehouse on the docks becomes our Crossroads, the HQ and safehouse for our Troublemakers. Early in our talks, an idea about an area of the city where there isn’t a strong law enforcement presence strikes a chord with us and the corner creation rules support it!
I’m setting up Foundry VTT for this. Looking over a lot of options from reskinning the Blades in the Dark system to DIY. We will use the PDF plugin to hold our character data for now.
A|State has a list of starting situations, they are nice setups, easy to riff off of and it fits with a lot of early decisions we made together. The governing body, the Three canals Authority. has mysteriously pulled out of the 9th District. Three factions are scrambling to fill the power void.
Daylight. A ferocious criminal faction.
Slow Walkers (Detectives). A hard, brutal enforcement faction.
The Barge Council. A community-based faction of the Barge district.
There are some prompts for after the first scene and things to think about as that first scene concludes. A|State does a great job walking you through the initial situation of your corner. NPCs, claims which are location-based interests, and factions that are interested in your corner are created. I love when this happens as a group. You can hear it in your player’s conversations about what might be occurring, where there are problems, and who they want to keep eyes on -I listen and take notes!
I don’t know what details the players have chosen for their characters. So come game day, and live on twitch. We will do an easy “day in the life” start. Players will introduce their characters, claims, and cares. I’ll ask some or all of them where they live, and hang out. How do they earn their living in this district? And finally, as Daylight and the Soft Walkers clash, who has been hurt by this?
Staying with the A|State text, I am planning for the Broker mission, ending a dispute through negotiation. I’m thinking Omar, their trusted contact that has keys to the HQ will be the target of a Daylight beat-down. We’ll play to see how that goes. Ideally, we’ll end up where it is obvious it’s time to broker some kind of deal between the factions…but I am open to where ever we end up! I am mostly thinking about where to go if the players are stuck or indifferent. A|State has you covered in the initial situation!
I’m reading up on the Forge in the Dark mechanics for A|State. I’ve run Blades in the Dark and Scum and Villainy -but that was ages ago. I need enough to get us through the first session. The good news is that A|State is largely the same and that the differences will likely come into play in session two. I can spend time in session one discovering details about the characters, the corner, and the people there. We can make some easy, controlled tests to get comfortable engaging the mechanics. We can learn about the Troublemakers going thru an ordinary day in the Barge district. Follow the troublemakers through the session and on mission selection. PROFIT!
Next time: Actual actual play.
My people with superpowers roleplaying game, Lifted: Indomitable is ending soon on Kickstarter. Primed by Cortex. It’s the first Cortex-licensed and non-branded superhero game…so you know we got some work to do! We’re funded and running down stretch goals. C’mon out and join us!