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Ian O'Rourke
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Fate Fading Suns - Cancelled

It has happened. Fate Fading Suns has been cancelled at eight sessions. This isn’t a negative post as I rage against the fall out, albeit when it happened earlier in the week it was a shock, but probably shouldn’t have been. It’s actually a positive. It’s only a game at the end of the day. It’s an immense positive because the campaign has not been cancelled for anything to do with any sort of internal issues I had. On that front it would have continued and concluded!

That is awesome. Epic win.

I do find the conversations and reasons for the cancellation interesting though. They’re also quite pertinent to decisions about whether to run again, what types of game would work and what shape they should take, etc. I’m not even going to get into differences in styles of play, measures of success, etc. The thing that has become clearer is the categories the gaming group’s campaigns fall into.

We seem to have four categories:-

  • The long games
  • Get out while the goings ‘good’
  • The short experiments
  • The cancelled games

The long games. It would seem the gaming group is quite traditional. It came up in a recent discussion that any game that has been recorded as one of the ‘the long games’ or ‘successful campaign’ has had a very traditional system? Okay, the phrase ‘successful campaign’ is a risky one because other campaigns have been successful, but while that description can be changed I suspect the category and its occupants are still recognisable as distinct. The campaigns that have ran for some time (8+ sessions), possibly survived multiple seasons or other forms of transition and reached a conclusion utilised the following systems: Dungeons and Dragons (3E), Cinematic Unisystem, Pendragon and Dungeons and Dragons (4E). These are all very traditional sets of rules, often quite structured, or both, they have a simple dice mechanic, simple skill mechanics, characters improve through experience, and something as traditional as ‘hero points’ is about as ‘new and hippy’ as they get.

Get out while the going is ‘good’. Then we have the campaigns that concluded, but were not as long, and probably had things about them that people enjoyed, but also had things that ‘broke’ them to some degree or another. The campaigns in this category I’m aware of involved the Fate (one of the many variants) and Cortex+ systems. It would seem these games that mix ‘traditional’ and ‘indie’ games together have always proved to have a natural session attrition in the group. In both these cases, the game was closed down due to a general vibe of un-satisfaction. The writing was on the wall so they were concluded correctly and in a positive manner while the going was still good or good enough! Like a TV show that’s knows it’s not getting renewed. The Cortex+ experience is a perfect example, a campaign I enjoyed immensely (I would love a sequel somehow under another system but it would never happen), but if it had not concluded when it did then it would have gone into the cancelled category. In short, these might be great, mediocre or terrible experiences depending on the individual, but by and large they remain positive for those who liked them because they concluded early enough!

From a certain point of view it could be argued these experiences are short experiments that pushed to the edge of the session envelope or a certain type of cancelled game that, as the name suggests, just got out while the going was good due to good communication.

The short experiments. I’ve not been involved in many of the games in this category, but they occur. The only possible example being a single session of Duty & Honour. They are games that are meant to run for only a single session or three. They are very much run like convention experiments but are slightly longer. It is also where the non-traditional systems are more successful whether it be Mouse Guard, Cold City or a number of Fate variants, etc. Historically anyway.

The cancelled games. Then we have the fourth category of game, which are splattered about through our gaming history. These are games that got cut off. Cancelled. Consigned to the gaming bin. They enter this state for numerous reasons. GM time. GM dissatisfaction. GM Issues. My three main reasons, historically. The conflict of ideas proves unmanageable. The group just suddenly looking at each other and conclude it’s not going to work (now known as the Werewolf Epiphany). It may even involve a dungeon of candy. The commonality being they are cancelled early, just stop or hit a problem that isn’t recoverable. These things happen.

Where does Fate Fading Suns sit in this illustrious history? Well, certainly in the cancelled category. That is pretty clear. As stated, the reason for games falling into this category vary wildly. In the case of Fate Fading Suns, looking back now, it had the hallmarks of a perfect ‘get out while the going is good’ game that failed, well, to get out while the going was good. The indications this was on the cards were not adequately communicated (thought it may still not have been able to close down satisfactorily). In fact, in the glorious clarity that is hindsight, I probably should have seen it as inevitable and realise I only had a certain horizon for success. I certainly should not have gunned for something more like a 'long game' when in truth I had a 'get out while the going is good' game.

I suspect the outcome may have been ordained, to one degree or another, as soon as it hit the table. I also suspect the GM of two of the more obvious games in the I got out while the going was good category probably tried to warn me ahead of time as well. After all, he jumped to the left and went more traditional after those experiences no doubt for a healing experience!

The important question is: what does this mean for the future? Well, I think I can take a number of things away from it but I’ll leave that for another day! At this point all I say is don’t try and buck the above, it probably won’t work.

Permalink | Comments(0) | Posted by: Ian O'Rourke on 18/05/2013 Bookmark and Share
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