Oops, I forgot to mention some other FATE-related games happening at Gateway this year.
Friday night I played in Josh Roby's Houses of the Blooded game. I was Torr Adrente, a Wolf dude (Prowess 5, Cunning 0 -- that kinda guy) with a retinue of 20 soldiers, an ominously named sword, and a thing for my uncle's wife. Good times. I'm terrible when it comes to intrigue and subtlety and all that crap, but it was still fun. I love the die mechanic, for one thing. The only other time I've played was in a demo game run by John Wick a couple years ago (or maybe it was OrcCon of last year...?), and back then we only played with a fraction of the rules, so this was a bit of a change. Disappointed that I never got to draw my Bloodsword and see what my Doom was all about, but hey, it's HotB, not D&D.
(That said, I'm now dying to run a straight-up old-school dungeon crawl with HotB just for the sheer irony of it. And because it might make John Wick's head explode. "My name means 'Fighter/Magic-User.'")
Sunday morning, Chris Czerniak, one of the regular San Diego crew, ran his time-travelling Spirit of the Century game. It's kinda Dr. Who-ish, in that there are a couple of actual time travelers accompanied by a team of some of history's greatest heroes. When I played this game many moons ago, that list included Bruce Lee, Audie Murphy, Lord Byron, and Mata Hari, as I recall (I played Lord Byron, and crossed out a number of his aspects to replace them with quotations from Byron's poetry, because that's the sort of thing I do). I didn't play in this game -- I was busy getting jerked around by an RPGA module at the time -- but it did exist.
Sunday afternoon (and also Sunday morning), Strategicon regular Morgan Ellis ran Labyrinths of Mars, the sequel to his last Spirit of the Red Planet game. Last time, I was Throk, a four-armed Green Martian; this time, I was Kalyan, a dashing Red Martian pirate -- er, ex-pirate -- with an ornamental eyepatch, the Martian non-Union equivalent of the Millennium Falcon, and a "mostly loyal crew." I dig the planetary romance genre, even though I'm more familiar with the tropes than with the actual source material itself, so this was some fun stuff, as always. Half the reason I play in Morgan's games is to hear his excellently stentorian prologues ("This is the Spirit... of the SHAT-TERED EARTH!"), but I also got to make one of Czerniak's long-held dreams come true by proposing to his character in-game, so that's nothing to sneeze at, either.
Morgan's great at making really archetypical characters that you can instantly sink your teeth into. He has a few mechanical tweaks, too (don't we all?). For one thing, his skill pyramids have a total of just six skills, from Fair to Superb, which I totally get: It's a con game -- just pick the six most iconic things this character ought to be able to do and go with it. Characters also only have three stunts, and they're almost always custom-made. He uses the ol' -2/-4/-6 stress-reducing consequences rule, but cuts out the stress tracks, and takes a cue from Starblazer Adventures (or, more accurately, Legends of Anglerre) by having a character's Refresh equal his starting aspects minus his starting stunts. I've noticed, too, that he's taken to starting his important NPCs' skills at around +6 or +7, just so he can have a fightin' chance of dealing a consequence to someone. And fair enough, says I.