14 thoughts on “Has anyone played The Fellowship?”

  1. I play it in preference to DW. I think it keeps the pbta fantasy fun while throwing away the unnecessary D&D heritage (probably not a common opinion here, I know).

    Jennifer Erixon might be getting at the fact that the way it’s written makes it sound like every challenge is supposed to be dealt with in the same way, whether it’s an orc or an arrow trap or a sports tournament. You write the bad thing two or three stats like “Long Spear” or “Poison-Tipped” or “Everyone’s Rooting Against You”. Maybe each stat has a mechanical thing attached it to like “If the trap deals damage to you, you are paralysed until the end of the scene”. Then the fellowship attempts to deal with it in whatever story-driven way they like, triggering moves or using gear or calling on companions as they do so. When they have done enough to have a reasonable chance of dealing with the bad thing for good, they get access to the move called ‘Finish Them’, which they roll with whichever stat is most relevant. 10+ the threat ceases to be a threat in one way or another; 7-9 you get rid of one of its stats and repeat.

    This symmetric system really appeals to me but I’ve only really used it when the fellowship is actually fighting bad guys, not for social situations or entire scenes – there’s a whole load of “Set Pieces” at the back of the book which are intended to be whole-session boss-fight kind of deals. The sports tournament was one of those. I don’t know how well something like that will go in practice.

  2. Scott Thomas Muggins AU and I have been working on a Revised Dungeon World supplement that replaces a number of the D&D tropes where they get in the way of what we like about the game. You might be interested; our draft version will be out shortly.

  3. i don’t know, it’s just not a very intuitive system. i lament any game where i have to scramble to find the right move, the charsheets are four pages long, the beasic moves i think are also four pages long, and it takes me out of the game when i have to read a paragraph to figure out what i am doing.

    i feel like it took what was good in dungeon world and made it even more complicated to the point where you talk more about mechanics than the actual story. it feels far too much like a game and not at all like role playing, which i find funny, because story games in general were a reaction against gamey-rpgs like 3.5 or 4e, only to find a “story game” as complicared and unintuitive as the games they were a reaction against. i feel the same way about AW2e battle moves.

    and maybe i have a different need when it comes to playing games, but my main draw is story and interaction, and i feel fellowship, and even sometimes DW, falls into this trap of letting the game get in the way of the story. substituting moves for roleplaying, for the shared conversation of the game. the less time you gotta look at the rules the more time you have to actually play.

  4. It’s hard, the story games vs RPG divide. I love both, and I think DW is sort of an interesting balance. I’d like to see the balance lean a bit more towards story, though my players might not agree.

  5. i mean i feel like fiasco is a perfect example of a story game that is designed well and intuitively, there is not a lot of structure hindering the flow of play, but just enough to keep things moving. rules light, world of dungeons, lady blackbird, and others sort of fall into this category of light narrative crunch story games.

    aw and dw are great midsized story games, bordering on crunchy, but just enough freedom to keep things going. they are more akin to 5e or b/x, crunchy enough to have a lot of structure, but not too much to tie yr hands.

    but fellowship, i feel suffers from rules bloat akin to 4e/3.5, there is just too much going on, the crunch is narrative crunch, but crunch nonetheless.

  6. Oh, I’m quite happy with Dungeon World – for now. I have a ton of story games – Kingdom, Microscope, While the World Ends, the Quiet Year, Questlandia, Perseverant, etc.

    My main issue is that most of the players I know don’t really “get” story games. They like having a way to “win” (their words). As a GM, I’m happier playing story games because they give me the thing I want: story, made by more people than just me.

    Dungeon World seems to be the perfect in-between game; my players (read: friends) like the mechanics and “win” conditions; and most of them like the semi-collaborative nature of the game. As a GM, I’m happy because I don’t have to prep, and I get to share the worldbuilding with my players. Does that make sense?

    BTW I know I could find story games (like Fiasco) that have a larger “point” – but it’s hard to run long campaigns in that context.

  7. what kind of mechanics actually focus on story? like i think it all comes down to a shared idea of what the story is, i have played dungeon world and fellowship and gotten bored/annoyed due to the rules constantly getting in the way and the story getting completely lost. i have also played osr games with more story and roleplaying than i have had in any other game. i think it comes down to a sort of consensus reality or focus in a game. while dw can seem very combat focused with all of the playbooks, i have played several sessions of dw that havent involved any combat.

    i really find that it is difficult to write mechanics for story, because mechanics get in the way of what story is, creation. combat has mechanics because combat is not inherently interesting (though some would disagree) it’s what players fill in around the combat that matters, it’s the personality players give to their characters. some folks just want to kill shit and have a good time, and some folks really like drama, but i don’t think you can mechanize drama. fellowship certainly tries to.

  8. The bits I like most about it are when the moves give me an idea for something I didn’t think of before. So as Overlord if I gain the option to mock or taunt players and break their Bonds – I like that as it gives some mechanical weight to this acting, makes me scarier because of that, encourages me to play up that side of the big bad evil. Like all these PbtA games, it’s an attempt to encourage particular behaviours and tell a certain kind of story by explicitly calling out ‘when you do this thing…’ and making you go ‘Oh I should do that thing’. I also quite like the emphasis on cinematic framing: it makes me work harder to start a scene in the middle of the action, swing the camera around to whatever interesting thing is happening, and finish it without dragging it on. And the bits where we go round the table and everyone sets a little scene about what they did during a journey are great fun and remind me of the way that Fiasco works.

    The bits I don’t like are when I can’t tell how to apply the narrative crunch in the rules to whatever we’re doing at the time. Like when I’ve played Fiasco and we’ve been halfway through a scene and everyone has gone “Uh so what actually counts as a success in this scenario?” I’ve had the same thing in Fellowship. “Uh is this a challenge? Should I be writing out some sort of stat block? Is talking to this person something I should be rolling dice for?” So far I think we’ve gone for a light touch with those rules, which might be why they haven’t seemed too intrusive.

    You could almost certainly achieve the structuring that Fellowship gives you just changing your GM style in any game. And you can be a memorable villain without any rules at all for what they can do. But for this relatively new GM it’s been helpful.

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