In cooking, mise en place means getting all your ingredients measured and utensils prepared, lined near your work area, and generally setting up so you won’t have to fumble around looking for something while your hands are covered with flour and egg.
It’s the same when you prepare to run a role-playing game: you want to have the information you’ll need at your fingertips, organized so you can find it quickly. In a lot of systems, this means having fifteen different sourcebooks tabbed and bookmarked, but not here. We’re using Fate Accelerated, which is a pleasantly short little book; while we’re also getting some additional material from the heftier Fate Core while we prepare, in play we won’t need to refer to it.
But our setting source material comes from works of fiction literature, and we certainly don’t want to have to flip through the books to find a good description of the locations or technology. This is why we have set up our lists of Faces and Places in Part 3; now we will add a few more lists to refer to when our players ask: “What’s in the victim’s pockets?”, “What does the data deck look like?” or “What is Farrad eating?”
In the process, I’m going to be borrowing the method described by Robin D. Laws in his book of advice for Game Masters, Robin’s Laws of Good Game Mastering (published by Steve Jackson Games). Laws suggests preparing lists of names, sample dialogue, and personality traits which the GM can just pick from when it’s time to create minor characters.
Step 5: Preparing to Improvise
or: What do you mean, I can’t play a white American?
In Part 2 of the series, I mentioned that gamer groups who have trouble thinking past “white American” characters will need to do a little more work. I’m serious, on countless occasions I’ve observed gamers who, told they could not play white Americans in a given setting, then tried to play white Englishmen, white Canadians, white Australians, or failing those, other white Europeans. If you really twist their arm, they may play a katana-wielding Asian character.
It pays for the GM to prepare against this by having lots of flavour bits to include in her setting, thus helping the players get in the right mood; and references to help her players choose a few character elements that will fit well in the Budayeen (name, physical description, connections, habits, occupation, orientation, beliefs, etc.) Continue reading “Fate of the Budayeen: Mise en Place”