Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fate Accelerated: Menolly of Half-Circle Sea Hold

Ever since I was a boy I've had a soft spot in my literary heart for Anne McCaffrey's first six Pern books: Dragonflight (1968), Dragonquest (1971), Dragonsong (1976), Dragonsinger (1977), The White Dragon (1978), and Dragondrums (1979). The three Harper Hall books—Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums--are my particular favorites, both because I prefer Menolly to Lessa as a protagonist and because I like empathic fire lizards better than telepathic dragons. It's also the case that the Bantam paperback edition of Dragonsong (the one with the amazing Elizabeth Malczynski cover, reproduced above) was the first Pern book I encountered—so I guess we Impressed one another.

I was always miffed that a tabletop Pern roleplaying game never came about. I did spend a little time on one of the Pern MUSHes in the 1990s, but I soon tired of playing an Ista Weyr guard while all the established MUSHers were off having tinysex with their dragons elseweyr.

When reading Fate Accelerated Edition, it occurred to me that here was the perfect ruleset to run a Harper Hall game. (I suspect that a Dragonriders game would be better served by Fate Core.) Menolly as depicted at the start of Dragonsong was the obvious choice for a sample character. Here she is:

Menolly of Half-Circle Sea Hold

High Concept: Apprentice to the Deceased Harper Petiron
Trouble: Only a Girl
Aspects: Youngest Child of Sea Holder Yanus, Tall and Lanky


Clever +3, Careful +2, Quick +2, Forceful +1, Sneaky +1, Flashy +0


Because I am a Musical Prodigy, I get a +2 to Cleverly create advantages when writing songs.

"Apprentice to the Deceased Harper Petiron" represents Menolly's musical skill and training, while "Only a Girl" (a direct quote from the first page of the novel) is the source of all her difficulties: women aren't supposed to be Harpers, period. "Youngest Child of Sea Holder Yanus" covers her family situation, her elevated position within Half-Circle Sea Hold, and her various fishing-related abilities. "Tall and Lanky" accounts for Menolly's athletic aptitudes even while it also undercuts her appropriateness for the female responsibilities forced upon her by her Trouble. I've left one Aspect slot open for Menolly's unprecedented Impressing of nine fire lizards (e.g., "More Fire Lizards Than Anyone Else on Pern"?).

"Musical Prodigy" is my first attempt at a Stunt; Menolly's playing is certainly skillful, but it's her song-writing ability and the intricacy of her tuning that makes her stand out. Once she picks up her fire lizard aspect, I envision giving her some sort of fire lizard stunt, possibly a defensive one (reflecting the overwhelming assault her lizards carry out when someone threatens Menolly).

Thoughts? Suggestions for improvement?

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