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  1. #1

    Any tips for first-time Vaesen GM?

    Hi Everyone,

    Finally getting to run Vaesen which is very exciting!

    Anyone have any hot tips for running it, either in terms of the FG ruleset or just in general?

    I've run plenty of different systems before but haven't got a feel for how Vaesen is going to play yet.

    The rolls/push but you get a condition seem ferociously punitive to characters, especially for things outside of their core competences. I'm planning to rely on "passive" player skill OSR-style for the most part - if you go to the right place and do the right thing, you get the clue. I'm going to ask for rolls only where there's a serious risk to the character and apply the result over a longer time period than is common for 5E.

    Is that how you do when you run it? It seems to be what the rulebook suggests. Like one stealth roll can last all evening, and probably would only require a second one if a particularly alert guard with a gun is looking for you or you bump in to the actual Vaesen of the mystery.

    I'm planing on starting with "The Silver of the Sea" because it seems more in-tune with the premise of the game than the starter scenario in the rulebook. Is that a good call, do you think?

    Cheers, Hywel

  2. #2
    Vaesen is more investigative and problem solving than combat. Watch a couple of playthrough vidoes on YouTube. They'll really help you get a feel for the game.

    Don't sweat the conditions. Yes, they can be brutal, but as your players gain xp they'll be able to upgrade their HQ with things that'll help out.

    It sounds like you've already decided to bypass rolls for trivial things, which is good. Keep the mechanics out of it as much as possible. Let the players roleplay their skill checks instead of constantly rolling with a +3 modifier. And just because they failed a roll doesn't mean they need to have reached a dead end. Create a different way to let them succeed using a different skill. IMO, Free League games play better when there's less die rolling and more roleplaying.

  3. #3
    We just finished our run of Vaesen games. We played three mysteries (two from the Wicked Secret book, one homebrew).

    The system was a huge hit with everyone, and the FGU conversion was spot on. Many thanks to the ruleset developer for this. FGU's conversion made it sublimely easy to run, including adding homebrew Vaesen with very little effort and very little learning curve on top of basic familiarity with FG.

    We're moving on to try out another system now, but it's absolutely whetted the group's appetite for more Vaesen and for trying out the other Mutant Year Zero chassis systems. I'll be giving Vaesen an outing for my first in-person game in a couple of months, too.

    If I could add a few GM tips of my own I'd reinforce the idea that skill rolls should be the culmination of scenes. Getting the party working together so people can contribute their extra +1 dice to the group effort really worked. Don't make them roll for a skill check unless there's a possibility of them getting hurt, basically.

    I'd also add that with a larger group (we had 6 players) you should give the Vaesen extra actions each round, otherwise the action economy will overwhelm them. Sure, pummelling them into the ground isn't a solution to the mystery in most cases, but I wanted the Vaesen to be able to show off some of their curses and things and just generally make it feel like more of an EVENT to encounter one. So I'd say with a larger group just add at least one extra fast and slow action to each Vaesen.

    I found trouble getting player's dark secrets involved. I'm not particularly good at working in PC background details anyway, and I think the larger group size made that harder. With just 3 or 4 players you could tailor frights and sights to interact with them a bit better, but I pretty much failed to do it with 6.

    The HQ system is excellent. If we'd planned a longer campaign I'd have started doing much more with the castle and the threats idea from the rulebook. We also really liked the idea of keeping stuff from previous adventures - so when they went out to confront the draugs in the forest, it wasn't any old shotgun they took with them. It was Godmother Abela's shotgun that had nearly precipitated a bloodbath in a Mexican standoff in their first mystery. A lot of little details like this added up to a powerful world-build with very little effort on my part. I like the way the FL games generally encourage player agency in the world build in this way.

    So if you're on the fence about Vaesen I'd say give it a go, our group had an absolute blast!

    Cheers, Hywel

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