This evening the kids were arguing about what game to play. Ainsley, the youngest wanted to play Jungle Speed (with the extreme expansion). Ellie and Jenny wanted to play Bulldogs! Aidan, the oldest, wanted to play Dungeon World. And Savannah wanted to play a role-playing game, but didn’t know which one.
I explained that Dungeon World is a rules easier version of Dungeons and Dragons (4E). I then told her that Bulldogs! is kind of like Futurama and Planet Express; Your job is hazardous and your life is likely to end in the maw of a giant space hornet.
While Jenny and Ellie were at violin lessons, Aidan, Savannah, Ainsley and I played a quick game of Jungle Speed. Once they were back, we made personal pizzas as a family. We ate a hasty meal and quickly did the dishes to get on to the game playing.
Barely Controlled Chaos
Have you ever tried to help 5 people make characters at the same time? How many of them were children? Amazingly enough, things went pretty well.
First and foremost, I walked through all the races with each person, quickly describing them based on their defining aspects. Aidan, Ainsley, and Jenny decided to play existing species. Savannah and Ellie opted to create their own.
Thankfully, we didn’t have to define their species up front and moved on to aspects. We worked our way through each of their character aspects. Ainsley, Aidan and Jenny chose from their species list, whereas Ellie and Savannah were making their race up as they went.
Creating aspects went amazingly well. The kids would say what they were thinking, and I’d help edit their stream of consciousness into a solid aspect. We ended up spending about 45 minutes on aspects. In doing so, Savannah’s bartering cat-like Cathions and Ellie’s taloned avion hunters, the Deathwoles were fleshed out. (By this time Ainsley’s enthusiasm had waned and she was doodling.)
Kudos again to Brennan Taylor for creating a robust alien species system in which you can flesh out your unique alien species by adding Fate Core (Fate 🔍) aspects to them and a handful of stunts.
With the aspects done, we moved to Skills, and wrapped those up in 20 minutes; I simply read through the list and they went through and chose the interesting skills.
Savannah is the pilot, Ellie the deck-hand, Aidan the systems and gunner, and Jenny the ship’s captain. We’ll fit Ainsley in at a later point.
With the sun setting, we went back inside and wrapped up the character’s stunts; They still need their equipment, but they are dirt poor, so that won’t take long.
I love creating FATE characters, and Bulldogs! is no exception. Aspects are such a wonderful means of mechanically describing your character.
The lack of tightly coupled relationship between species and the aspects, skills, stunts, and equipment, meant that we could keep rolling with character creation even though Savannah and Ellie didn’t have a fully defined race. They could fill in their species aspects along with everyone else, but could hold off on stunts until later.
The rules of Bulldogs! is wonderfully well written. There are a multitude of suggested Aspects for all the various game elements: Planets, Species, Crew, Captain, Former Associates, etc. This plethora of examples creates an extremely rich well to draw inspiration from.
I guess it is time to think of what the crew needs to deliver next.