Happy Friday everyone! Last week our Iopos Kickstarter successfully concluded and the preview manuscript has been sent off to our generous backers. I’ve been excited to hear the feedback rolling in, and even more excited to be eavesdropping on the “Iopos Spoilers” channel over on the official FASA Discord. To my surprise, nobody has brought up the bigger teasers we have nestled away in the text. Perhaps they will uncover our sinister plots, or perhaps our community will be all the more surprised when our announcements come out later this year!

One of the comments that sprung up from the spoiler discussion is a number of our backers being surprised to see the little jokes and humorous interactions we have made sure populate the Lair of Deceit. From those comments, I thought it might be a good idea to address the topic of “Table Tone” and how you can ensure that everyone in your gaming group is getting what they want out of the game.

By “Table Tone”, I am talking about the actual tone for the action that you, as the Gamemaster, get to define for your home group. Personally, I prefer to keep the action epic in scope, while giving the players a lot of room to be silly and blow off some steam around the gaming table. However, some tables can opt for a much more serious game, a more child friendly environment, or even something darkly sinister and gritty.  

To properly find a tone that everyone is agreeable to, it is important to discuss a group’s desires and expectations at the ever important “Session Zero” of a campaign. This idea has become something of a buzzword in our hobby, but it is still a good idea. It’s become even more important now that so much of our gaming is happening remotely, and sometimes things can get lost in translation as we adapt to these new media for our “tabletop” play. Verbally setting expectations is the only way to ensure that a group of disparate players are on the same page and come to the scene ready for the same types of fun.

To use an example I totally haven’t experienced at a table, it’s always awkward when one character comes to the scene with an Emo-goth Sadboi vampire who is constantly brooding and the other brings Boffo, the Fun-Time Killer Clown. Either (or both!) players could feel their characterization is being undermined and their fun may diminish in response.

Having a Session Zero is probably a good idea whenever a new campaign is begun, even if you are playing with people who have been coming to your table for decade after decade. Perhaps you or your players want to try something a little different. Perhaps you want to shift the tone a little so the offspring of a long-time player or a new addition to the table can give things a try. Whatever the case, your team of players deserves to know what they are getting into.

This brings us back to the Iopos book. Adventuring in Iopos is likely a difficult affair of espionage, lies, and witnessing tragedy after tragedy. The chance of dark and sinister things happening at a table based in Iopos is through the roof, and many tables will want to have a somewhat lighter tone. For this reason, we thought it was important to include those light-hearted moments in the book to break up the darker content. After all, it is not the PEOPLE of Iopos who commit war crimes, it’s the leadership.

Say it with me everyone, #EatTheRich.

About the Blogger: Kyle Pritchard is a second-generation tabletop gamer who has been slinging dice since before he was crawling. He’s been working with FASA Games since 2014 and has been a member of Earthdawn Team since 2018.