Fate NPCs – Chimera Little Closer

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After a month detailing Kickstarter set-ups, it’s time to get back to the fun stuff. This week: Chimera-mobs, a new format for Fate NPCS.

The Background

When creating NPCs for the Skeleton Crew Bestiary, I quickly ran into the following problem:

In order for an opponent to be a competent threat in a combat situation, it needed to have a few key skills. In my Skeleton Crew setting, these generally equaled:

  • Fight (to Defend against fight)
  • Agility (to Defend against shoot and fight)
  • Will (to defend against mental attacks)

Notice nearly makes the list- it’s not as essential, but too many NPCS without Notice basically means the players always go first. This becomes a problem in the following ways:

  • Relying just on the above is fine with a few NPC teams, but after a while, it becomes redundant.
  • Having NPCs with none of the above results in NPCs that are glass cannons at best and worthless at worst
  • Adding skills on to the above results in very complex NPCs with way too many skills at the same level (Jacks of all Trades), or tiered, mega-stunt enemies that are too much of a threat.

So, I started wondering: how do you create a villain that provides a variety of different flavors, but is not a super-strong “big boss?”

My proposal: Chimera-mobs!

How it Works

A chimera-mob is essentially an NPC character or mob that is stronger than the average mob, but weaker than a full NPC villain. It enters the scene like a lion, but once you get past the first layer, it becomes increasingly easy to defeat.

First off, decide how many “parts” are in your chimera-mob. For this first example, we’ll start with a three-sectioned beast (that just happens to be an actual Greek Chimera.)

Chimera-Whelp

High Concept Multi-headed Monster of Myth
Aspects: Wild Animal; Foul-temper, Fouler Breaths; Hates Pegasi, Alicorns, & My Little Ponies
Parts:

Lion Head – Fanged & Savage Snake Head – Quick & Alert Goat Head– Stubborn & Fire Breathing
Fight +5
Physique +4
Notice +5
Acrobatics +4
Shoot +5
Will +4
Stress: O O Stress: O O Stress: O O
Stunts: None
Consequences: Minor (2)

How the three parts work:

Skills: When the Chimera first appears, it counts as having all skills as max level (+5 or +4). Likewise, when any part of the Chimera is attacked or targeted by actions, it counts as having all available skills; for example, when Shooting at a healthy Lion Head, it still counts as having Acrobatics +4 (which it borrows from the Snake Head.)

Dealing Stress: If a PC deals stress to a chimera-mob, it is up to the GM to decide which part receives the stress. You can base on the narrative (ex. The PC goes directly for the lion head; A PC is attacking from behind, which would bring him closest to the Snake-Head-tail), or based on the defending skill (ex. A mental attack would blocked with Will, thus any stress would be dealt to the Goat Head.) Either way, if a part is dealt more stress than it has stress boxes, that Part is Knocked Out. If you deal enough stress to take out a Part and still have extra stress, it is NOT carried over onto the next part, unless your attack succeeded with style. (Note: we recommend each of the Stress boxes above equals 1 stress, just to make bookkeeping a little easier.)

Knocked Out: Once a part is Knocked Out, it has all of it’s Skills reduced to a mere +1. If it has any stunts, it cannot use them. Once all parts are knocked out, the chimera-mob is taken out.

Actions: By default, each chimera-mob can only take one Action each exchange. However, if a part has taken an action, a GM can pay a Fate Point to have a different part take an action this turn.

LET’S SEE THAT AGAIN!

We’re going to give you a second example. This time, let’s see it with a mob of different individuals forming a chimera-mob. This one will be split a little wider.

THE ZOMB SQUAD

When the evil liche Sarcophoguy needs a small crack team of combatants for a task, he summons forth the Zomb Squad. These elite zombies have lost their personalities and memories in the haze of undeath, but parts of their inborn talent linger on, making them a versatile opponent.

Figures courtesy of Twilight Creation's awesome "Humans!!!" game.

Figures courtesy of Twilight Creation’s awesome “Humans!!!” game.

High Concept: Zombie Professional Team

Aspects: Mostly Mindless; On a Mission; Rotting Shells

Rocker Cheerleader Surgeon Miner Mid-Level Manager
+4 Fight

+3 Provoke

+4 Acrobatics

+3 Rapport

+4 Lore

+3 Stealth

+4 Physique

+3 Craft

+4 Will

+3 Notice

Stress: O Stress: O Stress: O Stress: O Stress: O
Stunts: Rock Never Dies! – If the Rocker is Knocked out, your Fight becomes +2 instead of +1. Stunts: Ra-Raaahh! If successful uses Rapport to create an advantage to distract an opponent, it is applied to all PCs in the zone. Stunts: Reanimate – Once per scene, at the end of his turn, the Surgeon may pay one Fate Point to wake up a Knocked Out part and remove all stress on that part. Stunts: Pickaxe – +2 when using Physique to overcome physical obstacles. Stunts: On Task – Once per scene, may use Will instead of any other skill if it relates to their objective (ex. Will as Burglary if they’re sent to steal an object.)
Consequences: Minor (2)

When do I use a Chimera-mob?

As you can tell, it’s a chimera-mob can be as very simple, or amazingly complex (the Zomb Squat, for example, has five stunts!) However, they can provide a single threat that is a threat to most every teammate without feeling like a beefed-up supervillain.

Zones & Spacing

When throwing a Chimera-mob at a group, it works best to set the fight in a small area. In a narrow corridor, it’s easy to see how you can aim at Surgeon zombie, only to have the acrobatic Cheerleader-zombie leapfrog off of your head, making you miss your shot. In a much wider area filled with many zones, it’s a little harder to justify in the narrative how the Rocker can simultaneously be attacking a player on one side of a football field and defending for the Miner against a punch 100 yards down the field. As you might surmise, chimera-mobs also work well for GMs that run map-less campaigns.

So, tell us what YOU think! Have some Chimeras of your own?

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