For this week’s Monster showcase, I wanted a monster that brought out one of Fate’s strengths: the written word. With Fate Core, words are more than a way of communicating information and categorizing one stat from another, they are the bricks and mortars upon which the game is founded.
I present you a comedy/supernatural monster, “The Exquisite Corpse.” It is named, of course, after the French surrealist party game from the 1920’s (also known as Consequences). In the game, players write down a word on a piece of paper, hide it, and pass the paper to the next player. This is continued until a complete but nonsensical sentence is formed. For example, one of the earliest recorded sentences, which gave the game its name, was “the exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine.”
Description: The exquisite corpse is an unusual undead being, consisting of several body parts stitched together and reanimated through science or sorcery. It is a built for beauty rather than brute strength, and each part in the monster’s composition was carefully selected. If the handsome parts don’t quite match, this can result in a gait that is more jaunty than shambling.
High Concept: Miss-matched Charming Reanimat
- +4 – Rapport
- +3 – Fight, Physique
- +2 – Provoke, Will, Notice
- +1 – Deceive, Athletics, Contacts
Stress: 4 Physical, 3 Mental
Say What?: The Exquisite Corpse is a master of double-talk, providing pedantic answers or promises that, upon reflection, mean nothing. When others try to pry out answers and promises out of the corpse (with Provoke or Empathy), it may oppose with Rapport instead of Will; if the Corpse successfully resists, the inquisitor will mistakenly believe they have found the answer they were looking for until the end of the scene.
The Exquisite Corpse starts with only a High Concept, but will have other aspects added on to it. These additional aspects are written by the players in a random fashion. The framework for each aspect is:
The Exquisite corpse _adverb_ _verb_ the _adjective_ _noun_.
Assign each of the missing words (adverb, verb, adjective, noun) to a different player, and have them write it down where others can’t see.
If you’re looking for something to write your game notes on, why not try the Fate Accompli erasable note-cards? The Kickstarter’s fully-funded, and hitting stretch-goal after stretch-goal. It ends on August 20th, so make sure you check it out now!
After players have written their assigned words, compile them together. Depending on the number of players, it might be best to write four or five sentences, and pick the best three; look for sentences that tell you something about the corpse’s motivations and weaknesses. Here are a few samples (I promise, these are completely random):
The Exquisite corpse tensely instructs the sudden quilt –
Interpretation: he is an informed figure that takes his jobs and his hobbies very seriously.
The Exquisite corpse widely tests the frantic peace –
Interpretation: she is a troll, who loves to disrupt the status quo and to sabotage negotiations for everyone; or perhaps she is contracting you to disrupt a treaty.
The Exquisite corpse easily visits the robust toad – Interpretation: the corpse is a speedy individual, who knows where to find the toads you need as a potion ingredient.
The Exquisite corpse wetly covers the complete throat – Interpretation: the corpse is not a vampire, but is still obsessed with necking.
The Exquisite corpse swiftly punishes the stiff grade – Interpretation: I don’t know what this means, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know.
WHAT LIES BEYOND
After you have an idea of what the character is like, you may want to drop the randomness. However, there’s nothing to say that you can’t continue on in the adventure this same way. For example, the term “Exquisite Corpse” is sometimes used with Round Robin stories: one author will start a composition, but leave it unfinished, passing it on to the next. The later writers are allowed to read what has come before. For example, you can try this set-up:
The exquisite corpse sits down at your table and flashes you a mossy grin. “I have a job for you… well, it’s a three part job, but I think you can handle it. First, you will need …”
Each player must:
- Finish the previous sentence.
- Add a complete sentence of their own.
- Start a third sentence, but leave it unfinished.
WHY DO THIS?
I feel that players want to play. As I’ve theorized in the “Can You Picture That?” blog a few months ago, anything that is playful and creative gets players to flex their muscles, and to get them in the frame of mind that this is a story that they are creating, not reacting to. I have yet to try this specific style myself, but am anxious to (I suspect it might be a fun side adventure in the latest Fate World setting, “Nest.”) If you try it out, tell us what you think!
Until next time, folks, keep on rollin’!