Shiver Me Timbers – Fate Naval Battles

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Ahoy, gamers! Someone of G+ posted a question about how to use Fate Core to have a naval battle, and it got me thinking; the key to a naval battle in Fate is not maps and tactics, but about the narrative. Just like in a Horatio Hornblower story, you might not understand which ship is how far away from that ship, but you know at any given time who is playing it safe and who is reckless, and who is winning.

(And to any fans who were hoping for my Umdaar stuff, none of that this week… unless you want to have a flying-air skiff battle!)


An ancient shot of me, during the infamous Pirate Ninja wars.

An ancient shot of me, during the infamous Pirate Ninja wars.

NAVAL BATTLE RULES

BASICS

Naval Battles use a variation on the Swashbuckler Duel, found in the Fate System Toolkit. Any player that succeeds with style on of their actions gains the “The Upper Hand”; if they do, this replaces the boost or extra invoke they would normally receive. They keep the upperhand until an opposing character gains it.

SKILLS

Most naval combat actions will use the following three skills: Shoot for disabling and attacking, Pilot (which is based on Drive) to maneuver close and dodge attacks, and Physique to withstand attacks.

Here are some sample ships:

Small – Sloop – Pilot +3, Shoot +2, Physique +1 – 2 Stress Boxes, 1 Consequence

Middling – Frigate – Shoot +4, Pilot +2, Physique +2 – 3 Stress Boxes, 2 Consequences

Great Ship – Galleon – Physique +5, Shoot +4, Pilot +1 – 4 Stress Boxes, 3 Consequences

ZONES / MOVEMENT

There are two ranges (which are similar to zones): close and long range. All ships start at long range.

Long Range: While at long range, your cannons are too far away to deal large amounts of damage- as such, you can’t make an attack action at long range. You may, however, still use Shoot to pepper the enemy with light fire in the hopes that you hinder them in some way (ex. tear a sail, or knock out a few spar, demoralize the crew). It is also too far to use any personal skills, like Deceive, Provoke, Empathy or Rapport.*

*Optional Rules – You may use attempt to personal skills with Flags, such as pretending to have a friendly ensign or provoking them with a black flag.

Maneuvering into Close Range: A player may attempt to move their ship into close range with the enemy ship; this uses the overcome action. The defender rolls to defend against the action: this represents them either maneuvering to stay at long range or to force the encroaching party into a bad position. Use the following outcomes:

Attacker Succeeds with Style: you move into close range; also, you ,may either take a boost to gain the upper hand.

Attacker Succeeds: you move into close range.

Attacker Ties: the defender chooses: to have the attacker stay at long range (but the attacker gets a boost), OR let the attacker pull into close range (and the defender gets a boost.)

Attacker Fails / Defender Wins: the defender gets a boost. In addition, the defender chooses when the attacker stays at long range, or moves to close range.

Maneuvering – Succeed at a Cost: If you fail to move in close, you may choose to Succeed at a Cost; if you do, you are automaticlaly pulled in close, but the defender choose whether to gains a boost or the upper hand- this is definitely a risky move!

Maneuvering out of Close Range: As an action, you may attempt to move your ship from close range into long range. If you are unopposed, it happens automatically. Any enemy ships that are in close range may attempt to oppose you; both ships use their Pilot skill.

ATTACKING

Attacks: If two ships are in close range, they can exchange one of two types of attacks: a Broadside Attack or Raking Attacking. A Broadside attack is easy to do, but very dangerous; a Raking attack is safer, but may only be done if you have the upper hand.

Broadside Fire: If you are in close range, you may deal a Broadside attack. Roll your Shoot plus 4dF as normal; however, the resulting shifts of damage are dealt to both the enemy ship AND your ship* (to represent their return fire); a player can add invokes to deal more shifts, but this will also deal more shifts to you. After you determine the number shifts dealt, both your and the defending ship rolls to defend- the attacked ship may use Physique or Pilot to defend, but you may only use Physique to defend against broadsides that you initiated.

*The exception is merchant / cargo ships: during a broadside attack against a merchant ship , the maximum number of shifts you can deal to yourself is equal to the merchant ship’s Shoot ability. This makes merchants easy prey!

Example: Delilah controls a Middling ship (Shoot +4, Pilot +2, Physique +2) and makes a broadside attack against a small ship (Pilot +3, Shoot +2, Physique +1); her middling ship has a Shoot of +4, rolls +1, invokes an aspect for a total of 7 shifts of stress. The defender can defend with Physique or Pilot, and chooses Pilot, as it is higher (+3); one the defense roll adds +2, thus, the small ship suffers 2 stress. Delilah’s broadside also deals 5 shifts to her own ship, which she can only defend with Physique (+2); she also rolls a +0, which means she deals 5 stress to herself. (A very dangerous turn of events!)

Strategy Tip: You’ll notice, of course, that a smaller boat that has lots of fire power but little defense has little incentive to initiate a broadside (unless the target is outnumbered). However, a more robust ship with high defense and lots of stress boxes can initiate several broadsides and survive.

Raking Fire: Raking attacks represents you pulling up perpendicular to the enemy, a maneuver called “crossing the T”; this means all of your guns are facing their ship, while their relatively unarmed aft or stern is facing you. Raking fire can only be done if you are in close range and have the Upper Hand. However, a raking fire attack deals shifts of damage without dealing any damage to you. (This makes it ideal for smaller crafts that have low defenses.)

MULTI-SHIP COMBAT

Here are a few extra rules about having several ships fighting at once:

Formations: Allied ships are organized into formations. If a side has 3 or fewer ships, they will always be in the same formation. If a side has 4 of more ships, they can split into formations (these can’t start smaller than 2, but can break into smaller groups mid-battle). When a moving the group, they all move as a single group, which takes up the action for all of those ships for this exchange.

Close Range & Formations: Whenever you move into close range with a ship, you count as close range with all of the ships in that formation. Also, if a ship approaches you want to defend against it, you must defend with the lowest Pilot skill in the formation; you’re only as fast as your slowest ship! Likewise, when trying to escape from close range, you either escape as a formation (using the lowest Pilot), or have a ship break formation and leave on it’s own.

UPPER HAND – 3+ Combat – If there are more than 3 characters in conflict, use these following additional rules for the upper hand:

  • Gaining the upper hand for your ship does not automatically grant it to your allies; however, you may have several characters on your side that have each earned the upper hand independently.
  • Whenever you gain the upperhand, and one or more of your opponents have the upperhand as well, choose which opponent you steal the upperhand from.
  • Each ship may only have one “upperhand” bonus- however, if you if you already have the upperhand, and an opposing ship has the upperhand, you may remove their upperhand bonus.
  • If you gained the upperhand during a previous turn, you may pass it to any of your allies; however, this be done at the start of your turn, before taking your action, and passing it does not allow your ally to steal an upperhand bonus from any enemy (i.e. you only steal it when you first succeed with style).

That’s it, folks! Until next time, GAME ON!

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Masters of Umdaar Bonus Content – MISSION MOTHERLOAD

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In the last few weeks, I’ve shared some of the bonus material that couldn’t fit into the “Masters of Umdaar” book (available for “Pay-what-you-want” on DriveThruRPG.)

Artist by Tazio Bettin, Enrica Eren Angiolini. Copyright artists & Evil Hat LLC. Used without permission.

Two weeks ago, I shared some ways to create a Master, a Wildland, and an Evil Lair.

Last week, I gave you the basic set-up for Rescue Missions.

This week, we’re giving you the motherload: not one, not nine, but 54 more missions for you to generate!

MISSION TABLE

Roll two off-color fate dice and see what mission you are charged with:

0 +
Pick: Get! or mission table of your choice Discover! Thwart!
0 Rescue! Pick: Get! or mission table of your choice Escape!
+ Defend / Escort! Slay! Pick: Get! or mission table of your choice

[As we mentioned in weeks past, most of these adventures focus less on the Archaeonauts actually, y’know, doing archaeonaut-themed things. For this reason, we’ve adjusted the Mission chart to give you a higher chance to rolling a “Get!” artifact-themed adventure.]

SLAY

A threat has been threatening the peaceful peasants, and the perpetrator must be stopped. It follows this format:

The _Victim___ informs you of a threat so vile, that you might be forced to journey through the _____Wildland_____ to the __Evil Lair___, so your warriors might SLAY…

0 +
A New Warlord – Create a new Master, who excels at using physical force to get his way—Forceful, Quick— You can make him a member of an existing race, or create a new one. A Monster – A fantastic beast is razing villages and killing any who get in its way. Roll twice on the Monster Chart, and pick the one that sounds more terrifying! Your Old Worst Enemy – The villain is an established Master, or the nemesis of one of the party members.—Of course, old foes are notorious for cheating death.
0 A Warlock Master– A hermetic old warlock or witch has been pilfering poor peasants for centuries- but no more! The Evil Lair building has been the Warlock’s home base for centuries, and is full of clever traps! Master is skilled at Clever and/or Careful. A Demon! – A secretive figure is has summoned and bound a monster from another plane, and is using it to terrorize the land! Unmask the summoner, or face the much harder task of slaying the demon itself! An Ancient Evil – Long ago, the Demiurge captured an ancient evil- now it is free! Worse still, it cannot die, only be trapped. Generate a Wildland- this is the evil’s haunt. You must lure it back to the Evil Lair, or an equally powerful site, if you are to stop it. 
+ A Double Threat – Create a new Master or Beast—see Monster above, but the brute is not so mindless after all- it’s skilled at brain and brawn. The monster can speak eloquently, the warlord can quote philosophy. A Teetering Enemy – Whoever slays the Master will gain power over his domain- which means you have plenty of rivals trying to kill him/her first! The Crime Lord! Your quarry is a sneaky Bandit Lord—High Sneaky or Quick—Instead of having the Wildland and Evil Lair based around remote spots, build them around urban spots, like Bazaars, Slums, and Palaces.

DISCOVER!

Something is out there, lurking at the edge of knowledge, in the undiscovered county. It’s time to discover what it is.

The_Victim_asks you to travel through the _Wildland_____, in the hopes that you might uncover…

0 +
A New Religion – Missionaries from a foreign land have asked you to visit their temple, and their High Priest. Roll for the Evil Lair, which doubles as the holy temple- go and see what the religion is all about, and if the High Priest is an ally to win over or a new Master to subdue. A New Race– An undiscovered tribe dwells in the nearby Wildlands, attacking anyone who ventures through it. Rather than role a complete race all at once, add an additional Animal, Adaptation, Power, or Weapon with each new scene. Roll an Evil Lair for their base. A Hidden Treasure – In the Wildlands, you find hints of an Evil Lair, which holds an ancient Artifact. When you reach there, roll to see what the treasure is.
0 A Hidden World – Underneath a Land of Light, a crevice has opened up, revealing a hidden world beneath your feet. Search the underground Wildland underneath, and the Evil Lair it holds. Or, have a portal open to an entirely different universe. A Lost Tribe –A local tribe in the Wildlands could swing the balance of power in the region.

Treat it as above result “Lost in the Mists,” but add a rival Master who is also trying to recruit the locals through guile and force.

A Hidden Base – A Master has established a new base camp, hidden somewhere in the Wildland. Roll for several Evil Lairs- only one contains the Master, but they all have their shares of danger!
+ A Hidden Purpose – In the Wildland is an Evil Lair structure- except, the entire structure is a leftover Demiurge machine. What is the function? Will the rival Master claim the structure first? A Hidden Menace – A new master is threatening the kingdom and is sending agents to assassinate the monarch. Stop the assassins, follow them to their Evil Lair, and discover their master’s identity.—Great for a 2-part story. An Aberration – An unknown factor is causing the denizens of the Wildland to warp and mutate. Is this a blessing or a curse, and how will rival Masters use it to their advantage?—Roll a Power or Adaptation for each group you meet, and an Evil Lair.</table>

 

THWART

An evil plan is in motion. Only you can prevent it from coming to fruition. It follows this format:

The _Victim___ beseeches you journey through the _____Wildland_____ to the __Evil Lair, where the vile _Master_ is carrying out his/hwe plot. You must stop…

0 +
An Evil Alliance! – Several Masters, who are normally fierce rivals, are meeting to plan an alliance. Stealthily sabotage them before they can ally against you! A Doomsday Machine – A villain has found a diabolical device from the age of the Demiurge, and is nearly finished repairing it.—Alternatively, it could be an original invention. An Evil Cult’s Ritual – A cult, possibly hidden in an ally’s kingdom, past the dangerous Wildland. Reach the kingdom, route out their temple, and stop from casting a dangerous spell.
0 A Treacherous Plot – You learn of a nefarious plot- and the chief suspect is a very trusted member of the royal family. This is not a matter to be solved by smashing- you have to find solid evidence incriminating the noble, or catch him in the act. For this adventure, the climactic final scene will be in the Land of Light. A Plague War – An unseen threat is intentionally spreading plague throughout a local settlement. Journey through the dangerous Wildland reach to the neighboring Land of Light, find the threat, and end it before it can spread. An Assembly of Power– The master is attempting to reconstruct a dangerous Demiurge weapon, which was split into several parts. They already have one piece, and will racing you to the Evil Lair for the second. This is a great Multipart story, with room for 1-2 more parts.
+ A Traitor in your Midst! A traitor has stolen a vital code from your allies. Find the culprit, and follow them wherever they go- the code must be intercepted! But are they the only traitor? An Invasion – While a team of crack infiltrators are breaking into the Master’s stronghold to stop his invasion plans, your team must act as the decoys. Can you draw out his forces, distract them long enough, and survive? The Launch – The Master is prepping an ancient Demiurge weapon for launch- if the StarSpear takes off, it will mean the destruction of the capital!

GET

A key item holds the balance of power in the Wildland. It follows this format:

The Victim_ tells you of the essential item- to reach it, you must brave the _____Wildland_____ to the __Evil Lair. Be quick, as the greedy _Master_ will try to stop you from getting…

0 +
The Lost Scroll – You have been asked to pick up an important manuscript- only to find the scroll’s keeper dead, and the scroll missing. What was it, a weapon, a treasure map, an ancient spell? Find out fast, before the killer gets away. The Secret Plans – This can go two different ways- someone has stolen the defense plans to your local city, OR you’re trying to steal the defense plans to your arch nemesis. Either way, cities will fall over a few lines on a parchment. Trust no one. Your Memories – You are trying to recover your memories! You’ve woken up with no recollection of who you are. Find out the cause, and get them back.—<em>Note- this can be a literal object, like a snow globe holding your memories.</em>
0 The Target- Roll for an Artifact—but you and the Master aren’t the only ones seeking it- other forces hunt it as well, and will hamper you at every turn. The Lost Artifact – People have uncovered a powerful artifact from the Demiurge, which is able to shift the balance of power in the region. Roll for a random artifact. The Scattered Being—A powerful god, demon or spirit of energy has been split into several smaller beings, which have scattered to the winds. Collect them all, so they can be reunited—or before they can recombine into something worse!
+ The Blackmail – The enemy master is coercing you to—i.e. blackmail, threatening a loved one—into finding an Artifact in the Wildland, and bringing it to the Evil Lair. Will giving the artifact to the Master make things better or worse? Leverage – The Evil Lair holds an unknown object, which the Master defends zealously. If you can steal it from the Master, you might gain great influence over them- but what could he be hiding, and do you dare use it? An Exit– Start the adventure at the Evil Lair, near the desired Artifact. If you succeed in getting, you still have to escape through the dangerous Wildland, with the Master hot on your trail!

DEFEND / ESCORT

Someone or something precious is danger’s way- you must keep it safe. It follows one of these two formats:

Escort: You have to safely take the _Victim_ through the __Wildland___, and past the __Evil Lair__, and out of the reach of the __Master___.

Defend: You have been informed by a messenger that, on the far side of the _____Wildland___, is a _Victim_ or the __Evil Lair__, which you must defend against the onslaught of the __Master___.

0 +
The Distant Noble- Defend: You’ve learned of an assassination attempt, about to take out an allied noble who is at a ritual at a sacred temple. If you’re to get there in time, you must traverse the dangerous Wildland, and quickly! Your Guide – Escort: You have a guide to the Wildland, who is not much use in a fight- but their knowledge is essential if you’re to reach the Evil Lair. The Ambassador – Escort -An Master has asked for an envoy of a noble, or the noble themselves, to meet them to discuss a treaty. Even if you can get them to the Evil Lair safely, is the meeting genuine, or is it a trap?
0 The Citadel – Defend—A Master has laid under siege to a friendly city or settlement. To help, you must sneak into the settlement through the Wildland, and then prepare it for the assault. This time, you’re not avoiding the death traps, you’re building them! The Pilgrim – Escort – A zealous priestess or priest has set out to the Evil Lair for a religious rite, and has asked you to get them there safely. The journey won’t be easy, but should you hesitate, they’ll stubbornly go on, even to their own death. An Ungrateful Victim – Escort – You are charged to safely escort an individual or group, who is belligerent. They even suspect you might be the cause of the trouble in the first place! They mistrust your every attempt to help.
+ The Pass – Defend – A two-prong invasion force is heading to the citadel, and you have to buy the defenders time! You must make your plans, and then divide the party- one half defending a narrow pass in the Wildland, the other defending the Evil Lair against a simultaneous assault. If you can sufficiently cripple them, you can rejoin and retreat to safety. The Camp – Defend – Your travels have brought you to the abandoned Evil Lair, with no choice to be camp there for the night.You must quickly gather resources and fortify the location, before the beasts of the night begin their hunt. Survive until dawn, if you can! The Snitch – Escort – You’ve been charged with keeping a defector safe- but the Master that they worked for has placed a massive bounty on their head! Guide the snitch through the Wildland, and a populated Evil Lair, to safety, as rival rogues try to keep the snitch’s mouth shut!

ESCAPE!

Your heroes are trapped in a tight spot, and must fight for their lives. It follows the following format:

You start in the clutches of the malicious __Master__- you must break through his forces, and through the untamed _____Wildland_____, if you’re going to escape…

[In addition, most Escapes start with your heroes having been robbed of their weapons! Your characters must use what is available until they can recover their precious inventory. If a character has a Weapon Stunt, they start unable to use the stunt, but start with an extra Fate Point.]

0 +
The Inescapable Prison! – You’re held in the Evil Lair, which is most feared prison on the planet. Can you escape where countless have failed? From Paradise! – You start inside the Evil Lair, which holds a beautiful secret kingdom that welcomes you with open arms. However, they don’t want their secret getting out. They claim you are not a prisoner, merely a guest-that can never leave! With Others—You’re not alone in the prison—half a dozen other people are stuck with you. Do you save them, or let them rot? Are they all innocent victims, or is there a rat hiding amongst them?
0 The Blame! – You must escape the Evil Lair and through the Wildland, all the while assigning each other the blame of getting captured in the first place—these show up as aspects. The Hunt – You didn’t break free—the master released you onto the Wildland so he and his minions can hunt you down! Fight your way past the outpost, the Evil Lair, and onto friendly territory, and you’ll be safe! From the Wilds – The local wildlife is hungry, and seeks your blood. Starting the Evil Lair, you must make it through past the savage beasts that stand between you and shelter!
+ The Arena! – Your characters are forced to fight in a savage arena against beasts, gladiators, and other slaves. At the beginning, you’re allowed to fight as a team- but if you’re too good, that might change.—You might want to skip the Wildland if this adventure runs long. The Craft – The heroes are aboard a craft—a galleon, an airship, a sailing ship, etc. —that has just been hijacked. You have to plan your escape carefully, as you are surrounded by death on every side! With the Loot! – You’re kept in the bowels of the Evil Lair, surrounded by riches untold. Will you escape alive, or will your temptations slow you down?

Between this week and last week, that’s over 63 missions you can run. Better still, if you randomly generate the Wildland and Evil Lair, that gives about to 900,000 different unique adventures you can run in Umdaar!

That’s it for the Umdaar related material for the near future; but don’t worry, I’ll definitely be revisiting at some point in the next few months.

One of my few Umdaar-based regrets is that the Mission Chart I created at the top of the page is a 9-box chart, with only 7 different mission types. If anyone wants to add adventures of their (ex. expand Escort and Defend into two charts), please share them! If you give your permission, I’d love to repost your awesome stuff here.

Until next week, game on!

Masters of Umdaar Bonus Content: No Noble Left Behind!

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Last week, I shared part of the bonus content I created for for Umdaar– namely, how to randomly create a Master, a Wildland and a Final Destination. This week, we’ll give you the WHY- your team of Archaeonauts is on a mission!

Art by Tazio Bettin & Enrica Eren Angiolini, copyright Evil Hat LLC. Used without permission. From “Masters of Umdaar,” now on sale for Pay-What-You-Want (click on the photo for the link).

THE RESCUE!

While spending a pleasant afternoon in [ a Land of Light], a missive reaches you: You must save the helpless [ Victim_] To reach them, you must first journey through the [Wildland]. Then, you must enter the Master [Name]’s land, and infiltrate the [Final Destination] !

The Victim

First, you must pick or generate a victim for you to save:

You Must Save…

  0 +
The Prince / Princess—The young noble comes from the Land of Light you started from. The Priest/Priestess—The hostage comes from a strong religion worshipped in the Lands of Light. An Innocent Peasant—The victim is a simple peasant, whom others have abandoned.
0 The Child of your Worst Enemy!—The victim is the child of a vile Master. Has a rival kidnapped the offspring, or is the child hoping to defect, and needs help escaping the clutches of their parent? A Fellow Archaeonaut – An Archaeonaut and comrade in arms has been captured, and it’s up to you to save them. This can be an old war buddy or a rival. The Sacrifice! It’s not a simple kidnapping- the innocent youth taken hostage is the object of a dark sacrifice ritual.
+ The Healer! The monarch is sick, and the only one who can heal them rots in the Master’s prison. You must rescue the old medicine maker. Your Man on the Inside – You have an ally that has snuck their way into the enemy ranks. They can even help you, assuming you don’t blow their cover. A Reluctant Party—through brainwashing, drugs, or stubbornness, the hostage doesn’t WANT to be saved. You have to convince them to leave, or drag them out by force!

 

Victim – Details

After you have your victim, come up with a few more details.

 Place / People of Origin: If the victim comes from a Land of Light, create the name of the country or clan that wants them back (or, plot twist, DOESN’T want them back!)

 Gender: I strongly support players and characters of any gender, genders, or lack of gender. Even more strongly, I don’t advocate the idea that a specific gender is weaker (i.e. more in need of rescuing) than any other. With this in mind, we recommend you pick the gender or genders of the victim randomly (ex. roll a die), which gives you the widest range of genders for victims while avoiding any stereotype or bias.*

*Note: This is NOT an officially Evil Hat LLC point of view, but given the conversations I’ve had with some of them, I would be very surprised if they didn’t back me up on this.

Name: Pick a Name for your victim (the generator from last week is a good start). If you have a person of higher birth, here are a few good titles:

Young Noble Titles

  0 +
Prince/Princess Priest/Priestess Magi
0 Hierophant Emir / Emira Raja / Rana
+ Pharaoh Tlatoani / Cihuatlahtoani Khanzada / Khatan

 As an extra note on the Mission “A Fellow Archaeonaut”: this is a great adventure to run if you have a player is that is unable to join you this session; their PC has been taken hostage, and it’s up to you to save them!


I hope you enjoy this week’s 9 adventures… because there are 54 more coming! (Don’t worry, the next chunk will be a bigger.)

Until next week, game on!