I am pleased to announce that this week, my setting, “Uranium Chef,” has been released through Evil Hat’s Worlds of Adventure Patreon. You can buy it here (pay-what-you-want) at Drive-Thru RPG. The game is about a reality cooking show in space, but as I’ll show in this blog post, you can hack it for all sorts of constructive competitions.
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HACKING URANIUM CHEF
The game “Uranium Chef” is not limited to reality cooking shows in space; even the book mentions how you can port it to any other cooking contests in other settings (ex. fantasy; anime high school).
In this article, I want to push the boundaries even further, and demonstrate that you can use the same mechanics with any creation game show. Let me present to you:
For the last few centuries, technology has stagnated in all fields but one: simulacrums. These puppet-like lifeforms, made with a mix of cybernetics and bioengineering, have been implemented in everything from combat to domestic work force. Most simulacrum factories focused on churning out realistic and pleasing simulacrums by the millions.
As far as we know, the malchemist Hag-Queen Zaggria was the first to pervert the technology to another purpose: making monsters. She created her own laboratory, called the Fear Factory, and used it to create a slow but steady stream of nightmarish horrors. Most of them were commissioned by conquerors, who magnified them in size and used them as weapons of war. Some of them were used in fiction- they were the starring villains in movies and neutrowave shows. It is rumored that the Hag-Queen Zaggria once spent a year on a monster for the sole purpose of scaring her brattish nephew into behaving. To Zaggria, all that matters is that the client pays up front, and that they’re satisfied with the result.
Now, Hag-Queen Zaggria has opened the doors to her laboratory, and will be training her replacement. With the support of Mongongo Studios, she is hosting her own reality TV show competition. Many applicants will apply, but only the season winner will be chosen (and receive the 4 billion space-buck prize). Can you win her favor by creating the most inspired monsters in the galaxy?
Who are the Player Characters?
The PCs are creative monster-makers from every corner of the galaxy. These include:
- Black-sorcery-wielding malchemists
- Mad scientists, teknolocks, and xeno-engineers.
- Disgraced doctors and unlicensed surgeons
- Disgruntled toymakers
- Haunted artists and puppeteers
- Special Effects and make-up experts (who now get to make the real thing!)
Luckily, the creators have plenty of android helpers to help with the science and dark magic; thus, even a shaman from a backwater planet with no experience with technology can create an impressive cyborg monster. The hardest part is supplying the vision!
Instead of six culinary approaches, there are six builder approaches. There are: Beautiful, Creepy, Cute, Ferocious, Gross, and Weird.
- Beautiful – The approach for creating monsters that are beautiful to behold; this can be for animal that are elegant, or for humanoids that are alluring. Examples of beautiful creatures include: cats; unicorns; dragons; swans; vampires; sirens; incubi / succubae.
- Creepy – The approach for creating monsters that are scary in an unconventional sense. Creepy monsters tend to mimic something normal, but are somehow out of place. Examples of creepy creatures include: the Slenderman; clowns; Children of the Corn; manikins; tooth fairies; dolls; Michael Myers.
- Cute – The approach for creating monsters that are cute and lovable. Sometimes these are for friendly monsters, or for monsters that lull the victim into a false sense of security. Examples of cute creatures include: Pokémon; Chucky; Gremlins (fuzzy or evil); Ewoks; the Muppets; the Bumble; Gollum; Sigmund the sea monster.
- Ferocious – The approach for creating monsters that are mean, threatening, and dangerous. Examples of ferocious creatures include: tyrannosauruses; tigers; demons; gorillas; Jason; Godzilla; the Wolfman.
- Gross – The approach for creating monsters that look (and especially SMELL) gooey, disgusting, and dirty; alternatively, this can also be for morbid monsters that have their internal organs showing, or are leaking bile, blood, and other bodily fluids. Examples of gross monsters include: slugs; blobs; zombies; corpses; Freddy Krueger; Leatherface.
- Weird – The approach for creating monsters that are strange and alien; this can include featuring inhuman qualities (such as insectoid, plant or robotic), or sometimes it’s merely the absence of humanoid features (ex. neither eyes nor mouths). Examples of weird creatures include: bees; praying mantises; grey aliens; jelly fish; sea stars; Venus fly traps; Mecha-Godzilla.
Side Note – Destroy All Monsters
In the set adventures, the monsters don’t really do any actions. However, if you plan to have your animated monsters take actions, assign them a lead reality approach based on their lead builder approach:
- Beautiful – Flashy
- Creepy – Sneaky
- Cute – Quick
- Ferocious – Aggressive
- Gross – Careful
- Weird – Clever
Creating a Monster
Creating a monster is very much like a creating a dish. There are a few small differences:
Instead of using the term, Dish Aspect, this show uses the term “Feature Aspect.” Similarly, features are grouped into Main Feature aspects and Side Feature aspects.
Instead of a “Plating” aspect, the monster has a “synthesis” aspect – up to this point, to monster, has been nothing but a lifeless hunk of muscle and metal. It is the synthesis stage that binds the parts together and brings it to life (this normally involves a lot of lightening and maniacal laughing).
In “Uranium Chef,” some challenges require a chef to create multiple courses. In the “Fear Factory,” show we instead use the term Categories. These can be split up several ways:
- Multiple monsters – The creators might be required to create multiple monsters, each with their own category. (This is common in challenges when there are 2-3 creators on a team).
- Adaptations – In addition to making a monster, the monster must also have a specific number of special features; these are called adaptations. For an example, see the sample episode, “Sieging is Believing.”
- Body parts – Most Robeasts are built small, and then enlarged; however, if a team has to build a giant monster in actual size, you might want to separate the monster in different limbs and major body parts (ex. arms; tors0; and I’ll Form the Head).
EPISODE ONE – SIEGING IS BELIEVING
This week, you have been grouped into teams of two.
Your challenge: The client this week, and one of the judges, is the warlord Empress Graxahna. She has commissioned you to build her a Robeast (i.e. a biological war machine) that will be used when besieging an entrenched city.
Each team will pick an inspiration, and an obstacle that their monster will overcome.
Inspiration: Your team will use one of the following life-forms as inspiration:
- Reptiles / Amphibians
- Marine Life
- Birds / Dinosaurs
- Plants / Fungi
Warning: The judges hate it when you are too literal. If your inspiration is Birds, and all you do is make a really big eagle, they’re going to be disappointed.
Obstacle – Your robeast will be designed to circumvent a specific type of city defense.
- THICK, TALL WALLS – We can make our robeasts tall, but they keep building the walls bigger! Can you bypass it?
- PLASMA MOATS – Some cities are protected by a magnetic dome, filled with white-hot plasma. Can your monster swim through it and survive the heat?
- EXTREMELY STRONG DEFENDER ROBOTS – The defenders often have a giant defender robot, strong enough to punch through anything! Can your monster survive it?
- TOWER DEFENSES – The cities are defended by watchtowers, armed with rocket launchers and laser cannons. How can your monster get past them?
- RATIONS / SUPPLIES – Laying siege makes food and supplies. Can your robeast be self-sustaining; or, better still, can it supply the troops with food and/or ammo?
- MORALE – The defenders are often far too optimistic. Can your monster weaken their morale?
The GM picks a team, who will pick both their inspiration and their obstacle at the same time.
BUILDING THE MONSTER
Each teams will create a monster in two stages: the monster itself (course 1) and the adaptation (course 2).
The contestants will be building a human-sized robeast, but can choose to have it magnified up to 100 meters tall after completion.
Example: The group decides to make a giant Kangaroo Rat robeast that can leap over walls. The monster itself has a main feature aspect (Wiry Rat Body – Ferocious: Value 3), a side feature aspect (Large Black Eyes – Creepy: Value 2) and a final synthesis aspect (Cyborg neural net – Weird: Value 1). They create the adaptation in two steps: a main feature aspect (Robotic Legs – Weird: Value 3) and synthesis aspect (Fuzzy Hair Overlay – Cute: Value 2).
JUDGES – The three judges this week are:
Hag-Queen Zaggria (loves Creepy), warlord Empress Graxahna (loves Ferocious), and Science-Prince Lotan (loves Beautiful).
Lastly, I did include several thanks in the Uranium Chef book, but I wanted to thank a few other people:
- I can’t take credit for the Uranium Chef concept; that goes to Fred Hicks and Tazio Bettin, who first included images of the fictional cooking show in the Fate Toolkit. I couldn’t help but look at those crazy images and think about how much fun it would be to play. Thank you Fred, and everyone else at Evil Hat, for letting me take a crack at it!
- Likewise, I want to thank Brian Engard for the Conditions rules (also in the Fate Toolkit) which I used in Uranium Chef.
- I’d also like to thank Cheyenne Rae Grimes and Nicole Winchester for their fantastic article in the Fate Codex “Adding Reality to your Fantasy”; also to Mark Diaz Truman for making the content free to use. The original draft for Uranium Chef included a number of their reality TV show rules; most of them didn’t make it to the final edition (due to word limit), but it was a huge inspiration to me none the less. I highly recommend it to any GM who wants to add even more drama and executive meddling into your Uranium Chef game (see Fate Codex – Volume 1, Issue 7).