FATE WORLD TOUR – REVIEW OF “WORLDS RISE UP”

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Hello! Dave Joria of Tangent Artists here with the second stop on the Fate World Tour. Last time, we went over Fate Worlds Take Flight. Today, we’re talking about Worlds Rise up (you can the hard-copy on Evil Hat’s website or the individual PDFs below.)


Nest

Author: David S. Goodwin. Artist: Emma Lazauski

Elevator Pitch: Narnia meets Hook (or the Sandman comic, “A Game of You,” a favorite of mine)

Genres & Themes: Fantasy / Adventure / Psychology / Mythology / Sacrifice / Redemption / Innocence vs. Maturity

Summary: There is a place where children go to become heroes, only discovered by a desperate few when they need it most. Here, they escape from their normal lives, slay giants, solve riddles, learn magic, and become kings and queens. Children grow up and the fantasies of childhood are forgotten. 

But now the realm you once protected is under attack.  You must leave behind your life, your family, and your ordinary job to defend your past from something terrible and very, very real. 

Nest, by David Goodwin, is a game of rediscovering the magic of childhood—or shattering the illusions of youth.

Mechanics – Sub-System: Fate Core Skills

Mechanics – General:

Talismans – Easy equipment rules (namely 2 stunts and an aspect).

Milestone Triggers – Having milestones trigger at certain situations and actions, rather than after arbitrary session lengths.

Succeed as a Team – Having obstacles overcome as a team; i.e. if one person in the team succeeds, the whole team succeeds.

Fantastic Declarations – Paying a Fate Point to temporarily gain a stunt. (Unless I’m mistaken, I believe this is standard Fate Core rules. It fits so well with the transient dream-like setting that it’s worth repeating.)

Escalating Encounters – Having a set list of NPC groups, each more difficult than the last. Whenever players violently solve an encounter, the difficulty increases.

GM Reserve Pool – Having the GM carry over Fate Points from one scene or session to the next, much like a player’s Refresh. (As the author points out, this mechanic appeared first in Atomic Robo).

Reaction:

If I had to pick only one thing to take away from this entire book, “Succeed as a Team” would have to be it. It applies to any cooperative RPG game and seems so intuitive that I now can’t see doing it any other way. It rewards the party for having a SINGLE good at something (rather than punishing them based on the weakest link). Also, I can’t think of a better way to form respect amongst friends (or resentment amongst rivals) than to have one PC pull everyone else out of the fire.

(Although, how I’d likely run it in is to have ALL players roll; accept the highest roll and ignore everyone who failed. This way, players can still chuckle at their character’s pitifully low results without suffering the ill effects. And you never know; the lumbering barbarian might roll higher at Stealth than the rogue, putting him to shame!)

All the other mechanics (Milestone Triggers, Escalating Encounters, etc.) are still worth adding to future settings. However, I wanted to point out a non-mechanic feature that the author included as a good tip for authors out there who are working on settings of their own:

Three Themes: David Goodwin provides not just one main antagonist, but a choice of three. This is neat on its own, but more importantly, he provided three different THEMES, depending on which tone / moral the group wants to develop. I would personally use this any setting, but in a setting, that’s so intrinsically tied to morality, storytelling, and symbolism, it takes it to another level.

Other hack ideas: If I ever have the pleasure of running this game, I’ll try to have a stack of Dixit and/or Mysterium picture cards next to me; they’re beautiful and surreal, which is perfect for a dream world setting. I don’t have a set plan how I’d use them mechanically, but they’d be a great X-Factor. Not sure about scene aspects? Grab a card and use it for a surreal setting. Is a player at a loss for a Fantastic Declaration? Have a player draw three cards and pick one to inspire how they overcome the situation, (ex. Folding a bed sheet into a giant paper airplane).  Is the conflict too bland? *Flips card* Now, instead of another fight, you’re having a chess match with a 10-foot Rat.


Psychedemia

Author: Paul Stefko. Artist: Marissa Kelly

The Pitch: FF’s “Spirit Within” meets “Ender’s Game” … in space! (Wait, “Ender’s Game” was in space already).

Summary:

Mechanics – Subsystem: Fate Core skills (with some tweaking – see below)

Mechanics:

Skills – Condensing and Dual List – Paul Stefko plays around with the Core Skill list in two different ways. First, we consolidate the default 18 skills into 9; in most cases, this is two skills merged into one (ex. Infiltration is Burglary + Stealth), while others merge a bunch (ex. Friendships merges Contacts, Empathy, and Rapport). Secondly, Stefko creates 3 new psychic skills for dealing in the Realm: ESP, Telekinesis, and Telepathy. Players get one psychic skill at Good +3, the others at Average +1. While the book doesn’t explicitly state it, Stefko has effectively made characters with two skill charts: a big one for the corporeal world, and a tiny one for the psychic.

Conditions – As seen in the Fate Toolkit. Interestingly, Stefko has stress and conditions as normal, but has two conditions specifically for Psychic skills; this lets a PC burn out in a non-physical way, as well as an emergency resource to barter with / use for succeeding at a cost. It’s a clever idea.

Formatting – The process in which the PCs create a psychic environment to inactive with. Mechanically, the players are creating the scenic aspects (In Fate, Players always have a hand in creating a scene, but in Psychedemia, the PCs are the ones building it in character).

Reaction: Both the condensed skill list and the conditions are minor tweaks that can work in most any setting, particularly one that deals with psychic or magical powers (ex. Urban Fantasy).

The formatting mechanic is a particularly neat mechanic that could easily be used as a basic for all sorts of strange settings. For example, it can be used in a cyber-simulation setting, like the Matrix (try it in Save Game?); or in a dreamscape, like Inception (try it in Nest!). It can also be used by god-like characters manipulating the real world, like Gods and Monsters. I’m sure there are other Fate Worlds that could use it too, but I do not know them as well just yet; for example, I can’t wait to see how it compares with the Fate World “Prism.”


Behind the Walls

Author: John Adamus. Artist: Mirco Paganessi

Elevator Pitch: “Shawshank Redemption” with a dash of dystopia

Genres & Themes: Survival / Drama / Espionage / Mystery / Redemption

Summary: Russia fired first. America countered. Then all hell broke loose.

That was 1951, but now it’s 1959 and you’re still in prison. Maybe the people on the outside forgot about you, what with the war and all, or maybe it’s just safer inside Collins Park Correctional Facility. But will order persist in the cell block much longer? And what really is going on out there? Find out in Behind the Walls, the latest Fate World of Adventure from John Adamus.

Mechanics – Sub-System: Fate Core Skills

Mechanics – General:

Stunt Variations – Adamus has three simple stunt variations.

Personal Stunts – A variant that fixes the stunt to a specific situation or scenario. However, instead of giving a +2 bonus to a single skill, it grants a +1 bonus to any skill. Adamus argues this lets the players focus more on the situations and stories they are crafting, and less about which skill is the correct one to use in any given situation.

Cooperation Stunts – A stunt that gives the PC and one other ally using the same skill a +1 bonus.

Secret Stunt – A stunt that reflects the PC’s hidden past, fears, or desires. It’s split into two parts, a bonus, and a limitation (it not being required to reveal both at the same time).

Secrets – Adamus also includes rules for Secrets, including PCs having secrets from each other, and crafting secrets for NPCs to drive motivation.

Reaction:

I was a little surprised, upon reading Behind the Walls, that 99% of it focused on a mundane normal prison set-up. I mean, wasn’t the premise, “You’re prisoner as the world ends?”  Where was World War III? Where was the dystopia? Which made me wonder:

  • Q. Why is it set in a dystopian prison and not a normal one?
  • A. Because it means what happens in the prison has lasting consequences, without outside forces getting involved.

Which is brilliant. The dystopia premise lets you treat the environment as if it were operating in a vacuum. For example, if the gangs riot and take over the prison, there won’t be a National Guard swooping in the next day to undo it; the gang leader is in charge now.

This means, of course, that if you don’t want the dystopia angle, you can easily set it in an area so isolated that the same vacuum applies*. For example:

  • An 18th Century prison colony in Australia
  • An isolated gulag in the Arctic Circle
  • A space station in deep space.

*(Of course, in a campaign, you can have the vacuum be interrupted later to keep things interesting.)

If I were to run this setting, I would really like to use it to recreate one of my favorite subplots from a comic, “Y: The Last Man.” In it, a plague wipes out every organism with a Y chromosome; with 50% of the human population instantly dead, the world teeters at the brink. In one issue, an all-women’s prison is affected strongly; with all the male guards dead, and reliable food cut off, what will happen to the inmates? In the comic, the women were unofficially pardoned and set free, but I’m fascinated what happened BEFORE that decision was made. Were there threats? Bargaining? Power struggles amongst the survivors?

On to mechanics: I think the personal / situational stunt model has a lot of potential. I can see it as a way to cut down on “fate debates” with the GM (in which a min/max player tries to debate with the GM why they can use their top 3 skills/approaches in every situation).

The cooperative ones have me very excited and hope to try it soon. I think it would fit perfectly in any setting based on friendship and teamwork. The fact that it shows up in a harsh prison setting could be viewed as ironic, but I think it cements Adamus’s grasp that in tight, dog-eat-dog settings, the PCs need to watch each other’s backs, and having mechanics that reinforce this is essential.

Mechanically for secrets (both stunts and the NPCs) aren’t particularly groundbreaking; however, the section offers great advice for GMs on the when and why. I recommend them for any GMs planning any secretive setting, like heists and spies. (Example: “Crimeworld,” “Ellis Affair,”Uprising,” “Eagle Eyes,Nitrate City,”Ministry.”)


Masters of Umdaar

Author: Dave Joria. Artists: Tazio Bettin and Enrica Eren Angiolini.

Elevator Pitch: Sci-fi serials meets Saturday morning cartoons… in space!

Genres & Themes: Adventure / Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Retro / Planetary Romance

Summary: Behold the fallen world of Umdaar, home to savage warriors, cyborg insects, and merciless warlords. Oh, and lasers—lots and lots of lasers. The Masters rule with an iron fist, and the people’s only hope are the archaeonauts and their quest for long-lost artifacts of power. But will the Masters get there first? Masters of Umdaar, our latest Fate World of Adventure by Dave Joria, is a retro tribute to such shiny serials as John Carter of Mars, Flash Gordon, He-Man, and Thundercats.

Mechanics – Sub-System: Fate Accelerated

Mechanics – General:

Outcome Surge – This mechanic is tied to stunts. When a stunt with outcome surge is used, it shifts the outcome a roll by one result (ex. Fail to tie; tie to succeed, etc.) It does not work with attacks.

Cliffhanger – A new scene type (like challenge or contests) in which the players have a limited number of exchanges to diffuse an inanimate threat (ex. Quicksand; a Spike trap).

Escalating Aspects – Aspect that have increasing value with each round.

Reaction: This setting is mine, so I can’t really give an objective opinion on it.

I’m quite pleased with the cliffhangers and escalating aspect. I wrote them to help emulate the man vs. nature and man vs. death-trap situations that commonly show up in old serials; I like to think they do a decent job. I have since toyed around with different ways to have players succeed at cliffhangers and can never settle on one; the most important parts are the timeline and a variance of difficult.

While not a mechanic per se, I’m also proud of the bioform generator and the random stunt generators (weapons, stunts, and adaptations).

Fun fact 1: The tables were laid out by the face of Evil Hat, Fred Hicks himself.

Fun fact 2: My primary goal when making fate supplements is to include enough tables to make Fred cry.

I’m going to leave it there, but there are plenty of other articles on this site regarding Umdaar: adventures, NPCs, you name it. Find them here!


That’s it for this update. What’s next? Worlds on Fire? Secret of Cats? Cats on Fire? Only time will tell! Until then, Happy Holidays!

Umdaar Extras- Lands of Light

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Hello again, folks!

Today, I’m posting another aid for the Evil Hat game, “Masters of Umdaar.” Why? Two reasons:

  1. Paul Kießhauer’s did another Umdaar themed challenge. August’s challenge: a location!
  2. Today, “Masters of Umdaar” is one year old. My, how they grow up so fast!

Before I post my entry, a little inspiration:

DockHouse_HiRes_Stars_Boat low

A Low-Rez version- the originals are high-rez

Lately, I’ve been a huge fan of Frank Tuffler Jr.’s map series on patreon, and this one in particular caught my eye. He has a “normal water,” but the mystical “sea of stars” variant seemed perfect for an Umdaarian Land of Light. He’s got lots more (including a lot of urban & horror settings I want to use for Skeleton Crew), and you can unlock them for only $1. Also, Frank uses funds from the patreon to support Phoenix Children’s Hospital.


As my entry, I’m giving you another random chart. Why settle on one location, when you can have 225?

LANDS OF LIGHT

How to roll on this chart: for the first name, roll 4dF. For every + move to the right; for every -, move to the top.

For the last name, roll again. Do the same as above, but move down for every -.

 

– – – – Quantum
– – – Sky Phantasmal
– – Ardent Sylvan Crystal
Sparkling Sacred Hidden Floating
0 Silver Golden Living Glacial Lunar
0 + + + + + + + + + +
0 Reef Abbey Glade Bastion Tower
Spires Village -opolis Island
– – Valley Castle Cathedral
– – – Stronghold Mesa
– – – – Acropolis

(Yes, this can mean that you end up with a Land of Light called “Floatingopolis” or “Hidden Valley.” You can always reroll, but I think it’s better to play it straight and see how long you can continue with a straight face.)

Coming soon: GenCon Report!

Masters of Umdaar – The Scorpotaurs

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Inspired by ‘s challenge, the Villains of Umdaar, I’m present my own submission: the Scorpotaurs!

It was inspired by one of Gennifer Bone’s Monsters of the Week. Support her patreon, you can get access to more images like the one below. https://www.patreon.com/ladyredfingers (Warning: some images NSFW).

THE SCORPOTAURS

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Bioform: Bellicose Scorpion Centaurs

Motivation: I’M the strongest

Aspects: Big and Mean; Poor Jumpers; Ranged Weapons are for Weaklings

Approaches:

Forceful: Good +3

Quick: Fair +2

All others: Mediocre +0.

Stress: 2 stress each

Stunts:

Scorpion Legs: Scorpotaurs can climb up vertical surfaces with ease. They also  gain +2 Quick when overcoming any climbing rolls.

Weapon: Scorpotaurs are armed with one weapon from the Umdaar weapons chart (reroll any range weapons).

 

SCORPOTAUR ALPHA

The alpha is the leader of the clan or the hunting party. They are the toughest fighters, but their position in society is fragile; they fact that they already pledge allegiance to an outside Master has made them weak in the eyes of their followers.

 

Bioform: Bellicose Scorpion Centaur Chieftain

Motivation: I Must Remain in Charge

Aspects: Bigger and Meaner; Poor Jumpers; Ranged Weapons are for Weaklings

Ranged Weapons are for Weaklings

I Serve the Master… For Now

Approaches:

Forceful: Superb +5

Quick: Great +4

Clever: Good +3

All others: Average +1.

Stress: 3 stress, plus one condition (2 stress)

Stunts:

Scorpion Legs: Scorpotaurs can climb up vertical surfaces with ease. They also  gain +2 Quick when overcoming any climbing rolls.

Weapon: Scorpotaurs are armed with one weapon from the Umdaar weapons chart (reroll any range weapons).

Venom Tail – The Alpha has the BIG tail. Instead of making a weapon attack, the Alpha may use Quick to make a Tail attack. If the attack is successful, the victim gains the aspect “Poisoned.” While poisoned, the character cannot use the Approach “Quick.” The venom is caustic, and will even affect non-organic bioforms! The aspect can be overcome by a healer (or, for androids, a mechanic), or will drop off at the end of the NEXT scene.

Masters of Umdaar – The Facemonger

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This week, we’re providing you with another NPC and adventure for your Masters of Umdaar setting: we give you, the Facemonger!

It was inspired by one of Gennifer Bone’s Monsters of the Week. Support her patreon, you can get access to more images like the one below. https://www.patreon.com/ladyredfingers (Warning: some images NSFW).


 

The Facemonger by Gennifer Bone

 

 

THE FACEMONGER

The Hierophant Ria faces you; her heart is heavy, but her resolution is clear.

“In my kingdom, there is a noble… his name is Duke Mullinix. His fiefdom is officially within the borders of our land, Callaria, but our spies report that he’s under the thumb of the neighboring Master, FrauSpaw. Mullinix is popular in the court, and to accuse him without proof would be disastrous. However, should FrauSpaw and her SkeleSpiders attack, Mullinix is unlikely lift a finger to aide us; he might even join the Master.

Worst of all, Mullinex has a rare artifact in his vault; the Nethermoon Mirror. Should it be used against us, it would spell our downfall. I must ask you act with the utmost discretion and care; I need you to obtain that artifact, but it can level be traced back to me.

If Duke Mullinex has any weakness, it’s his idleness; he is constantly throwing balls and parties. Tonight, he is throwing a masquerade; a perfect chance to sneak in, steal the Mirror, and get out without being identified.

However, you are very famous in these parts, and your work for me is well known. Normal masks won’t be enough to disguise you. It was difficult, but I have arranged a meeting with a… specialist in this matter.

I can only vouch for the specialist’s skill, not her virtue. Do not trust him, for she is not what she seems.


 

On the outskirts of town, in the Black Market square, is a dark velvet tent. It bears no sign or markings, but is open to the public.

Inside the tent is a young girl, small and frail. Her face is white and simple, like she a porcelain doll’s. However, every hair on your body stands up on end; despite what your eyes tell you, you feel the presence of a hulking figure in the room. Even as “she” speaks in light, dulcet tones, you feel your chest rumble with the buzz of a deep inhuman voice, just out of hearing.

“You want artifatzz, yezzz? I helpzzz you get artifact. You scratchz my back, I scratchz yourzzz. I helpzz you. I give you new facezzz.”

The facemonger tells you what she wants: the Brinestone Mask, which is one of the many treasures held within Mullinex’s vaults. She’ll help you, if you promise to bring her back the mask.

If you agree, she gives each of you a mask- it’s beautifully made, and in low light, it might even be mistaken for your real face. In full low, however, it does like a full masquerade ball mask.

However, if you put on a mask, you will see its true power; it doesn’t just mask your face, it changes your entire body. You find your height changed, the skin of your hands covered in strange skin, and your voice sounding strange to your own ears.

The good news is, there’s also no risk of the Duke’s men removing your mask…  the bad news is, it seems to be permanently sealed to your face.


 

THE CURSED MASKS- RULES

When you receive a new face from the Facemonger, remove the bioform from your high concept and replace it with completely different bioform; they can pick this, or choose one at random.

In addition, remove all of your approaches and replace them with question marks.

Whenever you would attempt to make an action, if the approach you wish to use has not been revealed (i.e. still a question mark), then you must pick an approach that is skill hidden.

Next, roll 1 fate die:

+ The approach you picked is revealed as being the approach of your choice. Record it on your sheet, and continue with your roll.

0 It is unclear if the approach is the right one or not. For the sake of this roll, treat it as if the value you picked is the approach, but leave it blank.

– The approach is definitely NOT the approach you were hoping for; instead, write it down as another approach. If possible, record it is the as opposite approach (flash / sneaky; careful / quick; forceful / clever); if the opposite approach is already discovered, pick a random approach instead.  For the sake of this roll, treat your approach level as Mediocre (0).

Example: The mighty Princess Kraj, wearing one of the Cursed Masks, tries to deal with an enemy in her normal way: forcefully! She picks the unknown approach in the Good (+3) slot, and rolls 1dF: she rolls a negative! This means that the Good approach isn’t Forceful, it’s Careful. She might have a fierce spirit of a barbarian, but she has the weak wrists of a priest! She treats this roll as Mediocre 0, due to the shock.

Once five approaches are discovered, fill in the sixth one automatically.


 

The Adventure

We will leave the adventure up to you, but some possible things to consider:

  • The Duke is particularly nervous… is this ball a cover for something else?
  • What other treasures lie in the Duke’s vault?
  • Should you try to steal the mirror, what enemies (or even allies) will attempt to thwart you?


 

The Nethermoon Mirror

In addition to having hidden, Demiurge abilities, the mirror, has one overt quality: it shows the true reflection of anyone caught it in. Thus, any masks are ignored (including yours), illusions are overpowered, and shapeshifters are revealed.

Which begs another question:

Who else is hidden amongst the courtiers? Who else is not what they seem?

Oh, and lazers are reflected by the Nethermoon Mirror… for that extra “Saturday Morning Cartoon” touch.

Removing the Mask: You will find that removing the mask without theFacemonger is impossible. Should you get the Brinestone Mask to theFacemonger, she will remove the masks for you (assuming that’s what you want). Likewise, there’s always the chance that the Facemongermight renege on the deal, forcing you to go on other errands before keeping her end of the bargain. She might even send you to retrieve the legendary Mask of Menos.


 

That’s it for this week. More updates on our projects and kickstarters to come. Until then, game on!

Gods and Masters – A Fate World Mash-up

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Welcome to this week’s TA Tabletop! But first, an anecdote:

In 1994, the band Blur wrote the very catchy song, “Girls & Boys.” According to Wikipedia, the front-man of Radiohead, Thom Yorke, once said he had wished he had written the song, and called Blur “bastards” for writing it first.

In 2014, Evil Hat Productions gave me the amazing opportunity to write a Fate World for them. I am very pleased with how “Masters of Umdaar” came out, but that doesn’t mean I don’t hold an overwhelming sense of awe and fist-shaking frustration towards fellow author Chris Longhurst. Mr. Longhurst, who I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting, is guilty of writing “Gods and Monsters,” a setting so brilliant and original that I kick myself for not coming up with it. Worse still, I must acknowledge the fact that any attempt of mine to create a creation-god setting would have been far inferior than his… curse the scallywag!

Thus, in a vain attempt to cash in on some of his genius, this week I’m proposing rules for merging “Gods & Monsters” and “Masters of Umdaar” together.

Speaking of other people’s ideas, the idea of mashing-up “Gods and Monsters” and “Masters of Umdaar” was proposed by someone else on G+ several months ago. Sadly, I did not record the person’s name… if he or she remembers, please let me know, and I’ll be glad to give credit where it is due.


GODS AND MASTERS

Image avaible through Creative Commons 4.0, courtesy of Wellcome Trust http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/

Image avaible through Creative Commons 4.0, courtesy of Wellcome Trust http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/

Gods and Masters” is a two-part campaign set on the planet Umdaar. The gods in question are the Demiurge, the deities / demons / super-advanced aliens that made the planet as diverse and bizarre place it is today.

Gods & Monsters– Recommending Changes

In Thy Own Image – While some of the bioforms of Umdaar were created by accident or out of scientific curiosity, many were created or molded into the image of a certain god. Thus, I recommend looking (or rolling) on the Umdaar Bioform chart for inspiration. A centaur god of the wilderness makes sense, and the mind boggles at what a cyborg god would be like!

Regions – When creating regions, use the areas and rules listed in Gods & Monsters, but do not be afraid to add a sci-fi twist (for Umdaar-themed biomes, see this post from a few months back). Pick a distinct otherworldly name for each region, like the Crystal Forests or the Phantom Mountains. These regions will show up in both parts of the campaign, so make ‘em good!

Communities – Don’t forget that the communities on Umdaar don’t have to be human; likewise, any humans you encounter might not stay human for long! For the Demiurge, altering genetics is child’s play; you can raise dumb animals into sentience and shape worshipers into your image. If your power starts to bleed or a station is too close to a village, it might accidentally warp the mortal creatures nearby into strange new bioforms.

Artifacts – The Demiurge love their artifacts; its practically a compulsion. When they are working, they create tools to aid them. When they are courting, they give baubles and toys. Even if you’re not a god of Smithing or Tech, your Demiurge will have the ability to make artifacts that are metal, crystal, or even biomechanical in nature. Similarly, we recommend making artifacts part of the god’s identity, like Thor’s hammer or Hades’s Cap of Invisibility. This item might show up in a stunt. Alternatively, you can tie it into the God’s Boons, as follows:

Tier 1 – Innate – Your god may use this ability without an artifact.

Tier 2 – Requires the god to have their minor artifact (ex. a cloak, a piece of jewelry) at hand*

Tier 3 – Requires the god to have their signature artifact at hand*

The only exception to the “at-hand” rule is that a god can still use a boon if their artifact is in the care of a loyal community that worships them; this allows the god to use the boon “hands free,” but also opens your artifact up to theft or desecration.

If your artifact is lost, destroyed, or desecrated, your Demiurge will have to go on an epic journey to retrieve it, or to find the rare materials needed to rebuild it.

Sci-Fantasy: If you see the Demiurge as aliens, artifacts are easy to picture. However, for fantasy players, think of the artifacts as the god’s mantra-turned-object. Like Voldemort’s horcruxes or Sauron’s ring, they bear a part of the god’s soul.)

The Fall – When players start their campaign, it is in the early part of the Demiurge’s rule- there might not be races on Umdaar, or even a planet at all. However, at some point, eons in their future, the Demiurge will be gone. Did this take them by surprise, or do they have only have a limited window to be in our plane of existence? Do they learn of a prophecy, detailing how each will fall, like the Norse gods knew of Ragnarok? (Normally, I find “prophecies” lead for boring stories, but I make the exception with gods!)

Masters of Umdaar – Recommended Changes

Use the G&M approaches instead of the Fate: Bold, Subtle, Clever, Mighty, Wise, Swift.


PUTTING THEM TOGETHER

I see two easy ways to put the two games together:

NOW & LATER – The simplest way is to move from G&M to MoU is to play a short Gods & Monster campaign, end it, and then start a Masters of Umdaar campaign. If so, the G&M campaign is really about setting the stage; fill the world with wonders, bioforms, and artifacts. Demiurge should be encouraged to bleed power and leave loose threads- a small monster that the Demiurge let go because it is no threat to them might be a scourge that the archaeonauts have to deal with thousands of years later.

In this format, any godly Stations will likely become prominent regions in Umdaar. Of course, it’s possible that some of them will be inverted or corrupted: the Sky City becomes the Sky Ruins, the Shimmering Sea could become the Sludge Sea, or the forest god’s Screaming Forest can become the bustling industrial city known as the Screaming Furnace. The archaeonauts might even encounter a fallen god that has devolved into a monster (or even into a mad Master!)

FLASH BACK / FAST FORWARD – The second way to run a “Gods and Masters” game is to run both campaigns simultaneously; the group might play a G&M game one night, and a MoU game the next. This can lead to some messy bookkeeping, but it means that the actions of a G&M game might set up the problem for the next game; likewise, the archaeonauts might uncover a glorious artifact, only to flashback to its origins. This can be done with two sets of character sheets, but it is not necessary; we recommend the Reincarnation set-up detailing below:

ReincarnationA seasoned group of archaeonauts, who have been together for years, encounter a half-mad sage. The sage tells the baffled archaeonauts that they are the demiurge reborn*, reincarnations of the godly warriors and creators. The party members laugh it off… but as they keep hearing more myths of the old gods, and stumble upon the relics of their “former incarnations,” they start to wonder if it’s true…

*It’s possible that you’re a reborn god, even if you’re playing a robotic archaeonaut that was never technically “born.” After all, as the Umdaar proverb says, “Even Ozell [the Bronze Goddess] was once a toy.”

Reincarnation Set-up – Players will create one character sheet for both Demiurge god and mortal archaeonaut. The approaches will be identical. The player should aim to create aspects that overlap as much as possible, but some aspects will be split in half, like the high concept (ex. Barbaraic God of the Beasts / Mortal Beastman Barbarian) or be intentionally inverted for different back-stories (ex. Crown Prince of the Gods / Orphaned Street Rat).

The only major difference will be the stunts and boons. A god will have one set of godly stunts, and access to boons. The archaeonaut will have a different set of stunts to represent their more modest abilities (and will likely be more action/adventure oriented). Of course, there might be potential for overlap; at the end of a long adventure, an archaenaut might recover an artifact of their former incarnation (granting them the stunt / boon in BOTH incarnations!)

Intention & Approaches: Whenever a god’s power fluctuates or an archaeonaut hits milestones, any Approach changes in one incarnation will be also changed for the other incarnation; this can represent an avatar embracing their older incarnation, a mere mortal being inspired by the tales of a god, or pure coincidence. However, the invokes and actions of an archaeonaut will not alter the intention tracker (at least, not at first… who knows what will happen when they start to embrace their destiny!)

Refresh: As the refresh of the character changes at milestones, it changes for both incarnations.

Stunt Changes: If a character gains a stunt at a milestone or buys a stunt with refresh, both characters gain a different stunt which only that specific incarnation can use (or, in rare cases, a stunt that they both can use).


Have any suggestions of mash-ups of your own? Let me know! Until next time, readers, game on!

Masters of Umdaar: Monster Showcase – The Elektrokhan!

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This week, I’m presenting a new monster to use in “Masters of Umdaar”: the infamous scourge of the Silicon Steppes known only as the Elektrokhan!

This week showcases an amazing creation by Gennifer Bone; by donating to Patreon, you can support her creating monsters on a weekly basis. But your generosity won’t go unrewarded: Gennifer is granting publishing rights to anyone who pledges her work. Support her, and you can use her work in your own game books! Find her page here!


THE ELEKTROKHAN!

Art by Gennifer Bone, used with permission. See more at https://www.patreon.com/ladyredfingers?ty=c

All travelers in the Silicon Sands are cautious of the copper cobras, and with good cause, but there is one beast that is most feared of all; the Elektrokhan. It is ten times larger than any other specimen of it’s species, and hundreds of years old. It is the destroys caravans, devourers who herds of batgoats, and barks lightning into the summer skies. And every year, it grows stronger, and bolder…

High Concept: Legendary Electric Sand Worm

Aspects: Ambush Hunter; Don’t Walk with Rhythm; Shock and Awe

Skills:

+5 Flashy

+4 Sneaky, Forceful

+3 Careful, Quick

+0 Clever

Stunts:

Tunneler: Whenever Elektrokhan successfully uses Sneaky to leave a zone, it gains the aspect “Burrowed.” It may still be attacked, but may invoke the aspect for defense. At the start of any of it’s turns, it may discard the aspect to appear in any zone and use Sneaky to attack.

Lightning Strike: The Elektrokhan can spit lightning. It may use flashy to attack characters up to 2 zones away, and gains +2 if they are wearing or made of metal. It may not use the Lightning Strike if it started the turn Burrowed.

Stress: 1 2 3 4

Consequences: Mild & Moderate

Copper Cobras

High Concept: Electric Sand Worm

Aspects: Shock and Awe; Fight or Flight

Skills:

+2 Flashy

+1 Sneaky, Forceful

Stunt:

Ambush! – Unless the plot says otherwise, Copper Cobras always go first in any conflict.

Stress: 1


That’s it for this week! Until next time, game on!

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!