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!

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Fate Accelerated: I Don’t Like Spam!

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I like Fate Accelerated. I really do. Hell, I’ve made two Fate World settings using it, and will likely make my third setting FAE too. That being said, it’s not perfect.

Sidenote: If it’s not perfect, why do I play it? To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “[Fate] is the worst form of [RPG], except for all the others.”

The best part of FAE is that there is always another way to skin a cat; if a party’s sorcerer has to leave the game early because they have work in the morning, you’re not suddenly stuck with a group incapable of overcoming the magic door down the hall; through cleverness, careful study, or barbaric vandalism, they will find a way.

Deep-fried_spam_(2041662434)

Yum. I think. Conflicted.

The evil flip-side to this is that whenever you want to encourage a player to approach a problem from one of their lesser approaches, someone will insist that they can use their strongest approach; this frequently called “spamming.”  While they mean well, these sophisters will turn every turn into a drawn out negotiation, which can kill the mood and drag the evening out. Of course, the GM could always say “No, you have to use this approach,” but that’s against the spirit of FAE, and saying “No” leads to an unfriendly atmosphere (one of my very first entries discussed how much a GM should say “yes.”)

Evil Hat’s Zen Master of Fate Rob Donogue has proposed some ways to get around this on his blog, The Walking Mind, but I thought I’d try one or two ideas of my own:

Option 1: the Permission Aspect

If a player wants to use an approach that doesn’t seem obvious Require a “Permission aspect” first. This will likely be a situation aspect. If they already have a character aspect, require that they invoke it (which gives them the ability to use the approach AND the invoke bonus).

Ex. Chartok, Marna, and Phil all want to attack the a vicious ingredient in Kitchen Arena, the Monstercheese. Chartok’s player wants to charge straight in using Forceful, while Marna’s player wants to use Clever, and Phil’s player wants to use Sneaky. The GM sees no trouble with Chartok using the Forceful approach to make a raw attack, but feels that using Clever or Sneaky is less justified in this instance. The GM requests they get permission aspects first: a rational person like Marna wouldn’t charge in blindly, but if zhe spends an exchange looking for a weapon first (create an advantage for a Giant Cheese Machete), zhe could attack with Clever during any later exchanges. Similarly, a sneaky attack from Phil out of nowhere seems forced, but if Phil’s player spends a fate point to invoke his aspect “Born in Shadows,” the GM will let him use Sneaky to attack (and also gets the +2 invoke bonus). The GM is feeling generous, and decides these invokes are enough to let them use those approaches for the rest of the scene, or until it no longer makes sense (ex. Marna loses the Cheese Machete; Phil uses Flashy to draw attention to himself.)

If the player has a weapon that’s also a stunt, which is tied to a specific approach (ex. The Bow in in Masters of Umdaar using Quick), then the character can always use that weapon to attack; however, they can only use it whenever it seems right for the weapon (ex. Can’t use the bow in close combat), and only if they possess the weapon (ex. They haven’t been disarmed).

Option 2: Critical Hit

If players don’t like the stick, give them the carrot! Whenever a character makes an attempt with an Approach that is Fair +1 or lower and succeeds, automatically treat the result as success with style. Thus, they have a lower chance of success, but a higher gain should they pull it off. A GM might offer this all the time, but it seems better to me as a bargaining chip.

Player: I don’t want to use Forceful to attack, I want to use Quick, it’s higher!
GM: Okay, but if you hit with Forceful, I’ll give you a Critical Hit bonus…


 

Which option sounds better to you? Tell us what you think!

Until next week, GAME ON!

 


Image Citation:

Spam image courtesy of Father.Jack from Coventry, UK, Transferred from Flickr by User:Fæ. Used with permission through Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Neither licensor nor the Spam corporation endorses this blog or its use.

 

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!

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!

MANOR OF FACT – Supernatural Roleplaying with Kill Doctor Lucky

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In previous blogs, I’ve looked at plastic figures and ranked them on how well they could be adapted as characters in an RPG. In the next few blogs, I’m going to try a similar concept with a twist: I’ll be looking at board games that can be used as roleplaying playmats. More specifically, we’re looking for good ol’ haunted mansions!

This week, we’re going to focus on Cheapass Games’s Clue parody game, Kill Doctor Lucky.

Oh, he’s gonna die.

But first, a word from our sponsor!


Keep your eyes open for our new kickstarter, Fate Accompli: erasable notecards for your Fate RPG games.

New Header! Pretty, no?

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The premade cards make it easy to write up NPCS, keep track of stress and turn orders, or create an aspect in a jiffy. Just a reminder, we’re launching this month! You may commence salivating.


Note: Tangent Artists did not create this image nor hold the rights to this game. We will tell you it is awesome and you should buy it.

Note: Tangent Artists did not create this image nor hold the rights to this game. We will tell you it is awesome and you should buy it.

Back to Kill Doctor Lucky! For those who’ve never heard of it, Kill Doctor Lucky is a darkly-comedic board game created by James Earnest, and first published by Cheapass Games in 1997. It is one of their most famous titles, and has been printed in numerous editions, including the original 97 version, the 2002 Directors Cut (with 2 maps), and a full-art version licensed through Titanic Games. I don’t quite know how the rights are handled, but according to their website, Cheapass Games will once again be releasing their version of the game in 2016.

What’s more, the Cheapass Games website will let you print out the 2002 version FOR FREE! (Just watch your printer settings, otherwise you might end up with a very small map.)

2002 Director’s cut Version – How Does it Rate as a Game Mat?

Objective: To have spacious haunted mansion that the characters are exploring for the first time.

I’ll be ranking the game on the following scales:

  • Structured vs. Random 
  • Mood
  • Suspense 
  • Space 
  • Extras 

Structured vs. Random?: This first criteria is more of a spectrum, as Structure and Randomness are polar opposites. The game board is already preconstructed, and there’s very little you can do to alter this (save taping over the names of the rooms and adding your own, or editing the digital file.) This would rank it a straight 10/10 on Structure, but it comes with TWO boards- which means, you can choose which version you want to play with (giving you a less rigid model.) If you wanted to be weird, if the characters are in different rooms of the house, you can flip from one map to the other- suddenly, rooms that were once on the ground floor are now on the second level! As another way to introduce randomness, should you want it, on the main map, the rooms are numbered 0-19, which means you can pick a random room with a twenty-sided die; alternatively, you can just use the shuffle the room cards and have a character mysterious walk out of one room into a random one. Structure: 6, Random 4.

Mood: This is where the Lucky board does poorly. The basic set is, well, basic, with large empty spaces of white. This does give a GM a very blank canvas, allowing them a lot of variety (is it a well-preserved manor with residents, or a ramshackle manor barely staying upright?), but it also means they have a lot of work to do. The only flavorful elements provided by the board are the names of the room, which are not very scary, but provide a wonderful throwback to classic Edwardian manors. The boardgame version, which I do not own, has art that supports the mood better. Mood: 3/10

Suspense: To clarify, by “Suspense,” I am referring to the amount of information that is hidden from the players. With the Director’s Cut Board Game I was lucky to get about ten years ago, the board is broken into 6 different sections, giving the players information about 2-3 neighboring rooms, but nothing beyond (I’d give this Suspense: 8/10. For the other boards (the Titanic game board or the free print out version), the GM would either have to cover the other parts of the board or manipulate the image file (Suspense: 2/10).

Space: “Space” measures the practicality of the space. Personally, I found that the Kill Doctor Lucky rooms were perfect, especially in their slight variations. The majority of the rooms were big enough to house half a dozen figurines or markers with a little room to spare, making up a perfect fate core “zone.” A few rooms or hallways were just small enough that a few figures couldn’t squeeze in (which keeps it interesting), while the Ballroom makes for a dynamic scene for a conflict, requiring the heroes to scale up walls and swing on chandeliers to reach the top any adversary in the Gallery. Space: 10/10

Image by Cheapass Games. Buy it already.

Image by Cheapass Games. Buy it already.

Extras: The basic set doesn’t include too many extras (that was part of the point behind a Cheapass Game!) but it does include the cards. If you’re using the haunted mansion as the scene or a treasure hunt or a crime, you could use the various items as clues and red herrings; for example, a character digging around the nursery might find a Runcible Spoon. This would require taking out the room cards and all of the failure cards (although, you could leave in a few of the “distraction” themed failures to indicate that a character failed to find anything.) Extras: 7/10

TOTAL 38/50


What Kind of Story Can You Run with Kill Doctor Lucky?

Here’s an idea: Who Killed Old Man Miserkeister?

The city’s richest and meanest old man, Dr. L. E. “Old Man” Miserkeister, is finally dead. Despite being over 100 years old, he didn’t die of natural causes (likely too stubborn). Money would seem an obvious motive, but it not clear who would be the beneficiary; his wife passed away decades ago, and his daughter hasn’t been heard of in decades… some claim she eloped with a sailor, but loose tongues whisper about other, darker possibilities…

Old Man Miserkeister’s body he was found by his housekeeper (who only comes by once a month) in his dusty foyer, his head bashed in with a blunt object. The city forensics team have only started their investigation, but they suspect that the body was dragged, or quite possibly levitated, from another room. However, they have yet to find the murder weapon. Any officers that have attempted to investigate the many rooms of the moldy manor find themselves strangely distracted, disoriented, and driven slightly mad… almost as if something in the house, or the house itself, doesn’t want the truth to come to light. The police have turned to your team, which has experience with the paranormal, to find what they cannot. Find the murder weapon, and maybe a few other secrets along the way, and get out before you find yourself sharing Miserkeister’s fate.


That’s all for now. Join us next time for more thrills and chills!