Dungeons – The Logistical Nightmare!

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The kickstarter for the Dungeon Tours Limited is soon approaching. In the meantime, we’ll explore some of the origins behind the game.

But first, what is Dungeon Tours Limited?


miles_parchment-title-2Dungeon Tours Limited is an upcoming tabletop RPG from Tangent Artists. In it, players take on the roles of semi-retired adventurers in a fantasy world. Your days of delving into dungeons are almost over. However, there’s been a recent trend of young nobles going “dungeoning”; and you have a client lined up who is willing to pay crazy money to join your party on your next adventure.

But there’s a problem: the noble twit won’t last three seconds in a real dungeon. So, you’re going to have to fake it. You have three days to find a cave, fill it with foam spikes and papier-mache dragons, and guide the client through. Can you reach the end without the twit uncovering the truth?


Like many RPGs settings, we owe some inspiration to Dungeons & Dragons. One night, our group was going over some of the ridiculous pre-made adventures of 1st edition. You probably know the type: adventures with ancient tombs, teeming with living, breathing monsters, buried miles below the earth . Immediately, we some logistical flaws:

  • How did the 100 foot dragon get into a dungeon with only 10 foot wide corridors?
  • If there’s a live manticore down there, who’s feeding it? Who’s cleaning its cage?
  • If a tiny chamber has an ogre trapped in, unable to get out, waiting hundreds of years between skirmishes, how does he keep himself entertained? Sudoku?

This got me thinking; wouldn’t it be fun to flip the script? Instead of having the GM create the dungeon for the players, what if the players were the dungeon makers? This lead to:

Dungeon Tours 0.0

In this version, the players play monstrous humanoids (orcs, goblins, drow, etc.) working hard on a real dungeon. They’re been hired by a warlord to keep the lair safe from adventurers.

This was purely a thought experiment, with no actual rules were created. I was even unsure whether this would be better was an RPG or a boardgame.

However, I quickly stumbled upon a two-prong problem:

  • If the players wanted the adventurers to die, there must be some easier way to do it than through dumb monsters and convoluted traps.
  • If the players succeed in killing the PCs the first 3rd of the game, the remaining 2/3rds of the dungeon is wasted.

The solution: to develop a game that had to walk a tight-rope. Rather than trying an extreme goal that can be reached through extreme means (ex. kill all invaders), it had to be a balancing act. It must be have a certain amount of X, but not TOO much X.

Dungeon Tours 0.1 – Today

This is where the idea of a fake tour first took place. It’s had certain mechanics that I’ve tried and set aside (ex. the idea of a Scare-o-meter that must be hit just right –  not to much, not too little). However, the fundamental idea of creating fake threats has been in there since the beginning.

Fun Fact: It was the “build a project” backbone of DTL that would later provide the framework for Evil Hat’s Uranium Chef. It’s funny that they’re released in opposite order.

That’s all we have time for this week. Expect more previews as we get closer to the DTL launch date.

What are the best / worst features to show up in your dungeons?

URANIUM CHEF HACK – FEAR FACTORY

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205720I am pleased to announce that this week, my setting, “Uranium Chef,” has been released through Evil Hat’s Worlds of Adventure Patreon. You can buy it here (pay-what-you-want) at Drive-Thru RPG The game is about a reality cooking show in space, but as I’ll show in this blog post, you can hack it for all sorts of constructive competitions.

But first, a word from our sponsors:


If you didn’t know it, I’ve been working with Tangent Artists to create a brand new Fate Adventure, Dungeon Tours Ltd. Can you take a rich noble on a safari through a fake dungeon without them guessing the truth? It’s “Dungeon Keeper” meets “Leverage,” with a dash of “Trading Spaces.” 

Right now, DTL is in Open Beta; but the last day to sign up is March 5th. Make sure you sign up here!


HACKING URANIUM CHEF

The game “Uranium Chef” is not limited to reality cooking shows in space; even the book mentions how you can port it to any other cooking contests in other settings (ex. fantasy; anime high school).

In this article, I want to push the boundaries even further, and demonstrate that you can use the same mechanics with any creation game show. Let me present to you:


FEAR FACTORY

For the last few centuries, technology has stagnated in all fields but one: simulacrums. These puppet-like lifeforms, made with a mix of cybernetics and bioengineering, have been implemented in everything from combat to domestic work force. Most simulacrum factories focused on churning out realistic and pleasing simulacrums by the millions.

As far as we know, the malchemist Hag-Queen Zaggria was the first to pervert the technology to another purpose: making monsters. She created her own laboratory, called the Fear Factory, and used it to create a slow but steady stream of nightmarish horrors. Most of them were commissioned by conquerors, who magnified them in size and used them as weapons of war. Some of them were used in fiction- they were the starring villains in movies and neutrowave shows. It is rumored that the Hag-Queen Zaggria once spent a year on a monster for the sole purpose of scaring her brattish nephew into behaving. To Zaggria, all that matters is that the client pays up front, and that they’re satisfied with the result.

Now, Hag-Queen Zaggria has opened the doors to her laboratory, and will be training her replacement. With the support of Mongongo Studios, she is hosting her own reality TV show competition. Many applicants will apply, but only the season winner will be chosen (and receive the 4 billion space-buck prize). Can you win her favor by creating the most inspired monsters in the galaxy?

Who are the Player Characters?

The PCs are creative monster-makers from every corner of the galaxy. These include:

  • Black-sorcery-wielding malchemists
  • Mad scientists, teknolocks, and xeno-engineers.
  • Disgraced doctors and unlicensed surgeons
  • Disgruntled toymakers
  • Haunted artists and puppeteers
  • Special Effects and make-up experts (who now get to make the real thing!)

 

Luckily, the creators have plenty of android helpers to help with the science and dark magic; thus, even a shaman from a backwater planet with no experience with technology can create an impressive cyborg monster. The hardest part is supplying the vision!

 

Builder Approaches

Instead of six culinary approaches, there are six builder approaches. There are: Beautiful, Creepy, Cute, Ferocious, Gross, and Weird.

  • Beautiful – The approach for creating monsters that are beautiful to behold; this can be for animal that are elegant, or for humanoids that are alluring. Examples of beautiful creatures include: cats; unicorns; dragons; swans; vampires; sirens; incubi / succubae.
  • Creepy – The approach for creating monsters that are scary in an unconventional sense. Creepy monsters tend to mimic something normal, but are somehow out of place. Examples of creepy creatures include: the Slenderman; clowns; Children of the Corn; manikins; tooth fairies; dolls; Michael Myers.
  • Cute – The approach for creating monsters that are cute and lovable. Sometimes these are for friendly monsters, or for monsters that lull the victim into a false sense of security. Examples of cute creatures include: Pokémon; Chucky; Gremlins (fuzzy or evil); Ewoks; the Muppets; the Bumble; Gollum; Sigmund the sea monster.
  • Ferocious – The approach for creating monsters that are mean, threatening, and dangerous. Examples of ferocious creatures include: tyrannosauruses; tigers; demons; gorillas; Jason; Godzilla; the Wolfman.
  • Gross – The approach for creating monsters that look (and especially SMELL) gooey, disgusting, and dirty; alternatively, this can also be for morbid monsters that have their internal organs showing, or are leaking bile, blood, and other bodily fluids. Examples of gross monsters include: slugs; blobs; zombies; corpses; Freddy Krueger; Leatherface.
  • Weird – The approach for creating monsters that are strange and alien; this can include featuring inhuman qualities (such as insectoid, plant or robotic), or sometimes it’s merely the absence of humanoid features (ex. neither eyes nor mouths). Examples of weird creatures include: bees; praying mantises; grey aliens; jelly fish; sea stars; Venus fly traps; Mecha-Godzilla.

Side Note – Destroy All Monsters

In the set adventures, the monsters don’t really do any actions. However, if you plan to have your animated monsters take actions, assign them a lead reality approach based on their lead builder approach:

  • Beautiful – Flashy
  • Creepy – Sneaky
  • Cute – Quick
  • Ferocious – Aggressive
  • Gross – Careful
  • Weird – Clever

 


 

Creating a Monster

Creating a monster is very much like a creating a dish. There are a few small differences:

Instead of using the term, Dish Aspect, this show uses the term “Feature Aspect.” Similarly, features are grouped into Main Feature aspects and Side Feature aspects.

Instead of a “Plating” aspect, the monster has a “synthesis” aspect – up to this point, to monster, has been nothing but a lifeless hunk of muscle and metal. It is the synthesis stage that binds the parts together and brings it to life (this normally involves a lot of lightening and maniacal laughing).

Adapting Courses

In “Uranium Chef,” some challenges require a chef to create multiple courses. In the “Fear Factory,” show we instead use the term Categories. These can be split up several ways:

  • Multiple monsters – The creators might be required to create multiple monsters, each with their own category. (This is common in challenges when there are 2-3 creators on a team).
  • Adaptations – In addition to making a monster, the monster must also have a specific number of special features; these are called adaptations. For an example, see the sample episode, “Sieging is Believing.”
  • Body parts – Most Robeasts are built small, and then enlarged; however, if a team has to build a giant monster in actual size, you might want to separate the monster in different limbs and major body parts (ex. arms; tors0; and I’ll Form the Head).

 EPISODE ONE – SIEGING IS BELIEVING

This week, you have been grouped into teams of two.

Your challenge: The client this week, and one of the judges, is the warlord Empress Graxahna. She has commissioned you to build her a Robeast (i.e. a biological war machine) that will be used when besieging an entrenched city.

Each team will pick an inspiration, and an obstacle that their monster will overcome.

Inspiration: Your team will use one of the following life-forms as inspiration:

  • Mammals
  • Reptiles / Amphibians
  • Arthropods
  • Marine Life
  • Birds / Dinosaurs
  • Plants / Fungi

Warning: The judges hate it when you are too literal. If your inspiration is Birds, and all you do is make a really big eagle, they’re going to be disappointed.

 

Obstacle – Your robeast will be designed to circumvent a specific type of city defense.

  • THICK, TALL WALLS – We can make our robeasts tall, but they keep building the walls bigger! Can you bypass it?
  • PLASMA MOATS – Some cities are protected by a magnetic dome, filled with white-hot plasma. Can your monster swim through it and survive the heat?
  • EXTREMELY STRONG DEFENDER ROBOTS – The defenders often have a giant defender robot, strong enough to punch through anything! Can your monster survive it?
  • TOWER DEFENSES – The cities are defended by watchtowers, armed with rocket launchers and laser cannons. How can your monster get past them?
  • RATIONS / SUPPLIES – Laying siege makes food and supplies. Can your robeast be self-sustaining; or, better still, can it supply the troops with food and/or ammo?
  • MORALE – The defenders are often far too optimistic. Can your monster weaken their morale?

 

The GM picks a team, who will pick both their inspiration and their obstacle at the same time.

BUILDING THE MONSTER

Each teams will create a monster in two stages: the monster itself (course 1) and the adaptation (course 2).

The contestants will be building a human-sized robeast, but can choose to have it magnified up to 100 meters tall after completion.

 Example: The group decides to make a giant Kangaroo Rat robeast that can leap over walls. The monster itself has a main feature aspect (Wiry Rat Body – Ferocious: Value 3), a side feature aspect (Large Black Eyes – Creepy: Value 2) and a final synthesis aspect (Cyborg neural net – Weird: Value 1). They create the adaptation in two steps: a main feature aspect (Robotic Legs – Weird: Value 3) and synthesis aspect (Fuzzy Hair Overlay – Cute: Value 2).

JUDGES – The three judges this week are:

Hag-Queen Zaggria (loves Creepy), warlord Empress Graxahna (loves Ferocious), and Science-Prince Lotan (loves Beautiful).

 


 

Lastly, I did include several thanks in the Uranium Chef book, but I wanted to thank a few other people:

  • I can’t take credit for the Uranium Chef concept; that goes to Fred Hicks and Tazio Bettin, who first included images of the fictional cooking show in the Fate Toolkit. I couldn’t help but look at those crazy images and think about how much fun it would be to play. Thank you Fred, and everyone else at Evil Hat, for letting me take a crack at it!
  • Likewise, I want to thank Brian Engard for the Conditions rules (also in the Fate Toolkit) which I used in Uranium Chef.
  • I’d also like to thank Cheyenne Rae Grimes and Nicole Winchester for their fantastic article in the Fate Codex “Adding Reality to your Fantasy”; also to Mark Diaz Truman for making the content free to use. The original draft for Uranium Chef included a number of their reality TV show rules; most of them didn’t make it to the final edition (due to word limit), but it was a huge inspiration to me none the less. I highly recommend it to any GM who wants to add even more drama and executive meddling into your Uranium Chef game (see Fate Codex – Volume 1, Issue 7).

Fate Mini-Hack: Gonna Pop Some Tags

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It’s been a few months since we went to GenCon2016, so I thought it was well overdue that we share one of the things we tested: The Skeleton Crew RPG!

As anyone who’s been following this blog the past few years, we’ve been fine tuning one of our magnum opuses (opera?), the Skeleton Crew RPG. This supernatural adventure game has seen a few changes of the years, here’s one of our newest innovation, meant to cement the setting and streamline character creation: tags!


TAGS

A tag are a special type of aspect or sub-aspect that defines how the character of aspect interacts with the world (or worlds). They are also different from normal aspects in that they have a narrow range possibilities.

In the Skeleton Crew game, they come in several categories: Mortality tags, Knowledge tags, and Reality tags.


HOW DOES A TAG WORK?

A tag can be used in the same three ways an aspect can:

A. To aid you.

Example: If a cop with the reality tag “Natural” is following the trail of a mercenary with the tag “Natural,” she might be invoke the tag to give her a +2 to her investigation; she’ll think to look for the cigarette butts, crumbs, and other normal stuff that an immortal might forget about.

B. To grant a +2 invoke against you.

Example: A normal cop with the reality tag “natural” is analyzing an ancient clay doll; is it has secret writing on it, but the symbols have the tag “ethereal”- the GM decides that this mean they next to invisible to the human eye. If the cop player wants to investigate it further, the GM may spend a fate point to raise the difficulty of the search by +2, or to have the cop automatically fail.

C. To compel a character act in a particular way.

Example: A cop (tag: “mortal”) is escorting a djinn (tag: “immortal”) through a haunted tomb. The cop may say, “stay here, I’ll go in first.” However, the GM might compel the cop’s fear of death; this causes her to hesitate slightly. In the meantime, the GM might compel the djinn to go into the dangerous tomb alone; it has no concept of fear, even as it walks into certain doom! Now the cop is racing to catch up!

Reminder to GMs: Remember the rule that dice rolls should always result in something interesting. If a character is compelled to fail a roll, due to attempting something outside their specialty, it might result in a negative repercussion. This is particularly true if you suspect a player is intentionally attempting a task they know they’d fail at (i.e. fishing for compel points). Make sure it blows up in their face!

Ex. If a mad scientist with the knowledge tag “Science!” attempts to study a priceless haunted crown (with the tag “magic”), he might be compelled to fail; but instead of resulting in nothing, he might do something foolish, like dissecting it into bits, or handling it such a way that their adversary learns something about the scientist!


WHY ADD TAGS TO YOUR GAME?

We came up with the tags idea after several trial and error attempts:

Version 1.0 – We originally tried the Skeleton Crew game with the default Fate Core skill list, but it made certain skills cover too far of a narrative range; it seemed strange that a robot-building scientist would know so very much about prehistoric magic. It needed more specialization.

Version 2.0 – We next attempted dividing the skill list into smaller parts; notice, lore, and crafts, and others were all split into magical and non-magical equivalents. While this worked with some skills, it made others so niche that you might go an entire adventure without using them. Also, the skill list ballooned in size. We needed something in between.

Version 3.0 – The tags system lays the groundwork for a simpler skill list, but to still allow some specialization amongst teammates. It allows players with similar skill to join forces and be versatile at times, while the GM can still veto an action to provide more of a challenge, or to reign if a character steps too far from their expertise.


THE SKELETON CREW TAG TYPES – IN DEPTH

MORTALITY

bonejack-sneakA mortality tag defines what you are. It comes in three types, mortal, undead, and immortal.

Mortal – you are a creature that was born, grew, and will likely die (but haven’t yet). Your life span will either be short (half a century), or, if you’re special, a century or two. This is the tag for humans, mutants, and some demi-gods.

Undead –you are a revenant; a creature that was born, grew, died, and came back; this is most likely due to dark magic or a curse. This is the tag for vampires, ghosts, werewolves, Frankensteinian constructs, mummies and other reanimated mortals.

Immortal – you are were made, not begotten; either by a god, a creator, or by the raw forces of natural. You can be destroyed, but left to your own, you will never age and never die. You have refined yourself over the years, but you didn’t learn as a child learns; your abilities are natural to you. This is the tag for elementals, angels, demons, robots, djinns, and similar beings.

Sidebar – Which tag applies to Faeries? No two players will see faeries the same way; we encourage each group to decide how faeries work in your campaign, to best fit the view points of the those playing. We recommend you give faeries their own tag; mortals see faeries as immortals, and immortals treat faeries as mortals.

Mortality Tag Interacts with: your high concept. It helps define what you are, and how you act. Certain tags like “undead” also interact with certain types of magics and wards (ex. a holy talisman against revenants).


KNOWLEDGE

The knowledge tag defines your background knowledge and how you explain the world around you. It comes in two types: Science! and Occult.

Science! – to you, the world is a matter of rules and equations. You know that history is fixed, and that a cause always precedes an effect. This is the tag of cops, scientists, teachers, doctors, and most modern mortals.

Occult – to you, reality is an illusion that manipulated or broken. You know that history is but a dream, that sometimes you getting the desired effect is more important than understanding the cause. This is the tag of warlocks, ghosts, mediums, priests, and philosophers.

Example: Both a psychic and a medium can perceive ghosts andlibrary hubris.png emotional residue; a medium will see these phenomenon in a traditional, philosophical way, while the psychic will see the situation from a modern, analytical point of view.

Knowledge Tag Interacts with: certain skills, such as Crafts, Lore, and Operate*.

Crafts: Science! allows you to build and deconstruct mechanical devices; Occult allows you to build and deconstruct artifacts and enchantments.

Lore: Science! gives you knowledge of modern science, medicine, current events, and Earth geography; Occult gives you knowledge of ancient history, magic, and other worlds.

Operate*: Science! lets you control modern vehicles, robots, and machinery; operate lets you use artifacts, magical transports, and low-level animated servants (ex. skeletal puppets).

*Operate – in the Skeleton Crew RPG, the skill “Drive” is replaced with “operate,” which is broadened to cover any device that cannot reasonably be covered by “lore.”


REALITY

A reality tag defines what plane or planes of reality you find yourself tethered to. Are you a flesh-and-blood human, a ghost from beyond the veil, or something in between? There are two types, Natural and Ethereal, and the dual tag, Supernatural (for more on dual tags, see below).

Natural – A natural object is something based in the mortal plane. For persons and objects that are natural, the laws of physics are consistent; if you are a person, you likely have mass and find it easy to other things with mass. When investigating a clue that is natural, it is best to observe it through the normal senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Natural objects generally have a low innate amount of magical energy, and tend to obey the laws of physics. Natural characters include mortals, robots, and revenants resurrected through science (ex. Frankensteinian constructs).

Ethereal – Smummy-ba-flyomething that is ethereal is based on the world beyond; there are many names for this, be it the afterlife, beyond the veil, limbo, the psychic realm, the etheric plane, etc. These beings are made up of magic and raw emotion, which are often indistinguishable on this level. To them, pain and joy are palpable enough to touch, while matter and gravity are sometimes hard to perceive. It is possible to have a natural object have a clue or aspect that is ethereal in nature, such as invisible writing drawn in magic on a brick wall. Ethereal beings, like most things of magic, have little regard for the laws of physics. Ethereal characters include ghosts, as well as some demons, fairies, angels, gods, and elementals.

Supernatural – Dual Tag An object that is supernatural is something that has real mass, but also carries with it strange psychic or magical properties. In this way, it can be seen and manipulated by both natural and ethereal characters, however their exact nature is sometimes hard to tell; a ghost can tell that a person has a high “supernatural quality,” but would be unable to discern if they’re a vampire, a psychic, a priest, or someone who’s just born lucky. Likewise, a supernatural character can see things that are natural and ethereal, but can only focus on one at a time. Supernatural objects generally tend to bend the laws of physics without breaking down. Supernatural characters include dhampirs, revenants resurrected with magic (such as zombies, werebeasts, vampires), spellcasters, priests, demigods, mediums and psychics.

Side Note – Holy Mass – Most daemons and angels are, in reality, ethereal beings; however, they borrow mass when they visit the material plane. Their true ethereal forms are nearly impossible to kill, but their physical bodies can be destroyed, or have be cleft from their spirits in a banishing ritual; if either is done, their souls are pushed so far into the etheric realm that they can’t interact with mortals. While in physical form, treat them as if they’re supernatural.

Reality Tag Interacts with: certain skills, particularly Notice and Investigate. Ethereal can also be invoked with other skills as well.

Notice: A Natural character will have a much easier time reacting to natural threats, or seeing hidden natural clues. Similar, an ethereal character will be more alert to ethereal threats.

Investigate: A natural character can more thoroughly investigate natural clues and clues that leave a physical trace; likewise, an ethereal character will be able to spy details that have no physical form, just as magical trails, feelings, and psychic echoes.

Ethereal Skills: The ethereal tag can also be invoked and compelled with any skill that involves the physical plane. They have less connection to matter, and thus they can invoke the tag to help them avoid physical objects (ex. for burglary when sneaking through a wall; for stealth when avoiding view, for athletics when getting past a guard; for fight when avoiding a punch). However, if they trying to interact with a physical object, it can also be invoked or compelled against them (ex. against burglary to make a stolen item slip through their fingers; with physique or fighting when pushing or punching an opponent). It can also used to help with Empathy to sense emotions; but for every invoke used to help spot feelings, make sure it is compelled to make it harder to Notice physical details.


Dual Tags

There are some instances of tags that fall under two categories; the most common of these is the Supernatural tag (see page XX).

For the most part, treat this is if the two opposing tags cancel each other out; the character is immune to unfriendly invokes and compels, but cannot compel their supernatural tag to aid in their roles.

Ex. a “natural” cop, an “ethereal” ghost, and a “supernatural” vampire are investigating a crime scene. When inspecting a gruesome “natural” blood stain, the cop could invoke her “natural” tag to get +2; meanwhile, the “ethereal” ghost investigating the same “natural” blood stain may receive an unfriendly invoke, or be compelled to notice nothing. The opposite would happen if the natural cop and the “ethereal” ghost were trying to investigate an “ethereal” psychic vibe in the air.

The “supernatural” vampire, however would be able to investigate the “natural” bloodstain or the “ethereal” psychic vibe; he’d be immune negative invokes, but could not invoke the “supernatural” tag to help his search.

Can I invoke the Dual Tag for anything?

Tags define a very specific thing about your character (generally how you perceive the world and how others perceive them); while a dual tag cannot be invoked to help with exact field related to it, it can be invoked or compelled for completely unrelated matters.

Ex. A supernatural vampire does not get a boost when searching for normal or for ethereal clues; however, she would be able to help her in a social situation, such as convincing another supernatural psychic that she ought to help them out.

Are there Dual Tags for Mortality? –

We recommend you don’t have any dual tags for mortality, unless a player wants to create an original character that straddles the line, like someone who is half-alive and half-dead. Similarly, you could treat Faeries as a dual tag for “mortal” and “immortal” (see above).

Are there Dual Tags for Knowledge?

If there were to be a dual tag for Knowledge that straddles both “Science!” and “Occult,” it would be “Alchemy.” However, we advise that GMs only allow it small groups. If there is only one “know-it-all” character in the group, it’s fine if they know Alchemy. However, you don’t want a “Science!” inventor and an “Occult” librarian to feel redundant next to an alchemist character that knows everything.


 

Tags in Action – Sample PC Type

ANGEL / EUDEMON

You are a loyal messenger to a god. If you are an angel, you serve the Great Light, and are made from light, air, and/or fire. If you are a eudemon, you serve a lesser god (like Zeus, Mardok, or Isis) and reflect the element of your master.

Eudemons are the middlemen between mortals and the gods, and thus do not take pleasure in hurting humans; however, they have no qualms against smiting the wicked. Similarly, they can grant humans what they need, which is not always what they want (ex. an angel of death ending a mortal’s suffering).
A Note to GMs: Angels and Devils are typically portrayed as having immense power. If a player wants to playing one, have your group come up with an explanation on why their powers are limited: maybe they’re a daemon-in-training, have had their powers sealed, or have had their “membership card” revoked.

High Concept: Angelic Servant to ________

Suggested Tags:

  • Mortality: Immortal
  • Reality: Supernatural or Ethereal
  • Knowledge: Occult

Suggested Skills: Will, Fight, Empathy, Evoke*
Suggested Stunts: Pillar of Strength

Pillar of Strength – Will –  When defending against Intimidation attacks, any of your teammates who have a lower Will than you may reroll their defense roll once per turn. This stunt may only be used if you’re in the same room as the teammate, or only if you are still in the conflict (i.e. not taken out).


What Other Tags Could Exist?

The above tags work with the world of magic and mad science of Skeleton Crew, but your game might find your own.

An additional tag we considered but eventually scrapped was a tag for Provoke and Rapport- you could easily merge the two into a single, emotion-influencing skill, and add a tag dividing it into “positive” emotions and “negative” emotions.

However, adding a tag for a single skill seems to waste, but what if you also added it to Empathy? In your world, maybe characters are more attuned to emotions of a certain nature.

I don’t see the “emotion” tag being useful in Skeleton Crew, but what about a Star Wars hack? I could easily see a “light side” / “dark side” tag affecting provoke, empathy, and maybe a slew of other skills. Try it yourself, and tell us what you think!

Until next time, GAME ON!

Up to the Test – 5 Tricks to Tweaking Your Playtest

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Next month, Tangent Artists will be going back to GenCon. Two years ago, we had a great time showcase our WIP at the First Exposure Playtest hall, and we were so pleased by the experience that we had to sign up with them again.  We’ll be getting four slots to show off our two new games, Penny-A-Pitch and Eco-Schism.

When we first went, we had thought of it as a way to showcase and network.  If there’s only thing that disappointed us about last First Exposure, it’s that we didn’t really get much exposure; we’re used to conventions, when you spend 8 hours giving 30 second pitches to hundreds of people. Rather, it’s an intense 2-hour session with the exact number of people you need to make the game work. In our hubris, we went to a playtest hall expecting to get very little feedback, only publicity. O, how wrong we were.

As we prepare for our next session, I thought I’d share with you what few nuggets I’ve learned about running playtests (mostly from mistakes).

1. Know Your Pitch

When you sign up with the First Exposure Playtest Hall, they ask you to submit a short pitch and a long pitch. The long pitch is a short paragraph, tiny enough to fit in a tweet. The short pitch is a sentence. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being the “booth babe” at a convention for ten years, it’s streamline your pitch and have it memorized. Most strangers tune you out after less than a minute, so you have only one or two sentences to get them interested; this is called the elevator pitch.

 

As for our two new games, here’s the two versions:

Penny-a-Pitch – Short: A game of Midway Moguls.
Long: A light worker placement game of Midway Moguls. Mama Maxie is retiring, and whoever buys her Ferris Wheel will literally run the show. Can you sucker enough rubes to make the cash, while still keeping Maxie happy?

Eco-schism – A game of weak links in the Food Chain.
Long Adds: The Alien Mothership is asking your genetics department to rebuild the extinct ecosystem of planet Earth; but you’re not satisfied being just another cog in the machine. Prove that your “improved” fauna can dominate the food chain!

You’ll notice that the short version of Penny-a-Pitch leaves out the “light worker placement” addendum. Why? Because in a one-sentence pitch, any discussion of games and mechanics is irrelevant. You might be able to stick “card” or “board”, but focus on the flavor, not the gears.

2. What’s the Point?

This one was taken from Mark Rosewater’s podcast series, “Ten Things Every Game Needs.” If someone is going to play your game, the most important thing to convey is “how do you win?” Despite the fact that it’s the last thing that occurs in a game, there’s a reason they always stick it near the beginning of a rulebook (for the other reason, see #3.)

Why is this important? Because the playtesters need to be focused on what they are supposed to achieve. It gives them a mission, an objective, and something to be excited about. If the testers are confused about how to win, they’ll fail to see the point in anything else.

Also, if you’re playing with the group, and you’re the only one who knows how to win, you likely will. (See #4).

3. Don’t Frontload the Rules

When playing games on their own, most players don’t read all of the rules until after they’ve started. Similarly, you should not explain 100% of the rules when the game starts; just get them the win condition and enough to get through turn one or two.

4a. Do Play Yourself

Lead by example. Add yourself to the test; you can lead by example, show the rules in action

You can, of course, hover around and try to orchestrate from beyond, but this can come off as bossy. Sure, this frees you up to go around and explain cards that people have in their hands, but if the cards aren’t clear without your explanation, it’s probably not clear enough.

4b. Don’t Play to Win

I remember joining in one designer’s game test, during which the designer blew the other tester and myself out of the water. “Don’t feel bad,” they said with a chuckle after an easy win, “I’ve played it a lot.” I can’t tell you how much of a turn-off it was. I didn’t want to play again or buy it, I just felt frustrated.

If the game is composed of several rounds (like poker), it’s definitely fine to win a hand or two to show the other players how it’s done. However, your role as the play test leader is this: to explore the frontiers.

When a new option is made available, if other people aren’t exploring it, do it yourself. If everybody is choosing option A, try option B; even if B is a bad choice, they’ll learn from your mistake what the pros and cons are. They’ll see, “it’s bad for a player to do X now, but it might be useful to do X when Y is in play.”

Don’t stick with one strategy, take the “sampler” approach; be the jack of all, master of none. That way, if a player spreads around like you, they might tie. If they narrow their energies towards a specific strategy, they have a decent chance of pulling ahead of you; that way, even if they lose the overall game, they’ll feel accomplished that “at least they had more X than you.”

5. Make it Clean!

Try to make the game look as pretty as you can. Start your first few tests one index cards, but then upgrade to something more streamlined.

Cards: this trick I learned from the DC Metro group, “Break My Game” (click the link for their Meet-up page). Type up your cards, print them on simple paper, and add them to card sleeves. To give the cards thickness, add a playing card behind them (you can buy one or two card decks from the dollar store for 99 cents). Voila! Now you have something slick, stiff, and shuffleable! If you can afford card sleeves of different colors, you can easily sort your cards into different deck types without having to print on both sides of the paper.

One thing I’ve learned on my own: buy colored paper. It’s a lot cheaper to print black text on colored paper than to print color on white paper.

IMG_1205

Also, if you have the time, include art. It doesn’t have to be fancy, either; simple and iconic is easier to print, and easier to keep consistent. I recommend the site game-icons.net, which has thousands of images you can use for your prototypes. All of them are free to use, and come in a default, clean black and white (although you can play with the slider to add color and/or a border).


Hope that’s inspired you a bit for your tests. If you’re going to GenCon, I hope to see you there! Until next time, Game On!

Starting Your First Kickstarters

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A friend asked for some handy tips for their first starter. This has inspired me to share a few things that we at Tangent Artists have learned from our experience:

FateAccompli_KickStarter_Banner_V2

If I could give you one tip, this would be it:

  • Keep in mind that your production cost (the amount you need to make a minimum order with the printer) and the “funded goal” are not the same thing. Digital products are the easiest to factor, in that they are almost pure profit; a $10 digital backer means you’re $10 closer to your fund goal and, after expenses (taxes, KS’s cut), have $9 towards the production cost. If you’re dealing with physical products, don’t forget that they give you a false “boost” towards your KS funded goal. For example, a $40 backer with a $15 product and a $15 S&H (don’t forgot to include shipping from the printer to you and back out to backer) means you’re $40 closer to the funded goal, but only $21 closer to your production goal. In this sense, it’s better to have two-hundred $5 digital backers than fifty $20 physical backers (although, reaching two-hundred people might be harder). I’ve read plenty of horror stories about people who reached $20,000 goal for a $20,000 printing cost, only to end up going several thousand dollars in the red; they reached 20k, but after S&H, KS’s cut, and taxes, it ends up costing 25K or more.

Other Tips:

  • You can build and share the KS page before you launch it. This lets you get feedback from peers, but also lets you start promoting it in advance. Sadly, you won’t have the final link itself until the launch date, so it’s good to have a private promo page (ex. your website or blog) that you can promote. This way, you can update push people to go to your promo page for both the “preview” link, and then change the link later to an active “KS” link after you launch.
  • KS must approve all pages before you can launch it.. Once you’ve had feedback and are happy with the page, submit it for approval. This can take a few days, so do it at least 7 days before you need it. Once approved, it will give you the option of waiting before you launch, so you can let it sit on it for a while.
  • Backers will shun KS accounts that have never backed KS projects before; they believe you have to give to the community before you can take. Go find a dozen projects you like and support them, even if it’s for a tiny amount. If you’re a company, have a company account and have all of the members back their personal KS through the company, and you’ll build it up faster.
  • Have one “manager” setting up the page, levels and handling the KS updates. You can’t just let it sit for 30 days alone.
  • People like graphics. Have a video. Make sure it has a GREAT opening slide- this the first thing they see when the load the page, and when you share it on social media. Make sure you’re updating your progress with visual aid trackers.
  • If the person managing the page is a different person than the person doing the graphics, prepare all of the graphics for all of the different levels ahead of time. It might seem strange, but we needed our “funded” and three of our “stretch goal” graphics on day two.
  • Set your initial goal as low as you can go afford (assuming it’s not putting you in the negative). People are more likely to back something that is funded than something that is not.
  • Always have a cheap ($1 – $5) level. Even if it has no tangible rewards (thanks, glory, good karma), it allows people to tag you and follow your updates easier, and lets family and friends who have no interest in the product show their support.
  • Have different levels, but don’t overdo it. 3-6 is fine. More than 10 is a mouthful, unless there’s a specific reason why. More levels is also tricky in case you need to send messages out- KS lets you message all backers, or all backers in a specific group (ex. group A); however, if you’re messaging groups A-C but not D, you have to send it to groups A, B, and C individually; thus, if you have 20 levels and you’re sending it to 19 of them, you might be copy-pasting the message 19 times.
  • Have a slightly higher level with recognition; sometimes people will pay $24-50 just to have recognition on the finished product.
  • Have at least one large shoot the moon level. Don’t expect it to be taken, but you never know.
  • KS has strict rules about selling in bulk to merchants; I’ve seen some projects do it, but I would research the rules carefully first to make sure you’re not violating anything.
  • If you’re dealing with a digital product, calculate the longest estimated amount of time you need to deliver it. Then put the delivery date as DOUBLE that date. If it’s a physical product, QUADRUPLE it. That may seem like a stretch, but those dates come on you fast.
  • With stretch goals, digital rewards are your friend! If going with physical products, don’t be afraid to add it as an optional thing they can BUY by pledging extra. Again, a lot of people go crazy adding free physical rewards, which raises their production cost and shrinks the profit.
  • If you are adding an optional stretch bonus product, this can be handled by having the backers over pay and then respond to the survey which add-on product they want. However, MAKE SURE the survey has the optional bubble, “we didn’t pledge anything else, no add-ons,”; alternatively, allow for write-ins. We learned that the hard way, and you can only send out one survey.
  • Limit it to 30 days; you don’t want it to linger.
  • This is a rough estimate, but about 75% of your backers will be pledge on days 1-10, and the last 2 days. In between, don’t be scared by the lull. Be sure to still send updates every few days, and keep promoting outside. If it’s a game, I recommend G+ (there’s LOTS of gamers on G+).
  • Plan a lot more stretch goals than you need. A LOT. The levels these are best planned around price breaks for the printer (ex. cheaper to print at 5k, 10k and 50k). If there are no price breaks, you can set at anything you like. If I could turn back time, I would have spaced them further apart. We had ours set at a fixed increment (about .5K or 1K apart). Although it doesn’t look as clean, I would have spaced it at rising increments. Maybe use the Fibonacci thing (.5k, 1k, 1.5k, 2.5k or 4K), so it’s less than double. The hard part is judging the right amount. Too far and you lose momentum, too small and you flood the backers with too many goals- if you’re forced to do more than you had planned for, you risk creating subpar stretch goals, or hastily adding new physical products that might cost more than you originally estimated.
  • If you have multiple projects in mind, and your KS is starting to go into stretch goals, resist the pressure to merge the two together. There’s no shame in doing a smaller KS first and doing a second one later. If you have a successful KS under your belt, they’re more likely to back you later. Better still, when you do a KS in the future, you have all of the backer info, so it’s easy to promote.

Here are some other tips passed on from Evil Hat’s Kickstarter Guru, Fred Hicks:

  • Launch it on a Mon. night / Tuesday morning. Most office workers do all of their web surfing on Tuesday morning (after they finished Mon’s work).
  • If you’re KSing a physical product, don’t plan to make money from the KS itself; instead, set the selling “price” of the basic ks level (for a backer buying one unit) to be 2x the cost of the unit (including other costs), and then order double the number of product from your printer. Thus, if your KS sells 500 units, you order and ship out 500 units to backers, and have 500 units sitting in your garage that are already paid for; anytime you sell one of those extra units, it’s 100% profit.

That’s all for now. Hope it helps!

Skeleton Crew: Paranormal Investigation Generator

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Long time no see, brave gamers! For this entry, I thought I’d follow through on an old post I started way back on Jan, 2015: PARANORMAL INVESTIGATION TOOL – FOLLOW THE BREAD CRUMBS. This is a clue generator to help you create supernatural murder mysteries on the go; it’s ideal for FATE, but I’m sure it will be just as handy for Monster of the Week and other narrative game systems.

I was originally going to save some of it a secret for the final release; however, I thought I’d treat people to the whole thing in one go. Let us know what you think!

BREAD CRUMBS – PARANORMAL MURDER MYSTERY GENERATOR

axe creepyThe goal of the “Bread Crumbs” system is not to create a full adventure for you- like any Fate Core game, it requires some creativity of your group’s part. Rather, it’s here to help generate clues and ideas. It’s really up to you, the GM and the players, to string together the relevant bits into a narrative.

Will this fashion a masterpiece of mystery, the likes of Agatha Christie? Nope. But it’s great for your average, “villain of the week” style one shot adventure.

QUICK (AND THE DEAD) MISSION BUILDER
Part 1: The Set-up

>Before you start, make sure you create characters

>Create Urban Legends – have each player and the GM create at least one each (although, if a player’s feeling creative, don’t put a maximum.) Some of these (or all of them) may not show in the story, but it’s nice to get ideas before you start. See page XX for rules.

> Generate a Location. Go to the scene of the crime and investigate.

> As soon as you get there, start creating supporting characters. Make sure you include a Face character or two for every organization and location. (Don’t just have a random police officer be the first responder, have Carl the Chubby Beat-Cop.) These people seem incidental now, but they could end up your suspects, eye witnesses, allies, enemies, and potentially future victims.

Part 2: Initial Investigations

Your experts will take time to investigate the scene: by default, this will be using Investigate, but a character may have a stunt that makes an exception to this. If they succeed, they discover a clue aspect. This comes in one of three types: General, Sensory Clues or Corpse.

If the investigator has no particular strength, randomly generate which clue you find. However, if a character has a particular expertise, you may pick an appropriate table and roll on that (ex. a psychic might roll on the Ethereal Sensory clues; a werewolf might roll on the Smells chart).

Likewise, if the party rolls too many of one type (ex. all general or sensory), feel free to pick a different sub-chart to focus on (ex. corpse).

Succeed at a Cost – If a character wants to succeed at a cost, they might discover one clue at the cost of marring it or another clue; ex. you find a hidden symbol by tromping through the footprints; you pull the murder weapon out of the tree and, in your excitement, smudge any finger prints on it; you find a suspicious diamond earring, only to drop it down the sewer and loose it forever.

The group will likely find three clues, or one per investigator, whichever is greater.

Part 3: Further Investigations

Once the initial investigations of the crime scene itself have yielded all they can, follow through with what the players want to do. Maybe they want to canvas the neighborhood, or follow up with the victim’s apartment. Feel free to generate more clues, or come up with your own based on what you’ve got so far.

If the players are lost, feed them a lead: have a supervisor give them a suggestion; maybe a forensic scientist can analyze the mud sample more thoroughly and give you a general location; recommend they see a guest lecturer about the ancient symbol drawn on the site; stake out similar locations in case it happens again. Reward player pro-activity with more information.

When providing answers, draw connections threads between the events and aspects that are proposed (including the Urban Myths). If the trail grows cold, have the crime reoccur, or introduce someone who knows more than you (a hired assassin coming for you; a new witness; a rival to the enemy.) A good source of info is your prime suspect; in order to clear themselves, they are likely to reveal secrets that others are hiding.

Part 3.

The twist – just when everything’s going smoothly, add in a plot twist.

When in doubt, remember the Urban Legends… maybe your Mexican Standoff with the Romanian Mafia gets interrupted by Elvis and his Alien abductors.

The Reveal – The mystery is exposed. Maybe it was a creature you still know very little about, or maybe it was really Carl the Chubby Cop the whole time.

When the clues conflict:

Two agencies at work- maybe rivals who are after the same thing.

Have a forensic expert call with a test correction (changing a result after the fact)

Bad guy’s dropping fake evidence to throw you off.

Someone other than the murderer tampered with the crime scene (maybe they attempted to help, or robbed the victim); they can reveal info, but they are unlikely to volunteer it without being pressured (were doing something illicit at the time; didn’t want to be implicated in the murder.)

 

Clues

Whenever they search, they always find SOMETHING, even if it doesn’t seem important. A bent fender. A phone message from Crystal. A bar napkin. Even if they lead nowhere now, some player might make a connection you never thought of.

MAIN TREES

Roll 1dF

– Corpse Clues – 3 Types:

0 Sensory – Come in two types: Natural (with 5 subtypes: Sight, Sound, Touch, Smell, and Taste) and Ethereal (with 5 subtypes: EMPATHY, PATTERNS, ALLEGORY, SYMBOLS, AURAS)

+ General Evidence

 

 

CORPSE CLUES

Murder Weapon Chart

Roll to see what type of weapon you find at the murder site (we recommend you let the players pick a specific sub-type).


– –
Non-gun projectile – arrow, crossbow bolt, harpoon, dart, lollipop, thorn, throwing star

– 0 Burn weapon – laser (gun, rifle, surgical), electricity (super-taser, lightning rod, cattle prod), fire (flamethrower, Molotov cocktail, heat ray)

– + Gun – normal (modern bullet or pellets), or strange (round ball shot, silver / gold bullet, cannonball)

0 – Magic – voodoo doll, monkey’s paw, dispelled circle (if victim was magical)

0 0 Blunt Wound – -Club, War Hammer, shovel, hammer, wrench, pipe, bat, rock, brick

0 + Large Puncture – Sword, Spear, Axe

+ – Small Puncture – Dagger, Twisty Knife, Ninja Star, Wooden Stake, Flint dagger, kunai, ice skate

+ 0 Lacerations – Claws, Knives, Teeth, Machines, scythes, sickles

+ + Poison – weapon (dart; blade; syringe); contact poison (lips; fingers); biological (thorn; quill; bite; spray); ingested (drink; food; gas)


Damage Chart

The victim is wounded, and no murder weapon is in sight. While it will take an autopsy to verify it, you have an idea. Roll to see what type of wound you find at the murder site (we recommend you let the players pick a specific sub-type).

– – Suspected Weapon – For on the Murder Weapon chart- initial investigation suggests that it was made with that kind of weapon, but all evidence of the weapon was taken from the scene. Until you find the missing murder weapon itself, you can’t be sure!

– 0 Body torn to bit / lacerated – The body was torn. This might mean: a violent fight against someone armed with a blade; a wild animal attack; a slow torture by a sadist or interrogator.

– + Eaten – the victim shows traces of bite marks. This might mean: eaten by a creature or were-creature; a hungry undead creature such as a zombie, ghoul, or vampire. Alternatively, the victim might have died from other causes, and was found later by scavengers.

0 – Clothing torn – The victim’s body shows multiple cuts, but the victim’s clothing shows a disproportionate amount of distressing. This could mean: the target with taunted or threatened psychologically; the attacker did not have the ability or permission to directly attack the victim; the victim was a werecreature, or went feral; the victim was wearing old and worn clothing (ex. Homeless)

0 0 Part removed – part of the body is missing, or was found separated from the rest of the body. This might mean: beheaded, as with vampires; body part taken for a ritual (ex. Eyes, entrails, liver, heart); blood or fluids drained (ex. vampire, chupacabra, aliens, mummy, liche); item collected for a spell ingredient or totem (ex. Teeth, hand, ears, fingers / toes).

0 + Blunt force / broken body– The victim died from force impact, such as a cracked skull or snapped neck. This might mean: attacker had great strength; the death was an accident, or an attempt to look like an accident; the victim was attacked with a blunt weapon; the attacker was made of a hard substance (ex. Golem, robot); the victim was hit by a vehicle or large machine.

+ – Impaled – the victim was impaled by something sharp which is not present at the scene. This might be: a long weapon (ex. Sword, spear, spike, stake); from an attack or collision with an object nearby (ex. Tree branch, railing, pipe.)

+ 0 Burns – ritual, branding, rope burns, rug burns,

+ + No Air – The victim was killed through lack of access to air, such suffocation, strangulation, asphyxiation, or drowning. This might be caused by: strangled by a rope, hands, or tentacle; drowned in the harbor, sewer or pool; locked in an airtight room

 

Cause of Death Unknown Chart

The victim seemed to have died of “Natural” Causes- i.e. the underlying cause of death is primarily attributed to an illness or an internal malfunction of the body not directly influenced by external forces. (This of course, makes you even more suspicious).

When you roll a “Cause of Death Unknown,” don’t roll on the chart immediately- it will take time for the coroner to pin down the cause. You’ll get an update in a few scenes.

 

– – Undetermined – Despite the best of forensics and alchemy, they are unable to pin down a specific cause of death. If more than one victim is examined, a trend might be found!

– 0 Heart Failure / Attack- heart is unable to pump blood sufficiently.

– + Disease of the Elderly – the victim seemed to die of a disease normally common amongst the elderly, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension or Alzheimer’s disease.

0 – Stroke – the victim seemed to die of a stroke; this is either eitherischemic, due to lack of blood flow (such as blockage, like a clot), and hemorrhagic, due to internal bleeding (such as a brain aneurysm).

0 0 Disease / Infection – the victim seemed to die of a common illness, such as strep, scarlet fever, or complications from influenza.

0 + Organ Failure – the victim seemed to die of the failure of an organ: ex. Kidney, liver, pancreas (diabetes); lung failure (collapse; asthma).

+ – Allergic Reaction/ Anaphylaxis the victim died of an allergic reaction to something common, such as insect venom or bites; foods (nuts, peanuts, sesame), pollen, shellfish, wheat, eggs; poison plant (ivy, oak, sumac).

+ 0 Psychogenic death a.k.a. scared to death – Given the archaic term “voodoo death,” psuchogenic death is the phenomenon of sudden death as brought about by a strong emotional shock, such as fear. The anomaly is recognized as “psychosomatic” in that death is caused by an emotional response—often fear—to some suggested outside force. Within 12-24 hours from initial shock, their physical condition would deteriorate in response to psychological distress.

+ + No Will To Live – as unusual as it seemed, the victim seemed to have lost the will to live, and faded away. In less scientific terms, this would be called “pining away,” or dying “of a broken heart.”

 

SENSORY CLUES
We remind you give any clues given in a, “___ is ___, a bit like ____” format. (Ex. “The smell is sweet, a bit like almonds.”) That way, the investigators have someone concrete (“it is sweet”) to build a foundation on, and something vague (“like almonds”) that is vague and open to interpretation.

A good way to do this with your group is let them fill in the second half.

The smell is sweet, and a little fruity. What does it remind you of?”

Natural vs. Ethereal
Sensory clues are broken into two types, natural and ethereal. Natural sensory clues are the tangible things we and those consciously observe: sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound. Natural clues tend to be based on details and the small picture. Ethereal clues are observed with second sight, an ability granted to those who are psychically or magically inclined. They tend to deal with the big picture, and can glimpse at events in the past and future.

For more on Natural vs. Ethereal, see page XX.

 

Senses Natural

Roll 2dF

– – Sight

– 0 Sound

– + Touch

0 –0+ Pick one!

+ – Smell

+ 0 Taste

+ + Strange Feeling – Roll on the Ethereal Chart.

 

 

SIGHT
The location itself appears to you be ______, much like a _______

– – Disarray – The location is in shambles. You might mean: there was a great struggle; someone was looking frantically for something; the attack was made in hot blood; the attacker was a beastlike in its savagery; one or both parties panicked.

– 0 Neat – The location is startlingly neat and tidy. You might mean: the victim was subdued without a fight; the murderer was someone the victim knew; the murderer is a master of stealth (vampire, ghost, ninja); attack was calculated and made in cold-blood; the attacker wasn’t looking for something / wasn’t a robbery; attacker was OCD and cleaned up after.

– + Phony – You can’t prove it yet, but your gut tells you something about the placement of the body and articles feels fake, staged, altered, or unnatural. This might be: a phony suicide letter or “dying message”; a half-hearted robbery; objects / evidence that looks planted; a “random” attack with perfect timing; an assailing “stranger” who knew too much; suggestion of a frame job; not the actual site of the attack.

0 – Hidden / Blind spots – The murder occurred in a spot that is secluded, dark, or obscured from others. This might mean: the murderer is a creature of the night / has night vision; the murderer is hurt by sunlight; the murderer is an ambush hunter; the murderer lured the victim into the location; the victim agreed to go into the secluded place (trusted murderer, doing a shady activity.)

0 0 In Full View – The murder happened in spot that was well light, exposed to the elements, and where others could easily see it. They might mean: there are witnesses to the event; the victim did not trust the attacker; it was unplanned (ex. crime of passion.; attacker stupid or overconfident; staged / the victim wanted the murder to be witness; ranged attack; supposed to look like an accident.

0 + Secrets Revealed – upon investigation, you find a secret way in, possibly utilized by the murderer. This might be: a hidden door; a grate leading to the sewer; a passage behind a portrait.

+ – Snap Shot – Something in the area let you catch a blurry picture of an unknown person at the scene, possibly the murderer. This might be from: the victim’s last selfie; traffic camera; ATM camera; satellite image; security camera.

+ 0 All in the Details – You find a near microscopic piece of evidence that other eyes would miss. Roll on the Sensory table to see what you find (reroll additional Sight results). It’s not much now beyond a simple smell or touch, but it’ll be more defined when the lab gets to analyze it.

+ + Seen This Before – The sight seems strangely familiar to you. This might be: you have been to this spot before; you’ve seen an identical attack before (perhaps an unsolved case!); you recognize the victim from somewhere (maybe searching the mug shots will help).

 

SMELLS

The smell is ______, a bit like _________.

– – Muskyperfumes, aftershave, cologne; animals (wet dog; skunk; cat pee; rodents); strong incenses and oils (sandlewood, patchouli, frankinsense, myrrh); tree sap; hogweed

– 0 Putrid rotten eggs (eggs, sulfur, brimstone, gas); decayed flesh; rotten wood; sour milk; bodily fluids; B.O.; poo gas; fishy (fish; poisons likes zinc phosphide, aluminum phosphide, nickel carbonyl)

– + Clean: camphor (trees, smokeless gunpowder, mothballs, old embalming fluid, turpentine, vapor rubs); eucalyptus (bug spray); mint, spearmint, peppermint (menthol, gum, candies, air freshener, cleaning products, toothpaste); pine; fresh linen; ocean breeze; lavender; dryer sheets; citrus (fruit, oil, wood polish).

0 – Floral perfume, cologne, lotion; flowers (violets, lavender, roses, rosewater); green tea; fruit.

0 0 Sweet / cloying – fudge, vanilla, almond (cyanide, marzipan), cookies, formaldehyde, rotten fruit

0 + Pungent: ammonia (cleaning agent; smokeless gunpowder; urine); pepper (pepper spray); cinnamon; garlicky (phosphorous, arsenic); onion (tear gas); mustard (mustard gas); strong alcohol (whisky, bourbon; vodka; tequila; scotch).

+ – Caustic – common Chemicals (shoe polish); aerosol (hair spray; bug spray; cooking spray); new car; poisonous (bug spray, pesticide); oil / fuel (gasoline, kerosene; lamp oil; motor oil; engine grease); acidic (hydrochloric acid, vinegar, lemon); basic (bleach, detergent, soap, disinfectant, chlorine, rubbing alcohol; methanol; quicklime; paint thinner);

+ 0 Metallic – ozone; melted / burnt metal (copper; fireworks; magnesium flare; smoking gun); burnt oil, melted plastic

+ + Smoky / Earthy – candles; tobacco; gunpowder (fireworks, guns); wood; burnt meat / flesh; incense; burnt rope, burnt hair; black tea; flash paper; struck flint; damp leaves, mud, clay, brine, minerals, rust, grass, coffee, mushrooms, mulch / fertilizer, leather, shag tobacco, seawood

 

TOUCH

The touch is ______, a bit like _________.

– – Gooey – mucus, goo, adhesive, glue, tar, syrup (honey, maple, soda), plant sap, insect / spider silk, congealed blood

– 0 Slick – oil (gun oil, lighter fluid, cooking oil, baby oil), grease, makeup, butter, snot, sweat, slimy scales (fish), ice, mold, lubricants, lotion

– + Rough – grit, sand, salt, dust, wool, sandpaper / tar paper, sharkskin, bark, hair stubble, plaster, gravel, asphalt, concrete, burlap, rock

0 – Sharp – fragments (glass, porcelain, metal shavings), splinters, shrapnel, thorns (also pine needles, nettles, burrs, prickly, cactus pins, hulls), children’s toys, toothpick, quills (bird, hedgehodges), needles

0 0 Soft / Smooth– moss / mold, sponge, wax, fabric (silk, cotton, satin, velvet, fleece), petals, natural (fur, suede, down, hair), dirt / clay, marshmallow, river stone

Bookmark – split?

0 + Rubbery – rubber, skin / leather, plastic, mummified / jerked flesh, leaves, latex (prosthetics / make-up, rubber gloves), dried goo (see Gooey)

+ – Cool – Ice, Liquid (water, rain, alcohol), metal, long dead, from cold place (freezer, ground, teleport), menthol (balm), stone, local anesthetic

+ 0 Hot – burnt (fire, electricity, steam, acid, hot sauce, magic), recently used machine (gun, engine, phone), living or recently dead human/animal, burned rubber, hot drinks (coffee, tea, cider), from hot place (indoors, oven, shower, warm car, teleport), chemical agents (hot pads, pocket warmer, MRE), electric

+ + Unearthly – Roll again for another touch. Also, whenever you touch the surface with your bare skin, you get a strange feeling or impulse. Roll on of the Ethereal chart for the sensation.

 

SOUND

An eye witness or a sound recording device (ex. Victim was leaving a voice mail) picked up a sound that is best described as _________, which might suggest _____________.

– – Growl – The sound was a growl, roar, or similar bestial noise. This might mean: the attacker or victim was some form of animal or were-creature; the victim or the attacker was overcome by instinct or emotion; the roar of a motorcycle or sports car.

– 0 Screech – The sound was a high-pitched screeching sound. This might mean: the victim was startled and screamed; the attacker or victim was some form of animal or were-creature that would make a screech, like a bat, bird, or jungle cat; sound of tearing metal or a screechy hinge; the squeal of a tire on a speeding vehicle; the attacker is a ghost, wraith, banshee or similar ethereal being.

– + Hiss – The sound involved a hissing sound, as if one or more voices were whispering. This might mean: the victim and attacker spoke first, perhaps at close proximity; one of the people involved was involved in something secretive; the victim or attacker was communicating with someone else who left the scene before the attack; the victim or attacker was communicating with someone over a phone or communication device; the attacker creepily talks to themselves; someone summoning the hissing wind; the attacker or victim was a snake creature or were-snake; someone shot silent projectiles, such as arrows or bullets through a silencer.

0 – Zap – The sound can best be described as a “zap.” This might mean: one of the people was a magic user or magical being; either party used a Taser or was electrocuted; an electrical device nearby malfunctioned, possibly due to magical feedback or sabotage; a powerful scientific device was used, like a teleporter.

0 0 Loud Voice – The sound is described as one or more voices loudly talking or yelling- it might even have caught a word or two (a name, a place.) This might mean: the victim and attacker spoke first, perhaps at a wide distance; both of the people were having normal, conversations which they didn’t need to keep secret; someone was inebriated or had little ability to control their volume; the victim and attacker were having a heated argument, or had a heated argument with a third person who left the scene before the attack; the victim or attacker was communicating with someone over a phone or communication device; someone was loudly invoking magical spells; the victim was loudly calling for helping or begging for mercy; the attack was part of a ritual that involved loud chanting.

0 + Bang – The sound is described as one or more loud “bangs.” This might mean: someone used a gun; someone used a firecracker, explosive device or exploding spell; a car backfiring; a large drum was used in a ritual; a roll of thunder; the victim was trying to alert people, but was unable to cry out.

+ – Cracking – The sound is described as a cracking, crackling or clacking sound. This might mean: there was fire or rain present at the scene (naturally or through magic); if the victim had their bones broken, they might have been done one at a time, to torture them; someone was a walking skeleton / wight, or was adorned with clacking dry bones; someone broke through wood, such as a wooden door or opened a wooden crate; a radio or walkie-talkie was only picking up static.

+ 0 Whirring – The sound could best be described as a whirring sound. This might mean: an engine or bicycle was present at the scene; someone at the scene was a robot; someone used a centripetal weapon, such as a bola, chain, meteor hammer or lasso; a powerful piece of machinery was used at the scene, as a weapon or a demonstration.

+ + Roll 1dF Again:

– Singing – The sound is best described as melodious, as if someone or something was singing or playing music. This might mean: the attacker was a siren, banshee, or fairy being, luring the victim; the victim was singing and attacked by surprise; the attacker was part animal that sings (ex. Bird); recorded music was played at the scene, possibly to cover up the sound of the attack; the attack was part of a ritual that involved singing.

0 Moan – The sound can best be described as moaning. This could mean: the attacker was a zombie, mummy or similar mindless humanoid; the victim was still alive and partially conscious after the attack; the victim attempted to cry out, but was drugged or gagged.

+ Laughter – The sound can best be described as laughter. This might mean: the attacker was a siren or fairy being, luring the victim; the victim was happy and attacked by surprise; the attacker was part animal that laughs (ex. Hyena, jackal); the attacking was a sadist, psychotic, mindless, or hypnotized; the attacker was a creepy doll (brrr).

 

TASTE (For the daring)

The taste is ______, a bit like _________.

– – Sweet – fudge, vanilla, almond, cookies, fruit, sweet metal (lead, arsenic), berries (strawberries, nightshade), syrup (soda, maple), mixed drinks, rum

– 0 Sour – citrus, sour candies, wine, sour milk / butter, acid, vinegar, batteries.

– + Bitter – soap, bitter almonds (cyanide), roots, leafy greens (spinach, grass, ivy), hard liquor, beer, coffee, tea, quinine

0 – Salty – Blood, salt, sweat, seaweed, brine, sea food, butter, soy, gunpowder / saltpeter, jerky.

0 0 Umami / Savory- meat (bacon), fish, vegetables, green tea, onion, ketchup / tomato, Worchester sauce

0 + Spicy – ginger, black pepper, red peppers (jalapeno, cayenne, pepper spray), horseradish, garlicky (onions), mint / menthol, onions (tear gas)

+ – Metallic – metal (copper, iron, zinc), canned goods (soup, soda cans), blood, electricity, medicine, absinthe.

+ 0 Chemical – plastic, petroleum (jelly, kerosene, gasoline), medicinal (cough syrup, aspirin, mouth wash, strong alcohol), poisonous (bug spray, pesticide)

++ Smoky – burned food, candles, tobacco, fuel, wood, burnt meat / flesh, incense, burnt rope

 

Ethereal (Sixth Sense)

Ethereal clues are discovered by the mystically inclined, such as ghosts, mediums, psychics, and spell casters. They are less tethered to the normal flow of time; a clue that appears “fresh” to you might be tied to an event that is a hundred years old, or even two days in the future!

Roll 2dF

– – EMPATHY

– 0 PATTERNS

– + ALLEGORY

0 –0+ Pick one!

+ – SYMBOLS

+ 0 AURAS

+ + Grounded Feeling – Roll on the Natural Chart.

 

 

EMPATHY

Through magical, psychic or scientific means (or just going with your gut), you can sense the emotional and paranormal energy gathered at the scene. You can definitely feel the ______, which might also include _______.

– – Murderer’s Presence – You feel the strong presence of the murderer- this is the true murder site, and perpetrator was here in the flesh. This may mean: murder was done up close; murderer & victim talked first.

– 0 Remote Presence – The presence of the murderer is strangely absent from this place. This may mean: the murderer used sympathetic magic (voodoo, summoned assassin); victim was wounded and staggered here; body was dropped off after death; it was a trap laid for the victim.

– + Positive Feeling –you sense that the victim or the perpetrator felt a strong positive emotion before or after the death. Examples include: love, delight, confidence, eagerness, serenity, sacrifice, release.

0 – Negative Feeling – In addition to the fear of the victim, you sense that the victim or the perpetrator felt another strong, negative emotion before or after the death. Examples include: hate, envy, jealousy, regret, despair, betrayal.

0 0 Emotionless – Other than the fear of the victim, there is a noticeable lack of emotion at from the crime sense, suggesting the murderer felt nothing or wasn’t there. This might mean: killer wasn’t present (see “Remote Presense”); the murderer was unliving (undead, demonic, robot, golem); the murderer felt no emotion (hypnotized, sociopathic).

0 + Hot on the Trail – You get readings of a vague compass direction (i.e. South; North East) from the murder site. This may mean: If sympathetic magic was used, the location of the voodoo practitioner, or the location of the summoner or puppet master; the escape route of the murderer; the path of the victim’s entrance.

+ – Echoes of the Past (Or Future!) – You are sensing latent energy of the same type found here, implying this is not the first time this kind of attack has happened! This might mean: this site has had identical murders in the near or distant past; similar attacks have happened of late in the same city; you have encountered an identical attack once before (perhaps an unsolved case!) Alternatively, you might be feeling the ripples of a future event; the killer will strike again!

+ 0 Heat of the Moment – You receive a few chaotic glimpses of the scene itself, and what the victim experience- the more you see, the more traumatic it is for you!  Roll again for another clue (Sensory or Extrasensory) – this was a sensation you felt at the time, or an item you glimpsed at the crime scene (which the murderer had or stole). You get one clue for free, but may take choose to take a Minor Consequence to gain a second clue, or may choose to take a Moderate Consequence to uncover three.

+ + Overwhelming Power – You sense an abundance of magical or paranormal energy at the site. Either the victim or the murderer had access to great power. This might mean: the victim or the murderer was a magic user, psychic, or highly magical/energy-based being (demon, eudemon, ghost, mummy king, elemental, alien, vampire lord).

 

Metaphors / Allegories

You get a generally feeling about the site and the relationship of the victim or the killer shared with someone else or the world in general. You can’t quite put it into words that the “muggles” would understand, but you can express it as a metaphor.

You’re reminded of (pick one):

– – David and Goliath; 800 pound gorilla

– 0 Daniel in the Lion’s Den; The Fox and the Sick Lion

– + Cain and Abel; The Scorpion and the Frog

0 – Samson and Delilah; Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

0 0 Maiden and the Dragon / Unicorn; Beauty and the Beast

0 + A Stranger in a Strange Land; City Mouse & Country Mouse

+ – Deal with the Devil; Tiger by the Tail

+ 0 The Lion and the Unicorn; The Lion, the Bear, and the Fox

+ + Echo and Narcissus; Nightingale and the Mechanical Nightingale

 

SYMBOLS

You get a generally feeling about the site and the relationship of the victim or the killer shared with someone else or the world in general. You can’t quite put it into words that the “muggles” would understand, but you can express it as a symbol.

Alternatively, the symbol you see might be very succinct (ex. The killer is wearing a tree amulet; the killer is a walking tree), but your predictions are seldom that literal.

– – The Tree – Tree of Life, Tree of Knowledge; Yggdrassil; sin, forbidden knowledge; growth; nature; life

– 0 The Eye – the evil eye; eye of warning; awakening; enlightenment; paranoia; angels, daemons, otherworldly beings

– + The Egg – birth; the world; hidden potential; beginnings; generations; hidden / sleeping threat;

0 – The Word – intellect; divinity; creation; power over nature; binding; names

0 0 – The Key – a secret; a traveler; a prisoner; a release; a prize;

0 + The Candle – a revelation; a mortal life; holiness amongst darkness; intelligence; masculinity; brevity; shadows; the sun

+ – The Cup – femininity; purity; sacrifice; thirst; generosity; immortality; obsession; hoarding; water; moon and stars

+ 0 The Bident / Trident – a choice; a parallel world; a schism; sin and virtue; the sea; the devil; the letter Y; war

+ + The Hourglass – death; the end of an era; change; a time table; desperation; plague

 

PATTERNS

Extrasensory people have trouble seeing all of the details, but they are good at noticing patterns. You might notice physical clues that fail to follow a normal pattern (ex. only nine fingers; someone with two wedding bands).

You also believe in coincidence, and that the universe has way of broadcasting when a number is important; if a victim has seven bills and seven coins in their wallet, has seven buttons on their shirt, and seven unheard voices, then something out there is telling you that the number seven, or will be, of great importance!

When you roll a “pattern,” create one or more mundane items (picked or randomly generated) that occur with that number. You might even pick an object that should be one number, but is a different number instead (ex. the victim has one or three pennies over his eyes instead of 2).

You feel one or more things about the location or victim related to the _________________

– – Pattern of 1 / The Circle – One – significance: one killer, or part of a coven of equals; the killer seeking to become the last; apex predator. Alternatively, it might deal with a circle; significance: a summoning circle; a warding circle; the sun; oreboros; all in one; absolute power; divine right; holiness; endless cycle.

– 0 Pattern of 2 / Ying and Yang – Two – significance: two killers; killed in a dual; first victim of two; a double-cross. Yin and Yang – significance: Two things in balance; seeking balance; imbalance; a need; an ancient fight.

– + Pattern of 3 / Triskellion – Three – significance: a triumvirate unbalanced; bad things coming in threes; two parents and a child; love triangle. Triskellion: constant motion; youth, adult, old age; birth, life, death; past, present, future.

0 – Pattern of 4 / Cross – Four – significance: four corners; four directions; four killers; four humors (ex. four bodily fluids). Cross: four seasons; four elements; four horsemen; elemental power without soul.

0 0 Pattern of 5 / Five-point Star – Five – significance: five elements; balance of material and spiritual; Five-point Star: symbol of man; fall of man, temptation (Upside-down); base power without spirit

0 + Pattern of (six point star) – wards or protection; seals (ex. sealed demons, djinns); four elements in balance. Inverted: Broken seal; number of the beast.

+ – Pattern of 7 (seven star) – seven plagues; seven days; seven virtues; seven seas; generations; seven heavens. Inverted: seven sins; divine wrath; end of a bloodline; seven hells

+ 0 Pattern of 8 (eight point star, seal of the prophets) – hexagon – the I Ching, the paths to enlightment; four elements in harmony; (compass rose) the Earth; the universe; the eight winds; Lemniscate (infinity symbol); infinity.

+ + Pattern of 9+ – Pick a number equal or greater than nine. This might include nine: the number of the hermit; the nine enemies of Egypt; cat’s nine lives; ten: the holy number of the Pythagorans; the wheel of fortune; the Kabbalist Tree of Life; twelve: the zodiac (Western; Eastern); the hanged man; the twelve Imams; thirteen: unluck; the last supper; the tarot card Death; the Aztec goddess Tlazolteotl, goddess of sin; the thirteen witches of Salem.


AURAS
It is a common belief that objects, especially living creatures, emit a subtle aura. When the light is right (not too bright, but not in complete darkness), a mystically inclined person can perceive this aura and process it as “colors.” Objects don’t generally an aura by themselves, but may contain some of the lingering energy from someone who handled them.
Thus, if the clue is the color “orange,” pick whether this is the color of the victim, a specific object at the scene, or the lingering aura of the attacker; this means that person or object handler is likely “orange” (creative, passionate, childlike). There’s also a chance that the attacker or the true murder site was bright orange, but don’t count on it being TOO literal.


Unfortunately, the aura is not a very good way to verify the murderer (even if it does tip you off to the suspect, it’s worthless in a court of law!) Harder still, the auras of people will change with their emotional state; the serial killer might have a blue aura 90% of the time, and then change to orange right before he attacks.

Box: If I can’t ID the killer, Then what good is it? – Use the aura to plan the behavior of the victim or the killer. A white killer might be very religious; an orange killer might be obsessed with their own cleverness; a straight-laced respectable victim with a red aura might have been indulging their carnal passions at night, leading you to a new location, and thus a new lead.

– – Violet Peace, idealism, spiritual wisdom, cosmic consciousness, connection to spiritual / divine; aloofness, flightiness, denial & self-denial, sacrifice. Body part: top of the head. Element: Thought.

– 0 Purple / Indigo Divinity, truth, vision, clarity, mysticism, intuition; authority sense of superiority, controlling, imagination. Body part: third eye chakra (forehead). Element: Light.

– + Blue will, purpose, communication, structure, potential, connections, business, Expression (particularly verbal); sadness. Body part: throat. Element: Sound.

0 – Green unconditional love, forgiveness, generosity, compassion, self-love, growth, fear, jealousy. Body part: heart chakra. Element: Air.

0 0 Yellow mental alertness, analytical, power, strength, flexibility, change, growth, confidence, dynamism, egocentric, emotionless. Body part: solar plexus. Element: Fire.

0 + Orange emotion, sensuality, inner child, life/death, creativity, illogical, lacking discipline. Body part: sacral chakra (naval). Element: Water.

+ – Red, passion, reproduction, grounding, survival, material concerns, stubborn, self-importance. Body part: the root chakra (pelvis). Element: Earth.

+ 0 BLACK – Darkness, treachery, mystery, passivity, disintegration, softness. Body part: Yin, Everywhere and nowhere (state of nothingness).

+ + WHITE – Light, openness, strength, clarity, activity, creation. Body part: Yang, Everywhere.


GENERAL EVIDENCE
You have found the following at the scene. Roll 2dF:

– – Weapon – You find a full weapon, or a trace of one (a bullet, a shell casing). This is possibly the murder weapon; alternatively, it could be a weapon the victim was using to defend themselves; cursed item that drew the killer to them; a rare historical piece that wasn’t stolen. Roll once on the murder weapon chart and pick an item there.

– 0 Spiritual – The victim or the crime scene has objects or symbols of spiritual significance; bears strange markings or tattoos (old, recent, or drawn post-mortem); magical circle drawn at the scene; victim wearing religious or spiritual clothing or jewelry; carrying religious icon or totem; holy water or salt. For more ideas, roll on the symbol chart (under sensory: ethereal clues).

– + Something Common is Missing – The member is robbed; alternatively, it might be something else on the victim is missing (victim is shaved; missing eyebrows; missing all IDs; member has no phone.) For more options, roll on the common object and treat it as missing.

0 – Common object – coins (pennies on the eyes?); a handkerchief; a receipt; a memo; a wrapper; a cigarette butt; a newspaper; a bar napkin (maybe with a number?); a key (locker, car, mailbox, safe deposit box); an umbrella; ID; debit / credit card; briefcase; a shoe; a glove; a cross or crucifix; a book; a time piece or jewelry; a common tool (screw driver, flashlight); the victim’s car or rental; a change of clothes; a towel.

0 0 Uncommon object – you find an object that seems out of place at the scene; something to do with a niche job (pool cleaning gear; pet grooming; microscope; ballet slippers; stethoscope; casino chip; ice-cream scoop); an old document (photo, scroll, book, record); a rare object (piece or art; uncommon element; collector’s item; celebrity’s autograph); expensive item (jewelry; thousands in bonds; briefcase full of money).

0 + Biological – Feather; Scale; Fanged Tooth / Nail; Skin-like Membrane; Thick Hair (Pick a Color); Tuft of Fur (Pick a Color); Flake of Skin; Dried Blood; Fresh Blood; Mucous

+ – Environmental Clue – Dirt / Mud; Grass / Grass Stains; Clay; Dust / Sand; Sea-water / Salt; soaked shoes / pants.

+ 0 Powder / Solid Substance – Gun powder / powder burn; Drugs; rust; baby powder; makeup powder; chalk; dirt; clay.

+ + Liquid – Blood; Ether / chloroform (Note: Chloroform Inflames or “burns” the skin); Alcohol; Dark fluid – Ichor / bile; Ink / dye / paint; Makeup (powder, greasepaint, lipstick, nose wax, spirit gum.)

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!