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!

TA TABLETOP 2016 COMING ATTRACTIONS – GUILD GUIDES

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The next few posts on this blog will be about updating everyone on upcoming Tangent Artists’ games and game accessories products. Last week, we shared pics of the Fate Accompli cards (which will go out the kickstarter backers first; after that, we’ll be selling them online!)

This week, we’re taking a look at the Guild Guides!

Q. What are the Guild Guilds?

A. The Guild Guides are a collection of humorous standalone books. Each book is inspired by a classic type of fantasy adventurer; our first guide was “The Handbook for Saucy Bards,” followed by “The Cleric’s Guide to Smiting.” In the next few months, we’ll be releasing, “The Rogue’s Guide: Steal This Tome.”

Q. Are they for gamers, or can anyone enjoy them?

A. Yes!

Q. That wasn’t a “yes or no” question.

A. Too bad!

Q. So, is it for gamers or not?

A. The books contain useful, system agnostic references for fantasy gamers; for example, a bard wanting to execute a Cutting Remark will find three convenient d20 charts for classic insults. Likewise, a gamer designing a cleric might enjoy our guide to blunt weapons, and the rogue’s book will contain a number of popular scams to run during your games. These are great for players running that specific class, or for GMs.

However, our goal is to make content that is entertaining to everyone: current gamers, gamers who are between campaign, and even people who’ve never played a roleplaying game. They’re kind of like “coffee table” books.

Q. Who wrote the books?

A. Each book is “written” by one of the characters in the Tangent Artist’s comic CRIT! (don’t worry, they’re still funny even if you don’t read the comics… though you should). Miles Rayner wrote the Bard Book himself, and is proud to let everyone know it. Morfindel the cleric is not the most verbose of characters, so he borrows a lot from his old textbooks, complete with his notes scribbled in the margins. Bart also steals heavily from a local watchman manual for the rogue book (which seems appropriate), although his comments in the margins are a lot less polite.

Q. What’s in the Bard Book and the Cleric’s Guide?

A. The bard’s book has such wonderful resources as: “an Elf, a Dwarf, and a Halfling walk into a Bar” jokes, simple rhymes for faking songs, and how to insult the Unfriendly (and Friendly) races of the fantasy world.

The cleric’s book includes: evil sigil bingo, fill-in-the-blank eulogies, and a guide to religious holidays (which you can use to get off work).

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Coming Soon!

Q. What can we expect in the new Rogue’s Book?

A. Lots of fun content, including:

  • “What Type of Rogue Am I?” Personality Test
  • d20 charts for alibis and fake names
  • Scams
  • Guide to identifying rare metals and gems
  • List of Poisons
  • The original short story by Monica Marier, “Lipstick and Rogue”
  • And much more!

Q. What’s next?

A. By the end of the year, we hope to have digital versions of the three books available for eReaders- watch this spot for updates on when and where you’ll be able to download them.

If that weren’t enough, we’ve already started work on the Ranger’s book. The ranger book will be “written” by the CRIT’S cranky lead, Linus Weedwacker; expect it sometime in 2016-2017! We already have a few ideas on what will come after that, but we’d love to hear your suggestions. Warriors? Wizards? You decide!

New Year, New Accessories!

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It’s been a long time since the last update, but, boy… do we have news! Tangent Artists is proud to announce that the Fate Accompli cards have been printed and laminated!

Here’s shot of the final product:

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Also, a few shots of some good friends giving them a “crash-test.”

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More to come soon, regarding the Fate Accompli cards, and other TA Tabletop products.

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL: COMEDY AND TRAGEDY IN GAMING

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The other night, I had a chance to watch a live performance; it was a group of actors and impersonators that specialize in political satire. I did care not for it, but I will not mention the name, as the performers themselves were very talented and hard working, and I don’t want my bad review to reflect on the actors in any way.

My girlfriend (scratch that- as of this week, my fiancee) asked me why I did not enjoy all of it.*  “You like Colbert Report and Daily Show,” she said, “why not this?” It took a bit of analyzing, but I finally put my finger on why this particular show didn’t appeal to me:

*It didn’t really matter what answers I gave her; she still accused me of being an old fart.

1. Most of the jokes avoided the issues of philosophies of the characters. They went into Huckabee being religious, and the fact that politicians lie, but didn’t seem to go any further than skin deep; Trump has funny hair, Obama has big ears, Hilary has a vacant stare; the democrats distract, the republicans are crazy, etc. At best, this is light frivolousness; at worst, this is superficial muckracking.

2. It was bi-partisan in nature, doing its best to rib on both the left and the right; given the fact that they are in DC, this can be seen as a savvy move, as they are less likely to alienate half of their audience. However, I couldn’t help but feel like one almost canceled out the other. It didn’t feel like a cry from the moderate middle against the extremes, or a call for compromise; it just seemed to devoid of any legs, drifting aimlessly from one borrowed viewpoint to another without committing to anything.

In contrast, the Daily Show often takes intense issues and philosophies and boils them to their core; more often than not, you’re not laughing at the people being lampooned as much as the ideals. It some instances, the Daily Show follows the old movie adage, “show, don’t tell” – you don’t say that someone’s a hypocrite, you show a story about WHY they’re a hypocrite. The audience learns about an issue they never knew, or an important figure they were ignorant of.

On the Colbert Report, the opposite was the case; Colbert’s cold-hearted host character would often be forced to change his rigid views to match a forever progressive world; his struggle to learn and adapt, filled with tears and revelation, made the new events fresh and humanistic.

In the aforementioned live comedy show, most of the characters just walked onto the stage, did a few jokes, and left, like a bad stand-up routine; nothing changed, no one made any real human connection. However, there were a few exceptions; one of my favorite pieces involved President Barack Obama lamenting about getting pulled into war with Syria, and finding solace from a commiserating George W Bush, who was also pulled into the Middle East. They were transformed from thin caricatures to real people that shared a bond.


 

With this in mind, I would like to propose a tweaked definition of

Cret_Comedy_and_Tragedy

Why so serious?

comedy and tragedy, based around this concept:

1. Comedy – in which the characters learn to be better people.

2. Tragedy – in which the characters are given the opportunity to learn to become better people, but do not.


 

COMEDY BREAKDOWN

By this definition, a comedy is about flawed individuals who fib, fumble and fail to get what they want, and generally learn the life lessons necessary to become better human beings. The liar turns honest. The overly righteous person learns to relax. The stuttering lover learns courage.

An old benchmark for “is it a Shakespearean comedy?” is, “did someone get married at the end?” With this model, that still works; isn’t marriage about two individuals learning to be a functional union?

Bad Comedy

Bad comedy, we can surmise, is the opposite:

A badly written comedy is one in which none of the characters learn to be better people.

If a comedy is 100% custard pies and meaningless car crashes, you don’t have a story (at least, not one worth telling). If the heroes don’t improve and/or the villains aren’t taught a lesson, the experience was a frilly waste of time.

That’s not to say that EVERY character needs to learn. There are plenty of Jack Sparrows and supporting characters that stumble around, making sure others get their better future; and like Jack Sparrow, many of them do have their own brief moments of improvement and enlightenment (even if they are conveniently forgotten when the sequel roles around.) In the cases of the Marx Brothers’ films, the clowns make up 70% of the movie, but even they help the lovers get together and rattle the villain’s brains. For a classic example, in Moliere’s The Misanthrope, the title character and his on-again/off-again betrothed come close to amending their ways, but don’t; their best friends, however, learn, grow and get married.

TRAGEDY BREAKDOWN

Just like a comedy is about people learning, a strong tragedy is about about people failing to learn. Othello fails to learn that he should trust his wife more than his old war buddy; Hamlet fails to learn that bloodshed only leads to further bloodshed; Juliet fails to learn that the cute bad boy really won’t change, etc.

A good tragedy is all about the little brass ring of hope and enlightenment, and watching the characters reach for it; but it is just out of reach, or more painful still, they pull their hand back at the last moment.

Bad Tragedy

Thus, here is my take on a poorly written tragedy:

A badly written tragedy is one in which the characters are never given the opportunity to learn.

Just as a bad comedy contains a lot of whimsy with no change, a bad tragedy doesn’t give the character a chance to change; if there is no brass ring or lesson to learn, then there’s no missed opportunity for redemption; rather, the characters are being railroaded towards disaster without any real choice or control.* They aren’t characters making tragic decisions, they’re just cardboard stand-ins that the author couldn’t bother to give any life; alternatively, they are decent human beings who are have bad things happen to them for seemingly no reason (I haven’t seen it, but I’ve been told the Michael Keaton film “Birdman” was guilty of this).

*I suppose the lesson the characters could learn is, “life is like being railroaded towards disaster without any real choice or control,” but that’s a pretty ham-handed way of showing it. Macbeth, for example, toys with the themes of fate and destiny, but still gives the characters the ability to affect their fates (or at the very least, the illusion of choice).

I’m not a fan of many modern tragedies, in that many of them don’t seem offer any chance of redemption. It’s like watching a bunch of kids hanging on to a playground roundabout that’s going faster and faster; there’s no mystery about what will happen next, the kids will all fly off. In a good comedy, the audience is curious about what clever tricks will be employed to bring the plot line to a satisfactory conclusion; in a bad tragedy, the only unknown factors are when and in which order the characters will fly off to their doom, and that’s not quite enough to engage me as an audience member.

WAIT, WHAT ABOUT SATIRE?

Satire is slightly different, in that it is a comedy in which the main characters MAY learn, but are not required to; in this way, the plot line may more closely parallel a tragedy*. Rather, it the audience that learns the lesson. However, like the Daily Show, some of the best satires have an ordinary, Everyman character (like John Stewart) who can react to the craziness and arrogance around him, and who can learn (or pretend to learn) alongside us.

*For example, Chekhov considered many of his tragic plays, like the Cherry Orchard or Uncle Vanya, “comedies,” despite the fact that they are, well, NOT FUNNY**. They really are about foolish people who bring about doom; in this sense, they are satires about a dying way of life, with a clear message for the audience to pick up upon.

**Maybe they’re funny by Russian standards.


 

GET ON WITH THE GAMING THING!

What is this literary rant doing on a gaming blog? A few things:

1. When crafting any story or campaign, it’s a good idea to know how to craft a story.

2. Several games have popped up in the last year that focus upon storytelling, particularly about tragedies. Such examples include in Fiasco by Jason Morningstar, A Tragedy in Five Acts by Michelle Lyons-McFarland, and The Play’s the Thing by Mark Truman. I haven’t had the pleasure of playing any of the three, but I hope to before this time next year.

3. For your one shot games, I propose a simple thing you can tack on at the end. I give you:


 

THE EPILOGUE!

I’ve run several one-shot games before at gaming conventions, and at the end of the long drawn out fight with the baddie, I always felt bad whenever I dropped the suspension of disbelief like a fire-curtain and said, “That was it! Thanks for playing! Bye!”

I now propose the following: after any one-shot game, hand each player a blank post-card. The players will take a minute or two to write down what happens to their character after the story is done. Their fate might be as dramatic as “turning a new leaf,” or “to walk the earth like Caine”; it might be as simple as “taking a nap” or “getting shawarma.” After the players have written them, have them share if they like. If you want, the GM can even write one for a villain or major NPC.

Why do this?: It eases the players back to the outside world (in that they are thinking of their character from the outside), but ends on a powerful note; they have full control over the character’s fate. Did they learn? Did they fail to learn? Did they gain what they sought, or are they saving that nugget for another day?

More importantly, it turns the random rolls of the dice into a full story, with a solid end.


On that note, readers, I want to wish you a Happy New Year. Until next year, 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?

New Header! Pretty, no?

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!

FATE HACK – EVOKE – KILLING WITH KINDNESS

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I’ve pondered this in a previous blog or two, but now I’m going to explore it in full: I propose an alternative to the Fate Core skill Rapport. I give to you:

EVOKE

Elf Connection

Elf Connection

Evoke is the skill of friendship, inspiration, and seduction. While Contacts focuses on the friends you already have, Evoke judges your ability to make new connections and friends. Characters with a high Evoke are often skilled orators, knowing how to effectively move a crowd; but unlike Deceive, Evoke comes from honest emotion, as the orator talks about something that they believe in, or offers promises that they intend to keep. Alternatively, a skilled Evoker may be an artist, using a musical or dance performance to stir the emotions in an audience. It is the opposite of Provoke, which brings out the negative emotions in others.

Remember: Just because a character is filled with positive emotions doesn’t make them “good.” Many tyrants and zealots have killed out of love.

ACTIONS

OVERCOME:

Evoke may be used to overcome simple NPCs that stand in your way, by using your words and body language to befriend or convince them you are on their side. Evoke may also be used to remove negative emotional aspects placed on other characters, a group or a scene, such as aspects about fear, depression, or anger. They may not be used to remove aspects placed on yourself or heal consequences without additional stunts. The target opposes with Will.

CREATE AN ADVANTAGE:

Evoke may be used to place positive emotional aspects on characters and scenes, such as giving a teammate a Boost of Morale, or telling a joke to a crowd to Lighten the Mood. It generally cannot be used to discover hidden aspects on a character (this is better done with Empathy). The target opposes with Will.

ATTACK

In mental conflicts, Evoke may be used to “attack” other characters – rather than dealing physical or emotional harm to the defender, it signifies your efforts to seek a compromise and erode away the defender’s will to fight. Any consequences you deal would be themed around the opponent sympathizing with your ideal (ex. He’s Got a Point), feeling an attachment to you (ex. Crush on the Enemy), or trusting you implicitly (ex. I Can Trust This Guy!). Characters defend against Evoke with Will. Like Provoke, you may only use Evoke to attack if you have had a previous opportunity to discover a weakness or establish a short relationship with the target (ex. You have used Empathy to discover what positively motivates the defender).

DEFEND

Evoke does not grant any defense without stunts.

A rare day for Morf.

A rare day for Morf.

SPECIAL NOTES
Provoke – Just as Evoke lets you overcome negative emotional aspects from others, Provoke gains the ability to remove positive emotional aspects placed on other characters and on scenes.

Animals – If your setting includes a nature-themed skill (ex. Survival, Wilderness), Evoke cannot be used to deal mental stress to animals; instead, Survival/Wilderness gains the ability to deal mental stress to animals as if it were Evoke. Characters may still use Evoke to create aspects on animals as normal.

AN EXAMPLE

A great example of Evoke in popular media is the Sir Didymus scene in the Labyrinth. When attempting to cross a bridge, Sir Didymus stands in their way, refusing to let them pass. An attempt to fight him in hand-to-hand fails to remove him; however, it did succeed to winning his respect, and it did reveal more of his personality. He is not a bully hindering them out of spite, but an honor-bound knight.

This is where Evoke comes into play. Sarah politely asks him what the exact words of the oath he swore, to which he replies, “that none may pass without his permission.” Sarah then does what none have done before: ask for his permission. A confused Sir Didymus gladly grants it.

She overcame Sir Didymus because she appealed to what he cared about most: his honor. Fueled by her earnest love of her brother, she used a combination of logic and courtesy to weaken her opponent’s resistance. She used a positive interaction to remove an obstacle and, as a bonus, gain an ally.

EVOKE – STUNTS

I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Gosh-Darnit, People Like Me! – You may use Evoke to overcome negative emotional aspects placed on yourself. It may not be used to overcome consequences. Also, once per session, you may attempt to place a positive emotional aspect on yourself as you attempt to psych yourself up.

Laughter is the Best Medicine – You may use Evoke instead of Empathy when you are helping other characters to recover from mental consequences. You may not use it to heal yourself.

I’ll Play the Good Cop – If one of your teammates has successfully used Provoke or Intimidate this scene to deal mental stress to an enemy character, any of your successful Evoke attacks against that character deal an additional two mental stress.

Siren’s Call – Whenever one of your Evoke attacks takes an opponent out during a conflict, you have effectively hypnotized the target. After the conflict, you may make the character go to sleep, forget recent events, talk about anything, and/or carry out simple commands. However, the character will not do anything to harm themselves or others.

Love is Stronger – Whenever you use Evoke to create a positive aspect on a character or scene, and someone attempts to use Provoke to overcome it, you can use Evoke to actively oppose the roll.

Incurable Optimist – Your natural positivity is your best defense. When another character attacks you using Provoke or Intimidate, you may defend with Evoke instead of Will.

OTHER STUNTS

Remember that Place with the Thing? – Contacts – Whenever you use Contacts to create a character, you may use Contacts as if it were Evoke to deal positive mental stress to that character. This represents you weakening their resistance with stories about mutual friends and the good times you used to have.

Would I Lie to You? – Deceive – You may use Deceive as if it were Evoke to positive mental stress to a character. However, the target may defend with Will or with Empathy. Once they have successfully defended against one of your attacks (i.e. one of your attacks fails to either deal stress or to tie), that character gains the aspect “I See Through Your Lies.” While that aspect is on that character, you may not use Deceive to attack it.

Sympathetic Soul – Empathy – You listen more than talk, but when you do open your mouth, you know just what people want to hear. Once per scene, you may use Empathy as if it were Evoke for any action (ex. overcome a minor character, deal a positive mental attack, etc.)

Want for Nothing – Resources – You have everything that could make you happy. When an opponent uses Evoke to attack you, by attempting to bribe you with promises, you may defend with Resources instead of Will.

Iron Resolve – Will – Your ideals are unshakable. You gain +2 Will when defending against Evoke attacks.

Hate is Stronger – Provoke – Whenever you use Provoke to create a negative aspect on a character or scene, and someone attempts to use Evoke to overcome it, you can use Provoke to actively oppose the roll.

I’m Not a Pessimist, I’m a Realist – You don’t just induce negative emotions, you embody them. When another character attacks you using Evoke, you may defend with Provoke instead of Will.


That’s it for this week! Next week, I’ll be exploring Evoke some more, and possibly giving you more sneak-peeks of the Kickstarter launching month, Fate Accompli!

AWESOME-CON 2015

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This week, we’re going to take a small break from games and go over some of the fun of Awesome-Con.

AWESOME-CON 2015

Nowadays, Tangent Artists sells everything; original novels, fan art, comedic game guides like “The Handbook for Saucy Bards” and “The Cleric’s Guide to Smiting,” and soon will be including original games. However, when Tangent Artists first formed about eight or so years ago, all we did was comics. We had only one double-sized comic to sell, and had hit a few small Anime conventions with it, and it fairly well.

Then, we hit Baltimore Comic Con. I bare no ill will to BCC, but it did not go well. All we got that weekend was comments on how our artist’s style was not like “normal” style. It didn’t matter that one of the comics was essentially an undead superhero comic, it didn’t “look” like a superhero book, so hardly anyone was interested. For this reason, we generally stuck to Anime conventions for quite awhile, and they still continue to be our best selling spots. When we started writing our fantasy comic CRIT!, we started hitting the Fantasy & Sci-Fi cons as well.

Over the years, however, I’ve noticed something: the cons are blending together. The best selling prints we’ve peddled at Anime cons is our Doctor Who stuff. Cosplayers, which used to primarily frequent Anime conventions, are now showing up everywhere. (Now, there’s a chance it’s the decedent of Masquerade from fantasy cons of ’80s, but I suspect it’s actually a form of parallel evolution.) Even the subject of cosplay has broadened from Anime to all sorts: live-action shows, video games, rock stars, even internet memes.

Case in point, I got a lot of positive feedback walking around with this for two days.

I'm not saying it's aliens, but it's aliens.

I’m not saying it’s aliens, but it’s aliens.

Likewise, many new conventions realize that the cons are becoming less specific and more a celebration of everything-nerd. Awesome-Con seems to embrace this, giving no real specifics about what type of convention it is, having guests from cartoons, WWE wrestling, Mythbusters, Star Trek, and Power Rangers. Last year, I had the pleasure of attending AwesomeCon as an attendee with some good friends, and had an absolute blast. They accepted our application for Artists Alley, and we jumped at the chance.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “THIS IS A GAME BLOG, WHERE ARE THE GAMES?!”

I didn’t get a chance to join in too many games, but I did get to briefly meet two groups:

BREAK MY GAME

A DC/MD group dedicated to building and playtesting games. I had the pleasure of attending their panel and testing one of their WIP games. Find their Meet-Up at http://www.meetup.com/Break-My-Game-Developers-and-Playtesters-Unite/

I also was lucky enough to test the fighting card game “Mahou Shojo” by DeerFox Games. Their Kickstarter just ended, and after playing one round of this game, I went straight home and bought the starter pack. This is going to be a game to watch.

FINAL THOUGHTS

That wraps most of this week up, except I had the pleasure to get our group’s infamous “Legolas and Silent G” print signed by none other than John Rhys-Davis and… Jason Mewes?!?

legolas and silent g

Also, Michael Santos Sandoval, friend, actor, and poet, 
got a picture of Whovian actors Alex Kingston & Arthur Darvill posing with mini-prints of them. Hope they liked them!

awesome con ponds

See ya next time!

Fate Adventure: TOMB ENOUGH FOR TWO

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For this week’s entry, I was going to just go through my toy box and make a bestiary entry based on that one monster. However, I realized that my toy box includes a massive amount of plastic skeletons that I have not had the pleasure of using yet. They’re vaguely Egyptian themed and sand-colored, and that reminded me of Frank Turfler Jr.’s Stuff for Storytellers and Game Masters Patreon, Patreon, which just released an Egyptian tomb tile set. (I bought into it myself to get a set, and wasn’t disappointed!) Thus, this week, we give you a mummy-tastic supernatural comedy one-shot adventure!

Waiter? Can you top me off? (Offering_vessel_of_Pepi_I.jpg - credits see below)

Waiter? Can you top me off? (Offering_vessel_of_Pepi_I.jpg – credits see below)

TOMB ENOUGH FOR TWO

Preface

Rules: This setting uses our own mod of Fate Core, named Skeleton Crew. However, I’ve included side-by-side swaps for using Fate Core. Likewise, it shouldn’t be too hard to convert to FAE or your personal hack.

Characters: This adventure does not include Player Characters- it’s assumed that you can make your own, or just drop this adventure into your current campaign. We recommend at least one character that is good in a combat (fight, shoot) and/or physical tasks (athletics, physique). We also recommend at least one character that is good at gathering clues (translators and archaeologists are ideal). If your group does not contain one of the above, it might be a good idea to add an NPC bodyguard or a professor that they can control. If you need some, there are plenty of pre-made characters in the Skeleton Crew RPG rulebook, and there’s still time to sign up for the free open Beta test (just send us a note.) Simple NPC enemies are provided, but feel free to alter them as you see fit.

Humor: This is a comedic adventure, although it might not show it at first. Humor typically works in one of two different forms: Short Form and Long Form. Short form has the humorous premise established pretty earlier, and revisits it constantly. (Example: like telling a string of light-bulb jokes.) Long form jokes build to the comedy slowly, so the joke is not obvious until near the end. An impatient audience may lose interested before the payoff, but sometimes the anticipation sweetens the final, comical reveal (Ex. the knock knock – banana joke. http://jokes.cc.com/funny-food-jokes/panmgr/knock–knock—-banana) This adventure is a Long Form joke – we advise all GMs to read the adventure before starting, so they have an idea of what the payoff is- however, do not give too many hints, as you don’t want them to get the full nature of the adventure until at least halfway through.

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW! PCS READ NO FURTHER!


FLUFF: A team of archaeologists in Cairo were investigating a newly discovered catacomb. On the midnight of March 1, the skeletons and mummies they were studying sprang to life and attacked, driving the archaeologists off. No one has been able to enter it since, although those brave enough to get within earshot swear that they hear the din of combat. Are they training for combat, to take on the mortal world? Your mission: investigate the threat and secure the tomb.

(Relocating: If you don’t feel like trekking your team to Egypt, you could move the site: maybe it takes place in a History museum, or in the secret tunnels beneath the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.)

Waiter? Can you top me off? (Offering_vessel_of_Pepi_I.jpg - credits see below)

Waiter? Can you top me off? (Offering_vessel_of_Pepi_I.jpg – credits see below)

Egyptian_funerary_stela

Maybe people in ancient times didn't have any arms. Look at the Venus De Milo.  (Haute_Egypte_Sculpture_au_crépuscule - see credits below)

Maybe people in ancient times didn’t have any arms. Look at the Venus De Milo.
(Haute_Egypte_Sculpture_au_crépuscule – see credits below)

What’s Really Going On: GMs, go ahead at the “What’s Really Going On” down at the bottom of the document. It will put the rest of this mystery in context.

SCENE 1 – THE SCUFFLE

As you approach the main entrance hall, the murmur of battle becomes a roar. In the entrance hall, there stand over a dozen skeletal warriors, fighting viciously amongst themselves. They seemed to be divided into two factions: half are bedecked in red and turquoise, half in black and green.

Conflict- The skeletons are too busy in their scuffle to talk, and will drag anyone close enough into the fray. Have the players recommend situation aspects for the chamber, and then start the conflict.

SKELETON FANATICS
There are two or four mobs of Skeletons, each with 3 skeletons in it.
Skeletons are puppets of dried bone, controlled by a necromantic magic from the outside.

Skeleton Aspects

  • Undead—Skeletons are undead, and as such, might have weaknesses to holy magic, silver, and other magical purities
  • No Pain
  • Rattling Bones.
  • Fanatical
  • Infighting!

Stunts:

  • Autonomous Parts—It is possible for a skeleton’s body part to keep moving, even after it has been severed from the rest of the body.
AVERAGE (+1)
Physique +1 and Fight +1 (per skeleton)
Stress: One stress box per skeleton

Conflict Special Rules: The two sides are fighting each other, but don’t openly have them roll to attack each other. Instead, at the end of any exchange after all players and NPCS have taken their turn, roll one fate die for each side: on a -, that side has one of the mobs reduced by 1 skeleton / stress, as the other skeletons take out one of their number. If you roll a +, ADD on stress / skeleton to that mob, as a previously stunned fighter rejoins the fray. Remember, the skeleton mobs also have the aspect “Infighting,” which can be invoked or compelled against a mob, to demonstrate the other side getting in the way.

Once the scuffle is over, the majority of the remaining skeletons don’t get up, having been returned to death or unconscious.

Any Investigation of them yields:

Physical Clues – They appear to be some form of militias, wielding cheap weapons like clubs and chains. The fighters have some cheap ornaments of bronze and clay, implying lower class.

Interrogation: If interrogating, see scene 2 for ideas about what they reveal.


SCENE 2 – The Locked Room

The next room is a dead end. Colorful murals decorate the walls, including two strong figures facing each other; the first, a female warrior, wears green & black; the male figure wears red & turquoise. Each carries a chalice. (Thorough Investigation yields: each figure is also holding an orb in their other hand.)

Very quickly, the group will realize that there is no obvious way through. There might be some sort of secret door… (spoiler: there is.)

Gathering clues: members can gather clues any number of ways, including:

  • Decipher the hieroglyphics on the walls
  • Communing with the dead
  • Interrogating any defeated fighters (assuming they speak Egyptian, have a high tech translator device, or are very good with reading body language).

When the players attempt to investigate (overcome rolls), they receive the following info:

Info A. Historical investigation – info about why everyone’s there, and what’s at stack. Depending on how well or poorly they decipher the reading, give them the Bad, Okay, or Good translation.

BAD TRANSLATIONS – Surface war fighters stork two. Victor eyeball control group cup of no death and army big-number [lost word] big-number.

OKAY TRANSLATION –There are two types of heroes must face fighters against each other . Victor have a cup of immortality and control the hordes 500 [lost word]

GOOD TRANSLATION – There are two champion fighters shall face off against each other. The victor shall possess the Chalice of Immortality, and control 500 legions [damaged word] 5000 years.

Info B. There is a secret door on one of the three walls.

Info C. Opening the Door – After they’ve slogged through the backstory info, they can find the info regarding the door. The inscription reads:

To open the door, one must speak the password.”

The password, of course, is Egyptian for “the password.” (If you’re interrogating someone, insert “Who’s on first?” routine here.) However, if the players struggle with this, you can also accept other passwords. Examples: “open sesame”; “swordfish”, “mellon,”etc. If players are STILL stumped, you can have them “discover” further hieroglyphics giving hints like, “the password is the password,” and “No, really, it’s password. Say password. Say it.”

Once they get through the door, they should arrive at:


SCENE 3. The Gates –

The next room is an antechamber of sorts, leading through a gate. On the other side appears to be a much larger chamber, perhaps an arena. Skeletons are lining up to get to the other side. [Inspection reveals: they are each holding crumbled papyrus papers.]

At the gate’s entrance are two MASSIVE figures: they are stone Sphinxes that have been animated through potent magic. They stand watch over the gateway, only allowing those with the papyrus papers to go through. If the players are to go through, they will have to get past the Sphinxes.

Getting past: It’s up to you and the players how they are to get past. If they attempt to get physical and fight or shove their way, we recommend you have the sphinxes beat them up for an exchange or two- after their butts are handed to them, quickly offer the chance for the players to concede, rather than be taken out. Players will have much better luck trying to bluff or talk their way through (mental conflict), try to steal tickets of their own (challenge), or try to slip past them (contest.)

SPHINX STATUES

Sphinx Aspects:

  • Stone-cold
  • No one gate-crashes ME!
  • Riddles? Better be a good one
  • Just doing my job

SKILLS

  • Physique +8, Fight +8
  • Will +4, Athletics +4
  • Empathy +3, Notice +3

STRESS
Physical: O O O O O
Mental: O O O

Stunts:

  • Shrug—May Use Physique to defend against any type of physical attack.
  • Nerves of Steel – Sphinx are immune to any Intimidation (Provoke) attempts from monsters trying to scare them with their appearance. In order to scare the sphinxes, you’d need some type of leverage.

If they can get past them in some way…


SCENE 4. The Arena –

Any groups that make it to the next area find themselves in a massive underground arena. Hundreds of skeletal forms sit in the stands, howling and cheering. In the middle stand half a dozen combatants, waiting patiently for the games to begin.

An announcer proclaims (in something that you can hopefully translate,) that the contest is about to begin. The winner of the contest will receive the Chalice of Immortality. The announcer also calls into the crowd to ask if there are in the audience brave enough to join in. (Hopefully, the players will willingly jump in; if not, it’s a great time to compel some aspect, ex. Having an angry PC get taunted by a combatant into jumping in; having a clumsy player slip over the railing into the ring.) Once you have a PC involved, ask if any other PCs want to jump in too.

The officiators divide the contestants into their own separate areas, and then hand them what they are competing with: BALLS & CUPS!! That’s right, the old children’s toy, involving getting the ball on the string to go into the cup.

This contest is held like a Contest between the pc against the skeletal contestants. The first side to catch the ball three times (3 victories) wins! The NPC contestants will not initiate any dirty tactics, but if anyone attempts to sabotage them, they will respond in kind.

SKELETON CONTESTANTS

Treat all skeleton contestants as one opposing force.

Skeleton Aspects

  • Undead—Skeletons are undead, and as such, might have weaknesses to holy magic, silver, and other magical purities
  • Infighting!

Stunts:

  • Autonomous Parts—It is possible for a skeleton’s body part to keep moving, even after it has been severed from the rest of the body.
FAIR (+2)
Athletics +2

Physique +1 and Fight +1

Consequence : One minor consequence box

If the players win, they move on to the next round! If they fail, they must either be removed from the field (but keep them close, if they want to crash the main event), or force them to give up something valuable to bribe the judges.


SCENE 5. THE FINAL ROUND

Afterwards, the players learn that the contest they just joined was the semi-finals. The finals will now start, between your players and the champions: two massive mummies. The first is Isit-Senaktemyet, clad in red and turquoise; and second is Neferfret, clad in Green and Black. The referees also roll out the Chalice of Immortality (which looks suspiciously like the Stanley Cup). If the players are eliminated, it might be good to repeat the part how the holder of the cup will gain control of 500 hundred legions.

For the final round, the ball-and-cup match has become full-contact! The champions wield giant ball-and-cup flails, with spiked metal balls. Technically, the rules are thrown out for this match, but the referees are a bit biased against the players, and can be compelled to get in the player’s way.

MUMMY CHAMPIONS
If life equals magic, than mummies are corpses with their internal life force preserved inside them by mystical rites. While some occur naturally, the greatest mummies are princes and princesses interred by dozens of powerful sorcerers, in the hopes they will rise again.

Mummy Aspects:

  • Undead—Mummies are undead, and as such, might have weaknesses to holy magic, silver, and other magical purities
  • Tougher than Jerky
  • Fire BAAAD!
  • Cup & Ball of Death (of Death)* – see stunts

Stunts:

  • Thick Skin—May Use Physique to defend against Shoot Attacks (except for fire or heat-based shots.)
  • Touch of Death (Good +3 only)—If the Mummy deals 2 or more Stress on an Attack, the defender must take a Minor Consequence, if it is not taken already.
  • Cup & Ball of Death – While the mummies are armed with the Cup and Ball of Death, they have Fight +5- if they can be disarmed, it’s lowered to Fight +3.
SUPERB (+5)
Physique +5, Fight +5* (see stunts)

Athletics +3;

Sixth Sense (Notice) +2, Intimidate (Provoke) +2,

Mythos (Lore) +1, Will +1

Stress:
Three stress boxes—a three shift hit is enough to take them out.
Consequences: Minor and Moderate Consequence each

Conflict Special Rules: Play to the crowd – While the whole “catch the cup in the ball” part is basically forgotten at this point, any character who still possesses a ball-and-cup may attempt, as their turn, to use create an advantage to catch the ball- if successful, it which drives the crowd WILD, resulting in a morale-based aspect. The first time this is used, the difficulty is only +2, but the difficulty increases each consecutive time by +1 (as the ball catches have to be increasingly fancy to catch the crowd’s favor.)


EPILOGUE – SCENE 6. THE CHALICE!

The last person standing receives the Chalice of Immortality-if several PCs still remain standing, have them decide amongst themselves who deserves it (by fighting or playing ball-and-cup if need be.) The winner is given the cup, with the entire stadium cheering. They will be a bit disappointed to learn that the gift of “immortality” is a figurative one- they will get their name engraved on the chalice and on the arena wall, and will thus “live forever” (except, not really.) Also, the 500 legions will follow the champion, should they still be around in 5000 years, when the skeletons next wake up. Even as that information is given to them, the skeletons of the area start falling back asleep, waiting until the next contest.

As a consolation price, the winner does get five skeleton fans, who stay conscious through sheer will power. These five will follow the new champion around, doing odd favors around the house, and carrying their equipment on adventures. The PC gains an aspect or stunt to reflect their new minions.


SPOILER:

What’s really going on: The skeletons and mummies have resurrected for a sports competition. The sport: ball and cup (the toy where you catch the ball in the cup.) Ball and cup might not have been an actual Egyptian game, but it’s still plenty old, so who cares? In this adventure, it’s as big as the Super Bowl or the World Cup, complete with diehard fans and football hooligans in the front room. (If this seems ridiculous, Rome actually had riots in the streets due to the fans of rival charioteers.) Tease this to the players without revealing it.


Join us next week- in honor of (Re)Generation Who convention, I’ll try a stab at something inspired by Doctor Who!


CREDITS

Offering_vessel_of_Pepi_I.jpg- by Hans Ollermann – from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Offering_vessel_of_Pepi_I.jpg – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. The licensor neither endorses me or its use.

Haute_Egypte_Sculpture_au_crépuscule – by Kikuyu3 – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Haute_Egypte_Sculpture_au_cr%C3%A9puscule.jpg – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. The licensor neither endorses me or its use.