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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fate Heroes - Part 2 - Gnomes

Follow up to Part 1. We left our hero, Minuteman, victorious over a group of disorganized bank robbers and running to the rescue of Man-o-War, one of his Freedom Force buddies.

Intent : Go to the St Johns church and investigate
d10 (6) : no change (I assume a permanent Chaos Factor of 5 by the way)

For the ones who don't know Mythic, the above is where you declare what the next scene should logically be, then roll a dice which result tells you if it happens as is, or with a twist (scenes can be Altered or Interrupted).

Minuteman reaches the church after a few minutes spent crossing the town.

Are there signs of conflict? No -> The church and surroundings look undisturbed.
Are there people near the church? No -> No one is explicitely at the church... just passersby.

"Odd, it is as if nothing happened!" says Minuteman with suspicion.

He tries to contact Mentor through their telepathic link.

Setting note : Mentor is an alien with mental powers (duh, uh? :p), co-creator of Freedom Force and provider of many technological wonders. For more :

Does he reply? (very likely) Not at all

"Mentor? Mentor?! I... I don't feel the telepathic link at all anymore! What is going on?"
Minuteman is getting worried but decides to at least take a look inside the church before going back to the Freedom Fortress.

Is there something unusual inside the church? Yes
What exactly? (here I tried a random event to get an answer but it wasn't inspiring so I went back to questions)
Is the inside destroyed? Yes -> It didn't look like it from outside but the church is in a bad shape.
Does it look like the results of an explosion or hand-made destruction? No -> Furniture and statues have taken visible hits.
Is there someone visible in there? Absolutely -> There's more than one person!
Are they familiar? No
Do they look responsible for the damage? Yes -> They're still wrecking what's left standing.

What do they look like? (I tried picking a random word from the dictionary but, again, wasn't inspired, so I switched to a set of D&D monster types tables I adapted)
Came up with "Swarm Fey" -> It's a group of small humanoid creatures similar to lawn gnomes in size and garbs. They are crawling over statues, running around, smashing things and cackling. It's quite the chaotic vision!

They look busy enough and Minuteman would rather take them by surprise: he tries to sneak on the side, behind some intact benches.

Stealth vs Alertness : -1 vs 1. Not good for Minuteman!

FATE allows paying Fate Points in these cases and get either a +2 or a reroll. Problem is : you need to tag an appropriate Aspect (either of your character, of the scene or of another character). So at that point, I wanted to know more about the evil gnomes, in a slightly pushy way I admit:

Do the gnomes have an Aspect defining a focus on destruction such as "Destroy! Destroy!!!" (that could be tagged to mean they're not paying attention)? Not at all -> Obviously, it backfired ;)
Instead, they get an aspect for their "sensitive hearing". I also note to give them a few points in Alertness when I start defining their stats. In any case, Minuteman is not making this roll any better...

The steps of Minuteman echo through the church and the gnomes all turn their head at the same time, looking to the source of this noise.

Have they seen him?
Stealth vs Investigation : 1 vs 2

Yes, the gnomes have spotted Minuteman.

Do they attack? (very likely) -> Yes!
Are they 1 or 2 zones away? No -> They're near the altar while our hero is near the entrance, slightly to the side. That's 2 zones away.

Main skill of the gnomes : Melee or Athletics? No -> Athletics

Evil gnomes

Fair (+2) : Athletics
Average (+1) : Melee, Alertness

Aspects :
Sensitive hearing (invoke to notice sounds, can be tagged to confuse them with loud noises)
Creepy little brats (invoke for small size and persistence)

How many are there? 5+d6 (3) = 8 -> Two groups of 4 gnomes (+2 group bonus for each on all actions)

I don't want to go into too much detail for the actual fight, so I'll keep to the highlights. Mythic didn't have any role here, but FATE was there to provide some narrative incentive instead.

It starts with Minuteman lifting the bench he was trying to hide behind and waiting for the gnomes to come closer (2 zones is a bit far to throw items with FATE... not very superheroesy, but I'm planning to fiddle with this rule later). The gnomes all run towards our hero but (failing their Athletics checks) stumble over each other and fail to progress much.

Now that they're closer, Minuteman throws the bench on the bunch (huhu). He barely fails his roll
though (gets a total of 0 which isn't enough to deal damage) and has to invoke "Might makes right!" to get some damage done, killing two gnomes (they're groups of minions so attacks "go through").
In their counterattack, none of the groups manages to get anything done to Minuteman. Worse! They fail so much that he gets spin... twice! (it's a +1 on your next attack or defense). Even though no actual damage was done on the gnomes as a result, I described it as them being roughed around, thrown against walls or crushed under boots. Just enough to keep them at bay :)

Next round, Minuteman kills two gnomes again, but has to resort to invoking "For Freedom!" (saving Man-o-War being, in a way, For Freedom... Force!) to get a +2.

Mythic was used here to know if the gnomes were artificial or organic : mechanical lawn gnomes or actual gremlin-like horrors? They turned out to be organic, so more "splortch" than "crack".

Once again, none of the gnomes manages to land a hit. Since they're minions, they can't use Fate Points until they get one through the tagging of one of their Aspects... which never happened, so... no FPs for the gnomeys.

Since the fight was getting a bit long, I really wanted to finish this quickly and used yet another Fate Point (I kept getting 0's for some reason, thanks dice!). This time, two gnomes go flying through the church, landing behind the altar.
Finally, one of the remaining gnomes clings to Minuteman's leg and gets a bite.

But it's their last action as they end up crushed in the ground the next round.

I tried to make the fight as cinematic as possible in my head, acting out status quo and even failures of the dice as positive actions anyway, just not terribly effective ones (and definitely mechanically neutral ones). I've found that doing this helps staying focused on fights (especially long ones) and gives some ideas on how to use Aspects or what kind of Maneuvers to attempts. I haven't used Maneuvers so far, but they're basically the alternative to attacks that allow you to place a new Aspect and invoke it for free once if the roll succeeds. It's especially powerful with a team of PCs.

This said, this is where I stopped so far, a few inches from the end of Scene 2. Next scene should have Minuteman going back to the Freedom Fortress... if Mythic is willing :). I might continue this during my two weeks vacation starting next week, depending on mood and other occupations.

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