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Fate Core: Example Adventure Fractal

It has been requested that I write an example adventure using the adventure fractal system I devised earlier this week. Before I begin, however, I need to detail an additional change that was suggested to me by Chris Huff of the Google+ Fate Core community.

High Concept and Trouble Aspects

When you choose a goal for your adventure, create an aspect to represent that goal. You can call it the adventure’s high concept, or simply the adventure aspect (I’m not sure high concept works entirely well for this as a term, but as players of Fate, we all understand the mechanical connotations, and that should be enough for now).

Also, to keep tension in the scene, create a trouble aspect. This should represent the danger/death that’s overhanging in the adventure (if there’s no chance of physical, psychological or professional death at all times, there is no tension = boring game). This should be tied to your inciting incident, that bit in the goal section that talks about making the goal inevitable. The trouble is what happens if the PCs ignore the adventure, and also what will step in from time to time and remind them why what they’re doing matters.

And now…

A Sample Adventure!

For this, I’ll use my previous example, since the fiction is already in my head.

Raiding the Temple of Narem-Sha

Goal: Narem-Sha’s Tomb Has Ancient and Powerful Magic
The PCs need this magic to overthrow (major campaign threat).

Death Overhanging: Narem-Sha’s Tomb is Cursed (Whenever a PC fails a roll by 3 or more, create an advantage on them representing how the curse affects them.)

Scenes

Nearby Village
Obstacle Aspect: Odd and Cryptic Villagers(+2 Interaction to defend against Rapport)
Environment Aspect: Old and Secluded Town

Gaining Entry to the Tomb and Exploring
Obstacle Aspect: Techno-Magi Lock (Lock breaker gets a curse advantage – see Death Overhanging, above)
Environment Aspect: Dark and Dangerous

Fighting Past Tomb Defenders
Obstacle Aspect: Animated Skeleton Horde (You can use Combat to attack the entire zone); Undead (+2 to create Fear advantages with Interaction; Skeletons are immune to social actions)
Environment Aspect: Broken Sarcophagi Litter Chamber Floor

Pilfering the Tomb
Obstacle Aspect: The Powerful Lich Lord, Narem-Sha! (Once per scene, you can summon a group of animated skeletons [above]); Undead (+2 to create Fear advantages with Interaction); Ancient Sorcerer (+2 Combat when using magic to attack or create advantages)
Environment Aspect: Dust-Covered Treasure Everywhere

Skills (NPC Apex = +4)

  • Hard (+6): Exploration
  • Average (+4): Combat, Lore
  • Easy (+2): Interaction

Vitals

  • Stress: 3 (+ Bonus)
  • Consequences: Mild, Moderate, Severe

Notes
It made sense to put all of the scene information in the same place. Thus, the obstacle aspects have the stunts listed with them (and I added one to the Death Overhanging [trouble] aspect, because it felt right to give that one a little bit of a reliable mechanical effect). This is not the only way to do it. It is certainly possible to give the environment aspect a stunt, list the stunt effects separately, or anything else that makes sense. I did it this way to save space, and because it made the most sense at the time.

This took me about half an hour, so a little longer than I originally anticipated, but I also spent time formatting the text for the post, so that might bring it back to the 20 minutes I quoted before. I’ll have to try another one longhand.

Questions? Comments?

25 thoughts on “Fate Core: Example Adventure Fractal”

  1. Would there be interest in a GM supplement featuring these rules and enough adventures to take you through a major milestone?

    One of the ideas I’ve had for a while now is the concept of a GM companion with mini-campaigns to help groups get started.

    1. I would be interested in something like that, if not for any other reason than to see other, more complex adventure structures. “Raiding the Temple of Narem-Sha” is super cool, but it’s still a linear dungeon delve.

      I used this system to write up an adventure based on Avengers #1 (Heroes gather to stop a rampaging Hulk who’s been set off by Loki’s trickery). It worked pretty well, but for a more open, “investigative” adventure, the middle two scenes (of four) were just guesses as to what the players would try.

      I ended up just scaling back the scenes to 3 total: fighting/calming the Hulk, investigating the cause of his madness, confronting Loki.

      It’s a good system.

      1. Check out Adventure Fractals: Part 2. I outlined an investigative adventure there, as well as what to do when players don’t go according to plan.

        In short, have next steps that must be answered before they can move further down the plot. They can’t know Hulk is being influenced until they interact with him (or, if they’re VERY powerful, defeat him). Once they knew he’s influenced, how can they break it? Well, first they need to know what kind of influence it is (who can they have analyze him?). After that, they can be split on directions they take. Will they free him from the compulsion and leave it at that…a job well done? Will they track the signature of the influence to Loki? Will they go after him? That only requires one more scene to plan for – the fight with Loki, which they may avoid if they don’t care to do it. If you want to force the issue, have Loki show up in the scene they try to break the Hulk’s compulsion – the heroes now have to fight Loki and the Hulk while they try to break the compulsion.

        Different ways to go, but the same result, and the same scenes. Some of them just end up mixed.

  2. It looks as though the demand is certainly there. Consider it done!
    I’ll write it up within the next few weeks (this system will be in Jadepunk, so I need to write up the GM section anyway), lay it out, and post it on DFRPG. Any suggestions for setting? Right now, I’m thinking three different campaigns (each with it’s own document, but all featuring the same construction rules): fantasy, sci-fi, and crime noir.

    Also, any takers for some free editing work, in exchange for a free digital copy? I expect the first document will be 10-20 pages, all told.

      1. Right now I’m in the middle of revising this system quite a bit. The final version will be in Jadepunk and a few other commercial products out early next year. Transferring into other languages, at the moment, will rest on those product lines.

        Once they’re out, I’ll explore options for all of that.

  3. This is an excellent set of articles. I just have a couple of questions (sorry if this has already been covered, I couldn’t see it anywhere).

    In terms of the adventure’s stress boxes, when you say for instance “Stress: 3″, do you mean the adventures has a 1pt, 2pt and a 3pt box? Or is it just one 3pt box?

    And should non-obstacle NPCs be treated the same as obstacles? For example, how do you represent an NPC who is there to assist the players? ie. in combat, or in a social conflict, etc.

    Can’t wait to try out this method soon!

    1. Excellent questions, The Chump.

      The stress boxes are certainly the standard box allotments you see in Fate Core. Take 2 stress = check the stress box with the #2 next to it.

      Non-obstacle NPCs should be treated as just that, set dressing. If they aren’t getting in the way of the PCs, then they aren’t obstacles and shouldn’t take up GM resources. If they help the PCs, as is the case with companions, then they should take up PC resources (stunts, etc.).

      If you have an NPC that suddenly begins helping the PCs (not purchased by the PCs as companions, but it makes sense for them to be helpful right now), I’d suggest making them an aspect and, possibly, throwing a free invocation on them. Most likely, to get the person’s help, they created an advantage to represent their helpful attitude, so allow that to be used by the PCs.

      There are lots of ways to handle helpful NPCs, but one thing to keep in mind when selecting the one that’s right for you is how it will affect the PC’s roles in events. They should be the awesomeness that acts in a scene. NPCs should either be at their disposal (an aspect or a stunt that they can tap to supplement their own actions), or they should be thwarting the PCs as an obstacle. If they perform their own actions, especially anything meaningful, then they are stealing the spotlight that’s designed for the PCs.

      A PC purchasing a companion is making a conscious decision to share the spot light with an NPC. This is their choice. The GM should not make it for them.

      1. Thanks, great advice. I’m actually trialling this method at a con on the weekend so I’ll report back how it goes.

        So far, it’s definitely streamlined the adventure creation process!

        1. Hello again! Just thought I’d report back on how the Adventure Fractal method turned out in play this weekend. I ran two completely different one session games at a convention today, both using fractals to represent the adventure as described above and in previous posts.

          In terms of scaling, I had one Adventure Skill at the PC’s apex skill rating Great(+4), two at Good(+3) and one at Fair(+2). This was in line with the follow up comment on Writing Adventure Fractals Part 3.

          The fractal performed excellently in both games. There was so little record keeping to do, which was a delight. And having the setting/environment, obstacles and NPCs represented as Adventure Aspects was a really elegant way to deliver the various elements of the story. Giving the setting and obstacle aspects stunts also worked a treat.

          The only issue I had in both games was that even with the Adventure Skills starting at the PC’s apex skill then working down, it was still too challenging for players. The first game was combat driven, and with even the most low level henchman already operating at Great(+4), the game was really dangerous. This drove the PCs to act more cautiously rather than heroically, so I knocked back the skill ratings to start at one below the PC’s apex skill, and work down from there.

          The second game was more socially driven, and I started again with the adventure’s highest skill (Interaction) at the PC’s apex skill rating Great(+4). It had the same effect of deterring the PCs from attempting tasks because the “adventure” itself was so proficient in the core facet of the story. Again, I knocked the Adventure Skill ratings down to start at one below the PCs apex skill, and the PCs started to feel awesome again.

          So in summary, LOVE IT!

          I’m totally sold on Adventure Fractals as an effective method for running a Fate game (and probably other systems). With a very minor adjustment to the Adventure Skill’s apex rating (down a notch or two), the method suits me perfectly and I can’t wait to use it in many games to come!

  4. This system has been revised quite a bit for the Jadepunk text. I’m looking to produce the supplements I mentioned above using the revisions within the next month. I’ll keep you updated.

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