Fate Core – Secret of NIMH

I’ve finished all my Dragon Trinity Crash work. The freebies will get posted closer to the Anthology release. I’ll dive into the flash fiction at that time as well.

For now though, because I promised, here’s Fate Core Secret of NIMH.

So, while finishing the latest arc for my In Nomine game my friends and I randomly talked about animal testing.

Why? Because we’re weird.

This in turn lead us to remember fondly The Secret of NIMH.

Truly, a kick ass poster.

Truly, a kick ass poster.


The Secret of NIMH is an animated feature film produced by Don Bluth based off Robert C. OBrien’s Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM. It received wide critical acclaim and is one our favorite flicks, ever, period.

There are hideous rumors of a sequel, but I refused to believe such vicious lies.

Our conversation quickly led us to wanting to play a Secret of NIHM game, and I just so happened to be a Fate Core kickstarter backer.

Here is the result:

The Premise

If you haven’t watched the movie, watch it first. It’s old but you should be able to find a copy.

You are rats (or other critters) experimented upon by NIHM. You’ve escaped. Despite enhanced intelligence and natural cunning survival is a struggle. As critters you live in a world of giants. As rats you live in a Machiavellian society. As NIMH rats you are hunted by the scientists who changed you.

Are you prepared for a terrifying, mystical, journey into the dark crooks of civilization?


While the setting assumes you’re Rats, players, sigh, have a tendency to choose anything but the default. For instance, in my current game we have 2 Ferrets, 2 Mice and 1 Rat. 😛

It’s okay though, we can work with this.

Before making your game here’s some guidelines to make it Secret of NIMHish.

  • No Human characters, period. Otherwise it’d be Secret of Real Life, which is boring.
  • No character larger than a Rabbit or Ferret. Part of the NIMH mystique is living hidden in the dark corners of the  human world. You can’t do that if you’re a hyper intelligent Tiger or Gorilla.
  •  Most, if not all, PCs should be NIMH enhanced animals. A good place to start is you’ve just escaped the lab. On the other hand it’d also be fun to play second or third generation Rats.
  • The PCs should have run into, or will run into, other NIMH critters. They will be part of a hidden community. The dangers of the outside world and the rat race, pun intended, of the hearth are both key aspects in  this game.

 NIMH Critters Vs Non NIMH Critters 

Whom Can Converse With Whom?

All animals, aside from fish and insects, can talk to each other with no worry about language. Why? We’re not sure, but it makes the game interesting.

Humans can understand each other and NIMH critters. Humans cannot understand other critters nor can other critters understand them.

The Blessings of NIMH

  • NIMH critters can read any language period.
  • NIMH critters can walk upright with no problem.
  • NIMH critters have access to the following skills that normal Critters do not: Crafts, Drive (Crazy Rat Contraptions), Lore, Shoot
  • NIMH critters live as long as Humans do.

The Curse of NIMH

  • NIMH critters rarely have children, if they do it’s 1 kid at a time.
  • NIMH critters are hunted by NIMH.
  • Normal critters are suspicious of NIMH Critters, they’re too human.
  • Humans would’t take kindly to NIMH critters, they’d be make ’em a sideshow, experiment or simply wipe them out.

New and Modified Skills

  • Athletics: If you’re a Rat, Mouse, Ferret or other small varmint you can scurry up any surface with handholds, no roll needed.
  • Resources: Critters don’t use money. Think of resources as a combination of ‘stuff you have’ and status. That being said Resources can still be used to influence people and get things. One with high Resources has a lot to trade and many people who are willing to help her.
  • Survival: This new skill reflects how well a Critter can live in the wilderness without the help. Most Critters have this Skill to some degree though a NIMH critter who was raised in the lab may be a notable exception.
    • Overcome: If there’s a chance your character can get lost use Survival to overcome the risk.
    • Create an Advantage: Survival can be used to find food and shelter which, in turn, creates advantages like ‘Well Stocked’ and ‘Ready for the Storm’.
    • Attack: You can’t attack with survival.
    • Defend: If the environment attacks you with sleet, rain, drought, and you have time to prepare, use Survival to defend yourself and your friends.


Scale 0 in this game is Rat sized. Mice have an intrinsic negative Aspect for their size which can be compelled when it’s disadvantageous to be tiny. Theoretically you could be even smaller but I’m not covering rules for that in this post.

Scale 1 = House Cats, Badgers, Large Ferrets Rabbits

  • This is the highest scale a PC can be and costs 2 stunts.

Scale 2 = Dogs, Monkeys, Wolves

Scale 3 = Human Children, Large Dogs,  Sloths

Scale 4 = Humans

Scale 5 = Apes, Cars

Scale 6+ = Elephants, Whales etc. Anything this big aren’t characters really, they’re dangerous scenery.


Critters have no weapon values for their teeth and claws. Predators, such as cats and wolves, do. NIMH critters may carry tiny weapons and wear puny armor but these don’t offer weapon and armor values on their own.

If you want weapons and armor that provide a bonus, purchase it with a stunt. These represent rare, exceptional items.

The movie clearly depicts magic. A few, special, NIHM critters have access to the mystic that humans lack. They focus this not through spells or psychic powers but through items. These run the gamut  between simple potions to The Stone, if you don’t know what The Stone is watch the movie.

Buy these magic items with stunts. If you’d like to create permanent magic items make sure to have a high Lore and Craft skill to use as an in game excuse.

For  these items to fit with the look and feel of the game I recommend limiting their power. For instance any Rat lighting gun will be rat scale, so fairly useless against a human.

Sample Stunts

Alchemy [2 Stunts] (NIMH Critters Only)

  • Type: Special
  • Once per scene, if he has time, the critter can create a potion with an effect equal his Lore in shifts. If he uses this to enhance a skill the bonus said bonus is half the normal shifts round down. The effects, unless they’re obviously instant, last an entire scene. Demand for the critter’s potions runs high, if he hordes unused potions from one scenario to the next he will suffer a miser consequence until he becomes more generous.


  • Type: Attack.
  • The critter gets a +2 bonus to attacking a foe that’s unprepared.


  • Type: Attack.
  • The critter can use Provoke for a mental attack, 1 zone range, as long as his prey is of a smaller scale.

Book of The Dead (NIMH Critters Only)

  • Type: Special
  • The critter has a book, with which, he can communicate with the dead. He simply writes the spirit’s true name and the message he wants to send. If the spirit is willing, it can respond with writing of its own.

Camouflage (NIMH Critters Only)

  • Type: Create Advantage
  • If the critter has time to prepare he can camouflage  himself, his friends and/or his camp using Survival. It costs a fate point, and more time, to hide a camp, or the entire party in this way.

Cat Dodger

  • Type: Defense.
  • The critter gets a +2 bonus when dodging physical attacks from larger scale creatures.

Freakish Immune System

  • Type: Overcome.
  • The critter gets a +2 bonus resisting disease and toxins. Rats don’t get this by default, this is above and beyond the invokable rat aspect fortitude.

Giant Slayer

  • Type: Attack 
  • The Critter’s an expert at fighting monsters. She gets a +2 bonus to Fight vs any higher scale creature.

Great Leap

  • Type: Overcome
  • The critter gets a +2 bonus to Athletics while jumping.

Gunslinger Eyes:

  • Type: Weapon:3 [Mental Stress]
  • The critter’s grey eyes and glare have a cold steel to them. Use Provoke to attack. Can only be used once per scene.

Healer (NIMH Critters Only)

  • Type: Overcome
  • The critter can use Survival to heal injuries and sickness. This isn’t as good as Alchemy but it’ll do in a pinch.

Healing Spell [3] (NIMH Critters Only)

  • Type: Overcome
  • This is an exception I made for a player in my game. The critter knows a healing spell. It will will only work once, per critter, per scenario. It’ll completely heal a moderate or lower injury related consequence. It’ll reduce a severe to a mild. It has no affect on critical consequences.

I Can Find That

  • Type: Overcome.
  • Whenever looking for something on another’s behalf the critter gets a +2 bonus.

I Can Get There

  • Type: Overcome
  • Whenever the critter uses Survival to find a quick/safe path to a location he gets a +2 bonus. 

I Will Not Die, At Least Not Yet

  • Type: Special
  • Once per scenario, when the critter’s taken out via physical stress, she, not her foe, can describe how she seems to fall dead. Then, in any further exchange, before the next scene, she can can clear her highest stress box seeming to ‘rise from the dead’. Really,  she’s just very hard to kill. 

I’m Giving You All She’s Got (NIMH Critter Only)

  • Type: Create Advantage.
  • Every vehicle aspect the critter creates gets an extra free tag when it comes to speed.

It’s A Trap (NIMH Critters Only)

  • Type: Create Advantage
  • The critter gets +2 to Craft while setting traps.

It Takes One To Know One: 

  • Type: Defend
  • The character uses Deceive when sussing out lies.


  • Type: Special
  • The critter’s on edge, at the start of any conflict he gets a +4 to initiative.

Jury Rigger (NIMH Critters Only)

  • Type: Overcome.
  • The critter gets +2 to craft when building or repairing something when time is of the essence.

Nobody Expects Gusteau!

  • Type: Overcome.
  • The critter gets +2 to Stealth in environments where no one would expect him.

Poisoned Words:

  • Type: Attack
  • In the right circumstances the character can use Deceive to inflict mental stress.

Predator Claws and Teeth

  • Type: Attack. Weapon:3.
  • The critter’s claws and teeth are of predator grade. Generally not allowed in this game but mutations happen.

Rabbit Size [2]

  • Type: Scale:1
  • This game’s built with Rats in mind. Compared to Rats Rabbits are huge.

Repeating Crossbow (NIMH Critters Only)

  • Type: Weapon:2
  • This weapon is crafted from a pencil, fishing line, elastics and a steel, revolving multi-barrel. It holds 12 sharpened bolts. The critter merely needs to pull the leaver to reload.

Seer’s Mirror (NIMH  Critters Only):

  • Type: Special
  • A huge spinning mirror located in the critter’s library or lab. She uses this, with Investigation, to spy on people and places. The more secret the place, the higher the opposition. The mirror is not portable.

Shock Pike (NIMH Critters Only)

  • Type: Fight Weapon:3
  • A weapon crafted by alchemy. It delivers a powerful electric shock to whomever it hits.

Shooter’s Reflexes

  • Type: Overcome
  • Use Shoot for initiative rather than Notice.

The Stone [3] (NIMH Critters Only):

  • Type: Special
  • Once per session the critter can summon forth a 5 scale spell (10 shifts of power, enough to lift a human). To do so she must invoke her Courage of the Heart aspect and take a physical consequence as the Stone burns her. The affect lasts for a scene. She uses Will to manipulate it.

Web Of Debts: 

  • Type: Special
  • Once per scenario the critter can call in a favor from even the most unlikely of sources; The Great Owl, Kerberos the Rottweiler, Dragon the Cat…ect. He must spend a fate point to invoke an appropriate aspect while doing so. The contact must make sense and will not be summoned by magic, he’ll need to go to the contact. That being said it’s possible, with the GM’s permission, to make an NPC in the current scene, even one the party is currently fighting, said contact. Once the favor is payed the critter cannot use that contact again unless he gets him/her under his thumb once more.


  • Type: Defense.
  • The critter’s first defense, against a physical attack, in a scene is at a +2 bonus.

And that’s all for now.

Expect sample PCs and NPCs in another post.

8 Responses to “Fate Core – Secret of NIMH”

  1. […] of NIMH. In his game, you play special mice/rats that have been altered by NIMH. The website is at https://taoofchall.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/fate-core-secret-of-nimh/ if you want to check it out. It is an old post, a couple of years old in fact, but as soon as I […]

  2. […] This week we do our second part of Game Design for the adventure “Escape to Thorn Valley”. This is based off of a FATE Core hack for Secret of NIMH that you can find here: https://taoofchall.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/fate-core-secret-of-nimh/ […]

  3. […] This week we do our third part of Game Design for the adventure “Escape to Thorn Valley”. This is based off of a FATE Core hack for Secret of NIMH that you can find here: https://taoofchall.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/fate-core-secret-of-nimh/ […]

  4. […] This week we do our fourth, and final, part of Game Design for the adventure “Escape to Thorn Valley”. This is based off of a FATE Core hack for Secret of NIMH that you can find here: https://taoofchall.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/fate-core-secret-of-nimh/ […]

  5. […] = DMChris = Denton, the Gray rat with a cheese obsessionDon = Meth, the instigating White rat. Tracy =  […]

  6. […] = DMChris = Denton, the Gray rat with a cheese obsessionDon = Meth, the instigating White rat. Tracy =  […]

  7. […] = DM Chris = Denton, the Gray rat with a cheese obsession Don = Meth, the instigating White rat. Tracy =  […]

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