Archive for the Game Design Category

Fate Core – Secret of NIMH – The Coven

Posted in Fate, Game Design, Roleplaying Games, RPG, Secret of NIMH with tags , , , on June 18, 2013 by Chall

The following is the game I run at conventions. Feel free to use it, in conjunction with Fate Core and my original post, to run your own games.

My next post will cover the game I run for my players. At that stage I’ll release the entirety of this NIMH project on PDF.

The Coven


An actual picture of my GM notes.

This campaign happens many years after the 1st movie and pretends the sequel never existed. Thorn Valley  failed despite Justin’s best efforts (see the movie to understand what I mean) and the Rats of NIMH fled into the city. There, they’ve built a Coven which rests in the shadows of human civilization.

The con blurb is as follows:

You captured us, tortured us, made us greater than we were. We have escaped your bondage. Now we run invisible through your streets, loathed and nearly forgotten. We have made an empire from what you´ve discarded, it runs under your cities unseen. We know you, perhaps better than you know yourselves. 

The Big Issues

Current Issue: The Nature Of Rats

Nicodemus had great hopes for his people, alas it was all for not. Changing location did not change Rat nature, the Thorn Valley project was plagued by  new Jenners, each vying for domination over the new kingdom, their conflicting plots choking all attempts to build a self-sufficient community.  Justin gave into his devious nature and won out through false words and backstabbing.  He then lead his people, in defeat, to the city where they survive to this day.

Still, the light of hope has yet to be snuffed out. Perhaps a new generation of Rats can overcome the sins of their parents? 

Place: The Coven 

The under city lair of the Rats of NIMH. It lies beneath the sewer. It’s vast and holds a dark beauty, reminiscent of the Rose Bush. There are clean, spacious warrens, each with access to electricity and modern comforts. There is a great palace built into the rock wall where the Coven Elders reside, the comforts there, slightly better than what are found anywhere else. Deep inside the palace ambitious Rats conduct their favorite game, politics. It’s a deadly chess match and only the most cunning survive.

Note: All Coven Faces are Rats. Non Rats, even other NIMH Critters, are forbidden entrance. The single exception is Brisby Mice  but they haven’t been seen for years.


  • Justin: The same character from the movie, old and jaded. The Thorn Valley fiasco stole his courage of the heart. He can no longer wield The Stone. That being said he’s gained wisdom and cunning. He rules the elder council with a poisoned touch.
    • Justin is a playable character in this game.
  • Mortimer: Justin’s ‘friend’. In the past they allied to size control of the Elder council, now however, they’re simple rivals. Mortimer possesses Jenner’s ambition but keeps a better facade. Most assume, wrongly, he is kinder than Justin.
  • Zora: The neutral party between Justin and Mortimer. She’s got a sharp mind and a keen ear for politics. She’s tired of the game but holds on to keep Justin and Mortimer’s plots from destroying the Coven.
    • There are other elders but none as influential as these three.
  • David: Justin and Zora’s son. He’s a dashing Rat of action, who has little time for politics, very much like his father when he was younger. He loves his people but holds a deep hatred for humans.
    • Justin and Zora hold no love for each other. Theirs was a marriage of convince that ended as soon as it served its purpose. Despite this, they both love David dearly.
  • Media: The Coven Witch, the only one with the talent to use Nicodemus’ mirror and  wield The Stone. Justin supports her because, despite her non-nonsense exterior, she possesses the courage of the heart that he has lost.
    • Media is a playable character.
  • Joshua: While a young rat he tasted the  potion of wisdom. It drove him mad but also made him capable of great alchemy. His potions and powders ensure he is a key player in Coven politics. However, he’s too delirious to know or care.
    • Joshua is a playable character.

Current Issue: World of Fangs

Outside the Coven everything either hates you, or likes you far too much; humans, predators, NIMH critters, normal critters, NIMH itself. . . the list goes on. The Coven is full of danger but only if you cross the wrong Rat, keep your wits about you and you’re safe. Outside the Coven you’re prey. Still, the outside world  must be braved for supplies. Further still, there are great rewards, in allies and items, for those willing to risk it.

Fortune favors the bold.

Place: Death’s Crossing

I know, I know, this is actually Saint Canard. I'll reuse this picture if I ever do a Dark Wing Duck Fate hack.

I know, I know, this is actually Saint Canard. I’ll reuse this picture if I ever do a Dark Wing Duck Fate hack.

The surface of the city the Rats know as Death’s Crossing; cross the street at the wrong time and death comes as a roaring beast of steel. As dangerous as it is the city’s surface is rich in food, parts and treasure, most of which the humans throw away.

Yes the NIMH  Rats are still thieves but most of what they take is unwanted.


  • Barbarossa: An imposing brown Rat who believes that he and his gang own Death’s Crossing. They’re not of NIMH. They take everything with tooth and claw. The Elders don’t see them as much of a threat, but still, be careful; the have numbers and they know the streets. If you go into Death’s Crossing be sure to avoid Barbarossa and his ilk.
  • Dante: Dante’s a black house cat, not of NIMH, but still incredibly dangerous. He’s an expert hunter, perhaps the best there is. He follows a specific hunting path, one you’ll probably have to cross if you travel in the city. Be warned, Dante never forgets a slight, draw his ire and you’re doomed, on or off his path.
  • Grendel: A thing that exists in myth and rumor. He’s a creature even humans fear. No Rat has ever seen him, all Rats pray they never do.
  • Humans: No individual Humans stands out in Death’s crossing. They are less people and more juggernauts who’ll crush you, carelessly, underfoot.

Place: The Outlands

The rural expanse outside the city is less dangerous than Death’s Crossing but strange things lurk there; the Great Owl, primordial hunters and NIMH scientists just to name a few.  The Elders, though they’re familiar with the Outlands, leave  adventures there to far younger, and more expendable, Rats.


  • The Great Owl: The same character form the movie. He has great wisdom but only for those brave enough to visit him and lucky enough to survive. It’s rumored he’s dead but can anything really kill such a being?
  • NIMH: Their main lab is in the Outlands. They are a vile, unknowable, menace.
  • The Greys: A strange warren of Rabbits. They have grey fur and milky eyes. They seem distantly polite and  talk in whispers. Never accept an invitation to their warren, you’ll never bee seen from again.
  • Raynard The King: A Red Fox who, through charisma and cunning, commands all predators in the Outlands. While he, and his subjects, are the most obvious threat, they can be reasoned with. They may even be amicable if food is plentiful. Raynard is fond of games, if you risk your life against him and win you’ll have a boon, such a prize is no small matter.

Player Characters

Justin in his badass days.

Justin in is badass days.

If you ever play in my con game these will be the pregens.

For your own games feel free to use these as PCs or NPCs and change them as you desire. Justin could have had more than one child, Medea doesn’t have to be the wielder of the stone, perhaps a Brisby has come knocking? Go wild.


Refresh: 3


  • Same Justin from the movie, just older, wiser and jaded.
  • He’s traded his captain of the guard uniform for a somber, red elder’s robe.
  • Has a bushy mustache and goatee.
  • Is usually plotting something for the good of the Coven.

Critter Aspect: NIMH Rat


  • Older, Jaded but Wiser
    • Justin was unable to bring to fruition Nicodemus’ great plan, that being said his people still thrive.
  • Pragmatism Over Hope
    • Justin lost his courage of the heart. Now he plays it safe and dirty.
  • The Old Guard
    • Justin gave The Stone to Medea, she has a rough exterior but also has what it takes to wield it.
  • Trust Is Mightier Than The Sword
    • Brooklyn discovered, and helped out in, one of Justin’s plots to murder an internal threat to the Coven. He trusts her implicitly. It’s good to trust again.
  • Ear To The Wind
    • Roland brought news of the Brisby family’s safety to Justin. He will pay the young rat back for such kindness.


  • Great [+4]: Resources
  • Good [+3]: Contacts, Deceive
  • Fair [+2]: Investigate, Fight, Notice, Rapport
  • Average [+1]: Athletics, Provoke, Lore, Will


  • Web Of Contacts
    • Type: Special
    • Once per scenario Justin 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 Ear to the Wind 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, even one the party is currently fighting, said contact. Once the favor is payed Justin cannot use that contact again unless he gets him/her under his thumb once more.
  • Poisoned Words
    • Type: Attack
    • Under the right circumstances Justin can use Deceive to inflict mental stress.
  • It Takes One To Know One
    • Type: Defend
    • Justin uses Deceive to suss out lies.


  • Physical: 1 O   2 O
  • Mental: 1 O   2 O   3 O


Refresh: 2


  • Brown rat.
  • Bright, green eyes, round glasses.
  • Often has a serious, harried expression.
  • Sports a black cloak.

Critter Aspect: NIMH Rat


  • Inheritor of Nicodemus’ Legacy
    • Medea was able to use the Seer’s Mirror to find the lair of Monith the Alligator, this has made her the successor to Nicodemus in the eyes of Justin and Zora.
  • I Can Manage
    • She’s young for such an important position and she’s got a lot to learn. A powerful few refuse to believe she can hack it. She’ll show them otherwise.
  • Courage of the Heart
    • Before Medea became an ‘elder’ she helped Aiden escape prosecution even though it would implicate her in a crime she didn’t commit. A day later they were both vindicated.
  • Trouble Finder
    • Medea helped Brooklyn find her brother, he’d gotten himself stranded on a boat and hunted by Oleg the dog.
  • Nightmare Chaser
    • Medea used The Stone to cure Joshua’s madness.


  • Great [+4]: Will
  • Good [+3]: Investigate, Lore
  • Fair [+2]: Rapport, Resources, Stealth
  • Average [+1]: Athletics, Contacts, Empathy, Provoke


  • Seer’s Mirror
    • Type: Overcome
    • A huge spinning mirror located in Medea’s library. 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.
  • The Stone [3]:
    • Type: Special
    • Once per session Medea can summon forth a 5 scale spell (10 shifts of power, enough to knock a human flat, cure even a serious consequence, move the entire group very fast; player’s choice mitigated by whatever the GM feels appropriate). To do so she must invoke her Courage of the Heart and take a physical consequence as the Stone burns her. The effect lasts for a scene. She uses Will to manipulate it.


  • Physical: 1 O   2 O
  • Mental: 1 O   2 O   3 O   4 O


Refresh: 3


  • Scraggly tan rat.
  • Wild, green eyes.
  • Wears a belt with pouches and flasks for brewing potions.
  • Has a very long tail

Critter Aspects: NIMH Rat


  • The Connections Between the Spiritual and Natural World Are Staggering
    • As a child Joshua took a sip from a potion of wisdom, it drove him to manic genius.
  • The Dead Talk, They Must Rest
    • Joshua has been cursed with a Book of the Dead, with it he talks to ghosts and they are demanding.
  • The Mad Avenger Against Snakes
    • One of Joshua’s ghost quests was to kill Syth the Rattler. Josuha used a berserker potion to help to slay him but it drove the young Rat truly insane, that is until Medea cured him with The Stone.
  • Those With Dead Hearts Are Already Poisoned
    • Joshua brewed a poison to help Justin kill an internal threat to the Coven. Joshua doesn’t know all the details but he knows enough.
  • Down With The Sickness
    • Joshua used one of his potions to gain enough speed to capture he who framed Aiden.


  • Great [+4]: Craft (Potions)
  • Good [+3]: Fight, Investigation
  • Fair [+2]: Physique, Notice, Athletics
  • Average [+1]: Provoke, Lore, Stealth, Survival


  • Alchemy [2]
    • Type: Special
    • Once per scene, if he has time, Josuha can create a potion with an effect worth his Craft (Potions) in shifts. If he uses this to enhance another skill the bonus is equal to half the normal shifts of the potion. The effects of the potion, unless they’re obviously instant, last an entire scene. As crazy as he is, demand for Joshua’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.
  • Book of The Dead
    • Type: Special
    • Joshua 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.


  • Physical: 1 O   2 O   3 O
  • Mental: 1 O   2 O

Sample Potions

  • Berserker Strength

    • Kicks the target into a rage. His bare hands are wepaon:4 as long as he remains in a frenzy. (The version that drove him mad made his bare hands weaon:8 but also immediately inflicted the ‘Completely Insane’ consequence)
  • Healing Potion
    • This potion heals a moderate injury consequence or less. It cannot be used on the same character more than once per scenario.
  • Acid
    • This potion eats through nearly anything,of course the glass that contains it is immune. If used as a weapon, it’s a one shot weapon:6.


Refresh: 3


  • Amazonian, for a rat, frame.
  • Black hair’s in a long pony tail.
  • Intense, blue eyes.
  • Carries herself in a jovial, gruff, manner.
  • Armed with a shock pike.

Critter Aspect: NIMH Rat


  • Hunter of Monsters
    • Brooklyn makes it a habit to preemptively eliminate threats to the Coven no matter how large.
  • For Me, There Is No Rest
    • Brooklyn’s childhood mischievous behavior resulted in her best friend getting killed by a cat. She has since sworn no other Rat will die to predators on her watch.
  • Guardian of the Witch
    • Medea used the Seer’s Stone to find Brooklyn’s brother before he could be eaten by a dog. Brooklyn was able to slay the beast in the nick of time. She’s forever at Medea’s service.
  • Conspiracy of Justice
    • Brooklyn stumbled into one of Justin’s plots, he needed to murder an internal threat to the Coven. Rather than report him, Brooklyn joined him.
  • Bitten By The Snake
    • Brooklyn fought Syth the rattler with Joshua. He got the kill, she got a poisonous wound. She survived andJoshua owes her.


  • Great [+4]: Physique
  • Good [+3]: Fight, Athletics
  • Fair [+2]: Investigation, Notice, Empathy
  • Average [+1]: Deceive, Contacts, Provoke, Resources


  • Shock Pike
    • Type: Weapon:3
    • A weapon crafted by alchemy. It delivers a powerful electric shock to whomever it hits.
  • Giant Slayer
    • Type: Attack
    • Brooklyn’s an expert at fighting monsters. She gets a +2 bonus to Fight vs any creature that’s a higher scale than she is.
  • I Will Not Die, At Least Not Yet:
    • Type: Special
    • Once per scenario, when the Brooklyn’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 to’rise from the dead’. Really, she’s just very hard to kill.


  • Physical: 1 O   2 O   3 O   4 O
  • Mental: 1 O   2 O


Refresh: 3


  • A young, shady looking, brown rat.
  • Serious brown eyes with black eyebrows.
  • Wears a green cloak, in which hang burglary tools.

Critter Aspect: NIMH Rat


  • I Take What I Need, When I Need It
    • The Coven turned its back on Aiden’s sick mother and banished her. He chose to go with her into exile and care for her in her last few days. He stole what he needed to survive and make his mother comfortable.
  • Forgotten But Not Forgiven
    • Aiden’s hasn’t gone far, he does his best to inconvenience the Coven without crossing the line. He’s a thorn in their paw.
  • Friendship Irrespective Of Status
    • The coven witch, Medea, stood up for Aiden when he was arrested and accused of a crime he didn’t commit. They were both vindicated.
  • On The Mad Path
    • Aiden guided Joshua to the lair of Syth the Rattler. That’s a trial he won’t soon forget.
  • Reluctant Quester
    • Aiden’s reluctantly agreed to help Roland on his quest to bring justice to Death’s Crossing.


  • Great [+4]: Survival
  • Good [+3]: Burglary, Stealth
  • Fair [+2]: Investigate, Notice, Resources,
  • Average [+1]: Athletics, Fight, Shoot, Will


  • I Can Get There
    • Type: Overcome
    • Whenever Aiden uses Investigate to find a quick/safe path to a location he gets a +2 bonus.
  • Camouflage
    • Type: Create Advantage
    • If Aiden 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.
  • Healer
    • Type: Overcome
    • Aiden can use Survival to heal injuries and sickness. This isn’t as good as Alchemy (use normal recovery rules) but it’ll do in a pinch.


  • Physical: 1 O   2 O
  • Mental: 1 O   2 O   3 O


Refresh: 3


  • Young, white mouse.
  • Grey, gunslinger eyes.
  • Wears a wide brimmed hat and a black cape (for holding bolts and night cammo).
  • Carries a repeating crossbow made out of pencil and fishing line.
  • Carries himself in a dignified, stoic manner.

Critter Aspect: NIMH Mouse


  • Bolts and Justice At Death’s Crossing
    • Speeding cars give Death’s Crossing its name. Ever since hearing his mother’s stories Rolands’ been fascinated with the place. The reality is grim; predators, sickness, abject poverty are rife. The strong feast upon the weak. The World of Lights is dark indeed. Roland, and his repeating crossbow, make the streets a little brighter.
  • Live By The Bolt, Die By The Bolt
    • Roland’s made a few enemies, and not just predators. Various elders within the Coven exploit Death’s Crossing to their advantage. Roland’s gotten in their way one too many times. This mouse’s just fine with that, everyone’s days are numbered and this way he can die young.
  • Witch’s Mercenary
    • Media needed a threat in Death’s Crossing dealt with. Roland dealt with it in exchange for some dirt on Barbossa.
  • Thief Minder
    • After Roland saved Aiden from a Doberman in Death’s crossing he nudged the young Rat onto his path. Aiden’s crafty, quick and clever, all useful traits. Beyond that Aiden has a brave, good heart.
  • Shadow Chaser
    • Roland sprung Shadow the Rabbit out of a trap. They then fled hungry dogs. This adventure sealed their friendship. When Roland needs to get somewhere fast he knows who to call.


  • Great [+4]: Shoot
  • Good [+3]: Athletics, Stealth
  • Fair [+2]: Physique, Survival, Will
  • Average [+1]: Contacts, Empathy, Provoke, Resources


  • Gunslinger Eyes
    • Type: Weapon: Create Advantage
    • Roland’s grey eyes have a cold steel to them. He gets +2 to create intimidation advantages when using Provoke.
  • Repeating Crossbow
    • Type: Weapon:2
    • This weapon is crafted from a pencil, fishing line, elastics and a steel revolving barrel. It holds 12 sharpened bolts. Roland merely needs to pull the leaver to reload the next one.
  • Shooter’s Reflexes
    • Type: Skill Broaden
    • Roland uses Shoot for initiative instead of Notice.


  • Physical: 1 O   2 O   3 O
  • Mental: 1 O   2 O   3 O


Refresh: 3


  • A lithe, black rabbit.
  • Tidy but woodsy appearance.
  • Deep brown eyes.
  • Speaks in a quiet,  serious voice.
  • Wears a saddle and satchel.

Critter Aspect: Rabbit


  • I’ll Get It There No Matter What
    • Shadow’s father died because he never received the predator update for West Valley. This event spurred Shadow to become a messenger who never fails to deliver missives promptly.
  • Running From My Own Shadow
    • Shadow’s services are in demand. He’s always busy, this tends to wear him down if he’s not careful. Also, given several near brushes with death, he’s a little jittery.
  • A Dark Horse
    • After Roland freed him from a trap Shadow let the mouse ride on his back while they fled from angry dogs. Ever since he’s added transportation to his lists of services.
  • Keeper of Secrets
    • Justin has made use of Shadow to send missives to other, far away, NIMH rats. Since Shadow can’t read there’s no worry he’ll peek. Even so, even if Shadow could peek, he wouldn’t; professional pride and all.
  • The Black Rabbit of Inle
    • Brooklyn got into a scrap with a shady warren. Shadow was able to scare them off by pretending to be the Black Rabbit of Inle, the Rabbit Avatar of Death.


  • Great [+4]: Athletics
  • Good [+3]: Survival, Stealth
  • Fair [+2]: Investigate, Notice, Rapport,
  • Average [+1]: Burglary, Deceit, Lore, Physique


  • Rabbit Size [2]
    • Type: Scale:1
    • This game’s built with Rats in mind. Compared to Rats Shadow is huge.
  • Great Leap
    • Type: Overcome
    • As a Rabbit, Shadow gets a +2 bonus to Athletics while jumping.
  • Jittery
    • Type: Special
    • Shadow’s a tad on edge, at the start of any conflict he gets a +4 bonus to initiative.


  • Physical: 1 O   2 O   3 O
  • Mental: 1 O   2 O

Core NPCs

Jeremy shows how useful he can by by trailing a string and Dragon.

Jeremy shows how useful he can by by trailing a string and Dragon.
Mrs. Brisby could do without his help.

These are the key players, other than the PCs, in this setting. Feel free to edit, use, or not use, as you see fit. If used as PCs they’ll need to be downgraded.

Each has new stunts that can be cannibalized for other characters.


Critter Aspect: NIMH Rat


  • Such A Kind Smile, Such Sharp Teeth
  • Messy Work Is Best Done Out Of Sight
  • Poor Justin, He’s Still Delusional
  • I am Not Fond of The Stone or Any Magical Solution
  • I Trust Only My Dagger.


  • Superb [+5]: Resources
  • Great [+4]: Deceive, Rapport
  • Good [+3]: Empathy, Provoke
  • Fair [+2]: Investigate, Notice,
  • Average [+1]: Burglary, Fight, Stealth


  • I’ve Never Heard Of Such An Underhanded Tactic!
    • Type: Defend
    • Mortimer gets a +2 bonus when using Deceive to defend against true accusations.
  • We Must All Pull Together!
    • Type: Overcome
    • Mortimer gets a +2 bonus on Rapport rolls to strengthen his own standing in a crisis.
  • Tombstone Dagger
    • Type: Attack
    • The only magic item Mortimer will touch. Even 1 stress of damage from this will cause a Critical Toxin Consequence. Once it’s used the blade dissolves into the victim preventing Mortimer from ever using it again.


  • Physical: O 1   O 2
  • Mental: O 1   O 2


Critter Aspect: NIMH Rat


  • These Fools Might Be The Death Of Me, But They Will NOT Be The Death of the Coven
  • Civilization Over All, Even Family
  • We Need More Like Brooklyn
  • Silence Does Not Mean Agreement
  • Selfless, Calculating,  Politician


  • Superb [+5]: EmpathyResources
  • Great [+4]: Notice, Rapport
  • Good [+3]: Investigate, Will
  • Fair [+2]: Contacts, Lore
  • Average [+1]: Burglary, Craft


  • Don’t Try To Fool Me
  • Type: Defense
    • When Zora uses Empathy to defend against lies she gets a +2 bonus.
  • Let Me Introduce You To My Ace In The Hole [3]
    • Type: Special
    • Once per game, when Zora invokes her Selfless, Calculating, Politician Aspect she can summon an ally, perfectly suited for the current situation, even a PC. The ally must not already be present and it must be feasible said ally was ‘hiding all this time’ or can ‘just step into the room.’ Zora planned for this eventuality so whomever’s summoned has a perfectly good reason for his arrival and his alliance with her.


  • Physical: O 1   O 2
  • Will: O 1   O 2   O 3   O 4


Critter Aspect: NIMH Rat


  • Guardian of the Coven
  • The Humans Will Pay For What They’ve Done To My People
  • Family of Convince
  • Suitor of the Witch
  • Action, Not Politics


  • Superb [+5]: Fight, Athletics
  • Great [+4]: Rapport, Will
  • Good [+3]: Investigate, Resources
  • Fair [+2]: Notice, Physique
  • Average [+1]: Empathy, Lore


  • Killing Stroke
    • (From Fate Core)
  • Expert Fencer
    • Type: Create Advantage
    • When David creates an advantage while fencing he gets a +2 bonus.
  • Family Ties
    • Type: Overcome
    • David gets a +2 bonus whenever using Rapport to convince Justin or Zora to act in his favor. All cold, political calculus aside, he is still their child.


  • Physical: O 1   O 2   O 3
  • Mental: O 1   O 2   O 3   O 4


Critter Aspect: Rat


  • Bloody King of Death’s Crossing
  • More Beast Than Critter
  • Respect Through Fear
  • I Got Roland’s Number
  • I’m Good To My Boys


  • Fantastic [+6]: Fight, Physique
  • Superb [+5]: AthleticsProvoke
  • Great [+4]: Rapport, Resources
  • Good [+3]: Stealth, Survival
  • Fair [+2]: EmpathyNotice
  • Average [+1]: Burglary, Investigate


  • Berserker
    • Type: Attack
    • When Barbosa gets really mad he also gets a +2 on all Fight rolls for three exchanges. After these loses the bonus and gains an exhaustion related consequence.
  • I’ve Got People Everywhere [3]
    • Type: Special
    • Once per game, if there’s any possibility of reinforcements what-so-ever, Barbarossa can call in a large mob (5 per PC on the scene) of Fair [+2] Rat mooks.


  • Physical: O 1   O 2   O 3   O 4   Extra Mild Consequence
  • Mental: O 1   O 2


Critter Aspect: House Cat


  • The Devil Cat of Death’s Crossing
  • All Are My Prey
  • Honorable Hunter
  • Aiden Will Pay
  • Don’t Cross Me, Ever


  • Fantastic [+6]: Fight, Stealth
  • Superb [+5]: Athletics, Investigate
  • Great [+4]: Notice, Survival
  • Good [+3]: Physique, Provoke
  • Fair [+2]: RapportWill
  • Average [+1]: Empathy, Resources


  • Claws and Fangs
    • Type: Weapon:3
  • Pounce!
    • Type: Attack
    • Whenever Dante attacks  someone whose unaware of his presence he gets a +2 bonus.
  • Cat Sized [2]
    • Scale: 1
  • Terrifying  Stare
    • Type: Create Advantage
    •  Dante gets a +2 bonus to Provke when creating a fear related aspects against his prey.
  • Death from Above
    • Type: Attack
    • Once per scene Dante can add 2 extra shifts of damage when he pounces.


  • Physical: O 1   O 2   O 3   O 4
  • Mental: O 1   O 2   O 3

Raynard The King

Critter Aspect: Fox


  • Cunning King of the Forest
  • Everyone Deserves A Fair Shot. . .
  • Bullies Don’t
  • Shadow’s My Favorite Courier
  • Brave and Proud


  • Epic [+7]: Deceive, Rapport
  • Fantastic [+6]: Provoke, Stealth
  • Superb [+5]: Empathy, Resources
  • Great [+4]: AthleticsWill
  • Good [+3]: Contacts, Fight,
  • Fair [+2]: Burglary, Physique,
  • Average [+1]: Lore, Survival


  • Fox Size [2]
    • Type: Scale: 1
  • Don’t Get Angry, You Can’t Help That You’re Stupid
    • Type: Create Advantage
    • Raynard gets a +2 bonus to Deceive when creating advantages against those who are angry.
  • I Say. . .
    • Type: Create Advantage
    • Raynard gets a +2 bonus when using Provoke to anger people.
  • King of the Forest [2]
    • Type: Overcome
    • Raynard gets a +2 bonus on Rapport roles with ‘his people’. Also, once per game he can call in a royal boon, this works like Justin’s Web of Contacts stunt.


  • Physical: O 1   O 2   O 3
  • Mental: O 1   O 2   O 3   O 4

Supporting NPCs

Gadget’s not in this setting but she’s read your fanfic and is hiring the Queen Bee to kill you.

These NPCs  are meant to show up once or twice in the game . This isn’t to say they aren’t important, just that the bulk of the story  isn’t about them.

Of course if your group latches on to one of them, feel free to upgrade the lucky NPC to core status.


Critter Aspect: ???

Aspects: Unknown Terror. Urban Predator. Urban Legend.

Skills: Athletics: Superb [+5], Fight: Fantastic [+6], Notice: Great [+4], Physique: Epic [+7],  Stealth: Fantastic [+6], Survival: Great [+4]


  • Cougar Sized [6]
    • Scale: 3
  • Claws and Fangs:
    • Type: Weapon:3
  •  Supernatural Stealth [3]:
    • Type: Overcome
    • Grendel gets a +4 bonus to Stealth when there’s plenty of shadow, and when there is shadow, it’s nearly impossible to get a good look at him.
  • Flight [3]
    • Type: Special
    • Grendel can fly. Yikes.


  • Physical: O 1   O 2   O 3   O 4   Extra Mild Physical Consequence
  • Mental: O 1   O 2

The Ghost of the Great Owl

Critter Aspect: Owl Ghost

Aspects: Wise Specter. Terrifying Night Haunt. A Favor for A Favor.

Skills: Empathy: Superb [+5], Lore: Legendary [+8], Provoke: Fantastic [+6], Will: Epic [+7]


  • Flight [3]
    • Type: Special
    • This Ghost can Fly
  • Immune To Physical Harm [Can’t Buy]
    • Type: Special
    • What the title says.
  • Absolute Terror [3]
    • Type: Attack
    • The Great Owl can make a mental attack against anyone in his same zone with Provoke vs Will. Furthermore this counts as a weapon:2.  All consequences must be fear related. It’s possible to kill someone with this level of fright.


  • Mental: O 1   O 2   O 3   O 4   Extra Mild Mental Consequence


Critter Type: Strange rabbit.

Aspects: Leader of a Strange Warren. My Burrow Was Poisoned, it Makes Us Mad. Frighteningly Polite. Won’t You Come In (WE NEED TO FEED YOU TO ‘IT’!)

Skills: Deceive: Great [+4], Empathy: Great [+4], Provoke: Great [+4], Rapport: Good [+3], Resources: Good [+3], Will: Good [+3]


  • Rabbit Size [2]
    • Type: Scale:1
  • Telepathy [2]
    • Type: Special
    • Fiver can mentally communicate with anyone he knows, as long as the target is willing. He can read the mind of anyone in the same zone with an Empathy Vs Will roll.
  • Frighten [2]
    • Type: Attack
    • A mental attack. Like the Great Owl’s Absolute Terror but without the weapon bonus.
  • Great Leap
    • Type: Overcome
    • As a Rabbit, Shadow gets a +2 bonus to Athletics while jumping.


  • Physical: O 1   O 2
  • Mental: O 1   O 2   O 3   O 4

Timothy Brisby

Critter Aspect: Mouse

Aspects: Wandering Adventurer. I Will Protect My Family. Cleverest Mouse Around. Courage of the Heart

Skills: Athletics: Great [+4], Deceive: Good [+3], Investigate: Good [+3], Rapport: Good [+3], Stealth: Good [+3], Survival: Great [+4], Will: Good [+3]


  • Brave
    • Type: Defend
    • Timothy gets a +2 bonus to Will, to defend against fear.


  • Physical: O 1   O 2
  • Mental: O 1   O2   O 3  O 4


Critter Aspect: Alpha Wolf

Aspects: Terror of the Outlands. Damn You Raynard. I’m Hungry and You’re Lunch.

Skills: Athletics: Great [+4], Fight: Superb [+5],  Notice: Fair [+2], Physique: Great [+4], Provoke: Good [+3], Resources: Fair [+2],  Survival: Good [+3]


  • Wolf Sized [4]
    • Type: Scale: 2
  • Claws and Fangs
    • Type: Attack
    • Weapon:3.
  • Howl [3]
    • Type: Special
    • Calls all wolves on the scene. Also forces everyone who is not a wolf to resist a Provoke mental attack. Can only be used once per scenario.
  • I’m the Leader, Snarl!
    • Type: Overcome
    • Hagrath gets a +2 bonus when using Provoke to force submission.


  • Physical: O 1   O 2   O 3   O 4   Extra Mild Physical Consequence
  • Mental: O1   O 2


Critter Aspect: Sewer Alligator

Aspects: Deadly Urban Legend. Territorial and Not Afraid of Humans. Ambush Predator.

Skills: Fight: Good [+3], Notice: Good [+3],  Physique: Great [+4] Stealth: Great [+4],


  • Alligator Size [6]
    • Type: Scale:3
  • Alligator Teeth [2]
    • Type: Weapon:6
  • Alligator Hide
    • Type: Defense
    • Provides Monith with Armor [2].
  • Home Turf Hunter
    • Type: Create Advantage
    • Monith gets a +2 bonus on Stealth when he creates ‘hidden’ advantages while on his home turf.


  • Physical: O 1   O 2   O 3   O 4
  • Mental: O1   O 2

Nameless NPCs

These rats are tired of your Coven Bourgeoisie nonsense.

Nameless, in Secret of NIHM, means nameless threats. These aren’t obstacles you simply bowl over, you’re rats, you can’t do that. These are faceless predators with fangs, claws and guns who will kill you if you don’t outrun them or use your head. Secret of NIMH is not about combat, it’s about survival.

That being said, one can still slay the occasional giant and sometimes, rarely, you’ll get a treat in hordes of inferior enemies. However,  understand this won’t be the norm.

NIMH Scientists

Critter Aspect: Scary, Faceless, Humans

Aspects: We Play God. Holders of Secrets.

Skills: Lore: Good [+3], Deceit: Fair [+2], Notice: Average [+1], Craft: Average [+1]


  • Human Size [8]
    • Type: Scale:4
  • Rat Trappers
    • Type: Create Advantage
    • NIMH Scientists get a +2 to their Deceit rolls when creating trap advantages to use against NIMH critters.

Stress: O 1   O 2


Critter Aspect: Rural Human

Aspects: God of the Harvest

Skills: Craft (Farming): Fair [+2], Shoot: Average [+1], Notice: Average [+1]


  • Human Size [8]
    • Type: Scale:4
  • Shot Gun [2]
    • Type: Weapon:4, range is 3 zones.
    •  Note: Remember the Farmer’s scale if this weapon hits, that’s +12 shifts vs a  Rat.
  • Pet [2]
    • Type: Special
    •  Once per scenario the Farmer can call a dog to help him. Cats, well cats may appear, but only if they want to.

Stress: O 1

City Slickers

Critter Aspect: Clueless Human

Aspects: Just Out On The Town

Skills: Rapport: Average [+1], Resources: Average [+1]


  • Human Size [8]
    • Type: Scale:4

Stress:  None

NOTE: IMO physical attacks should always fail to take out a human. Even if you get beyond his or her scale value the best you’ll be able to do is cause a scratched consequence. 

That being said, clever use of Rapport, Deceit or Provoke could easily get a human to run away or think you’re too cute to hurt. Beware the results though. Running Humans will get help and those cowed by cuteness will want to keep you as a pet. 

House Cat

Critter Aspect: Cat

Aspects: Rodent Bane. Loves To Play With Food.

Skills: Stealth: Good [+3], Athletics: Fair [+2], Fight: Average [+1], Notice: Average [+1]


  • Cat Size [2]
    • Type: Scale 1
  • Claws and Fangs
    • Type: Weapon:3
  • Pounce!
    • Type: Attack
    • Whenever a cat attacks  a critter  whose unaware of his presence he gets a +2 bonus.

Stress: O 1   O 2


Critter Aspect: Dog

Aspect: Man’s Best Friend

Skills: Athletics: Fair [+2], Fight: Average [+1], Provoke: Average [+1]


  • Dog Size [4]
    • Type: Scale:2
  • Bite
    • Type: Weapon:3.
  • Bark
    • Type: Attack
    • Once per scenario a dog can make a Provoke mental (fear) attack against everything in her zone whose not an ally.
  • Keen Nose
    • Type: Overcome
    • Dogs gets a +2 bonus to Investigate when tracking by scent.

Stress: O 1


Critter Aspect: Wolf

Aspects: One With The Pack

Skills:  Investigate [+3], Fight: Fair [+2],  Athletics: Average [+1], Survival: Average [+1]


  • Size of a Wolf [4]
    • Type: Scale:2
  • Fangs and Claws
    • Type: Weapon:3
  • Howl [3]
    • Type: Special
    • Calls all wolves on the scene. Also forces everyone who is not a wolf to resist a Provoke mental attack. Can only be used once per scenario.
  • Pack Mentality
    • Type: Create Advantage
    • Wolves get a +2 bonus when using Athletics to create an advantage that involves their pack.

Stress: O 1   O 2


Critter Aspect: Raccoon

Aspects: Totally A Burglar, Even Has A Mask

Skills: Burglary: Average [+1], Stealth: Average [+1]


  • Raccoon Size [2]
    • Type: Scale 1
  • Theify Thief
    • Type: Overcome
    • Raccoon’s get a +2 bonus when using Burglary to open things that contain a prize.

Stress: None


Critter Aspect: Rabbit

Aspect: Noise? I’m Gone

Skills: Athletics: Average [+1], Notice: Average [+1]


  • Rabbit Size [2]
    • Type: Scale:1
    • This game’s built with Rats in mind. Compared to Rats Rabbits are huge.
  • Great Leap
    • Type: Overcome
    • Rabbits  get a +2 bonus to Athletics while jumping.

Stress: None

The Greys, Fiver’s Warren

Critter Aspect: Creepy Rabbits

Aspects: Join Us (AND WE WILL FEED YOU TO IT!)

Skills: Provoke: Average [+1], Athletics: Average [+1]


  • Rabbit Size [2]
    • Type: Scale:1
    • This game’s built with Rats in mind. Compared to Rats Rabbits are huge.
  • Great Leap
    • Type: Overcome
    • As Rabbits they get a +2 bonus to Athletics while jumping.
  • The Drone [2]
    • Type: Attack
    • As long as more than one Grey joins the drone, use Provoke for a mental, fear based attack, on everyone in the same zone who is not a Grey.


Critter Aspect: Crow

Aspects: Talkative Bird. Family Bird.

Skills: Investigate: Average [+1], Rapport: Average [+1]


  • Flight [3]
    • Type: Special
    • Crow’s can fly.

Stress: None


Critter Aspect: Bat

Aspects: Creepy Rodent of the Night

Skills: Athletics:  Average [+1], Investigate: Average [+1]


  • Flight [3]
    • Type: Special
    • Bat’s can fly.
  • Echolocation
    • Type: Overcome
    • Bats get a +2 to Investigate in the dark.


Critter Aspect: Squirrel

Aspect: Gotta Hurry (Need to Prepare for Winter)

Skills: Athletics: Average [+1], Investigate: Average [+1]


  • Climber
    • Type: Overcome
    • Squirrels get a +2 bonus to climb quickly

Stress: None


Critter Aspect: Rat

Aspect: Rather Rattish

Skills: Investigate: Average [+1], Stealth: Average [+1]

Stunts: None

Stress: None

Barbarossa’s Rats

Critter Aspect: Rat

Aspect: Thug Life

Skills: Fight: Fair [+2], Athletics: Average [+1] Provoke: Average [+1]

Stunts: None

Stress: O 1


Critter Aspect: Mouse

Aspect: Wee Timorous Beasty

Skills: Investigate: Average [+1], Stealth: Average [+1]

Stunts: None

Stress: None.

ADX – Apotheosis of the Rose: Princess Drive And Dragon Trinity Crash: How The World Was Made

Posted in Dragon Trinity Crash, Fate, Game Design, Roleplaying Games, RPG, Writing with tags , , on March 28, 2013 by Chall

So, the ADX Kickstater is funded, yay! So no matter what I, and other backers, get the main book.

Also, currently the kickstarter’s less than $1000 away from its first stretch goal:  Apotheosis of the Rose: Princess Drive.

Lemme tell you about it:

Apotheosis of the Rose: Princess Drive

In a World of Magic and Mechs young women must harness the Seven Virtues (Love, Wisdom, Justice, Courage, Kindness, Trust, and Fate) and channel them through mystic drivers to fight evil. It’s an adventure of high romance and hope.

Yes, my setting also has mechs in a fantasy setting but Princess Drive is a far different beast. While I’m focused on powerful sorcery and poking fun at tabletop tropes, Topher’s setting explores duty and desire in a seriously cool fashion.

Both our settings will feature epic magimech conflict.

I’m really excited about Princess Drive. It reminds me of Utena, whose mystique I love. It also has a really interesting bond mechanic. Bonds are potent relationships Princesses harness as weapons for their drivers. One’s ambition against a rival could become a silver blade, one’s unrequited love could become a stealth cloak. A driver’s powers will wax, wane and change given the relations its princess keeps with those she loves and hates. Drama will have a direct relation to mech battles; which is awesome. Exploring relationships and then stomping things is one of my favorite a pass times in RPGs.

As for Dragon Trinity Crash

As it stands there’s still a way to go for my stuff to become part of the Anthology  That being said we’re only 6 days out of 30, plenty of time yet. So, in order to drive you to back here’s an in game appetizer for my setting:

The beginning was a vast, empty, void. The first light came as a flash of three cosmic,  holy forces converging. Sea, land and sky swirled out of nothing as a vortex of creation. A mammoth fire ignited and became the sun, mass gathered into spheres and danced around it. Life germinated in the seas and rolled out like a great blanket across our entire world. This primal chaos roared, the Emperor of Hurricanes, for billions of years.

When it had finally slowed, when our ancestors stared up at the sky with the longing question that sparked the first sentient thought, the Holy Trinity appeared: Typhon, his jade shoulders larger than mountains. Tiamat, her shimmering, azure scales like a wall that kept in the sea. Bahamut, his golden wings hanging like clouds across the horizon. The Three stood over their creation, and they knew it was good.

Sadly, this shining moment was not to last.

Typhon stepped on Bahamut’s tail. Bahamaut yelped and electro-zotted Tiamat. Tiamat snaked around and delivered a big old backhand to Typhon’s head.

The three have been bickering ever since.

Again, hope this wets your appetite.

More to come.

Knights of The Hidden Sun January 2013 Update – Reverence To The Lady In Black

Posted in Game Design, Knights of the Hidden Sun, Philosophy, Publishing, Roleplaying Games, RPG, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on January 12, 2013 by Chall

Given Christmas/New Years I didn’t get too much done on KoTHS. That being said there was some progress.

Giving Reverence Where Reverence Is Due

In my November 2012 update I stated I needed to ‘tweak the Knights chapter. The current one is a little disjointed so a cleaning up and clarifying is in order. This will take a moderate amount of work.’ This is no longer the case.

The lion’s share of KoTHS background is written in IC. The first four chapters are nothing but history, news, personal experiences and advertisements from the game world. I found this cut down on dryness and made KoTHS hella fun to write.

The Knights Chapter was written as senior Knights handing down history and tradition to new recruits. I wrote it in a casual tone.

When Malcolm developed it, he changed the tone. The Knights became less casual and more reverent to their cause and Goddess. This irked me on first reading so I made a note to fix it. I reread the chapter again over the holidays and decided to leave it as is, here’s why;

My first rpg character was a 2nd Edition AD&D Cleric named Thohammer Folly. I chose a cleric because I wanted to A) kick ass and B) cast spells. I actually rolled a non-cheating 18 for one of his stats and I put that into Strength rather than Wisdom, because ass-kicking was Thohammer’s top priority, spells taking second place. As for exploring what it meant to be a disciple of Tamora, such a thing wasn’t even on my radar.

In my experience that’s how Clerics are played. They’re ass-kicker, healers and spell-slingers who give lip service to a deity.  The closest to displaying reverence these worshipers get is calling out the name of their God before smiting an Orc or sanctifying an area so pesky undead don’t rise. Some players don’t even pick a deity, they worship Lord Generic of the Coin and Hammer.

You know what? That’s is absolutely fine. My friends and I have had much fun running clerics in this fashion.

That being said, over time I found that I wanted to explore aspects of faith in my rpgs.

  • Why did my character choose his religion?
  • What’s her stance on her church’s dogma?
  • How does this faith manifest?
  • Is his Deity infallible?

So I wrote up  doctrine for each Cleric and occasionally  got into theological arguments with other PCs. Still, despite this, my Clerics never met their deities or even walked into one of their temples. There were no holy quests, no one seeking guidance, no machinations within the faith. The focus of these games were always killing monsters and treasure hunting.

Still fun but I wanted more.

I’d like to clarify this isn’t the material’s fault. I primarily played Forgotten Realms which has a TON of information on in game religions and cultures. I don’t think it was the fault of my DMs either; while I tried to throw in a rich, theological tapestries, I only did so IC and did not run any of these ideas past the people running the games.

Back to Hidden Sun. In Hidden Sun you play a Knight who serves a Goddess; the Lady In Black. The pact you’ve made involves trust as opposed to dogma, you can use her gifts for anything you want but your soul goes to her when you die. Both sides trust each other to do the right thing.

While this relationship is casual the major conflict in Hidden Sun stems from this Goddess acting against her brother, the God of War. Also, I specifically mention that meeting the Goddess is a BIG event that changes a character forever AND the Goddess, this ancient being of wisdom and power, regularly visits her followers throughout their lives.

So OF COURSE the Knights would speak about their faith and cause with reverence. Having contact with one who existed at the creation of the universe is something to be reverent about. Malcolm simply picked up on this and changed the Knights chapter to match.

This doesn’t mean all PCs in Hidden Sun are zealots. The Goddess demands nothing, not even worship, one can even have grown hate her and she’ll still lend her strength. What it does mean is that the GM is encouraged to make her important; to throw at the feet of the PCs Gnostic quests, audiences with higher powers and crises of faith. All the things I had hoped for long ago.

Hence I’m not changing a thing with the Knights Chapter.

That being said if your group just wants to run Hidden Sun as ass-kickers with divine powers, please feel free to do so; it can be most fun.

The Headaches of Star Travel

From an OOC prospective getting from planet A to planet B in Hidden Sun is easy: The GM says ‘It takes x amount of time, now onward to more interesting stuff.’ There’s no botching a navigation roll and having your ship collide with a rogue star. Granted, such things would happen in any Sci Fi/Fantasy universe but, at least as a player, I find such things annoying so didn’t include the possibility in my game.

That being said I needed to describe, in IC, how interstellar travel works. In Hidden Sun space travel is chaotic and hard to describe therefore Malcolm left it as a hurdle to tackle later. I’ve ended up tackling it.

Long story short I added a page and a half on Jump Gate theory and travel time to Chapter Three. I’ve tried to keep it short and descriptive so folks know how gate travel works, what it looks, sounds and feels like and how long it will take to get to the major worlds. I don’t think it drags on but the proof will be in the pudding when you lovely folks buy the book. 🙂

What’s Next?

I’m going to meld my character creation tweeks and further playtesting discoveries in the rules and GM chapters. After this it’s just some minor double-checks, one more read through, and it’s off to the editor.

Wish me luck.

Knights of the Hidden Sun December 2012 Update: Adventures In Character Creation

Posted in Game Design, Knights of the Hidden Sun, Roleplaying Games, Writing with tags , , , , on December 12, 2012 by Chall

As per my last update here’s what I have to look at:

  1. Fix up 1 section in my Magic/Tech chapter.
  2. Go over the Knights Chapter with a fine-tooth comb.
  3. Tweak the Character Creation chapter.
  4. Tweak the Rules chapter.
  5. Make sure the GM chapter reflects the changes above.

It would have made sense to start with 1 but I chose 3 instead because I’m a rules monkey.

Here’s the gist of what I did:

Lower The Dice Pools

In the first draft of KoTHS a starting character could end with a 12D dice pool in his primary skill. This was a little much so I scaled back to afford smaller pools, around 4 dice smaller to be precise.

The lower dice pools, when used in conjunction with simple dice saving mechanics, has kept the dice hoard to a minimum. This in turn has lead to a much smoother game.

Everything In Its Place

Previously in KoTHS you’d list all your character’s Edges and Flaws, even ones that affected Attributes, in one place; a place that happened to be no where near Attributes. I found this lead to confusion; often players would simply forget such bonuses and penalties in their rolls thus making them meaningless.

The solution?

List Attribute Edges and Flaws under their prospective Attributes; easy peasy.

Edges and Flaws Are Meaningful

My original list of Edges had some minor advantages such as Desert Adaptation and Claws and minor Flaws such as Arrogant or Eccentric. In play-testing I found these never came up.

Desert Adaptation was no good because very few adventures ever required a desert survival roll, as for Claws, Hidden Sun weapons blow them out of the water. Also, most PCs are arrogant to start with and eccentric was often funny but rarely flaw-worthy.

So I decided to remove such  from my Edges and Flaws list and only keep meaningful ones such as Immunity to Fire and Bane: Silver.

That being said you can still get the minor Edges, they just cost a pittance  Being a clawed desert dweller is more a fun description than an appreciable advantage in KoTHS. As for the minor Flaws, I’m regulating those to ‘you’ll get rewarded with Character Points or Will Points for throwing your character into tough situations’.

The Results

I ran these by my play-test group and I’m pleased to say they were able to draw up comprehensive, interesting characters in a mere 1/2 hour. If they had to do it again I imagine it’d take them 15 minutes tops, even the ones who aren’t rules monkeys like me.

This makes me happy.

What’s Up Next?

I’m going over Character Creation once more. This is just to check for typos or grammatical silliness.  Unless play-testing reveals a major oversight I won’t change anything further.

I’ll move on, get’er done.

After that I’m going to tackle the minor addition to the Magic/Tech chapter. Not a big change and nothing to do with rules. Completing it will simply make Hidden Sun one step closer to realization.

Expect another update soon.