Archive for the RPG Category

Chall’s Secrets of GMing

Posted in Game Mastering, Roleplaying Games, RPG with tags , on May 6, 2014 by Chall

A good friend of mine will be reclaiming the GM seat for our biweekly game. He asked if I had any advice. He doesn’t need it, he’s an awesome GM. However, I agreed to provide some pointers. So here they are:

Note: The following assumes you have a solid grasp of role playing game terminology and concepts.

PCs Are Important

Player Characters are the focus of the game. This doesn’t mean the universe revolves around them but it dose mean they must be the center of their story.

For example:

  • In Fantasy: The PCs aren’t Gods, they’re probably not royalty, the fate of kingdoms is not at their whim. However, they are the only ones capable of defending their Orcish village from the Paladins of Lord Genocide.
  • In Space Opera: The Galaxy’s huge and the Celestial Crest is everywhere. While masters of their world the PCs are in no position to take down the despotic Galactic Kings. However, they can make a fool out of their Star Archon and wrest local control from her iron grip.
  • In Steam Punk: The PCs’ air pirate ship is just one of many. They aren’t the most famous buccaneers, yet. They’re pushing for it.

How does one strive for this PC-centredness? Here’s some advice:

Character Creation

Usually players create characters together in the first game session; take advantage of this. The sentiment “Make anything you want.” signifies you simply don’t care. That’s bad.

Ask each player what they’d like to play. Watch for anything that doesn’t fit and offer alternatives. If a player asks what you’d like to see don’t say ‘oh anything really’you’re the GM you should know what you’d like. If a player can’t think of anything offer the types of characters you’d make for this game  as suggestions.

Have the players write out some general ideas about their characters before they jot down a single stat. Where did they grow up? What are their goals? Who do they know?

I highly recommend they also answer: How do I know the other characters? This can really help your game run smoothly. If the characters know each other they have a reason to stay together and are less likely to write problematic PCs.

Most importantly work with the players as to ensure you like each PC, if you don’t the rest of my advice won’t work.


Character Backgrounds

If the players have given you backgrounds for their characters don’t simply reward them with extra CP/Xp/Freebie Points; use these backgrounds in your game. Make family members, friends, rivals and foes as key NPCs. Have organizations they mention show up. Take them to places their backgrounds mention.

Your meta-plot doesn’t have focus exclusively on PC history but said history should be an important part of it. The PCs are works of art given to you by your players. Including their stories into the larger one shows that you’ve listened and care.

PCs > NPCs

As mentioned before the PCs must be the center of your game, as such do not regulate them to sidekicks to your NPCs. Taking orders from NPCs is fine, being motivated to help them is great but never put the PCs in a situation where it’s obvious a group of NPCs, who are readily available,  would do a better job. This doesn’t mean the party must be the best at what they do in the entire game world, just that, for the situation at hand, they are the the best choice available.

If you ever get to a point in a game where you’re talking to yourself as two or more NPCs, for more than 10 minutes, you’ve failed.

When writing  NPCs save yourself  time by jotting down only background, motivation, goals and necessary stats. Then, if the players end up liking, or loving to hate this character then you can flesh her out further.

Mortality wise be ruthless with your NPCs, they can die at any moment. Use your parties allies and friends to demonstrate how deadly the world can be. This includes villains, occasionally one-shotting the big bad is exactly what’s needed.

Planning and Running The Game

The following are some simple tips that I’ve found useful for planning and running my games.


Know Your Group

Character creation will give you a good idea what of your players want. That being said be sure to keep their tastes in mind and throw in little things that each player will like. If one likes romance, throw some his way. If another likes intrigue, mix some of that in. If a third likes building things, give her a chance to do so, and so on. . .

Also, if you know some of your player’s triggers DO NOT HIT THEM. If you do so knowingly you’re an asshole. If you stumble across one remove it from the game. RGPs are meant to be enjoyable and not destroy friendships.


Twenty Point Notes

When I write my adventure notes I simply jot down twenty things. A ‘thing’ in this case is:

  • Plot Summary: The basic idea of what I expect to happen.
  • PC Hooks: Specific notes on why this particular adventure matters to certain PCs.
  • NPCs: Short stat block. Notes. Plan. Motivation.
  • Scenes: A short note on a cool scene I hope gets played out.
  • Clues: If the adventure is a mystery add clues that will enable the party to find a way forward.
  • Troubleshooting: Some ideas on how to tackle things that would ‘break the game’.

Once an adventure is finished I copy my NPC notes to a Rogues Gallery document.

Depending on the game you may need maps.

Finally draft up some screen shots and music that  fit your game and you’re ready to go.


PCs > Plot

If a player comes up with something brilliant that circumvents your hard written scheme, go with it. Allow her action to change the scope of the adventure and perhaps even the entire campaign.  It’s scary, yes. You won’t get tell your story the way you wanted to but, it’s not your story, it belongs to the table.

This kind of flexibility is what makes table top games better than Computer RPGS:

  • In table top: Mario could convince the Koopa Kids to join his side and fight against their father.
  • In table top: Link can lure Gannon out of hiding with a clever plan.
  • In table top: Samus doesn’t have to follow her former commander’s orders to not use her armor to its full potential.

Furthermore, if a player comes up with a ‘fan theory’ that blows your actual plot away, change your plot to match. Let the player be right.


Setbacks Must Happen and They Must Be Awesome

The flexibility of table top goes both ways.

  • In table top: Mario might get captured.
  • In table top: Link could cheese off the Gorons and get chased away from Death Mountain.
  • In table top: Samus might screw up in such a way that leads to the death of her former troop.

This is okay, setbacks make everything more exciting. Just make sure the PCs can recover.

  • Peach escapes and saves Mario, now they both must fight to regain the Mushroom Kingdom.
  • Link is forced to defeat Darunia and become king of the Gorons.
  • Samus is on her own, but she works better that way.

Setbacks should be interesting and open new possibilities for the game. Allowing your PCs to experience failure increases their investment in the game; as long as you don’t make fun of them for said failures. PC decisions, victories and losses should all matter.

Note: ‘Setback’ can easily mean PC death.  Personally, I never go out of my way to kill a PC, they’re important to my game and losing even one can upset most of my future plots. I’d much rather let a PC live with failure than ice her. That being said, it still happens from time to time, but I try to make such death’s awesome.



When you run a game do so with the lie that you’re aiming for TPK. You’re not but this lie makes things more exciting.

As for challenges, tailor them to match the party. If you know your PCs and the game system this shouldn’t be too hard.

You should ensure there are several tough challenges. You should also ensure there are one or two easy ones so the party can show off how awesome they are.

Don’t draw up rigid challenges that have only a set number of answers. If a player throws out an idea that you never thought of but would work, then roll with it; even if it turns a difficult challenge into cake walk.

When it comes antagonist NPCs try to err on the side of cunning. The ‘big bosses’ should be tougher than the PCs but only just. If they’re overpowered you’ll wipe out the party and your campaign. If they’re overpowered and you go easy on the party the players will resent you for it. In short make strong (not overpowered) foes and play them smartly.

An addendum:  If the PCs knowingly cheese off someone way more powerful. Someone you had no intention of throwing at them, someone whom you’ve warned is out of their league; then feel free to TPK.

Addendum II: On rare occasions it can be fun to throw uber-NPCs at the party IF there’s a way to deal with or defeat her non-violently. Make sure to give your players plenty of hints of what they’re getting into before they run into this situation.

Finally don’t hang your ego on challenge. Being a GM isn’t about showing how much cleverer you are. It’s far more about imagination and inspiring excitement.


Ensure Everyone Has A Part To Play

The initiative system is genius, it forces the GM to go to every single player and ask ‘what do you do?’ then each PC gets the spotlight for one, full round. Take this concept and apply it to the entire game.

There are boisterous and reserved players. The boisterous ones will hog all the game time if you let them; this will lead to the reserved ones getting board and frustrated. A good friend of mine nearly left gaming entirely because of this. It’s aggravating being part of a game that you don’t get to play.

When I run I describe every scene in detail and ask the group “What do you do?” I listen to those who speak  first, pause and then go to everyone else to make sure they participate. If a player can’t think of anything for his character to do I’ll throw something at him to keep him involved.

If the scene turns into a long role play session than I’ll be looser with this rule and  just allow everyone to talk. However, if I see a player doing nothing I will engage them.

The key is to give everyone, whether boisterous or reserved, roughly equal table time.


Flow With The Core Mechanics

Be familiar with the rules of your game and use them. Don’t be afraid to teach your players the rules, if they become more familiar with them they’ll enjoy the game more. That being said:

Try not to reference the book constantly.  If you run into a rules snag and find you’re taking over five minutes to look it up/debate make a solid ruling with what you know and move on. After the game  investigate in more detail and let your players know your final decision in the next session.

Keep the mechanics consistent. If the difficulty to lift a car is X in one scene keep it that way in another. Jumping around will only confuse players or convince them you’re railroading them.

Think about working with a problematic roll rather than fudging it. If your villain fails an easy save and gets turned into a chicken, let it happen, either his henchmen will flee with him or the PCs got an unexpected easy win. A critical takes out one of your PCs? Sure he drops but give another PC a chance to save him with an epic first aid roll.

Granted, in cases where a player has been rolling horrible all night you may want to fudge a small amount so he walks away with some victory.

The Plot Must Flow With the PC Decisions

Your NPCs aren’t static bits of code and graphics that respond only in set ways. While not as important as the PCs they should still have personalities, motivations and goals. When PCs do something to aid or stymie their plans have them react accordingly. The King the PCs saved will not just give them a reward and send them on their way; he’ll become a good friend. The supervillain they thwarted will keep them in mind for his next plot. The towns and villages around the PCs will hear of their heroism or cruelty and react accordingly.

In short your campaign should be a living one that enacts its plots on your PCs and reacts to how they deal with them. In that regard, make sure your metaplot notes are loose and leave plenty of room for change.

In Conclusion

Game Mastering is a rewarding experience. You get to craft a memorable stories with your friends. The with part is key; players must know the actions of their PCs are meaningful, otherwise you’re simply forcing them through your own personal novel.  Novel writing is a worthy and wonderful pursuit but it’s not the same as Game Mastering. Make sure the PCs are characters you like, throw them in the center of the narrative and let it all  live and grow based on the player’s actions and the dice. You’ll end up with a tale better than anything you could have created on your own.

December Update: Dark Crystal Author Quest and NaNo The Childe Hel

Posted in Adventure Book, Anime, Dark Crystal, Dragon Trinity Crash, Fantasy, Fiction, Knights of the Hidden Sun, National Novel Writing Month, Publishing, Roleplaying Games, RPG, The Childe Hel with tags , , , , , on December 1, 2013 by Chall

Sorry for the delay in posts, I’ve been incredibly busy.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Dark Crystal Author’s Quest

I found out about this in late September, so I thought I’d give it a shot. September was spent drawing up a plan for a full Dark Crystal novel. Then, in November, new information came up on the Dark Crystal Online Encyclopedia that blew a huge hole in my plans. Undaunted, (well actually VERY daunted) I picked apart my previous ideas for something that would fit. I have to admit, the rewritten plan is much better than my original so I went with that.

I spent most of October writing my submission. I can’t go over the details of it but what I will say is I’m proud of what I’ve wrought, it’s perhaps one of the best things I’ve ever written. If I get picked as one of the final five I’ll be over the moon. If not I’ll look into sharing what I wrote as fan fiction and move on.

Pick Chris's novel, please? Make peace?

Pick Chris’s novel, please? Make peace?

Speaking of which.

National Novel Writing Month

I completed this. I’ve always wanted to try NaNo so I pledged 2013 to it. I’m glad I did.

Some authors may scoff but I found this hard. I work full time 5 days a week, so to write 1667 words a day is roughly an hour and a half overtime every day with no days off. Furthermore I’m used to working form a detailed plan. All my recent projects are all fully mapped out on Xmind before I ever commit the first word to word processor. My Dark Crystal submission followed this path but I couldn’t do it for my NaNo novel. Why? Author’s Quest took my October so, when November came around I had minimal planning for NaNo. I had to write words, immediately, on the fly. Yikes!

I did it though and it was worth while. I used a very general idea as my guide and just wrote free from for 30 days. At one point I got stuck with doubt and confusion but I powered through that and eventually reached 50’058 words.

The key was to always stay a little ahead. I clocked around 1800 words a day. This meant, on the rare occasion where I was pulled forcefully away form my writing desk, I never fell behind because my ‘word credit’ was still good. On the other hand, if I had let myself fall behind, it would have been far harder to catch up. So the lesson is; if you need to do x words a day aim for x+.

I have to admit, this method has been rewarding. My characters and plot have developed in ways I could have never imagined. Oh, I’ll still plan the snot out of my 2nd draft buuut I’ll have a wonderful 1st draft to work from.

I’m actually not done my novel but that’s okay. NaNo has given me a sense of how far I can push myself when I really need to. I’m going to complete it. Furthermore, I’ve pledged myself at least 1000 words a day knowing that 30’000 compared to 50’000 is easy.

What I will be up to?

The Childe Hel

My NaNo novel is about the Norse Goddess Hel. Not much is written about her. All that is known is:

  • Odin threw her into the underworld to gain dominion over it.
  • She’s a badass, everyone’s scared of her.
  • When Baldur goes to her domain it’s she who dictates to the Aesir the strict conditions for his return. The conditions are not met so Baulder says.

However, there’s no story, that I could find, on how she comes to power in the underword. When she’s tossed down there she’s a little kid. Therefore, I thought that a neat story would be how she fairs. This novel is about her growing up in the underworld.

When you were a kid you got Santa. I got the frozen wastes of Nifilheim.

When you were a kid you got Santa. I got the frozen wastes of Nifilheim.

It’s going to be a dark high fantasy about loyalty, family, love and war. At 50’058 words it’s about a third of the way through. Over this next month or three I’m going to finish the first daft and hammer out a solid second draft. Expect updates on it unless…

My Dark Crystal Novel (pretty please)

If I win Author’s Quest then my Dark Crystal novel will be my #1 priority period. If that happens you’ll here about it, trust me. 🙂

I’ll be orbiting the moon with delight.

ADX Anthology: Dragon Trinity Crash

David’s got my final draft of this. I’m waiting for him to release it to the backers before I share all the freebies I wrote about it. If you’re a fan of Slayers and/or Fate you’ll love this.

Space Pirate Alice Black: Blood Tribute

I’ve been pestering Jenny Xenotropos whose doing the art and layout. Truth is she’s super busy with commissions and Christmas stuff. She plans to get back on SPAB in January. Once she’s done I’ll be self publishing this on LuLu and/or RPG Drive Thru. More on this as it happens.

Knights of the Hidden Sun

Still shelved I’m afraid. So many new things have come up that I haven’t had a chance to take what Malcolm left me and finish the final draft. That being said…

I will finish this. My plan is, once I’ve written the 2nd draft of The Childe Hel, Hidden Sun will get the lion’s share of my attention. That is unless I win Author’s Quest. I don’t think anyone will blame me for choosing the next Dark Crystal novel over it. Regardless, I will finish Hidden Sun, one way or another, eventually.

And thaaat’s me.

I’ll update again sometime in January.

True North – Trickster

Posted in Cortex Plus, Roleplaying Games, RPG, True North, Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 14, 2013 by Chall
Oh snap! He has an accordion, run!

Oh snap! He has an accordion, run!

I grew up a scrawny wisp of a lad who got his ass handed to him in the playground every single day. The only time I won against  bullies was the rare occasion I’d outsmart them, otherwise it was Beats City for me.

I have no problem admitting this. It gave me a healthy hatred for arrogance and a useful suspicion against mankind.

As I grew up, I emphasized with wizards and tricksters.  Merlin, Luke Skywalker and Nanabush were my heroes.

Trickster then, is a callback to my days of getting the crud kicked out of me.  He uses his wit and cunning to take down the bundle of muscles I was afraid of as a kid.

Name: Trickster

Affiliations: Solo: D10 Buddy: D6 Team: D8


  • Shard of Hermes
  • Cunning Over Strength
  • Secret Good

Power Sets

God of Thieves

  • Shapechange: D10
  • Enhanced Durability (Animal Form): D8
  • Animal Speed/Flight/Swim (Animal Form): D8
  • Silver Tongue (Like mind control but not psychic): D8
  • Superhuman Reflexes (Human Form): D10
  • Enhanced Reflexes (Animal Form): 8D
  • Enhanced Senses (Animal Form): D8
  • Growth (Animal Form): D8
  • Shrinking (Animal Form): D10
  • Godlike Stamina: D12
  • Enhanced Strength (Animal Form): D8


  • God of Boxing: Step up Combat while fighting unarmed in human form.


  • Limited Shapechange: You cannot transform into fantastical creatures. Just human or non-extinct creatures, limited by your powers. Some powers will be limited or shut down depending on the form you take, for instance a mouse can’t have an 8D strength, an elephant can’t have D10 shrinking.
  • Keep Your Hand Hidden: Every scene you do not use one of your D10+ powers or specialties you get 1 PP. You no longer gain such a bonus if anyone figures out just how powerful you really are.


Acrobatic: D10, Combat: D8, Covert: D10, Crime: D10, Medical: D10, Mystic: D10, Psych: D8


  • Childhood: When the Gods of Olympus left Earth Hermes left a piece of himself behind. Trickster is that shard.
  • Day Job: Anything but being a God. He finds it much more fun to help humanity without humanity knowing his true nature. Besides, it’d be bad if Zeus found out Hermes left him behind.
  • Origin: Trickster has always had his powers.
  • As a Hero: He truly loves humanity and has been helping them in secret for centuries.
  • True North: Trickster was unfortunate enough to be in St. John’s during a hurricane. He ended up trapped in a collapsed building. True North dug him, and everyone else, out and he’s stuck with them ever since.


  • Trickster loves playing the part of the ‘dodgy hero’ while secretly devoting himself to the protection of mankind.
  • He’s comfortable taking any shape or sex and has had affairs with all sorts of characters throughout history.
  • Trickster hates those who are arrogant or bullies. Laying low a callous braggart is one of his chief joys.
  • In relation to Hallow: Trickster’s methods are not to Hallows liking, so much that he’s been kicked off the team several times. This hasn’t gotten rid of him though. Secretly he admires Hallow greatly.
  • In relation to Grave Walker: He gets along well with Michelle, she has a sense of humor.
  • In relation to The Angel of Montreal: He’ll talk big about ‘corrupting her’ but secretly he’ll do no such thing. Woe be to anyone who takes advantage of his little angel.
  • In relation to Nanuk: He made a secret deal to secure Nanuk’s patronage of True North. He doesn’t play games with this old Bear God, the slightest misstep on the deal will lead to disaster.

Trickster has no default form. Whatever form he/she’s in is his/her current mode. This suits Trickster fine.

True North – Nanuk

Posted in Cortex Plus, Fiction, RPG, True North, Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 14, 2013 by Chall
"Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minster, yes, lets discuss who owns the North."

“Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minster, yes, lets discuss who owns the North.”

Long ago 7 year old Chris heard Manfred Mann’s Mighty Quinn. Quinn sounded awesome and I wondered when he’d show up in the next episode of Super Friends. That was back when I didn’t know the difference between Marvel, DC and good taste.

As I grew older I fell in love with Marvel, and then DC, and then all my friends who liked Marvel would dis me for liking DC, and then I became jaded.

However, that catchy tune stayed in my head and hence Nanuk.

Before writing him up I did a bit of research and discovered the term Eskimo is offensive, hence why the character isn’t named ‘The Mighty Quinn.’ Also, after some soul searching, I came to the conclusion that, no I do not want an Inuit member of my super team being the ‘cute mascot’. Instead, I studied a bit of Inuit mythology and learned about Polar Bear; the Master of Bears. He is so powerful that if you successfully hunt him it’s only because he let you. If you do so with the proper reverence his spirit will tell his friends and you’ll be successful in further hunts. This, is fertile ground for an awesome character.

Thus, the cute little Eskimo in my mind became a regal spirit who’ll work with True North as long as he’s treated with respect.

Name: Nanuk

Affiliations: Solo: D8 Buddy: D6 Team: D10


  • Gracious Hunter
  • Almost Man
  • Out of Seclusion

Power Sets

Polar Bear Spirit

  • Enhanced Durability: D8
  • Elemental Control: Blizzard Mastery: D10
  • Water Speed: D6
  • Cold Resistance: D12
  • Growth: D8
  • Enhanced Stamina: D8
  • Superhuman Strength: D10
  • Teleport (Spirit World): D10


  • Unleashed: Step up Superhuman Strength for an action. If said action fails add a D10 to the doom pool.
  • Immortal: If you die, at the beginning of every adventure make a roll including Teleport (Spirit World) vs the doom pool. If you succeed you manifest back in your northern home, whole. You cannot come back if the killing blow was mystical in nature.


  • Animal Spirit: If you want to talk to humans, as opposed to animals, you must shape change into your human form. When this happens gain 1 PP and shut down Polar Bear Spirit. Fortunately you can speak every language. If you want to reactivate Polar Bear Spirit, spend 1 PP.
  • Righteous Fury: If you are ever stressed out emotionally gain an ‘Enraged’ condition equal to your Superhuman Strength and 1 PP. You’ll be under the control of the Watcher until you take an opportunity to calm down or someone defeats the condition, in which case you’ll be out of the scene as normal for being stressed out.

Combat: D8, Covert: D10, Medical: D8, Menace: D10, Mystic: D10


  • Childhood: Nanuk is an aspect of Nanuk, the Inuit Master of Bears. His childhood was the dawn of time.
  • Day Job: This shard of Nanuk’s duty is to aid True North. Not something he would normally do but there’s no accounting for Trickster.
  • Origin: Nanuk has always had his powers.
  • As a Hero: Nanuk is a spirit, not a hero. Still good but there is a difference.
  • True North: To quell an Elder God in the far north Trickster struck a secretive deal with Nanuk. After the mission the nature of the deal made this shard of Nanuk stay with the group. He’s been with True North ever since. He’s rather frightening but  will respect human laws as long as True North respects him.


  • Patient, alert, the consummate hunter.
  • This Nanuk is actually curious about the outside world. He’ll try new things, just in a cautious manner.
  • He’s proud, and has every right to be. He’s not arrogant but won’t stand for an insult.
  • In relation to Hallow: Because Hallow respects who Nanuk is, Nanuk will follow his lead. That is unless his directions are unwise, however, David has yet to disappoint.
  • In relation to Grave Walker: The jackal priestess understands him, they get along.
  • In relation to The Angel of Montreal: She’s a half spirit with a kind heart. Nanuk will accept the occasional impropriety from her, she means no offence.
  • In relation to Trickster: Their deal will hold, for now. Nanuk will not underestimate him.


  • Nanuk is a 15 foot tall polar bear with ice blue eyes and wicked claws and fangs.
  • When he switches to human form he’s a staggeringly handsome Inuit man, dressed in traditional garb that suits the current weather perfectly.

True North – The Angel of Montreal

Posted in Cortex Plus, Fiction, Publishing, Roleplaying Games, RPG, True North, Writing with tags , , , on August 14, 2013 by Chall
Unlike 'The Stone Angel', by Margret Laurence, this Angel did not traumatize 12 year old Chris.

Unlike the one by Margret Laurence, this stone angel did not traumatize 12 year old Chris.

True story, this character evolved from another one called Night.

Night starred in a short story I wrote for Guardian of Order’s  Path of the Just, I’ll admit it,  The Archer’s Skull, is IMO, one of my best short stories ever. I was graced with a reply with advice on how to make the story fit better with the anthology. It was professional and awesome, and though, ultimately, my story didn’t get picked,  I was honored to receive to feedback, from the likes of Jesse Scoble and James Lowder. They are true professionals.

The core of Night was a kindhearted young woman, who came to life in my imagination. Night, in turn, changed into The Angel of Montreal. Clara’s origin and powers are different but her kindhearted spirit remains the same.

This kindness is key. Clara, is a half-angel, a Nephilim. What’s interesting is that it’s her human half that’s kind. Angels, the way I see them, are like C.S. Lewis’ Asland; good but not safe. In my stories Angels are  powerful, beautiful, alien beings. They’re terrifying, able to bring both blessings and doom. Clara has that in her, but it’s guided by her kind, human heart.

And this is cool.

Too many heroes these days are jerks, we need more compassion.

Name: The Angel of Montreal – Clara

Affiliations: Solo: D6 Buddy: D8 Team: D10


  • Terrifying Beauty
  • Daughter of Heaven
  • Kind, Trusting, Heart

Power Sets


  • Superhuman Durability: D10
  • Subsonic Flight: D8
  • Mystic Sense: D6
  • Godlike Stamina: D12
  • Superhuman Strength: D10


  • Healing Touch: Add Endurance die to help others to recover physical stress. Or spend 1PP to automatically remove your target’s physical stress or step back his/her physical trauma.
  • Purge Illness: Spend 1 PP or suffer d4 Mental Trauma to completely remove any disease or poison related condition from 1 target.


  • Growing Dread:If you succeed with an extraordinary success while using your Nephilim power set, the Watcher can grant 1PP to activate Growing Dread. While Growing Dread is active all 1’s and 2’s, in die pools with the Nephilim power set, act as opportunities. You must accept at least a D6 emotional stress to turn off Growing Dread; you are horrified by your ‘shock and awe’ aspect.
  • Vulnerability, Magic Wards: If you cross a ward against magic suffer a D6 psychical stress. Keep doing so every panel you’re in the warded area. Powers that are designed to shut down magic power sets instead do physical damage to you. Receive 1PP whenever you suffer damage in this fashion.

Acrobatic: D10 Combat: D8 Mystic: D8 Psych: D10


  • Childhood: Clara’s father was archmage, based in Montreal, powerful enough to summon a high rank Angel. They fell in love and Clara was the result. Clara’s mother disappeared soon after her birth. Clara lived a loved, sheltered childhood; her father refused to let Clara out of his sight.
  • Day Job: Clara’s independently wealthy, as such can devote all her time to being a hero.
  • Origin: Clara’s father was killed by his own mystic machinations. He left everything to her, but she was ill prepared for the world.
  • As a Hero: Clara had no independent hero career before True North.
  • True North: One of True North’s first missions was to stop a mystic cult from kidnapping a wealthy heiress. This turned out to be Clara, the cultists wanted to bind her to power their own magics. Rather than drop her off at a meta lab True North took her in. Since then she’s been a key player on numerous missions and  become their most famous member, renowned world wide for facing down terrible evil and healing terminally ill children. She’s had offers to join prestigious American and British super teams, but she’s always refused. She knows her true home.


  • Incredibly sweet and also incredibly naive.
  • She’s terrified of her own power, afraid that she’ll accidentally kill someone.
  • She has a true, good heart. She works tirelessly as a hero of True North and also as the bearer of hope to impoverished, sick or injured kids.
  • In relation to Hallow: He pulled the necessary strings to ensure Clara remains a free and not a guinea pig in some lab. Clare, respects him greatly.
  • In relation to Grave Walker: Michelle’s like a big sister, a shoulder to lean on and a kind ear.
  • In relation to Nanuk: Clara is a little frightened of Nanuk. However, this fear is balanced with a deep respect.
  • In relation to Trickster: Clara knows he’s bad news but he’s so charming she can’t help but be his friend.


  • Clara has a statuesque beauty.
  • Her eyes glow with a silvery light. When she files she’s wreathed in a winged, silvery aura.
  • Her long hair is platinum blonde.
  • She’s the only member of True North with a ‘super suit’. She wears a blue and grey catsuit, reminiscent of the sky, with tall, blue, flat heeled boots. Thanks to her supernatural toughness, she’s as safe in this outfit as she would be in anything else
  • In civvies, Clara dresses in an elegant, expensive, fashion.

True North – Grave Walker

Posted in Cortex Plus, Fiction, Roleplaying Games, RPG, True North, Writing with tags , , , , on August 14, 2013 by Chall
A commission by Heather Bruton, her work is in In Nomine. I gots connectionz.

A commission by Heather Bruton, her work is in In Nomine. I gots connectionz.

Grave Walker’s been with me for a while.

I drafted a short story called the King of Nines, which was about tracking down a haunted gun. Later, I wrote another short story, a prequel, about her dad struggling with a blood curse. The third story, involved a child murderer who hoped to resurrect his son by sacrificing other children to various death gods.

I like these stories but the publishers I sent them to didn’t so they got rejected.

Oh well.

Perhaps I like the character too much? Perhaps she broaches on Mary Sue territory? I hope not. I leave you, the readers, to judge.

Grave Walker’s origin is inspired by the Grim’s fairy tale, Godfather Death. I chose Anubis specificaly because, A) he’s cool and B) he gets slagged in most modern stories. He is not an ‘evil god’ by any means, despite what the 80s would tell you. Heck, he was instrumental in resurrecting Osiris.

In my universe he’s a powerful, patient and awesome deity.

Name: Grave Walker – Michelle Graves

Affiliations: Solo: D10 Buddy: D6 Team: D8


  • Godfather Death
  • Urban Amazon
  • Compassionate Pyshcopomp

Power Sets

Anubis’ Goddaughter

  • Attack (Staff, Eternal Rest): D6
  • Invisibility: D8
  • Mystic Resistance: D10
  • Mystic Sense: D6
  • Sorcery (Pyshcopomp) Adept: D8
  • Teleport: D10


  • Area Teleport: When you teleport between graveyards, everyone who is travelling with you follows.
  • Afflict Terror: Use Sorcery to inflict a ‘terrified’ complication on a living target. Add a D6 and step up your effect die.
  • Undeadbane: Step up Eternal Rest twice when attacking undead.
  • Magic Weapon: Eternal Rest will hurt incorporeal targets, undead or no.


  • Limited Teleport: You can only teleport between graveyards.
  • Conscious Activation: When mentally stressed our or unconscious shut down Anubis’ Goddaughter. Recover power when stress is recovered or you wake up. If you suffer mental trauma, shut down power until you recover from said trauma. Gain 1 PP when Anubis’ Goddaughter is shut down in this way.

Acrobatic: D8 Business: D8 Combat: D8 Mystic: D8 Psych: D8


  • Childhood: Michelle grew up in Victoria BC. Her father was killed by a blood curse before she was born. She was raised by her mother. She had an odd childhood, with her godfather and various ghosts visiting her often.
  • Day Job: Michelle works in Toronto as a very successful undertaker.
  • Origin: Michelle’s father, William, was inflicted by a blood curse after disturbing an Egyptian artifact. It would have killed his daughter as well but he managed to save her by giving her to Anubis as a goddaughter. Anubis has been a constant presence in Michelle’s life and bestowed upon her some of his ancient rites.
  • As a Hero: Michelle never planned on being a hero but a number of child murders, that ended up on her table, forced her hand. She avoided the limelight, ‘this is serious business’, and became an urban legend. Given the nature of her magic the underworld feared her.
  • True North: Michelle was one of the experts brought in to diagnose Hallow’s condition. They became fast friends. He insisted she join True North as his second in command. Michelle accepted reluctantly. Now that Grave Walker is a public figure she’s been able to do more good but this has also complicated Michelle’s life significantly.


  • She has a calm, adventurous personality.
  • Outside of work she practices parkour and various marshal arts.
  • She’s a good listener and wise counselor.
  • In relation to Hallow: She was brought in to diagnose his condition. They became fast friends. When True North was founded she was asked to join and found she couldn’t refuse.
  • In relation to the Angel of Montreal: The nicest person Michelle knows, who can snap a Buick in half. Despite her raw power Clara’s the little sister Michelle never had.
  • In relation to Nanuk: Nanuk is a powerful spirit being, Michelle treats him with the same caution that she treats all powerful spirit beings.
  • In relation to Trickster: He’s funny and dangerous, a bad combo. In spite of her better judgement Michelle likes him.


  • A tall, African Canadian woman with an amazonian build.
  • Long black hair, usually bound in a pony tail or flowing loose behind her.
  • Dresses in a simple black tux for work. In other cases she dresses athletically.
  • Costume is black tactical armor and an Anubis mask.

Note: If you’d like to see more of Heather Bruton’s work, go here.

True North – Hallow

Posted in Cortex Plus, Roleplaying Games, RPG, True North with tags , , on August 14, 2013 by Chall
Not quite the hah hah fest most people think , when they think 'Canada'.

Not quite the hah hah fest most people think , when they think ‘Canada’.

This character used to be called Canadian Shield, my answer to Captain Canuk and Captain America. David Wu, a super Mountie, whose body was a spirit temple. He could call upon the powers of ‘the ancestors’ to gain strength and insight.

He’s was a king, a warrior, saint, and incredibly bland. On taking a harder glance at this character I realized gaining power form ‘the ancestors’ was wishy-washy and also a cheap gimmick for a character with Asian ancestry.

So I changed the nature of David’s origin story. In short, a brush with a necormantic altar caused him to devour 13 souls and gain poltergeist like powers. The trick is, even though his origin is grim he’s still the same, decent guy.

This isn’t me ‘Nolanising’ the character. Yes his background is darker but the character is good. A true test of a Hero is being heroic even when the world is dark. The new ‘Canadian Shield’, Hallow, still has strong moral fortitude, an inspiring presence and no self-loathing emotude.

Hallow – David Wu

Affiliations: Solo: D6 Buddy: D8 Team: 10D


  • Canadian Paragon
  • Their Deaths Were Not In Vain
  • Everything Above Board

Power Set

Phantom Gestalt

  • Telekentic Control: D8
  • TK Blast: D8
  • Flight: D8
  • Enhanced Stamina: D8


  • Focus: Shut down two powers to step up a third until your next action.


  • Visions: For 1 PP shut down one power and suffer the ‘Haunted’ complication at the same die level. Haunting visions, from the Ghosts you’ve consumed, cloud your mind. Occasionally they’ll contain sage advice. Activate an opportunity or remove the complication to recover the power.

Combat: D8 Crime: D8 Mystic: D8 Pysch: D10


  • Childhood: David Wu grew up in St. John’s with his two parents, younger brother and older sister. He had a normal childhood. His family has strong Chinese roots but he’s all Canadian.
  • Day Job: Before gaining his powers David was a Mountie.
  • Origin: During an RCMP raid on a necromancer cult, David took cover behind the grand alter. As such, he was ground zero when the ritual hit. He inadvertently devoured 13 souls. In the ensuing chaos the cultists escaped.
  • As a Hero: After the ‘N Event’David was treated at a meta study facility . Experts were brought in and determined the morbid cause of David’s powers. He was horrified and swore ‘Their deaths will not be in vain.’ He strove to be the best hero possible, largely to great success. As Hallow he stopped numerous meta threats and saved thousands of lives. The public saw him as Canada’s superhero, very much in the style of Captain Canuk.
  • True North: David is a natural choice as the CO of True North, he’s accepted his post with humble respect.


  • The nature of his powers still haunt him.
  • Despite this, he’s witty and upbeat.
  • He’s very much for law and order, as such despises abuse of police power.
  • In relation to Grave Walker: She was the last expert brought in to diagnose his condition. She couldn’t undo the damage but David and her became fast friends. She was his first pick for True North.
  • In relation to the Angel of Montreal: He took a risk taking her in and has never regretted it. Angel is the heart and soul of the team.
  • In relation to Nanuk: David doesn’t pretend to be Nanuk’s master. He’s grateful for his help and proud to have him on the team.
  • In relation to Trickster: Trickster’s a wild card, David doesn’t like that. However, Trickster’s also incredibly useful and deep down David knows he’s good for the group.


  • Handsome in an athletic, clean cut sort of way.
  • Short black hair, brown eyes.
  • In civvies he wears clean, common clothes.
  • Costume is white tactical armor, with a white torch crest over a red maple leaf.

True North

Posted in Cortex Plus, Roleplaying Games, RPG, True North with tags , , , on August 14, 2013 by Chall
No, this is not the Maple Story Logo you philistines.

No, this is not the Maple Story Logo you philistines.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t happy with my last two posts.

I wrote them on a whim and didn’t give enough attention/love to characters who’ve been bopping around in my head for years.

In that regard this will be a do over. This isn’t to say I’m removing my old posts, I’m just not linking them to True North.

Yay! You get to see the difference between my shlock work and when I actually try.

So, on with the redo.

First of all I’m Canadian and proud of it. Yes, I always say sorry. Of course, I love maple syrup. No, I’m actually ambivalent about Hockey. Yes, Stephen Harper is an anomaly, we’ll soon defeat him with kindness.

As a Canuk I’ve grown up with American superheroes. I would have read Alpha Flight buuut 12 year old Chris didn’t have access to such comics. Captain Canuk was interesting but sadly didn’t make as solid impression as say Superman or Captain America.

So here’s my attempt to even the score in my own, small world. The following posts will cover my Canadian super team, written up in Cortex Plus, for Phantasm. They’re called True North.

Note:  True North is taken from our national Anthem, . . . with glowing hearts, we see thee rise, the true north strong and free. You may have heard a different anthem but that was Rick Mercer punking you.

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.

Fate Core – Secret of NIMH

Posted in Fate, Roleplaying Games, RPG, Secret of NIMH with tags , , , on June 1, 2013 by Chall

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.