Thursday, September 7, 2017

Fat (Loot) Cave: Base Raiders Fate Core

I love, love Base Raiders. Every time I revisit the concept, I’m struck by how cool it is. It manages to do something completely new with supers gaming and traditional dungeon crawls. The short pitch: all of the world’s superbeings have vanished and it’s clear they’re never coming back. A few stragglers remain: d-listers, sidekicks, those with latent abilities.More importantly: all of the superbeings’ STUFF stayed behind. There are dungeons scattered across the world: lairs, secret bases, island fortresses. Now a class of “Base Raiders” has emerged hunting for wealth, DiY superpowers, secrets, or beyond.

I ran Base Raiders for the final game in my Gauntlet Hangouts “Month of Fate” trilogy. It originally used the “Strange Fate” rules of Kerberos Club. I’d run it using that once before, but wanted something lighter, more manageable, and associated with more recent Fate Core. I’ve also run it using Action Cards and have written up a partial hack for using 13th Age with it. But this time I went with stunt-based Fate adaptation.

I took elements from Atomic Robo and Venture City Stories for this. However I skipped the power FX elements from the latter. In play they’ve been more confusing than interesting. Instead I built everything on straight stunts and bundled those together into a power set with a narrower drawback element. Players could consider their Power Stunt Set title as an additional aspect.

Once per story, players could mark their drawback element to boost the power set. If they did so, they could add +4 to a roll OR mitigate all damage from an attack. This then triggered the drawback. This gave one of three effects: Burn-out means they lost the power set until they had time between scenes to cool down. Debility gave a negative aspect with two free invokes for enemies. Collateral Effect meant something of value gets damaged. This approach needs work. While some of Venture City Stories' collateral effects don’t make as much sense in a base, my approach felt a little weak as well.

I also went with a tighter skill list: Aim, Athletics, Deceive, Fight, Investigate, Knowledge, Physique, Provoke, Rapport, Stealth, Tech, Thief, and Will. It worked decently, although given the nature of the set-up, Tech became a potent fallback skill. It might be different in a magical super base. I’m not sure if that needs to get broken up in some way. I also used the fifth action type: Discover.

As a dungeon-crawler, Base Raiders means loot. The original version has an involved system for tracking this with weight and cash value. I wanted something different. I came up with the idea that characters could make a single salvage check in a room (with investigate, knowledge, tech, or thief). Only one person could make the roll, but they could get the assist bonus from their party. Each shift of success would translate into 1 Loot point, meaning valuables they could sell when they got home. As well, they could choose to give up two shifts to get Intel or Gear. Each Intel could be spent to later ask a question or establish a fact. Each Gear could be spent to produce something specific or grant a +2 to a roll.

It’s not a bad system and gave us something concrete to work from. Rooms could have “items” outside of this scheme. Originally I’d intended to set difficulties for different rooms depending on how hard it would be to get good stuff from them. In practice, I skipped that and used a default 0 difficulty. That made it more colorless, so I should have stuck with my original approach.

I ran the adventure from the back of the core book. You can see the sessions here (Session One, Session Two). I made a couple of changes from my previous runs. First, I left out the “legwork” phase of finding the location of the base. In that past that had eaten up more time than I’d cared for. I did some basic connection building instead. Two, I used a ‘satellite’ base, something from the original which I’d skipped before. That offered a nice bit that I’ll use again in the future. Three, I had some “friendlies” in the base. I chose that for session two because of a background detail one of the players had come up with (that he was one of several clones of an evil mastermind).

I dug the session, though I ended up compressing more at the end than I wanted. I could have easily had another session or two. Because I’ve been exposed to more dungeon-crawly adventures recently via The Gauntlet and Fear of a Black Dragon, I’ve been thinking about how you might adapt existing fantasy modules to this. In particular I wonder if you could do a “superhero funnel”? Overall I had a good time and I’ll definitely run BR again next year. I’m hoping that designer Ross Payton returns to this setting. It’s solid and worth developing.

Below are the six re-gens I used for the game. The players chose the first four characters (Aurelio the Mongoose, Denny Blackstone, Doctor Epsilon, and Raz (aka Razputin).

You're a potent martial artist trained from photocopied ancient scrolls
What made you decide to take a risk on a mail-order superhero course?
What's kept you from continuing on with your training?
What do you want most out of your superhero life?
High Concept: Taught by Visions from an Atlantaen Dojo
Trouble: Unfinished Training Course
Drive: Strong Must Protect the Weak
Refresh 2
Great (+4): Fight
Good (+3): Athletics, Physique
Fair (+2): Investigate, Knowledge, Provoke
Average (+1): Deceive, Provoke, Stealth, Thief

  • Drawback: Lockdown (debility)
  • Armor: 2
  • You gain an additional physical stress box.
  • Whenever one of your physical consequences begins to recover, it gets renamed and moved to the next lower consequence slot, if available. This clears away mild consequences immediately. Additionally, at the end of a scene, if you have any mild physical consequences—whether they are recovering or not—clear away automatically.

  • Drawback: Chi Inflammation (burnout)
  • When you Fight a close group of targets, you deal full damage shifts to all of them.
  • You ignore the first 2 points of protection of any target you strike.
  • In a physical conflict, you always act first. If someone else in the conflict has a stunt that gives them the same ability, make an Athletics roll to see who goes first.
  • When you use Fight to defend in melee and succeed with style, sacrifice your next action to immediately inflict an attack on your opponent at the shift value of your defense. For example, if you get four shifts on your defense, you’d deal a 4-shift hit to the attacker. You can’t do this again until you have another “next action” to spend (after your skipped turn goes by).
  • You are preternaturally graceful, and gain +2 to Athletics when leaping, balancing, or otherwise demonstrating your agility. In addition, you have a prodigious leap: leaping up to a second-story window or from rooftop to rooftop across a wide alleyway is a simple task that, without further complication, requires no Athletics roll.

You're a street-dirty bearer of magical powers
What do your powers look like?
What illness are you suffering from?
What price did you pay to get your magic?
High Concept: Gutter Mage
Trouble: Slowly Killing My Body
Drive: Know All the Secrets
Refresh 1
Great (+4): Knowledge
Good (+3): Contacts, Stealth
Fair (+2): Deceive, Provoke, Rapport
Average (+1): Athletics, Investigate, Physique, Will

  • Drawback: Karmic Justice (burnout)
  • You may use Knowledge to defend against attacks. When you use Knowledge to create a problematic aspect on a target, you always gain +1 invoke.
  • You may use Knowledge instead of Aim to attack at range.
  • Once per scene, you may ask the GM a question about future events, the likely outcomes of your actions, or any other information you can only access through seeing the future. The GM must answer as honestly as possible, but may be vague.
  • You can fritz out nearby machines using Knowledge. Something computerized will put up Fair (+2) opposition, and more complex and powerful computers will offer greater opposition.

  • Drawback: Exhausting (debility) *note: all of these effect are potent, but have problems*
  • You can use Aim to shoot every target near you at full strength. However, if you do so you will always hit something or someone you don’t want to.
  • You can blow open the door to a bank vault, destroy a reinforced wall, or otherwise eradicate an obstacle. This is slow and imprecise and will tear up the entire room.
  • You can create a temporary army of duplicates, but you can’t control them. This creates a swarm of you-NPCs under the GM’s control.
  • Once per scene, if someone is taken out (including you), you can draw on crazy sorcery. Not only does this completely negate all the stress which would have caused the target to be taken out, it also clears your target’s highest consequence. After that, your magic goes haywire while dishing out some collateral damage.

You're a clone of a now vanished super-villain
What was Dr. Pangloss known for?
How did you break away from your mental or physical conditioning?
Who has been hunting you?
High Concept: Genetically Augmented Intellect
Trouble: Clone of Villainous Dr. Pangloss
Drive: Transhumanism for All
Refresh 1
Great (+4): Investigate
Good (+3): Aim, Tech
Fair (+2): Deceive, Knowledge, Will
Average (+1): Fight, Provoke, Rapport, Stealth

  • Drawback: Visions of a Villain’s Life (debility)
  • You get a +2 to Knowledge, Investigate, and Tech rolls whenever they involve science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics.
  • Whenever you succeed with style on an overcome action to repair a piece of machinery, you can immediately give it a new situation aspect (with a free invoke) reflecting the improvements you’ve made, instead of just a boost.
  • Once you see how someone fights, you can exploit their weaknesses. When someone deals physical stress to you in a conflict, you gain +2 to all attack rolls against them until the end of the scene.
  • You have any number of fantastically useful contraptions tucked into your utility belt. You can spend a fate point to create just about anything you could possibly carry on your person.
  • You have a disguise maker which can alter your face, build, and voice at will in order to become a completely different person. Once you spend time interacting with someone, you can imitate them near-perfectly. Gain a +2 bonus to Deception to oppose others trying to see through your disguise.

  • Drawback: Field Test Errors (burnout)
  • When you attack with Aim, you have Weapon 2. Additionally, when you make a successful attack, you may trade in 2 shifts to Create an Advantage on the target. You may do this multiple times.
  • You throw out energy blasts quickly and accurately enough to intercept other projectiles. You can defend using Aim against ranged attacks.

You're a mentalist who fled from a dangerous organization
What illness is your sister suffer from?
Who did you run away from?
What distinctive effect or trace do your powers leave behind?
High Concept: Psychic Agent on the Run
Trouble: Illegal Tenno-Kanna Training Program Dropout
Drive: Find a Cure for my Sister
Refresh 1
Great (+4): Will
Good (+3): Deceive, Rapport
Fair (+2): Contacts, Investigate, Tech
Average (+1): Athletics, Knowledge, Stealth, Thief

  • Drawback: Echoing Backlash (burnout)
  • You may use Will to make ranged attacks against living targets. This ignores Armor and only requires line of sight.
  • Questioner. You have a +2 to Discover actions when directly questioning a target face-to-face.
  • You can silently & mentally communicate with persons you know at any distance.
  • Once per scene you may mark mental stress in place of physical.

  • Drawback: Cyclone of Damage (collateral effect)
  • You can move physical objects to make attacks with Will.
  • You can use Will to lift large objects. Lifting something human-sized is a Fair (+2) obstacle, while a car is a Great (+4) obstacle.
  • You can erect a barrier between yourself and another area, which lasts until the end of the scene or you will it away. This barrier is transparent, but no matter can pass through it. When someone attempts to attack through the barrier, or attacks the barrier itself, you intercept the attack, using Will to defend. If the attack succeeds, you may either take the shifts as mental stress or allow the barrier to shatter and take mental stress equal to half of the shifts, rounded down. You may erect multiple barriers, but each active barrier after the first reduces your Will roll to defend by one.
  • You can move vertically through the air as easily as moving along the ground. Use Will to overcome obstacles or create advantages related to flying.

You're an escapee from a super-laboratory
Have you always been this way? If not what were you before? If so what do you recall of your "birth"?
How reptilian are you? What do you look like?
What do you know about the person(s) who did this to you?
High Concept: Engineered Reptilian Assassin
Trouble: Scaly Abomination
Drive: Find the Truth of My Past
Great (+4): Fight
Good (+3): Physique, Stealth
Fair (+2): Athletics, Provoke, Thief
Average (+1): Aim, Investigate, Knowledge, Tech
Refresh 1

  • Drawback: Ruthless Frenzy (collateral effect)
  • As long as you’re using brute strength, you get a +2 to Physique rolls and a +2 to Fight rolls. 
  • You have Armor: 2 against physical attacks like punches, stabs, gunshots, and getting thrown through buildings.)
  • You can leap off the wall to put a little more punch into your punches. You gain +2 to Fight if you can attack someone by jumping off a wall.
  • If you can see a projectile coming, you can get out of its way with some clever gymnastics. You gain +2 to defense rolls when dodging ranged attacks.

  • Drawback: Vitality Drain (debility)
  • You can blend with the background, granting you a +4 bonus to Stealth rolls to avoid visual notice.
  • Fade Away. You can choose to disappear—leave a scene—anytime. Spend a fate point to come back.
  • You can move along any solid surface, even upside-down, as easily as you move along the ground. In addition, you get +2 to Athletics while navigating obstacles that involve climbing.
  • When you Create Advantage from surprise, you always gain an extra invoke.

You're the former protégé of a now missing famed vigilante
What was your mentor known for?
What happen that causes your flashbacks?
Who do you go to for equipment and repairs?
High Concept: Shadowy Rooftop Avenger
Trouble: Sidekick Without a Master
Drive: I Will Solve the Mystery of Ragnarok
Great (+4): Athletics
Good (+3): Fight, Investigate
Fair (+2): Aim, Provoke, Stealth
Average (+1): Contacts, Knowledge, Physique, Thief

  • Drawback: Flashbacks to Capture (debility)
  • Once per session, at the cost of a fate point, you can reduce the severity of a moderate consequence that’s physical in nature to a mild consequence (if your mild consequence slot is free), or erase a mild consequence altogether.
  • When you create an advantage on an opponent using Provoke, you can use your free invocation to become the target of that character’s next relevant action, drawing their attention away from another target.
  • Hardcore Parkour. +2 to overcome actions with Athletics if you are in a chase across rooftops or a similarly precarious environment.
  • Always a Way Out. +2 on Burglary rolls made to create an advantage whenever you’re trying to escape from a location.

  • Drawback: Out for Repairs (burnout)
  • You gain +2 to Physique in all situations that require pure strength.
  • Add an additional +2 bonus when using Full Defense to defend yourself in combat. If used to defend others, gain 2 Armor Rating instead.
  • Add +2 Weapon Rating to an attack where you also invoke a consequence the defender has.
  • Spend 1 Fate Point as an opponent is about to make a Fight attack against you. You may interrupt this attack with an attack of your own. This attack does not count against your next action. If your opponent is still active, he may then attack normally.

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