Thursday, November 29, 2012

FATE Library: Spirit of the Century

"Pulp on Shaker Table" c. 2012 by John Everett Till

There is an internet meme*  in circulation right now in which people are showing off their game collections. That would be quite a project for me, and I like the variant of this meme (fadduole?) in which people show only the books that they actually USE when blogging  and/or at the gaming table. Well, I am going to go one further and do a series of posts featuring the individual FATE books in my library, and what I have done with them.

First up is Spirit of the Century, the first RPG powered by FATE.

First, my rating system:

  • Book Condition? Battle damaged, thoroughly page-flagged. Lulu FATE ladder bookmark (to the right of the book in the photo) in pristine condition
  • Actually Read? Numerous times
  • Ever Played? Held the first SOTC games in public venues in MN. GMed SOTC too many times to count, all one-shots. Never a player.
  • Science Fiction? We've gone to pulp Mars, Skull Island, and Multiversal Moorcockian Brooklyn!

As I am sure many people who follow this blog are aware, SOTC is a pulp RPG, both in terms of setting and mechanics. It has a default early 20th Century setting featuring the Century Club (a way to get PCs together in one organization and feed them adventures), but really a GM can either use the Century Club or discard it in favor of some other campaign narrative structure/organizational principle. This is especially the case since character generation in SOTC uses the traditional FATE approach (this FATE tradition started here!) of collaborative character generation.

I have heard many players who have been through this collaborative process state that this creates the most cohesive PC parties they have ever been part of. Many people are used to that play environment now, but I recall the nasty 90s when every Shadowrun and White Wolf game I was in had players withholding information from each other - just because.

It was so bad back then that I remember Sam Chupp explicitly telling the players in a WW II pulp convention scenario (with Mage 1st ed.) that there was no point in withholding information from each other: We were the heroes! 

At any rate, SOTC chargen works to create cohesive parties because players share power so evenly in character creation: players take turns helping each other create the most interesting and flavorful characters possible. I have seen players struggle to find the right way to write someone else's character into their own PCs story, and I have seen people struggle with choosing tasty Aspects for their character. But I have never seen a player "just phone it in" or "go through the motions" during collaborative character generation. Everyone is playing their "A-game"!

SOTC came out a bit after Bruce Baugh's Adventure! and like that White Wolf game introduced mechanics for players (as opposed to player characters) to reshape or re-channel the story narrative in new directions. SOTCs metagaming mechanics are much more robust and granular than those in Adventure! (which I have never run or had the chance to  play, unfortunately).

The system rewards players who are quick on their feet linguistically (as opposed to mathematically adept, or gifted rote-mechanically). I think the game also works best with a GM who is willing to handwave some mechanical details (rather than looking things up) and keep things moving. The Ladder is the GM's friend, and if you have it, The Ladder bookmark that came with the Lulu print run of the game should be Xeroxed onto the PCs character sheets for quick reference.

SOTC was expressly designed for pick-up play, but it is an incredibly crunchy game. For pick-up play, the GM will either need to handwave some Stunts' details (or perhaps let people play without Stunts entirely). It works best with players who trust each other and their GM and are at the table primarily to have some fun.

*I won't get into a long discussion here of why "meme" is an incoherent and idealist rather than materialist explanation of how information spreads.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Anagogue; Or, The Whirlpool Gate

The Imperial Throneship Anagogue exited from realspace and entered into history when its slipspace transition coincided in spacetime with the precipitation of a hyperspace mine out of the lowest enumeration of hyperspace. (Such precipitations are rare enough to pose little aggregate threat to interstellar shipping. Hyperspace mines usually only precipitate in this manner when they become entangled in the wake of cloaked vessels that are leaving hyperspace.)

The detonation of the mine transported the ship's crew and passengers somewhere else. It bounced the wrecked vessel back into realspace in the Aclys System, its original point of departure. The Angaogue then became a visible singularity.

The ruined ship became a pulsar of sorts, undergoing a recurrence of its original detonation once every 1.275 standard hours. The vessel now lies at the center of a permanent whirlpool of entangled realspace-slipspace-hyperspace, surrounded by other wrecked vessels caught up in its eddies.

The Aclys System was subsequently evacuated forcibly, and has been declared a closed system.

However, the story does not end there. With greater and greater frequency, a variety of unauthorized and unidentified ships with various advanced designs have been detected leaving the Aclys System. Still other vessels with cloaking devices or other blockade-runner rigging. have been detected after entering the system.

Imperial observers speculate that the Anagogue's recursive detonations have created gate conditions between our native space-time continuum and several others. The resulting gating effect propagates ripples that act as a hyperspace beacon attracting prospectors and explorers.

The Imperial Sovereign recently dispatched an Imperial Survey Expedition to explore the wreck of the Anagogue and investigate the incursions into the closed Aclys System. The survey vessel was unfortunately disaggregatated by a hyperwave burst just as it neared completion of its mission. Fortunately, it was able to insert a record buoy into hyperspace before it was destroyed.

The Imperial Survey Expedition  reported that there were:
  • Numerous corpses - human, known alien, and unknown alien - on board the Anagogue
  • Many vessels - clearly damaged - forming a nimbus of space hulks around the Anagogue
  • Makeshift modifications in the ship's interior, including repairs and demolitions, improvised bulkheads, and propped open  hatchways, as well as unrecognizable technologies that had been apparently grafted onto the ship's exterior and interior
  • Several energy hotspots which moved inexplicably around the ostensibly dead ship
  • Spiderweb fractures in the fabric of spacetime surrounding the wreck; these fractures heal and re-propagate after every burst, up to a radius of 1 milliparsec from the vessel
Further investigation is recommended, provided a relatively safe method of doing so can be identified. Formal requests for assistance have been made to the Mir Civil Engineering Corps and to the RUR Workers-State's Navigation Safety Committee in pursuit of this goal.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Open Portals and Broken Rooms

This past weekend, I discovered an extremely comprehensive list and set of links to types of portals and ways between places, courtesy of Porky's Expanse!, one of the most intriguing game blogs out there. 

Take a look at it. Scroll down a bit. There's a lot to it.

Some examples are more fantasty-oriented, while others are decidedly science fictional.

I could have posted the link over on The Everwayan, which is of course dedicated to gate-based multi-sphere fantasy gaming. It also seems apropos of NJW Games' post today on Ikea worldbuilding, since gates or means of getting from one place to another are an important consideration when creating the kind of modular settings the post describes.

As I said above, some of Porky's examples are more fantasy-oriented and other are more science fictional. But perhaps the science fiction vs. fantasy distinction isn't as important or meaningful as it used to be. Thanks perhaps to the increasing prominence of Asian SF in the form of anime over the last couple decades, these distinctions - which were important in the West for roughly a century - are beginning to feel more and more artificial.

So in that spirit, stay tuned in the near future for a post or two over at The Everwayan on a new SF RPG called Broken Rooms.  The game features thirteen versions of Earth which diverged on August 13, 2002. The PCs are called Nearsiders; they are people with the power to shift between worlds, most of which are in very bad shape in quite different ways.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Nautiloids On Kepler 22-B

"The Nautiloids" by SaraRichard

The Nautiloids are an intelligent, tool-using marine race on Kepler 22-B. But they are not native to this world. Deft, agile, subtle, the Nautiloids have learned how to slip directly from one world to another without using spacecraft. They seek out habitats that are rich in life and explore ancient places there, gathering knowledge and technology.

The Nautiloids don't sell what they acquire, and they don't share what they learn. They colonize worlds that promise the prospect of long-term benefit for their species, but always move part of their colony population onward in search of new worlds. They believe migration and colonization are the greatest forms of wealth and leverage.

Nautiloids are highly social, live in large groups, and communicate with each other by means of subtle changes in coloration as well as by means of chemical messengers delivered tentacle-to-mouth. They feed on shellfish and other small sea creatures, and work together to harvest these creatures. They have learned how to modify their environment in order to escape predation by the numerous hostile and hard-bodied life forms of Kepler 22-B's seas - creatures both large and small. But moving in open waters always involves risk.

The Nautiloids can escape pursuing predators by releasing ink jets that obscure their immediate environment. Alternatively, they can bio-synthesize a variety of other chemicals including toxins and hallucinogens that can then be released through their water jet organ.

Nautiloids also use Enigma Boxes to create or gain access to high technology weapons, biological robots, and quick-hardening coral foam. Their connection to these artifacts underscores the Nautiloids' own alien origin, but its uncertain whether these devices came with the Nautiloids or are just another of their acquisitions.



  • Super (+5): Culture/Tech 
  • Great (+4): Agility (Cloud Attack), Slug Throwers (Jabbari fish*) 
  • Good (+3): Alertness, Energy Weapons (combat), Science
  • Decent (+2):  Craft: Toxins, Navigation (space), Resolve, Survival (Oceans)
  • Average (+1): Computers (space), Craft (shape coral foam), Medical, Repair, Stealth

STRESS TRACKS: Health 3, Composure 4

  • Cloud Weapon: Either release a cloud of ink to immediately move two zones away from attackers, OR place a taggable Aspect of Poisoned or Drugged on any non-Nautiloid in the same zone (+2 stress to any attack as with Diaspora poison rules, p. 113).
  • Access Engima: Spend 1 FP to use an Enigma Box to access information, produce coral foam, create Jabbari fish, or exude a beam weapon.

  • Migratory tech scavengers 
  • Machines can't keep their secrets from us
  • Swim between worlds

*Handle as a Throwing Knife (poisoned).

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sandpiper Mechs Land On Kepler 22-B!

Art by Jason Stokes

The Yrkoon Corporation, a front for the criminal Cojuangco crime syndicate, has landed Sandpiper-class mechs in Sector I-5 of Kepler 22-B. This is a flagrant violation of the Bituin Expedition's assertion of territorial rights of the Philippines Kasama Peoples Republic (PKPR). This is in essence an act of war.

The landing occurred on the northern edge of Hex 113.73. This hex is the mouth of a river that leads west from a great inland bay on the western mainland.

Responding to this incursion requires the dispatch of a special expeditionary force from the Bituin Expedition.  Because of the presence of Cojuangco allies among the Bituin crew, the assault force will be composed exclusively of PKPR loyalists.

The landing also raises a few questions:
  • Why didn't the Yrkoon Corporation land its assets on the same island where New Manila Bay is located? 
  • Is there something significant in Hex 113.73, or upriver from there?
  • Why did the Yrkoon Corporation's dropship turn tail and run for the slipknot as soon as they dropped their mechs planetside?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Mosasauroids And Nautiloids

In the depths of New Manila Bay, there is a war. Two intelligent species are engaged in a deadly battle for survival. Huge, swift moving mosasauroids - some almost 18 M long - are locked in a deadly battle with intelligent, tool-using nautiloids - most of the latter between .5 and 1 M in length.

The Mosasauroids have the size advantage, but while they have great intelligence, their limbs are not useful for tool use. In contrast, the nautiloids are able to use their tentacles to manipulate the Enigma Boxes on the floor of New Manila Bay to great advantage:

The nautiloids know how to induce the Enigma Boxes to secrete Tool Discharges from their storage vacuoles, including: 
  • Biodegradable beam weapons ; the beam weapons are optimized for nautiloid use;*
  • Jabbari fish** - small biological fish-robots filled with radioactive toxins;
  • Quick hardening coral foam, which the nautiloids can shape into fixed coral-like shelter labyrinths
Only one or two members of a nautiloid pod will approach the Enigma Boxes to evoke these discharges. The Enigma Boxes emit radiation and it is deadly to be in prolonged contact with them. Nautiloids who are skilled in manipulating the Enigma Boxes often have radiation burns, scars, or missing/withered limbs from their encounters. Some also develop psychic abilities and have access to the knowledge stored within Enigma Box libraries.

*The Bay floor is littered with the biodegrading remains of discharged beam weapons
**A tip of the hat to Frank Herbert's Dune (and of course the nautiloids are inspired by Olaf Stapledon)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dinosauroid Eggs in Sector I-5

Photo c. 2012 John Everett Till

At First Glance: These large plant structures, each about 1 M tall and 2 M across, serve as incubators for the reptiloids' eggs. Dubbed Incubator Trees by the Bituin Expedition crew, these structures create a moist, warm environment for the development. Crew members have observed reptiloids transplanting various plants into the muck at the base of the Incubator Trees.

The crew made one attempt to take a closer look at these trees, but was forced to turn back when they were pelted by a barrage of mud balls and a flurry of poison darts from the reptiloids hidden among the mangrove trees surrounding the lagoon where Incubator Trees were found. The three crew hit with these poison darts experienced paralysis followed by respiratory failure.

Deep Background: Reptiloids use Incubator Trees to nurture the fertilized eggs of their species. The rizomatic structures at the base of Incubator Trees extrude into deep into the muck in which the trees are planted, and absorb and process chemical signals from other plant material in the muck. The development of individual fertilized eggs can be modified by exposure to specific plants that the reptiloids place in the muck surrounding the Incubator Trees. The development of each specific egg is determined by its relative proximity to various plants paced in the muck surrounding an Incubator Tree. Specific developmental variations can include alterations in biochemistry, morphology, or behavior.

Incubator Trees are the basis for an inter-clan economy. The Egg Trade features exchanges of  highly specialized egg-lines for shell currency and other items of value including marriage offers, fishing rights to specific lagoons, and samples/seeds of different plants. Egg-lines are primarily developmental rather than genetic, each existing due to a specific combination and arrangement of chemical messenger-secreting plants around an Incubator Tree. These arrangements and combinations of plants are carefully guarded trade secrets of each clan, since they are the basis of comparative advantage in the egg-trade.



  • Sophisticated natural biochemical factories
  • Never left unguarded
  • A clan's source of wealth

Common Egg-lines Stunt Table

Roll 4DF and consult the results below.
  • -4    Feathered Shaman (Psychic, Disapora, p. 222-224)
  • -3    Advanced Tool Maker (Spend 1 FP to invent a new tool) 
  • -2    Chameleon  (Bends light around body)
  • -1    Regeneration (Regenerate 3 stress points  per round)
  •  0    Giantism (+1 to Health stress track)
  • +1   Poison spitter (Use Close Combat skill + Poison rules, p.113)
  • +2   Endurance diver (Operate for 60+ minutes under water)
  • +3   Leaper (Move one additional zone per round)
  • +4   Flyer (Move two additional zones per round)

Celebrating Our 100th Post At FATE SF

Just in time for our 100th post at FATE SF take a look at the beautiful new masthead at the top of the blog, courtesy of Jim Garrison of Hereticwerks!

We started the FATE SF blog back in May 2012 with the ambition of increasing the visibility of FATE-based SF gaming in the blogosphere. We also hoped to create a nexus point for SF-related content for FATE games.

We hope that the blog has helped to make FATE-based SF games more visible on the internet! Our project has involved creating examples of how games such as Diaspora and Starblazer Adventures can be used to build new or emulate classic SF aliens, spaceships, planets, organizations, and more. To help build that out, FATE SF has also featured two default settings:
  • The Empire, a space opera sandbox inspired by the: "organizations" that my friends and I created in the days immediately before the dawn of roleplaying. My first organization was called Bloodbath. That somewhat sanguine organization soon gave way to the United Empire, the inspiration for my Empire posts here. Moving forward, we will be focusing exclusively on Starblazer Adventures as the default system for The Empire, although I believe that trend is already well-established in recent posts.
  • Kepler 22-B, Sector I-5. This is a shared world (literally) hosted at the Strange New World blog. Intended as a collaborative SF hexcrawl, different contributors are developing different parts of the planet. System-free content for my sector is posted directly to the SNW blog; additional setting content, Easter eggs, and FATE-specific content are posted here on FATE SF. While contributions for the various sectors being developed on SNW are all over the map in terms of space operaticity vs. hard SFness, for Sector I-5, I am going for a soft, hard SF feel. Moving forward, my FATE SF posts for Kepler 22-B will use Diaspora exclusively.

Thanks are due to several people for inspiring me and helping me launch FATE SF. Jim and Jody Garrison of Hereticwerks have been a major help as well as a major inspiration. The Swords and Stitchery blog was another major (and hyper-real influence), as is Porky's Expanse, which just won an important blogging award.

Most of all, I'd like to thank the players of my first Diaspora campaign, Rachel, Eric, Pazi, and Darin for some amazing collaborative world-building and space adventure.

From the Tin Can 
To the stars we have gone
Juche a distant Light that guides us still
Enlightening the Cobweb Cluster
With the Light of Eunomian Thought!  
We have come so far my Comrades,
And through Struggle 
Will go farther still!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dinosauroids in Sector I-5
The Bituin Expedition to Kepler 22-B has made an interesting discovery in the Mangal areas of New Manila Bay. They have discovered a bipedal, tailed reptiloid creature that is intelligent, social, and tool-using. They have spear and knife weapons whose blades are made from shell fragments. These creatures live in simple mud huts like the ones pictured below, which are described in greater detail in this post on the Kepler 22-B blog:

Photo c. 2012 by John Everett Till
The Bituin expeditionary crew initially categorized the creatures' behavior as "shy" or "retiring."  However a more in-depth analysis of their material culture problematizes that viewpoint. The creatures' mud huts have a core of material that resembles the organic wood pulp matrix of a wasp's nest. The mud surfacing material was added as a second layer of structure, and there are splayed-hand texture marks in the mud that are not entirely consistent with the hands and digits of the reptiloids. In the much under the huts, there is further evidence of previous occupants: exoskeletal fragments of large six-limbed tailed insect creatures.

The insectoid carapaces show discoloration, but are otherwise undamaged, so an initial hypothesis that these creatures were in fact killed or driven off by the reptiloids has been rendered null.


REPTILOIDS (neutral)

  • Super (+5): Survival (Mangrove Swamp)
  • Great (+4): Close Combat (Knife, Spear), Agility (Thrown Spear)
  • Good (+3): Brawling, Survival (Jungles), Stamina
  • Decent (+2): Alertness,  Intimidation, Craft: Poisons*, Resolve 
  • Average (+1): Brokerage (Inter-Clan)** OR Craft: Eggcraft***, Craft: Traps, Profession (Tracker), Stealth, Tactics

STRESS TRACKS: Health 5, Composure 5, Wealth 4

  • Extra Stress Track:  One extra Stress box for Composure
  • Poison Pouch: Always has poison accessible in a waterproof pouch
  • Toughened Hide: Equivalent to bulletproof vest (Def 2)

  • Pick the right poison for the right prey
  • Hide from the enemy until you are ready to eat it
  • Sharp shells and near-term eggs make the best trades 

*These creatures kill by stealth and poison whenever possible. 
**They are gifted inter-clan traders, and use bits of shell as a currency between scattered clan-groups. 
***These creatures have the ability to modify fertilized unhatched eggs for a variety of specialized roles and skills.  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Latest On Sector I-5

Image courtesy of

My new Kepler 22-B post for Sector I-5 just went live on John Stater's Strange New World collaborative blog featuring that superearth. You can see the post here:

Stay tuned this week on FATE SF for 
some FATE exclusives that tie into this post!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Review and Ship Stats - Coming Soon to FATE SF

Polymorphu Stage I: The Egg & Parasite

Demons lay eggs. The innocent, naive, and greedy find them, bend over them and look.

The egg pods' petals unfold. Long fingers poke up from inside the egg. Then a facehugger springs into action.

Then, the Polymorphu's reproductive cycle moves to the next stage.


Alien Egg & Parasite

Scale 1 (Tiny)
Physical Stress: Egg 3; Parasite 5
Composure Stress: Egg 5. Parasite 5
Fate Points: 6

  • Eminently burnable
  • This is one flower you don't want to open
  • It's the tail that really gets you
  • It doesn't let go
  • You're just an incubator

  • 1 Good (+3): Fists*
  • 2 Fair (+2): Alertness, Might**
  • 3 Average (+1): Athletics, Endurance, Toxic

Monstrous Special Abilities: 4
  • Extreme Conditions - Endurance skill, p. 257
  • Go for the Throat - Fists skill, p. 257
  • Snare - Might skill - after a successful Fists attach, the Snare stunt may be used it incapacitate the character**
  • Toxic Blood - Toxic skill, p. 251
*Ability to launch head-grasping parasite against a target in zones 0-1.
**Might skill/Snare stunt is used when head grasping parasite has successfully attached its victim.If target is hit by Fists then it receives the incapacitated Major consequence and must make a roll of Great +3 difficulty Endurance roll to escape.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Polymorphu

Art by Rodrigo Vega

The Polymorphu are a metaspecies of star-vermin that have spread widely among far flung and isolated worlds, habitats, and ships. They have a complex life cycle that includes at least three different life stages (i.e., egg, juvenile, adult) and have displayed a great propensity to recombine genetically with many different species to produce morpologically novel contaminant life forms. Because of this capacity, the Polymorphu have even been compared to viruses.The species also has a preference for hive-type environments and at least a rudimentary social hierarchy with an egg laying Queen.

Many questions about this metaspecies remain unanswered:
  • Did they evolve somewhere, or were they created in a lab?
  • What is their place/point of origin?
  • Are they intelligent?
  • Are there species that they cannot absorb or meld with genetically?
  • Can they truly be weaponized?
  • If so, can they be controlled?
  • Why did the ancients not exterminate what is universally recognized as an inimical species?
  • Is there anything they fear?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hyperspace Mines

"Space Mines" by CyberAce

Various stratagems have been devised to reduce the strategic value of the Zonic Indeterminacy Hyperdrive. One of the most unpleasant and insidious of these is the mining of regions of hyperspace topographically proximate to sensitive locations in realspace. Hyperspace mines are typically homing mines. These mines have often been imprinted with the engrams of hunting creatures such as cats.

This practice started with sowing of mines in the flow channels immediately proximate to zi-Space. By disrupting the flow channels between hyperspace enumerations 9 and 10 (i.e., zi-Space), attacks from zi-Space could be deterred.

However, this practice soon propagated to sowing mines in the flow channels between successive hyperspace enumerations 1-9, creating numerous deadly barriers to vessels already in hyperspace and seeking to take evasive action against detection and/or pursuers within hyperspace.

Finally, some systems have even taken the extreme measure of mining the flow channels between realspace and the first enumeration of hyperspace. This results in systems in which the only points of entry to the system are slipknots or points of exit  from hyperspace as far away as a Kuiper Belt or Oort Cloud.


Hyperspace Mine

Scale: Medium (3) Advanced
Structural Stress: 3
Systems Stress: 3
Fate Points/Refresh: 9

  • Hyperspace implosion mine
  • Catlike reflexes are good for pouncing
  • A tendency to drift
  • 2 Fair (+2): Advanced Sensor Suite, Unusual Super Weapon (hyperspace mine)
  • 3 Average (+1): Cloaking System, Maneuver, Stardrive (hyperspace anchored mine)
  • Afterburner - Maneuver skill (p.323)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Navigating Within Hyperspace
In recent posts, we described the Zonic Indeterminacy Hyperdrive as well as the complex arborescent structure of Hyperspace, The ten enumerations that comprise the ascending energy levels of hyperspace end at the apex or Crown enumeration which is better known as zi-Space. It can take several hours of subjective time to reach the Crown state, at which time a ship may fully activate its zi-Drive. 

To get to the Crown state, a pilot must guide their ship through each enumeration as well as through the flow channels that connect the successive enumerations or levels of hyperspace. Flow channels are particularly dangerous to navigate. Sometimes, these tunnel-like structures will spontaneously narrow or even close, stranding a ship within a hyperspatial blind sac or even a vacuole of sorts. 

These changes of state require a rapid turnaround before a ship collides head-on with the flow channel's membrane, or a dangerous jump within hyperspace to a higher or lower enumeration. Unfortunately, human pilots have never mastered the skills required for the latter maneuver. Humans may not even have the proper neural wiring to intuit these rapid changes in state and shift a vessel to an entirely different location within the Great Tree. For this reason, it is common on zi-Ships to include a contingent of non-human pilots from climbing races such as the gracile, feline Raksha and the many-limbed, golden-tailed Anumani. These two races have mastered the art of jumps within hyperspace.

Oddly enough, the Mir, while not a climbing species, are also quite comfortable negotiating the different enumerations and flow channels within hyperspace. In fact, they are the only species known to have established permanent habitats within the enumerations of hyperspace below the Crown. Some of their habitats even thread flow channels between enumerations. These artificial structures lend stability to the flow channels they colonize and make them safer for passage by ships.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nova Praxis Home Stretch

The elections are over, but there is still one more important race to be won: the Nova Praxis Kickstarter is in its final three days.

The good news is that the game will definitely be funded, and that two stretch goal targets have already been reached.

There is a little less than $6,000 remaining toward its third stretch goal:

#3 ($30,000) - Everyone who gets the PDF or printed copy of the core book gets a free copy of the PDF for our first published scenario, The Vantage Strain, when it goes on sale.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that this stretch goal too goes over the top. Please consider becoming a backer if you are still on the fence, or increasing your pledge if you can!

You can see my series of reviews of the game here:




Monday, November 5, 2012

Hyperspace And Slipknots

Hyperspace and slipnots are not the same. The structure of hyperspace is symmetrical and arborescent, with ten enumerated nodes consisting of three vertical columns with seven distinct energy levels. The two outer columns of enumerated nodes are bilaterally symmetrical. Each of the dual energy nodes on those levels is sheltered above and below by a singleton energy node located at the center of the level.

Every vessel in hyperspace exists in one of these ten nodes, or in one of the complex array of flow channels which connect the nodes within and between levels, as well as to the plane of imminence (i.e., space-time). Hyperspace is therefore a transcendent domain which is above (or perhaps below) normal space. It was always-already there.

It is also believed to have "leaks" from yet other dimensions beyond its structure. (Here be monsters...)

In contrast, slipknots are a pure imminence based in the fabric of space-time. Rather than having an arborescent geometry that is stable and outside time, they have a time-bound fractal geometry. Slipknots are discontinuities in the fabric of space-time which through their ruptures, branches, and juxtapositions create direct sutures to places with similar material ruptures in the fabric of space-time. They are contingent and time-bound phenomena, since periodically these ruptures heal and others form.

Slipknots are also by their nature "leaky". Some suture one point in space-time (past, present, or future) to another point. They can also can breed monsters, although these are of an entirely natural sort: sutures facilitate panspermia.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Zonic Indeterminacy Hyperdrive
The discovery of the Zonic Indeterminacy Drive, or zi-Drive, three centuries ago was "An unprecedented technological breakthrough which led to a revolution in military affairs" according to the Imperial War College. The characteristics of this drive led to what has been called "Movement-based Strategy" in fleet maneuvers.

The zi-Drive was indeed a new kind of hyperdrive, one in which the destination of a hyperspace jump was indeterminate until the exact moment of departure from  hyperspace. Until that departure point, a zi-Ship or even an entire battlefleet will remain hidden within a time-dependent topographically expansive hyperspatial zone of possibilities.

A ship with a zi-Drive enters hyperspace in a particular galactic zone. (See the concentric grid map above for a reference on the sizes and relative shapes of galactic zones). Using the powerful zi-Drive:

  • Any system within the zone of departure is accessible within 24 hours of entering hyperspace
  • Any system within the zone of departure or any contiguous zone is accessible within one week of entering hyperspace
  • Any system within the zone of departure, within any contiguous zone, or within any zone that is contiguous with one of the departure-contiguous zones is accessible within two weeks of entering hyperspace
  • And so on...
The volume of space that is potentially available as a destination constantly expands with time once the ship enters hyperspace. 

It is entirely ambiguous from the perspective of hyperspace topography where a zi-Ship is until it exits hyperspace. This element of uncertainty and surprise is the primary strategic value of the zi-Drive. The Empire's best Mentats have suggested that vessels using this drive enter into a zone of elastically indeterminate hyperspace - one which collapses entirely when a ship exists zi-Space.

But one thing is certain. It is rarely advisable to remain in hyperspace using a zi-Space on for more than two months. Many vessels - and in some cases entire battle fleets - have disappeared forever. It is assumed these vessels exited zi-Space too late perhaps due to errors in subjective time measurement. It is likely these vessels emerged in a damaged state somewhere within the immense intergalactic void.

Of course, it is possible that some of these vessels remain trapped within an ever-expanding bubble of zi-Space like a hyperspatial Flying Dutchman that is simultaneously everywhere and nowhere at once.


To equip a starship with a zi-Drive, select the Stardrive skill and select zi-Drive as one of the ship's Stunts. The zi-Drive stunt allows a vessel to displace itself by one galactic zone for every week (N +1 zones/week, where N is the previous number of weeks in zi-Space). A piloting skill is required to enter zi-Space, and is required to maintain the ship within a stable zi-Space bubble each week.

The Pilot must roll an Effort of Mediocre (0) or higher on their Pilot skill in order to maintain or exit the zi-Space bubble within the same zone/day.

After one day, a weekly roll must be made to maintain the bubble or exit from zi-Space. The Piloting skill required increases by one step on the ladder each week. Failure results in a vessel being marooned in zi-Space or in being ejected at a distance of N zones from the ship's point of entry into zi-Space (where N is equal to the number of weeks the ship has been in hyperspace). The GM will determine which of these results applies and where the ship emerges from zi-Space (if it ever does).

This hyperdrive is based on a movement-based interstellar war game from the 1970s. Does anybody remember the name of this game?

We Have ANOTHER Robot Fighter!

Thursday night, I continued a playtest for a special FATE project being prepared for publication. The PCs had descended into the hanger bay of a VERY large spacecraft, in order to "borrow" a special vehicle they needed. The PC group and their minions fought a pitched battle against a group of 15 cyberzombies and the three robots tasked with defending the hanger bay. The PCs took care of the cyberzombies, although by the time the battle was done, enough CZ saliva and blood had spewed everywhere to make everyone just a bit paranoid. The robots were another matter.

But one of the PCs, a big burly engineer-negotiator called Buffalo, decided to attack one of the robots. With his hands. He jumped onto the back of the 8' tall spindly thing and spent several rounds trying to remove its one-eyed, softball-sized head.

He eventually succeeded, and now has an electro-mace (with a rod-thin neck + wires + a ball head) as a trophy weapon.

All of this led me to refer to Buffalo as being another Magnus Robot Fighter, from the old Gold Key comic book (which started publication in 1963) which was recently rebooted  by Dark Horse Comics.

Magnus was a big believer in the Robot Problem.

Magnus killed robots with his bare hands.

Which puts Magnus in the "cute but dumb" category of superheroes in my book.

He's not getting anywhere near my Zeroids!