Friday, November 8, 2013

Deck of Fridays 3: The Zone As Character

Welcome back to DECK OF FRIDAYS here at FATE SF, our new weekly feature in which we make a draw from the Deck of Fate, our deck of  RPG Inspiration Cards, or another Aspect-generative randomizer - and then do something interesting with it - using the Aspect as inspiration for a campaign or scenario seed, a situation, scene, location, NPC, thingie, etc.

This week's draw from the Deck of Fate was pulled on Thursday morning, for Bujilli, the weekly experimental literary and gaming serial over at Hereticwerks.

We pulled a card with two useful Aspects: Low Morale and Slippery. We're using them both in today's post. The Aspects tie into our "From the Zones" cross-blog collaboration. Check it out and consider joining it!

The Zones are places where the Visits occurred. Finding new Zones around the globe wasn't difficult. Their pattern of distribution was very predictable. The so-called Pillman Radiant* resembles a series of shots from a gun, with each shot landing at a different-but-predictable point on the surface of a rotating sphere.

But the results of the Visits were anything but predictable. The Zones changed the local environments, twisting and in some cases breaking both the local built environment and local landscape. The effects were sometimes subtle but often quite dramatic. The changes were often quite inexplicable, as were so many of the artifacts and phenomena resulting from the Visits.

One of the things you experience when entering a Zone is the feeling of constantly being watched. The Zones feel alive and self-aware. The often feel like subtle and clever adversaries, slippery, constantly placing traps underfoot and treasures just out of reach.

As a result, the Zones are bad for morale. They are stressful places, both physically and psychologically, as well as ontologically. Stalkers expect people to breakdowns in the Zones. They select their hirelings and companions carefully, and prepare for sudden desertions.

*The Pillman Radiant was based on simple Newtonian physics, but won its discoverer a Nobel Prize.


The Zones
Otherworldly environments

  • High Concept: The Visit happened here - and maybe it's still happening
  • Trouble:  Everyone wants in - until they get here  
  • Aspect: A slippery place filled with subtle traps and inexplicable treasures
  • Aspect: Expect breakdowns and suddent desertions
  • Aspect: No one leaves unchanged
  • Careful: +2
  • Clever: +1
  • Flashy: +1
  • Forceful: +2
  • Quick: 0
  • Sneaky: +3
  • Innermost Wish - Once per campaign, if a player reaches a special place in the Zone known as The Room, or the object called the Golden Sphere, the Zone will grant their innermost (subconscious) wish. This often relates to their Trouble aspect, but will always touch on some aspect.
  • Low Morale - The Zone may take a +2 to its Forceful Approach to Attack a PC or group of mooks. This is almost always a psychological attack, and Consequences will manifest accordingly. Mooks which are taken out flee the scene.
  • Ontological Slipperiness - Traps and treasures constantly move around in the Zone. No map is ever completely reliable, and no Stalker's memories of the safe path are ever entirely accurate. Once per scene, a treasure, danger, or both can move to a different place. Also, with the expenditure of 1 FT, one of the Zone's Approaches in any given scene may increase in intensity by +2 for the entire scene.

"From the Zones" and "Zones" images are courtesy of Hereticwerks.


  1. "No map is ever completely reliable ..."

    There's magic in those words, and certainly a manifesto for gaming.

    1. Thank, Porky! That quote is another good Aspect for the Zone!

  2. How you handled The Zone(s) as a character unto themselves is quite eye-opening...yes, FATE says that you can do this sort of thing on the tin, but seeing how you did this really helped put it into perspective. So, I found this post particularly helpful for a completely other project...and these FATE cards are looking better all the time. Great post!

    1. Thanks! Fate fans owe a great debt to Starblazer Adventures RPG which showed how to make the Fate fractal do wonderful things!