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Kimberly

Fatemaster Friday - “People that I meet and pass in the city's broken roar…”

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Happy Friday Breachers!

From all accounts, Gen Con was a busy wonderful time for all who attended, and I’ve heard wonderful stories to come out of the events from the Best Four Days in Gaming!


Before I jump into this week’s topic, here’s what @Boomstick had to say about their favorite RPG experiences:

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My best RPG experiences have always been centered around when my players add to the world with their own actions. Things far beyond the rules. The top option that comes to mind is when one of my players in a homebrew Pathfinder world role-played an Orcish wedding, which I'd never consciously thought of before, but turned out to be a ritualized fight where both parties prove to the other that they can take care of themselves, thereby showing they'll be an asset instead of a liability.

Having just picked up TTB at GenCon, I'm looking forward to starting some trouble Breach-side and seeing what shenanigans my players get up to to deal with it.

 

 

As @Boomstick is newer to the wonderful brand of insanity we create as Fatemasters, be sure to welcome them and show them how great this community is!

This week, I’m going to talk about the backbone of any campaign you can create as a Fatemaster, and that’s your Fatemaster Characters or NPCs. Fatemaster Characters help with the immersion of your players in the story, and can give the Fated targets to become invested in, through friendship, romance, rivalry, hatred, or more. Creating a strong cast of NPCs is vital to any successful TTB game, and I want to talk tactics for making great NPCs to fill your game with. 

Fatemaster Character creation suggestions are found in Chapter 9 of the TTB 2e book, and includes the Rank Value chart to help Fatemasters adjust NPC stats accordingly. Additionally, the Bestiary (Chapter 10) is a great way to pick out some NPCs. You can simply adjust the Rank Value as needed, and drop them into your game. This is actually a great way to have stats for that random NPC you named but didn’t expect your party of Fated to latch on to! So if Gums McGee the Gremlin becomes an unexpected darling of the Fated, just grab the stats for Bayou Gremlin, adjust as needed, and then Ol’ Gums can do more than hide behind the bar when tempers flare and a fight breaks out!

Another method of making Fatemaster Characters that I’m fond of is creating a base Fated, then assigning a Rank Value to it as needed. Remember, Rank Value is very important, as it determines the NPC’s effectiveness in a given duel. If I’m designing an adventure around a certain NPC, I will write up its backstory in short bullet points to draw inspiration from for my story arch, and to potentially come up with additional side hooks for players. 

An example of this is when I ran a story arch that was inspired by the movie Snatch. I used some characters already established in the ‘Fauxverse, such as Jacob Samuels, the proprietor of Ringside,  but made an up-and -coming pit fighter named Michael Flannigan. This led to about 3 more Fatemaster characters, and gave one Fated a romance subplot and another one a new pursuit option with a great personal arch. The more fleshed out your ‘Fauxverse is, the more your players can poke and explore, enriching their characters’ stories and role-playing experience.

So my mail call this week- “What has been your favorite Fatemaster Character, either created by you, or in a TTB book?”
 

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I think one of my favourites is called the Chromatic Breach. It follows the personified hazard rules from Into the Steam and is essentially a broken breach that leads literally nowhere, with a mysterious prismatic light leaking from it a’la Colour Out of Space.

The main danger of the Breach is this light which causes people exposed to it to start to fragment across space and time until they eventually shatter into nothingness.

And like the Colour Out of Space it’s based off of, it has a massive radius around it this this light affects turning the land around it into a colour blighted wasteland slowly creeping outwards to fracture everything across time and space.

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I like to use the "X but Y" strategy since there are so many factions and variations in Malifaux. There are tons of mercenary outfits shown in the Outcasts but really you only expect to see the Famous ones in Malifaux games. So I came up with some lesser, less noble, less disciplined mercenaries by the way of Gilded Thorn. So you had a sniper that was "Hans but Guild" with all the things you could expect to find on a Guild Rifleman shooter instead of an Outcast one like Hans. She was missing an arm from a permanent wound, perhaps that is what ended her Guild career and made her join such a band of uncouth thugs as Gilded Thorn? That isn't up to me to have an answer for, unless a player asks (in my particular style of Fatemastering: don't world build every single aspect, you'll just drive yourself crazy). 

I always felt this was a way to make the world feel well occupied or lived in.

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Taelor is a favorite of mine from the wargame, and her unswervingly upbeat and cheerful attitude injects a nice bit of optimism and comic relief into an overall dismal setting.  One of the PCs is a Buckaroo with a white siberian tiger, and it's become a bit of a running gag that every time they run into Taelor she gets all excited and shouts "KITTY!" like a small child would. 

I've also had a lot more fun with Molly Squidpiddge and Phillip Tombers than I ever would have expected.  The PCs encountered the latter out in the QZ being utilized as an improvised soccer ball by a gang of terror tots.  After the PCs chased them off and then brought Phillip back to Molly, they all really hit it off.  

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One of my favorite from a campaign I ran in TTB was Barry from like the third session of a campaign.  The campaign was centered around a underground operation that the fated came across and got wrapped in.  A former researcher from the Guild had been part of a project to try and find a means of combating the neverborn in a different manner.  The research eventually focused on trying to find some element, method, or anything that could be used against the Nephilim primarily targeting their black blood.  Eventually forces outside the department *perhaps even a certain masked superior* got the project shut down as it was deemed that bullets were cheaper.  Then the researchers eventually disappeared or had accidents.  Only a clerical error saved the main antagonist as he had been recorded as a clerk rather than researcher.  Thus he took his work underground, hiring a pair of immoral monster hunters to acquire samples of living nephilim to research.  He eventually starts infecting human subjects to study the transformation and acquire more black blood *as in TTB they gain the ability*.  Also knowing about Neverborn shapeshifters the doctor had ways of eliminating anyone that started poking around in his business.

One such infected subject was a boy named Barry.  Rather than wings his innate magic emerged as his infection worsened and instead he gained the ability to fly without wings.  He would later escape the Doctor and set up his home in the Quarntine zone, snatching up other unwanted children to free them.  Everyone that was turned by his black blood gained his own unique ability to fly.  As you can likely guess he was a twisted inspired take on Peter Pan.  The players ended up beating Barry's lost boys easy when they actually worked together and used tactics *from the first two sessions I had not suspected they would suddenly pick these up*.  In the end there was only a wounded Barry who had been shot.  But no one had him engaged and he was perched on the edge of a building so I had him fly away.  The fated failed to shoot him down as he escaped all the while vowing his hatred of them.  The great part was the players, for almost the entire rest of the campaign, were looking over their shoulders waiting for Barry to come back.  When something would happen they would question among themselves if Barry was somehow involved.  Murder mystery?  Did Barry do it!  Undead Nephilim come after them?  Is Barry a Necromancer!  Something is moving in the dark abandoned lab, IS it Barry?!.   The players themselves ended up hyping up the character more than I could as the Fatemaster.

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I love these articles. I have so much fun reading all of the comments and seeing what other people are saying. 

To the question. I ran one campaign where one of the characters gave birth. To give them a way of still adventuring but not having to take the baby with them I introduced Granny. She was an older woman from the small frontier town they all lived in. She'd "always been there." Which I was using as a hint that she hadn't really. I even finger quoted. In the end she was there to help the fated fulfill their destinies. I revealed near the end of the campaign that she was actually Zoraida. She'd foreseen that the fated would be important and was there to help guide their actions.  It was fun to roleplay her and have the players realize she was more powerful than they realized but not figure out who she was or what she was truly capable of. After a while I also let her start referring to the game rules in the vague terms of tarot readings. I figured if anyone in malifaux would figure out it was a game, it would be Zoraida.

 

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A favourite pair of NPCs I created to aid a player in becoming a Torakage were based on my pet rats that I had 5 years back, the rats were named after video game assassins: Corvo (from Dishonored) and Ezio (from Assassins Creed).
Introducing Zio & Vo who I characterized as mob boss gang heads who shared territory with other gangs.
Issue was, these were two characters, so to have them both speak to the player (and sometimes to themselves), I once again based them off of my rats.

Corvo was always very attentive, alert and hyper, whilst Ezio was more sleepy and did things in his own time.
This reminded me of another pair of rodents from my childhood: Pinky and the Brain; thus I had their voices and mannerisms.
(My players are yet to find out however, which one is the genius, and which one is insane...)
 

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My favorite FM character comes from my current campaign. One of my players is wonderfully trusting, and the other is...not. So I decided to throw a Doppelganger at them and see if I could fool my wife (the suspicious one). It worked better than I could have imagined, with both characters becoming extremely protective of her. The naive one even developed a minor crush on her. They got a little suspicious when she showed up at the ritual site they were trying to disrupt, but I played it off well enough.

The payoff came when my doppelganger, posing as the sweet, somewhat traumatized shopkeeper's daughter, clung onto the naive player in fear, then drew a knife and plunged it into her ribs. Nothing like starting a combat off with a critical wound to keep things interesting! Both my players were screaming, and my wife actually threw a pillow at me.

They ended up cornering the doppelganger by the end of the session, and she killed herself before they could interrogate her. I haven't introduced another since then, but every new character my players come across is met with extreme suspicion. Muahahahahaha. 😈

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I like that one J4bberw0ck.  I had a Doppelganger in that last campaign I was in as well.  They were posing as a special guild investigator into the black blood trafficing ring.  Kept saying they were on special assignment.  It was almost the whole campaign before the players finally found out.  A few had suspicions of the investigator but none thought it was a doppelganger, some were just questioning if they were working for the guild or not.  One of the players  swore he was going to kill them but ended up still working with the doppelganger to go after the Doctor.   Though when they got the very end one, right on the crisp of the last fight as the Doctor faced them... that player turned on the Doppelganger and tried to kill it, not really caring about the Doctor at that point.  Ended up turning the final battle into a mini three way brawl as some players went after the doctor, some turned on the Doppelganger, and then the NPCs fighting the guards.

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Oh dang. Not going to force myself to pick a favorite. I apologize for cheating:

Amos and Holly: Hey you know what we don't have yet? A gremlin serial killer. I took the idea of gremlin mimicry and added it to a very warped concept of the Red Chapel Killer and Ms. Squidpiddge. Amos was my current group's first antagonist, and a bait and switch for the character who's destiny step we were on. She was inexplicably a fangirl of Seamus and so nearly threw herself and the little green murderer before realizing what was going on. He's now shown up a couple of times to harass the party when I need a hateable necromancer, having last kidnapped one of the party's ex-fiance and selling him off in a sort of Necromancer slave auction. Holly, on the other hand, is the lovestruck henchman of Seamus and a full-blooded living human. Her demeanor is playing up the part of mid-90s Harley Quinn (someone once described Seamus and Molly as similar and I ran with that poor description). Holly refuses to admit she's still living, taking hours out of her day to paint herself up as a zombie. She's since come to terms with how Amos has been treating her, and has since struck out on her own (after breaking out of jail, of course).

Gal Lucia - Gal is the former Avatar of Fortune (the Tyrant). He appeared in a story arc I used to sort of warn one Fated of the dangers of wealth, power, and luxury. While Gal was never a true antagonist, he did basically bet his role as Avatar to the player, who ended up winning the bet and poofed Gal into non-existence. He got better. Gal now is some kind of party demigod, appearing at just about every celebration the group finds themselves at. He's basically a PG-13 Caligula powered with Tyrant magic. Completely harmless, though, he uses his power to shower guests with bon bons and iPhones (despite a distict lack of cell reception in 1907) or put on a one-man production of The King and I in increasingly elaborate peacock-themed costumes. Also he's voiced by Markiplier. 

Eric Tannenberg - Eric is a high-ranking Guild Officer and a member of a secret organization that a few of the party belong to know as The Circle (loose group of like-minded magicians who believe that all magic should be legal and spend most of their attention on staving off the Tyrants).  Every time he shows up, something bad happens. Mostly he just threatens them with spilling their secrets to the Guild (executions for everyone) unless they do some incredibly dangerous task for him. While it does appear that his blackmailing ends up helping the group it's not without questionable actions and putting them in humiliating situation. I plan of keeping his true intentions unclear, as it is great to frazzle the party with his appearance.

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