This week we do our second part of Game Design for the adventure “Escape to Thorn Valley”. This is based off of a FATE Core hack for Secret of NIMH that you can find here: https://taoofchall.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/fate-core-secret-of-nimh/
Last week we talked about the Escape.
This week we talk about the next step in the adventure.
The second scene, TREK, is all about despair. The wild outside world is very difficult to live in when you are a small rodent, and many creatures would love to eat the player characters. Hit them with several challenges that are very difficult and not very rewarding, emphasizing how unhelpful their enhanced intelligence is out here. If any of the player characters have 2 or more consequences at any point during this scene, then you should definitely move on to the next scene .Athletics will allow you to dodge predators. Notice will keep you from being caught off guard. Survival will be key in finding food to make it through the day. Stealth will keep everyone hidden from hungry eyes.
As a natural enemy of mice and rats, this animal should know better than to attack this feline. Stealth is recommended for avoiding the cat. Anyone that fails will need to roll Athletics. Keep the challenge difficulty at Fair (2) for these challenges. Have the cat attack anyone that fails this check, inflicting 5 points of stress by “barely grazing” the player character before they get into hole that the cat cannot follow them into.
This cat is a force of nature, not an NPC with stress that can be taken out. Anyone that tries to attack the cat inflicts no damage and takes a 7 point stress hit, although feel free to reduce the stress by 2 to send the character flying into the next area instead (plus 1 point of stress when they land, but that is separate from the attack). Mice and rats that succeeded in a stealth check can try to distract the cat with Deceive or Provoke, but the must immediately make the Athletics check that they would have avoided (or that a fellow PC would have failed) or take the 7 shift hit. After this first round, have all characters hide until the cat leaves. Use compels if necessary.
Nothing makes you appreciate a roof over your head like being caught in a storm. The rainstorm acts as a force of nature that attacks everyone 3 times. The first attack is an Average (1) mental attack where the characters start to realize that they need shelter. PCs defend with Will. Any hole they ducked into is no good since water is coming in. Players will have to make a Survival check versus a Good (3) mental attack in order to find a place to sleep before they get too wet.
Players may wish to use Notice or Investigation to find a place instead. Advise them that the rain makes it hard to search and that the difficulty will be much higher. If they still want to use an alternate skill, have them roll against a Fantastic (6) attack that does a minimum 1 point of mental stress. If everyone fails this check, go ahead and have them roll Survival defense against a Great (4) physical attack of dealing with the rain before they finally manage to find an abandoned bird’s nest that they can turn upside down or something.
There is no cheese in the wilderness, and escaping the labs has worked up an appetite. Have everyone roll against a Superb (5) physical attack to see what they can find to eat. After all, they have never had to get food for themselves before. Unless they die, narrate them munching on bark or nuts or something unpleasant (for rats) to eat.
If somehow the player characters succeed this check, let them find a berry bush. Unless everyone succeeded the check, there are not enough berries to go around so the group will have to share as best they can. Have those that succeeded clear their physical stress (not mental or any consequences). They probably spent fate points for this success, so reward them. Reject any fate points spent to find free food, however.
The group encounters what at first seems to be a welcome site: fellow rodents! But these are normal mice, and they will be off put by how strange the NIMH rats and mice are. This is not a skill check challenge that the players can win because it is important to reinforce how the NIMH animals are very different. If your players roll very high on a social check to try and make friends, instead reward them with a name drop (The Great Owl for example) to provide a hint at how they can move forward.
Portray the mice as simple and distrustful. They speak in short sentences with simple vocabulary. “We do not share food.” “Stay away, thieving rats.” “I hope the Great Owl eats you.” “You walk funny.” And so on. Have the mice flee if anyone in the party tries any kind of attack or food snatching. And feel free to include these mice in future adventures if you are running a campaign.
Next Week: Part 3: Negotiate
Your thoughts so far? Ideas? Changes?