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Adventure April: Avatar: The Last Airbender

Every week this month we are going to put out an adventure for you to enjoy. This weeks adventure is from Avatar: the last Airbender. Enjoy!

I am a HUGE fan of Nickelodeon’s Avatar series, and in the early stages of Fate (before Fate Core) I made my own version of a Fate hack for the series. We’ve mentioned this before, even shared some stunts from the game in our first Sample Stunts blog post. Now that it is April, and the Google Doc is up, we figured why not share an opening adventure.

Just a heads up: this is not a Fate Core game, so the skill names are very different than what you are used to. It does use Fate Points, fudge dice, aspects, and stress so those of you that play Fate Core should still be able to play it easily enough. Converting the system should not take too much work if you are interested.

For the sake of simplicity, this fan hack adventure is set before the events of The Last Airbender and before the fire nation invaded. It is divided into 3 scenes, each with their own skill challenges and tips for the GM.

Scene 1: Festival

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Adventure Design: Test Run, a Spaceship Adventure: pt.2

Last week we talked about Hiring and Flying on this fun little space adventure. This week, we cover where the real fun starts.


This is when the crew is confronted by their employer’s treachery. The ship has been reported stolen by the CEO, and the party of “thieves” have a bounty on their head. There are flaws in the cloaking device design which have the captured heat of stealth eventually flooding the ship and killing everyone. The ship’s weapons only have a couple of shots each, and the replacement packs are fakes. And there is a tracking device on the ship that lets the CEO find them even if they are cloaked.

Have the party deal with whatever complications they discovered in Scene 2 first, if any, at a reduced difficulty of Fair (2) for temporary fixes. The tracking device can be jammed for a while, the identities on the bounty can be altered, and the heat from the cloaking device can be safely vented after (at most) an hour of invisibility. Power can be diverted to give the laser guns a few more shots.

No Ship Is Perfect

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Adventure Design: Test Run, a Spaceship Adventure: pt.1

The wonderful folks at Gnome Stew make a lot of good articles about running games, and over the last few years they have published some helpful books as well. I’ve taken several characters out of their book of 1000 NPCs and a few tips from their book on prep work, but my all-time favorite book is Eureka – 501 Adventure Plots. It has inspired a lot of adventures I want to run, some of which I actually have.

Today’s blog is a Fate Core adventure based off of one of their plots: Test Run (page 191). This is a science fiction/fantasy adventure for starting off a campaign of space travel. The story also works great for campaigns in Firefly, Star Wars, and Diaspora. But for mechanics, we will be talking pure Fate Core.

A quick note on skills. This game assumes that Crafts is basically the engineering skill and Drive is the piloting skill. Hacking is covered by Burglary. Also there are no rules in place for a ship’s skills or abilities, as everything really depends on the players. The ships have aspects, of course, that can be used to boost skill checks and help define what a ship can and cannot do, but no stunts or extras mechanically. I will have a couple of notes on character building at the end of the adventure.

Each scene is described below with my brainstorming thoughts below the scene name followed by each challenge in this scene. Like all Fate Core games, there is a lot of room for creativity. Feel free to add as you wish. I’m sure your players will! (General advice for dealing with creative players is also included).

Scene 1: HIRING

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Playing with Followers

It is a good sign that you are invested in a campaign when you care enough about an NPC to bring them along with you on an adventure. Followers come in all shapes and sizes, even more varied than people (since…you know…aliens). They often help out in tricky situations, taking less than a fair share of the XP and dying in a noble sacrifice so that the PC heroes can save the day.

Today we are going to talk about how to incorporate followers into your game without ruining the game. You don’t want NPCs to be stars over the PCs, and you certainly don’t want to spend two hours waiting for an NPC to take their turn in a conflict. Followers make a great support cast and a fun way to help players and GMs really care about the world.

So if you want to play a game and include some PC followers, here are a few things you should probably know…

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Improvising Unexpected Side Quests

Have we mentioned before that players can do the unexpected? Well, we probably have not said it enough. Sometimes they come at challenges with unexpected solutions, forcing you to quickly determine a difficulty and requirements. Sometimes they want to try unexpected uses of their character abilities, forcing you to make an immediate rules call. And sometimes they want to go on a completely unexpected side quest.

Today we are talking mostly to GMs, although there’s nothing secret that players aren’t allowed to know. We want to offer some tips to prep your tool kits so that you can handle the most common side quests that characters embark on. That way, instead of railroading them with a NO you can keep your game on track and still make it fun for everyone!

Yes, the GM should enjoy their game as well.

Shopping Trips

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Making Mysteries Memorable in 5 Scenes

Have you ever tried to run a mystery adventure in a game that was not specifically designed for mysteries and failed spectacularly? Everyone loves a good mystery, whether they see the end coming or are shocked by the big reveal. They appeal to one of our most basic linear instincts, if you believe anything you hear on Star Trek DS9.

That may be the most important thing to understand about humans. It is the unknown that defines our existence. We are constantly searching, not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions

Pulling off a good mystery in an RPG is not easy. There are so many things that can go wrong: the players miss a vital clue, the GM force-feeds information, an important detail is left out early on, a red herring takes us down a deep rabbit hole, or a TPK results in us never getting the answers we want.

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Adventure Design: A Three Hour Tour

The first game I ever ran with a Fate based system was a little Dresden one-shot I put together where the characters were shipwrecked onto a magical island. The system was new, and I had several people wanting to play, so I figured I would give it a shot. I think it actually took us 8 hours to play.

Now this was a build-your-own-adventure of sorts, which I often do on the fly now for games with my kids. I ‘borrowed’ the player characters from the Night Fears adventure and actually had the players help be build the island as a quick introduction to the city-building mechanic for the game.

For this blog I am going to try and summarize as much as I can remember of how I ran that adventure. Hopefully it will spark some ideas for you in your own game.

Prepared For Improvisation

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Bringing a World to life: 5 easy steps

So you have a little adventure you want to run for a group. They find a village and spend the night. That night, the dead come out of their graves and walk into the nearby swamp. The party follows the dead people to a necromancer’s tower. They deal with the necromancer, and everyone gets experience points.
So does that description have anyone on the edge of their seats desperate to run that sort of adventure? Of course not. It is very short and very bland. Sure it gets the information across, but it is not exciting. And really, an adventure like this should be exciting!
More and more RPGs are coming out that encourage the players to participate in the story and the creation of the world. I love this direction our hobby is taking! Of course, that actually makes a GMs job even harder when it comes to bringing everyone’s world to life.
So today I’d like to share some tips that others have shared with me over the years about bringing your world to life.

1: Building the Foundation

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Adventure Design: Chamber of the Seven Sins

I was digging through some of my old notes for a campaign and found some old session notes for an adventure. So I thought I’d share it with everyone instead. Maybe you can try it out as a fun encounter or unexpected challenge in a dungeon crawl.

The Chamber of Seven Sins was designed for a Fate-based game, but can be used in any system. Each room is designed to inflict consequences on the players related to one of the sins. Hopefully long-lasting consequences, so as to spark some wonderful opportunities for demons and evil wizards in future encounters.

The Main Chamber

You find yourself in a colorful circular chamber sparsely furnished with a hat rack, a broken mirror, and a couple of shabby chairs. There are no blacks or whites or greys in this room. Instead it looks like someone took a rainbow paintball gun and recolored everything in a hissy fit. There are seven doors on the walls, each with a plaque at eye level that labels the door in a nonsense word. The doors are the only items in the room that are a solid color.

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