For my Fate RPG campaign Brewed Awakening the most recent story arc ended with a big fight scene in a junkyard. This is a writeup of how I ran it.
The Cast Involved
- James, Alcholic Alchemist Wizard Apprentice
- Reba, Accidental Voodoo Student
- Becca, Psychic Honor Roll Student
- Markos, Greek Geek Artificer
The bad guys:
- Sofa King, a trashomancer with a hypnotized hobo army who wants to conduct a deadly ritual for reasons.
- Cerberus, captured and controlled by Sofa King as his junkyard dog.
As I was writing the session I wanted to accomplish two things with this conclusion, represent the cast sneaking into the junkyard in a way that “felt right” and to have a big tough fight that might take out a couple of PCs.
Let’s go through both of these one at a time.
Sneaking into the Junkyard
I decided that I wanted to give the players the feeling of exploring a junkyard, so I decided that the zones for the junkyard would be randomly placed. I created a stack of tiles that resembled the following:
Each tile is a zone with the aspect Mounds of Trash and a Sneaky difficulty to Overcome. The difficultly for the rolls was between +1 and +3, with most of them being +2’s. The actual tiles had photos of junkyards on them.
Each Turn Had Four Phases
Each tile was a turn and each turn had four phasesâ€”Choose move direction, Sneaky roll, Encounter (if the sneaky roll failed), and Pass the first player token to another player.
At the start of each round the player with the first player token would choose a direction for the group to move in. (They were allowed but discouraged from splitting up.)
Once a new tile was laid down the first player needed to make a Sneaky roll against the listed difficulty. If successful the players could continue exploring the junkyard.
If the Sneaky roll failed they got an encounter from the following random table, based on a d10 (showing my D&D 2e roots):
- 10 Giant Magnet (Unique): Has the aspect Difficult to Operate. Can reach anywhere in the junkyard. Once revealed this stays in the zone it was discovered in.
- 8-9 Car Crusher (Unique): Has the aspects Sticky Conveyor Belt and Trash Cubes. Once revealed this stays in the zone it was discovered in.
- 6-7 Junkyard Dog: Has the aspect Barks at Strangers and Hungry. Overcome with +4 or else the bad guys get the aspect Alerted to Trouble.
- 2-5 Hobo Army: Have the aspects Smell like pee, Glassy-eyed and hypnotized, Nothing to lose. Overcome +2 with any approach to defeat, however unless Quickly is used (see next) the bad guys get the aspect Alerted to Trouble; Overcome +3 Quickly to not raise an alarm.
- 1 Trash Golem (Unique): Fight. See below.
- Aspects: Mindless Golem, The size of a dumpster, and Made of trash
- +3 to attacks, -2 thinking, moving
- Stress 3, Mild, Moderate
After an encounter resolved the first player then passes the role of first player to another player.
How it played out.
My players managed to explore a big chunk of the map before anything big happened. For the first couple of enounters they pulled the best onesâ€”the giant magnet and the car crusher.
Eventually they found the first Ritual Nearby tile! Once this was in play the ritual location was locked on the map, on the far side of this tile to the left. I set a piece of paper down to let them know that when they wanted it they could have the boss fight.
They elected to continue exploring, but they started to encounter many junkyard dogs and fighting hobos and finally decided to start the boss fight.
The Boss Fight
Now that the players had ventured into the ritual zone (and the bad guys didn’t notice them), we were in for some action.
The ritual zone is has two zones within it, outside the circle and inside the circle. The circle itself creates a glowing translucent barrier that required an Overcome roll against +4.
Inside the circle is Sofa King (NSFW language), the big boss. He threatens an unconscious fellow on a platform with a ritual knife. Sofa King has been preparing for a showdown with the cast, since they keep interfering. He has the following advantages setup, with a free invoke each:
- For Reba the voodoo student he has Papa Legba Denies You
- For James the alcholic alchemist he has Third Rate Alchemist
- For Becca the honor roll student he has No One Likes Becca (because it’s true! But we love the player.)
Outside the circle is Cerberus the three-headed dog guardian of Hades who is on watch for intruders. (There is a reason the dog was removed form Hades. Long story.) For Cerberus’ action, if it was something that multiple heads could help, he got an extra +1 per head.
Three of the charactersâ€”Reba, Becca, and James focused on Cerberus. Reba started to setup her voodoo crossroads while James uses his alchemical magic to try and slow down the big dog, both Creating Advantages. Becca throws fire bolts hoping to wear away at it (attack action).
Meanwhile Markos, the Greek geek artificer snuck by, intent on using his magically created Mr Clean Fist Pads to counter the trash magic and wipe the protective circle away.
As the fight progressed, Sofa King and Markos went head-to-head. With only one opponent, Sofa King started to self-compel and create advantages so that his stunts would kick in and Fate points would pile up. This lead to a big hit on Markos that nearly took him out. Instead he got a broken leg as a consequence. (I think that about ten Fate points were spent on that exchange from both sides.)
At the same time the Cerberus fight was not going well for the others. Bad dice rolls started to deal out stress. (Cerberus wasn’t doing any create advantages.) Finally Reba decided to skip the voodoo and ran straight for the Giant Magnet.
Reba spent one round using it to get a car, no roll needed since she was spending her turn doing it. The following round I believe that I said the following, after the dice were rolled and the Fate points spent:
James, Becca, past the snarling maws of drooling doom, over the crest of the hill of rubbish, you see the lights of a crane hoisting a Chevy Buick your directionâ€”FAST! You dive out of the way as the car lands squarely on one of Cerberus’ heads, destroying it completely!
This turned the tide of the battle, so Reba and Becca continued to pound on Cerberus while James moved inside the circle to help out Markos, who desperately needed it.
Sofa King was incredibly good at both avoiding being hit seriously and foiling attempts to create advantage against him. One attempt, dumping a wall of trash on him was thwarted with defensive trashomancy.
Evenutally he did succumb as the party piled on him.
The entire gaming session had the feel that I was going for and the players loved it, so I call it a success.