Samus Aran
 member, 338 posts
 Author, game designer
 Part-time Metroid fighter
Wed 19 Jul 2017
at 22:55
FATE (Accelerated): How would you stat out a Xenomorph?
So, say you wanted to do a great narrative survival horror/action game in the vein of Alien: Isolation. A mix of tense stealth, intrigue, exploration, and survival, while a deadly Alien hunts people throughout this far-flung space colony. What would you do with it? I'm wanting to learn FATE, and I have had this idea, so I'm curious how you folks would run something like a Xenomorph in a game that isn't meant to be all-out combat all the time (though full-on combat and high-octane action sequences would be fun). Most likely using FATE Accelerated, but normal FATE should work well enough.

This message was last updated by a moderator, as it was the wrong forum, at 04:02, Thu 20 July.

Nintaku
 member, 534 posts
Tue 8 Aug 2017
at 06:47
FATE (Accelerated): How would you stat out a Xenomorph?
Hi! No one here was answering, but I saw your question addressed on other sites, so here's my recommendations, counting your elsewhere suggestion that you wanted both an unbeatable killing machine and a conventionally killable bug. Some of this will retread what was brought up elsewhere, but not everyone saw that and maybe being repeated means it's good. :P

1) Its High Concept should always address what it's basically capable of. Xenomorph [Function] or the like should cover the things it can and can't do in a general sense. That should give all kinds of justifications.

2) Other aspects make it more specific, and don't forget what species it was hatched from. A Predator/Alien is going to be different than a Dog, and different from a Human.

3) I wouldn't stat up the unkillable obstacle's approaches at all. Instead I'd use its aspects as static difficulty modifiers, adding +2 to difficulty per aspect that applies. But I like player-facing games. I think the focus on the players' decisions and rolls ramps up the dramatic tension.

The killable version should have approaches depending on how dangerous you want it. The creature from Alien would likely have +3, +3, +2, +2, +1, +0. The ones from Aliens might have all +1s, a +2, and a +0. It should suit how dangerous you want the fight to be, remembering the Law of Conservation of Ninjas. The more there are, the weaker they get to be.

4) The unkillable one should have a Hunting stress track. Loud actions (anything Forceful or Flashy, most things Quick) would tick a box. Failed stealthy actions (Sneaky, maybe Clever or Careful) would tick a box. Failed slow actions (Careful, maybe Clever) would also tick it, since the thing has longer to track them down.

An important element is that Fate is pretty meta, so you don't need to think about who is setting off these boxes. Characters on opposite ends of your ship/station could be setting it off. Just think of it like a timer, and the person who marks a box when there's no box left to be marked is who gets the alien to appear with them. Whether it knows they're there or is just in the room looking is more dependent on the tone in the moment, but that should be what makes it appear. And then the track is emptied out.

Though I don't like that everyone can see how soon the thing will appear again. Maybe you could use compels to give out FP for bringing the alien closer, or have it be the price for a Success at a Cost (maybe even two boxes for a Major cost!), or something like that.

5) The killable alien would then have a normal stress track, and possibly Consequence slots if it's a dread beast from Alien or Alien 3, rather than one of the numberless bugs from Aliens. Or you might try Conditions! Give it specific ways it can be killed, and don't let the heroes kill it unless they fill all the conditions. Again, Alien and Alien 3 come to mind. They put that thing through a lot before it went away.

6) Coulda sworn I had more in mind, but it's gone now.
Samus Aran
 member, 349 posts
 Author, game designer
 Part-time Metroid fighter
Thu 10 Aug 2017
at 01:52
Re: FATE (Accelerated): How would you stat out a Xenomorph?
Thanks for the responses! So how would the answers differ, if at all, for full-fledged Fate?

Nintaku:
1) Its High Concept should always address what it's basically capable of. Xenomorph [Function] or the like should cover the things it can and can't do in a general sense. That should give all kinds of justifications.

2) Other aspects make it more specific, and don't forget what species it was hatched from. A Predator/Alien is going to be different than a Dog, and different from a Human.


So NPCs get aspects, too, right? Looks like the full ones get a bunch, and you have your mooks, of course.

Nintaku:
4) The unkillable one should have a Hunting stress track. Loud actions (anything Forceful or Flashy, most things Quick) would tick a box. Failed stealthy actions (Sneaky, maybe Clever or Careful) would tick a box. Failed slow actions (Careful, maybe Clever) would also tick it, since the thing has longer to track them down.

An important element is that Fate is pretty meta, so you don't need to think about who is setting off these boxes. Characters on opposite ends of your ship/station could be setting it off. Just think of it like a timer, and the person who marks a box when there's no box left to be marked is who gets the alien to appear with them. Whether it knows they're there or is just in the room looking is more dependent on the tone in the moment, but that should be what makes it appear. And then the track is emptied out.


This is the part that interests me the most, I think, because the concept seems perfect. Do you give this stress track to players? Do you give it to individual players, or just assign a general environmental one that applies to the entire group? I love the idea of the tension that it brings; in addition to the Alien showing up at times all on its own, you can get a feel for how much your actions are drawing its attention.

Nintaku:
Though I don't like that everyone can see how soon the thing will appear again. Maybe you could use compels to give out FP for bringing the alien closer, or have it be the price for a Success at a Cost (maybe even two boxes for a Major cost!), or something like that.


Sure. If it's a variable stress track or something, you could hide the total amount. Just say "That's another stress box marked." And then you don't have to have the Alien drop in right then and there. You could find a way to work it into the current scene.

Nintaku:
5) The killable alien would then have a normal stress track, and possibly Consequence slots if it's a dread beast from Alien or Alien 3, rather than one of the numberless bugs from Aliens. Or you might try Conditions! Give it specific ways it can be killed, and don't let the heroes kill it unless they fill all the conditions. Again, Alien and Alien 3 come to mind. They put that thing through a lot before it went away.


How does this work? Because this also looks very interesting to me. How do you combine Conditions with stress boxes to make a complex, multi-stage "defeat" mechanism?
Nintaku
 member, 537 posts
Thu 10 Aug 2017
at 02:19
Re: FATE (Accelerated): How would you stat out a Xenomorph?
Samus Aran:
Thanks for the responses! So how would the answers differ, if at all, for full-fledged Fate?


No problem! Honestly, it really depends on what feel you want to evoke and how much you plan on going into it from a mechanical perspective. The Golden Rule of Fate is to always look to the narrative first and have your story inform your mechanics. And I feel the Golden Rule of GMing is to never rely on the stats too much, or you'll end up with a number block instead of a monster. :P

I'll get into it more below.

Samus Aran:
Nintaku:
1) Its High Concept should always address what it's basically capable of. Xenomorph [Function] or the like should cover the things it can and can't do in a general sense. That should give all kinds of justifications.

2) Other aspects make it more specific, and don't forget what species it was hatched from. A Predator/Alien is going to be different than a Dog, and different from a Human.


So NPCs get aspects, too, right? Looks like the full ones get a bunch, and you have your mooks, of course.


Absolutely! There's a lot to say regarding aspects and what gets aspects, but I like to think of them abstractly. Players will have five aspects on their sheet, but I also feel like if they want to drop a Fate Point and invoke that they're wearing a Fancy Gold Watch, then that's an aspect they have that simply wasn't important enough to write down, and now it's getting focus. NPCs are like that too, in that they have a number of aspect slots filled in already, just to give you some focus during play. Other elements of them can come up, but these are the important bits.

I assume you've already read all the Fate Accelerated/Core stuff, but it's useful here.

Here's a link to Fate Accelerated's advice on building opposition: https://fate-srd.com/fate-acce...-gamemaster#bad-guys

Pretty straight forward, major opponents have a full sheet while minor opponents have an aspect or two.

Here's the Fate Core guidelines: https://fate-srd.com/fate-core...d-playing-opposition

Very stratified, though that structure is simply a tool for ease of use rather than a hard rule you must follow or be smoten. Nameless NPCs get one or two aspects as needed. Supporting NPCs (anyone with a real part to play who isn't the Big Bad) get two or three aspects. Main NPCs are expected to have a whole five aspects, but their example has seven!

So as you can see, you just give your xenomorph whatever it needs for your story, and anything too little can be filled in later. I'd say a Queen should have more aspects than a Drone, as a general rule, but that drone from the first movie was the movie's big bad and deserved a full spread of aspects on its own.

Samus Aran:
Nintaku:
4) The unkillable one should have a Hunting stress track. Loud actions (anything Forceful or Flashy, most things Quick) would tick a box. Failed stealthy actions (Sneaky, maybe Clever or Careful) would tick a box. Failed slow actions (Careful, maybe Clever) would also tick it, since the thing has longer to track them down.

An important element is that Fate is pretty meta, so you don't need to think about who is setting off these boxes. Characters on opposite ends of your ship/station could be setting it off. Just think of it like a timer, and the person who marks a box when there's no box left to be marked is who gets the alien to appear with them. Whether it knows they're there or is just in the room looking is more dependent on the tone in the moment, but that should be what makes it appear. And then the track is emptied out.


This is the part that interests me the most, I think, because the concept seems perfect. Do you give this stress track to players? Do you give it to individual players, or just assign a general environmental one that applies to the entire group? I love the idea of the tension that it brings; in addition to the Alien showing up at times all on its own, you can get a feel for how much your actions are drawing its attention.


For this bit, I'd put those stress tracks on the alien itself. Then filling those stress boxes leads to something happening rather than the alien being Taken Out. Putting it on the adventure itself, much like the Game Aspect in Fate Core, would work exactly the same way, and you might consider how it would feel to have the track on the game rather than on the enemy.

For realism's sake, you could give it to individual players to have each one's actions draw the beast closer to them, but then realism would fly out the window when someone on the bridge and someone in the galley both set off the alien at once. I wouldn't go this route.

Samus Aran:
Nintaku:
Though I don't like that everyone can see how soon the thing will appear again. Maybe you could use compels to give out FP for bringing the alien closer, or have it be the price for a Success at a Cost (maybe even two boxes for a Major cost!), or something like that.


Sure. If it's a variable stress track or something, you could hide the total amount. Just say "That's another stress box marked." And then you don't have to have the Alien drop in right then and there. You could find a way to work it into the current scene.

Nintaku:
5) The killable alien would then have a normal stress track, and possibly Consequence slots if it's a dread beast from Alien or Alien 3, rather than one of the numberless bugs from Aliens. Or you might try Conditions! Give it specific ways it can be killed, and don't let the heroes kill it unless they fill all the conditions. Again, Alien and Alien 3 come to mind. They put that thing through a lot before it went away.


How does this work? Because this also looks very interesting to me. How do you combine Conditions with stress boxes to make a complex, multi-stage "defeat" mechanism?


I would probably forego Stress entirely using this method. Any shifts of effect from an Attack roll that get through take the alien out (unless it Concedes, which you could do early in the story to have the players attacked multiple times instead of having to kill the thing the first time it appears).

So you come up with some Conditions appropriate to your story. Maybe...

Burned [_]
Crushed [_]
Covered in Molten Lead [_]

Then each time the heroes want to harm it, they need to do one of these things. It's immune to Attack rolls until all three boxes are filled. After that, the next successful attack kills the beast! Stress wouldn't so much be a factor for the monster, and having it immune to a direct murder strike early in the story means the heroes would need to scrounge for the necessary tools to create these conditions, and then make plans to use them.

What do you think? :D
Samus Aran
 member, 350 posts
 Author, game designer
 Part-time Metroid fighter
Thu 10 Aug 2017
at 03:10
Re: FATE (Accelerated): How would you stat out a Xenomorph?
That all looks very interesting, and absolutely perfect for a tense, Alien: Isolation-style survival story. I'm not 100% sure exactly how I want to do things yet. I really like the idea of having stress tracks build up into the Alien showing up, which really captures that "hunted" feeling, and I like the idea that the beast can't be defeated permanently out the gate. You can drive it away or trap it, but only for so long.

Could the Alien's attention stress track be something that was simply applied to given scenes? Like, there might be some safe areas, but when you're out trying to do what you have to do to survive, you become vulnerable to the possibility of predation. Not sure whether it'd be better to have a neutral stress track that all players and actions contribute to, or individual ones, or what.

Hm. So many options, but it looks like it could do the game very well.
Nintaku
 member, 538 posts
Thu 10 Aug 2017
at 08:23
Re: FATE (Accelerated): How would you stat out a Xenomorph?
Now you're makin' me wanna extend that concept out a bit. I'm afraid I've been thinking. (A dangerous pasttime, I know.)

So in Fate, space is broken up into Zones. They're fairly tight for pseudo-tactical movement. Mecha vs Kaiju introduced a lovely idea I recommend stealing called Sectors; they're Zones bit on a bigger scale. So let's steal that for this spaceship/station.

Your medical bay has several Zones: the beds, the center pillar thing, the wall with computers and blinky lights, the mobile rack of drugs that never actually gets moved, and the section of wall behind the rack that gets hid behind. But Medical Bay is now a Sector of your vessel as a whole, and we can put the attention stress track on that! Now each Sector has an attention-based stress track, and activities in those areas fills boxes until someone gets an alien sprung on them. If two places get the track filled at once, one of them gets attacked. Perhaps someone wants a Fate Point, or it's randomly determined. I dunno. But now you may not know which place gets it, and the places become increasingly dangerous as time goes on.

If you really want to ramp up the tension, reduce the track length each time it resets in that area. :D