The Game: Atomic Robo
The Publisher: Evil Hat Productions
Degree of Familiarity: Not much with this particular game, but it runs on Fate Core, which I'm pretty well versed in.
Books Required: Just the one.
Atomic Robo is a comic, and it's one I haven't really read, but it's very much up my alley - Tesla creating robots, crazy sentient dinosaurs, very pulpy and action-sciencey. +Michelle has been wanting to play it for a while, so when the group that was Monsterhearts morphed into its current form, we wound up choosing it as our next game.
Creating a character for this game works a lot like other Fate games. I need a concept to start out. I've overseen chargen for this before, so I know I want to play a weird character, but I don't know that I want to be as weird as +Travis and his gentleman octopus. There are a number of sample weird modes in the book; nothing says I couldn't make up my own, of course, but I kinda want to play a psychokinetic. I don't know that I ever have played a character with some stripe of telekinesis, but it's far and away one of my favorite super powers, and I think it'd be kind of cool. Ooh, and I have an interesting concept, with a little inspiration from Stranger in a Strange Land. Actually, as I'm thinking about it, maybe I do want to make up my own mode.
So, Adriago Valetti is my character. His parents worked for a branch of Tesladyne investigating "parallel harmonic alternate dimensional entities," or PHADEs. The equipment worked by vibrating the participants' molecules at precise frequencies, such that they moved out of synch with the world around them. The eight original PHADEnauts vanished into a parallel dimension, and came out two years later, each having aged almost a quarter-century. With them was Adriago, born in-PHADE to two of the PHADEnauts.
Adriago, once the vibrations stopped, was stable, and ages at normal human rate here (time passes different in his phase; about one year of time per one month of normal Earth time). Adriago is trying to adjust to life here, but it's so weird - people here have so very little control over their lives. They're at the mercy of things like "gravity." My concept aspect is "Stranger to this Frequency."
Now I need to buy modes. I get 30 points, and each mode costs a number of points based on the Skills it includes. Action, Banter, and Intrigue each cost 9, and Science costs 3.
Well, I know want Action, which includes Athletics, Combat, Notice, Physique, Provoke, and Vehicles. Hmm. I picture Adriago as being pretty stoic and naive, so Intrigue doesn't seem to fit. Banter, however, is just as "off." I'll go with Science as my other one (which is just Will and Notice, which is why it's cheaper). That's only 12 points, so I have 15 to build my weird mode.
So, my weird mode is going to be called "PHADE". It's about how Adriago is a denizen of another dimension, basically. Hmm. Well, obviously I'm drawing heavy inspiration from Valentine Michael Smith, here, but I don't want to just play that character. So I think Adriago is going to keep Mike's largely gentle, kind of childlike demeanor, but be more physical - this is an ACTION! game, after all. Being from a different dimension, his senses don't work quite the way ours do - not sight, smell, etc., but more his more subtle social senses. So I'll add Rapport and Provoke to this mode. Also Will, too, definitely. And then I think PHADE is going to allow Adriago to use some psychic type powers (maybe TK, maybe not), but it grants him a fluidity of movement, so I'll add Athletics. Ooh, hell, I need Empathy, too. That gives me 8 points spend, here. I'll Notice and Physique, too, for an even 10.
Now I need to rate my modes. I think PHADE should be first (Good), and then Science, and then Action. That was easy.
Now I reinforce Skills. Basically, if they show up in more than one mode, they get a boost. Right now I get:
Rapport, Provoke, Will, Athletics, Empathy, Notice, and Physique under PHADE.
Athletics, Combat, Notice, Physique, Provoke, and Vehicles under Action.
Notice and Will under Science.
So Notice shows up three times; Physique, Will, Athletics, Provoke show up twice. That means Notice starts at Trained in Good, but moves up twice to Specialized (Superb). Will starts Trained in Good and moves up to Focused (Great), as do the others, actually. Holy cats, I really stacked this well.
The book says to figure out Stress Boxes, but since I could in theory improve Skills yet, I'll let this wait. Game designers - derived traits always go last.
I should fill in some aspects, though, before I do stunts. I need an aspect for each mode, and then an Omega aspect that's just kind of quirky or troublesome. For my PHADE aspect, I'll take Harmonic Manipulation - Adriago can shift harmonies around at will. This qualifies him for some weird mega-stunts, which I'll get to. For his Science aspect, I take Everything is Different Here - his approach to science involves learning about the underlying principles of his strange new land. And for Action, I'll take Didn't Know I'd Do It Till It Was Done - Adriago is a man of action and is somewhat impulsive.
That leaves an Omega stunt. Ooh, drawing on another of my favorite novels, kind of, I'll take So It Goes. Adriago is, philosophically, inclined to see people from their own perspective, which is great, except it means that he sometimes loses the thread of the whole "good/evil" thing, because evil never thinks of itself as evil. He knows that nothing ever really stops, and so he has a hard time grieving something just because it changed form. This can make him seem insensitive or even naive.
Neat! Now stunts. Hrm. Mega-stunts are the super-power kinds of things, and I know I want a couple. I had been thinking TK, but eh. I think instead, we'll start with one based off of Adriago's temperament - he doesn't get afraid. We'll call this stunt Perspective, and it's kind of based on his ability to see things long-term, big-picture. It makes him immune to fear-causing attacks, but also gives it a cost or weakness. I think he'll be weak against social attacks that use sincerely held belief (so you're not going to get anywhere lying to him, but if you really believe what you're saying, he'll go along with it).
I also want a short-range teleport, called Harmonic Slip. This allows an absolute action; he can overcome physical barriers by slipping over or through them. I'll take a cost, there, allowing the GM to compel my concept aspect (or my PHADE aspect, for that matter) once a session.
I get three more stunts. I can take more mega-stunts, if I want, but I dunno. I can take a stunt to let me attack with Empathy, that might be fun (remember that "attack" means "causes stress"). So I think I'll take a stunt called I See You, meaning that I can use Empathy in an attack action after a successful Provoke or Rapport attack action.
Likewise, it'd be nice to use Notice, my best Skill, to defend against physical attack. I think it makes sense; Adriago can sense vibrations all around. So I think I'll take another mega-stunt called Tuned In: I can use Notice to defend against physical attacks and I get Armor:2 after the first round of combat (giving me time to get tuned in).
One more. Hmm. Oh, something I totally missed before is that because I have Science as a mode, I get all the science Skills ever at Fair. I think I should use some of my points to increase Harmonics, though. I have 5 points left, so I'll spend three points to bump it up to Specialized (Great). And then for my last stunt, I'll take Everything Has a Frequency - I get +2 to Create an Advantage with Harmonics, provided I can touch my target first.
OK, I have two points left. I can focus a Trained Skill for for 1 point or Specialize a Focused Skill for two. Hmm. I'll spend one to bump Empathy from Trained to Focused. And then I have one lonely little point left. Can I buy another Skill? Oh, I could bump another Science Skill to Focused under my Science mode, couldn't I? I'll do that. Let's say Anthropology.
And now I do stress boxes! My Good mode has both Will and Physique, so two more boxes, and then my Fair mode has Will, which adds one more mental. I'm ready to rock!