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Hellsing House: A FATE Adventure

coverbitAlso at the ConTessa convention, I played an RPG called Hellsing House, which was a Fate setting/adventure created and run by Meera Barry, via Google Hangouts.

Hellsing House is a halfway house for, well, monsters. It’s a Fate setting that Meera created. The tagline is None who enter leave unchanged.

Mechanically, the skill list was limited quite a bit, down to about 10 skills, with new skills to reflect the monstrous nature. We discussed the mechanics of that a bit before we got started, since the game is a playtest and we wanted to talk about why we had made the choices we’d made. I wasn’t sure why Meera had changed the skill list so drastically, and I never did get an answer as to why she’d made that choice. The skill pyramid was +5, +3, +1– we skipped over the +2/+4 skills, which I think made the game a little more unbalancing.

In it, I played Nora Host, a Gorgon (not with snake hair… yet) who has an overbearing mother, an unfortunate inheritance (the gorgon eyes), and a lonely heart. She works as a guard at the house, being a bit older and somewhat protective.

Derek is a were-leopard who was hunting in Nepal when the hunter became the hunted. He has cat eyes and a tail which is hidden when he’s in human form. He is a very new resident in the House.

Sam is a bassist for a riot-grrl band who had a fling with a dark gothy girl who turned out to be Death herself, who is now in love with Sam. She’s giving Sam necromantic gifts which are usually given to Reapers. Sam belonged to bands like “Shut Up Cis Boy” and so forth. Sam doesn’t ever back down from a fight or a drink.

Lenora is a homeless dryad, approximately 200 years old, who still has a connection to her tree, but no idea where it is. She is usually a mediator for disparate groups (many supernatural), but she no longer has her core connection. Lenora is very peace-focused and believes that there must be a non-violent solution to any conflict.

Hellsing House is a sprawling mansion with large amounts of land and privacy in the midst of a city. It is walled, and space may not be entirely Euclidean. There are dungeons in the basement, perhaps.

There are three rules:

  1. Don’t stay out past curfew.
  2. Check in at therapy.
  3. Don’t taunt the cooks, aka the Omnomnomicons.

We open during group therapy, which Sam, Lenora, and Derek are attending, while Nora stands guard. Suddenly, a young boy named Timmy stands up and provides a prophecy about “Old Ambrose woke, with promises made and promises broke.” It’s nonsensical, and therapy resumes shortly after his prophecy is over and he goes back to complaining about being treated like a kid.

Nora went off to report to the steward and was told to find Sam, who had written down this prophecy.

 

Meanwhile, Lenora went to talk to a tree, who told her there were violently plucked golden roses which were plucked violently and left to rot in darkness, nearby. Sam is composing a punk ballad based on the prophecy. She and Lenora head down to one of the basements, with Sam kind of excited to get Lenora alone.

Derek goes off to talk to the psychologist, who is busy, then heads off to find out why the guards seem to be on alert. Lenora invites Derek to accompany them, while Sam is trying to tell him to buzz off!

Nora heads off to find Sam, but is directed to find out why the access alarm on stairwell D-7 has been triggered. She heads downstairs, on the trail of what she assumes is a couple of kids making out in the stairs. She follows the kids, but doesn’t ever spot them. Down at the bottom level, Derek scouts ahead into a cellar access hatch, while Sam cloaks Lenora in some kind of death shroud (high success-with-style), in which she scans for other inhabitants of the basement. Nora doesn’t see Sam and Lenora, but she does see Derek and follows him into the cellar. In the darkness, Nora takes off her sunglasses. We learn that her nickname with the other guards is “Stone-eyes,” a nickname that annoys her to no end.

In time, Sam and Lenora follow and enter the cellar.

At this point, Nora is getting chatter on her radio that the Ingram Method has been initiated, and all officers must respond with the Ingram Method immediately.

The Ingram Method is a slash-and-burn technique to kill the residents. It’s a last-ditch effort, and Nora looks at the kids she’s following and guarding, smiles tightly, replies over the radio that’s she’s still in stairwell D-7 and will take care of this sector. Nora then turns the radio way down so the kids won’t hear any more of it. She’s no more going to kill these children than she would have plucked out her own eyes, but she’s not telling those kids this.

We start investigating the cellar and find an old woman with rotting books and serving some very supernaturally strong coffee, which Sam drinks. We talk with her a bit and learn that Amber Rose might be a thing.

We continue investigating, finding a room/stairwell filled with bright lights (turns out these are alarm will-o-wisps), which we keep trapped (whoops). We find a vampire who we leave alone. We find an old man and free him from whatever has him imprisoned. There’s a dead woman in the next room, and he goes to her and is reunited, turning into a rose. (All of this takes a while, with Lenora doing a lot of negotiation to get there.)

At this point, I turn my radio back on and hear the chaos and combat up above. The kids are ready to go take the rose up and plant it, but Nora has some bad news for them. She tells them about the fighting and says she’s supposed to kill them and the other guys in the basement. She hears on the radio that there’s a perimeter with the Steward and several of the residents inside, and stairwell D-7 will exit up there. And the perimeter is made of fire. Not happy for the dryad, at least. We decide to head up and ask the steward to help us get outside.

This is what we do, leaving a gap in the fire perimeter while we run for the gardens. Nora petrifies a couple of mooks while Derrick tackles a manticore. Sam guards Lenora while Lenora plants the rose and it grows firm and strong in the earth. Sanity returns to Hellsing House. Nora learns later that the Ingram Method was called by her supervisor without authorization. Her supervisor has, obviously, been removed.

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1 thought on “Hellsing House: A FATE Adventure”

  1. Thank you, Stephanie, for such a wonderful write-up – you were exceptionally forgiving to what I can only see as about a million, “I need to fix this,” issues I’m still having with the game.

    You are absolutely correct in that I did not give you a good response to that question, and I apologize – I had glossed over it somewhat with a handwaved “Playtest!” but I can answer it more fully now, I hope.

    My original intention was simply that I want the skills to reflect the types of games I want to play with the setting, and changing the skill set was one of the more immersive options for making that happen. I have to admit, in the back of my mind was also, “Anyone can write a setting, sure, but can I make this a little bit more?” That ambition is also partially to blame.

    I had not realized that bringing the skills down to 10 from 18 would have such an effect. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t thought of it as “merely half of what was offered,” until I actually thought about the numbers. I also saw so much overlap in the skills that it seemed (incorrectly, perhaps) to be somewhat silly to not use stunts instead to focus the skill choices. The balance of the pyramid (losing +2/+4) skills was also kind of at issue – I thought that in having so few skills that having the median set to -1 rather than zero might balance it a little bit better. It suggested to me that the anima would be _superior_ at something rather than “merely pretty good” in a way that humanity was, but since I included Ekduo/Submission in there, that didn’t work the way I wanted.

    I’d like to say I have probably seen the error of my ways, but for an extreme alpha playtest, I can only say I have definitely come up with some more options. [grin] If I am going to make Ekduo/Submission mandatory skills, they should not be part of the “pyramid.” I have thought about splitting up “Human World” to be “Human World: Archaic” and “Human World: Modern” as an example – cars have only become popular in the last hundred years (or so), so someone with “Human World: Archaic” may have a “drive” stunt for chariots, but not for Maseratis. It might better overlap the crafts category that way, or it might want to be split there as well. Similarly, “History” should probably be re-written to implement that it relates to historical significance in either the human or hidden worlds…

    Anyway, almost everything I am outright amending will be regarding the skill sets, and sewing up the adventure to be less dungeon crawl and more exploring the significance of a call for the Ingram Method. I will be adding more historical items and probably a whole section on the Ministry, but that’s all flavour text anyway.

    Thank you again for your participation and enthusiasm, and your role is probably going to define a lot about the guard situation in the House. [grinning]

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