Some Fate

coverbitThis adventure was played over a series of sessions. Mostly online, but one in person.

At tea, Abigail and Sally got around to talking, in a roundabout way, of their Limitors. These are devices, installed in every automaton, which enforce a primitive version of the laws of robotics which, in essence, prevent automatons from harming humans.

Abigail does not have a Limitor. It’s not something she advertises, but she was Built for Battle (trouble aspect), and is very much aware that she has the capacity to harm, even kill, the fragile humans. She does not discuss it with anyone, much like she doesn’t reveal that she is pretty sure she killed a man shortly before her awakening.

However, it seems Sally does not have a Limitor, either. She had been experimented on by Hatfield, and it appears that he may have removed Sally’s Limitor during his attempts to make an automaton army.

Sally expressed to Abigail, at tea, a certain amount of frustration when customers of her employer’s are difficult. She just wants to hurt them.

Abigail deals with her lack of Limitor in a very basic way. Humans do not need a piece of hardware to know that killing is wrong, and neither does Abigail. She attends Church regularly, and believes that one does not harm or kill others because it is wrong.

Sally might not have learned that, yet.

So, Abigail suggests to Sally that they will do some ladylike sparring in the next few weeks, to help burn off some of that frustration. (I remark that I just really want Foxy Boxing Rock’em Sockem Robots to be a thing…) We turn to gossiping about the recent attacks throughout town, and then chit-chat about the latest catalog of Automaton Novelty Upgrades.

Abigail returns to the bakery to work. The next day, a scruffy, weathered young man comes in an introduces himself as Todd Pickett, the brother of Bill Pickett, one of Winfield’s war friends (R.I.P.).

Todd explains, wearily, that he hasn’t slept in 2 days and he desperately needs Winfield’s help.  He believes he’s the one who has been harming people around New London– he’s been waking up in strange places, and doesn’t know what to do. He wants to keep this from his father, Sir Reginald Pickens, who is a notable person in Society.

We agree to help him, and he camps out at the bakery for the day before being taken home to Winfield’s apartment that night.

There, Abigail agrees to watch over him, and shackle him to the guest bed. Sometime in the night, she is distracted momentarily, and when she turns back, he has transformed into an enormous beast of a man who is determined to escape– and doing a little chaos on the way would not go amiss. He seems invigorated and he and Abigail exchange banter–

“This place is boring– I’m going to leave now.”

“I will stop you. You instructed me to–” bang! He cracks a bedpost across Abigail’s head. He’d flexed to break free of his bonds, splintering the bed posts into manageable clubs.

Winfield wakes and readies for battle.

He and Abigail exchange blows, but Abigail does not specifically want to hurt him. Even without a Limitor, she’s aware that this may be Todd Pickens underneath… and she does not believe that Winfield knows she lacks a Limitor. Winfield is the closest thing she has to a friend, despite their employer/employee relationship. She does not want to see fear in his eyes when he looks at her.

Meanwhile, Winfield has his own challenges, as he also does not want to harm Todd Pickens.

Todd Pickens, meanwhile– or rather, the Hyde version of Todd– is perfectly happy to break either of them in two. The fight is rambunctious and uses much of Winfield’s equipment strewn around the apartment (scene/zone aspects for blowguns and random elephant prods and the like). Abigail took the brunt of the fight, being hit repeatedly by Todd’s bedpost and eventually (when her 4 Physical stress boxes filled up), cracking her main boiler (minor, 2-point consequence: Boiler is Leaking)

In the end, Todd grabs Abigail and throws her out the window.

It is at this point that we stop for some rules discussion, because we’re not entirely sure how forced movement works in Fate. In Fate, during a conflict, you have Zones. We hadn’t pre-defined these, but we knew we were fighting in Winfield’s Apartment (a zone), but that was all. He made a successful Physique (I think) to lift her and throw her through the window, but she resisted enough to hang onto the windowframe and not fall– returning to the apartment would have been do-able on her turn.

We’re going to concede this fight, but we still needed to explore the rules. At risk: Neither Abigail nor Winfield wants him to get away, but it’s clear to them that he will. If we’d kept fighting, Abigail would have moved back into the apartment (from Out the Window Zone to Apartment). If Todd had persisted in fighting (which he would), a more successful skill roll would have moved her from the Apartment to 2 zones away, into The Street. Because you can normally only move one zone at a time, Abigail would not have been able to run back to the apartment and also take an action to prevent his escape.

If Abigail had not been an automaton and built for battle, being thrown 2 zones out the window would also almost certainly have done stress to her, even without Todd intending to harm her. 

We conceded the fight and Todd escaped. Winfield rounded up the Irregulars to follow but not confront, and we stopped there for the session.

In last week’s session (which was brief), we spent a little bit of time fixing Abigail and waiting for the Irregulars. Winfield uses Craft, which he has at +3, to do the repair on Abigail. He rolls poorly, but the difficulty is 2, the value of the Consequence. Abigail’s Mild Consequence remains as a repaired aspect, and we change it to Boiler has Low Pressure. It will remain so for one scene, and then go away.

It was clear we couldn’t chase Todd and stop him from claiming a victim that night and, indeed, the irregulars do claim he killed an older gentleman, beaten to death. Having been thumped pretty badly the night before, we decide to recruit some help– Sally’s first boxing lesson will be a field training, unfortunately. And Winfield calls up his old pal Sir Stewart Jeffries, a friend from the war who has been trying to get Winfield to travel to Africa on a colonial mission with him. At this point, Africa is starting to sound rather sane.

We do a bit of investigation among Todd’s friends at his gentleman’s club and learn he’s been particularly risk-taking lately. Abigail listens carefully and thinks it sounds like Todd has been sampling some of the strange offerings at the Weird Market. This is a scene, so Abigail’s consequence should go away now– her boiler has reached optimal pressure once more.

We take another break for some more world-building. Together, we brainstorm a bit about the Weird Market. We know that it’s where you get “the weird stuff” and where Abigail bought her vocal box. She was built without one, and the upgrade was expensive, in part because she wanted no questions about why this automaton lacks a Limitor. We start working on some aspects and definitions for the Weird Market:

Weird Market
High Concept:  Bazarre of the Bizarre
Aspect: You’ll Always Find What You’re Looking for… and Then Some.
Aspect: Never in the Same Place Twice
Aspect: When you’re ready, the market finds you.

We have some discussion about this, and we haven’t completely agreed where the market really is, and whether it moves about in some kind of extradimensional space or not. I like the idea that this market touches everywhere at once– in a way, the Voodoo Marche in New Orleans is the same as the Witch Market in Kiev. Justin and Mike, however, want it to be more naturally explainable. All of our Weird in this game has been nominally explainable through natural science. We agree that, if it’s true that it touches everywhere, then that might be too convenient for a story plot, and it contradicts our worldbuilding that most everything is explainable. So if it does touch everywhere, then for the majority of people accessing the market, whether to buy or sell, it seems to be something that they know about through other channels.

Discussion of the Weird Market takes us to our stopping time, so we break and thank each other for the experience.