by Mark Diaz Truman
Right at this moment, the Blue Dragons are in their locker room, talking about how they’re going to spend their Globi Cup winnings. They’re not even thinking about us, not even worried that we might win this thing. They think they’ve got us figured out.
That’s our advantage. That’s how we win. We surprise them. We play twice as hard for three times as long. And we win this thing.
We’re a team. And together we’re going to take that trophy home. Are you with me?
— Gabriella Lyons, Team Captain of the Razorskin Warthogs
It may not look like much, but Arcane High holds tremendous secrets. Each day, the young students who attend this magnet school in the Chicago suburbs enter a mysterious world of magic and supernatural power, studying wizardry and witchcraft and learning to channel their abilities into time-tested magical rituals. Nearly a thousand students each year wrestle with advanced magic under the careful supervision of archmages who have trained their whole lives to master a particular subject ranging from illusions to hexes.
Globi: The Game of Spheres
Yet the real draw for most students to attend Arcane High isn’t really magical training—it’s the sports! Students still play traditional sports like baseball and soccer for fun, but the coolest thing about going to a magic high school is playing globi, a version of capture the flag played in enormous globi arenas filled with magical obstacles and dangerous creatures. In globi, teams of four players have to make use not only of their physical abilities, but also their magical training in summoning, divination, elemental magic, and illusions.
The goal of globi is to capture one or more of the rival team’s globi—metal spheres about a foot in diameter that each team hides before the start of the match—but the spheres fight back once someone picks them up! Some globi grow incredibly heavy while others sprout vines and roots to try to entangle players while they escape. Getting to the globi is only half the battle—getting it back to your team’s goal is also a tremendous task.
Magical traps, difficult globi, and rival players aren’t the only dangers teams face in the globi arena. Each team also has a special defender called an avatar, a fierce magical construct or creature that protects the thin strip of the course—the defensive zone—where the players hide their team’s globi. Avatars stick with a team year after year, even as players graduate, and most teams derive their name and logo from whatever creature or construct their team employs. Avatars are difficult obstacles, and most teams go to great lengths to avoid having to face one directly.
The Global Academy Tournament
There are only a few magic schools in each country, but globi is a truly international sport watched by wizards everywhere. Each year, the globi season culminates in a Global Academy Tournament that pits the best high school globi teams against each other in a single-elimination event featuring dangerous arenas and unique surprises. It’s considered an honor for the International Globi Committee to ask an archmage to help design the arena for the Globi Cup, and any players who make it all the way to the tournament take their places in globi history!
Globi Around the World
What is globi like in other countries? Or in a professional league? That’s up to you! The characters in Arcane High are the best players at their high school, but that doesn't mean that a bigger world of globi stardom is easy to attain. Of course, the vast majority of kids who play globi at the high school level will never take their skills to the professional leagues. But all of them harbor that dream, as professional globi players are praised, lauded, and adored throughout the magical community.
Quick Start Adventures
Arcane High is a Quick Start Adventure that contains a unique setting, pregenerated characters, plot hooks, and an opening scene. It's not a full adventure, but it will get your group started on a brand new Fate campaign!
As a Quick Start Adventure, Arcane High has everything you need to jump right into your first session. Before you start, discuss the broader setting with your group, perhaps even reading aloud the descriptions of Arcane High and Globi so everyone is on the same page.
At the start of play, explain the current issue to your players and ask them to fill in one or two additional faces associated with Two Games Down, listed below. These additional characters provide new plot hooks and twists that tie your players more deeply to the drama and strangeness of life at a magic academy.
Then ask your players to choose from one of the two available impending issues: Summoning Midterms or Talia in Trouble. Have the players fill in one or two additional faces for their chosen impending issue as well, rounding out the larger cast of characters with their suggestions.
Current Issue: Two Games Down
Arcane High hasn’t won a Global Academy Tournament. Ever. Year after year, Arcane’s globi coaches have seen their team come up short, falling to richer and more competent rivals. The team that most often thwarts Arcane High’s hopes and dreams is the Iron Owls, an East Coast globi team with a history of going all the way to the Globi Cup. Some years are worse than others, and the worst years are when the Iron Owls knock Arcane’s team out in the National Round.
This year, Arcane High’s new coach, Adrianne Radford, hopes to break the losing streak. Arcane’s team is only down two games from the Iron Owls, running a close second behind their bitter rivals and hoping to make a play for the Globi Cup. They’ve got a strong coach, a new avatar, and a bunch of young, excited globi players. There are only five games left in the season before the Global Academy Tournament starts, and the team can taste victory. Their next game is against the Iron Owls, and a win there will put them in striking distance of a National Championship!
Dr. Vikram Singh, Iron Owls coach and Professor of Elemental Magic.
Octavia Reyes, senior and star striker for the Iron Owls.
In addition to being Two Games Down to their greatest rivals, there are a number of other impending issues that might occupy the PCs, including:
Arcane High runs on a complicated system of classes that start and stop at different times. The advantage of this system is that the teachers and administrators work hard to make sure that students aren’t overwhelmed by too many tests or projects at once. The downside is that there is pretty much always a test. The worst one on the horizon is the Summoning midterm—each student will be expected to call an elemental from a distant plane and control it for at least ten minutes! Students are preparing round the clock for the upcoming exam, even summoning smaller elementals that might just get out of control at the wrong moment….
Dr. Jamal Freeman, head of the Summoning School at Arcane High
Reese Kwan, teaching assistant (and frequent tutor) for Advanced Summoning
Talia in Trouble
Most globi players get a ton of opportunities to practice what they learn in class in the arena. Yet Talia, one of the backup defenders for Arcane High, has always struggled in Divination—mostly because she’s not fast enough at fortunetelling to use it on the field. Last week, she was suspended for cheating on her Divination midterm, using unauthorized magic to get the answers to the test. Other players can step up to fill the gap, but people are whispering that Talia is having trouble at home too, and that she might not be returning to Arcane High when her suspension is completed.
Talia Kieval, recently suspended standout defender for Arcane High
Mariella Rastle, Arcane High Divination instructor who turned Talia in for cheating
If your players wish to play pregenerated Arcane High athletes, you can use the four sample characters provided on Auggie Radford in this adventure. Stats are provided for Fate Accelerated versions of each character, including their individual aspects, approaches, and stunts.
Arcane High is written for Fate Accelerated. You can choose to use Fate Core—and you might want to develop a more complicated magic system if you do—but the real fun of Arcane High rests in the unique arena mechanics and the lightweight zest of Fate Accelerated approaches.
In Arcane High, players take on the roles of jock high school students in a magical and exciting world. Everyone at Arcane High does magic all the time, but the characters are thrust into a particularly dangerous and interesting situation: the globi arena. Arcane High jumps between fast and furious globi matches and the complex world of high school politics.
Before they create their characters, players must first create their team’s avatar. Remember that selecting an avatar both determines the team’s defenses and the team’s name. Most teams find an avatar from a supernatural plane, like a griffin or a water elemental. Once players have selected their avatar, each player should add a unique aspect to the character, like Sharp Claws for a griffin or Illusions of the Deep for a water elemental.
The Gamemaster (GM) will then assign a few skill modes to the avatar, listing one skill mode at Great (+4), two skill modes at Fair (+2), and one skill mode at Poor (-1). The griffin, for example, might be Great at “attacking with beak and claw,” Fair at “evading enemy attacks” and “piercing illusions,” and Poor at “resisting entrapping magic.” These strengths and weaknesses are known to the players on the team, but they often try to keep them a closely guarded secret from their rivals.
After creating their avatar and naming their team, players each select a position aspect and a drama aspect for their characters. The position aspect is like a character’s high concept, a short phrase that describes the character’s role on the team, such as Snake in the Grass or Memorized the Playbook. A drama aspect, on the other hand, is a short phrase that describes what kind of problems the character faces off the field, like Academic Probation or Bad Reputation.
Finally, players should each select a teammate aspect with one or more of the other characters on their team to describe their relationships. One character might have Taken the Fall in a previous cheating scandal or might be Hopelessly in Love with another member of their team. Characters should have at least one teammate aspect to start, but they can add them later in play too.
After selecting aspects, players should select approaches as normal. Players may also want to add a stunt or two, but like teammate aspects, stunts can be added during play as well. As with other FAE characters, they receive only three boxes for stress, both physical and mental.
Approaches and Magic
Arcane High uses the traditional list of approaches found in Fate Accelerated (Fate Accelerated Edition, Page 10): Careful, Clever, Flashy, Forceful, Quick, and Sneaky. Most of the time, players should use the approaches as described in FAE, but each of those approaches can also be used when casting magic. Here’s what each approach means when the players let loose with spells, hexes, and summoning rituals:
Remember that many of the negative outcomes associated with a particular approach can still show up on a success. For example, a wizard who throws a fireball at a rival team may knock out a rival player but find themselves trapped in a section of the arena that’s suddenly On Fire!
Careful magic is slow and methodical. It involves the wizard slowing down and casting the spell with some consideration for tradition and precision, common to Summoning or Incantations. It runs the risk of moving too slowly or exposing the wizard to other dangers.
Clever magic is tricky and unexpected. It catches opponents off-guard with surprising force or springs a trap that no one saw coming. It runs the risk of overcomplicating the situation or tying the wizard up in unnecessary strings.
Flashy magic is distracting and ephemeral. Illusions are almost always flashy, attempting to grab and hold the attention of a target. It runs the risk of creating unexpected chaos or drawing unwanted attention to the wizard.
Forceful magic is powerful and direct. It relies on brute force and straight lines, knocking down obstacles, tying them up, or pushing them forward. It runs the risk of collateral damage or overextending the wizard’s capabilities.
Quick magic is light and fast. It knocks rival players off their feet without harming them or snakes away a resource faster than the other team can respond. It runs the risk of not being forceful enough or getting entangled in existing spells and magic.
Sneaky magic is quiet and invisible. It evades detection, curling around its targets before they have a chance to react, or invisibly pushing against the opposition from afar. It runs the risk of falling short of the goal or revealing itself at the wrong moment.
New Extra: The Arena
To play globi, you use a new Fate extra: the globi arena. Matches are played out like conflicts, with each player getting a turn to take a single action that shapes the outcome of the game. The arena divides up the field of play into discrete zones, each one filled with different challenges or obstacles designed to impede the characters’ progress. The arena is large enough that the rival team is obscured at the start of play, moving secretly through the arena toward the three globi that lie on the other side, three precious spheres hidden in the player team’s defensive zone.
Designing the Arena
Archmages use powerful magic to design globi arenas, often putting 400 square meters of jungle next to a small lake or desert. Each one of these zones may contain either an obstacle—some sort of active yet stationary aspect that opposes the characters moving through the zone—or a challenge—an animated creature or construct that might even pursue a character from zone to zone.
Challenges are supercharged mooks (FAE, page 38) with two aspects, a strong skill mode ranging from +2 to +6, and a few stress boxes; obstacles are static threats that oppose movement through a zone with at least one aspect and a skill rating affixed to the aspect that’s used to impede the young athletes. Players can try to outrun or attack challenges—if a mook can’t absorb an attack with stress boxes, it falls—but they have to deal with an obstacle each time they want to move through that zone.
When you lay out the arena, take six index cards and write challenges on the first three and obstacles on the remaining three. Add three blank cards to the stack, and put all nine cards facedown on the table in front of the players to form a 3x3 arena, placing the obstacles and challenges in locations that you think will make the arena interesting. (Label the cards on the back with letters, so everyone is clear about which zone is which zone.) As players enter each zone, flip the cards face up to reveal the obstacle or challenge that awaits them in that zone, describing the fantastic or magical environments that the archmages have constructed for the arena. The players have to deal with the opposition before they can keep moving forward.
In addition to the 3x3 grid, each team should also place four cards at their respective end of the field. These four cards are the defensive zone, the home turf for each team. Each team should describe what that home turf looks like—it’s home, after all, to their avatar—and secretly note the starting location of their three globi and avatar in those zones. Globi must always be placed in different zones to start and cannot be moved or repositioned by the team that placed them until they are removed from the defensive zone. Assuming all the players are on one team, the GM can leave the room to let them discuss where they want to place their resources.
Each team has three globi: a heavy globi that grows heavier when lifted, a plant globi that sprouts vines and roots to ensnare players, and a monkey globi that actively tries to squirm away and run back home when removed.
Movement in Zones
Characters start in any of their team’s defensive zones. At the start of their turn in the action order, they can move freely into any adjoining zone they want, provided they don’t start in a zone with an obstacle or challenge. If they are in a zone with an obstacle or challenge, they must overcome those difficulties before moving into the next zone. Characters must move to contiguous zones; teleporting between zones isn’t allowed in the globi arena.
When a character moves into a new zone, they should flip it face up if it hasn’t been revealed already. If they uncover a zone that’s empty with their movement action, they can use their regular action to move into the next zone. Characters can look into the next zone to try to determine what obstacles and challenges may reside there, but it takes a magical spell—like Divination—to truly reveal what lies ahead. Characters can also add new obstacles or challenges to zones, including defensive zones, by creating magical advantages. These are less powerful than the obstacles and challenges placed by the GM, but formidable nonetheless.
At the same time that the players decide their starting position, the GM should secretly note the starting position of the rival players. If characters stumble upon a rival player, they may end up in a scuffle or conflict. Remember that NPCs—including avatars—have a spot in the action order too! Once an NPC has been discovered, however, their movement is public until they move into an unrevealed zone (see “Rival Players Off-Screen” for more).
Globi As Opposition
Each globi has a unique way of fighting to keep itself from going into the other team’s defensive zone:
Heavy: Each turn after being picked up, this globi acts as an obstacle that tries to keep whoever is lifting it from moving forward. In fact, it gets heavier each turn, adding +1 to its starting difficulty of Average (+1). Players must beat the current difficulty to move into the next zone.
Plant: Each turn after being picked up, this globi attempts to place Ensnared on whoever is holding it using a “Magical” skill mode of Good (+3). Any players who are Ensnared must overcome the aspect before they can begin moving again.
Monkey: Each turn after being picked up, this globi attempts to escape and run back to the other team’s defensive zone using a “Physical” skill mode of Good (+3). If it manages to escape, it moves one zone per turn regardless of challenges or obstacles present.
Players may try to come up with interesting ways of battling these effects, but they cannot dispel the globi’s enchantments with magic. The globi are protected with powerful anti-magic wards that vastly eclipse the powers of high school students.
Rival Players Off-Screen
As the Arcane High team moves down the field, dealing with the rival team off-screen can be a bit tricky. You’ll probably want to minimize the spotlight time that NPC players get, but you also don’t want players to feel cheated when the NPCs blow past obstacles off-screen without cost. Here are a few ways to balance the costs of the field against the PC spotlight:
Remove the Fog of War: It’s fun to wonder where the NPCs are, but real sports don’t obscure the positions of rival players. One way of dealing with the other team is to show their position on the board and make rolls for them as normal. This method will feel fair to your players, but loses some of the magic of the globi arena.
Let Fate Decide: Roll 4df and assign each die to one of the four rival players when they are off-screen. A + result means that the player moved forward into the next zone, bypassing an obstacle; a - result means that there was some cost or penalty—like stress or a consequence—that kept the player from advancing; and a blank means that the player can’t advance but doesn’t suffer an immediate consequence. This method is quick and direct, subjecting NPCs to the same roll of the dice as the players, but doesn't differentiate between strong and weak obstacles or players.
Give Them Limited Passes: If you want to really minimize time spent dealing with the opposition team, give each opposing player three passes that let them bypass an obstacle while they are off-screen. Once those passes are used up, they’ve got to take two actions to get past an obstacle. This method preserves some of the mystery, but might feel a little silly to your players when they’re grappling with a big obstacle they can’t get past early in the game.
Regardless of how you deal with off-screen NPCs, remember that they must roll when they’re on-screen—give the PCs a chance to interfere and interrupt their progress!
Formations and Rosters
Not all games of globi are played with four players. Some matches restrict rosters to only three players, while others expand it to five or allow substitutions. Feel free to add or subtract athletes based on the number of players in your gaming group, but make sure to raise or lower the difficulty of the obstacles and challenges accordingly!
Winning the Game
Characters can create advantages, attack each other, and overcome obstacles while playing in the arena. Medical staff is standing by to magically heal wounds, so most players don’t worry too much about getting hurt. Aggressive violence is frowned upon, but it’s not entirely against the rules.
If at any point, any of the team’s globi are stolen and returned to the rival team’s avatar, the game is over. The avatar consumes the globi and the archmages declare the match to be over. In more high-stakes games like the Globi Cup or the professional leagues, teams might be required to steal two or even three globi to win the game!
You can’t destroy a team’s avatar, but you can keep it tied up and busy on the other side of the field if you think that your team might be able to get a globi back to your avatar first!
First Session: Globi Match vs. The Iron Owls
Your first session of Arcane High focuses on the players’ team competing in a regular season globi match against their rivals, the Iron Owls. Matches are the heart of Arcane High, so devote as much of the first session as you need to see an entire match play out. You can follow up on the high school hijinks later!
This match is particularly meaningful because it’s the best chance the Arcane High team has at making it into the Global Academy Tournament. Only the top team from each nation is selected to go on to the global round, and the Iron Owls have a two-game lead on Arcane High’s scrappy team. Can they win this match and close the gap?
Possible Costs for Failure
Minor Costs: 1 stress, expose your position, drop a globi
Major Costs: 2 stress, lose control of a spell, get trapped in a zone
Each zone of the arena has a different environment, but the whole course has a few aspects that apply more universally. You might want to place a free invoke on each of these to encourage players to make use of them during the match.
Opening Aspects: Mists and Fog, Windy Trails, A Chance for Glory
Opposition: Challenges and Obstacles
This globi match has gotten a lot of attention, given that it’s likely to determine which American team is going to move forward in the tournament. The archmages who designed the course have constructed a set of dynamic and exciting challenges and obstacles.
The Black Knight
The Great Sword of Night • Darkness Elemental
+4 Attacking With a Sword, Absorbing Direct Attacks
-2 Piercing Illusions, Pursuing Athletes
Mighty Mimic Toad
Poisonous Skin • Hypnoeyes
+3 Casting Illusion Spells, Capturing Athletes
-2 Avoiding Ranged Attacks, Moving Quickly
Siren Song Singer • Bound by the Lake
+2 Calling to Athletes, Whispering Secrets
-2 Directly Confronting Danger
Fantastic (+6) Sentient Trees
Great (+4) Magical Quicksand
Good (+3) Steep Cliffs
Opposition: The Iron Owls
The Iron Owls are a formidable team, easily capable of walking away with a win against Arcane High. They have one star player, Octavia Reyes, but the other three players on the Owls are fairly strong contenders themselves. Not to mention their avatar, an iron construct that stands over eight feet tall and weighs more than two tons!
Iron Owls Players
Position: Nearly Professional Players
Drama: Too Used to Winning
Good (+3) Forceful
Fair (+2) Flashy, Quick
Average (+1) Careful, Clever
Mediocre (+0) Sneaky
Oliva may have slightly higher approaches or a stunt or two that might make her a better player, depending on how much you want to challenge your players.
The Iron Owl
Iron Claws • Wings of Steel • “Who Goes There?”
+4 Catching Sneaky Players
+2 Attacking With Claws, Flying Towards Targets
-1 Avoiding Detection
Arcane High uses approaches for NPCs, as if they were PCs themselves. These NPCs can also gang up and assist each other—if three or four Iron Owl players decide to tackle a PC, they would each add +1 to the roll to pin the PC to the ground, provided they have an approach they can use rated at a +1 or better. Avatars, challenges, and obstacles, on the other hand, use skill modes instead of approaches, and roll a +0 if no skill mode applies.
Plot Hooks and Adventure Seeds
The opening globi match of Arcane High isn’t the end of the adventure. The players may have won or lost the game at hand, but there’s still a Globi Cup at stake. And don’t forget the impending issues! Here are a few plot hooks and adventure seeds to keep the story going, varying the tone and pace of scenes after the initial match against the Iron Owls:
Reign of Terror
After a late night senior prank at Arcane High leaves several floors of the school underwater, Principal Montoya issues orders to crack down on troublemakers, pranksters, and slackers at Arcane High. All the usual trouble that the team causes at school is suddenly going to land them in the principal’s office…and maybe even off the team! It sounds simple to stick to the rules, but it’s hard to resist doing magic without permission, exploring the secret passageways throughout the school, and scuffling with rival cliques. Can the PCs behave themselves until the next match? What kind of tricks and trouble are they willing to risk pulling under Montoya’s nose anyway?
Iron Owl Transfer
Immediately following the game against the Iron Owls, Coach Radford tells the team that a new player will be joining them for the next match: Octavia Reyes. Her family is moving from Boston back to Chicago, which means that Octavia will be attending Arcane for the rest of the semester. Everyone knows that Octavia would rather still play for the Owls, but the Globi Council hasn’t approved such a transfer in decades. Can Octavia be trusted to play hard for Arcane High? Or is this all an elaborate trick by Dr. Singh to ensure that the Iron Owls rise above the competition at a crucial moment?
Pro Globi Scouts
Everyone knows that only a few globi players a year make it up to the professional globi league—pro globi is a totally different game, filled with dangerous monsters, cross-dimensional globi balls, and ruthless celebrity politics. But when three pro globi scouts show up at the next Arcane High practice, students and staff start buzzing that there might be more than one potential superstar on the team. Who is most likely to get called up to the major league after graduating? Is it worth skipping college to play globi on a team that might not care about the players as much as they care about the money? And who did these scouts come to see in the first place?
All of the sample characters have an open stunt slot. You can fill that in during the first match or save it for your first scenes at Arcane High! After all, not everything happens in the globi arena….
Auggie is Coach Radford’s kid, and that means that she expects him to be the star player. Fortunately, Auggie has his mom’s intellect, and he’s been studying and drilling since he started playing at the age of five. Dealing with his mom as the new coach isn’t easy, but he’s got things under control. If only Lysander would respect him for what he brings to the team!
Position: Walking Playbook
Drama: My Mom’s the Coach
Teammate: Jealous of Lysander
Good (+3) Careful
Fair (+2) Clever, Sneaky
Average (+1) Flashy, Forceful
Mediocre (+0) Quick
All the Spells. Because I know All the Spells, I get a +2 when I Cleverly defend with counterspells.
Done the Drills. Because I’ve Done the Drills, I get a +2 to Carefully overcome obstacles in the arena.
<empty stunt slot>
Jacobo doesn’t like to play the fool. He’s got things figured out, from the midfield of the globi arena to the answers for tomorrow’s Summoning midterm. Of course, that big brain of his gets him into trouble as often as it wins him the game and he’s glad to have his friends and teammates around when things go sour. He’s even willing to try to repay Auggie’s many acts of kindness by teaching him how to rig the game off the field.
Position: Midfield Manipulator
Drama: Professional Cheater
Teammate: Teaching Auggie to Fish
Good (+3) Careful
Fair (+2) Quick, Sneaky
Average (+1) Careful, Flashy
Mediocre (+0) Forceful
Seeing Is Believing. Because I’m a master of illusions I get a +2 when I Cleverly defend against opposing illusions.
Fast Breaker. Because I’m a Fast Breaker, I can spend a fate point to outrun a challenge into the next zone.
<empty stunt slot>
Jill’s got a reputation as a bad girl and an even worse student. She’s taller than everyone else, even the oldest boys at Arcane High, and she knows how to use her size to knock around smaller teams before they even know what hit them. Sadly, she’s got a crush on Jacobo that’s dragging her into some real trouble—she recently took the fall for him when he got caught cheating on an Elemental Magic practicum.
Position: Bone Crusher
Drama: Bad Reputation
Teammate: Took the Fall for Jacobo
Good (+3) Forceful
Fair (+2) Clever, Flashy
Average (+1) Quick, Sneaky
Mediocre (+0) Careful
Linebacker. Because I’m a Linebacker, I can Forcefully attack two characters at the same time once per session.
Charge! Because I know how to Charge the opposition, I add +2 when I Forcefully attack immediately after moving into a zone.
<empty stunt slot>
Lysander is the rising star at Arcane High, the new kid who is getting all the accolades and applause for swiping rival globi and returning them to the defensive zone. She’s good at playing defense too, leading plenty of people to talk about her as a potential pro player despite her consistent academic problems. Thankfully, she can turn to Jill to talk about her difficulty handling all this fame in the middle of so many important classes.
Position: Snake in the Grass
Drama: Academic Probation
Teammate: Jill Is My Confidante
Good (+3) Sneaky
Fair (+2) Clever, Quick
Average (+1) Careful, Forceful
Mediocre (+0) Flashy
Home Turf Defender. Because I am a Home Turf Defender, I get a +2 when I Carefully create advantages in the defensive zone.
Fast Tracker. Because I am a Fast Tracker, I can move an extra zone while pursuing someone who has the ball.
<empty stunt slot>