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Quick Start Adventure: Silicon City

Archons, man. Just when you think the powers-that-be are fixed in duracrete, they come along to arruinar todo. Freakin’ Archons.

Buy low on Hydra today, folks. Big bust comin’ down the pike that’s going to tighten up supply. My sources say Drazick himself is on the chopping block. Syndicates sold him out. If that’s the case, we’re all in for a wild ride.

—Alicia de la Torres, wave2162.12.01:52:11, hijacked line

It didn’t used to be called Silicon City. Long ago, before the national government collapsed, before they built the wall that cut the City off from the desert, before the War, it had a different name. That’s all lost to memory. Now it’s just Silicon City—gleaming and perfect—rising from the shoreline like a monument to humanity’s reach for the stars. It’s the Shifting City, Code City, a flash of zeroes and ones that never sits still, not for a moment. It’s our destiny.

Quick Start Adventures

Silicon City 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!

The Council

Silicon City still has a functioning government, but power in the City is centralized in the Council, the “elected” representatives of the seventeen districts that make up Silicon City. Councilmembers are powers unto themselves, oligarchs and virtual warlords who rule over the City in luxury, meeting only to decide the fate of the citizens. They are absolute, and the elections that put them in power are usually puppet shows designed to placate the masses.

The Archons

To keep the City safe from the rapidly multiplying technological and political threats, the Council appoints Archons to keep the peace. Archons are the best and brightest that the City has to offer, law enforcement prodigies who have sworn to give their lives to keep the City intact and the Council in power. They are soldiers and detectives, clever and deadly all at once.

The Council has granted the Archons a broad set of extrajudicial powers: Archons can go anywhere, look at anything, ask any question, and destroy any target… provided they’re willing to answer to the Council after the job is done. This is not an idle threat. Archons have found themselves stripped of their status and relegated to the salt wastes south of the City for acting beyond the Council’s authority.

Archons generally act with cautious impunity. They have the authority to override and commandeer any resources they need to protect the City, but they realize that it’s dangerous to think you’ve got it all figured out. Situations evolve rapidly, and smart Archons avoid jumping into danger until the odds are in their favor. That said, they’re proactive, competent enforcers of law and order, and many of them have sacrificed their lives to keep terrorists and criminals from destroying Silicon City.

Syndicates, Corporations, and Cartels

Despite its best efforts, the Council’s power in Silicon City is not absolute. Syndicates, corporations, and cartels—legal and illegal—hold sway over much of the City’s populace. The crime syndicates are the most vicious, but they tend to stay out of the actual politics of the City. Corporations muck around in the public eye, all but immune to legal proceedings, but they remain wary of the power of Archons who have an eye for actual justice. Cartels are the lowest organizations, but the hardest to stamp out or run out of business. Archons know that they wear a target on their backs if they look too closely at an organization without pulling the trigger.

The Undercity

Deep below the glitz and glamour of Silicon City, the poor and the restless find shelter. There’s not enough room in the upper floors of the sweeping skyscrapers for everyone, of course, and those that haven’t been able to work their way to a better life find themselves condemned to the Undercity, a dense and labyrinthine network of tunnels and old buildings that plays host to a shadow city just beyond the Archon’s reach. Rumor has it there’s a revolution brewing down there…

Are Archons the Bad Guys?

A few Archons abuse their power, muscling in on various criminal enterprises and working for syndicates, but most Archons want to see the City succeed. Archons aren't saints, but neither are they only looking out for themselves. There are easier ways to get ahead in Silicon City! Archons are a system, a way of keeping order in the chaotic and semi-lawless City—the people called to do that work believe in that system.

Setting Creation

As a Quick Start Adventure, Silicon City has everything you need to jump right into your first session. Before you start, you’ll want to discuss the broader setting with your group. Silicon City faces one immediate issue—a spike in the abuse of Hydra, a designer drug—and two additional issues bubbling under the surface, ready to erupt at any moment.

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 the Hydra Epidemic. These additional characters will provide new plot hooks and twists that will tie your players to the thorny problem afoot.

Then ask your players to choose from one of the two available impending issues: Robot Civil Rights or Silicon City Elections. Have them 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: Hydra Epidemic

Of course, no shining city on a hill is without its problems. Archons all over Silicon City are reporting a serious uptick in Hydra usage, the designer drug of choice among the wealthy and elite. The Hydra Epidemic is a serious concern for the Council, so it’s on the radar of every Archon in the City. Fearing an outbreak of violence and chaos, the Council has ordered the Archons to do everything they can to bring the epidemic to a close.

Hydra is an especially dangerous drug because citizens who enjoy great privileges in Silicon City are the primary users. Initial doses of the drug speed up cognition and human processing, making it a perfect fit for financial wizards and high-priced code junkies. But as the drug takes hold in the nervous system, some users display psychopathic outbreaks of violence. It’s not unusual for a long-term user—a Hydradrone—to murder a business partner on a whim or abduct a stranger without warning. The only ominous hint of an imminent crime is the thin black veins that spread across the eyes of Hydradrones, the telltale marks that give the drug its name.

Faces:

  • Drazick, major supplier of Hydra in Silicon City District 3
  • Frances Nguyen, scientist working on a cure for Hydradrone psychopathy

Impending Issues

In addition to the Hydra Epidemic plaguing the City, there are a number of other impending issues that the Council is concerned might erupt into larger conflicts, including:

Robot Civil Rights

Artificial intelligence in Silicon City has been advancing at a nearly exponential rate. Despite their impressive intellectual and social gains, robots within the City are treated as property. There are no laws against destroying a robot you own, for example, and any violence against robots is considered to be property damage instead of assault or murder.

A number of robot activists and allies within Silicon City hope to change the public’s perception of robot civil rights. As robots have gained additional cognitive capacity, many within the City are starting to believe that robots may effectively be people, with all the rights and responsibilities thus included. At the same time, paramilitary groups like the Humanists hold a fundamentally opposed position, arguing that no robot can possibly be equal to a human being.

Faces:

  • Alexandria 7, android leader in the Robot Civil Rights movement
  • Carol Xibua, Humanist spokesperson and anti-robot activist

Silicon City Elections

Corporations in Silicon City exert control over most facets of the daily lives of citizens, but the City is still ostensibly a democracy. Archons are allowed to pursue fugitives regardless of jurisdiction, use lethal force, and commandeer resources precisely because the Council is selected by the will of the people. For Silicon City’s political elite, elections are a necessary evil that enables the continued functioning of the City’s many services.

This election season, a new candidate—Millan Tratar—appears to be mobilizing many of the City’s poorer citizens in District 3. The incumbent in that district has held the seat for some time, but a number of fiscal scandals have left him vulnerable to the upstart. Disturbingly, Tratar is promising to dismantle the Archon system itself, claiming that the extrajudicial powers granted to Archons are “a tool of the oppressors.” She enjoys widespread support.

Faces:

  • Marshall St. John, pro-Archon incumbent councilor for District 3
  • Aliyah Carter, political director for Millan Tratar<imgsrc="image/index-cards-4.png" alt=""/>

Character Creation

Silicon City works well with either Fate Core or Fate Accelerated characters. Silicon City characters complete only two phases in the phase trio, selecting a tech aspect instead of the third phase aspect. In addition, players building Fate Core characters can make use of Hack, the new skill presented with this adventure.

Usually players take on the role of Archons, extrajudicial forces of the Silicon City Council, and the adventure assumes this is the case. It’s not an absolute requirement, of course, and the setting works with civilian or support characters.

Pregenerated Characters

If your players wish to play pregenerated Archons, you can use the three sample characters provided in this adventure. Stats are provided for both Fate Core and Fate Accelerated versions of each character.

New Skill: Hack

Hack is the skill you use to penetrate, disarm, and rejigger computer code found on networked devices. In settings with networked electronics, Hack represents your ability to alter the code that runs the world.

Overcome: Hack allows you to bypass all sorts of electronic obstacles including digital locks, encrypted files, or difficult robots. You can even use Hack to disarm or shut down physical electronics that are hooked up to digital networks.

Create an Advantage: You can use Hack to create any number of digital advantages, including Forged Identification Credentials or False Sensor Readings. In short, you can make things go wrong, often without leaving any trace. You can also use Hack to set up preemptive defenses against hackers (like placing Encrypted File Locks on sensitive files).

Attack: Hack is used to make mental attacks against electronic systems that have preprogrammed defenses or codelocks. It can also be used to attack other characters if you find yourself facing off against a rival hacker in a virtual environment.

Defend: You can’t defend with Hack. You need Will to fight off attacks in a virtual environment from rival hackers or activated security systems.

Hack Stunts

Extended Access. When you succeed with style on a create advantage roll using Hack, you may immediately create a second aspect with a free invoke as your programming subroutines locate additional information.

It’s All in the Code. Use Hack instead of Empathy when you tear apart a piece of code to discover aspects about the code’s programmer.

Overcome vs. Attack with Hack

As a rule of thumb, you can only attack things that have stress tracks. If an electronic obstacle doesn’t have a way of absorbing stress, you only need an overcome action to get past it using Hack.

Tech Aspects

Tech aspects give Silicon City characters an opportunity to make use of advanced technology such as cybernetic implants, prosthetic limbs, or more traditional guns and armor. The right tech can mean the difference between life or death when you’re facing down Hydra runners or anti-robot terrorists.

Example Tech Aspects: Cybernetic Head Jack, Spider Claw Gloves, DNA Scrambler, Optical Enhancers

Opening Scene: Raid on Asombra Arcology

Recent activity in the drug markets have tipped the Council off to the whereabouts of Drazick, one of the major suppliers of Hydra in Silicon City. According to undercover sources, Drazick has been hiding out in the abandoned Asombra Arcology, a planned community on a small island west of the City itself. Asombra was declared a “nonlivable zone” by the Council after it was discovered that the developers used unstable duracrete in the construction of the 120-story facility.

As the scene opens, the player characters are in a helojet headed to Asombra. They have a number of additional Council forces, but they’re the only Archons assigned to bring Drazick in to face the Council. They need to land on the shores of the island, fight their way to the doors of the Arcology, and find their way to wherever Drazick is hiding before he has a chance to escape.

The Opposition at Asombra

Drazick’s crew has a few goons, one more serious enforcer, and Drazick himself. If you’ve got a big group of player characters, consider adding more goons inside the Arcology and perhaps even statting up another bodyguard for Drazick. This conflict should take most of your first session.

The scene should start with an action order as the conflict gets underway. Provide your players with a set of zones for the beach and Asombra Arcology and a set of opening aspects with one free invoke each.

Opening Aspects: Pounding Rain, Unstable Duracrete, Asombra Squatters

In the unlikely event that Drazick has the option of bailing on his crew to get away, he’ll take it. They were all hired to be expendable anyway.

Skill Modes?

Silicon City uses skill modes for NPCs instead of individual skills. When NPCs take action in accordance with that general activity, they get the skill rating of the mode. If no skill mode is appropriate, the NPC rolls on a +0. These NPCs can also gang up and assist each other—four of Drazick’s goons will get a +6 (+3 for skill mode and +3 for ganging up) when shooting at Archons.

Drazick’s Goons (8)

Drazick’s not some low-level thug. His men are highly trained and equipped with military-grade equipment. Worse yet, someone has tipped Drazick off to the Archon raid that’s coming at him. His goons are prepared to return fire on Council forces and stand their ground to give Drazick time to prepare his defenses.

Aspects

Armed Cartel EnforcersSmarter Than They LookReady for Archons

Skills

Good (+3) Shooting at Council Forces, Standing Ground
Average (+1) Dodging Fire, Intimidating Civilians
Poor (–1) Running Away, Sneaking Around

Stress

□□ □□ □□ □□ □□ □□ □□ □□

Grafton White

As Drazick climbed his way up the cartel ladder, Grafton White was happy to provide the muscle needed to knock down his opponents. A hulking man with tattoos and piercings, Grafton is the perfect enforcer to intimidate, frighten, and crush Drazick’s opposition.

Aspects

Trusted Right-Hand ManTattooed MusclemanDeadly with a Knife

Skills

Superb (+5) Knife Fighting
Good (+3) Sneaking Around, Intimidation
Average (+1) Avoiding Gunfire, Detecting Intruders
Poor (–1) Avoiding a Fight

Stunts

Poisoned Blade. When you succeed with style on an attack with a knife, spend a fate point to inflict the mild consequence Poisoned on your target.

Stress

□□□□

Consequences

Mild (2) • Moderate (4)

Drazick

Drazick isn’t just a drug lord—he’s the inventor of Hydra itself. The Council has information that leads them to believe that he might know how to counteract the side effects of the drug, making it the perfect tool for them to distribute to Archons and Council staff. Drazick, however, isn’t exactly eager to turn over his secrets, and he’ll do everything in his power to keep from being captured.

Aspects

Hydra Drug LordMaster ChemistNasty Limp

Skills

Superb (+5) Making Hydra
Good (+3) Shooting at Archons, Resisting Questioning
Average (+1) Setting Traps, Planning Ambushes
Poor (–1) Running Away

Stunts

Slippery. In the event that someone tries to create an advantage that would keep you from leaving a zone or scene, spend a fate point to turn that situation aspect into a boost.

Stress

□□□

Consequences

Mild (2) • Moderate (4) • Major (6)

Plot Hooks and Adventure Seeds

The opening scene of Silicon City isn’t the end of the adventure. The players may have captured Drazick, but he’s certainly not the only Hydra supplier in town. 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 conflict at Asombra:

Drazik Trades Up

Drazick isn’t a martyr or a fool. If the players captured him, he’ll try to strike a deal to keep himself safe at the expense of the people who funded his initial Hydra research. (Even if the Archons didn’t capture Drazick, he might come forward with a deal now that his organization is in trouble!) He claims that he can get the Archons access to La Araña (The Spider), the woman who funded a number of designer drugs, including Hydra. Since the Council knows little about the internal dealings of the cartels, they aren’t even really sure that La Araña exists. Does Drazick really know who La Araña is or is he setting the Archons up for a trap?

Humanist attack at Robot Protest

If your players chose Robot Civil Rights as their impending issue, give the Archons an alert that surveillance drones have picked up Humanist traffic regarding a terrorist attack on pro-robot protestors near Silicon City Plaza #24. Alexandria 7 is scheduled to give a speech outlining her vision for robot civil liberties—she’s a high-profile target that could potentially attract Humanist assassins—but the crowd of human and robot supporters is just as likely to be targeted by the anti-robot forces. Can the Archons find the terrorists and stop the strike or will they be left dealing with the chaos caused by the Humanists?

Carter Asks For Help

If your players chose Silicon City Elections as their impending issue, Aliyah Carter comes to Silicon City HQ to talk to the Archons directly. Millan Tratar—the challenger in the District 3 elections who claims the Archons are “tools of the oppressor”—is missing. The candidate is fond of walking the neighborhoods in the south of District 3 alone, but Tratar didn’t return from her excursion the previous night. Carter isn’t sure who else to turn to for help. Did someone associated with Councilman St. John kidnap Tratar to ensure that the upstart campaign would fail or is Tratar not as squeaky clean as she appears? +

Sample Characters for Fate Core

Adam Brennan

Less than a year ago, Adam Brennan was an average cop working in District 15, pursuing everyday thugs and criminals in a tough part of the City. That all changed when a Humanist bomb at a robot justice center left him nearly dead. Now he’s been rebuilt with state-of-the-art Council technology as a cyborg, a new breed of Archon built to protect the City from all of its enemies. Nearly 65% of his body is mechanical now, leading many to question if he’s even human anymore. Brennan dismisses such questions, but is starting to wonder which side of “the Robot Question” he’s really on.

Aspects

High Concept: Experimental Cyborg Prototype
Trouble: Councilman St. John’s Nephew
Tech Aspect: Industructible Duraskin
Rising in the RanksProtégé of Harvey Gatten

Skills

Great (+4) Physique
Good (+3) Fight, Hack
Fair (+2) Investigate, Shoot, Will
Average (+1) Athletics, Contacts, Notice, Rapport

Stunts

Extended Access. When you succeed with style on a create advantage roll using Hack, you may immediately create a second aspect with a free invoke as your programming subroutines locate additional information.

Part Man, Part Machine, All Cop. +2 to overcome actions with Athletics if you are pursuing a subject to make an arrest.

Hardwired Sensors. You may use Fight instead of Notice to detect surprise attacks or ambushes.

Stress

Physical □□□□ Mental □□□

Notes

Refresh: 3

Harvey Gatten

If there was a time before Archons, Harvey Gatten would remember it. He’s the oldest Archon working for the council, an old man whose wits and experience carry him through situations that would kill a lesser man. He’s short for an Archon, but faster than you might think. His long white hair stands in sharp contrast to his darker skin, framing a face that’s weathered and wrinkled, but somehow just as lively as ever. He should have retired by now, but everyone knows retirement never ends well for Archons—they have too many enemies to go quietly into the night.

Aspects

High Concept: Grizzled Veteran
Trouble: Ex-Family Man
Tech Aspect: Single Action Peacemaker
One Foot Out the DoorBy the Book

Skills

Great (+4) Investigate
Good (+3) Contacts, Shoot
Fair (+2) Provoke, Stealth, Will
Average (+1) Burglary, Deceive, Notice, Rapport

Stunts

Investigator’s Eye. You can use Investigate instead of Empathy to learn the aspects of a target through careful observation and questioning. You need at least five minutes of sustained interaction.

Freeze! +2 to Provoke when you are trying to intimidate nameless NPCs into surrendering. You may also spend a fate point to target a group of nameless NPCs simultaneously with a Provoke attack.

Oldtimer. Once per session, you can spend a fate point to establish that a named NPC has the aspect Old Friend. You get an additional free invoke on any advantages you create on that NPC until the end of the session.

Stress

Physical □□ Mental □□□

Notes

Refresh: 3

Brooke Towers

Brooke Towers is a ghost, an enigma, a dark-haired, intense woman who ends up where she’s needed as if by magic. The truth is that she learned her skills from a syndicate—she’s exactly the kind of criminal that Archons normally hunt. When her syndicate left her for dead in the Undercity, she found her way to the Council, offering her services to the powers-that-be. But Towers is terrified that the things she did in the Undercity, and the bruja curse she’s convinced she picked up, will end her life before she can turn it around.

Aspects

High Concept: Ex-Syndicate Operative
Trouble: Cursed by an Undercity Bruja
Tech Aspect: Cybernetic Leg
Team PlayerDoes the Dirty Work

Skills

Great (+4) Athletics
Good (+3) Provoke, Will
Fair (+2) Deceive, Physique, Stealth
Average (+1) Drive, Empathy, Fight, Shoot

Stunts

Get the Drop. Spend a fate point to move to any zone in a scene instead of taking an action during a conflict.

Called Shot. During a Shoot attack, spend a fate point and declare a specific condition you want to inflict on a target, like Shot in the Hand. If you succeed, you place that as a situation aspect on the target in addition to inflicting stress.

Ice Cold. +2 to defending with Will against attacks designed to intimidate or scare you.

True Friend. Once per session, you can add your Will to an ally’s defense against a mental attack by standing with the ally against a common opponent.

Stress

Physical: □□□  Mental: □□□□

Notes

Refresh: 2

Sample Characters for Fate Accelerated

Adam Brennan

Less than a year ago, Adam Brennan was an average cop working in District 15, pursuing everyday thugs and criminals in a tough part of the City. That all changed when a Humanist bomb at a robot justice center left him nearly dead. Now he’s been rebuilt with state-of-the-art Council technology as a cyborg, a new breed of Archon built to protect the City from all of its enemies. Nearly 65% of his body is mechanical now, leading many to question if he’s even human anymore. Brennan dismisses such questions, but is starting to wonder which side of “the Robot Question” he’s really on.

Aspects

High Concept: Experimental Cyborg Prototype
Trouble: Councilman St. John’s Nephew
Tech Aspect: Industructible Duraskin

Approaches

Good (+3) Forceful
Fair (+2) Careful, Flashy
Average (+1) Clever, Quick
Mediocre (+0) Sneaky

Stunts

Extended Access. Once per session, I can use my extended access subroutines to create an additional advantage when hacking a network.

Part Man, Part Machine, All Cop. Because I am part man, part machine, and all cop, I get a +2 to Forcefully overcome when I am pursuing a subject to make an arrest.

Hardwired Sensors. Because of my hardwired sensors, I get a +2 to Quickly defend against attacks that catch me by surprise.

Stress

□□□

Notes

Refresh: 3

Harvey Gatten

If there was a time before Archons, Harvey Gatten would remember it. He’s the oldest Archon working for the council, an old man whose wits and experience carry him through situations that would kill a lesser man. He’s short for an Archon, but faster than you might think. His long white hair stands in sharp contrast to his darker skin, framing a face that’s weathered and wrinkled, but somehow just as lively as ever. He should have retired by now, but everyone knows retirement never ends well for Archons—they have too many enemies to go quietly into the night.

Aspects

High Concept: Grizzled Veteran
Trouble: Ex-Family Man
Tech Aspect: Single Action Peacemaker

Approaches

Good (+3) Careful
Fair (+2) Clever, Forceful
Average (+1) Quick, Sneaky
Mediocre (+0) Flashy

Stunts

Investigator’s Eye. Because I have an investigator’s eye, I get a +2 to Carefully create an advantage while studying someone for clues.

Freeze! When I yell at nameless NPCs to freeze, I get a +2 to Flashily overcome their defenses.

Oldtimer. Once per session, I can spend a fate point to establish that a named NPCs has the aspect Old Friend. I get an additional free invoke on any advantages I create on that NPC until the end of the session.

Stress

□□□

Notes

Refresh: 3

Brooke Towers

Brooke Towers is a ghost, an enigma, a dark-haired, intense woman who ends up where she’s needed as if by magic. The truth is that she learned her skills from a syndicate—she’s exactly the kind of criminal that Archons normally hunt. When her syndicate left her for dead in the Undercity, she found her way to the Council, offering her services to the powers-that-be. But Towers is terrified that the things she did in the Undercity, and the bruja curse she’s convinced she picked up, will end her life before she can turn it around.

Aspects

High Concept: Ex-Syndicate Operative
Trouble: Cursed by an Undercity Bruja
Tech Aspect: Cybernetic Leg

Approaches

Good (+3) Forceful
Fair (+2) Clever, Sneaky
Average (+1) Careful, Flashy
Mediocre (+0) Quick

Stunts

Get the Drop. Because I get the drop on criminals, I can spend a fate point to move to any zone in a scene instead of taking an action during a conflict.

Called Shot. When I take the time to aim Carefully, I get a +2 to attacks using a firearm.

Ice Cold. Because I’m ice cold, I get a +2 to Forcefully defend against mental attacks.

Stress

□□□

Notes

Refresh: 3