Adventures in Random Roleplay – FATE Edition – The Flickering Lights of Old Hollywood

Welcome back, dice fondlers! The end of the year is closing in on us, and so now comes a time for reflection. Have we steered our lives in the direction we intended? Or were we steered by some invisible force? Is there truly free will, or was everything that happened just a part of some grander destiny?  While I don’t know if destiny exists, I know FATE sure as heck does, so the next few weeks are going to be about several of my favorite Worlds of Adventure – settings for the massively flexible FATE system.

How FATE Works

The amazing quality of the FATE system (and its streamlined relative, FATE Accelerated) is that its concepts make cinematic game experiences across a wide variety of settings. It manages this through Aspects (descriptive words or phrases) to describe characters and FATE Points (spendable points that help balance narrative power between characters of differing power levels). Today, let’s take a walk through Nitrate City one of FATE’s unique settings.

Our Setting: Nitrate City

If you’ve been submerged in nerdy pop culture long enough, you’ve almost certainly run across the setting that was touched by some sort of nuclear disaster that warped the environment, often giving characters amazing powers. Variants on this include mists that trigger mutations, artifacts from space, inter-dimensional vortexes, and psychic shockwaves. Nitrate City is a setting much like this— only instead of radioactivity, the strangeness is the result of something called “The Big Flicker Event”.

What was “The Big Flicker Event”? Imagine if reality suddenly shifted to a slower frame rate and flickered into black and white. Creatures that used to only exist in 2D movies cross over to our 3D world. A cop walking their beat is suddenly turned invisible, or turned into a werewolf. Take every hard-boiled film noir movie and then imagine what would happen if instead of your average mob boss, there’s a Frankenstein’s monster who is stealing the brains of his enemies and using them to augment his own villainous intellect, and the hard-nosed police sergeant is literally hard-nosed— he’s a golem. That’s Nitrate City.

Accelerated Approaches in Nitrate City

Nitrate City is one of the FATE series’ Worlds of Adventure that focuses on using FATE Accelerated instead of regular FATE. As such, instead of FATE’s Skills, Nitrate City instead uses FATE Accelerated’s Approaches instead. The four Approaches in Nitrate City are Action, Comedy, Drama, and Horror. Use the stakes of conflict to determine which one is applicable.

While Action seems pretty straight forward, Comedy, Drama, and Horror are a little more complicated. Using the Comedy approach risks your character being made a laughing stock, or being tossed into an almost cartoon-like action sequence. Drama risks your character being unable to draw emotional responses out of another character. Horror risks losing self-control in terrifying situations, like growing queasy at a violent crime scene, or suppressing a scream while being stalked by an unearthly horror.

Get Started on Your Adventure

The PDF for Nitrate City contains a nice smattering of background detail in its “Issues, Faces, and Places” section that contains background information on the setting. It’s just enough of the setting to spark the imagination and give you hooks to build on. They even give you a sample adventure to get you started as well, with “The Blood Dahlia”. The Blood Dahlia adventure invokes both the horrific true-crime of the Black Dahlia and mixes it with the best-layered character motivations and seedy movie studio plots noir films have to offer. You’ll definitely want to check it out.

That’s it for this week, but don’t fret, I have a grab bag of worlds for us to go exploring. In the meantime, you know what to do. That’s right my friends…



Written by: Jason A. Clark

Writer, Salesman, Cartographer of The Weird Realms In My Head

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