About Last Night

I don’t want to get into too much detail in this report; I still have another group of players to run through the conflicts. Some general observations:

  • Conflict in this game, physical or otherwise, is very much narrative-driven. This is a real change in perspective for players who are used to D&D’s very mechanics-driven combat system. It requires a different way of looking at conflict.
  • No matter what the system, a sucky roll is a sucky roll, and it can still make you sad. Or dead.
  • Getting to choose your own injuries and consequences is a very interesting choice. Watching someone try to decide where the machete hit them or how bad the bikers scared them is a lot of fun.
  • The key to conflicts in this system seems to be co-operation. One character (or more) uses a maneuver to stick someone with an Aspect, and then the finisher comes in, tags the Aspect(s), and strikes home.

On Friday, I’m running the conflicts with the rest of the group. Once I get everyone’s feedback and have consolidated it and forwarded it to Evil Hat, I’ll post a more specific report.ร‚ย  I’m not sure how much detail I can include, but I’ll tell you what I can. I just don’t want to give away anything for the other group, or prejudice their comments too much.

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9 Responses to About Last Night

  1. Rechan says:

    Points 1, 3 and 4 are very interesting, but I’m having trouble… conceptualizing them, or understanding how they work.

    Is there any way you could elaborate on those without causing any problems for you? ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Rick Neal says:

    Well, points 1 and 4 are also reflected in Spirit of the Century. You can find the SRD for SotC in my Neat Links sidebar on the main page.

    What point 1 comes down to is that Fate Points are mechanics currency: you spend them to influence your rolls. The way to get the most bang out of them is by using them to invoke your Aspects, which are important facets of your character. This means that, for your character to get all the bonuses you might want in conflict, you have to make the conflict meaningful to your character. So, one of my players rolls badly on a shooting roll last night and wants a bonus. He spends a Fate Point and invokes his Aspect “It got Stith; I’m not going to let it get me!” and says that he flashes back to losing his mentor and being unable to do anything about it, and the guilt focuses him on the task as he refuses to be helpless ever again. So, he gets the bonus. This way, the narrative drives the mechanics, and the mechanics prompt the narrative – a big change from “I swing at him. This time, I Power Attack for 6 points.”*

    As for point 4, maneuvers place temporary Aspects on your target that you and/or your allies can then tag to gain a bonus. For example, in a SotC game I ran, the characters wound up facing Gorilla Khan in his underwater base in a room filled with computer equipment, bamboo, jungle vines, and monkeys. Monkeys everywhere. At one point Gorilla Khan grabbed a monkey and threw it in the face of a character, giving him the temporary Aspect “Face full of monkey!” This allowed one of Khan’s gorilla goons to tag that aspect for a bonus in attacking the character (Dude had a face full of monkey, after all. That’s gotta be distracting.) Using maneuvers to place Aspects that you and others can then tag is a big part of the tactical thinking in conflict.

    Now, point 3 is represented somewhat in the way consequences work in SotC, but there are some new twists that I really like that I probably shouldn’t discuss in detail, what with the rules still being in development. Suffice to say that characters have choices about how banged up, confused, or embarrassed they get in a conflict. Yeah, I know that’s kind of a tease, but I don’t want to talk too much out of school. Reading the sections on conflicts and consequences in the SotC SRD will give you some basic ideas, though.

  3. Rechan says:

    I had looked through the SotC SRD before and hadn’t gotten the impression for any of those. Thanks for explaining.

    #4 I thought by the aspect business, you were referring to actually using a character’s Aspects against themselves. This seems more like situational stunts, like kicking over a barrel full of slick stuff on the floor, or busting an aquarium filled with nasty creatures.

    #3 sounds odd, in that I wonder what the TRADE OFF for that is; what’s the benefit, etc.

  4. Rick Neal says:

    For #4, you CAN use a character’s Aspects against him or her. If the opponent has a reasonable chance to guess an Aspect, or if the opponent manages to pull off a maneuver that saddles the character with an Aspect, the opponent has an opportunity to tag it, as well. This is in addition to the GM compelling Aspects for Fate Points, which is also covered in the SotC SRD.

    The flexibility of the Aspect system, and the way it turns so many things that could be purely mechanical into narrative moments, is one of the strengths of the FATE system. And I think it’s a BIG strength. But it does take some getting used to, because it is very different from most other games.

  5. Rick Neal says:

    And as for #3, I don’t want to say too much. But the trade off is that you don’t die, essentially. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Rechan says:

    Now I’m curious if mental and/or social situations can “kill” you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thanks, Rick. I appreciate the explanations. I guess I should look at SotC more; the lack of examples in the SRD is a real bugger.

  7. Rick Neal says:

    Not “kill” you, per se, but effectively remove you from the conflict. A mental situation might leave you convinced of the other side’s argument, or confused and lacking confidence in your own thinking. A social one might make you a pariah, or start a very nasty rumour about you that spreads quickly. Those are some of the social and mental equivalents of death.

    Of course, in a fantasy game, it’s possible to come up with mental and social outcomes that could result in death, if you’re creative enough…

  8. Jonathan says:

    For picking your own consequences, does it slow down the game?
    Did you find some of your players waffled over possible consequences dragging the game?

  9. Rick Neal says:

    It’s hard to judge this, because the players were unfamiliar with the system.

    Like any game system, there’s a learning curve. The conflicts took longer to run than I expected because the players were all very new to the system: one had played in two or three SotC games, two others had played in one each, and the other two had never played.

    That said, they came up with their consequences pretty quickly, so I don’t see too much of a slow down.

    And I would suggest that, even if it does slow the game down a little, it’s a dramatically appropriate place to slow down. Some consequences could be hanging around for the foreseeable future, so it’s reasonable to let the player have a little time to think about what will work best with the story and the character. If someone’s taking a serious consequence to keep from dying, I think the tension and drama of them trying to decide whether they lose their hand or get a permanently-scarred face helps all the players invest a little more emotionally in the conflict, and in the campaign as a whole.

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