*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 22, 2020, 03:34:34 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 197 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Refining/Tuning Aspects Invocations & Compels  (Read 5321 times)
RoboHobo
Member

Posts: 5


« on: June 14, 2005, 11:56:09 AM »

First off, I'd like to say that the your idea of Aspects is quite possibly the most intriguing single rules innovation I've ever come across. I'm eager to try out a FATE-based rule system as soon as my table finishes its current campaign.

However, I have a few ideas for tweaking the system when I use it. Having just come across FATE and not having had a chance to run it yet, I was wondering what the game designers and/or anybody experienced with the system might think of them (and how well they'd work in actual play).

First off, I didn't find the ideas given on refreshing spent aspects particularly satisfying. I was expecting the aspects to be in some way self-refreshing - in other words that the method by which they refresh would be as meaningfully linked to the aspect itself as the method in which they are spent - and I still think I would like to introduce some tweaks to this effect.

The solution that comes to mind is to allow the player to choose between the standard fate point reward or refreshing a level of an aspect as a result of an 'involuntary invocation'. This seems to me to make a lot of intuitive sense in terms of how its game effects would 'feel'. When a Merciful character restrains himself from finishing off a fallen enemy despite his need for revenge, when a Greedy character takes a risk by playing dirty in a business deal or when a Compassionate character spends some valuable time helping a stranger in trouble, it is my feeling that these actions should reaffirm the character's ties to that Aspect of who they are (and thus refresh the aspect). A knight who was been true to his honour and his duties should demonstrate his knightly abilities with greater prowess than a knight who has been shirking these same duties - that is, if I have interpreted at narrativistic style this system is shooting for correctly. Aspects being refreshed for reasons directly linked to that Aspect's meaning for the character sounds way better to me than their being refreshed on a more arbitrary schedule.

I do realize that there are a couple potential issues with this. Firstly, it could cause a refresh rate that is considerably faster than the standard, particularly in those aspects which most commonly come to the fore. However, I see this as a good thing - I like the idea of aspects being a fairly important part of the character's successes and failures rather than being a more occasional influence. This faster refresh rate for the character's most central and interesting Aspects would be one of the bonuses of this tweak, from my perspective. I realize that using this as the sole refresh system would make those aspects with rare involuntary invocations next to useless, so a slow 'arbitrary' refresh rate in the background to augment it would probably be necessary.

This knife would potentially cut both ways as well - in certain situations, refusing an involuntary invocation could cause an aspect to be checked in place of the more traditional fate point expenditure. A checked aspect would likely be more apropriate for situations where the character chooses to go against his nature in some way (ie/ the Compassionate character sees a stranger in trouble but ignores it as he knows he'll get in trouble if he falls any more behind in his work, thus alienating himself from the compassionate aspect of his personality). Conversely, the fate point expenditure would be more appropriate for when the player chooses to alter the story to avoid the involuntary invocation (ie/ the player of the Compassionate character declares "I don't need another complication right now, I'm going to blow the fate points and declare that there isn't a stranger in need of help.")

Personally, I think that this tweak will help aspects reach their full potentil in my game, in terms of allowing what is most central to a character concept to influence the story in an intuitively meaningful way (how a character reinforces or alienates himself from an aspect of his identity affects its weight in influencing the story). However, I am interested in the perspectives of those with hands-on experience with FATE / aspects / similar systems. There are a few other tweaks I have in mind, but for the time being I'll only bring up one for the sake of discussion clarity.
Logged

"God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh" - Voltaire
iago
Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 863


WWW
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2005, 01:07:59 PM »

I think you're on a solid track there, Robo, but I would suggest that part of the complication there is that some aspects may not be viably self-refreshing.  Your approach pretty much mandates that the only viable aspects are ones which can be both voluntarily invoked, and involuntarily compelled.  In practice, a number of aspects may be "solely or primarily negative" or "solely or primarily positive".  If the refresh only comes from the involuntary bit, then the strongly positive-bias aspects won't ever refresh, and the strongly negative-bias aspects won't ever need to refresh because they'll seldom be invoked.

Works great for the kind of aspects I like to do -- with strong double edges -- but that ain't all of 'em.
Logged

RoboHobo
Member

Posts: 5


« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2005, 08:08:17 AM »

Indeed, that was one of my concerns as well - to which I had at least a partial solution. I guess I brushed over the subject too quickly in my post to get my meaning across.

Quote from: RoboHobo
I realize that using this as the sole refresh system would make those aspects with rare involuntary invocations next to useless, so a slow 'arbitrary' refresh rate in the background to augment it would probably be necessary.


Here, I was expressing the concern that aspects without much potential for involuntary invocation (ie/ 'solely positive' aspects) would be rendered, as you said, not viably self-refreshing. For this reason, my proposal is not to entirely replace a baseline schedule of aspect refreshment but rather to add this new option to the already existing one. For example, a level of aspects may be refreshed every time the characters get a significant chance to rest and recuperate or at any other story point that would significantly enhance morale - this would be the baseline schedule by which aspects would slowly refresh. The self-refreshing system would simply allow those aspects which the character/player consistently go out of their way to reinforce to be available more often. The more you put into an aspect, the more you get out of it.

And yes, this does inflate the sense in which 'the most powerful aspects are the most interesting ones' in FATE and cause the double-edged aspects to be used more frequently than the positive-only ones. However, with a baseline refresh rate I don't believe this distance is an unreasonable one considering that a) we want to encourage the most interesting aspects possible, and b) positive-only aspects have their own advantage in that they're safe, predictable and never blow up in your face. More 'risky' (double-edged) aspects have bigger potential payoffs but also a constant potential to either cause your character trouble or 'cost' aspect levels or fate points at the worst possible moment. This model of risk and payoff seems to make sense - and it seems to me that positive-only aspects (being safe, conservative investments) are still 'viable'. Small risk, small payoff. Big risk, big payoff. On paper, it feels right to me.

Plus, it's not that hard to spice up a 'positive' aspect. Take something like Strong - you could make that more interesting by defining why the character is strong. Replace it with Bodybuilder (requiring frequent, inconvenient trips to the gym) or Hulking (problems with those tight spaces and creaky floorboards), for example (or just define that not knowing your own strength is a consistent problem). Abracadabra, 'Strong' has become not only double-edged but also better defined - more 'interesting'. If you're worried a positive-bias aspect will refresh too slowly, most of the ones I can think of can be given a new spin that gives them a negative edge as well.

As for 'negative-bias' aspects, they aren't in any way reduced by this modification. Refreshing an aspect when involuntarily invoked is only an option that can be taken if it makes more dramatic sense - they are still sources of fate points. And if the aspect is already completely refreshed, fate points would always be awarded in lieu of an aspect refresh. Plus, as has been said elsewhere on this forum, it's generally not to hard to come up with voluntary invocations for 'negative' aspects anyway (which could take advantage of the refreshing option). As I see it, negative-bias aspects have no problem under this tweak.

In general, I'm talking about adding extra options with the goal of tying aspects more directly to the narrative. I'm not talking about a complete replacement of the old refresh system. There would always be a choice between a fate point reward and a refresh award (although some circumstances suggest one or another, that's just a suggestion). I apologize if I wasn't clear enough on this the first time around. Now that this is better explained, do you still see a problem?
Logged

"God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh" - Voltaire
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2005, 09:07:39 AM »

I've been over this before, but what bugs me about involuntary invocations is that, with the people I play with, it never comes up in play. Players always play to their weaknesses already. If their character has a greedy aspect, they don't pass up opportunities to let that get them into trouble. So, basically, the system as written punishes them for something that we all enjoy, by not allowing for the involuntary invocations to ever be used.

My current solution is simply to rearange things theoretically and say that the player gets the reward whenever he plays thus. That is, instead of me doing Involuntary invocation, the player can simply choose to display the downside of the aspect in some way, and get an FP for it.

Using your system in combination with mine, then the rate of FP replacement (or Aspect checking), is based on how well the player plays their character. This gives incentive to the player to find those double-edged parts of the character's aspects - or it allows them to proceed all on their positive-only aspects if that's what they prefer.

It also means that I, as GM, don't have to be watching out for places to announce involuntary invocations during play.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
RoboHobo
Member

Posts: 5


« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2005, 04:21:08 PM »

That's a very good point, Mike. My player group is the same way - especially with the more fun and dramatic psychological/social flaws. I agree with the principle of declaring that an "involuntary" invocation has occurred and rewarding fate points/refresh for it even if the player has roleplayed the flaw without needing GM direction.

However, there is one definite caveat I want to put forward on that issue. It's probably something you've thought of as well (it's probably what you mean in using the term "downside") but I may as well make it expressly clear, as it is an important point.

This reward should only be given if the manifestation of the flaw actually either causes the character trouble, or else causes them to miss out on an opportuny they would have otherwise had. A Curious character who acts on their curiosity in a way that potential gives them a benefit (ie/ information) but which offers no real potential for trouble should not get a reward. The exact same curious roleplaying would, however, garner a reward if the character's curious actions got them into trouble they would have otherwise avoided. No cost, no reward.

While it would be entirely possible to use a system that rewarded for character-reinforcing roleplaying whether it was problematic to the character or not, such rewards would destroy one of the coolest things about FATE - the relative 'balance' of aspects across the negative-positive spectrum. Without the "no cost, no reward" clause to not-quite-involuntary invocations you could create aspects which consistently generated rewards at no cost to the character whatsoever, rendering negative-bias aspects obselete.

Once again, this is probably what you were thinking, but I wanted to be clear on the point.
Logged

"God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh" - Voltaire
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2005, 06:29:51 AM »

I not sure that I agree. Yes, if the players really are stuck in the paradigm of having positive only advocacy for their characters, then this might be a problem. But the whole point of my problem is that I find the players already willing to play the negative sides. Again, sans this behavior, there's no problem with the original system, as I would have opportunities to play up negative sides using involuntary invocations.

So, given that the players are already doing the negative playing, without any reward, why should I be worried that they will stop playing that way if I do give them a reward for doing so? Even if I do also reward the positive behavior.

Now, it can be argued that playing to a positive aspect is it's own reward - you get mechanical bonuses if/when you invoke the aspects. So why reward it again? That argument I might buy. Put another way, we're putting in the reward for the negative use as compensation for the fact that there's no other reward for doing so.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
RoboHobo
Member

Posts: 5


« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2005, 04:46:12 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
So, given that the players are already doing the negative playing, without any reward, why should I be worried that they will stop playing that way if I do give them a reward for doing so? Even if I do also reward the positive behavior.


Yes, it's true that good players will generate and play interesting flaws regardless of whether there's a meaningful reward for flawed behaviour. In a system with no special bonus-generating properties of flawed behaviour (beneficial behaviour gets the same bonus that problematic behaviour gets), the only thing stopping the creation of wildly unbalanced characters (relative to eachother) is if the players each have an equal desire for flaws in their characters.

I've come across some assertions that characters being 'balanced' relative to one another is an unecessary  convention in roleplaying (even that it's solely gamist and useless in other modes). However, in my experience, players get frustrated if their characters have less ability to influence the direction of the story than other players - and this unequal story stake is generally the effect of poor character 'balance'. One of the great things about FATE is that it by giving the superficially 'weaker' characters extra fate points for playing to their flaws, it equalizes the story power of the characters making them balanced on the level that really matters to players. In FATE, the incompetent, cowardly weakling has as much story-influence as the strong-jawed, courageous, talented hero because the 'weaker' character has an 'edge' in terms of his greater reserve of FATE points. If Mr. Strong-jaw gets the coward's 'edge' on top of his normal suite of talents, then the only reason to play a seriously flawed character is the desire to play those fun flaws.

And a lot of players will still choose to play the seriously flawed characters, you're right. But if the less flawed characters get the same 'roleplaying' rewards that the flawed characters get, then the less flawed characters have more power in terms of pushing events in the direction they want to push them. The players of the flawed character get less story-share and feel frustrated due to the fundamental imbalance created by this, in my experience, and the group has less fun. The only way this system would work is, as I said, if everybody chose to be equally flawed - which isn't all that likely, even in a player group who generally enjoys playing to their flaws. You could also mandate a certain number of flaws, but that's taking a step away from FATE's unique approach to character balance.

If you trust everybody to create balance even if there's no rule-based compelling reason for them to do so, the question that springs to mind is, Why even have a set of rules for character creation? Why not just write down whatever numbers you want and trust your players to make it balanced?

An argument couple be made that even without a fate-point reward, flaws provide equal power to shape the story as talents and more direct 'power' do. While this is true in a sense, I'm not 100% convinced that they have equal power to drive the story forward. Regardless, without the balancing 'edge' of fate points (or bonus refreshes or whatever) for the flawed characters, they are likely to come out second best in any conflict with a less-flawed character - this has the potential to significantly lessen the story-share, as player conflict (even the subtle stuff) is one of the major shapers of determining how the player group interacts with the story.

I think that somewhere in that rant, I managed to tie into your last point as well,
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Put another way, we're putting in the reward for the negative use as compensation for the fact that there's no other reward for doing so.


So, all in all, I do prefer a system that provides story 'balance' for flaws. Rewards for playing to a character's flaws are not just a 'carrot on a stick' to convince players to roleplay them, they are a tool to create meaningful story balance. Yeah, they'd like to play those flaws anyway, but give them some compensation in story-power, too. I bet they'd be happier.

If you don't feel a need for the rules to foster 'balance' in for your player group, cool. But if you are looking for balance to be supported by the rules, the meta-game rewards for flawed behaviour in FATE are a good way to do it.
Logged

"God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh" - Voltaire
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2005, 05:17:13 AM »

I think we're largely talking about the same ideas, just using somewhat different language.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
iago
Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 863


WWW
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2005, 06:47:12 AM »

I've split this topic off from the original thread; it has meat, and it's meat I don't want lost in a larger container.
Logged

RoboHobo
Member

Posts: 5


« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2005, 04:36:29 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I think we're largely talking about the same ideas, just using somewhat different language.


Mike: I'm picturing that episode of Futurama with the political debate between the two clones;

John Jackson: I think your 3 cent titanium tax goes too far!
Jack Johnson: Well I think your 3 cent titanium tax doesn't go too far enough!

Yeah, seems like we're pretty much on the same page here.

Iago: Thanks. And in light of the new specifically descriptive title of this thread, I guess I may as well start up a different one for the other question on my mind to keep from generating some sort of genetically-crossed mystery meat.
Logged

"God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh" - Voltaire
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!