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Author Topic: Fate RPG  (Read 16645 times)
zaal
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« on: January 26, 2003, 03:48:48 PM »

Hi all.  As Ron has indicated that he would like this forum to also be a “Let’s discuss this game” forum, I’ll bite.  Let’s discuss a variant of the Fudge RPG called Fate.  You can download it from the following address:  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FateRPG/files/fate.pdf  

I think the neatest thing about Fate is the Aspect idea.  In the Item Collecting thread we discussed, among other things, how Captain America using a gun in certain situations would violate fundamental precepts of his existences as a heroic character.  I think Aspects are one possible way to model this.  (Captain America’s shield as an Aspect is, I think, easy to see)

Involuntary invocations  of Aspects are a neat metagame mechanic.  Basically, whenever an Aspect is involuntarily invoked (e.g., a GM says “You’re too much of a Weakling” to lift that heavy rock”), the player can do one of two things:  spend Fudge points equal to the level of his Aspect to overcome the invocation, or; accept the terms of the invocation and receive a number of Fudge points equal to his Aspect.

I guess the only thing I need to resolve about Aspects is what happens if you somehow manage to lose one, or get one changed.  I’m also a little shaky on what to do when a problem player takes an Aspect (say, “Compassionate”) and intentionally places his character in a situation that would invoke the Aspect (like, torturing someone for no real end), all to get Fudge points.  The concensus on the FateRPG Yahoogroup was that 1) if a character has an Aspect, unless there’s a good reason for violating it he wouldn’t consciously go against it, and 2) if there is no sense of dramatic risk in the situation, you don’t get Fudge points for it.  But I would like to hear what the rest of you weigh in on this.

I get a Narrativist vibe from the game, especially from the designer’s notes.  I guess I would have liked the designers to explicitly mention Fate’s dramatic bias in the Introduction, but it’s no big deal to me.

Although I don’t feel that they really hammered the point home as well as they could have, the intent of the designers was to have a very “abstract” damage system.  For example, a “Hurt” result is one which lasts until the problem is addressed.  It doesn’t actually have to be a physical wound or a flat “-1” penalty - a character’s backpack strap could get in the way, a character could be disarmed, or the character might suffer some positional disadvantage.  I really like this style of damage, since it can be applied to the contested Tactics skill of two generals leading armies, among other things.

There are a few typos and places in the rules that I feel could have been explained better, but all in all I think Fate is a very cool RPG.

Jon
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zaal
Member

Posts: 33


« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2003, 06:39:30 AM »

Well, it seems that idea tanked  :)  .  Is no one interested in discussing this game, or are people just digesting the rules?  I hope I didn't come across as some frothing fanboy and turn people off to the game.  :)

I remain most interested on hearing what others think of the Aspect system.  In particular, I'm still a little shaky on what could be a loophole in the rules.  I'll describe the problem with the most general terminology I can use, so that the rest of you don't need to read the entire set of rules.  

Basically, a player defines some aspect or quality of his character.  This aspect can be voluntarily or involuntarily invoked.  Voluntary invocation is done by the player, typically giving the character several benefits such as rerolling the dice.    

Involuntary invocation is done by the GM, and it limits what a character can do.  The player has a choice - he can either accept the terms of this aspect and receive a metagame "award" (that is, Fudge points), or he can spend metagame "points" (the same Fudge points) to overcome his aspect.  As the magnitude of the aspect increases, it costs more points to overcome it.

Fudge points in this game can be used for many things, such as giving bonuses to the dice roll or effecting minor changes in the setting.  So, in many ways a player will want to buy at least one "negative" aspect as a means for getting metagame "gimmies".

The "problem" I see is when a player takes an aspect and purposefully places his character in a situation where the aspect is involuntarily invoked.  The most blatant example would be a character with a Compassionate aspect going around and torturing people.  The GM *should* invoke the aspect.  Because the player didn't voluntarily invoke his aspect, he should get the option of paying to overcome it or accepting the ramifications of it and getting a metagame reward.  However, the player, surreptiously or not, had every intention of accruing the metagame reward.

I've heard of similar problems with disadvantages in GURPS.  For example, an adventuring party has a choice between traveling a long and dangerous overland route or via a speedy sea route in order to reach their destination.  However, there is a member of the party with the "Hydrophobia" disadvantage.  While the character would probably choose the overland route, the player may decide to choose sea route, since he will have more opportunities to invoke his disadvantage and gain a metagame reward.

The only difference between these two situations is that in Fate, instead of getting "paid" for taking a negative aspect (as in GURPS), the player has to pay for the negative aspect.  But I think it's an interesting "problem" in many games, not just Fate.

Jon
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Mark Johnson
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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2003, 05:58:31 PM »

Jon,

I am still digesting the rules a bit.  I do prefer the use of aspects (keywords, cliches) over abilities in my games.  I also like the idea of Fudge dice (though I have never played with them in an actual game.)

I do wonder about some of the alterations to Fudge.  Especially having an "average" ability level which is a very questionable concept.  I am sure there was a reasoning behind this (probably just needing more rungs).  But I would prefer just to start all skills at Poor and work from there.

Thanks,
Mark J.
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Trevis Martin
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Posts: 499


« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2003, 12:00:43 AM »

I'm also still digesting the rules.  I'm very fond of Fudge in general and gamed with it almost exclusively for about a year.  

Mark, as you mentioned, one of the most frequent alterations to FUDGE is the  rank ladder,  mostly to add ranks to the high end (otherwise Legendary actions get performed with remarkable regularity.)

 I love fudge dice.  Everytime I read a diced system I try to think of a way I could use them instead...alas its not always a good solution.  Its an irrational love I think.

cheers,

Trevis
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zaal
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Posts: 33


« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2003, 10:49:44 AM »

Quote from: LordX
I do wonder about some of the alterations to Fudge.  Especially having an "average" ability level which is a very questionable concept.  I am sure there was a reasoning behind this (probably just needing more rungs).  But I would prefer just to start all skills at Poor and work from there.

Maybe skills default at -1 just to make it apparent that someone with a modicum of skill (+0) is definitely better off than someone without any skill?  I know some people have a devil of a time wrapping their minds around negative numbered character descriptors.  Skills also seem to be *really* important to the game, so it doesn't look like they are gained very quickly.

I would have named skilled levels differently, like Unskilled (-1), Novice (+0), Practiced (+1), Competent (+2), Expert (+3), and Master (+4) (that's pretty much Storyteller skill level descriptions, incidentally).  I guess I don't like how Margins of Success use the same descriptors as skills.  They seem like two different animals to me.

Jon
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Trevis Martin
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Posts: 499


« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2003, 11:58:49 AM »

I don't actually think the numbers with the traits are that important, and that always seems to get confused in fudge because people take the negative numbers as a rating when its not.  The core mechanic for fudge is only to roll the dice and move up and down the scale as appropriate given the positives or negatives generated by the Dice.  Its a psyche out.  Usually when I have people create fudge characters, I only work with the words.

Trevis
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iago
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2003, 03:53:28 PM »

Quote from: LordX
I do wonder about some of the alterations to Fudge.  Especially having an "average" ability level which is a very questionable concept.  I am sure there was a reasoning behind this (probably just needing more rungs).  But I would prefer just to start all skills at Poor and work from there.


I'm one of the guys who worked on the game.  The reason the "Average" term was introduced (it's perhaps not the best word, but all others we tried seemed ... less good), at least from my perspective, is the whole 'Mediocre' to 'Fair' gap.  Mediocre always carries a negative connotation for me; Fair carries a positive one.  It never seemed right that Mediocre and Fair were only "one rung" apart, so we came up with a rung that sits between the two, to occupy a connotively neutral midpoint.  It made enough consistent sense in practice as we used it in our own games that it got locked down as to our way of doing things pretty solidly.

That said, we do encourage people who aren't comfortable with the Fate ladder to fall back to the good old standard Fudge one.  There's no shame in that, nor are any real problems introduced by such a choice.
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iago
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2003, 03:56:04 PM »

Quote from: Samachadreal
I don't actually think the numbers with the traits are that important, and that always seems to get confused in fudge because people take the negative numbers as a rating when its not.  The core mechanic for fudge is only to roll the dice and move up and down the scale as appropriate given the positives or negatives generated by the Dice.  Its a psyche out.  Usually when I have people create fudge characters, I only work with the words.


Exactly.  The numbers are really a convention; you could just as easily label the lowest rung as 0 and ascribe only positive numbers to the terms -- the numbers, when they show up, are primarily there to help the more mathematically inclined do quick calculations of margin.  But this strays close to a side-topic of which many a mailing list message has been written -- what's optional in Fudge, the numbers or the terms? -- and everyone has their own answer for it.  For us, we liked the idea of Average as the centerpoint of the ladder, so that seemed like as good a place as any to put the zero.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2003, 07:07:22 AM »

To get back to the original question about the Aspect mechanic, I see two points either of which solve any potential problems, and together sound very advantageous for the right players.

First, the rule does say that the GM invokes these things in the case where there is a potantial reward. And as somebody pointed out, the invocation should only be for dramatic reasons. So, if the player is doing something that violates the nature of his Aspect for simple Gamist reasons, it seems to me that the GM is under no compunction to give out a reward.

Which in turn means that the player is incentivized to go against his Aspects only in dramatic situations. From a Narrativist POV, this is pure genius. As Ron is fond of pointing out, only in Sim games are disads and such designed to limit character action. In Narrativist games, something like an Aspect is meant to be challenged. They are a context for the character, not a definition. As such, the torture scene could be very powerful, a statement about how the character was going against his usual nature. Nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, it sounds like the designers know exactly what they were doing. Given that they named them Aspects and not Disadvantages, I'm almost sure they did.

I'd not seen this mechanic before, but I'd say it sounds like the only one I've seen that drives FUDGE from Sim to Nar. Which corresonds with the feeling that you had, right Zaal?

Mike
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iago
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« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2003, 02:39:20 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Which in turn means that the player is incentivized to go against his Aspects only in dramatic situations. From a Narrativist POV, this is pure genius. As Ron is fond of pointing out, only in Sim games are disads and such designed to limit character action. In Narrativist games, something like an Aspect is meant to be challenged. They are a context for the character, not a definition. As such, the torture scene could be very powerful, a statement about how the character was going against his usual nature. Nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, it sounds like the designers know exactly what they were doing. Given that they named them Aspects and not Disadvantages, I'm almost sure they did.


From what I do understand of the G/S/N terms as used here (I have kept myself largely in the dark about them if only because I'm fond of keeping my hair unsinged), and speaking as one of the designers, you're pretty much right on the ball.

From one perspective, Fate is using Fudge points and aspects as a kind of regulator of "story significance" -- I think having a metagame currency like this plays very nicely to the idea of telling stories as beads of significant moments strung together by the overall plot.

In general, characters will tend to act in accordance with their aspects, and to some extent, the GM can rely on that, and take some predictive steps to generate story based on such things.  I am a fan both of a certain measure of player empowerment with regards to the story, and the idea that the GM provides an overall guiding vision.  

Aspects can act as a conduit for managing both concepts in relation to one another, codifying those moments where characters act against type and -- assuming the player pays (in Fudge points, the coin of the meta realm) to go against type -- allowing the significance of going against type to stand out in sharper relief.  Or, if the player chooses to back off from going against type, the GM gives that player a reward (in the same coin) saying, in effect, "Thank you for acting as anticipated" (though that statement should not be given too much weight; the reasons for the reward may be many).

In play, I tend to give strong support to the idea that tossing a fudge point into the fray is a way to introduce coincidence (like finding the keys in the sun shade above the driver's seat, or finding a convenient decorative weapon on the wall in a castle at a needed moment), so both points and aspects are thus investible resources in guiding the story the way the player wants it to go, within the context the GM has defined.

There's also the "voluntary" invocation of aspects, player-driven, to allow rerolls under aspect-applicable circumstances, thus optimizing such circumstances in favor of the character's schticks; it's the flip-side of the same "give the player some control over the story within the scope that is defined for the character" coin.

At its most ideal, it's a system of regulated cooperation, and as I understand it, probably pretty darn narrativist.

Quote
I'd not seen this mechanic before, but I'd say it sounds like the only one I've seen that drives FUDGE from Sim to Nar. Which corresonds with the feeling that you had, right Zaal?


Can't speak for Zaal, but I think that's a fair statement.  On some level, Rob and I felt Fudge needed a little comprehensive rethinking, and our own story-focused bias likely produced this result.

For a bit of background, the Aspect mechanic is vaguely inspired by the idea that flaws are something that players pay for, rather than get reimbursed for, that shows up in Seventh Sea, complete with "activation" for plot reasons as games play out, etc.  Rob's far more familiar with that game than I am, so I'm not sure I'm getting the concept across accurately.  

At any rate, the basic idea here suggested that, since a character's flaws are often just as interesting if not more interesting than his capabilities, why not make it something the player has to buy, just like any "advantage"?

Interestingly, this perspective allows for a game world where a bumbling sidekick who is Clumsy, Slow-Witted, and a Trouble Magnet is "balanced" (dangerous word, I know!) with a hero who is Strong, Tough, and Brave -- in that they both have equivalent "story shares" to invest in each session.

Hope this came across as even vaguely coherent. :)
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zaal
Member

Posts: 33


« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2003, 04:10:34 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
First, the rule does say that the GM invokes these things in the case where there is a potantial reward. And as somebody pointed out, the invocation should only be for dramatic reasons...

This is pretty much the route I'm going to take.  I'm much more confident in my understanding of Aspects than I was when I wrote this post.

Quote
I'd not seen this mechanic before, but I'd say it sounds like the only one I've seen that drives FUDGE from Sim to Nar. Which corresonds with the feeling that you had, right Zaal?

Yup.  I'm really interested in trying out a Narrativist game because that mode of play sounds like what I want most from gaming.  However, it feels kind of nebulous to me and I'm a bit unsure on how to play that way.  I'm eager to run Arabian Nights (with the goal of making cool tales) and Exalted (with the goal of making a mythic story) games with Fate rules.

Thanks for your comments, Mike.

Jon
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2003, 05:18:36 PM »

No problem.

I wish someone would come along and corroborate (or challenge) my observations, however.

Mike
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Rob Donoghue
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« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2003, 05:52:38 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
No problem.

I wish someone would come along and corroborate (or challenge) my observations, however.

Mike


Consider it corroborated. :) That's really exactly the sort of thinking Aspects were designed to handle.
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Rob Donoghue
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« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2003, 07:19:02 PM »

Quote from: zaal
Involuntary invocations of Aspects are a neat metagame mechanic. Basically, whenever an Aspect is involuntarily invoked (e.g., a GM says “You’re too much of a Weakling” to lift that heavy rock”), the player can do one of two things: spend Fudge points equal to the level of his Aspect to overcome the invocation, or; accept the terms of the invocation and receive a number of Fudge points equal to his Aspect.

This reminds me of Scattershot's Advantages, Disadvantages, (not really good names, but very subversive for 'old dogs' and these tricks) and Personal Genre Expectations.  When Disadvantages are "involuntarily invoked" the player has the option of suffering from them gaining their rating in Experience Dice or not and getting nothing (usually the economy of Experience Dice is 'too small' to afford frequent spending); these are called Gimmes.  You may also receive Gimmes for 'maneuvering' your character into a similar situation.  (What would that be?  'Voluntary invocation?')

Quote from: zaal
What happens if you somehow manage to lose one, or get one changed. I’m also a little shaky on what to do when a problem player takes an Aspect (say, “Compassionate”) and intentionally places his character in a situation that would invoke the Aspect (like, torturing someone for no real end), all to get Fudge points.

In Scattershot, that's a feature, not a flaw.  I'm not sure I'm reading this right.  A "Compassionate" character goes out to torture someone needlessly and you say they get fudge points?  Seems like 1) the player isn't really interested in Narrativist way, they're just aping the system, 2) wouldn't the "involuntary invocation" force them to not torture?  In Scattershot, nothing forces the player to abide by their 'Vantage; if they start torturing and the gamemaster says, "I thought you were 'Compassionate.'  Does this mean you want to 'develop' your Sine Qua Non?"

Y'see "Compassionate" will rarely be used as a disadvantage this way; for it to be "involuntarily invoked" the situation would have to 'require' dispassionate behaviour, forsaking that would be 'hard choice' that the player makes that yields Experience Dice.  You wouldn't get an "involuntary invocation" for not doing something that was voluntary in the first place.

The Hydrophobia example is lopsided I think.  Sure, let them go to sea, but they only get the reward when their Disadvantage stops them from doing what they want while at sea.

Quote from: zaal
Well, it seems that idea tanked :) .

Well, I was a little intimidated by the title.  ;P

Quote from: zaal
Voluntary invocation is done by the player, typically giving the character several benefits such as re-rolling the dice.

That's just like Scattershot's Freebies; you may add them to any roll in which you can 'wield' and Advantage (and only on that roll).

Quote from: iago
In general, characters will tend to act in accordance with their aspects, and to some extent, the GM can rely on that, and take some predictive steps to generate story based on such things. I am a fan both of a certain measure of player empowerment with regards to the story, and the idea that the GM provides an overall guiding vision.

Aspects can act as a conduit for managing both concepts in relation to one another, codifying those moments where characters act against type and -- assuming the player pays (in Fudge points, the coin of the meta realm) to go against type -- allowing the significance of going against type to stand out in sharper relief. Or, if the player chooses to back off from going against type, the GM gives that player a reward (in the same coin) saying, in effect, "Thank you for acting as anticipated" (though that statement should not be given too much weight; the reasons for the reward may be many).

This was exactly the intention with the Sine Qua Non Persona Development Technique in Scattershot (when played into Narrativist modes); does it work well this way in Fudge?

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'd not seen this mechanic before...

...I wish someone would come along and corroborate (or challenge) my observations, however.

Perhaps not seen as a Fudge mechanic, but what about elsewhere?  Is that enough challenge?

How about this, it may not work when you mix GNS modes (like playing Gamist in a pack of Narrativists), but I think it does work in other modes.  If everyone is playing the same, I don't see it being a problem.  A pack of Gamists would use the mechanic to jockey for enough points (or Experience Dice) to give themselves the advantage over others.  In a pack of Simulationists, the threat of having to spend the points will be deterrent for 'playing wrong.'  This says to me that while, given the choices of Narrativist Aspects would result in Narrativist play, I think the system is hardy enough to hedge into the other modes as well.  Does that refute the "pure genius" statement?

Fang Langford
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iago
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« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2003, 08:14:25 PM »

Quote from: Le Joueur
Quote from: iago
In general, characters will tend to act in accordance with their aspects, and to some extent, the GM can rely on that, and take some predictive steps to generate story based on such things. I am a fan both of a certain measure of player empowerment with regards to the story, and the idea that the GM provides an overall guiding vision.

Aspects can act as a conduit for managing both concepts in relation to one another, codifying those moments where characters act against type and -- assuming the player pays (in Fudge points, the coin of the meta realm) to go against type -- allowing the significance of going against type to stand out in sharper relief. Or, if the player chooses to back off from going against type, the GM gives that player a reward (in the same coin) saying, in effect, "Thank you for acting as anticipated" (though that statement should not be given too much weight; the reasons for the reward may be many).

This was exactly the intention with the Sine Qua Non Persona Development Technique in Scattershot (when played into Narrativist modes); does it work well this way in Fudge?


Well, I've certainly found that it works well in Fudge, but -- let's be honest -- I'm fairly biased in that regard. :)
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