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Fate 3.0» Forums » General

Subject: Explain this to me... rss

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Savage Josh
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I had picked up SotC after listening to several podcasts and the game sounded awesome. I ran it, and it sucked. Myself and my players couldn't get our heads around aspects, in particular.

Can someone explain how FATE works to someone who wants to love it, but can't?
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Eric Jome
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The most important thing about these games seems to be that you need to move from thinking of things on your character sheet as "abilities" and start thinking of them as "inspirations". You don't check the abilities like you would in a normal game. Your players are supposed to write the story and action by riffing off their aspects and other players aspects.

I think this was to blame for this style of game falling very flat for me and my players too. Here's what I decided after playing these games; this is improvisational jazz compared to the four chord power rock of regular role playing. If you aren't into what the jazz masters are trying to do here, pushing their creativity and inventing new forms, this music is going to sound like crap to you - a jumbled mess of nonsense.

Similarly, your FATE based rpg is going to be pretty underwhelming if people aren't enthusiastically trying to make their own story by interpreting what happens with other characters.

The major opportunity for failure comes when the players are expecting to be reactive to a game master that opens and projects opportunities for them. They know this form of sheet music and expect you to be the lead singer, calling the tunes and letting them play a solo now and then in the context of the concert. When you just point at them and say "make it up and go!" they just sit there and wonder what song it is they're supposed to play.
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Eric Jome
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One other thing - before you FATE-o-philes burst in here with +4 blazing on your "Defend FATE" aspect, I think it's useful to start interpreting this reaction not so much as a failure on the part of people to appreciate the amazingly cool thing you think FATE is, but rather that perhaps most FATE based systems have done a generally poor job of conveying how and why they are different from classical role playing structures.

It's not a flame war. It's an opportunity for cross cultural exchange.

I think the whole community could really use this sort of outreach - I frequently see people having bipolar reactions to FATE, which suggests to me not that it is good or bad per se, but rather that people are bringing mismatched sets of expectations to the table when they first try it. If we could manage a great description of the purpose and style of FATE as it contrasts and compares with classical role playing, I think it would help smooth out the reactions and people would be more inclined to get the best of what it has to offer.
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Savage Josh
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In the games I played, it just seemed to be an exercise of compelling an aspect, followed by the same aspect helping to solve the situation it compelled. The situation was an elephant stampeding, and the aspect in question was 'big game hunter'. It wasn't a particularly interesting interaction, nor did it seem to really make much of a story.

Was I doing something wrong?
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Savage Josh
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cosine wrote:
One other thing - before you FATE-o-philes burst in here with +4 blazing on your "Defend FATE" aspect, I think it's useful to start interpreting this reaction not so much as a failure on the part of people to appreciate the amazingly cool thing you think FATE is, but rather that perhaps most FATE based systems have done a generally poor job of conveying how and why they are different from classical role playing structures.

It's not a flame war. It's an opportunity for cross cultural exchange.

I think the whole community could really use this sort of outreach - I frequently see people having bipolar reactions to FATE, which suggests to me not that it is good or bad per se, but rather that people are bringing mismatched sets of expectations to the table when they first try it. If we could manage a great description of the purpose and style of FATE as it contrasts and compares with classical role playing, I think it would help smooth out the reactions and people would be more inclined to get the best of what it has to offer.


This, very much, this.

Listening to AP of FATE makes me want to love this game. It hits the table and it just falls flat. Help me understand what I should be doing to make this game work!
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Eric Jome
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Bazin wrote:
In the games I played, it just seemed to be an exercise of compelling an aspect, followed by the same aspect helping to solve the situation it compelled.


I think that's what you do. The interesting part is compelling them, not rolling. You try to look at all the aspects in play on the situation, the characters, the items, the environment, and poke the ones that make something interesting happen.

GM: "You're trying to hike across Africa, but you've run out of supplies."
P1: "Can't you find us some food?" (pokes Big Game Hunter)
P2: "I'll see what I can do. I track down some elephants and shoot at them." (rolls -4)
P2: "Ahh! Stampeded!"

Something like that. Note that the role of the GM here is basically non-existent.
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The Harnish
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cosine wrote:
One other thing - before you FATE-o-philes burst in here with +4 blazing on your "Defend FATE" aspect, I think it's useful to start interpreting this reaction not so much as a failure on the part of people to appreciate the amazingly cool thing you think FATE is, but rather that perhaps most FATE based systems have done a generally poor job of conveying how and why they are different from classical role playing structures.


As a Fate fan, I actually think you did an excellent job with the 4-chord rock vs. improv jazz analogy - it does a good job of providing a good way to understand that with Fate you have to approach the story, action, and characters from a different perspective. So, no arguments from me.

I think the Dresden Files does a better job at explaining how Aspects and the system in general works. SotC is a great game but wrapping your head around aspects right out of the gate can be a bit tough, especially if you're all not used to the idea of actively putting your character in tight spots for the sake of the story and to make them awesome later.
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Bazin wrote:
In the games I played, it just seemed to be an exercise of compelling an aspect, followed by the same aspect helping to solve the situation it compelled. The situation was an elephant stampeding, and the aspect in question was 'big game hunter'. It wasn't a particularly interesting interaction, nor did it seem to really make much of a story.

Was I doing something wrong?

I will try to answer and help in more detail later but the main issue with what you describe is trying to use the same aspect with the same problem and the lack of an in-character explanation of how the aspect helped or hindered. More later..after the kids are in bed.
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Bazin wrote:
In the games I played, it just seemed to be an exercise of compelling an aspect, followed by the same aspect helping to solve the situation it compelled. The situation was an elephant stampeding, and the aspect in question was 'big game hunter'. It wasn't a particularly interesting interaction, nor did it seem to really make much of a story.

Was I doing something wrong?


What are they?
You have to think of aspects as phrases that define the core of what the character is about - these may take the form of beliefs, relationships, catch phrases or mottoes, relationships, or problems. While anything can technically be used as an aspect, ideally they should be slightly ambiguous, double-edged, and very descriptive. The best aspects instantly tell you something about the character and what gets them in to trouble, or perhaps out of it. Great aspects make it clear where the character is likely to stand in certain situations, or suggest avenues of exploration for the GM. They should not be viewed as "specialties" added on to skills (i.e., something that you're simply good at) nor should they be so broad that they're meaningless (i.e., lucky).

So, let's first look at some aspects from my current DFRPG character: Horatio Quinn (he goes by Quinn) is the black sheep of a well-connected, family of wizards, who is now living in Dusseldorf, Germany where he's a partner in a private investigation firm located near the city's main train station.

Some of his aspects are:
PI from a long line of Wizards
Sucker for a pretty face
Just another cog in my family's political machine
Stranger in a strange land
Follow my lead!
Heart of gold

All of these have ways they can be invoked to give me a bonus, but more importantly, all of them create rich story possibilities and make Quinn's life hard.

So, now take the example you gave: Big Game Hunter. That to me sounds more like a specialty. It's not a terrible aspect but it doesn't really scream "Hey, this is how you use this!" As such it requires a bit more effort to invoke or compel because you have to narrate more to explain the connection in situations that don't involve shooting an elephant. How would I rewrite it? Bring 'em back alive! or maybe "I kill what's in my sights." I'll show you why in a moment...

How do you use them?
In one of 3 ways:
d10-1 Compelling one
d10-2 Invoking one
d10-3 Tagging one

Only the former 2 apply to your own character's aspects; tagging is essentially an invoke, only you're using someone else's aspects rather than your own.

Now invoking is the simplest: You simply spend a fate point (FP) and get a +2 to your current roll or reroll the dice (important you spend the FP and invoke after the roll; not upfront). It's also essential that you narrate how the aspect applies. This does not and should not involve a lot of words or argument about mechanics - ideally it should instead simply come quite naturally in which you mention the aspect, justify it in a sentence or two of narration, and hand over your FP. A good GM really should take any invoke as long as it's not ridiculous or an obvious attempt to "game" the system. I would also argue a good GM will require you to narrate the invoke, not simply let you name the aspect and hand over the aspect. Doing that misses the point and turns it into a simple mechanical act and it's going to be boring.

Example: In one scene with Quinn, I was up against my would-be-apprentice Fatih who had been dominated by a nasty black court vampire. Fatih (played by another player) attempted to crush my will, using his magic to create a sense of terror. Quinn rolled to resist and failed, coming up short by a mere +1. I slid my FP across the table, and said "Hah, young padiwan, you think you can scare someone who comes from a long and storied line of wizards with such a feeble attempt? Think again!" See, nothing too elaborate, but it added color to the scene.

Example: Your rampaging elephant. You take aim at the elephant and pull the trigger and hit but don't do enough damage (not a big enough difference) to take it down. You slide your FP across the table and say "Being a big game hunter, I've taken down many an elephant and I know you've got to aim just behind the left foreleg to hit the heart." You get your +2 and move on. If you needed even more and had the points you might use a second FP and add in "And naturally my trusty rifle Jenny packs one hell of a whollop."

So, invokes aren't all that super exciting in terms of effect, but they add narrative color and reoccurring elements that define your character. It's clear that Quinn comes from a family of wizards who've seen it all and he's been taught by the best. It's also clear that your hunter knows how to take down big game and that rifle is a monster. They create consistency in the color and nature of the character and help define what they stand for and how they react. It's subtle but done right it's also very effective.

Where most of the cool story stuff comes from though are from compels. Compels aren't about giving you penalties (i.e., they don't give you minuses on the roll). Instead, they are supposed to complicate the character's life, force him/her to make tough choices, or introduce troublesome circumstances. An important point here is that compels are not forcing a character to behave in a certain way: Instead they offer a tough choice where a character's options or choices are constrained: They can take the easy route and ignore the compel by paying a FP to buy it off. OR they can gain a FP by saying "Yeah, I think that is going to be a problem." At that point you've given the GM permission to add in a complication, make your life hard, or you decide to take the proverbial "road less traveled."

And in most cases, that's where the real cool stuff happens. However, it also is the part that rubs many traditional players/GMs the wrong way because it seems like your character is being forced to act a certain way but that's a misconception. You always have a choice by paying off the compel (paying the FP) as well as how your character [u]specifically[u] acts in response to the compel: If you're compelled to go in to a room because you're curious you can still decide if you storm in with guns blazing, or sneak in with as much stealth as you can muster.

Example: Quinn is a Stranger in a strange land and this gets compelled a LOT (which I love). He's been misunderstood by a taxi driver and driven in the wrong direction while trying to get to the scene of a fight. He's had a misunderstanding with a client in which he agreed (in German) to work pro bono. He's committed incalculable numbers of social faux pas. Quinn also is a Sucker for a pretty face which has lead to him being suckered by a good looking client, had him charge in to a vampire's lair to rescue a colleague's twenty-something granddaughter, and even gotten taken advantage by his cousin Marie-Joelle (because in my mind, it's not really about just being attracted to the women who cause him problems).

Example: Another player in our game has the aspect "My two ex-wives. This leads to all kinds of funny, frustrating, or problematic situations including the fact that he's perpetually broke.

Example: Your big game hunter. This is why I don't like the aspect. It's kind of tough to compel although there certainly are some possibilities with a bit more explanation. Here's one with your rampaging elephant: Your group decides you're going to capture the elephant because it's a rare white one. If I'm the GM, I'd push a FP to you and say "You know, you are a big game hunter and that elephant would be the ultimate trophy." My goal is to force you to make a hard decision. It's not a great one I admit because it's kind of a boring situation (not very pulpy at all) but it's an attempt.

I like my suggestions better because they spell out a much clearer path or belief, plus they're broader in potential application. Bring 'em back alive! I would hit any time somebody wants to destroy something (let's say that evil statue), or wants to kill someone. I'd also put you in situations where killing the person is easier or where you're hired to track someone down and bring them back (pushing you to take the job). For "I kill what's in my sights." it's just the opposite - I push you to cross the line and become a villain, creating a situation akin to Wolverine's position in the X-men. Lots of story & character rich, tough choices follow.

Tags are like invokes but you're hitting someone else's aspects - you're tagging your partner's ex-wife to distract him in an argument with you; you're tagging blinded by the sun on an enemy to get an advantage in a fight. And so on.


All the way back to your game example: The situation itself sounds pretty boring, especially in the context of a pulp-action hero game, and even worse seems contrived because you were a big game hunter. So right from the start, it's not got a lot going for it. A better situation might have been trying to recover the stolen super rare white elephant which the cult of Kali plans on sacrificing to return their dark god's avatar to earth. Now suddenly your big game hunter is something I can keep poking to get you to decide to kill that trophy, and then later maybe to get you decide to take on the avatar of Kali since, hey, that's the ultimate big game, etc.
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Savage Josh
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Michael,

Thanks. You've outlined how FATE is supposed to work, given great examples and all of that.

So, basically, what I see is that my game sucked because:

d10-1The SotC Rulebook doesn't give great details on how to craft aspects and how FATE works
d10-2Crappy aspects for my PCs
d10-3Players weren't taking control of the scene
d10-4Players were invoking aspects before rolls, not after

Thanks a bunch.
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Eric Jome
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One big difference between the classics and FATE is that there is a FATE point economy. This is utterly essential to understanding how FATE is supposed to work. In a classic game, you state you will use a skill and roll - if you make it, great, if not you'll have to move in another direction. Here, you can spend a point to turn that result around. Getting a +2 on your roll in FATE is roughly equivalent to +5 in a classic d20 type game.

The problem is, it costs you a point. So, you need to find a way to get more points if you are going to keep kicking more ass with these bonuses. And how do you get points? The GM offers them to you. They look at your aspects and maybe provoke you to do something you wouldn't choose to do yourself. Take an aspect like "Merciful" - just when you're about to strike the killing blow, the GM can offer you a point not to do it, citing your aspect - this example is kinda lame, just to illustrate a point.

The simplest form of FATE plays like that. Things come up where you've got to roll some dice. You roll and give up a point to get a good result. You run short of points, you gotta get them back by taking these risks or painful choices.

This is one of the ways that I find FATE annoying - keeping this economy going, especially when confronted with extremely cautious, min/maxing players. They'll hoard points and constantly deny offers; they're trying to win and FATE isn't about winning.

Yup. That's the hardest part for the classic RPG player to grasp in my opinion. There's no winning in FATE. FATE defines winning not as "your character levels up" or "you slay the dragon". FATE defines winning as telling a great story. Look at the system - it's all driven by telling story by pushing points around. The dice are completely even over time - there's no strategy to game or min to max. Many of the intrinsic mechanical aspects of the game part of classic role playing are absent.

In my opinion, this means that FATE is not well suited to several of the major player archetypes as outlined in things like Robin's Rules. Storytellers will love it. Strategists will hate it. Actors will love it. Gamers looking for challenges will hate it.

So, if it didn't go well, perhaps it was because you did it wrong. But it might also be that this specialized tool - FATE - is not really for you. I know that in my group, I often have a lot of people who are there for the tactical, strategic game and to face the challenge presented to them. So, it took a lot of soul searching after trying it out to realize it wasn't for us.
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I think I had some less than idea people at the table when I played SotC. I know some gamers that are all about story (and we tell stories in other systems), and there are some I've played with that are all about the #WINNING! So, I completely understand the need for the right people in a FATE game.

I think my game went poorly because I didn't really know what was going on, and I was trying to teach these other people who really didn't know what was going on. The blind leading the blind.

From what I've read today in this thread makes me want to give FATE another go, with people that know what's going on.

So, I'm gonna have to find me a PbF...
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Eric Jome
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Bazin wrote:
d10-1The SotC Rulebook doesn't give great details on how to craft aspects and how FATE works
d10-2Crappy aspects for my PCs


1) Seems like most FATE games only offer tangential advice on this and all assume you're already a master of it from all the other FATE playing you've done. Not a good design, I agree. I went out online after reading FATE rules and had to dig through a lot of forum posts and stuff to find out where this was all coming from... and find out that this is all under constant revision and iteration between different people's games using it.

2) Michael says "Big Game Hunter" is not a good aspect. Seems fine to me. It's not written as the universal tool, open ended, project-whatever-meaning-you-want style that is popular with FATE veterans. I thought that clarity and simplicity are valid values too. It's easier to remember it's there and use it - I never quite figured out how the GM and players are all supposed to know all the vast number of aspects on all things in play all the time and be able to constructively use them without serious limits on their number and type and scope. So, I think it's fine.

EDIT: yanked some stuff where I was being a jerk.
EDIT: jerkiness quoted by others below... no avoiding it now.
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Savage Josh
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cosine wrote:


2) Michael says "Big Game Hunter" is not a good aspect. Seems fine to me. It's not written as the universal tool, open ended, project-whatever-meaning-you-want style that is popular with FATE veterans. I thought that clarity and simplicity are valid values too. It's easier to remember it's there and use it - I never quite figured out how the GM and players are all supposed to know all the vast number of aspects on all things in play all the time and be able to constructively use them without serious limits on their number and type and scope. So, I think it's fine.


This brings up another thing - how does a player know about a scene aspect? Is it assumed? Made up by them? Explicitly stated by the GM?

I mean, I can see this situation:

GM: As you step through the door, the roar of the downpour magnifies. Heavy droplets of rain obscure your ability to see into the yard.

So, if I'm assuming aspects, I'd say there's "Wall of Water" (or something, representing the obscured vision from the rain), and "Slippery". So, is that how a player should approach it? Or could they make up "Muddy" to track someone they're searching for?
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Bazin wrote:
d10-1The SotC Rulebook doesn't give great details on how to craft aspects and how FATE works
d10-2Crappy aspects for my PCs
d10-3Players weren't taking control of the scene
d10-4Players were invoking aspects before rolls, not after

#1 - I don't think the rules are terrible; in fact they actually dedicate a whole chapter to Aspects and how to write good ones. The problem is that it's something that you have to read a couple of times and think about, and then, in my experience, play a bit, to really understand how it works. It's super simple once you get it, but getting over the hump just by reading the book is tough for some people. As I mentioned, the DFRPG does a better job.

#2 - Not crappy; just not necessarily loaded with potential. OTOH, for a one shot it doesn't matter that much.

#3 - they don't really need to take control of the scene, per se, but rather take control of their character's interaction with the scene. The GM controls the scene at all times, with the exception of Declarations.

#4 - the more important point is that they're invoking them in a descriptive way rather than just tossing FPs and adding +2.

cosine wrote:

1) Seems like most FATE games only offer tangential advice on this and all assume you're already a master of it from all the other FATE playing you've done. Not a good design, I agree. I went out online after reading FATE rules and had to dig through a lot of forum posts and stuff to find out where this was all coming from... and find out that this is all under constant revision and iteration between different people's games using it.


I'm not sure that's really true. It is not always easy to digest or understand on a first go in some implementations but it is explained, especially in SotC. The problem is that it's an abstract concept that's not easy to understand just by reading the book.

Quote:
2) Michael says "Big Game Hunter" is not a good aspect. Seems fine to me. It's not written as the universal tool, open ended, project-whatever-meaning-you-want style that is popular with FATE veterans. I thought that clarity and simplicity are valid values too. It's easier to remember it's there and use it - I never quite figured out how the GM and players are all supposed to know all the vast number of aspects on all things in play all the time and be able to constructively use them without serious limits on their number and type and scope. So, I think it's fine.

The GM and players don't need to know all the aspects, nor are there really that many. Scene aspects involve a couple (1-2 typically) descriptors of things that are central to the environment or scene. So a burning building may have the Smoke filled aspect on it or a foggy, nightime street might have foggy and dark. The GM jots these down when they describe the scene (or ahead of time during prep). Same goes for NPCs aspects, except maybe for the big bad guys who might be built like a regular PC. Players can add aspects on to stuff, either temporarily through maneuvers or by making Declarations. Those are about all the aspects there are, aside from those on the PCs, so in most cases you're not dealing with more than a half dozen outside the PCs at most for a given session.

Quote:
3) Yes, this is core FATE. I had a very hard time understanding where I was supposed to go as a GM. Was I supposed to make a plot? NPCs? Try to play against the players to build creative situations? This was a major deal breaker for me. I never understood the point of being a GM other than being someone to give back FATE points by trying to get players to do things they didn't want to do. In my games, players just said "No" and risked it on the dice. Epic fail on the dice? Fine. That's the way it goes. Start over. In fact, when anyone suggested anything that didn't advance the situation in their favor, that was immediately a non-starter for them.

I really can't disagree more. The GM plays a central role. Players really don't narrate outcomes (though they can, which I think is cool and encourage) nor do they really decide the nature of the story or plot. The GM can take a very traditional role of making a story and plot, and build scenes that create a story. That's how 90% of the variety of Fate games I've played and run work. My current "D&D" campaign uses Fate and it's all story-driven based on my ideas. The only difference is that I've taken the PCs' aspects and regularly try to incorporate a couple from the total list (typically 1 from a pair of characters) in each session so that I'm pushing them a bit - I set up scenes where they might be compelled in interesting ways. I also keep an eye out for other situations where compels come up in the course of play.

Your (Eric's) players sound like a difficult bunch because they don't want to "lose to win" which makes it hard to make the FP economy work - you describe the nightmare situation where players don't want anything to complicate their lives which to me and my group sounds like no fun at all, but different people want different things out of their games. I love to fail forward and so with my current Dresden character he's constantly getting in to all kinds of troubles because of his personality and choices. He also kicks absolute ass when push comes to shove - he's blown a ghoul through a brick wall, caused a demon to pop like a water balloon, and put out a raging inferno by pulling up a tidal wave from the Rhein.


Quote:

4) Yes, that's a little mechanical detail. They aren't skills you roll against. There are no skills. You just do whatever you want, be whatever you want. This was also hard for my players - "You mean, I can pilot a starship even though I've never had any lessons?", Me: "Rules say that if you say you pilot the starship I have to say yes or roll the dice... so roll I guess.", "+3?", "You do great... I guess. Really, you're supposed to tell me what that +3 means to you in light of the situation your are in...", "Why are you here, then, Eric?"

No Either you've misread the rules or I'm misunderstanding you. Fate (including SotC and the DFRPG) is built around the skills. There's a list in both books; it's on page 82 of SotC and there is a BIG chapter all about the skills and what they can be used for. They and the "skill pyramid" define what your character can do and how well - they create niche protection and determine advancement (in the DRRPG; SotC has no advancement). No where do the rules say "if you say... I have to say yes or roll." You set a target number, look at their skill (+0 for an untrained skill; there is a Pilot skill in SotC) and you roll the dice to see if you succeed. It's all very traditional and spelled out in black & white on pages 53-81 of SotC. Task resolution in Fate is very traditional and entirely under the GM's jurisdiction: He or she is the only person who sets target numbers and determines the results of success or failure.
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Bazin wrote:
This brings up another thing - how does a player know about a scene aspect? Is it assumed? Made up by them? Explicitly stated by the GM?

Assessment, page 83. They can try to guess a scene aspect based on your description, but making an assessment is the most straight-forward and common way to do it.

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I mean, I can see this situation:

GM: As you step through the door, the roar of the downpour magnifies. Heavy droplets of rain obscure your ability to see into the yard.

So, if I'm assuming aspects, I'd say there's "Wall of Water" (or something, representing the obscured vision from the rain), and "Slippery". So, is that how a player should approach it? Or could they make up "Muddy" to track someone they're searching for?

In this situation, they can guess or they can assess. If they guess, they need to come pretty close (GM is the ultimate judge) and then they spend a FP to tag it. If they assess and succeed, you reveal one or more aspects and they get a free tag. For "muddy" that's a declaration, page 83, which the GM sets a difficulty for and they roll to see if they succeed. The difficulty is entirely up the GM, based on how reasonable and/or cool the declaration is. If they succeed, you add that aspect to the scene and they can tag it for free once (and then tag it more times by paying a FP each time). The muddy one is a cool idea if they're trying to track someone and the floor is made of dirt so I'd set the difficulty low for the declaration.
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MJ Harnish wrote:
The GM and players don't need to know all the aspects, nor are there really that many.


In the games I've seen, characters have 5 to 10 each, plus 5 to 10 on each major element in play at any given time, plus another 1 to 3 on the scene, plus another 2 to 5 added to elements of the scene.

Easily, at any given moment, 50+ aspects could be references in simple 5 player game.
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That is true and one of the criticisms of SotC (the character aspects that is). In fact many people have started only using 5 aspects for SotC characters and DF characters have only 7, 2 of which are very central to the character.

Typically, it's not that overwhelming though and here's why:
Players are supposed to track their own aspects and help the GM out. I keep a list in the front of my notebook as a cheat sheet which helps early on but with long term play it's pretty easy to remember the character aspects. For short-term or one-shot, it's a major problem though and so I usually just note down one or two that catch my eye and focus on those for the session.

For scenes, etc., it's per scene and so only just a couple at a time and they're almost always 1-2 words each. While players could add a lot of aspects on a scene, it doesn't happen often. In fact, on average I never see more than 1 declaration made per scene; in scenes where there have been more it's more of an investigation scene with no conflict going on so tracking them hasn't been an issue.

Temporary aspects CAN get out of hand if you have a group that's maneuver crazy. I use a white erase marker on my NPC cards to track those.

Personally I think FATE (especially the DFRPG) works best with 3-4 players max, but that's largely because I tend to like to focus on characters a lot and with more than 4 I find it's hard to spread the spotlight around enough.
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MJ Harnish wrote:
... you describe the nightmare situation where players don't want anything to complicate their lives which to me and my group sounds like no fun at all, but different people want different things out of their games.


They expect a monster to appear. They do not expect me to ask them if they want a monster to appear because they are being loud. Given the option between "monster appears" and "no monster appears", it's painfully obvious to them which one they'll choose...

And then they'll tell me how boring it was because no monsters appeared.

So if I just GM fiat a monster in there... we aren't using aspects at all. And aspects are supposed to be the whole cool thing of the entire system.
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cosine wrote:


They expect a monster to appear. They do not expect me to ask them if they want a monster to appear because they are being loud. Given the option between "monster appears" and "no monster appears", it's painfully obvious to them which one they'll choose...



But then, does this not go back to the players not looking to play an interesting story, but to 'win'?

Eventually, they'll run out of FP, since they'll be paying the GM off on each compel, so they'd have to have a complication come up. But if if they're buying off each compel, then maybe they're not playing the game the way it was intended?
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Bazin wrote:
I had picked up SotC after listening to several podcasts and the game sounded awesome. I ran it, and it sucked. Myself and my players couldn't get our heads around aspects, in particular.

Can someone explain how FATE works to someone who wants to love it, but can't?


I'd say try a different version of FATE.

I couldn't really make sense of Spirit of the Century. Diaspora worked a bit better (I think it helped that it's a genre I'm more interested in). Legends of Anglerre is where I finally started to get it. So a big thing would be to assess what your favourite genres are, and which iteration of FATE would seem to scratch that itch, and then how it builds upon FATE in particular to do something really cool with it. If you don't have that kind of inspiration, it's a lot harder to work with I think.
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cosine wrote:
They expect a monster to appear. They do not expect me to ask them if they want a monster to appear because they are being loud. Given the option between "monster appears" and "no monster appears", it's painfully obvious to them which one they'll choose...

And then they'll tell me how boring it was because no monsters appeared.

So if I just GM fiat a monster in there... we aren't using aspects at all. And aspects are supposed to be the whole cool thing of the entire system.

That's a hard playstyle to overcome and largely IMO due to years of playing games in which you get punished for failing. Theoretically you could change that reaction (we've been doing it with two of our current group; one very successfully, one very slowly) but with a group full of it.... I think that's a lot of work. I know I couldn't play/GM for a group like that because I wouldn't have any fun and the stories would be very predictable in most cases. As a GM or a player, I like the idea that I don't know how things are going to end or how exactly we're even going to get to the end - it makes the journey much more interesting for me. So, yeah, you have a really tough group to GM anything that doesn't involve presenting obstacles to be overcome where failure isn't a viable option.

That said, it's not really an issue of "asking them if they want a monster to appear." That's really not part of FATE or many other newer RPGs - the idea that a monster appears because they were noisy is a consequence of failure but you don't necessarily have to ask players what they want to happen when they fail - you're free to take a GM-driven decisions here in Fate. That's in fact encouraged, although you can always ask players "what would you like to see happen?" The issue is more one of where a player has an aspect "MASSIVE" and you look at him as he tries to sneak down the hall and say "You know, you are massive and your footsteps ought to echo off the floor." and he says back "Yeah, I think you're right." Aspect compelled, FP earned, complication coming which the GM (probably) decides upon and springs on the group, no roll needed - the complication could be an ambush, a wandering monster, the people in the room fleeing, or the floor giving way underneath the character, dropping him in to a bed between a prostitute and her client. All are viable and add a twist to the story that doesn't ruin the characters chances of success but do make things harder.
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Bazin wrote:

But then, does this not go back to the players not looking to play an interesting story, but to 'win'?

Eventually, they'll run out of FP, since they'll be paying the GM off on each compel, so they'd have to have a complication come up. But if if they're buying off each compel, then maybe they're not playing the game the way it was intended?

Absolutely. See, you do understand the basic idea. Putting it in to practice just requires a little effort and some patience. I always advise GMs to start slowly and build up the uses of the aspects. You don't need to go nuts compelling aspects every 2 minutes and in many cases, once the players catch on they'll start doing half the work for you. For example, most of the compels for my wizard character are driven and suggested by me, not the GM hijacking my character's free will. I love the fact that I'm completely clueless if I'm asked to get from point A to point B using the German public transportation system (which, speaking from actual experience, is quite easy to manage).
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MJ Harnish wrote:
cosine wrote:
They expect a monster to appear. They do not expect me to ask them if they want a monster to appear because they are being loud. Given the option between "monster appears" and "no monster appears", it's painfully obvious to them which one they'll choose...

And then they'll tell me how boring it was because no monsters appeared.

So if I just GM fiat a monster in there... we aren't using aspects at all. And aspects are supposed to be the whole cool thing of the entire system.

That's a hard playstyle to overcome and largely IMO due to years of playing games in which you get punished for failing.


That is true. But also some people seem to have a very tight identification with their character. They see role-playing as a very focused immersive style-of-play where they just want a "I do something" / "something happens" kind of dialogue. FATE to a certain extent wants the players to break free of that. To think at a slightly higher level of story as well as being concerned about in-character thoughts and actions. In the game I tried there was only one declaration.
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Yes, I would agree. We have one character in our current Dresden game that is all about declarations - he's an old professor who knows something about everything - so we see a bunch of declarations when he's played right. That last part is important because early on the player that created him tried to turn him in to a fighter, throwing books and stuff for example, which was both ineffectual and really unsatisfying. Once he wrapped his head around the idea that he was going to create facts like Japanese rage spirits cannot cross running water and that the ghouls that lived underneath the Neuss harbor were related to the original Roman legions that occupied the city, the character became really cool and useful, even in a fight.
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