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One Rethinking of the Resources Skill

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I’ll let you in on a non-secret: I’m not satisfied with the Resources skill in Fate Core. I get what it’s there for, and I get out to use it, but it’s one of those things that I’m probably going to tinker with until the end of days.

My current tinkering revolves around the adage of “Fast, good, cheap: pick two.” (This post will be rough, as it’s a shell of an idea and I haven’t much time to write blog posts this week.)

When rolling for Resources to get[1] something, the GM sets the target (based on whatever — that rubric is out of scope for the moment). Then, depending on the result:

  • Success with style: you get fast, good, and cheap. Nice!
  • Success/tie: you get two of those.
  • Failure: you get one of those, which means it may be more of a liability than you’d like — effectively it’s success at a cost as default.
  • Failure by 3 or more[2]: it’s totally unavailable.

The GM’s job is to suggest which aren’t true, for anything less than success with style, though maybe there’s an interplay involved. I’ll get to that in a moment, but first…

What Fast, Good, and Cheap Mean

Fast means that in terms of story, the time to get something isn’t much of a complication. You’ll get it as fast as fictionally plausible. Not fast means something relating to getting whatever it is becomes an issue, and you won’t have it as fast as you might like. You will get it, but there is some hassle. (“Fast” could also be interpreted as “easy” or “hassle-free.”)

Good means that what you’re getting is of quality. In game terms, it is or has a situational aspect with a free invoke on it. Not good means the other way, where there’s some potential flaw or issue with it, which is incorporated as a situational aspect for the GM to compel or aggro-invoke.

Cheap means that it doesn’t strain your resources. Not cheap means that it does, which can be modeled in various ways — Resource drain is the obvious one right from the Fate Core text.

Negotiation

The Resources roll tells you what’s available, but you can turn the deal down. (It’s possible that turning down a deal after a roll could have fictional consequences, like snubbing someone, but that’s for the story to play with.)

For a slight bit of story-oriented fiddliness: If the GM says that the problem is with fast or good, but you’re able to get it cheap, you can put forward swapping cheap for fast or good. Up to story logic to see if effectively “throwing money at something” is valid in that circumstance, but it’s an option overall. Depending on how the mechanics work, you could double-pay the not-cheap cost to get both fast and good on a failed roll.


That’s a rough rethinking of it. I could see this methodology being used not just for Resources, but possibly also Contacts, or even for skill-exclusive access like something based on Lore (though what “cheap” means in those cases has to be defined).

And yes, it has some Apocalypse World DNA in the idea. As we’ve said before, this iteration of Fate already does, but to me this seems a natural extension of the concept.

- Ryan

[1] Definitions of “get” varying with setting and circumstance, of course.

[2] I wish we came up for shorthand for “failure with style.”

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10 Responses to One Rethinking of the Resources Skill

  1. Leonard Balsera says:

    fffffuuuuuuuuu….

  2. Leonard Balsera says:

    …cccccccccccckkk.

  3. Rob Hanz says:

    Beautiful.

    I’ve actually been thinking about generally reinterpreting success as the 7-9 range from AW.

    How about “catastrophic failure” or “complete failure” as a shorthand?

  4. John Taber says:

    Very nice Ryan. Love it. You It reminds me of the software development adage…you can get your software…fast, with high quality, or cheap…pick two. ;)

  5. Steven says:

    I like it, but my first thought is that the result for “Failure with style” seems like the kind of “my roll went nowhere” that we try to avoid these days. How about: it is _none_ of “fast”, “cheap”, or “good”, but it’s still available if you really want it? Because maybe a terrible car is better than no car when you’re trying to get out of town fast..

    • Steven says:

      D’oh, just after posting, it occured to me that the four results could be expressed as fast/good/cheap: pick 3/pick 2/pick 1/pick 0.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Because maybe a terrible car is better than no car when you’re trying to get out of town fast…

      That is exactly why I have the cut-off, especially because the cheap mechanic of reducing your access to further buying power needs to have some actual bite. And if all you want is “whatever,” then that’s a boring roll anyway.

      - Ryan

  6. Chuck Cooley says:

    Great minds: I actually did something very like this in my last session on a Contacts roll: Our Heroes called an old acquaintance in the middle of the night for some emergency medical care. The roll was good but not great, so I used a Fate Die to determine their reaction:

    + = “It’ll cost ya.”
    = “What-ever.” (Contact is annoyed, and less cooperative next time.)
    - = “You owe me one.”

    Similarly, (if the story doesn’t make it clear) you could use a Fate Die to select among Fast/Good/Cheap (either which one to leave out, or which one they got):

    + = “Good” (plus means quality)
    = “Cheap”
    - = “Fast” (the dash indicates speed)

    More generally, you can choose what a favor is going to cost them:

    + = “Money”
    = “Goodwill”
    - = “Time”