Fateful Concepts: Hacking Contests SRD

When I released Fateful Concepts: Hacking Contests, I said that when it went Silver on DriveThruRPG, I would release the rules here as a Creative Commons SRD. Ten days later, it hit silver. I put out a call for people to report any errors they found, and with the help of three awesome people, I’ve got an SRD for you to enjoy.

Download the Fateful Concepts: Hacking Contests SRD here, in RTF

These rules are free to use under the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution license, just like Fate is. It doesn’t have the boxed examples, because that should be stuff creators make for their own projects that gives specific contextual spins.

If you downloaded this SRD and found it useful or interesting, please consider buying the full version. It has more stuff, notably examples for the rules articles and an essay on understanding the ebb and flow of contests.

For those interesting in behind-the-scenes stuff, here’s a stream of random data. Don’t read too much into this, as there isn’t really enough data to derive conclusions. But it shows some economics I deal with as a small-time creator-publisher.[1]

Hacking Contests hit Silver somewhere between 105 and 111 sales. There’s no notification or clear deal, just at some point the icon says “Silver” on it. Only actual sales count, so freebies aren’t included (like the ones my Patreon peeps get). Let’s say 111 sales. The gross take for that is $331.89. My cut, 65%, is $215.73. Minus my single external expense, paying my editor $131.24 (which took the first 68 sales), my profit at the time of going silver was $84.52. Not bad for a tiny project’s first 10 days, but these will also be its best 10 days by far.

Taking that snapshot, dividing it by the approximately 9600 words that the document is, and I get a rate of $0.009/word. That will increase over time, of course, but it’ll take 196 more sales before Hacking Contests hits the basic $0.05/word, and that says nothing about my laying it out, doing around a half-dozen revision passes, dealing with the e-commerce stuff, and so on. That’s a total of 307 sales.

If it sells similarly to Fateful Concepts: Character Aspects, I’ll hit that point around three months from launch. That volume has, since it’s June 2014 release, netted $641.20 from 444 sales—quite a few of which came after releasing its cousin. Character Aspects is a smaller volume, only around 6900 words, so I’ve got nearly $0.10/word for it (not counting the other layout and publishing bullshit that was needed). Incidentally, the vast difference in work on Hacking Contests is why I didn’t offer a $1 off coupon for its first week. That was the experiment on Character Aspects, just as the SRD thing was Hacking Contests‘s experiment.

However, looking at the first ten days of each, Character Aspects sold 184 copies. If I use project later Hacking Contests trends at 60% (184/111) of Character Aspects‘s, then it’ll be more like five months before it hits the $0.05/word rate. It’ll be interesting to see how accurate that is.

Oh, and with 444 sales, Character Aspects is still in the Electrum category, between being a Silver and Gold seller.

I’m debating if I’ll do a third Fateful Concepts. It’ll depend on the three-month mark on Hacking Contests and on what Fate topics I feel like exploring in that format, but also on what projects I want to fill my 2015 with in general. I have something pretty cool coming out in April that I’m super-excited about—to be honest, far more exciting that an essay collection, as neat as getting super-deep about Fate can be.

– Ryan

[1] Also, I started writing this shortly after taking NyQuil.


6 Responses to Fateful Concepts: Hacking Contests SRD

  1. Jake Linford says:


    You mean $0.009/word. Then the doubling gets you to $0.05/word.



  2. Ywen says:

    After reading the part about Conflicts Under Fire, something bugs me:
    nothing says a PC can’t work towards the accomplishement of the contest if they take a hit during the same exchange, whereas in Fate Core there is a sort of “Challenges Under Fire” ( http://fate-srd.com/fate-core/conflicts#other-actions-in-a-conflict ) which explicitely says “in any exchange where someone attacks you or tries to create an advantage on you, you must defend successfully in order to be able to take one of the other actions in the challenge”.
    Why this difference?

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Because that’s the interaction of conflicts with contests and challenges are streamlined in Fate Core. Really, it’s better with rules like that to append “when it make sense.” Fictional positioning always matters. If I successfully attack you and physically impose myself, that’s an obstacle you now have to deal with to keep acting on your contest or challenge. If I shoot you, that’s not necessarily an obstacle you have to deal with to keep doing your contest or challenge. The contest under fire rules assume that you’ll take the position of the story into account, which isn’t a special stance to take.

      – Ryan

  3. Ywen says:

    I was thinking that maybe you can use the attack shifts as extra difficulty: if you’ve been hit and received 2 shifts, you can try to advance the conflict/challenge but you have to overcome +4, not +2 (if GM would have originally set a +2 difficulty).

    There is also the difference between:
    Fate Core: you roll for the challenge when your turn comes
    Hacking Contests: you decide when your turn comes you’ll act in the contest, and you roll _at the end_ of the exchange (whatever your Notice skill or equivalent).
    Why so?

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Never double-dip on attacks. The moment you have an attack to more than stress, you’re killing the game. No good Fate build does that for a reason. (Some so an instead-of conversion, which is fine.)

      Timing is a complicated problem in RPGs, as simultaneous actions in a story are played sequentially. The order in CUF is a way of dealing with that, but it’s not the only solution. It’s the one I went with.