Posts Tagged ‘fate’
Are you a fan of pulpy, WWII horror action? Then you might already be aware of the Achtung! Cthulhu Kickstarter campaign. The wonderful Chris Birch of Modiphius Entertainment contacted me a few months back to talk about a Fate version of this idea. The Kickstarter campaign reached £80,000, which means the Fate Core version is unlocked! And Chris announced that I’ll be the one doing the conversation! :D
Long-time fans and astute readers will remember that I wrote some time about about how Fate can’t do horror. Since Chris contacted me, I’ve been thinking about what one would do to Fate to make it closer to that style of game and how much you can bend that style of game to fit with Fate.
The thing about action horror & Fate is peppered with moments of powerlessness, both in ability and in knowledge. Fate is a game that gives a lot more pulpy-scale power to the characters and narrative power to the players. And when it comes to me looking at a Fate conversion, I look at what dials can be tweaked to get Fate to deliver something more than just “here are all the skills and some sample aspects.”
And folks, after pondering this for some time, I gotta say, I have ideas…
I won’t get into it much now, since things are still being developed (and at the moment I’m under the gun for other projects, as fans are likely aware), but what we’re looking at right now is:
[Caveat: we might be smarter in the future and try something different; this is just an initial approach.]
- Just as the Savage Worlds editing is pulpier than the Call of Cthulhu one, the Fate one will naturally be even pulpier still. So, the Fate one would start with us not messing around with too many Fate assumptions, since people like Fate for a reason. Which means it is a bit closer to the “here are all the skills and some sample aspects” take on conversion.
- Add optional bits to bring the rules down at different moments, actually changing the Fate experience to be closer to action horror, while not eschewing Fate’s core promises.
As to the latter, I noted down a few things. Here’re a couple (that may or may not work out in the end):
- Since Fate points allow you to buy your way out of failure, having moments where you can’t use Fate points in that manner so efficiently works. When you’re dealing with Wehrmacht mooks, Fate points could work normal. Dealing with the undead? The game changes — you can spend like normal to reroll dice, but to add +2 gets expensive. So buying your way out of dealing with horrific situations isn’t as simple (and will ideally drive creating more preemptive advantages).
- Massive, unfightable entities don’t have aspects or skills or anything like that, and in fact they never roll dice. What they have are pseudo-skills like “Devour investigator ,” where that’s just the static result for whenever that situation comes into play.
In any case, I’m excited by this prospect. It’ll be an interesting and fun project! There’s still time for you to get in on the Kickstarter, if this sounds up your alley.
Creating rich, detailed characters with loads of back story is nothing new. It’s the lonely fun that many have written about, regarding character creation and back story as the last moment that a player has full autonomy with her character. However, what is relatively new is a game’s character creation scheme forcing elaborate back story and mechanizing it.
Lately, I’m starting to think that we’re taking this idea too far. This hit me a few months back after playtesting a friend’s game, and after character creation thinking “okay, I feel like I expended all my energy already, and don’t really have much juice left to play.” We played briefly, and I said that after the session.
To illustrate, I’ll stick with games that folks know: Fate. In Spirit of the Century, you have a lengthy character creation process where you came up with a concept of your character’s early years, and turned that into two aspects. Then your character during the Great War, and two more aspects. Then your character’s signature adventure as a Centurion, and two more aspects, followed by twice inserting yourself in someone else’s adventure and generating two aspects apiece.
Many people, including some of the Dresden Files RPG team, noted that people phoned in the last two or three aspects. So when we rebuilt character creation, we started with “come up with one aspect for your high concept and one for your trouble,” and then the five-phase style above but with one aspect each.
After watching people make characters over the last couple years, Lenny & I decided that even that was too much. There were always a couple aspects that were meh, phoned in because they needed to be on the sheet and the game said “don’t worry, you can change those later.” Always a couple aspects that never worked into the game. So when it came time to rebuild character creation for Fate Core, I proposed:
- Let’s keep high concept and trouble. That’s an easy way to frame a character skeleton.
- People like the collaborative element being in someone else’s story. Let’s keep the last three phases.
- One aspect per, so five total.
This decision wasn’t about streamlining the game, though it has that effect. This was about playing with a new idea: let people come up with rich back story on their own terms. And because aspects can be tweaked, it follows with let people mechanize the parts of their back story they want to.
(This decision was also about trimming down character aspects in order to promote creating and playing with scene and other aspects.)
Similarly, in Mythender, I used to have people make four Weapons. Time and time again, I would watch people get excited about their first Weapon, excited about their second, and kinda interested in their third. (Sometimes more interested in their third, as the first two warmed up their brains.) But consistently on the fourth Weapon, people phoned it in and rarely used it.
That was time taken up at the table to come up with something that wouldn’t actually be used. And that’s creative energy expended that would be better used elsewhere. This idea is key if you want to make a game intended to be immediately engaged after character creation. (If you’re making a game where character creation and all that is its own session, then creative fatigue won’t impact play — unless people decide they want to do both back to back, and spoiler alert: they will.)
 Which, as the guy who came up with it before working on Dresden, I’ll admit I’m partial to. Originally, I called it “Shtick, Trouble, As-Played-By,” which I should blog about.
 Although, that’s actually a hot-swappable module. You could as easily remove those three phases to be about some other dynamic and dramatically change the nature of the group. Perhaps I should blog about that, as well.
I’m happy to say that Fate Core’s Kickstarter has launched! Of course, by now everyone reading this has probably seen it, but still worth me pointing out.
When I left Evil Hat, Core was late in development. Lenny & I spent quite a bit looking at every point where people complained about rules confusing, every point where we were found that we were explaining around things when playing at conventions, and language use in general.
Fate Core’s math isn’t dramatically different — it didn’t need to be. But we kept finding problems with its language, and because of that, we re-designed parts. Back it and you’ll see; the playtest draft is available upon backing.
I used to joke that Core was Lenny & I writing a book on how language affects mechanics. (Because language affects conception and perception, and that affects when we use mechanics and how we interpret them.)
The rest of the Core team’s pretty rocking, as well. Jeremy Keller is solid people, and I can’t think of two people better suited to be the next leaders of the Fate community than Mike Olson & Brian “Lord Danger” Engard. And, of course, Fred Hicks will make it look good, both in an aesthetic sense and in an information transmission/cohesion sense.
So, if Fate’s even remotely your thing, or it was once and grew not to be, check it out. We didn’t just rehash Fate 3′s text for generic purposes. And I’m pretty proud of that, even if I didn’t carry it over the finish line.
See rules and word list at this post. If you want to play along, comment with a link to yours below (please don’t paste the entirety of yours; links only).
The man called himself “Mouser.” I read some Leiber when I was a kid and the moniker fit, more or less. He was dashing, handsome, decent with a knife. But he was also a sociopath — would as soon help you as kill you if there was money in it either way.
So no one was surprised when Mouser handed the Duke his assassin’s head in a box and proclaimed that his resume for the newly vacant position.
Mouser, Assassin of Duke Hochmirth
High Concept: Infamous Assassin
Trouble: Past is catching up to me
Other Aspects: Mind of an Encyclopedia, People are Opportunities, Former Son of the Dragon, Delia
Noteworthy Skills: Stealth (Superb), Weapons (Great), Burglary (Great), Alertness (Good), Poisons (Good), Deceit (Good)
Noteworthy Stunt: Master of the Shadows (+2 to Stealth when hiding in the deep shadows of the dark/night)
Mouser is the sort of character you can throw into a game when the PCs are about to get up in some noble’s business. He’s not without plot hooks, should he or they not just outright kill one another; he used to be in The Dragons, a notorious crime syndicate, elevated high enough to be considered a Son (a trusted lieutenant & advisor). Naturally, he’s marked for death, and they have let slip his identity & whereabouts to those he’s wronged in the past.
He’s hard, but not without heart. He supports his adopted niece, Delia, from afar — hoping that no one discovers her. She is ill, and needs to go to a special and very expensive school in order to cope with her disabilities. (Think Vic Mackey from the Shield doing horrible things to support his autistic kids.)
I didn’t have time to do this before heading in the office today, so here’s an afternoon post. I decided to try making a Fate character rather than a story.
I’ve been thinking for a few months on how to modify Fate to be a bit less pulpy for games whose mood needs that dial turned significantly down. For the Fate-heads out there also pondering this, I put forth the following for use and comment.
If you want your Fate game to feel even grittier, remove the invocation advantage of taking a +2 to your roll. When invocations become only good for rerolls and triggering certain stunts, the game’s play will be less pulpy and harder on characters.
If that feels too harsh, only allow one +2 benefit per roll.
Either way, you can allow +2 benefits for characters if they take a stunt specifically linked to a skill, such as:
You are an incredible masters of guns. With this stunt, you can use invocations twice per roll for the +2 benefit. (Or an additional two times, if you can already do it once.)