fate Archive

  • Yesterday, I stole one idea form Bulldogs! and today I'm going to steal another.Back in the day, Feng Shui presented a very interesting way to handle skills that worked very well for it's wide, loose model.  In short, a skill represented three things. ...

    What Makes a Skill

    Yesterday, I stole one idea form Bulldogs! and today I'm going to steal another.Back in the day, Feng Shui presented a very interesting way to handle skills that worked very well for it's wide, loose model. In short, a skill represented three things. ...

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  • Before I start, let me give a quick plug for a young gaming blog, charactergen.net.  The authors are a pair of talented and inspired writers who are already off to an excellent start, and promise many cool things yet to come. Anyway, it should be obvio...

    Space Race

    Before I start, let me give a quick plug for a young gaming blog, charactergen.net. The authors are a pair of talented and inspired writers who are already off to an excellent start, and promise many cool things yet to come. Anyway, it should be obvio...

    Continue Reading...

  • It should come as no surprise that I'm quite fond of fudge dice, and I've put a lot of thought into the different things that can be done with their three outcomes. I've shifted things on several different axes, and I've failed as often as I've succeed...

    Reading Fudge Dice

    It should come as no surprise that I'm quite fond of fudge dice, and I've put a lot of thought into the different things that can be done with their three outcomes. I've shifted things on several different axes, and I've failed as often as I've succeed...

    Continue Reading...

  • One of the curious issues I have with Aspects these days is that I almost never compel them.  Not because I don't bring their negative implications into play, but because my players are sufficiently enthusiastic about playing up the negative side thems...

    What Else Compels are Good For

    One of the curious issues I have with Aspects these days is that I almost never compel them. Not because I don't bring their negative implications into play, but because my players are sufficiently enthusiastic about playing up the negative side thems...

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  • Following up from my previous post. Go read that and this comment first: http://lcdarkwood.livejournal.com/3824.html?thread=15600#t15600 - I'm doing my reply as a new post because it got long, and because I think it'll be helpful to further discussion....

    [Fate] More Compels in a Nutshell

    Following up from my previous post. Go read that and this comment first: http://lcdarkwood.livejournal.com/3824.html?thread=15600#t15600 - I'm doing my reply as a new post because it got long, and because I think it'll be helpful to further discussion....

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  • Hack Type: AdviceSystem: Spirit of the Century, The Dresden Files RPG, any Fate v3 variantJust because it came to my mind and I wanted to archive it somewhere, this is as simple as the definition can get:1. Something relevant to aspect X happens.2...

    [Fate] Compels in a Nutshell…

    Hack Type: AdviceSystem: Spirit of the Century, The Dresden Files RPG, any Fate v3 variantJust because it came to my mind and I wanted to archive it somewhere, this is as simple as the definition can get:1. Something relevant to aspect X happens.2...

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  • 
Fred Hicks linked to this review of the new Doctor Who RPG. Specifically calling out the initiative system.
One thing that I had to make especial mention of is the phasing system in rounds of conflict (not necessarily combat.) The bias of the game aga...

    [Do] Further thoughts on FATE hacking and Doctor Who

    Fred Hicks linked to this review of the new Doctor Who RPG. Specifically calling out the initiative system. One thing that I had to make especial mention of is the phasing system in rounds of conflict (not necessarily combat.) The bias of the game aga...

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  • So, the 2009 Ennie Award Nominations are out this morning:http://www.ennie-awards.com/nominations/nominees.aspAs someone on Twitter said, my fingerprints are all over 'em.  This is good, because I like the Ennies, and it's really great when the Ennies ...

    2009 Ennies Nominations

    So, the 2009 Ennie Award Nominations are out this morning:http://www.ennie-awards.com/nominations/nominees.aspAs someone on Twitter said, my fingerprints are all over 'em. This is good, because I like the Ennies, and it's really great when the Ennies ...

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  • My initial impression after reading a bit of the GSL hullaballoo is that it's nothing really worrying about...... so long as you're willing to walk away from it.  Yeah, it represents a sticky legal bog into which many a game company could walk and few could come out.  Yes, it's a disappointment for many folks who thought they could make some more money like before by creating products supporting the biggest dog on the block.But for Evil Hat Productions (and hopefully, for many others), it's a big So What.  Sure, maybe EHP could someday put out a 4E supporting product (I certainly think I have a setting concept that could go interesting places, and Rob's been talking about a modular add-on concept that could fit to nearly any campaign world), but it's not essential that we do -- and it never really was.  The 3E OGL days gave us a lot of opportunity to get us some strongly developed second and third tiers.  Plenty of companies and one-guy shops made their bones in that environment; they've got a name and a brand from that time.  If they play their cards right and leverage that brand well, they don't need 4E to continue growing their fan-base.  It'd just be nice.  Phil Reed has plenty of folks standing shoulder to shoulder willing to follow Ronin Arts wherever he takes it.  Green Ronin's supporters are legion.  And so on.  If anything, the GSL tells us that we can probably comfortably give 4E a year to see where it goes, to see how it settles out from its awkward early stages.  But more than anything, at least from where I stand, the 4E GSL is -- for my money -- a move by WOTC to support diversity in the RPG market (however unintentional that move may be).  Fewer companies will be producing 4E stuff. Some will because some are willing even in the face of some pretty nasty legal terms -- every swamp-bog has its explorers, however few -- but many won't.  But those many won't be standing still.And as a few folks have pointed out, there are plenty of options for the second and third tier to get some all-star team-up action going on.  True20 and Pathfinder provide successful, proven branches of the d20 oeuvre for folks interested in staying

    The GSL Isn’t Worth Worrying About

    My initial impression after reading a bit of the GSL hullaballoo is that it's nothing really worrying about...

    ... so long as you're willing to walk away from it. Yeah, it represents a sticky legal bog into which many a game company could walk and few could come out. Yes, it's a disappointment for many folks who thought they could make some more money like before by creating products supporting the biggest dog on the block.

    But for Evil Hat Productions (and hopefully, for many others), it's a big So What. Sure, maybe EHP could someday put out a 4E supporting product (I certainly think I have a setting concept that could go interesting places, and Rob's been talking about a modular add-on concept that could fit to nearly any campaign world), but it's not essential that we do -- and it never really was. The 3E OGL days gave us a lot of opportunity to get us some strongly developed second and third tiers. Plenty of companies and one-guy shops made their bones in that environment; they've got a name and a brand from that time. If they play their cards right and leverage that brand well, they don't need 4E to continue growing their fan-base. It'd just be nice. Phil Reed has plenty of folks standing shoulder to shoulder willing to follow Ronin Arts wherever he takes it. Green Ronin's supporters are legion. And so on.

    If anything, the GSL tells us that we can probably comfortably give 4E a year to see where it goes, to see how it settles out from its awkward early stages. But more than anything, at least from where I stand, the 4E GSL is -- for my money -- a move by WOTC to support diversity in the RPG market (however unintentional that move may be). Fewer companies will be producing 4E stuff. Some will because some are willing even in the face of some pretty nasty legal terms -- every swamp-bog has its explorers, however few -- but many won't. But those many won't be standing still.

    And as a few folks have pointed out, there are plenty of options for the second and third tier to get some all-star team-up action going on. True20 and Pathfinder provide successful, proven branches of the d20 oeuvre for folks interested in staying "close to home". If WEG ever gets off its ass, there's talk of making d6 an open license. Savage Worlds now has a free license (once you're approved) and a second license that provides solid support of fan-sites doing whatever they want, legally. And, yeah, Evil Hat's Fate system (and the open content of Spirit of the Century) remains free for use via the OGL (plus, we're happy to negotiate reasonable brand license terms for SOTC and DRYH if someone becomes interested -- as we already have).

    So I'm not worried. I'm excited.

    Maybe you can be, too.

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  • As a part of getting my head wrapped around the upcoming GUMSHOE game Mutant City Blues game from Pelgrane (think the Powers comic book as an RPG), I decided to sit down with The Esoterrorists and give it a read.  I'd heard some mixed reviews (1, 2) about this game both online and off, and wanted to see what was up with it.I actually enjoyed the read quite a bit.  Yes, the system's pretty simple -- honestly, I'd have loved a bell curve in the die-rolling part -- but I do like the idea of bringing the idea of the character sheet as a resource management problem together with the investigative horror genre.I haven't yet gotten a chance to read through my copy of Trail of Cthulhu, nor have I reread the advance text I have of Mutant City Blues, so I'm not sure if later versions based on the core GUMSHOE system from Esoterrorists make any substantial changes to how the system functions.  That's next.At any rate, ultimately the GUMSHOE system looks to be something that takes a specific stance on the

    The Whiff Factor: GUMSHOE Edition

    As a part of getting my head wrapped around the upcoming GUMSHOE game Mutant City Blues game from Pelgrane (think the Powers comic book as an RPG), I decided to sit down with The Esoterrorists and give it a read. I'd heard some mixed reviews (1, 2) about this game both online and off, and wanted to see what was up with it.

    I actually enjoyed the read quite a bit. Yes, the system's pretty simple -- honestly, I'd have loved a bell curve in the die-rolling part -- but I do like the idea of bringing the idea of the character sheet as a resource management problem together with the investigative horror genre.

    I haven't yet gotten a chance to read through my copy of Trail of Cthulhu, nor have I reread the advance text I have of Mutant City Blues, so I'm not sure if later versions based on the core GUMSHOE system from Esoterrorists make any substantial changes to how the system functions. That's next.

    At any rate, ultimately the GUMSHOE system looks to be something that takes a specific stance on the "whiff factor" in RPGs. Most of you know what the whiff factor is: a whiff is what happens when you roll the dice, putting all kinds of focus and effort into it even, and you just flat out miss, your joy dies, and someone else gets their turn. It can really stink, and a lot of more recent designs are a response to the existence of the risk of the whiff. Fate's definitely included in this, with the invoking part of aspects intended as a mitigation of the whiff.

    GUMSHOE is particularly concerned with the whiff factor when it comes to investigative, fact-finding challenges in games. Its answer is simply to eliminate them: if a clue is there to be found, it is found by those with an appropriate investigative ability (though not really in any sort of railroading way -- the idea is that you might get your clues, but the interpretation is still left up to the players). Dice don't come into play with investigative abilities 99% of the time, but you can still spend some points out of your various investigation abilities' pools in order to get some bonus extras. Sure, you might know right away that this guy's lying to you about the gun because you have an nonzero rating in your Bullshit Detector skill (you gotta love a game that has Bullshit Detector as a skill), but you might be able to spend a point or two from your BSD ability pool to notice that he's positioned himself so that you don't notice that box on the desk behind him -- containing the gun! Again, my Fate brain kicks in a little here and says, "hey, that's a lot like extra shifts on a skill roll", and there's definitely some resemblence, minus the rolling of dice.

    This approach with investigative abilities is ultimately a pretty good thing for the game, I think, and it's dirt simple to house-rule in a little story-gaming sensibilities here if you want them -- let the players spend a point to assert the existence of a clue, much like a successful declaration roll works in Fate. I can definitely see using the SOTC brain to say -- in essence -- okay, the automatic clues from having an ability are essentially assessments and the point spends from those pools are declarations and calling it a day, there. Instant hippy GUMSHOE action!

    But GUMSHOE segregates its investigative abilities from what it calls "general abilities". General abilities are the ones where the dice (okay -- die, since it's basically 1d6 plus however much you're willing to spend from the relevant ability) come into play, introducing risk and the possibility of failure. Moreover, to underscore the horror element (and, I suppose, avoid the real possibility of gaming the very simple dicing system a bit too much), in Esoterrorists at least there's an explicit recommendation that the GM not disclose the target numbers to the players before they roll. That's a risk heightener, to be sure, but it also does something that I wouldn't have expected out of GUMSHOE: it embraces and maybe even desires the Whiff Factor in general abilities. General abilities are there to give you something to spend to increase your chance to succeed, yes, but their existence and resolution method also suggests they are there to give you opportunities to fail.

    Problem is -- from my perspective at least -- that there's nothing to be gained from the failure and complications that arise from it. And that's a place where players can get really perturbed, especially if you were sitting on the target number and not letting them know what it was.

    Chad Underkoffler's PDQ system (among others) takes on this sort of thing by giving a reward back to the player when failure occurs: some sort of experience point benefit has been seen, as well as other temporary benefits (analagous to getting a fate point when you fail a roll -- Fate doesn't do that, but we figure the compel mechanic stimulates the Fate point economy just fine without it).

    I think something along those lines could do a lot to improve the perturbing situation described here, in GUMSHOE; just let players get back one point in any one of their pools (or just in the one that is being used on the roll) whenever they fail a roll. Now, you have folks willing to spend a point on nearly every general ability test: they get a +1 to their roll, increasing the feeling that their general ability rating is palpable and relevant, and that either boosts them to their success, or is a break even if they fail. It's a tiny change, and it does mean that characters might end up feeling more heroic or resilient than they normally would, but I think it's a change that could seriously improve the perception of how the system works in play. (I talked this over with Rob, who's been a bit lukewarm on the game, and confirmed that this is a change that would address a solid chunk of his lukewarm-ity.)

    So, yeah. I suppose it's all proof that I'm still heavily inclined to look right away for what house rules when I encounter a new game. So how about you? Do you have any house rules you'd be inclined to apply to GUMSHOE?

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