[Fate/FAE] What's not to grok?

Shan Andy

One man and his giraffe
Validated User
Walking Mind is Rob Donoghue's blog — not Ryan's.
You're absolutely right. My mistake, it will teach me to type one thing while I'm thinking about another. It's too late to go back and edit but, sorry Rob.

In the interests of owning my mistake, please allow me to recommend Rob Donoghue's blog on Risk. It's still brilliant (and, apparently far more brilliant than my powers of concentration)

http://walkingmind.evilhat.com/2018/01/17/risks/
 
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Dweller in Darkness

Excelsior
Validated User
Let me see if I get this straight. They have two high level combat abilities that you are complaining they use at the appropriate time, in combat?

The solution is to give them challenges that aren't combat.
Yep, pretty much this.

Also, encourage and assist those players without high combat stats to get creative with what skills they have in order to make a difference. Tech guys can point out weaknesses on tech-based foes, sneaky people can get around behind opponents and draw them off or confuse them, the person with a lot of bulk can put up a hasty cover against gunfire by lifting up a metal table and using it like a shield. If all of your players are making only Attack rolls, shake that up.
 

Troy2012

Registered User
Validated User
Thank you.

I'm also reminded of a widget introduced in Masters of Umdaar. This is a tool for the GM who is a little bit annoyed with people spamming their highest Approach when they are doing something. It also takes prep before your session. But you set up an obstacle, challenge or whatever and you say: If they use Clever, the difficulty is this and the outcome/cost is this... If they use Forceful, it gets that much harder and the outcome/cost is this... If they use Careful, etc. etc. You get the idea.

You can tailor your things to your party to thwart the bruiser or the gadgeteer or to spotlight and showcase her abilities.
 

Victim

Registered User
Validated User
I'm also reminded here about Batman. DC frequently uses "World's Greatest Detective" as a title for Batman, which essentially also serves as one possible Aspect. It is understood in-fiction that Batman is the "World's Greatest Detective." He has the smarts, That said, Batman being the "World's Greatest Detective" does not mean that he cannot be caught unaware, stumped, or out-smarted. However, thanks to his aspect "World's Greatest Detective" Batman will be able to more consistently beat out other characters, who would presumably lack that aspect. So such aspects are not necessarily about having Automatic "I win" buttons, but about the character have a consistent edge as derived by the player's sense of the character in the fiction.
Right, that was basically how I understood Aspects. Batman could have World's Greatest Detective which he can use by spending Fate points and tells us something about the character. But it's not actually doing a whole lot without spending points.

However, I don't see how that is consistent with people saying that the powers of Superman can be described completely with an Aspect, or "you can't move if you're 'Handcuffed to Desk.' Where the mere existence of an Aspect is doing stuff like preventing certain actions, or negating attacks. In order to matchup with the interpretation of how to handle Batman, it seems to me like there should be no automatic debuff for a negative aspect slapped on someone nor any narrative permission to ignore problems and enemies without the use of invokes. If you need the handcuffed target to be unable to run away, then you have to take your free use of the aspect to compel them or make a declaration accordingly. Otherwise while the target would be impaired (ie the aspect is there with a free tag to use against them), they're not actually going to be stopped.

And if Aspects are granting other people superpowers that automatically mean they can't suffer certain problems, or in addition to being a powerful buff action also cripple people, then why is Batman's aspect not automatically negating surprises and what not?

I don't see how they're supposed to work both ways at the same time.
 

pesterfield

Registered User
Validated User
"World's Greatest Detective" can also mean that sometimes he doesn't even need to roll.

If I'm "Handcuffed to Desk" I need to Overcome it before I can do anything being handcuffed would prevent me from doing. You then invoke the aspect to make my Overcome roll harder.

One solution is that Superman can't avoid problems, but for a different reason.
He has to Overcome the "Hail of Bullets" the bad guys are putting up to protect innocents, getting shot doesn't bother him at all.
Does Superman need to break down a door, the roll's to see if he damages anything else by accident. Failure could mean hitting too hard.
 
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Troy2012

Registered User
Validated User
Right, that was basically how I understood Aspects. Batman could have World's Greatest Detective which he can use by spending Fate points and tells us something about the character. But it's not actually doing a whole lot without spending points.

However, I don't see how that is consistent with people saying that the powers of Superman can be described completely with an Aspect, or "you can't move if you're 'Handcuffed to Desk.' Where the mere existence of an Aspect is doing stuff like preventing certain actions, or negating attacks. In order to matchup with the interpretation of how to handle Batman, it seems to me like there should be no automatic debuff for a negative aspect slapped on someone nor any narrative permission to ignore problems and enemies without the use of invokes. If you need the handcuffed target to be unable to run away, then you have to take your free use of the aspect to compel them or make a declaration accordingly. Otherwise while the target would be impaired (ie the aspect is there with a free tag to use against them), they're not actually going to be stopped.

And if Aspects are granting other people superpowers that automatically mean they can't suffer certain problems, or in addition to being a powerful buff action also cripple people, then why is Batman's aspect not automatically negating surprises and what not?

I don't see how they're supposed to work both ways at the same time.
How do other games handle it?

In another game system, if someone is tied up or someone is Superman or Batman, what do you do?
 

The Unshaven

Registered User
Validated User
Right, that was basically how I understood Aspects. Batman could have World's Greatest Detective which he can use by spending Fate points and tells us something about the character. But it's not actually doing a whole lot without spending points.

However, I don't see how that is consistent with people saying that the powers of Superman can be described completely with an Aspect, or "you can't move if you're 'Handcuffed to Desk.' Where the mere existence of an Aspect is doing stuff like preventing certain actions, or negating attacks. In order to matchup with the interpretation of how to handle Batman, it seems to me like there should be no automatic debuff for a negative aspect slapped on someone nor any narrative permission to ignore problems and enemies without the use of invokes. If you need the handcuffed target to be unable to run away, then you have to take your free use of the aspect to compel them or make a declaration accordingly. Otherwise while the target would be impaired (ie the aspect is there with a free tag to use against them), they're not actually going to be stopped.

And if Aspects are granting other people superpowers that automatically mean they can't suffer certain problems, or in addition to being a powerful buff action also cripple people, then why is Batman's aspect not automatically negating surprises and what not?

I don't see how they're supposed to work both ways at the same time.
You're absolutely right about how this could be a problem, and different games and tables solve it different ways.

The rough equation is that the more structure the game provides around this, the less effort needs to go into getting on the same page as a table precisely because it's already done for you. It still gets done, and it's still necessary, but it's a conversation that the table is reading the results of and applying to their own game, rather than having themselves.

For example, the Atomic Robo RPG makes stuff like this explicit: if you want powers, you have to tie them to specialised stunts that work in key, described ways and tie into the budget that the GM is given to spend on the bad guys, as well as connect them to aspects. As a result, it's not so much that the character of Atomic Robo automatically succeeds at what would for him be trivial tasks, it's that he has narrative permission to roll his strength to throw a car, whereas someone without that power wouldn't have narrative permission.

Really Strong Person: narrative permission to roll to lift a car for a split second enough for someone to get their foot out from under a tire.
Atomic Robo: narrative permission to pick up that car and throw it down the street after fleeing villains.

Something like Fate Accelerated Edition is entirely consistent with all of this in terms of how aspects CAN work around narrative permissions and the like, because they're built off the same framework. The big difference is that where the ARRPG tells people "this is how powers work for this game," FAE doesn't. So you have to put your heads together as a table during character generation and collectively decide how much load aspects can carry in how they use narrative permissions.

Like you'd need to figure out if "really strong person" means you can attempt to lift a car at all, or not. Does Robo get the opportunity to roll Forceful to chuck a car at nazis, or not? If Robo gets that permission, would Superman get permission to throw the same car at the moon because it looked at him funny?

All of those are possible, and consistent with the rules, but you need to figure it out together. It's also important, for obvious reasons, that people are on the same page for what the narrative context of powerfulness is.

I've seen games that worked great with wildly inconsistent power levels within one game, but they were known and flagged coming into it. Likewise, I've seen games work great where someone had only written down skills and one aspect, and expected to fill in the rest during the game, when other people had fully fleshed out characters with powers.

When people wind up with inconsistencies that surprise them, it all falls apart. At that point, they're not grounded in a shared fiction and kersplode.
 

avram

Registered User
Validated User
Right, that was basically how I understood Aspects. Batman could have World's Greatest Detective which he can use by spending Fate points and tells us something about the character. But it's not actually doing a whole lot without spending points.
You’re mistaken about this. Aspects also grant permission. That can mean something mechanical in character creation, like the aspect Wizard granting permission to spend stunt slots on cool magic extras. But it can also mean the GM making decisions in play about what the PC has to roll for. The World’s Greatest Detective might get a bunch of extra descriptive detail from the GM that a regular character would have to roll for.

As far as letting aspects define superpowers, well, you might have noticed that regular Fate Core and Fate Accelerated kind of lend themselves to slightly different play styles. Because Accelerated is trimmed down, you sort of hand-wave some stuff that gets mechanically nailed down in Core, and aspects wind up doing a bit more work in defining character abilities.

Like, let’s imagine I’m GMing a Fate Core game, something in the modern world, using the default skill list from the rulebook, and I’m trying to figure out whether a character knows how to pick locks. I’d say if he’s got Burglary at +1 or higher, even without an aspect that implies lockpicking ability, he can give it a try. If he’s got an aspect that does imply lockpicking, but didn’t bother to take the Burglary skill, he can also try, but with +0 skill. With Fate Accelerated, though, my inclination would be to just look at the aspects.
 

Cosmic Hobo

Madman with a Boxed Set
Validated User
I'm reading through the thread, but haven't finished. Sorry if there's repetition in my post.

It took me awhile to grok Fate and FAE and I'd like to share a few things that helped.

Fate isn't a physics simulator, it's a story emulator. That right there covers 99% of the problems people seem to have with the system. Physics simulation is such a part of who we are as people, we see cause and effect every day, and it's ingrained in us as a matter of survival, but it's also reinforced through a fair amount of media that we engage in. Especially other game systems, whether outright stated or simply suggested for trying to have "realistic" rules for everything.

But as gamers and geeks, the cross-section of gamers who're rabid pop culture fanatics is huge (anime, movies, science fiction, fantasy, video games, genre TV shows, etc). And yet, despite being utterly inundated with story, our brains still fight back and try to impose physics. The Trek geeks arguing about how fast Warp X is in episode three compared to episode four. The movie buff pointing out how many bullets the action hero has fired, despite the magazine clearly only holding so many rounds.

Fate isn't a physics simulator, it's a story emulator. People grousing about "On Fire" aren't pointing out some grand flaw with the system, they're declaring they don't understand what the system is trying to do. I'm sure some are simply parroting a meme, and a few are intentionally malicious, but I think it mostly comes down to an honest misunderstanding of what the system does. And that's solidly at the feet of the writers.

Yeah, your character is "On Fire", but unless that actually matters to the story, then it doesn't matter to the mechanics. Once being "On Fire" matters to the story, then it matters to the mechanics. If you character is "On Fire" and they stop drop and roll to put it out (Overcome Obstacle to remove the Aspect), then congrats, you made it matter to the story. If you character is such a badass that they're going to ignore that they're "On Fire", then great, it doesn't matter until someone throws gasoline on your face.

That physics simulator piece of our brains just won't let it go, however. Some piece of our grey matter is screaming, "but if he's on fire he should be taking damage! He's on fire, he's burning up!" Yeah, according to physics, you're right. But not according to the story. The mechanics of Fate reinforce story, not physics. If the table wants to focus on something, then it's important. Otherwise, it doesn't matter. That's not a bug, that's a feature. Just like in movies, TV shows, comics, anime, cartoons, novels, and every other kind of story out there, Fate only cares about the story, not the physics.

The action hero has infinite ammo until it's dramatically important that he's "Out of Ammo". If that sentence makes your brain hurt, then Fate isn't the game for you. Sorry, it just isn't. There's plenty of games out there with long lists of guns and precise bookkeeping for every bullet you fire. Fate just isn't that game, and it's never tried to be. Story not physics.

The bullet in Indy's arm is a perfect example. Yeah, he has "A Bullet in the Arm", but until there's a compel or a Fate point spent, it doesn't matter...because it doesn't matter to the story. It's worth noting in the story, by Indy grabbing his arm and wincing in pain, but it's not important enough to stop the action or give any mechanical effect...until the Nazi compels that Aspect by punching Indy in the bullet hole. Then, a few seconds later, it suddenly doesn't matter again. Because it's not the focus of the story in the following moment. Then, after the fight, Indy grabs his arm and drives away.

Fate points are the means by which the players and GM focus the camera on something. Aspects are always true, but without Fate points they're not the focus...so they don't matter and there's no mechanical effect. They're still real and true, and continue to exist, but since they're not the focus of the story in that moment, they don't give a mechanical benefit. When you want something to be the focus, you spend the Fate point, and get the mechanical benefit. Conversely, if you want the mechanical benefit, you spend the Fate point, and that becomes the focus. It's not one or the other. They're intrinsically linked. By design...because Fate isn't a physics simulator, it's a story emulator.

But, I think that's part of the problem with how Fate was written, that's made fairly clear in the books, but it's not made perfectly, crystal clear. And I think that's one flaw with Aspects like "Fastest Draw in the West". Superlatives in Aspects are just bad because they scream out for constant reinforcement, but in the often contrived example of zero Fate points but in a duel, suddenly your "Fastest Draw" Aspect seems to be useless when it should be of monumental importance. Again, I don't think that's a flaw of the system, rather superlatives make for terrible Aspects. They should really be Stunts of the constant bonus variety.

#

In Fate Core, Aspects describe who you are and what you can do. Skills determine how well you can generally perform as you try to accomplish your goals. In FAE, Aspects describe who you are and what you can do. Approaches describe your character's personality and their approach to life. That's a huge difference. We all know that gamer who's also a jock. Always talking louder than he needs to, always announcing his presence, and generally has that big, boisterous, and Forceful personality. Or that other guy who's constantly trying to get away with things. You know the one, the guy who's always rolling his dice then immediately picking them up and reading what they say, or passing notes to the GM to try to fuck over the group...the Sneaky fucker. Or the girl that talks faster than her brain can process, always over-scheduled and thinks she can get everything done in half the time as normal people. She may be Quick, but no one's that quick. Or the rules lawyer who Carefully pours over every book to find the comma splice that gives him godlike powers. Or the quick on her feet thespian who can improv her way out of any situation or make any scene pop simply because she's Clever enough to come up with some great "Yes, and" responses.
 

Noclue

Registered User
Validated User
The mere existence of an aspect isn't preventing anything. The aspect is just a representation of the thing. So, an aspect "handcuffed to a desk" exists because the character is...handcuffed to a desk. They can do, or not do, the stuff that characters who are handcuffed to a desk can do or not do (Edit: technically, things they can do or not do in stories and movies, rather than in real life). Superman can do superman stuff. Superman has a superman aspect. However, superman has the superman aspect, becuase he is superman, not the other way around.

So, let's say the player wants to do something that is possible, but might be affected by handcuffs. Difficulties for passive opposition are determined by GMs. The aspect might be justification for the GM to set a higher difficulty. The existence of the aspect signifies that the handcuffs are important to the narrative, so it makes sense that the GM might want to incorporate them. The GM does not spend Fate Points when setting passive opposition.

Let's say the player wants to do something that is actively opposed. The difficulty now is determined by the opposition, who rolls to oppose the action. The opposition can choose to make the handcuffs matter in the scene with regard to this particular contested roll by spending Fate Points. Otherwise, the handcuffs are color, but do not mechanically effect the roll.

If the character is Superman, the fact that he's handcuffed might not be a major factor. But, again, because he's superman, not because he has an aspect about being superman.
 
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