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[Fate] some system modifications

tonpa

Just Tonpa...
Validated User
What? : Fate –system modifications. SotC SRD as main scource.
Why?: Fate, by itself, is a wonderful system. By modifying its outer premises I hope to gain deeper understanding over its workings.
But what for?: I hope to gain new opportunity to GM an game in future and by Fate Modification I hope to link the game and the system to each other and therefore aid both. The Game itself may be less over the top that Sotc and the system tinkering are aiming to address this issue.
Why here?: To gain some ideas and thought on the matter. My biggest concern is that I'm spoiling the best parts of Fate; the aspect system and the fast resolution. For addressing this concern I need some thoughts.

The Main

Aspects represent the characteristics of persons, things, sites, situations and feels.
There are different layers of operators, each operator has their own aspects, which may or may not affect operators in different layers. Four rough examples the operator layers could be Inner – Personal – Group – Area.

In this I hope to form some baseline thought for the Aspect system for different operators in campaign, the main examples being the characters themselves and the bigger organization they belong. In this it could helpful that the organization itself is created before hand, in similar fashion than the characters themselves. By this I would like to accomplish similar aims than those represented in Burning Empires and Reign.

The Roll System

The basic is similar to that in Sotc, but the roll itself gains strong influence from The Shadow of the Yesterday.

Characters skill is the basic value for the roll. The difficulty level or class is delivered either from the general difficulty of the task, I would say in general faction this is the appropriate skill level to accomplish that specific task minus one. This means that the tasks suited for skill level Fair are of difficulty level Average. This for general thought, but usually the general difficulties should be quite low.

The roll itself is delivered from set of three fudge dices. The set in Sotc delivers quite wide variation so for this basic thought I use three. The dices themselves may be increased but almost always you use only sets of threes. If you have additional positive dice, you take the best three for your set. If you have a negative dice you take lowest set. Positive and negative dice here mean those dices delivered from situational, personal or distraction modifiers and in general sense counter each other. The exception for this is the Strong dice that you always keep, even if you have stronger positive dices or weaker negative dices. Strong dice is delivered from exceptional things and from magical effects. The basic premise may work also in One Roll Engine, but for this I must read the Reign book

Basic roll is therefore appropriate skill + 3df
Positive and negative dices are delivered from many places. The main sources include Personal Core Aspects, General Aspects, Limited Situational modifications and Special Abilities.

Personal Core Aspects

These Aspects are special type of Aspects that have minor Tags on them all the time. In this way they resample something from Burning Wheel Beliefs. The character has three of these; one Virtue, one Vice (both inspired by nWod) and one Archetype (inspired by Sotc and Hollow Earth Expedition). The Virtue is one of the Seven virtues; Charity, Faith, Fortitude, Hope, justice, prudence and Temperance. The Vices are the seven deadly sins; Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Pride, Sloth and Wrath. The Archetype is something of a generic role for the character in the game depending on the genre. For Pulp for example I think; Academic, Adventurer, Celebrity, Criminal, Doctor, Engineer, Explorer, Hunter, Missionary, Moneyman, Occultist, Reporter, Scientist, Soldier and Survivor.

When you work for one of your Personal Core Aspects, you gain one positive dice, when you work against them you gain one negative dice. Therefore if you are fully motivated for the task you gain three positive dices. If, in other hand, you do the deed in counter of everything you believe you gain total of three negative dices.

Personal Core Aspects are there for easy Character action inspiration and for backbone for groups. If you don’t like the seven deadly sins for example, you could take the Zodiacs, elements or similar. I have heard from nWod player that the Virtues and Vices system work quite well after you get used to that, that’s why I took it for my first take on the matter.

The Personal Core Aspects could take the place of three of the character Aspects, divided as suited for the campaign. I myself think that the first three phases would be good place for them. They could be used also for different creations. These can also be used as General Aspects a follow the general rules of normal Aspect Use. They can also be compelled and used as Declaration.

Example Creation #1 Crime:
Phase 1: What has happened? Aspects: [PCA: Crime Of passion], [Dead Scientist]
Phase 2: What kind of Criminal would do this: [PCA Virtue: Justice], [Analytical mind]
Phase 3: Why would deed like this be committed? [PCA Vise: Envy], [Gentleman Club]
Secret Outline (for GM): The Charles Mann has committed the crime of Murder after his lost debate in Society of Intelligentsia. The Victor himself was Manfred Grundell, but the victim is his associate Scientist Susan Lang, who in turn has made headway over his colleague. The plot in Charles Manns twisted mind is to hurt Grundells passion of competition, to destroy his possibility to rematch with Lang and therefore regain his worth. The logic is in Mann’s mind that because he himself cannot compete with Grundell, so he should not be able to compete with Lang.
General Aspects

Aspects are used like in Fate, with maneuver you can place Aspects and gain free Tag, with established Aspects you can use maneuver to gain free tag to those. With Fate point you can gain free Tag. With tagged aspect you can make compel over the owner of the Aspect, Declaration about the owner, you can gain two positive dices for roll involving the Aspects realm of interest, or you can give the owner of the Aspect two negative dices. As general rule you should be limited to two extra dice by this manner, but exceptional situations will amount you double. As general rule I think two is enough, giving that you can gain more bonus dices from different sources, like Personal Core Aspects, Limited Situational Modifications and Special Abilities. Each Aspect should be Tagged only once per action and the owner should have the initiative on this.

Negative Dices counter positive dices and the limitation is for the total number of dices gained from Tags. Therefore a character could have two positive dices and four negative dices from three different aspects for grand total of two negative dices.

Limited Situational modifications

Generally situation has Aspects that can be utilized by tags, compels and declarations. In some situation you may want to use Situational modifications. These work like Personal Core Aspects and are for situations or ideas. For example an enemy position could have and Aspect [High Ground]. This Aspect could be ruled as Situational modification; you gain one positive dice if you fight down hill, one negative for fighting uphill. Political situation could have Aspect [War Weariness] and this could be made as Situational Modification; you gain one positive dice to maneuver against the war, one negative dice for promoting the war continuity.

Special Abilities

Some characters, things and places are just extraordinary. These give you Special Abilities when used. In Sotc these are Stunts, in Hollow Earth Expedition these are Talents. They can give the owner bonus dice or two, some give opponents negative dice or two. Special abilities do much more than this, but when converting the bonuses from Fate, you can convert the bonus number to bonus dice number.

Spin BONUS

Exception for the bonus number converted to bonus dices is Spin. When you score significant success, three positive shifts from the difficulty, you gain a Spin. Spin last for the Scene and can be given to any ally for +1 to any one roll the ally is making. Alternatively the Spin can be forced to any enemy to give –1 to any one roll. You cannot use the on yourself, only on ally or enemy. You can have more than one Spin, but you can only give one Spin to any one roll. I think its fair that more than one character can give spins to one roll, therefore supporting the teamwork.

Additional Skill

If characters action should need wide skill base the additional skill either aids the skill, giving positive additional dice to the primary skills if the aiding skill is greater or lowers the rank of the primary skill by one if the hindering skill is lower.

Help in skill check

Additional character aiding another does this by making maneuver and giving the Tag to the aided character. This is an addition for possible Spin if this is available. The aided character can receive as many Tags as there is to give, but the maximum number of Aspect dices is still two, if the GM doesn’t rule that the situation is exceptional and that additional Tag is allowed.


Different Levels of Aspects

Inner Level Aspects

The Aspect system can be used for different levels of influence. The method is to introduce sets of questions and form an Aspect from the answer. Usually one per answer is enough.

Example: Item creation for the Hero’s inherited family sword.
Item Creation Questions
1: What the Item looks and feels like?
2: Who made it and why?
3: What makes the Item Special?
4: What is its quirk or flaw?
5: Who wants it?
So the Aspects would be:
1: The Sword is silvery in color, with elegantly decorated guard and traces of golden veins running along the blade. The pommel has small religious symbol; a serenade angelic face surrounded by thorns. Aspect: [Golden blood of the Werewolf]
2: An alchemist of some reputation made The Fallen, that’s the swords name, for the ancestor of the character. The blade itself is from the 16th century, but the handle was redone only couple years ago, to hide small religious artifact inside. Aspect: [Created with Alchemical Principles]
3: The sword itself has some alchemical abilities over the Werewolf enemies of the family line, but the main effect is more personal: the Sword has been carried by the heir of the family line as long as there is written records and this gives the item quite strong feel. Aspect: [Sign of family heritage and honor].
4: The long family history has made the sword important artifact. When in presence of unsheathed blade the members of the family feel the pressure of the line, to extend that some even have hallucinations about the ancestor being present. Aspect: [The Ancestors are Watching]
5: The Sword has once fallen to the hands of the Werewolf line; Gelbwurzel (Golden Seal) and the time the family land fell to ruins. The sword was recovered and the land recovered, but the period has made a mysterious impact to the tales of both families. Aspect: [Enemies of our line: The Gelbwurzel family].
 
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tonpa

Just Tonpa...
Validated User
Here some additional thought about the changed dices, before I continue on the modifications.

The Sotc dice system gives very high roll numbers with some effort, which gives the impression that the task is done with epic skill. This is good for cinematic pulp, where the characters are larger than life. For more ground-based character the skill level is more constant and those with strong skills seem to outdo others with constant regularity. Therefore I think it’s appropriate to make the modifications for this aim.

The set of Dice, when reduced to three, give normal variation of –3 - +3. This is somewhat less than the regular system. The Aspects themselves lift or lower the probability of singular total, but do not increase the total itself. The main effect in this, I hope, is that the skill itself will be more constant; the difference of Professional skill and Expert skill is more visual. The flaw here is that the system moves a step from the Sotc principle of telling how awesome the character is by increasing the marginal of success to sky high.
 

tonpa

Just Tonpa...
Validated User
It seems that in this stage the system seems to put the Aspects too low, which is not good... might be good poit for me to go back to the drawing board.
 

CaffeineBoy

Vaguely sinister...
Validated User
I've been reading this with some interest and I have a few humble suggestions. I am also tinkering with FATE for use at a less-than-pulpy-but-stronger-than-high-school-student/slasher-victim-level. I feel your pain.

Kudos for bringing in TSoY-inspired bonus/penalty dice and tinkering with ORE-influences -- those are my two favorite game mechanisms at the moment. I'm importing bonus/penalty dice myself and I think it's a great addition for some things as you noted (especially magic, equipment, etc.). It shifts the likelihood of success and/or failure up and down the curve, but never pushes you beyond the character's skill boundries. I *love* that effect. I confess it hadn't occurred to me to bring in ORE conventions, though I think the d10 swing on results (where several different values might be beneficial to a roll) make them more useful to that system than our baseline dF.

One thing I think the +/- dice are *not* so good for, is Aspects. I like that Aspects, as defining pillars of a character, push the situation past its usual boundries. Two characters, each with Drive skill at 3, have an equal chance in a race. However, if one of them has an Aspect like "Need For Speed" and a Fate point to blow, I think it *should* increase their chance of success in an absolute way. The same two characters would have an equal chance navigating the hairpin curves of a mountain switchback, but stick 'em on an oval and watch "Need For Speed" guy dominate. I think that's a real feature of the existing system.

I would also caution you about cutting the 4dF roll back to 3dF. Especially if you're going for a less pulpy experience. Even though 4dF allows for higher and lower outcomes, it does that only with highly unusual statistical outliers at the very ends of the curve. If I understand the dice dynamics right, statistically, because of the flattening effect of using 4 dice over 3, you'll hit those +3/-3 (or better) zones *less* often when you use *more* dice.

I think the pulpometer is most easily regulated in Fate by either dropping the apex skill for characters or cutting back on the number, rather than the effectiveness of aspects, skills and stunts. That's where character mojo comes from and I really enjoy the way it plays for us so far.

Anyway, best of luck with your endeavor. It's clear you're thinking this stuff out and I think a lot of your conclusions are valid. Keep on hacking! I'll keep on reading.

Thanks,
CaffeineBoy!
 

tonpa

Just Tonpa...
Validated User
Thanks for you advices CaffeineBoy. You address most of my concerns. The Impact of Aspect is the main point of my concern and the one hardest to crack. I have thought to increase the “levels” of skills to +2, so the step from fair to good would be +4 to +6. I also thought if the Aspect number would be less pulpy with +1. All in all both fail me in the “feels good” sector. The basic system in Sotc is intuitive and inspirational. Most of this can be kept with modifications, but something seems to be left out. I don’t know if the two is some kind of “natural number” or something, but it just feels good.

For some thought how the integrated system would seem, in not so cleaned version mind you, I include the thought on declaration.

Declaration

Additional to the usual effect of the introduction of story or world element to the game, declaration can be used to modify the premises of the skills. The primary skill roll can be switched from skill to skill by creative narration, and modifying the inherited difficulty of the task. By this method the Aspect can be used to lift and decrease the difficulty of the task. In summery the Aspect can have the same effect as in Sotc system, but with some more storytelling involved and with some restriction. The main effect here is aimed for the skill tests, not to versus tests.
 
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