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The origins of fail forward

akajdrakeh

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Dogs was actually published in 2004 compared to BW Classic's 2002.
Burning Wheel Classic is essentially a different game than the later iterations of Burning Wheel, though. Some pretty significant stuff changed. I don't recall if an in depth discussion of failing forward was in BWC, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if it were absent and was later cribbed from Dogs in subsequent (IMO, superior) revisions.
 
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AndrewTBP

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This is a perfect question for Ask Ken and Robin on Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff.
 

Lysus

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Burning Wheel Classic is essentially a different game than the later iterations of Burning Wheel, though. Some pretty significant stuff changed. I don't recall if an in depth discussion of failing forward was in BWC, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if it were absent and was later cribbed from Dogs in subsequent (IMO, superior) revisions.
Yeah, unfortunately I don't have a copy of Classic in order to check this.
 

Bankuei

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Dogs in the Vineyard started the "Say Yes or Roll the Dice" which was not in BW Classic, but did come in during BW Revised. Stakes setting in general was being talked a lot in the Forge around that time, so quite a few games used it as a functional method for play - Primetime Adventures, A Shadow of Yesterday, etc. Burning Wheel does the same thing, except it uses the language of "Intent and Task Resolution" around it.

Another part which has fallen to the wayside, but makes an important part of that, is that when you do stakes setting, the consequences can be quite different than the task but totally appropriate. Maybe the roll about how well you do in the martial arts tournament isn't "Do you win all the fights?" but instead, "Do you impress the king who is watching?" or "Can you ID which of the contestants was the masked person who attacked your father last night?" or "Do you finally grasp the new technique your teacher has been showing you?" or a number of things which are actually more interesting from a plot and character standpoint.

When you shift the stakes this way, again, you don't have a "roll or get stuck" kind of thing, you just have a different focus of what matters.

- Chris
 

DMH

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The oldest book that I have with the concept (rather than name) is Sorcerer and Sword and that is from 2001.
 

Arilou

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I'm fairly certain the actual concept (although implemented inconsistently) is older than that. I remember reading it in D&D-centric DM advice in the late 90's, and in some cases it was even implementedinto modules, but no as a comprehensive mechanic.

I think the idea is sort of something that has always been around and used by DM's, it just hasn't been formalized until the 2000's.
 

rstites

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I think the idea is sort of something that has always been around and used by DM's, it just hasn't been formalized until the 2000's.
Yeah, if you want the origins of it conceptually, that'll go back to the first referee in OD&D who let the game continue moving forward with an awkward hindrance on a failure rather than letting things grind to a halt, which was a pretty common tactic from the time I started playing RPGs in the 70s. (Having failures on things that ground to halt seemed to be something that came about more as more comprehensive skill systems came into vogue, not when games tended to be pretty light mechanically, so it's more of a reaction to those 2nd/3rd generation games' tendencies and perhaps that published scenarios that came out in conjunction with them.)

It was certainly described and talked about as a way to handle things in magazines and back in usenet days. As a codified system, it probably does date to the forge who went about codifying a lot of concepts that had been around for a long time, so they get credit for naming them and defining them, but very few of those ideas sprang into existence at that point.
 

rstites

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Personally, I think 'fail forward' is a bit narrower than that and, conceptually, has to postdate all those awful published scenarios where the party has to succeed on a certain roll or the story grinds to a halt.
It doesn't have to postdate them to have existed. It just wasn't a universal concept.

I don't recall such adventures as they probably postdate the time I was buying published modules, but several I've heard of seemed to go against the way the rules of the system were presented, so interestingly it seems that rules were written one way, while the modules were written by another (presumably with different authors!).

As I think more about this, it strikes me that it becomes an answer to problem that developed primarily once linear (railroad?) adventures with heavy preplanned plot came into vogue. It wouldn't have really been a thing when open-ended setting style adventures were the norm.
 
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