Friday, March 15, 2013

FAE for LARPs

I have been looking forward to the Fate Accelerated Edition or "FAE" since its announcement as a "kicker" in the Fate Core Kickstarter campaign.
Fate is, at its heart, a simple system. So what happens if we aggressively strip Fate Core down, limiting the skill list to a small handful of broad approaches to problem-solving (e.g., Fast, Clever, Tough, Powerful, Sneaky)? What happens if we leave the “why” material for Fate Core, and instead focus solely on describing the basic procedures of play?
Reading it, I was reminded of my "thought experiment" two years ago called Fate for LARPs or "FFL". There are a number of ideas in FAE that make sense to move over to Fate for LARPs, but I also think there are a few things in Fate for LARPs that might be useful for FAE.

The Ladder

The FAE difficulty ladder is halved in size. Every other rating is removed, with Average being moved to +1. This makes it:

Description | Rating
--------------------
Epic        | +4
Superb      | +3
Good        | +2
Average     | +1
Poor        | +0
Abysmal     | -1

Aspects

Aspects for FFL are the the same as in FAE, except that up to two of the aspects can be "secret", often the Trouble aspect. These secret aspects can be discovered by other players with the "Create an Advantage" action. If a High Concept aspect is "secret", a "Cover" aspect needs to be taken as public "High Concept" aspect.

Use of an aspect gives a bonus of +1 toward resolving related "outcomes".

Typically all non-secret aspects are listed on each characters name tag worn by the players.

Approaches

The skills of FAE are called Approaches — six named Careful, Clever, Flashy, Forceful, Quick, Sneaky. They are the same as FAE.

However, the initial values start differently: Choose one at Good (+2), two at Average (+1),
two at Poor (+0), and one at Abysmal (-1).

Note that because of FFL's "half ladder", this means that the one FFL Good (+2) approach is actually better than equivalent best approach in FAE Good (+3). This is balanced by having one approach be abysmal which is equivalent to a -2 in FAE. This become a second secret "trouble" for the character.

Stunts

These are the same as in FAE, except that they typically add a bonus of +1 toward resolving an outcome.

Determining Outcomes

In general, outcomes are decided by "Rochambeau", aka "Rock Paper Scissors".

Revelation

All actions ("create an advantage", "overcome", "attack" and "defend"), the active (typically the attacking) player reveals certain details first, followed by either the passive (typically the defensive) player or a game master. Then additional revelations are each made in turn:

  • First the active player reveals what approach is being using used, the passive player declares the defensive approach.
  • Next the active player reveals what the attacking approach level is, the passive player declares the defensive approach level. Both players can only choose one approach, and both may choose to declare less than their actual approach level, however, they may not change that choice until after this action is resolved.
  • Next the active player may reveal any appropriate stunt, free aspect or boost aspect for +1, without paying a fate point, and the passive player may do the same.
  • Next, the attacking player can pay a fate point to activate additional aspects for +1, or pay a fate point to activate an aspect of the defensive player for -1. Additional aspects can be played this way, one at a time, each in turn starting with the attacking player followed by the defending player.
  • Once both players have declined to pay additional fate points, the outcome is resolved.
If the difference between the final revealed skill levels is 2 or greater, the player with the higher total "wins with style" without any throw, the players go straight to resolution phase with the winning player gets a free "boost" aspect in the next round.

If the difference of the skills is 1, both players throw Rock/Paper/Scissors to determine the outcome, the higher skill player wins ties.

If the difference of the skills is 0, both players throw Rock/Paper/Scissors to determine the outcome, and resolve any ties by throwing Rock/Paper/Scissors again until one wins.

Rethrow

After the throw, but before the resolution, either player may pay one fate point to active an aspect to rethrow. The aspect may not be an aspect that was used in the declaration phase. The final declared skill levels remain the same, but the players throw again. Each player may rethrow once, however, can continue to pay fate points to rethrow multiple times, as long as the aspect has not have been used before, and both players must agree that the aspect is relevant.

Give In


If the difference between the final declared skills is 0 or 1, before the throw, either player (including the player with the higher final declared skill level) may Give In, go straight to resolution and loose the challenge, but gain the ability to narrate the result and gain one Fate point in addition to choosing to take stress or a consequence. Players may not Give In if the skill difference is 2 or greater.


Resolving a Challenge

If the action resolved was part of a challenge, the passive player will the gamemaster and may require additional rounds to overcome that challenge.  Typically winning a a round of a challenge gives +1 to the next challenge, or +2 if the previous challenge resulted in a boost. Aspects can be used multiple times during a challenge, but free aspects and boosts can only be used once per round.

Once the challenge is overcome, the winning player declares the narrative, unless a player gave "Gave In", in which the conceding player or the game master declares the narrative.


Resolving a Contest

If the action resolved was part of a contest, the winning player declares the narrative, unless a player Gave In, in which the conceding player declares the narrative.

The loosing player declares damage to stress or a consequence. If a player Gave In, the conceding player also gains a Fate point.

Resolving a Conflict

If the action resolved was part of a conflict, the winning player declares the narrative. The loosing player declares damage to stress or a consequence.

If a player Gave In, the conceding player declares the narrative, damage to stress or a consequence, and both players must withdraw and may not be part of of another conflict until some time has passed.

If there was no concession, the passive player from this round can now choose to be the active player, where they are now the attacker, or they can withdraw and may not be challenged until some time has passed. The attacker from the previous round may not choose to withdraw.

Stress and Consequences

These are largely the same as in FAE. Typically they are placed as post-it notes on the players name tag.

Observations & Questions

Many of the observations and questions from Fate for LARPs are still applicable.

Some new questions raised by adapted FFL to FAE:

  • Is having one skill at Abysmal (FAE equivalent of -2) a good balance to having one skill at Good (FAE equivalent to +4).
  • Is the balance of having typically 3 public aspects and 2 secret aspects right?
  • I like the way boosts and "give in" works in FAE for Larps, but are there unforeseen consequences?
  • How damage is resolved other than a value of TRUE is an open question.
  • There is still something about the Keys that I like for LARPs to simplify the Fate economy. It is discussed in Fate for LARPs but I've removed it from this version.
  • Should the values for the approaches be the same as in FAE (1-2-2-1), or since we have a compress ladder, a more Fate 3.0-like pyramid (1-2-3).