Bruce Baugh was pondering the idea of using FAE’s approaches as spheres in Mage, which is a great idea and really got me thinking. In the specific, there’s probably a little song and dance that you might want to do to handle combination, but the idea totally works, and I might want to drill into it sometime. However, it lead to a second idea which kind of excited me.
Another great use of FAE’s approaches is that because they are simple, clear and reasonably intuitive, they are an easy way to attach a subsystem onto an existing fate game with a minimum of effort. It is as simple as saying “within this particular sphere, you use these approaches” and you’re ready to go.
This is incredibly useful for games where some element is ubiquitous (like martial arts in a wuxia game) or something that really takes the game in a different direction (like netrunning or some types of magic). You just need to figure out what the approaches are (genre sensibilities should inform that) and how big the bonus set is.
So, let’s say for example we want to do a netrunning system, since those are always a bear. We could probably argue for some time on the ideal set of netrunning approaches, but for purposes of example, let’s use the following:
- Equipment – Use your deck or programs
- Exploit – Find loopholes or back doors
- Disrupt – Mess thing sup and take advantage of the chaos
- Brute Force – Patience, time or lots of processing power
- Circumvent – Route around a problem
Let’s say we’ve added a hacking skill to our Fate Core game, and we use that for everything but Equipment, which is probably defined by gear. For the other four approaches, you get a number of points to distribute based on your Hacking skill X2 (so, Fair gets you 2 points, good 4, great 6 and so on). Let’s say we adhere to a rough pyramid distribution just to limit spiking.
We might allow a few other sources to add to the pool. Certain stunts might increase it. If your vision of the net rewards strength of will, you might grant an extra point to someone with a Will of great or better.
But the net result is now you have, effectively, a secondary character sheet that handles all netrunning which is easy to set up, plays nicely with the rest of the system, but still feels very much like its own thing. That’s super satisfying.
The benefit for ubiquitous skills (like, say, fighting) is that it allows you to get a lot of differentiation without needing to lean as heavily on stunts. It can be a fun way to handle duels with a fine grain (as the two masters go to their respective approaches for the fight) that easily collapses back into the Fight skill for broader conflict.
For magic – well, for an easy example, imagine how easy it would be to do a magic system based on the Stormcallers system where there’s a magic skill, and the storms are approaches. Easy peasy.
Approaches remain a really robust technology, and what’s most fun is that we’ve still only scratched the surface.
- This list adheres to the general metaphor of breaking into computers. If you’re playing with lots of hallucinatory landscapes, the approaches would probably be very different (and with more specific visual cues). ↩
- If you haven’t seen the magic system toolkit preview, it’s a form of elemental magic, where each “storm” corresponds to an element. ↩