Half Baked at Dreamation

Since I’m watching a game at Dreamation, I’ll take the opportunity to share some half-formed ideas.

I am pondering what happens with a smaller dice set in Fate. Specifically, I am pondering reducing the roll to 2df, with the dice having specific meanings – one die will be the character and how well he performs and the other will be the world, the way the situation goes. The dice will be different colors, of course, so their influence on the narrative will be quite obvious.

This thinking came out of some thoughts about taking Fate diceless, something that’s pretty easy to do if you are already comfortable with diceless play, but which introduces some challenges if you don’t. The smaller dice spread moves some of the priority back to skills/approaches and aspects, but there’s also a bit of a shift in what the dice mean in this regard.

See, I am intrigued by the idea of the dice being separated from the ladder. That is, a –2 on the dice could mean things went pretty badly but the outcome is still based on the core value comparison. There are some problems with this – flat diceless resolution produces a bit too much predictability when using the Fate spread, and that can be pretty unsatisfying. This could be addressed by allowing aspects to be applied to resolution OR the roll as two separate things, but that is probably a bit too fiddly.

I’m also pondering another random thought too – what happens if you move Fate resolution downstream, and make aspects situation changers? That is, in a conflicted roll, suppose that no aspects are applied before the roll, and the roll stands in fiction, but does not yet have any consequence except in description – no stress is inflicted, no aspects are created, but the flow of action is considered to still be in flux. When I use an aspect, that is me taking an action that corresponds with the aspect (parrying, diving out of the way, counterattacking and so on). When both sides are done invoking aspects, then that’s the end of the conflict, resolved according to the final array of outcomes.

There’s an immediate problem with this in that it breaks down in multi-character scenes, but I think that’s addressable. In a duel situation, my fear would be that it would be too predictable, so I’d be inclined to make it all rerolls instead of bonuses, but that might be too fiddly.

I feel like there’s a space of play that both of these ideas touch upon, and I don’t yet have a firm grip on it, but this is how I circle in on these things.

6 thoughts on “Half Baked at Dreamation

    1. Rob Donoghue Post author

      Yah, I’ve fiddled with more involved models (like, 4df with each die bing a different color/element) but two seems like a decent cognitive cap.

  1. Mike Olson

    That is, in a conflicted roll, suppose that no aspects are applied before the roll, and the roll stands in fiction

    No aspects, or no skills? Because I’d never apply aspects before the roll anyway, but I always ask want to know what skills are being used before rolling. Which, now that I think about it, isn’t strictly necessary, I guess, but I dunno.

    On a related note, in Thrilling Fate characters have no skills, so we just roll and compare totals. I’ve found it kinda liberating. Aspects provide both a “free” way of improving your roll and add narrative color to what you’re doing, but you always choose what aspect you’re using after the roll. And if you don’t need to use one to win, I’ll still ask something like “So what does that look like?”, as usual. It feels quick in play, because nobody needs to think about what they’re doing until after they know whether they succeeded or failed.

  2. Nick Pilon

    Some friends and I faffed about with a Fate-based LARP system very similar to this a few years back. We basically said that your skill rating is your initial result, and spending Fate points to invoke Aspects represent additional exchanges changing that initial dynamic. We’d said you could take consequences instead to boost your result.

    We wound up not being able to work out a way to solve basic logistical problems (managing the supply of physical Fate point tokens – where do they go once spent, etc) or provide FP regeneration. And we got really muddled trying to add some gear rules on top of it. (We were thinking of trying a Trinity “lost colony” style game) But the basic idea of Diceless resource expenditure seemed sound.

  3. Travis

    I think that diceless FATE could be pretty cool in that you move to a much more tactical (think Magic the Gathering) style of deterministic outcome consideration. What skill does my target have? Does the target have any FP or taggable aspects available to defend with? If I use a FP on this attack, will I hit, will I be vulnerable?

    I can see it getting very chess-like with assessments being very important. I’d expand the assessment possibilities to allow discerning FP pools and skill ratings. Thereby making know-thy-enemy a vital part of gameplay.

    A big downside I see would be that it would slow down table combat so badly as players will get to their turn and then think it out for a billion years and ask a hundred million questions about the state of combat. Seriously, you’d need a turn timer I bet.

    My 2 cents.

    1. Bill Olander

      Perhaps I don’t have enough experience with diceless games to come up enough variations but the first thing that came to my mind for diceless FATE would be to move work of the dice over to the action economy. Give each character 3 points of action per turn. In order to do something that turn then the character has to spend the points for move, attack, and defend. They can do all three but they have to put the points into it. If the only thing they’re doing is running away then they can put +3 into into that action but they have to hope that the enemy they’re running away from is a bad shot.


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