Monthly Archives: June 2013

Aspects as Approaches

Fred threw me an interesting idea about approaches and alignment yesterday, and as is the nature of such things, I’ve ended up in another place entirely. The other half of the thinking in this came from watching some Anime – Bleach in particular – where you see sometimes-interesting, sometimes-lame narrative tricks that keep fights interesting despite super powerful protagonists. One of the better ones is when the hero’s heart is not in the fight, and so they do poorly against an opponent they could usually squash because they’re hesitant or distracted. The passions that make them strong (compassion, justice, whatever) become weaknesses.

You can model this with aspects, straight up, but I really got in my head the idea of that emotional component of a fight, where what’s really going on (through stakes, escalation and so on) is that the hero’s reasons to fight are steadily being brought online, especially in a climactic battle. It’s a little meta, but storywise, that’s often what’s going on.

This in turn lead to thinking about baselines. If you’re running a game where everyone can kick ass, how do you model the guy who doesn’t? If everyone’s built from zero, then it’s no big deal, he’s just built differently, but if you’re going to assume a baseline of badassness, then he needs something to bring him down a step or two, which suggested the possibility of approaches with negative values.

That (and the discovery of an old character sheet) lead to some thoughts about Exalted’s four Virtues ( Compassion, Temperance, Conviction and Valor) and how they’re potent but double edged, but how that’s more the domain of aspects in Fate, and that lead to a leap which seemed very obvious in retrospect – aspects are approaches, or very nearly so, so why not mash them up further?

That is to say, every aspect is effectively an approach with a +2 (or –2) value, with rules surrounding when and how often you can apply it. And viewed that way, there’s no real reason that the value of 2 needs to be set in stone – we can embrace the idea of variable potency by simply having it be baked right into the aspect – I’m a knight of the cross (3) and a drunk (1) but I’m also a secret freemason (2). Not only do those have different mechanical weights, they enrich the data set. Consider the character I just described, and contrast her with I’m a knight of the cross (1) and a drunk (2) but I’m also a secret freemason (3).[1] Tells a different story with the same elements.

Similarly, for scene aspects, size can tell a story, so there’s a difference between On Fire (1) and On Fire (2).[2]

Plus, this also allows for a trick that solves one of the great communication problems surrounding aspects – I can explicitly write down how I want it played. That is, if I note a number (2) then I’m saying that’s a normal aspect that can hinder or help me. But if I want, I can explicitly note it as positive or negative (+2 or –2) (though I can’t think of many reasons to do the latter) to indicate that it can only be used in that way. That’s important mechanically, but it’s more important as a communication to the GM and the table that makes it clear where I do and do not want my safe zones to be.

Ok, yes, at this point were going far enough from Fate Core that this probably would merit its own build, so I’m going to have to sketch it out some, maybe run a game or two, but I have to say, I’m a little excited by this line of thinking.

  1. Parenthetical numbers also allow for these things to be called out as aspects in plain text without additional formatting, which is handy if you’re going to steal HQ’s 100 word chargen. Which you should. In fact, it’s a great way to do pre-gens, since you could leave the blanks, and let the player come to the table and weight them.  ↩

  2. That’s actually the tip of a very big mechanical iceberg. By allowing the improvement or diminishment of aspects, you open the door to a whole new approach to how aspects are mechanically interacted with. Just putting a flag in that for the moment, since that’s totally it’s own subject.  ↩

Can You Playtest a Setting?

My gold standard for setting driven play is Amber, a fact which should come as a surprise to no one.

But what’s interesting is that there’s actually very little setting in Amber. This is the function of a few elements.

  • Zelazny’s writing style is very sparse – colorful, but with a minimum of detail. He paints people and places with a few bold strokes, then just leaves it as that. As such, Amber has some geography – a castle, dungeons, a few place names – but it’s very loose.
  • Because the core conceit of the series is multi-dimensional, much of fiction (and play) takes place in an infinite range of other places. What’s more, the very nature of the character’s power mean that details just aren’t that important, because they’re subject to change. A strong core idea is all you need for an entire world.
  • At the center of everything is a large family, and the main drivers of play are tied to those characters. Importantly, the players are also tied to those characters – usually as their children – and the result is that everyone enters play connected along multiple vectors. And Zelazny’s sparse style paid off hugely in this regard, as each family member is pretty memorable with only a few details.

The last one is probably the trickiest and the most potent. “You’re all family” is the relationship equivalent of setting a game in the modern day. It sets up a whole array of dynamics and opinions right from the outset, in a way that most of us are familiar with to one extent or another. However, actual extended families can be tricky to put into play, so it’s often necessary to use a family substitute.[1]

But even if you can come up with another structure, and there are many, then the question becomes how you can convey those characters without huge hassle. And this is one of those horrible bugbears where the answer seems to be “really good writing and art”. The reality is that it’s possible to craft a really striking character in a paragraph or two, but it’s hard, and doing it well would probably require more rounds of revision and testing than most RPGs ever consider.

In fact, the very idea of playtesting a setting seems like a total goofball idea, but I wonder if it might actually be something of a necessity. It’s a weird thought in a lot of ways – I’m not even 100% sure how it would be done, but if you could set up a solid feedback loop (and, nontrivially, arrange enough testers) you might be able to gauge who people respond to and, importantly, write less material.

And that’s even more counterintuitive. Page could turns into prices, so it’s hard to justify writing less for a product. Hell, Setting books are usually bursting at the seams. But I definitely feel like we’ve done as much “more” as we can possibly handle, so now I’m wondering how we can do “less”.

  1. Vampire provides an interesting example of how this changes. In theory, you have a decent family analog with the vampire that turned you as a parent, and other vampires with the same sire as siblings. In practice, it usually seems that the strength of the clans overrides that family model, which is a great illustration of how sticky the clan model is.  ↩

What Should A Setting Book Be?

I spend a lot of mental bandwidth on the question of what should be in an RPG book.

When you’re talking about core rules, that’s a fairly known set of issues. Finding a balance between teaching vs referencing vs being interesting is tricky, but it’s a known problem. And while I wouldn’t call it a solved problem, it’s a problem with a number of solutions.

Beyond core rules, it gets a little more interesting. The nature of books gets more diverse. Adventures, GM advice, setting bibles, rules expansion and lots of other core ideas kind of float around in that space. It makes the question of what makes for good supplemental material pretty complicated, because there are so many things that supplemental material might be.

For the moment, I zoom in on setting and chew on it a bit. This is on my mind since someone did a wonderful New York City Setting Book based on Vornheim. If you’re unfamiliar, Vornheim is one of the more interesting setting books of recent memory. It’s not a matter of content, but rather, one of style and presentation – it’s a book focused on very dynamically helping a GM fake a city in an interesting way.

Full transparency – it’s not entirely to my taste[1], but that doesn’t stop me from recognizing that it’s a great book and a great idea. Specifically, I strongly applaud the idea of creating setting material with a focus on what’s going to be most directly useful in play. I think there’s room for disagreement regarding what exactly is most useful while still acknowledging the utility of that approach.

But Vornheim also raises the very reasonable challenge – it works, so if it’s not for me, then it’s very reasonable to ask what would be for me. If I were to write setting material for myself, what would I do?

To this end, it’s worth looking at what problems I need to solve. Paradoxically, as a GM, I want material that excites players more than myself. That’s a tough row to hoe, because I can’t really expect players to read the same crap I do as a GM, so presentation and share-ability become much more essential elements to me than inspiration. Worse, I also want to leave lots of room for players to create content, which is almost like I don’t want setting at all, but I do. Setting provides a common frame of reference. The trick is discovering which pieces are small enough to be digestable, yet are strong enough to be load bearing.

I think there’s an answer, and as with many things, I think it can be found in the Amber DRPG – characters. The faces, to use our Evil Hat speak. But how do you express a setting as characters?

That’s the next question.

  1. Of all things, I think Vornheim has a lot in common with Apocalypse world and its ilk. They all are designed with a very thin membrane between product and players at the table, and that’s admirable in many ways.  ↩

My Favorite GM Tools

The question of organization came up in yesterday’s rpgchat and I brought up one particular gimmick which I figured I’d flesh out a bit. What it comes to is this: if I can only have a single tool as a GM, it’ll be a stack of index cards (supplemented with a double ended sharpie which is fantastically all purpose).

There are a lot of reasons for this – the card is a a fantastically all purpose tool – and I’m going to talk through a few of them.

First, I’m pretty terrible about keeping any kind of organized records as I play. I’ll write up ideas in notebooks or in software, but I’m very haphazard about it, and while it’s useful creatively, it’s not too useful from an organizational perspective. Index cards end up filling that gap.

My method’s pretty simple: 1 card, 1 idea. Write the name of the person, place or thing on top of the card, and any notes in the body of it. If I’m feeling super clever, I may add some icon language to reflect connections, but really that’s more work than it’s worth most of the time.
Mister White

Now, despite the simplicity of this, it has a number of very concrete benefits.

First, by forcing myself to keep to a single card, I force myself to keep the ideas brief enough to be easily expressed, which means I’m not expecting the players to track a lot of information.

Second, by keeping the ideas to a single card, I can take advantage of the physical properties of the cards in a number of ways. This means that:

  • If needed, I can set aside only the cards I need for a given night/adventure (though in practice I’m inclined to just tote them all around)
  • If I need an idea on the fly, I can pull a few cards from the stack at random and see if they suggest anything.
  • Between sessions, I can spread the cards out on the table and see what kind of patterns emerge.

Third, If I’m doing a game where elements of play go on the table (like Leverage or some styles of Fate) then I can use the blank cards to track such things, then gather them up at the end of the session as a record of what transpired).

Lastly, this ends up being pretty easy to store and transport. An index card box costs maybe two bucks, and if I ever get really pressed for space, I’ll spend five bucks on a fancy box, and be just fine. And it’s easy to make it part of my whole gaming kit.

Now, there are a few specific habits that help make this doable. Most importantly, my preference in games leans towards those where the mechanical information I need for an NPC can fit very easily on an index card. In a pinch, I can put notes on one side and mechanics on the back, but in practice I don’t really need to do that very often.

Ultimately, there are more sophisticated ways to do this. All of this information could be kept in a wiki or evernote or three ring binder[1] and if that works for you, then that’s great, but for me there’s a part of this which is basically just enough system to address my laziness. It would be cool if I was disciplined enough to do something like that, but the reality is that throwing a bunch of cards into a box is just about all I have energy for at the end of a session.

  1. Ok, on the topic of 3 ring binders – there are times when you’re going to want to have a bound paper copy of your material, such as a convention. The binder is a standby, but I have long since discarded them in favor of a disc binding system. You can find these as the arc system from staples, as Circa from Levengers or Rollabind – they’re all interchangeable, but I would suggest that Arc is the thing to start with. It has the same respositionability of a 3 ring binder, but the disks make the form factor more notebook-like. (Clairfontaine has a similar product, but they’re not interchangeable).  ↩

GM Approaches Strike Back

Some great discussion over on Google Plus about yesterday’s post made it pretty clear that the idea has some legs, so I’m going to drill down and talk about it a little bit more.

First, a little more discussion on how these GM approaches are used. When I came up with the list of GM approaches, I did not base them on things that GMs can do (that’s a larger list) but rather, I specifically limited them to consequences, with an eye on how to handle the player losing a roll. Things like harm, loss of resources, misinformation and so on are all non-blocking consequences of things going wrong, and the approaches reflect that.

This is a big difference between these and the GM “moves” of the *World games. Moves are much broader and cover things both in and out of conflicts, while approaches are fairly conflict-centric. It would not be impossible to extend the approaches into a set of move equivalents, but you’d need to expand to include things like introducing a fact, foreshadowing the future and so on. Coming up with that list might take a few minutes – less if one wants to just lift the list from Dungeon World – and the bonuses might not be relevant, but that’s probably a subject for some consideration.

An additional difference is that approaches are primarily reactive rather than proactive. They can be used proactively, in a “guy with a gun kicks in the door” kind of way, but they’re primarily used in response to player actions. After the player determines their action, the GM considers what sort of outcome might be the most interesting and how hard it should be, and picks the approach that lines up with that.

Second, GM approaches need not be the only factor in play when coming up with the net difficulty. They make a good baseline, but scene-specific elements can influence things. Oe easy way to do that is by giving NPC’s stunts and aspects, so that the underlying approaches are the baseline, and the stunts modify those.

Alternately, you could combine GM approaches with NPC approaches. If both are rated from +0 to +3, then you can get a totally difficulty from +0 to +6, which is a pretty robust spread.

Third, the idea of GM character sheets ended up surprisingly toothy. Specifically, the GM stunts were pretty awesome as people started coming up with their own. I hope that some other folks decide to chime in with their own.

A few fun ones:

From Seth ClaytonCliffhanger – +2 to Escalate at the end of a session.

From Matt Wildman: I Can Think Out Of The Box Too – +2 when I introduce something even the players weren’t thinking of to steer the story in a new/different direction.

Mine: Charming Adversaries – +2 When I use an NPC to misrepresent the PCs as bad guys.

GM Approaches

The other day, I talked up using different approaches for NPCs, and while I think that’s a solid idea, it also opens the door on something even more interesting – GM approaches.

Unlike NPC approaches, GM approaches are less about the action and more about GM intention. That is to say, GM approaches are based upon the expected consequences of the GM’s actions. As such, the core GM actions might be:

  • Harm
  • Misdirect
  • Steal
  • Misrepresent
  • Delay
  • Escalate

Harm is reasonably self explanatory, since it comes up in every fight, though anything that might result in PC harm (or certain types of aspects) falls under this.

A successful Misdirect gives the players false information. How you handle that will depend on your table habits regarding secrets, but the result is fairly straightforward.

A successful steal strips a player of a resource. Maybe it’s cash or a weapon, but it might be something more ephemeral, like support or an ally.

A successful Misrepresent changes how the world sees the characters, and comes up in many social exchanges.

A successful delay, well, causes a delay.

A successful escalate makes the situation worse.

Note that one specific approach which could be on that list but is not is stymie – the GM approach focusing on just stopping the players. Why? because that’s the boring outcome. By removing that from the explicit list, the GM is forced to always think about a non-boring outcome.

There’s a lot of room for mechanics in these. They could easily be restricted to explicit outcomes if you want a move-like set of limitations, but I consider that a better starting point than a conclusion. A little more curious is the question of how a GM uses them, and to that end, I see two possibilities.

First, the GM could set these levels at the outset of play (2 +3s, 2 +2s 2+1s) either by her own logic or as determined by players, and then the values are re-allocated whenever you use a +3 – It becomes a +1, bump up a +1 to a +2 and Bump ups a +2 to a +3. Creates a challenge for the GM to balance between outcomes and difficulty, which is kind of appealling.

Second, and possibly more compelling, this allows for the possibility of GM Character Sheets. That is, how would you stat yourself up as a GM? Where do you want to focus your strengths? Heck, throw in some stunts (Because I’m a Killer GM, I get a +2 to harm in the first round of combat) and you could build a whole profile. Write up a few of these and you could have a variety of GM “hats” to choose between before play. Heck, spread them out on the table before a con game and let the players choose the form of the destructor.

Ok, yes, there’s a bit of frivolity in this idea, but as a trick to channel the GM to thinking about outcomes, there’s a lot of utility here.

Also, totally curious what people think their GM sheet looks like.

I Was Told There Would be Tombs

Did anyone take any good tabletop design lessons away from Tomb Raider?

I was home sick yesterday, and the cold medicine made sure that writing wasn’t much of an option, so I spent some quality time finishing off the latest Tomb Raider. It was pretty good – it largely avoided the worst kind of plot and characterization plot holes and the gameplay was pretty fun, excepting the occasionally randomly emerging quicktime events.

This was actually my first time playing aTomb Raider game. It’s not a genre I’ve delved into too much, and I went into a curiosity to find what lessons I might be able to take from it to translate over to other games (because my instinct is to always strip things for parts). But as I sit here thinking about it, there’s basically nothing I would take from it.

This is not because it was a bad game. Rather, the things it did – platform jumping, clicky puzzles, QTE, arbitrary geographical gating paired with weird travel rules, weapon upgrades and skills that impact all those things – were are quite perfectly tuned to a video game. Translated to tabletop they would either be crazily fiddly and dull (imagine dicing through a jumping puzzle) or capricious (a lot of the event gating or set collection).

This bugs me. Usually I can find something. I could look at the combat a bit, but in that regard it is basically a cover shooter with some stealth components. I guess the rope arrows were sort of fun, but only in a “don’t think about it too much” kind of way. And maybe that’s the rub – the writing pretty much ignores the majority of the game-y-ness of things, effectively pretending it’s not really happening. This works in play, but it hurts analysis since you don’t get any clever excuses.

This is REALLY a stretch, but if I guess it does illustrate the utility of the small dungeon. When you get around to actually raiding a tomb, they tend to be quite small – just 2 or 3 rooms. Practically, they’re just a wrapper around some sort of platform puzzle, but it does keep them small and non-frustrating, so that’s something.

But, man, that’s a stretch. I’m curious if anyone else got more insight out of it.

Stumbling Angels

I watched John Dies at the End last week, and enjoyed it. Nothing earth shattering, but more than enough good ideas and dark humor to be very much worthwhile, with one or two bits that I’ll keep in my back pocket for future games. Might even read the book sometime.

Without delving into spoilers, I feel ok mentioning that the movie is a bit apocalyptic in tone, in the classic Biblical kind of sense. Bad things, end times and so on. Very little of this is explained in any detail (which is great) but it’s clear there are multiple forces at work here. And this got me thinking.

See, when you have these staving-off-the-apocalypse sort of stories, and you open the door to things of a certain scale (by which I basically mean angels and the like) then there’s a certain amount of weirdness to it if you carry the logic to it’s extreme. If these are really beings as old as the universe with power to match, then a couple of smartasses in a cool car don’t really have much to bring to the party.

Stories find ways to cheat like mad to support the idea that the protagonists really matter, often as an illustration of something awesome about humanity, but it can get stretched pretty thin, specifically when you start thinking on a genuinely universal – perhaps even multiversal – scale.[1]

When it’s done well, it usually revolves around interesting portrayals of the angels (or similar agents) which seem true to their power, but also put them at a disconnect from what’s going on. It struck me that this is an angelic version of the project management triangle.

Angel Triangle

That is, when an angel acts, they can only accomplish two of the following:

  • Controlled Scale – Angels usually operate on a really big scale. Depending on the story, that might be a nation, a planet or a galaxy. it takes work to control it more precisely than that.
  • Effective – The solution actually solves the problem at hand.
  • Tidy – The solution doesn’t spawn new problems and generally mess things up.

So, you want angels to solve the vampire problem in New York City? They can TOTALLY DO THAT! Options include:

  • Drop Scale – The earth’s rotation has stopped with the sun at high noon over NYC. No more vampire problems!
  • Drop Effective – Well, the angelic host killed most of the vampires. That’s good enough!
  • Drop Tidy – Y’know, if we just kill everyone…

After you go a few rounds of this, as an angel, you might start getting a bit gun shy about wading in. You can see a sort of bureaucratic hesitance emerging from a history of these sorts of outcomes. and with that, I can see some good excuses for using angels.

  1. The major comic book lines have a similar problem, and have come to terms with it by basically saying “yes, earth really is special in some broad, cosmic way” because if you don’t do that, eventually people start wondering why all the Green Lanterns keep going there.  ↩

NPC Approaches

Bear with me here, this is still a pretty experimental idea, but I have found myself wondering what happens if the GM starts having approaches.

There are some slightly indirect ways to implement this – NPC approaches make a lot of sense when you’re talking about villains. Heck, I could totally see a villain whose approaches are:

  • Minions
  • Gadgets
  • Gloating

and it would be pretty easy to run with that. Really, you’re mostly just using them as a means of establishing difficulty baselines, so the mechanical challenge is straightforward. And as a GM, they basically create clear directions of action for the villain. I mean, yes, you could probably come up with a universal list of villain approaches, but I admit t really like the idea of customizing them per villain.

It seems like a fun way to handled “named” villains in FAE. I mean, most NPCs in FAE really can be viewed as having 3 approaches:

  • What I Do Well: +2
  • What I do poorly: –2
  • Everything Else: 0 (and you can really just toss this)

Taking the Steel Assassin from the book (p. 38)

  • Sneaking and Ambushing: +2
  • Standing up to determined Opposition: –2

Yes, it’s just a reframing of what’s already there, but in thinking about them like approaches, it becomes easy to scale these things up for more interesting opposition without necessarily making for more complicated opposition. That is, if I need the Steel Assassin Wizard, it’s as simple as

  • Sneaking and Ambushing: +2
  • Lightning Magic: +2
  • Standing up to determined Opposition: –2

(and, yes, this streamlines EVEN FURTHER if you mush approaches and aspects together for NPCs, and there’s no good reason not to in a lot of cases).

One useful thing about this is that most NPCs matter only in the context that they appear in. That is, in most situations we don’t ever need to know how good a cook the enemy mecha pilot is, so we can easily represent him with Guns, Missiles and Laser Sword approaches. PCs need to be much more robust, so they need the general approaches, but that scene-specificity allows the GM much more leeway in thinking about NPC approaches.

This becomes even more important when you want to hang additional fiddliness off these things. To use the mecha example, why would you differentiate lasers and missiles as approaches? Why not just call them a “weapons” approach, and fill in the color?

The answer is that you totally can do that, but sometimes we WANT to make that differentiation, and mechanics can support that. Maybe Lasers ignore armor, or Missiles can attack multiple targets. A few simple things like this can give an enemy a lot of extra color, and the mechanics are usually as simple as “lower bonus, but some manner of special effect”. To go back to our Steel Assassin, we upgrade him to the ICE ASSASSIN as follows:

  • Sneaking and Ambushing: +2
  • Frozen Strike: +0, adds “Frozen” aspect on hit.
  • Shattering Blow: +2, invoke target’s “Frozen” aspect for free.
  • Standing up to determined Opposition: –2

The “combo” that drives this NPC is pretty straightforward (Freeze people then smash them) so it’s not much more complicated to run, but it’s much more colorful than our usual steel assassin.

This is one of those things that let’s a GM use FAE for her end of play, even if the players are using Fate Core, because the mechanics really are a list of the things the GM hopes to see in the scene, supported simply and robustly.

Of course, this is just one approach. There’s another one that’s been on my mind for another day.

The Right Tool for the Job

I suspect anyone who’s looked at FAE’s approaches has considered the mechanical exploit of just using your +3 approach whenever possible. And if your +3 is in one of the more flexible approaches (Careful, Clever and Flashy in particular) then it’s not terribly hard to spin your fiction so that there’s a good argument for a particular approach.

This is kind of lame. No question about it. But the immediate tool of arguing with the player about which approach is applicable is even lamer. No one wants to stop play to have that discussion.[1] And, honestly, it’s not a huge problem – the spread of approach bonuses is small enough that this behavior is hardly overwhelming, and presumably the player is having fun with it.

But still, it bugs me. And it’s a big reason why I will always use the optional rule of adjusting difficulties based on approach [p. 37, 2] party to mitigate that behavior, but also because it simply makes intuitive sense to me. It’s rare that I’d adjust by more than +1/–1, but it’s a good option to have.

But it also scratches the surface of a larger issue, one that can be a bit of a frustration for a lot of GMs. Out of the box, Fate (and by extension, FAE) has poor support for what I call “the right tool for the job.” Because all aspects are mechanically equal (as are all approaches), there is a tendency to go for quantity over quality – that is, even if one aspect fits a situation perfectly, it may well be accompanied by two more that are kind of loosely applicable.

I admit, this is a space where I think there’s a lot of power in having a trusted GM’s judgement in play. The right tool is only rarely a technical concern – it is most often one of theme and taste. When Inigo Montoya tags his revenge aspect against the 6 fingered man, that seems right and true. When he tags his Swordsman aspect, that feels mechanical.[3]

But supporting that is tricky, especially since you really don’t want every aspect invocation to be a conversation, and the easiest way to solve that problem is the same way it’s done with approaches – by adjusting difficulties. Using the right aspect might decrease the difficulty by 1 (effectively granting it a +3) while a lame or questionable aspect might increase it by 1 (effectively reducing the bonus to +1).

There’s some sleight of hand to doing this on the difficulty side, and were I to be completely transparent, then I would effectively be promoting a variable aspect payout system that would break down as follows:

  • +1 – Technically applicable, but uninteresting. The thousandth time you’ve used your ninja aspect.
  • +2 – Most invocations
  • +3 – Oh, man, yes, that’s perfect. A Paladin fighting a devil.
  • +4 – (effectively granting a free second invocations) Oh holy crap that’s so perfect I can’t stand it – this is your moment to shine, and if you’re not about to hit a milestone, something is badly wrong.

But that’s really not tenable in play. Even if the vast majority of uses come out to a +2, the need to check each time (and the opportunity to argue each time) is a total drag. And that’s why I offload it to the GM side, out of sight, with difficulties (because mechanically, a +1 for you or a –1 for me is a wash).

Not everyone is going to be ok with such an approach. It demands a lot of trust in the GM to allow such hidden tools, though arguably it’s only so much of a stretch, since difficulty is already under the GM’s auspices. And if your table is not comfortable with something like this, then don’t do it. The purpose of this is to reward certain behaviors (ones your players hopefully enjoy), not to try to sneak in a little bit of extra GM authority while no one’s looking.

  1. Not to say that discussion can’t be had. Coming to an understanding of where one approach ends and another begins is a very useful thing for your table, but that’s something to do before or after play, not in the moment.
  2. Fate Accelerated, Evil Hat Productions, 2013
  3. If you disagree with that assertion, then the good news is that this is not a problem you need to solve! That is not a bad place to be in at all.