TinyFate 0.4

My continued experiment in designing in the open, TinyFate 0.4, is now up online.

It is a mess.  I got some fantastic feedback on 0.3 (THANK YOU ALL) and the result has been ripping into the structure of the doc with meathooks, and as a result,t he current flow is just wrong.  I skip over sections, have sections out of order or repeating, and generally need to reflow the whole thing.

But I’m posting 0.4 largely to keep myself honest.  It’s alive, and I’m slowly moving it forward, and the current version is bad enough to provide me incentive to get to 0.5 as soon as possible. 🙂

TinyFate continues to be a wonderful test of my assumptions.  The reality is, I could absolutely run the original version as written, in all of its index card glory.  The act of writing a full version of it has been an exercise in manually unpacking decades of assumptions and seeing if they hold up.  And some of them don’t.

It has also been an opportunity for me to test the publishing options available for free or cheap today. This version is produced using Sphinx, a free bit of software that lets me write everything in slightly styled text files (in the RST format, which is like but not identical to Markdown) and it autogenerates the website and epub. It’s fun.  I haven’t pushed it particularly far yet, but it offers particular promise.  Because it lets me stitch together multiple files in the same doc, it is easy to re-use and re-organize content.  That means that – in theory – the same RPG could be formatted in one version for reading and another version for reference.  Don’t know if it will actually work yet, but it’s a very compelling prospect.


15 thoughts on “TinyFate 0.4

  1. Kevin Matheny

    Or, to be more clear… Hey, this is really cool! What kinds of feedback are you looking for at this point? Do you want us to call out typos and/or formatting, or only substantive feedback at this point?

    1. Rob Donoghue Post author

      Just substantive for now (partly because I need to go back to google docs for more detailed edits, partly because it’s currently such a mess that any typos that get fixed will probably just get re-created when sections get re-written.) Here works for now, though if anyone wants to do it on github, totally feel free. 🙂

      Hopefully for 0.5, I ‘ll have a better model for feedback.

  2. Ryan H

    Agreed: cool! You mention on the mini-Fate site that you’re aiming at something like board game instructions, and that you’re challenging basic assumptions. This may or may not be helpful feedback, but skimming over it I’m struck by the lack of “procedural instruction” on how a game should END. Granted, most rpgs don’t need this – the GM decides, right? – but some (like Dungeon World with its Fronts and Impending Dooms) actually have a built-in end, in theory. Again, this may not at all be the kind of assumption you’re trying to challenge, but if this were intended as a “how-to” guide for brand new role-players, some more detailed discussion about “how do we know whether we need another scene” could be useful.
    Or that may just be roleplaying 101. Thanks either way for this doc!

  3. Stephen Morffew

    Loving this, Rob. Even if you think it’s a mess, I like some of the changes you’ve made, especially in the Scene section. I’m very interested in the idea that multiple aspect invocations can be free when Establishing the action, but I’m not sure how you decide whether you’re still in that phase or in Making Adjustments (when invocations start costing fate points).

    I know you said above that you’re only interested in substantive comments/feedback at the moment, so I’m not going to talk about the little typos and formatting issues, but there is one typo that jumps out at me: in the About this game section, you’ve misspelled my name. It’s Morffew, not Morphlew.

    1. Rob Donoghue Post author

      Ok, that is definitely a weird typo! Fixed in my local copy, and will be pushed up next time I update!

  4. Jay Loucks

    Hi Rob,
    I’ve recently become aware of your blog, and have been working my way through the Archives. Cool stuff.

    I hope this is not too much nit-picking, but in the Advice to GMs section, the first bullet is “Offer a bargain”, and mentions gaining a fate point. However, there is no other text around bargains, and the Offerings to players seem to gain them a fate point.
    As an avid Fate player (and working on GM-ing Fate), this distillation of the rules is excellent.
    Looking forward to the next draft.

    1. Rob Donoghue Post author

      Thank you! And dagnabbit – I know I *wrote* about bargain, but I suspect it fell victim to the re-org.

  5. Eery Petrol

    In the Fate campaign I’m running, I’ve have been introducing TinyFate sensibilities. Mostly I’m charmed by its describing Fate as a boardgame. Now I’ve made one addition to the TinyFate rules which I’d love to hear feedback on. It gives my games that thing every boardgame has; a measurable goal;

    Jointly spend 15 fate points by the end of your session.

    This hard rule is meant to facilitate the soft rule to tell an interesting story together. It also adds one more bowl to the game; Earned Fate points come from the source bowl and spent points go to the sink bowl.

    This has made it really simple for the players to keep in mind that Fate points are meant to flow. The result has been that my players have contributed to the story a lot more; they spend their Fate points more willingly and think of ways to earn new ones, strengthening their involvement in the storytelling. I only need to guard the quality of our invokes and compels, as always.

    Of course the target number is completely arbitrary, and can be set to your choosing. It depends on the length of your sessions and the play-style you are nurturing. I actually tend to just keep track of our points spent each session and it becomes a highscore thing. You could also jointly agree on an easy, medium or hard difficulty. The thing to avoid is players feeling disappointed, beyond that it’s great fun.

      1. Eery Petrol

        🙂 great! Fate’s tweakable and hackable nature has been inspiring me to try out new things as a game master and it’s been a joy. At times it feels like growing a wonderful chimera of compimentary rules.

        With the endgoal, I’ve noticed a neat side-effect; because the game master also spends Fate points, adding towards the goal, it instantly brings home the message that we’re in this storytelling together.

  6. Mark

    I’ve been following the evolution of TinyFate for a bit, and I’m going to use it for after-school gaming for students in grades 4–6 (and perhaps younger).

    I’m going to introduce one significant change: cutting the point economy in half. Each aspect is worth +1, not +2. Difficulty is similarly figured in increments of one. And to bring roll results in line with this reduced scale, players will roll 3dF instead of 4dF; I considered 2dF, but its distribution is rather unexciting.

    This allows us to represent bonuses and difficulties with extra dice as physical markers. Got a helpful aspect, like spiked boots? Put a yellow + die on the table. The wall is both high and slippery? Put two black – dice on the table. Then, when the rolled dice hit the table, discard +/– pairs and read the results.

    The main reason I’d like to try this is so we won’t have to track bonuses and difficulties separately; everything that affects play is visible on the table. It’s not that the math is too hard; rather, it’s my hope that this will feel less like gambling (“Okay, I need a three or higher!”) and more like sizing up a given action or conflict.

    I’ll also add one more tweak: after-roll “scrambles” are allowed only when the results come up even—which I’ll read not as a modest victory, but as a moment of suspense, waiting to be tipped in someone’s favor…

    Thank you for your continued work on this; I’m excited to get this going.


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