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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default FATE core: How to create more interesting battles and the use of situational aspects.

    Hi there! I'm New to FATE core, running a post apocalyptic game. My group has run two scenarios, but I feel like the battles are not interesting enough, not "supplying the goods" as it were. I wish to learn to make battles more interesting. I feel that in D&D I've mastered this to a good degree, but I wish to learn to do so in FATE. Here are some of my dilemmas and questions:

    1) Situation aspects: First of all I'd love a clarification- suppose there are situation aspects quite visible and accessible, is using them for the first time free? (As I've seen on a pbp I play in) or do they cost FATE points as usual?

    Also, I have a hard time getting my players using them. Usually at the beginning of battle I list a few situational aspects, but the players much more prefer using their own aspects. I think this is due to mostly forgettign the aspects are there! One player writes the aspects and writes down any advantages people create, and attaches them on the battle map, but few players remember using them, unless he reminds them or they are in BIG trouble.

    2) Battle maps: I know the FATE book suggest using simple battle maps you can write on a table napkin, and while this works this also feels a bit... bland. I wish to have more engaging terrain, obstacles, influences on the battlefield other than just "+2 to a roll" aspect, or "roll athletics to get over this" blocks. Any ideas?

    3) Is there anywhere a good list of stunts (Battle or otherwise) that I can get inspiration from? I feel those I come up with are sort of... meh.

    4) Boss Fights/ going nova: I only had one major Boss fight yet, but mostly it ended up being a slug fest, with each side just piling up as many fate points and aspects it could get. Felt a bit bland. I'd like to make it more engaging, more cinematic. I'm just not sure how to do so in FATE.

    Any ideas or examples from other games would greatly contribute. Yes, I know FATE is not a fight centered game, and neither is my group, but when a fight comes, we want it to be a good one!

    Thanks in advance,
    Kol.
    Last edited by Kol Korran; 2013-09-03 at 09:32 AM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: FATE core: How to create more interesting battles and the use of situational aspe

    Hey there! Fellow FATE noob here, but trying to answer to my best ability anyway.

    As I understand it, one of the best ways to get players to use situation Aspects is to give them free invokes on them, once.

    Another good element from the FATE Toolkit is to kind of put more pressure on the characters when using their Aspects. There's three "grades" of invocation... The first is a "stretch" which isn't really appropriate; this can only be used for a re-roll. The second is a normal, fitting invocation. The third is a "perfect" invocation like "You killed my father, prepare to die" vs. Count Rugen. Those either succeed automatically, or (in the case of Combat) count as if you rolled the dice and they came up +3. Or, if you rolled already, another +1 on top of it. This might help them favor Situation aspects more.

    As for stunts, I agree, the ones in the book are pretty bland. If you were in the kickstarter, the Fate Worlds books (and the Green Ronin Freeport conversion) have some good stuff in them.

    -O

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    Default Re: FATE core: How to create more interesting battles and the use of situational aspe

    Don't forget that Situational Aspects are descriptions derived from the fiction. Dark Lighting in a warehouse doesn't just mean that you can tag it; it refers to the fact that the warehouse is dark. You invoke it to leverage that darkness in a specific way, as a "trick" or something.

    I actually don't often introduce Situational Aspects, but I should. Allowing a free invoke (just as with a Create Advantage action) is a great idea. Also, definitely enforce the "it's a stretch" rule; if an Aspect is a stretch, it shouldn't be invokable in the situation. Explain to the players that you'll be hitting a little harder there.

    Also, higher difficulties can make Create Advantage and non-character aspects look very appealing. Those aspects are much more focused on the situation at hand; I suspect it'd be a major challenge for characters to find an action that all five of their character Aspects apply to, should they want/need a +10.

    I think the free invokes will help a lot, though; having five free Fate Points (one for each character Aspect) is not easy, and blowing that many Fate Points is not as appealing an option as using free invokes.

    On your #2, how about using the stunt model for "terrain"? In Fate Accelerated speak, it goes like this: "Because of X, when I take Y action [as in, one of the four basic action types] with Z Approach, I take a +1 bonus."

    Part of the cool color of Fate is engaging with the Aspects being established. Incorporate them into the action; the system is sorta like a scorecard that happens as the action unwinds, a language to describe the mechanics behind the fiction. Make it clear how Aspects are affecting things. Also, the slugfest shouldn't be so much of a problem if one side is piling up enough Aspects. Maybe, in an encounter, spend time using the opposition to build up 5-6 Aspects with free invokes. Then blast one of the players by free-invoking the Advantages all at once and hit them with a massive blow. That should give them the hint of "you can do this too!"
    Last edited by CarpeGuitarrem; 2013-09-03 at 12:00 PM.
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: FATE core: How to create more interesting battles and the use of situational aspe

    1) Situational aspects cost a Fate Point to use *unless* you Create Advantage on them first, or unless you created them in some way.

    2) Don't really know what to say except "fiction first" here. The interesting bits in the fight should come from what's "actually happening", not the stuff on the table. Also, the tension should come from a realistic risk of being Taken Out, as well as the consequences if your group fails. Unlike many RPGs, Fate works best when failure is a *constant* and *real* threat - PCs should be losing encounters on a regular basis.

    No, really, like, at least once a session (at bare minimum) something should *not* go the PCs' way. With Fate Points, the PCs can do just about anything - the trick is to make sure that they don't have enough to do *everything*.

    Also, keep in mind that the conflict system in Fate isn't really a tactical combat simulator first (though it can have that flavor depending on how you use it). Mostly, it's a combination of a bidding war and chicken. Bidding War as you figure out how many FP and Consequences you're willing to use to get what you want, and Chicken as you gauge how close you are to being Taken Out and when you need to Concede.

    3) For stunts, I'd start with "cool things that the NPC can do". Balance isn't as important, since you're not necessarily making these available to the PCs.

    4) Usually when fights feel sluggish in Fate, it's because players are just using Attack + Fate Points to invoke aspects. Really, a *large* number of actions should be Create Advantage - especially for the less combat-oriented characters. Having most of the party do CA, and passing off the free invokes tends to be a very powerful technique. *Especially* since "aspects are true" and this tends to be what really makes the conflict more than just a slugfest.

    Here's something I wrote about CA a bit ago, it does a pretty good job of outlining why it's awesome, I think.

    https://plus.google.com/108546067488...ts/2hHTAEucYRW

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    Default Re: FATE core: How to create more interesting battles and the use of situational aspe

    One thing that I found helped some when i was running Fate was allowing free "partial tags" of environmental aspects-- you can call out an environmental aspect ("Dark lighting") for a free +1 to a roll, no fate points required.

    Make it clear how useful creating aspects is. Have enemies use them heavily-- when an enemy tags five aspects and lands a hit with a +10 bonus, the players will realize how useful they can be. It took my players quite a while before they really grasped that.
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: FATE core: How to create more interesting battles and the use of situational aspe

    I actually don't recommend "partial tags" or the like, personally.

    Fate avoids things like passive situational modifiers on purpose. Trying to put them back in just lengthens the curve of "getting" Fate, in my experience.

    Think of a fight you've enjoyed in a book or movie. That's how a Fate fight should go.

    A move is basically either the camera or the author focusing on a character.

    Create Advantage is basically the shot where you see the character "set up" something.

    Using a Fate Point is basically like that dramatic moment where the camera focuses on something that's happening.

    In a movie, even in a dark scene, most shots aren't "about" how dark it is - they show two guys going at it in a fight. Sometimes it will be about how dark it is, but that's generally because somebody has slipped off into the darkness (aka Create Advantage).

    This is also why I'm very careful when giving examples of how things work in Fate to always use movie/book/TV examples, rather than 'how things work'.

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    Default Re: FATE core: How to create more interesting battles and the use of situational aspe

    Hmmm... you guys have given me some interesting points to think about, I shall respond to key elements.

    Quote Originally Posted by obryn View Post
    Another good element from the FATE Toolkit is to kind of put more pressure on the characters when using their Aspects. There's three "grades" of invocation... The first is a "stretch" which isn't really appropriate; this can only be used for a re-roll. The second is a normal, fitting invocation. The third is a "perfect" invocation like "You killed my father, prepare to die" vs. Count Rugen. Those either succeed automatically, or (in the case of Combat) count as if you rolled the dice and they came up +3. Or, if you rolled already, another +1 on top of it. This might help them favor Situation aspects more.
    I don't think I have a problem with that. My players for most times choose aspects that well fit the situation. And when they try to stretch it, well, I don't allow it. I Don't wish to add different scales of aspects since that will only bring back the "lets get a higher bonus" approach of D&D, which we're trying to grow from to a more narrative based game.

    As for stunts, I agree, the ones in the book are pretty bland. If you were in the kickstarter, the Fate Worlds books (and the Green Ronin Freeport conversion) have some good stuff in them.
    I learned of the kickstarter and the FATE game itself only after the kickstarter ended... Bought the book on the "pay what you want method". But I'll look through the web, I hope there is something out there.

    Quote Originally Posted by CarpeGuitarrem View Post
    Don't forget that Situational Aspects are descriptions derived from the fiction. Dark Lighting in a warehouse doesn't just mean that you can tag it; it refers to the fact that the warehouse is dark. You invoke it to leverage that darkness in a specific way, as a "trick" or something.
    I will refer to that at the end of my responses. It's an important point.

    Also, higher difficulties can make Create Advantage and non-character aspects look very appealing. Those aspects are much more focused on the situation at hand; I suspect it'd be a major challenge for characters to find an action that all five of their character Aspects apply to, should they want/need a +10.
    Oh, the players are starting to realize that, as that is EXACTLY what one of my players have been doing on tough fights- creating advantages and adding them up to another PC. However he has only been using his aspects, and the enemies aspects, not situational aspects.

    On your #2, how about using the stunt model for "terrain"? In Fate Accelerated speak, it goes like this: "Because of X, when I take Y action [as in, one of the four basic action types] with Z Approach, I take a +1 bonus."
    So different terrain enables stunts of a sort? Hmmm... definitely an interesting point to consider! Thanks!

    Also, the slugfest shouldn't be so much of a problem if one side is piling up enough Aspects. Maybe, in an encounter, spend time using the opposition to build up 5-6 Aspects with free invokes. Then blast one of the players by free-invoking the Advantages all at once and hit them with a massive blow. That should give them the hint of "you can do this too!"
    My players are realizingthey can do that too (Though turth be told, I barely used it with my enemies, I should!) But I was sort of hoping to avoid the "rise up the ante" approach?

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    1) Situational aspects cost a Fate Point to use *unless* you Create Advantage on them first, or unless you created them in some way.
    That is what I though... On one side, giving them a free invoke will encourage using them. But it will also discourage using their own aspects, no? I think I will stay with the basic approach so far.

    2) Don't really know what to say except "fiction first" here. The interesting bits in the fight should come from what's "actually happening", not the stuff on the table. Also, the tension should come from a realistic risk of being Taken Out, as well as the consequences if your group fails. Unlike many RPGs, Fate works best when failure is a *constant* and *real* threat - PCs should be losing encounters on a regular basis.
    I'm addressing this at the end of the responses.

    No, really, like, at least once a session (at bare minimum) something should *not* go the PCs' way. With Fate Points, the PCs can do just about anything - the trick is to make sure that they don't have enough to do *everything*.
    I'll address it in the end of my responses.
    Also, keep in mind that the conflict system in Fate isn't really a tactical combat simulator first (though it can have that flavor depending on how you use it). Mostly, it's a combination of a bidding war and chicken. Bidding War as you figure out how many FP and Consequences you're willing to use to get what you want, and Chicken as you gauge how close you are to being Taken Out and when you need to Concede.
    addressed later

    3) For stunts, I'd start with "cool things that the NPC can do". Balance isn't as important, since you're not necessarily making these available to the PCs.
    Oh, I don't worry about balance, I'm just worried at making these interesting. I just feel they are... bland.

    Here's something I wrote about CA a bit ago, it does a pretty good job of outlining why it's awesome, I think.

    https://plus.google.com/108546067488...ts/2hHTAEucYRW
    Nice article. I especially like the last part of "The Narrative Truth Of Aspects", which I will address at the end.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    One thing that I found helped some when i was running Fate was allowing free "partial tags" of environmental aspects-- you can call out an environmental aspect ("Dark lighting") for a free +1 to a roll, no fate points required.
    Yeah, I addressed this in my response to Obryn. I don't want different levels of aspect use, it draws the attention from "what aspect is most suitable narratively" to "what aspects gains me the biggest bonus". Thanks anyway.

    -----------------------------------------
    Some general thoughts and refining my questions:
    1) Your responses have made it clear to me that my group (Myself included) Still haven't got around to the narrative thought process of FATE, we're still somewhat busy adding up modifiers. In the majority of instances in our sessions so far, Using aspects/ advantages and so on had just the "+2 bonus" effect, with little description of what it means in game, but not actually considering the specifics of the aspects (except of whether it fits) or it's meaning and significance to the scene! "Dark lighting" or "enemy cowering in fear" were not used for their full effect, but rather just the bonus. With this new insight in mind, I hope I could make my players (And self) play more narratively, and take thee into account. I think it would grant the situational aspects more weight as well, and make the game much better! SO thanks for that everyone!

    Secondly, Kyoryu brings up two points that helped me understand better how FATE works:
    1) That the players lose quite a bit of their struggles/ conflicts. That is... quite different than the D&D approach (of Succeed in all!) and an interesting take on things. My players fail from time to time, but usually due to miss planning and such, not since they are being over whelmed. I was under the impression that most "failure"s in the game come from compels, not from actually, well, failing!. I'll keep this in mind!

    2) FATE conflicts are a game of bidding and chicken (Who bids more fate points, who runs first) I will need to wrap my head around it. It's not how I'm used to running conflicts, but may be quite interesting, with lots of tension. (And tension is good for a game, eh?)

    Last point, which I guess I didn't make clear in the initial post: How to get players to actually track and be aware of the aspects/ advantages in play? Practically this stumps me. We have one player that keeps track, but the rest don't seem to remember. I think this is part due to the "aspects are just a +2 bonus" approach, and if I'll make these more meaningful, they will be played to more. But I think I may also need to keep some score board? some other means of keeping these handy other than slips of paper on the battle map? thoughts?

    Lastly, thank you all for helping so much! The Insights I've gained so far are quite meaningful, and hopefully I can make the game better. Thanks!
    Last edited by Kol Korran; 2013-09-04 at 01:34 AM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: FATE core: How to create more interesting battles and the use of situational aspe

    Also, if you're looking to improve the impact of your environments, remember the Fate Fractal. Everything in the game can be statted up at multiple levels.

    The now-classic example is that a warehouse could have the aspect of On Fire. You can invoke this aspect in ways that you might expect. You can just leave it at this; the Fire is as interesting as you and your players make it through Fate Points.

    However, you can also stat up On Fire as a "character" with skills and aspects of its own. Instead of being a Fire that only does Fire stuff when it's invoked, it's now an active force and can make Attacks, Create Advantages, Block, etc.

    You can do similar with any other intense environmental variables. While you probably wouldn't want to stat up mere fog that's As Thick as Pea Soup, more exciting environments can certainly qualify.

    -O

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    Default Re: FATE core: How to create more interesting battles and the use of situational aspe

    Right! I'm not sure why I didn't think of the Fate Fractal.

    See the link here, which is the longform version of obryn's post.
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: FATE core: How to create more interesting battles and the use of situational aspe

    Ha, I was just pointed to the Fate Fractal articles by a guy on my PbP game. Interesting stuff, I'll have to think how to implement it in my game!

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: FATE core: How to create more interesting battles and the use of situational aspe

    I, of course, wrote a fractal article a while ago, too :)

    https://plus.google.com/108546067488...ts/WBuMyZ1H1yT

    On the G+ group, if you search for "Thought of the Day", there's a lot in there about my learning what Fate is coming from a more traditional background. There may be some helpful stuff there, I tend to get positive feedback.

    To me, this is probably the "starting point" for really "getting" Fate.

    https://plus.google.com/108546067488...ts/1x8MtdJRWH9

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: FATE core: How to create more interesting battles and the use of situational aspe

    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post
    Last point, which I guess I didn't make clear in the initial post: How to get players to actually track and be aware of the aspects/ advantages in play? Practically this stumps me. We have one player that keeps track, but the rest don't seem to remember. I think this is part due to the "aspects are just a +2 bonus" approach, and if I'll make these more meaningful, they will be played to more. But I think I may also need to keep some score board? some other means of keeping these handy other than slips of paper on the battle map? thoughts?
    There really shouldn't be that many aspects in play, outside what the characters create themselves (which should be obvious) or consequences that a "boss" used to negate damage (which should be obvious as well). And I specify "boss" because those are the fights that should last the longest. When fighting "mooks" things generally shouldn't be strung out and so they typically won't use consequences.

    Note: I have not played Fate Core, and have only read the Accelerated edition. I have, though, played previous Fate games.

    For example, what aspects are in play when PCs visit the docks at night? Well, there is probably the Light of the Full Moon or Flickering Torchlight. The streets could have Knee-Deep Fog and be lined with Broken Wooden Barrels. From there, you probably wouldn't need any more aspects, unless you want the scene very detailed. The players could ask more about the area, and important details would also be aspects (Warehouse Guard Sleeping, Infrequent Patrol, etc.) but in general, most of the relevant stuff is likely only a minimum.

    Plus, only stuff that is really relevant - and only when it is relevant - needs to be considered an aspect. The light of the full moon is only an aspect if the lighting is a consideration, or if we're dealing with werewolves. If this is an investigation scene for a murder mystery, then the Knee-Deep Fog and Broken Barrels will probably only come into play as aspects. If we're playing a social meet-up, then the Warehouse Guard and Patrol will probably be the only things to consider.

    As for other aspects, the players should be generating them and so should remember what they are. If they throw a bucket of Oil Onto The Street, then they should remember doing this. If the "boss" takes a hit and becomes Blind In One Eye, then this is something they should note happening and respond to.


    If all else fails, I suppose just writing down a list of properities in the area would work just fine. Have the players write out the list, putting down each property on a line, and save the paper in case the PCs return to the area. Something like:
    • light of the full moon
    • flickering torchlight
    • knee deep fog
    • broken wooden barrels
    • darking dogs
    • warehouse guard - asleep
    • infrequent patrol
    • oil on the street

    It might also give you a sense to what your players are paying attention to, and what they aren't.
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    Default Re: FATE core: How to create more interesting battles and the use of situational aspe

    For coming up with situational aspects, I often just think of how I'd describe the scene to the players, and use that as a key for what aspects should be there.

    As players get more comfortable with Fate, I often skip the step of explicit aspect declaration in many cases.

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