[article] Why Less is More

edited January 2016 in Forum Discussion
So I'm writing a series of articles to analyse in-depth the design of #FateLess .
So far I've written two posts in the series, and you can read them here:
- post 01
- post 02

I hope you'll find them interesting and I would love to discuss them here.
Am I full of shit? (very possible ^_^)
Do I make sense?

Comments

  • 3xJ3xJ
    edited January 2016
    Cool! I have played some Fateless - and my group has played it a lot more without me (which is really cool, since they normally play traditional GM'ed games. I am normally the gateway drug/disease vector for introducing "dirty hippie" games into our group.)

    ----

    Regarding the ritual phrases, i find them so very useful - but only with the right group. Something i don't see enough are warning signs of adverse or wrong ways of using them, and our group certainly did.

    Long story short, we played a pseudo star wars game. (the problem there is that our group thinks of games in different ways, one being very simulationistic in his approach, and me being on a complete different axis.)

    Our characters came into conflict, my characters berzerker implant ran amok because of an opposition result, and bam, suddenly my character was fighting a sith. Long story short, he disagreed and vetoed that i could not withstand sith-lightning, and the game had a hard stop. We could both see that the game was stalling, and he let me use my "Biotic barrier" against him - we did not come to an agreement regarding the fiction, but we just moved onward, to discuss it later.
    it's on the tip of my tongue, but i cannot craft a good warning, but something about veto and disagreement blocking not only the flow, but also other players visions for the game, and destroying fiction instead of building on it.

    This is nothing against the person i am playing with - and we could both see where the conflict was headed.

    We compared this to swords without master, where there is no option to disagree with the fiction others create. in the very same group, we have found that to foster a better atmosphere.

    Ritual phrases have clear value though, i just do not think they work for everybody - and they need to be used with caution. maybe it is because the idea of "telling a good story" sometimes interferes with "the fiction i want to create for my character to succeed." or "the simulationistic properties i embody my vision of my character with." can jar against one another - because i have not experienced the same problem in Archipelago II.

    ----

    Scenes floundered when we started playing, primarily because people set location and time far-far-far away from what they wanted to achieve. And because sometimes, people did not go for what they wanted to achieve.
    When people learned to set scenes correctly, we found play in multiple different systems improved. People were taught a lot of responsibility indirectly. A very maturing experience.

    In addition, we ported the way to create goals directly over to burning wheel... I mean, goal oriented beliefs, and the goals in torchbearer. It is so good for creating concrete goals. One dude was so impressed, that he uses it for creating goals in many games, also those without goal structures - For better play.

    ----

    Regarding long campaigns: Fateless has, for the other players i play with, generated a long campaign (think 8-10 sessions so far.) And Fateless is so very accessible. So it is certainly not impossible to have a long-term campaign.

    ----

    I am creating a Gmless adventure game, and i am inspired by some elements of Fateless, and also what i can glean from your play's of your horror game "Touched by Evil". I have two friends who are interested in horror games, and i would gladly playtest and write you feedback after your specifications, so it is usable to you.

  • Cool! I have played some Fateless - and my group has played it a lot more without me.
    This is kind of mind blowing, I know that people buy and share my game, but I never read about any actual sessions being played ... please share some APs if you have the time and inclination, and tell your friends to do it too :D
    Our characters came into conflict [...] Long story short, he disagreed and vetoed that i could not withstand sith-lightning, and the game had a hard stop.
    Very interesting, could you elaborate?
    So your character is struck by sith-lightning ... what do you mean by "withstand"?
    Survive? Shrug off? Ignore?
    What did you describe in the fiction that caused your friend to go "wait a minute!" ?

    Veto has purely aesthetic properties and requires to specify what the specific problem is... as the examples in the book show, you CAN withstand sith-lightning BUT you have to describe how this happens in a way that feels ok and appropriate to your friend.

    Disagreement has more radical effects meant to set, case by case, how reality works in your game. If your friend uses Disagreement to say "it is not possible" and you say "yes it is possible" and you win by betting more Fate points... then it IS possible, at least this time.

    How did it happen that the game was stalling?
    I have two friends who are interested in horror games, and i would gladly playtest and write you feedback after your specifications, so it is usable to you.
    Cool :)
    Drop me a line by email ( brom00 at gmail dot com ) and I'll send you files and instructions in the next few days.
  • 3xJ3xJ
    edited January 2016
    I have never written an AP ("actual play" right?) so directions would be helpful regarding what you need.

    ----
    Veto has purely aesthetic properties and requires to specify what the specific problem is... as the examples in the book show, you CAN withstand sith-lightning BUT you have to describe how this happens in a way that feels ok and appropriate to your friend.

    Disagreement has more radical effects meant to set, case by case, how reality works in your game. If your friend uses Disagreement to say "it is not possible" and you say "yes it is possible" and you win by betting more Fate points... then it IS possible, at least this time.

    How did it happen that the game was stalling?
    So what happened was:
    He invoking disagreement against my characters ability to defend against his sith lightning, the idea of me being able to even roll against it.
    Then he veto'ed about how my defending looked, my biotic barrier breaking and the amount of pain being transferred through the barrier.
    There was a bit of tugging, but we realized that this was leading into a stall - we came to an agreement by pausing and talking about it, but it was not free of bumps.


    Then we paused to find out what would happen if i was hit. We found the rule about being "seriously hurt:". We forgot that we did not need to set difficulty, so once more, we were set into disagreements about the difficulty. Some time after the conflict had passed, we realized we had been reading the rules for harming other PC's wrongly.

    ----

    A really fun little side note - we also had some speed-bumps about what "dodging" would count as, "create advantage" or "overcome." One of our players tried to dodge some laser-blasts in a way that also put him in an advantageous position. I wanted to split it into an overcome and a create advantage. we got into a bit of a cordial disagreement over what to do.

    ----

    Anyways, ill send you a mail, and then we can always write or talk over some voice program if you want!
  • Don't worry :)
    People often write what amounts to a short novel, transcribing most of the fiction produced by the game. But that's not needed.
    An actual play can be as simple as listing the 3 things you liked the most from one of your game sessions: something one of your friends did, something you noticed or felt, anything that actually happened at the table.
    And the same goes if you list the 3 things you feel went bad, like the incident we have been discussing.
    So, no biggie ;)

    - - -
    He invoking disagreement against my characters ability to defend against his sith lightning
    This.
    Could you describe me how the thing went?
    So his PC is a sith and your PC is, what... a Force user of some kind?
    How did you describe your "ability to defend from sith lightning" ?

    Also, you say that he invoked Disagreement... I gather you made the bidding thing, right?
    I guess you won?
    How many Fate did you and him spend?
    Did your other friends pitch in?

    Let's start with that :)
  • 3xJ3xJ
    edited February 2016
    So, my character was an experiment, a once force sensitive person rogrammed, trained and enhanced from childhood to be the perfect bodyguard and companion. But he broke lose.
    I described it as a "shielding bubble of hard holographics, held together by chips powered using his mangled connection to the force as batteries." Not specifically, but something akin to that.

    Yup, we did the bidding, and it starved me for fate points. so, come the roll, i was hit hard. i spent 2, he spent 1. Afterwards, if i remember correctly, he had 2 points left and i had none.

    No other people pitched in.

    ---

    In and by itself, there was no problem in the bidding process. The problem is, i think, how one can "game the phrases" to reduce people's chances before any actual rolls are made, or skewer the fiction. And if bidding becomes frequent, then people will not pitch in.

    Or maybe it is all well that you can do that, and my mindset for adversarial play is just very different. :) The others seem to enjoy it very much.
  • edited February 2016
    Lots of stuff to say and ask... Let's see :)

    First of all, a PC can always roll dice to attempt something, unless the fiction makes it overwhelmingly clear that no action is possible or relevant AT ALL. This usually only ever happens if you, the Player, shrug and say "Well damn, I have no idea what to do" and at the same time every other Player at the table shrugs and says "Well damn, we have no idea either" :P

    In your specific case we have the Sith PC shooting stuff at the Guard PC.
    A thousand and one possible actions of the Guard come to mind ... maybe you dodge, maybe you get other stuff between you and the pain (a wall, a crate, another person), maybe you react faster than the Sith and fuck up her concentration or aim or something, maybe you talk the Sith down with a few choice words... maybe you summon a bubble of holo-force, why not?

    So we have two PCs in a conflict.
    The Sith shoots force and the Guard... summons a holo-force shield?
    Bullshit! I Disagree!

    So you CAN roll, because you CAN take action.
    But can you take THIS action? Can you summon a bubble of holo-force? Is such a bubble relevant to defend you against a force lightning?
    THIS is the thing that the Disagreement will clarify.

    If I understand correctly you two bid, and you win.
    This means that yes, your PC has the ability to summon a holo-force shield, and yes it can interfere with a force-lightning.

    Was there a lot of discussion involved to do this?
    Was this procedure "blocking" the game for a lot of time?

    - - - - - - - - -

    Now what happens?
    Did you follow the procedures for PC-vs-PC conflict on page 48 of the rulebook?
    When a PC opposes or harms another PC:

    1 - all Players involved say what happens if their PC wins

    2 - all Players with a PC present in the situation can describe actions until they look like a Create Advantage or an Overcome; everyone can freely rethink their actions until all are satisfied

    3 - resolve each Create Advantage normally, updating the situation as needed, test after test
    FAILing a test now ends your participation in the conflict; your efforts count, if needed, as a score of 2

    4 - evaluate the new situation and repeat steps 2 and 3 until only Overcome actions are described

    5 - resolve each Overcome with the following changes:
    - do not set the Difficulty
    - do not check for Opposition
    - do not use the normal Outcomes

    6 - compare all the Overcome results: the highest final score (after Invokes) is a WIN, all the rest are FAILs

    7 - a TIE means that no one WINs and a SOpp happens to shake up the situation; start a new conflict

    8 - everyone cooperates to describe the grand outcome of the whole conflict, including eventual SOpp and HOpp, keeping in mind who Gave In and who simply lost
    So what happened at your table?
    What was agreed upon during step 1 and why was it not ok anymore during step 8?
    I gather that your Guard lost and got "hurt badly". Did you remember to inflict a Consequence to represent this?

    - - - - - - - - -

    What then about the Veto part?

    The Sith shoots the Guard, the Guard bubbles up, this helps but not enough and the Guard gets fried some.
    You describe the damage.
    Your friend says VETO because he thinks you've been too lenient about it.
    And you... how did you re-describe the damage?
    Why wasn't it ok even then? So much that it spawned an argument that, in your words, tugged the game to a stand still?
    What was so important that neither of you could concede?

    - - - - - - - - -
    one can "game the phrases" to reduce people's chances before any actual rolls are made, or skewer the fiction
    If this were to happen more than once, so much that the suspect of foul play would arise at the table, then the rules are pretty clear on what to do about it.
    On page 8 the focus "Getting Along" explains how in such occasions the game should STOP, completely, RIGHT NOW.

    A person at the table is behaving poorly, no rule can fix this. So talk to this person (which hopefully is a friend too) to highlight and clarify the behaviour you find hurting and try to understand if a solution or a compromise can be reached.

    Most of the times people are just not used to play with other people and, instinctively or by habit, use the rules as a social defense or weapon.
    But there is no real malice, and by talking friendly and being open everyone will slowly learn to go along with the others.

    Sometimes this is not the case. Sometimes one is just a big jerk. The only solution is to not play with such people. The perplexing thing is that some people are the best of friends and the loveliest of people in other areas of their life, but at the gaming table they become douchebags for unknowable reasons.
    Don't play with them, is all.
    Go with them to grab a beer, see a movie, whatever... just don't play rpgs (or one specific rpg) with them.

    I don't think the problem with your friend falls is this second category, in my experience is really a rare occurrence. But no matter, if you notice constant attrition and suspect the rules are being abused, STOP THE GAME and chat about it as friends and human beings :)
  • 3xJ3xJ
    edited February 2016
    I don't think the problem with your friend falls is this second category, in my experience is really a rare occurrence. But no matter, if you notice constant attrition and suspect the rules are being abused, STOP THE GAME and chat about it as friends and human beings :)
    I have absolutely no problem with the person in question! No. we both felt there was a bump - and they have had no problem with the phrases when the others played! So it seems to be working as intended - establishing how things look and consensus.

    ---
    Lots of stuff to say and ask... Let's see :)
    If I understand correctly you two bid, and you win.
    This means that yes, your PC has the ability to summon a holo-force shield, and yes it can interfere with a force-lightning.

    Was there a lot of discussion involved to do this?
    Was this procedure "blocking" the game for a lot of time?
    There was discussion regarding whether a non force-sensitive person could avoid getting fried, as in, rolling to defend himself at all.

    ---
    The Sith shoots the Guard, the Guard bubbles up, this helps but not enough and the Guard gets fried some.
    You describe the damage.
    Your friend says VETO because he thinks you've been too lenient about it.
    And you... how did you re-describe the damage?
    Why wasn't it ok even then? So much that it spawned an argument that, in your words, tugged the game to a stand still?
    What was so important that neither of you could concede?
    Earlier in the thread, i said
    Then we paused to find out what would happen if i was hit. We found the rule about being "seriously hurt:". We forgot that we did not need to set difficulty, so once more, we were set into disagreements about the difficulty. Some time after the conflict had passed, we realized we had been reading the rules for harming other PC's wrongly.

    We had read the rules wrongly. we were disagreeing over the difficulty, which you should not set for opposed checks - so totally our fault on that one!

    ---
  • Tangential to the above conversation - but just wanted to say I'm enjoying these articles. Keep them coming!
  • @3xJ
    Oh... ok... then I misunderstood >_<
    From your initial posts it looked like you had big and game-stopping arguments about a bunch of things. But it seems this is not the case, then good! And sorry for the humongous wall of text :)

    @bendutter
    Thank man!
  • Dunno if this may help, but in my current design one of the main rules for PCs is that "no matter how powerful or well trained is the skill/special ability, etc, it isn't infallible."

    I make that rule clear for the players right after they make their characters and so far we haven't had these kind of arguments ever.
  • @3xJ
    Oh... ok... then I misunderstood >_<
    From your initial posts it looked like you had big and game-stopping arguments about a bunch of things. But it seems this is not the case, then good! And sorry for the humongous wall of text :)

    We had an argument - but after that, the group has reported no problems in their own games :) And the thing about phrases being able to be gamed was something him and i talked about. He likes "wringing" all the potential leverage out of mechanics, and in a game where pvp is possible, the phrases can do that. But yes, we would both consider such bad form, as you say.
    We talked strategy: Disagreeing as many times as possible as long as you end with more than 1 point, bidding a single fate point, forcing them to bid two, is a very efficient strategy if one looks completely mechanically at the game. I do not see this as a loophole - it's just about playing the game with the right people!

    And absolutely no need to say sorry! You were just clarifying.

    I make that rule clear for the players right after they make their characters and so far we haven't had these kind of arguments ever.
    Yup, i think that is so very important in GMless/full/whatever [we need a better term] games. Again, playing with the right people, and making sure that they get this rule is important for a level playing field, if that is important to the game.
  • 3xJ3xJ
    edited February 2016

    Oh... ok... then I misunderstood >_<
    From your initial posts it looked like you had big and game-stopping arguments about a bunch of things. But it seems this is not the case, then good! And sorry for the humongous wall of text :).
    We had a long, but cordial argument - After that, in their own games, the group has reported no problems back to me. :)
    And the thing about phrases being able to be gamed was something him and i talked about. He likes "wringing" all the potential leverage out of mechanics, and in a game where pvp is possible, the phrases can do that. But yes, we would both consider such bad form, as you say.
    We talked strategy: Disagreeing as many times as possible as long as you end with more than 1 point, bidding a single fate point, forcing them to bid two, is a very efficient strategy if one looks completely mechanically at the game. I do not see this as a loophole - it's just about playing the game with the right people!

    And absolutely no need to say sorry! You were just clarifying.

    I make that rule clear for the players right after they make their characters and so far we haven't had these kind of arguments ever.
    Yup, i think that is so very important in GMless/full/whatever [we need a better term] games. Again, playing with the right people, and making sure that they get this rule is important for a level playing field, if that is important to the game.
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