FAE Approaches boiled down to questions

I'm working on the next iteration of the FateLess rules, and i want to use Approaches in place of Skills.
For my purposes i need to boil down each Approach to a single question that the Player will answer after the roll.

It must be ok both in case of negative and positive outcome.
And it is meant not as punishment, but simply as a statement that SHOWS how the approach influences the world around the acting PC.

Here is what i have so far. I need feedback, and a helping hand with Sneaky:

Careful = you take your time allowing something else to happen, what is it?

Quick = you rush things neglecting​ something important, what is it?

Forceful = you leave a visible mark maybe damaging something, what is it?

Flashy = you attract attention prompting someone's reaction, what is it?

Clever = you work an angle or exploit a soft spot, what is it?

Sneaky = ?


  • edited April 2017
    As a disliker of FAE's approaches, your questions make them better. However, some of them give something up (like the "something else" in Careful), some don't (like the angle in Clever).
  • Maybe also adding "and why did you do that?" after "what is it" greatly improves the game.
  • As a disliker of FAE's approaches
    I'm curious ... why? :)
    some of them give something up (like the "something else" in Careful), some don't (like the angle in Clever).
    What do you mean by "give something up"?
    As in, they are a hindrance? Or they reveal something?
    Maybe also adding "and why did you do that?" after "what is it" greatly improves the game.
    As in, why did the Character perform the action?

  • I did a thing like this a while ago (although it wasn't FAE's approaches, but something from another game). In my case, I had each "question" point to a possible problem or drawback, which could come into play if you rolled a certain roll.

    I like the idea of making them value-neutral - just colour.

    It takes some of the "teeth" away but could be good in other ways.

    It occurs to me that you could also phrase them as requirements:

    Clever: "What must you learn in order to undertake this action?"

    Forceful: "What is placed at risk because you are using too much force?"

    And so on.

    Lots of ways to do this! I love the concept.
  • @Hasimir: As in hindrance.

    When it comes to the dislike… first of all, they were a bleeding edge concept used in a beginner's game. A concept half-baked enough it wasn't out of the oven yet, it would've made more sense as a blog entry or other more experimental arena.

    Second, they created too big of a mismatch between FAE and Fate Core. I wish they would've matched each other better, one book a briefer version, the other a more fully explained version, of the same rules. Although, FAE did the right thing by combining the stress tracks, that should've been the default for FC too (with a note on how it sometimes is very valuable to have separate stress tracks) — or rather, I don't really care how many stress tracks there are, but they should've matched their defaults.

    Thirdly, for most English speakers using an adverbial phrase in the place of a verb phrase causes a predicate vacuum. Oh, you might say, the predicate slot is filled by the diegetic action. "I defeat the ninja quickly! I instantly become ruler of the galaxy cleverly! I distim those damned doshes quite forcefully! I frobnicate the quuxes gracefully! Oh, there's no way to do things gracefully, there's only male approaches? I guess flashily then."

    3a: Sure, but then why even have the approaches at all? A +1 or +2 is gigantic on 4dF, it's like 20 percentile units. The approaches tend to override all circumstances. "Wait, you're flashily doing that? But there's no one here!”

    3b: They completely gum up all sense of intent, initiation, execution and effect, by 3ba Answering none of the four, but 3bb looking like they might do, thus getting in the way of answering them. Intent use: 'I get them to obey me, quickly!' Initiation use: 'I start to speak, quickly!' Execution use: 'I tell them about the death ray aimed at them, quickly!' Effect use: 'They cower before me, quickly!'

    3c: They don't pull their weight. If they're as vague as they are, there's no use for a stat. You could just roll everything at a +0 and then make it easier or harder with your aspects.

    3d: By changing the deep syntactical meaning of the stat, they create even more of a mismatch between FAE and Fate Core. They mesh better with things like some games that use a noun phrase to roll, like Dex or Strength. But… is adverbs really the word class to turn to before VP or NP?

    3e: Since adverb use is typically more relative in English than noun or verb use, they give less of an impression of the character's capabilities. I scale Mount Everest, quickly. I struggle to even tie my shoelaces, quickly. I turn invisible and phase through walls, quickly. I attempt to chew a piece of gum, quickly.

    4: When FAE first came out, I bemoaned that it was different from Fate Core, and that it lacked some of the explanations that I thought was crucial to Fate Core (how to set up scenes). But, over time, the approaches showed themselves to be something many groups struggled with. I read countless of blog posts and forum threads such as this one, that proposed to fix them, to codify adjudication of them with or without hacks to them. All to no avail. Well, good luck. Maybe you'll be the one.

    5. They don't cover the bases. Where's attentively? Gracefully? Politely? Tenderly? Beautifully? Kindly? Validatingly? Are those qualities not valued? In FAE, it's the "guy way" or the highway, it seems.

    6. For that matter, where is matter-of-factly, angrily, incineratingly, bureaucratically, frobnicatingly, completely, definitely, world-endingly? Adverbs are an open word class.
  • Woah, thanks for the very complete answer! :D
    Some things I disagree with, others I definitely concur with.
    At any rate, all very interesting thoughts.
  • I agree with pretty much all of Sandra's comments.

    However, adding questions like these has the potential of rescuing the Approaches, I think, since it does lead to something concrete we can imagine and interact with.

    It should be ensconced within a genre/game where that makes sense as well, though. I don't think you can just slap that onto any old game/genre and expect it to work.
  • I agree that this seems like a promising direction but we've been burned before. But, ABT — always be testing!

    Btw, Paul, mind popping in a link to 'Anyway' for that teeth thing? I don't have my bookmarks with me.
    The gist of the problem is that if the questions are pure color you risk losing the 'teeth', the glue between crunch and fiction. But if they do have strong teeth, then you risk interfering with Fate's existing aspect&invocation system.
  • Oh, I wasn't using the word "teeth" in any technical sense. :)
  • Take a look at Dresden Accelerated when you can. It renamed the approaches, and did some other interesting things. (I doubt it will change anyone's mind about approaches, but it's interesting.)
  • Yeah, I think DFAE is a significant improvement. Flair, Focus, Force, Guile, Haste and Intellect.

    I've also seen a couple of FAE-based games use Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma.

    These 'approaches' aren't adjectives (to be used adverbially) anymore, they're nouns, to be used in a way that conveys character capability. I don't think they should even be called approaches. DFAE also includes a variant of the scale factor from the original Fudge. So that a tiny bug can have Great strength but still be squashed by a big dog with Weak Strength.
  • Regarding the original topic, the best approach-hack I've seen so far is this one. Perhaps you could reuse some of David's ideas to inspire your questions.

    For example, it makes a lot of sense that trying to be XX makes you not being YY enough. This also means that the GM has always 5 questions available (related with the unused approaches) instead of just one (related with the used approach):

    Ok, you are trying to be quick... that means that you are not being careful enough, what are you overlooking?


    Ok, you are doing that forcefully... that means that you are not being sneaky enough, who has just noticed you?
  • edited April 2017
    Hasimir, I really like using questions for approaches. I think it is a good idea that the questions expose a downside of using a specific approach. This way, maybe players are encouraged to think twice before simply choosing their strongest approach, i.e. doing something forceful limits the use of subtlety, doing it in a flashy way draws attention... These could potentially be used against them further down the line.

    What is good question for clever? Tricky. Maybe "What price do you pay for being clever?" (i.e. appearing arrogant...).

    Personally, my experience is that some genres/settings work very well with FAE approaches and some don't work at all.
    I like this discussion about alternatives:
  • I use FAE for a scifi horror game and we treat the approaches as what is gain/sacrificed based on the roll. Rarely are there 'complete' successes or failures.

    It has resulted in a bit of a hierarchy of approaches from the players point of view I think in a risk versus reward sense.

    Careful: when you want a specific outcome, you chance everything going completely wrong
    Quick: it has to happen fast, but haste makes waste, something is missed/broken/etc.
    Clever: when it takes all your attention and you don't mind being snuck up on
    Forceful: the last resort of the sane, smash it and hope you don't get smashed back
    Sneaky: success often leaves one well ahead of the group, alone in the shadows, failure is bad.
    Flashy: civilian control

    I get them to think about what the cost of their action will be before they roll and more often then not, they tell me how things went wrong.

    It isn't perfect but it has served us well.
  • I think one of the reasons "Clever" is confusing here is because it's not clear to me what, exactly, it means.

    Doing something very thoughtfully sounds like "Careful". Doing something in an overly "clever" or less obvious way sounds like being "Flashy".
  • All very good points.
    For now I'm settling on this solution...

    You act with Craft when you work an angle or exploit a vulnerability. What is it?

    You act with Flair when you draw attention to yourself with style and panache (the underlined part might go away). How do viewers react?

    You act with Focus when you invest time and care in your task. What else happens while you act?

    You act with Force when you visibly mark or damage something. How does it look?

    You act with Guile when you divert attention away from something. Where is it redirected?

    You act with Haste when you rush things neglecting​ something important. What is it?

    - - -

    As you can see it is not really about producing drawbacks, as much as idea-focusing fiction.
    And it (hopefully) really puts fiction before rolls.

    For example you can't roll Craft unless you describe at least a vague idea of a weakness or exploitable angle, and an action that leverages it.
    Flair now clearly and exclusively means "focusing attention on you", which can't be done without an audience.
    Focus, Force and Guile are all not necessarily about drawbacks, as narration is in the Players' hands.
    Only Haste feels a bit like a drawback ... but maybe it's OK because it inherently implies an advantage as you do thing "before something": before the opponent, before time runs out, before something else happens, etc

    Will test and let you all know how it goes.
    In the meantime, any feedback is more than welcome :D
  • Obviously they're all cross-stance-ial. Is this for a GM-full game?
    But of course ABT — always be testing.
  • It reminds me of Firebrands a bit.
  • Yep, it's an alternative to FateLess current skill system :)
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