Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spontaneous Aspects

This is another pretty genre-agnostic idea, but it came up in this RPG.net thread on using FATE for Feng Shui, so it strikes me as appropriate for over-the-top action games. It's also super-simple, so I'm not going to drag it out with a big post.

Ready? Okay, here it is. Man, I hope I've hyped this enough!

Y'know how normally in FATE you can use many skills to accomplish whatever it is that skill normally does, or use it as part of a maneuver to create an aspect? This tweak lets you do both at once -- if you get spin. So let's say you're trying to jump across a chasm. You need a Great (+4) effort; you get an Epic (+7) one instead. That's enough to succeed with spin, so, in addition to your success, you get to create an aspect. It could be on you, or the chasm, or someone else in the scene, or whatever, as long as it's fragile -- one free tag and it disappears. And it can't be tagged as part of this action, or we'd end up with a never-ending loop of aspects and tags.

You might give the chasm an aspect of "Not As Far As It Looks" to help your buddy jump across. You might give yourself an aspect of "Athletic Badass," which ought to come in handy the next time you do something athletic. You might instead give an onlooker an aspect of "Awestruck" -- it was an Epic jump, after all. And so on.

It's the same in combat, although there are some nifty ways to mess with it.
  • Only for attacks. With this option, aspects are only auto-generated on a spin-worthy attack, like "Hail of Lead" for a Guns attack, or "Pressing the Attack" in a fencing match using Weapons, or "Cracked Timbers" after hitting someone so hard with Fists that they nearly break through a wall. This rewards, creates, and encourages rather gonzo attacks. Any attack that generates spin will possibly have greater ramifications for the scene, and can easily make a bad situation for the defender much, much worse.
  • Only for defenses. The opposite -- "Faster Than the Eye Can Follow" for an Athletics dodge, "Perfect Positioning" after parrying with Weapons, etc. This would replace the regular spin rules (+1 on your next roll). Otherwise, it's just double-dipping. So this is a more-powerful version of that mechanic that also adds to the narrative -- plus it opens up the potential for someone else to make use of that aspect, too. For example, if you put an aspect of "Overextended" on your attacker after pulling off a spin-worthy defense, your buddy can tag that on his turn.
  • Opponent creates aspect. With this option, all spin-generating rolls also create aspects -- but it's your opponent, not you, who decides what that aspect is. This kinda turns the whole idea on its ear. Now there's a price to pay for your success. IMO, it's absolutely not a high enough price that you wouldn't want spin anyway, but it certainly keeps things interesting. So now that great dodge you pulled off might mean that you are "Overextended," or that your opponent now has "Perfect Positioning" on you, or whatever. Alternately, this could be limited to attacks, so getting spin on a defense means you get to decide the aspect, but getting spin on an attack means something unexpected happens in addition to your success.
  • Only one skill. Apply any of these variations to one skill chosen by the player at character creation. E.g., a master fencer will throw out aspects with Weapons, but not with Fists; likewise, a nimble rogue might pull off some incredible exploits with Athletics, but not with Weapons, and a big bruiser might be known for his feats of Might, but not so much when it comes to Athletics. In addition to simply limiting the number of aspects being spontaneously generated at any given time, this also reinforces niche protection without being too heavy-handed about it.
This is potentially a pretty wacky idea, I know, but like I said, I can see it working in certain genres. In fact, if you only use it outside of combat, it could work well for even more genres. Sherlock Holmes creates aspects with Investigation, Tarzan with Survival, Luke Skywalker with Pilot... you get the idea.

1 comment:

Guy Bowring said...

I've got a PC in SoG with the stunt "Mix It Up" and "Army of One"--once he starts accumulating defensive spin against multiple groups of mooks, it gets nutty.

It also tends to isolate him in combat as it usually ends up where others just try to hold out long enough for him to wipe out the rest of the opposition.

I wonder if this would be a nice to offer him a way to use his spin more creatively instead of snowballing it for massive attacks.

I think I'll try this next session--I'm anticipating it should be pretty messy, combat-wise.