Tuesday, September 27, 2011

[Kerberos] Conviction Aspects

(Crossposted on ArcDream.com.)

When I think about the original Wild Talents version of The Kerberos Club, I tend to think of Benjamin Baugh's fantastic treatment of the setting. This is probably because it is, as I may have mentioned, fantastic. But over and above that, it's important to remember that Ben also introduced some cool new mechanics for WT, not the least of which is Convictions.

In WT, Convictions make a character's beliefs, goals, and the like mechanically significant. Every Conviction has a numerical rating. When you act in accordance with a Conviction, especially if doing so puts you at some sort of disadvantage, you earn Willpower equal to the Conviction's value. And if you defy a Conviction, even by accident, you lose a like amount of Willpower.

Any of this sound familiar, FATE fans?

So obviously, for the FATE conversion, Convictions had to be aspects. I mean, they were practically aspects to begin with. But they had to be "bigger" aspects than all the others, seeing as how they represent what's nearest and dearest to the character's heart. All Convictions are aspects, but not all aspects are Convictions.

Fortunately, an easy way to handle this is already implied in standard FATE rules, if not outright stated in some implementations. Compels on Conviction aspects start at two Fate Points instead of one. The aspect is a bigger deal for the character, so the incentive to go along with it is greater too. Likewise, refusing a compel on a Conviction aspect costs just as much. And the GM can escalate to three Fate Points from there, if it comes to that.

Needless to say, I'm a firm believer in making players pay for refusing compels. For me, if refusing doesn't come with a cost, the whole Fate Point economy suffers for it. Conviction aspects illustrate that perfectly. In the fiction, a character should follow his convictions more often than not. And when they don't, it should be a difficult decision. The beauty part of the whole pay-to-refuse thing is that the mechanics nicely reflect the fiction: The character doesn't want to violate her most firmly held beliefs, and the player doesn't want to part with two or three Fate Points if at all possible.

There are some differences between how WT's Convictions and FATE's Conviction aspects shake out in play. The most notable, though, and certainly the most emblematic of the differences between the two systems, may be one mentioned above. The fact that a Conviction can cost you Willpower if it's violated even by accident -- like if you have a Conviction against killing and then happen to roll, say, 7x10 on an attack -- is something that just doesn't happen in FATE. Something similar crops up when comparing the WT Unrest mechanic, which determines unfavorable public reaction to Strangeness with a dice roll, and Strange FATE's Collateral consequences, which does the same through a conscious choice on behalf of the players. But that's another topic for another time.
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