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The Book of Hanz

Fiction, not Physics

"Fiction, not Physics". I find myself quoting this a lot, and it's really become key to how I understand Fate. When I first heard it, I assumed it meant "we're not concerned with realism, here!" And that's part of it, but certainly not the whole thing, and probably not even the most important thing (after all, you can have realistic fiction).

What I've come to understand this phrase as meaning is that Fate sets out to model how stories flow in actual story media -movies, novels, etc.

Here's an example: Let's say that our spy hero needs to get past a door, guarded by a couple of mooks in a movie. We see him slip into the shadows where the mooks can't see him. He then climbs into the pipes above the guards, and once above them drops down, taking them both out with his weight. He hauls the guards off behind some boxes and proceeds.

Okay, so in a more traditional RPG, this would be a stealth roll, probably some more notice checks, probably a roll to get up on the pipes, and then an attack roll with some bonuses.

Now, sure, you could do something similar with Fate, after all it does have elements like skill rolls and whatnot. But, really, it's better to map actions to periods of "camera time", just like in the movie. So in the first shot of the scene, we see our spy slip into the shadows That's a Create Advantage roll, opposed by the mooks' Notice.

Then, our hero climbs up on the pipes. Again, this is Create Advantage, but against a static difficulty this time (the danger of failing is more from the inherent danger, and less from being noticed -we've already established that our character is out of view.)

With these aspects now in place (the scene is now ABOUT our hero being "In the Shadows" and "On the Pipes Above the Door"), and our free tags on them, it's a pretty easy Fighting roll to do enough stress to knock out the two mooks. Concessions: Concessions are one of my favorite examples of this, since they, more than anything else, model fiction. Otherwise, why would losing make you, in a way, stronger?

But think of it. The second act of many movies involves our hero getting beat up, thrown around, and then coming back in the third act to stomp the living tar out of the bad guys. And that's what concessions enable.

Heck, if you put it in game terms, all of The Empire Strikes Back was the players colluding to grant every concession they could for a couple of sessions, to give them an absolute hoard of fate points to use to crush the Empire! I'm convinced that the Ewoks being effective at all was simply a matter of Han and Leia's players dumping fate points into the "Useless (?) Ewoks" scene aspect.

Star Wars gives me lots of examples of Fate Mechanics at play in fiction, which gives me a lot of ideas on how to use them in games. Han's on the run from the Imperials, and has flowin into an asteroid belt. The opposition is overwhelming, and he knows he can't win in a straight up fight, and it's a matter of time before he's worn down.

Han: "Hey, I'm a smuggler. I want to find an asteroid with a big cave or something I can hide inside."

George: "Sure, give me a Pilot roll."

Han: "Awesome, Succeed With Style! Let's say there's an asteroid with a big, deep cave in it."

George: "Okay, but you'll have to roll a Piloting roll to make it in without damage -of course, so will the bad guys."

Han: "No problem! I make it in fine."

George: "So do the two TIE Fighters following you."

Han: "Not so fast! I'm burning my tag on 'Deep Cave' to drop their roll and they're 0 point mooks, right?"

George: "Yup, the TIE Fighters crash into the cave wall. You're safe -for now. You hear bombs going off above as the Imperials try to find your location." gets a gleam in his eye and holds up a Fate Point. "Hey, Han, don't you Have a Bad Feeling About This?

Han: "Now that you mention it, I sure do!" takes the fate point

George: "You've landed in the cave and are resting for a moment, when something hits your front viewscreen. Some kind of creature..."

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