The Book of Hanz
Put a Scene On It.
I think I've mentioned before, but these are more like my journal of unlearning other systems, and I'm not sharing them to be the Guru on the Mount, but more as a record of my mis-steps in hopes that others can avoid stepping in the same potholes. I fully expect lots of people to look at these and go "yeah, duh."
That's probably more true for today than any other one of these.
So, let's talk Chapter 9, folks. You know, that chapter that I totally ignored when I first read Fate Core, because, you know, I know all about this long-term game planning stuff, that chapter must be for newbs. Just get me to the crunchy bits.
You'll also note that a recurring theme in these posts is how Fate ain't other systems. So any time I think "hey, I know that" I'm probably about ready to step in it.
So I'm running my Kriegszeppelin game, and a player wants to hop up his plane using some mechanics. I'm fully in GURPS/D&D mode, and so I have him roll the dice. He succeeds, gets some invokes on a Scene Aspect, and we move on. I did it right, right?
Yeah, no. Couldn't have flubbed that one more if I tried. Where was the drama? Where was the conflict? Where was the story? Nowhere, that's where. What I should have done was frame this in a scene. "Okay, Eddie, the plane's in the hangar with the other planes. When are you doing this? At night, when nobody can see? Or are you being open about it? What do the mechanics think of you messing with the plane? What about the other pilots?"
Then, I could have some framing for the scene. Once I've tied this to a specific place and time, it becomes a lot more interesting -other pilots can show up. The mechanics can show up themselves. Compels start to suggest themselves. Conflict. Drama. Story. The reasons we play.
So that's my big zen moment for the day. Any time something happens, frame it in a scene. Contacts roll? Okay, where are they going that's appropriate to find these people? Investigate? Okay, they're in a library or pounding the streets. And given the new scene, how can you absolutely screw with them? What opposed interests can be there, what complications can arise? There is absolutely no mechanic that can't be improved by framing it in a scene. Fiction, not physics -if you wanted to get the desired result in a TV show, how would you show it on camera?
And it goes the other way, as well. You want your players asking for scenes so they can do stuff. Let them get the crew together before the mission to make a Rapport roll and inspire them, getting a few free invokes on a newly created scene aspect. Get them in a diner with the Big Bad for a brief war of words, ala Heat.
There's another subtle benefit of thinking in scenes. Things happen in scenes. If you're in the "physics simulation" mode of what happens momentto-moment, it's easy to get stuck playing a lot of boring stuff. But if you frame it in a scene, you've got to ask the big scene questions first -What is this scene about? What's at stake? What could go wrong? What interesting thing is about to happen? And if you don't have interesting answers to those questions, it's probably not an interesting scene and should just be skipped over. If your game was a TV show or a movie, would they waste script time on this?
Ramp it up. Put a scene on it.