Friday, January 31, 2014

Testing the waters

Last night, my wife was gracious enough to let me use her as a test subject in my continuing obsession with Fate, and I had my first experience going through character creation and running a scene.

Conclusion: I am horribly unprepared to run a game yet.

Explaining the concept and purpose of character Aspects proved more difficult than I'd anticipated, but that's partly due to my own vague understanding, and occasional confusion of the invoke/compel terminology. Nailing down a High Concept proved especially tricky, though the rest of it went far quicker as we both got the hang of things - and I think I got a little better at explaining things.

Fortunately she's helped a lot with the overall game scenario, so she had a strong idea of the kind of character that would fit into the world; my real players won't have been as hands-on with the backstory, so that's something I'll have to keep in mind when they're making characters.

The fight (that most basic of RPG interactions) started off badly, from a GM perspective. I should have done more to encourage or enable interesting actions, but I'd neglected to write out any environment Aspects for the characters to Create Advantages with.

I also had Catherine go first, and without my lead to go on her only real course of action was to hit things, which quickly got... well, kind of boring. It turned into attack/defend rolls so fast that I'm stunned I didn't see it coming.

Things improved when we adopted the mantra of "explain what you want to do, then worry about how you do it" - initially we were both approaching the fight in terms of mechanics rather than narrative.

Once we were thinking of cool ways to hit our opponents and use the environment everything started to flow better, we had a wider variety of skills to roll and got more interesting outcomes when we did. (One of my thugs tried to move over a bed rather than around it; his Athletics Overcome roll failed badly and he knocked himself out.)

The biggest takeaway from the evening is that "explain your goal" idea. It's something I'd already been trying to work into the missions and sidequests I've written - give the party a clear objective, then let them figure out how best to achieve it - but it never occurred to me that it would be so important for every exchange in a scene.

Tangentially related to that is making sure I have plenty of Aspects for them to Create Advantages with, which will also hopefully distinguish one fight from another, and making sure plenty of different kinds of actions make sense - so there are obstacles to Overcome rather than just Attacking all the time.

It took basically until the last thug was defeated for me to get a proper sense of how an exchange is supposed to flow. There are still plenty of thing's I'm unsure of - boosts are a big question mark for me, I'm not sure how to apply "costs" to failed and tied rolls, my sense of passive opposition difficulty needs tweaking, and I have a feeling that encounter would have been laughably easy for a four-member party - but now I feel much better about trying it again.

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