If you haven’t already, you need to read Mike Olson’s awesome post regarding his play test of Thrilling Fate. This ultra-quick description has given me inspiration for some new mechanics for a gritty, or at least fast and furious, Fate game.
No Skills, Approaches, Professions…
This is one of the coolest things that have come full circle in gaming. It used to be that you could flip a coin, roll a die or play paper-rock-scissors to decide the outcome of an action. But players wanted to represent a method of representing skill in something. After all, if everyone rolls a die, then everyone is equal. But I’m tougher, stronger, better at fighting than you.
Enter attribute and skill modifiers, and all the crunchiness that comes with them.
What Thrilling Fate promises to do, which I’m super-excited about, despite having never heard of Sparks, Nevada as a fictional source (I live in Nevada, so of course I’ve heard of the actual city), is the tossing out of such modifiers. Instead of having a modifier denoting how much better of a fighter you are, you can invoke your Trained By The League of Assassins aspect to get a bonus when you need one on a roll. The simplicity is just so awesome!
Here’s how Mike describes it:
What’s neat is how the exhaust-an-aspect mechanic puts that choice entirely in the realm of the fiction, without anything as abstract as even a broadly defined skill, like Athletics, getting in the way. I dunno. I’m probably not explaining it well. But the difference between “I dodge because I have +3 Athletics” and “I dodge because I’m a Quick-Thinking Man of Action” was definitely felt at the table.
“Exhaust-an-aspect”? What is that? You can read Mike’s notes on it here, but here’s the gist of it as I understand it: every aspect seems to begin in an un-exhausted state. When you invoke it for the first time, you gain +3 to your roll and exhaust it. From then on, you can invoke it with Fate points (gaining an additional exhaust, essentially).
The possibilities of such a mechanic for that are very interesting. I could see this working very well for a gritty fantasy campaign based on a setting like 300, where the PCs, NPCs…pretty much everyone you’ll ever meet, are warriors. Everyone can fight, so why have complicated fighting traits that are all going to end up being relatively close to each other anyway? Why not give Spartans some aspects denoting how they fight, like Phalanx, or describing what they’ll do to you if you piss them off, This Is SPARTA!.
You can also give those Spartans some extra invocations from their stunts, or those every popular +2 stunts to make them badass.
Here’s an example of a Spartan build using this concept:
Aspects: This Is SPARTA!; On These Shields!; Choose Your Next Words Carefully; Only The Tough, Only The Strong; No Retreat, No Surrender!
Stunts: Phalanx. Gain a +2 bonus to defense rolls against attacks when you are flanked on either side by an ally with an un-exhausted shield.
It’s Only an Eye. Erase an additional box of Trouble at the start of the next scene.
Equipment: Spartan Shield; Sword; Spear
Curious what that Trouble deal is? Check this out!