Monday, December 9, 2013

Rolling for tasks in FATE, it's not just about creating tension.

This may be a bit of an odd interpretation, but it works for me fairly well in FATE. I never look at task rolls as a conflict resolution. I see actions as a way to incorporate Aspects into the story and therefore as part of creating the narrative. Task resolution in FATE rubs a lot of people the wrong way because we are used to tasks and conflicts as being the engine that drives drama and tension. When you look at it, FATE does not really work that way. In most cases, there is little to keep players from succeeding at any given thing they really want to do. It all depends on what price the player wants to pay to succeed. The meta is skewed in favor of the player.

The task resolution system in FATE does not exist solely to create tension. It can, of course be used to do so, but it’s not the sole reason for its existence. What the dice are really there to do is to give the players and GM a paintbrush to create a dynamic scene. Task resolution revolves around describing action adding a random effect and using that to see what lengths the character has to go through to create the desired effect. The player must then incorporate the characters Aspects to generate the desired outcome which in turn makes the description of every dramatic action an extension of who the character is and not her statistical makeup.

In FATE the GM uses Compels to drive tension and drama. Complications brought about by Compels are driven by the characters features and are therefore personalized to the characters narrative. This is not to say that task resolution cannot add drama. “Success at cost” situations are also intended to give consequences for heroic feats. The GM is provided with these mechanics that make up a dramatic toolkit. I find this more interesting than depending on the randomness of something like a critical failure or success or depending on finely tuned encounter balance which can go south quickly.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Addressing concerns about the upcoming Strateticon RPG Space.

To Strategicon RPG attendees,

My name is Jim Sandoval and I am the Supervisor of RPG's at the Strategicon series of events. I would like to take the opportunity to address some concerns from our RPG community regarding our new venue at the Hilton starting with OrcCon 2014 and for the foreseeable future.

For the past couple of years the Strategicon series of events have enjoyed a great deal of growth. This is  due to the fantastic outpouring of support from LA area gamers and the great lengths our 100% volunteer staff have gone to in order to provide the best gaming experience for our attendees.

Because of this growth we are all excited about moving to the larger and much better lit LAX Hilton starting this upcoming year. Although the Hilton provides us with some much  needed additional space to expand into, this space differs greatly from the Raddison and Sheraton. In this case, much of the additional space takes the form of large ballrooms. We are limited to very few smaller, “single room” type spaces like the cabanas we all enjoyed at the Raddison or the sectioned off areas on the second floor at the Sheraton. RPG's has been steadily expanding for the past few years. Even if I were to take ALL of the small conference room space for RPG's I would have no room to expand whatsoever and would simply leave the problem for someone else to solve. That is not how I roll.

For this reason and this reason alone, Our Event Coordinator Tim Keennon and I have decided to put RPG's in a 7000 Sq foot ballroom and allow the small allotment of conference room space to go to Pathfinder Soc, RPGA and LARPS.

This has nothing to do with how Strategicon views RPGs and RPG fans. Rest assured that I would shake the pillars of heaven and hell for my department.  RPGs are my passion and you will find no greater advocate for RPGs than myself. Please remember that Strategicon is not for profit and supports all forms of gaming equally.

I understand your concerns and would like to assure you that I have taken steps to make this as viable a choice as possible. I will be erecting a heavy duty rod and curtain system to parse out the room into smaller areas with tables. This space will divide 25 tables within the 7k sq foot ballroom to ensure the optimum level of sound absorption. This will be a large space for 25 tables with low acoustic tile ceilings and it is our hope that we will be able to minimize noise echo.

When I was approached with this plan, I have to admit I was skeptical at first and frankly still am. I am not going to sit here and promise you the moon, I am not a salesman.  Best I am is a CSR/CPA. But what I can tell you is that I am going to do my utmost to make this situation as viable as possible and before I agreed to taking the ballroom space, I was assured that if there was an outpouring of negative feedback after OrcCon that we would revisit this choice and come to a better decision.

In conclusion, I just want to leave you with this thought. There is nothing I want more than to have every single person walking into RPGs or the convention in general walk back out again with the joy and satisfaction of having had the best experience I can provide. For no other reason than the fact that I love gaming and want to share that passion with everyone I come in contact with. I know that many of us find it disturbingly easy to become cynical about everything and sometimes that is justifiably so, but I guarantee that the rest of the Strategicon staff and I are doing everything we can to make your experience a great one. If we fail to do so, that is only because we are human and will strive to make it better next time around.

Best regards on this holiday season,
Jim Sandoval.