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.