FAE: Shifting Approaches

This is more of a post-let than a detailed post, but it was an idea that occurred to me and I wanted to get it out there for anyone who might benefit from it or do something interesting with it (which, by the way, is carte blanche for you to do so, if you feel so motivated).

In Fate Accelerated Edition, characters use different Approaches to perform actions, choosing from Careful, Flashy, Forceful, etc. (or whatever other names the Approaches are given).

One classic element of fictional conflicts is encouraging, forcing, or tricking an opponent or rival into using an Approach that puts them at a disadvantage: get a normally careful foe angry enough to attack with abandon, make a somewhat dim-witted rival overestimate his own cleverness, put a forceful, flashy character in a situation where being sneaky and subtle is called for (or vice versa).

This is essentially Creating an Advantage except, rather than sussing out or creating an aspect, you’re shifting the conflict to a different approach. So, on a tie or success, you get a sense of the opponent’s weakest approach and get to shift the conflict there for one exchange. If you succeed with style, you keep it there for two exchanges and, at the GM’s option, can spend a fate point to keep it there for an additional exchange.

Example: Two sword-fighters  are facing-off, and it quickly becomes clear they’re evenly matched in the Quick and Flashy department, so one tries to taunt her opponent with a Flashy maneuver to get him angry enough to try a Forceful attack. On a tie or success, she goads her foe into taking a Forceful approach for the next exchange, perhaps giving her an opening for a Quick attack. If she succeeds with style, her foe is so unhinged, he goes Forceful for the next two exchanges at least.

Addendum: Why is this any better than just creating an advantage or getting a bonus? Apart from the flavor of it, shifting approaches can have a more variable bonus (depending on the spread between the subject’s best and worst approaches applicable to the situation) plus it can potentially deny the target access to stunts based on a particular approach: If your foe’s best stunt is based on being Flashy, for example, and you force him into a situation where he has to be Sneaky, then that stunt is likely off the table for the moment, giving you an added advantage.

FATE and the Marvel Fate Deck

Anyone familiar with my work and online presence in prior years knows that I’m a big fan of the Marvel Super-Heroes Adventure Game (aka “Marvel Saga”) from TSR/Wizards of the Coast. I think it was the best iteration of the ill-fated SAGA game engine and a pretty awesome superhero RPG to boot. Elements of it were certainly inspirational in my later work, particularly ICONS.

Which brings me to the idea of FATE and the Marvel “Fate Deck”. Before I started using Plaintext and Dropbox on my iPhone, I jotted the following down in one the various beat-up notebooks I carried around:

FATE Aspects & the Fate Deck

Discard the standard trump rules from Marvel. In their place, characters have aspects, from “The Strongest One there Is!” to “Friendly Neighborhood Web-Slinger” or whatnot. This can include relationships, origins, nicknames, and all of the usual range of different aspects in FATE.

Tagging an aspect allows a player to flip an additional card from the top of the Fate Deck and add it to any played cards for an action. The player can also choose a trump suit; if the flipped card is of that suit, flip the next card, and so forth until a card not of that suit comes up. All flipped cards are added together for the action.

The Narrator can choose to play a card from the Doom Pool at any time to compel one of the player’s aspects. A player can choose to ignore this by discarding a card from his hand, but the discard also goes into the Doom Pool (along with the original Doom Card). Players can also choose to impose temporary compels or setbacks on their own characters in order to empty out the Doom Pool; each setback removes one card from the pool.

Players tagging their characters’ aspects requires only a suitable description of how the aspect applies to the given situation. Tagging other characters’ aspects may also require an action to learn of the aspect, or an action to apply a temporary aspect—like “Blinded” or “Angered”—to that character.