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Re: [FateRPG] Re: Non-Traditional Character Development

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  • Robert Rendell
    ... No, that s how it happened, in The Killing Joke at least. I m not sure that it hasn t been re-done in other comics though. I like the concept of trying to
    Message 1 of 26 , Feb 2, 2013
      On 2 February 2013 12:02, John Rudd <johnkzin@...> wrote:

      On Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 4:12 PM, Riley Crowder <riley.crowder@...> wrote:
       

      Someone mentioned Batgirl and it got me thinking.
       
      She gets into a massive fight through mutliple character developments that leads to her getting paralyzed. 
       
      Really?  I remember it being more ... incidental.  She answers her door (as Barbara Gordon), it happens to be The Joker, who promptly shoots her.  It wasn't connected to her identity as Batgirl at all, The Joker was going after Gordon's daughter.  No massive fight was involved.  But maybe I have misremembered it.

      No, that's how it happened, in The Killing Joke at least.  I'm not sure that it hasn't been re-done in other comics though.

      I like the concept of trying to provide incentives for players to explore such non-traditional (in gaming terms) arcs.  I'd like to throw some ideas into the mix:

      1) One way that characters can become more complex without becoming more powerful would be to allow additional aspects without changing refresh.  Number of aspects and refresh were equal in SotC, but with DFRPG and now Core we see them vary independently. So, if the goal was to make the whole campaign less about power gain across the board (rather than something for individual characters to choose), you could change the Milestone rules in a game so that (say) characters gain a new aspect, but don't increase refresh, on a Major Milestone.

      2) The concept of spending refresh for stunts and (DFRPG) supernatural powers is one of my favourite ideas in the recent versions of Fate.  Mortal characters in DFRPG are less "powerful" than supernatural characters in the fiction, but are still able to hold their own in terms of spotlight because of their piles of Fate Points.  Given that that works, I'd probably try to use that system to provide incentives for "broken" characters too, as suggested before.  Clearly, you can drop stunts to regain the refresh they cost.  For skills, I'd go the same way (as already suggested)... you could lose skill slots or even have a generally diminished pyramid in exchange for some refresh boost.  In conjunction with compels on whatever consequence or aspect represents the setback, such a character will often be rolling in Fate Points, which is arguably not a reduction in story-power, but they're definitely diminished in power within the fiction.

      --
      Have fun,
      Rob Rendell
    • Tev
      I was kind of waiting for someone to mention an extra damage track, like Sanity in Call of Cthulhu/Trail of Cthulhu, Humanity from Vampire, Madness from Don t
      Message 2 of 26 , Feb 4, 2013
        I was kind of waiting for someone to mention an extra damage track, like Sanity in Call of Cthulhu/Trail of Cthulhu, Humanity from Vampire, Madness from Don't Rest Your Head (which I just got off of DriveThruRPG and is the second RPG to ever give me nightmares), and similar mechanics.
        The "dial" these games tend to use to tweak from a pulp/action feel to a loss/tragedy feel is how easy damage goes on and is healed from this track.
        Stress tracks in FATE are obviously different, and I'm not offering any rules suggestions, but maybe a separate stress track with some consequences based on the them of the fall? Similar ideas have already been floated. Not familiar with the Polaris example, but it's a game I keep hearing about, so maybe I should become familiar....
        Wait... FAE Cthulhu? Fate Core Cthulhu? Did that happen? There were so many stretch goals... Because what would that look like, other than *awesome*? Dresden has Outsiders already... Going away now.
        -T

        P.S. like the categorization of campaign styles.

        --- In FateRPG@yahoogroups.com, Jon Lang wrote:
        >
        > Nice! Yeah, I wasn't coming up with any models off the top of my head
        > other than "Epic" and "Fall"; but this is very much the sort of thing I was
        > thinking of. So: let's take the sample list of character development
        > styles that you mention and see what would be needed to implement each in a
        > game:
        >
        > On Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 1:43 AM, Ville Makkonen wrote:
        >
        > > **
        > >
        > >
        > > I guess you could think about campaign style vs character arc in even more
        > > general terms. Here is a list of styles I could come up with short notice.
        > > - One-shot: advancement not an issue
        > >
        >
        > Easy enough: don't use any character development tools. :)
        >
        >
        > > - Epic: constantly gain mechanical power which is needed to defeat
        > > increasingly powerful opponents
        > > - Exploration: some increase in mechanical power which enables overcoming
        > > more difficult obstacles (power itself is not the point of the game as it
        > > often is in Epic)
        > >
        >
        > These are what the existing Milestones systems cater to, with the main
        > difference being in the frequency of the various types of milestones. The
        > main difference between them appears to be that the Epic campaign is
        > primarily about power itself, whereas Exploration tends to be primarily
        > about adding depth to the character. I would say that of all the options
        > listed, Exploration most closely resembles the default character
        > development model of Fate.
        >
        >
        > > - Fall: lose mechanical power, but gain character depth in exchange
        > >
        >
        > And this was the one I was discussing. We could use something *like*
        > Milestones,
        > but aimed at Skill/Stunt loss rather than Skill/Stunt gain ("setbacks"
        > rather than "milestones", if you will). That said, phrasing it that way
        > leaves the focus on the wrong thing: as you put it, this isn't so much
        > about losing mechanical power so much as it's about trading mechanical
        > power for character depth.
        >
        > Of course, this raises the question of why a player would willingly go with
        > character development that's based on power loss instead of character
        > development that's based on power gain.
        >
        >
        > > - Character-based or serial: little change in mechanical power, but
        > > characters become deeper and details change
        > >
        >
        > At first, it would appear that you could do this by focusing exclusively on
        > Minor Milestones; but really, the notion here isn't so much that your power
        > level *never* changes so much as that it's as likely to go down as it is to
        > go up, the net effect being that even after years of story, the characters
        > aren't likely to be any more powerful on average than they were when the
        > campaign started. Use a mixture of Milestones (for the occasional
        > power-ups) and whatever you call the tool developed to handle a Fall-style
        > character development model, in roughly equal proportions.
        >
        >
        > > - Intrigue/social: little change in mechanical power, but characters
        > > become more powerful in the game world by non-mechanical means (knowing
        > > important people, reputation, etc)
        > >
        >
        > I know you refer to this as "non-mechanical means"; but it's entirely
        > possible to mechanize this sort of thing: the Smallville RPG is, IMHO, a
        > perfect example of a game where the mechanical focus is primarily on who
        > you know (and more importantly, what you think of them), with what you can
        > do being something of a sideshow. I recall a discussion on this list a
        > while back about how to FATE-ify the "character web" mechanic used in
        > Smallville; that might be worth revisiting.
        >
        > OTOH, "social" and "intrigue" may be as distinct from each other as "epic"
        > and "exploration" are: "intrigue" would be a campaign style that emphasizes
        > a relationship map in terms of how your social ties benefit you, whereas
        > "social" would be one where the focus of the relationship map is about the
        > nature of the various relationships. Smallville is a game that focuses on
        > the latter, whereas a game about cut-throat court politics would tend to
        > focus on the former. The main thing to keep in mind here is that this
        > style of character development differs from the others in that the game is
        > less about who the character is or what he can do than it is about how he's
        > connected to others in the setting: reputations, allies, enemies, rivals,
        > memberships and the like are what this style of game would be about.
        >
      • Jon Lang
        ... True enough. IMHO, the main reason why gaining new Aspects in SotC was a big deal was the tight coupling between Aspects and Refresh to which you refer;
        Message 3 of 26 , Feb 5, 2013
          On Sat, Feb 2, 2013 at 2:04 PM, Robert Rendell <rob.rendell.au@...> wrote:
          I like the concept of trying to provide incentives for players to explore such non-traditional (in gaming terms) arcs.  I'd like to throw some ideas into the mix:

          1) One way that characters can become more complex without becoming more powerful would be to allow additional aspects without changing refresh.  Number of aspects and refresh were equal in SotC, but with DFRPG and now Core we see them vary independently. So, if the goal was to make the whole campaign less about power gain across the board (rather than something for individual characters to choose), you could change the Milestone rules in a game so that (say) characters gain a new aspect, but don't increase refresh, on a Major Milestone.

          True enough.  IMHO, the main reason why gaining new Aspects in SotC was a big deal was the tight coupling between Aspects and Refresh to which you refer; without that, the number of Aspects you have has little to do with how powerful you are.  In fact, my understanding is that the main reason why Fate Core opted for a smaller number of Aspects has less to do with it aiming for a lower power level and more to do with trying to prevent the Aspects from diluting each other.  I'm not sure that adding Aspects would make characters "more complex"; but I don't see much harm in allowing it in moderation.  

          OTOH, character development isn't necessarily about becoming "more complex" any more than it's about becoming "more powerful": let me point you to the Smallville RPG, and the way its Drives work.  In Fate terms, the important thing about Smallville Drives is that they're like Aspects, except that they have two parts to them: a subject (e.g., Truth, Justice, Power, etc.) which hardly ever changes, and a statement about that subject which is changing all the time as the character rethinks his position concerning said subject.  The game's mechanics are built around the notion that character development is about challenging your beliefs and seeing whether they stand up to the test or need to be modified to accommodate new revelations.  Adapting something like that to Fate could go a long way toward facilitating a very different "character development" paradigm.  
           
          2) The concept of spending refresh for stunts and (DFRPG) supernatural powers is one of my favourite ideas in the recent versions of Fate.  Mortal characters in DFRPG are less "powerful" than supernatural characters in the fiction, but are still able to hold their own in terms of spotlight because of their piles of Fate Points.  

          IMHO, that's something that's better phrased in Fate Core as "spending refresh for extras", as extras are things that set you apart from "mere mortals" while stunts generally aren't; but that's a whole different rant.  
           
          Given that that works, I'd probably try to use that system to provide incentives for "broken" characters too, as suggested before.  Clearly, you can drop stunts to regain the refresh they cost.  For skills, I'd go the same way (as already suggested)... you could lose skill slots or even have a generally diminished pyramid in exchange for some refresh boost.  In conjunction with compels on whatever consequence or aspect represents the setback, such a character will often be rolling in Fate Points, which is arguably not a reduction in story-power, but they're definitely diminished in power within the fiction.
           
          This is a very true point.  The trick is in doing it in such a way that refresh doesn't encourage you to think of aspects, skills, stunts, and extras as different currencies in a market exchange, with refresh as the medium of exchange.  Thus, I like the idea of "diminish a skill by one or more levels in exchange for a temporary point of refresh that goes away when those diminished skill levels have been used again".  I could maybe see spending that point of refresh on an extra; but only at the cost of truly losing the diminished skill levels that are attached to it: not something that you're likely to do unless you're really desperate.  



          On Mon, Feb 4, 2013 at 5:14 PM, Tev <tevel.drinkwater@...> wrote:
          I was kind of waiting for someone to mention an extra damage track, like Sanity in Call of Cthulhu/Trail of Cthulhu, Humanity from Vampire, Madness from Don't Rest Your Head (which I just got off of DriveThruRPG and is the second RPG to ever give me nightmares), and similar mechanics.

          The "dial" these games tend to use to tweak from a pulp/action feel to a loss/tragedy feel is how easy damage goes on and is healed from this track. 

          Question: how would this hypothetical Sanity/Humanity stress track differ from the Mental Stress Track?  That's the main reason why I never mentioned an extra track; I'm not seeing anything that it brings to the table that can't be handled just as well through an existing track, albeit with a different focus.  

          I could be wrong about that, though.  Chris mentioned earlier the notion of adding a stress track to skill levels as a means of reducing them; while that feels like an overly complicated way of handling skill loss, it does bring to mind the notion of Taint, as described in Mutants & Masterminds.  Nutshell version: some events and/or choices that happen in the game can lead to the accumulation of "bad stuff" that's generically called "taint"; taint can represent a number of things, such as mutations, madness, and/or corruption, and serves to emphasize these things as important themes in the game.  
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