[Fate] Dynamism At Work

One of the things that I love about Fate is that there’s always multiple ways to interpret or implement an idea, and none of them are wrong. For example, let’s say your character has an Aspect—even better, they have a Consequence. Broken Leg. How do you interpret it? What does that mean? How does it impact that character?

  1. Compels: “Well, don’t you think running after him may be a bit much on that Broken Leg?” *brandishes Fate Point* This one requires a leap into Fate narrative logic—having a broken leg only matters when you’re compelled, so you either don’t have to worry about it or you get a FP for it. (That said, giving up a Fate Point to resist the Compel is a big cost.) That leap of physics leaves me a bit cold due to its inconsistency—the Consequence only affects the narrative when it’s compelled to do so, and if it matters every time a related action comes up the player will be drowning in Fate Points from Compels—but it has a good mechanical balance to it.
  2. Unfriendly/Hostile Invoke: “Well, because you’ve got that Broken Leg, I’m going to take a +2 to my roll to outrun you.” *spends Fate Point* What’s good about this method is that it’s super-transient; it doesn’t cost the player anything and doesn’t restrict their options but still provides a challenge. They also get a Fate point for it… but it’s at the end of the scene.
  3. Aspects (including Consequences Are Always True: “Well, you have a Broken Leg, that means you have a broken leg.” By taking that Consequence, you just narrated yourself into having a broken leg. You aren’t going to be sprinting anywhere, will take longer to go up and down ladders, and will have some issues with movement actions. There’s no compel, no expenditure or gain—the Fate Point status quo—you just can’t do certain things. It’s probably a bit too absolute for most Fate tables. But it can work both ways (e.g., on the opposition), and some groups love this kind of thing.
  4. As above, but rather than preventing actions, “Aspects being true” justifies a higher difficulty: if everyone else needs to make a +0 Athletics roll to jump from rooftop to rooftop, your Broken Leg may see difficulties raised slightly (requiring a +1 or +2 Athletics roll). You’re still allowed to act, even though it’s less attractive than usual, has a higher chance to fail, and is more draining (represented by the fact you’ll spend some Fate Points after you roll enough -‘s on those slightly-higher difficulties).
  5. Or “Aspects are always true,” but lead to narrative justification of the four actions: “Because you have a Broken Leg, you’ll need to Overcome using Physique to chase that dude into another zone.” It’s requiring the use of an action (usually Overcome) to accomplish something you’d normally be able to do without cost. In this case, movement into a nearby zone doesn’t usually cost something, but with that busted-up leg you’re going to have to hobble like the wind without hurting yourself further.
  6. Or pull out ye olde Fate Time chart, and say that due to that problematic Aspect, it’ll take one step longer to complete an action—climbing up that fire escape may take A Few Minutes for all the healthy people, but 15 Minutes because of your *Broken Leg*.
  7. Or you could haggle between Player and GM, again backing up a gain with a cost: “How about I do manage to scramble up after them, but from straining to keep up I hurt my leg more—move it up from a Moderate to a Severe Consequence?”

With all those options, most of them can work together in the same game depending on the circumstances—3 is the exception; I would either use for all instances or none. I tend to like the methods 4 and 5 because they don’t completely limit what you can do, but instead make it more challenging than it normally would be. Which is a pretty accurate representation of a Broken Leg: it’s not like you can’t climb a ladder on it, it’s just more complicated.

But, really, there’s no wrong answer besides what you as a group/table feel is the best at the time. There’s probably a bunch of options I didn’t even think of. And I think that’s kinda cool.

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