Howdy, folks! This post, I’m sharing another rules hack (two, actually).
I LOVE Fate Accelerated. I’ve run it at conventions and one-shots with kids and adults of every age.
However, I’ve asked players who prefer Fate Core skills over approaches, and I generally hear three different complaints:
- Players spam their lead approach for every action
- There’s not enough complexity / crunch
- In large parties, player’s expertise overlap (not enough differentiation)
What if we split each approach up into multiple actions? Or better yet, into a sort of “sub-skill”?
With 6 approaches, each with 4 actions, becomes 24 skills.
Approaches – To help with alliteration, we’ve decided to rename “careful” as “peaceful,” “flashy” as “blaze” and “Quick’ as “zip”. (Which is not perfect, but works for a blog).
Caa – Fault
A – Fight
D – Forebear
Caa – Conjure
A – Capture
D – Circumvent
o- Pick Apart
Caa – Perceive
A – Placate
D – Protect
Caa – Shroud
A – Stab
D – Shirk
o- Blow over
Caa – Bedazzle
A – Befriend
D – Blind
Caa – Zero In
A – Zap
D – Zig-zag
Q. What is your level of approach?
A. For ease, I would recommend that PCs have all sub-skills within the same approach all share the same level . Ex. All unlocked Forceful skills be Good +3; all unlocked Clever be at Fair +2.
Q. How many do the players start out unlocked, and which ones?
There are several ways to do this:
a. Players are given a certain number of points to unlock any subskills they want (mandatory: at least 1 skill for every approach over Average +1.)
b. Players unlock N subskills of their choice for each approach over Average +1. (N would equal either 2 or 3). (ex. 2 unlocked for Forceful, 2 unlocked for Clever)
c. For flavor reasons, each approach has a specific approach auto-unlocked, and players get to unlock N additional subskills (either 1 or 2). (ex. Forceful at Good +3 would have Attack unlocked and a second action; Clever at Fair +2 would have Create an Advantage and a second action).
d. Reverse tiered – the lower to value, the more skills are unlocked. (Ex. One unlocked at Great +4, two unlocked at Good +3, etc.)
Personally, I think B
Q. If I haven’t unlocked an action/ skill, can I still use it?
A. Of course! However, you get no bonuses. (Alternatively, I could imagine paying a fate point to temporarily “unlock” an action.)
Q. Can I have more than two actions unlocked?
A. Not by default. However, stunts can unlock it in set circumstances. Ex. Suave Swashbucker – you may use Flashy to make attacks when you are armed with a rapier.
Q. Do NPCs have actions locked?
A. No. To keep things simple, NPCs always have access to all 4 actions.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
Before I finish with this post, I had one last idea: what if you used the same Approach/lock/unlock set-up with Fate Core? Perhaps this is a new way to bundle skills for fast character creation.
I call this FATE Accelerated Bundled Core, or FATE ABC
Q. How would this work?
1.. GM’s would pick a pyramid type, either Tall or wide.
- Tall: Approaches have 1x Great +4, 1x Good +3, 1x Fair +2, 2x Average +1, 1x Mediocre +0
- Wide: Approaches have 1x Good +3, 2x Fair +2, 2x Average +1, 1x Mediocre +0
2. Players would pick their approaches based on that frame (Ex. Forceful at Good +3, Clever at Fair +2).
3. Players would then pick 2 skills under each approach that’s Average +1 or higher: those two skills are unlocked. The third skill is “zeroed out” (as in, can be used, but at Mediocre +0). Here’s an example (using the Tall set up):
Q. How does it compare to normal character creation?
A. In theory, it should be a lot faster. For example, picking 10 skills requires 10 decisions (or, by reverse, 8 skills you choose to not have). With this system, players pick 1 approach to have at zero, and then one of three skills that’s zeroed out- thus, you’re only making 6 choices.
Q. How does this compare to Skill Bundles from Toolkit / Atomic Robo?
The Advantage of this system is that it creates PCs that have skills that overlap in flavor, but still can be unique.
Take Fight for example: It results in 4 different PCS with 4 different feels:
Zero Drive – A strong a burly character that’s not good with machines.
Zero Physique – A tough scrappy get-away driver who might be physically tiny
Zero Fight – A gentle giant who loves machines
Stunts / No Zeroes – Using stunts, this character is can conditionally access all three skills.
1. Another fun advantage is it provides a nice shorthand for stunts – by adding in the approaches, we now have another value to reference and technology.
- Calm Mind – Once per session, I gain +1 to each of my Careful skills for the duration of the scene.
- Cornered Trash Talker – When I have taken stress or a consequence, I unlock Provoke (same value as my Clever).
- Backstab – If you are attacking an opponent who is not expecting your attack, you may use Fight skill using your Sneaky Approach value instead.
This saves players having to think of a direct parallel for substitution skills – rather, they have to pick a general approach that covers the category.
2. NPCS – The greatest use would be the fact that NPCs can keep using Approaches; this means GMs spend less time and energy creating complex NPCs, and don’t have to worry about minor NPCs that are too vulnerable against a specific type of attack (ex. Having to give them all Will to protect against a psychic PC).
3. This system allows players with Core and players using Approaches at the same table. For example, you might have one experienced player use Core, while another player (perhaps someone who is less experienced, younger, or differently-abled) uses just the approaches. Balance should not be a major priority (as it’s cooperative), but if you wanted to make it more “even,” the PCs using straight approach would have fewer stunts (which reduces their complexity further still).
That’s it for this post! What are your thoughts? Would you use Locked or ABC set-up? Tell us what you think!