Importing Aspects and Fate Points from FATE into Sorcerer?

Started by Manveru, April 23, 2008, 07:56:52 PM

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And I'll have to train myself not to rely on an EDIT function for my "editing the post for typos" phase of my posting workflow .... ^_^


Quote from: Manveru on April 25, 2008, 07:14:09 PM
And I'll have to train myself not to rely on an EDIT function for my "editing the post for typos" phase of my posting workflow .... ^_^

*palm to forehead*


One more thing before I finish my beverage ..

I like playing the Fate Point economy.  When a novice FATE player group "gets" the FATE point economy, things are so much more fun.  Most of the time, when I run Sorcerer (or FATE for that matter), I'm running for players who have never played the game before, and apparently have to jump through a half-dozen mental hoops to "get" it, and _enjoy_ playing the game the way it plays (instead of the way they expect an rpg to play).  I'm actually not talking about novice _role-players_, but 'experienced' role-players coming into Sorcerer or FATE more or less cold.  It's the most frequent situation I run into, personally, so I have to give it a lot of thought.  I end up attempting to demonstrate and describe the concepts any number of different ways, usually with the apparent goal of reassuring a player or player group that they haven't "lost" anything just because their character doesn't have a half-dozen or so characteristics, a score or more of skills, a half-dozen more extra special abilities and weapon/armor stats or hit locations.  This is a tremendous GAIN!  But, preaching to choir here, I imagine.

So, I've seen novice FATE players pick up the Fate Point economy (or get comfortable with it, anyway) faster than they've grasped the Sorcerer "way".  Hence, one of the specific questions forming in my mind here is:

Is there a way to structure some of the potent decision making and character development opportunities implied by Descriptors by way of the Fate Point economy?  I've got a firm eye on Invokes and Compels here, as I've seen that be a good way to get players thinking about character actions, story  and consequences in a way that actually points toward Sorcerer, IMO (only Sorcerer does without those "crutch" mechanics).

Does this make sense?  Anyone see where there may be potential and pitfall here?



I actually need to rephrase this question:

Are there any _interesting_ ways to structure some of the potent decision making and character development opportunities implied by Descriptors by way of the Fate Point economy?

I want to emphasize "interesting" without implying somehow "better". 


It just occurred to me that what I may be fundamentally seeking to explore here is:

What happens if you do this?  Fate Point invoke/compel = score point = die = victory = bonus = penalty

I left off the numbers because I wouldn't assume yet whether it would make more sense to assume 1 Fate Point invoke/compel = 1 score point/etc. or 2/score points/etc.

Any other questions I posed above would appear to be just derivations of this fundamental question.


Ron Edwards

Hi Marvin,

You've asked some great questions and raised some fundamental issues. I think most of the advice you got was accurate in the most basic sense, which is that Sorcerer is built actually to function without a formal improvised factor involved in the currency equation. However, I think you knew that already - I think what you are after is investigating why the system works without it, and whether something else could introduce it. That wouldn't result in Sorcerer play, but it might result in functional play of a slightly different kind. Am I right in understanding your question?

If so, then I'll start by pointing out that all your observations strongly agree with my own experiences about how it's a stretch for long-time role-players to pick up the concept of play for games like FATE and Sorcerer - but the more so for the latter, which has no training wheels, so to speak, and in which player responsibility lies wholly within the realm of chosen character actions and reactions. So in some ways, I can see that introducing the spend-my-die technique makes sense at that introductory level. Again, not for purposes of playing Sorcerer, but for some other setting or driving function of play.

If I did that, I'd probably remove the Humanity mechanic and introduce, instead, some mechanism for gaining more points for spending into the equation. The problem then is that that reward mechanic should be interesting in some fashion, or at least thematically weighted in some way. To do that, some redesign is probably useful. And in fact, here, one can find both Dogs in the Vineyard and The Shadow of Yesterday as good examples, in which both damage and "yay, new points" are deeply embedded in the existing resolution mechanics.

As you can see, we are basically talking about designing a new game. The problem with stopping halfway and playing, basically, with the Sorcerer resolution system with spend-my-die added in, is that it's pretty boring. You get points to spend them, and effectively, by playing (and spending), you get more points. Unless the whole point is to revel in some genre convention, there's not much juice there.

About now, people might be wondering why I removed Humanity so casually a couple of paragraphs above. The answer lies in the brutal consequentiality of the no-FATE-feature Sorcerer resolution system. When you make a decision to do something in Sorcerer, either you abort it at the last second, or you're committed to it - and then, what happens, happens. Re-rolls are not permitted because you don't get to "do over" the results of such decisions. They're fine in other games, but in Sorcerer, the strength of the Humanity mechanic absolutely relies on the knowledge of this inevitable, uncontrollable outcome for one's dice.

After all, if one does X, and incurs a Humanity check for doing it, and if it fails ... then spending a point and getting to re-roll for that action softens the true failure of that action. You don't have to live with its outcome, necessarily.

Does that make sense?

Best, Ron


Ron, you got where I was coming from EXACTLY.  I really appreciate the thoughtful response, all your points make sense to me and your summary i's a great touchpoint for looking at Sorcerer's fundamental mechanic.

I'd like to clarify one aspect (pun, heh) of my query: no rerolls.  What I'm curious about is sliding Fate Point invoke/compels into the existing Sorcerer currency.  In a sense, this may be like the time I put Himalayan black salt into a risotto.  That time it worked, but it did taste a little funky.  I like funky, so it was OK for my "p-game", as it were.

So, NO REROLLS!  Perish the thought for a Sorcerer game, I mean honestly.  You put it so nicely, Ron, but .. no, no rerolls in Sorcerer for me. ;^P

Drop the rerolls utterly, but use Fate Point invokes/compels in accord with the existing currency, so, for example (only a pinch to start):

1 Fate Point invoke/compel = 1 score point = 1 die (NOT a reroll, evah!) = 1 victory = 1 bonus = 1 penalty

Sure, maybe this means that a player could roll an ADDITIONAL die on a test, by invoking an appropriate Descriptor with a Fate Point.  But don't change how the currency or dice essentially work in Sorcerer.

As an aside, not to put the cart before the horse .. but kinda to put the cart before the horse .. I can't bear the thought of losing Humanity, so I was considering tying Fate Point refresh to the Humanity score.

In a sense, trying to think this through outloud, the Fate Point economy would add another vector into the currency AND an additional "do cool stuff but take a fall at some point" concern, alongside Humanity.

Will this approach utterly break down into wittle pieces?  I don't think it'll break everything, but it WILL definitely change the flow and focus, necessarily.  I think it could be fun, and maybe even serve as useful "training wheels" (I _almost_ used that phrase, :^) for game paradigm shifting.  However, I'm KEENLY interested in any gotchas that come to mind, so yeah, hit me!  ;^P



Hmmm .. I should also point out that I'm not really considering this option for a 'stock' Sorcerer game at all.  Sorcerer is just dandy for that.  I'm only considering this option for exploring non-stock Sorcerer gaming, such as something derived from Sorcerer & Sword or some sick mashup of mini-supplements.


The character-aspect die mechanic you're moving towards sounds a little like The Burning Wheel, which seems to be hovering around the same Sorcerer <---> Fate mid-point in terms of being able to "push" probability by invoking character traits (freedom), versus grim finality (risk and challenge).

Yeah, I read more stuff than I play, due to a multi-layered combination of long-term illness and dependents. I've devoured Sorcerer and two incarnations of Fate. If you ALSO like to read stuff, try reading The Burning Wheel. It provides lots of "training wheels" type stuff- lots of play/procedural rewards for noting, playing to, and inventively exploring "your character".

I know that you might be thinking "That wasn't my question, fool!" but your description of your conceptual "Forcerer" or "Sate" balance point resonated very strongly with my interpretation of The Burning Wheel text, so I thought I'd speak up.
....but you can call me Sam


Yep, got BW!  It's actually on the shelf here next to the other handies, like SotC, Theatrix and Sorcerer/et. al.  I agree with your comments, BW feels a little 'heavier' than SotC, specifically due to the pre-made lifepaths and tactical conflict resolution.  But is it nummy?  Totally.  Unfortunately, it appears that Sorcerer has rather killed my taste for anything crunchier for at least some time here.  I have picked up DitV and IaWA, though only very recently and have not yet played either.

Cheers, may the road rise, amigo.


It is a pretty common mistake, one that I certainly made, to read over Sorcerer and think of it as rules-lite or as a game with low crunch.

Somehow, in play, it just doesn't come off that way.  Allow me some time to think on how to explain that in a better or more complete way and while I'm thinking I invite and humbly beg anyone who can put that in a more clear way to do so.