Some Lessons From a Semi-Successful Fate GM

While I'm still quite a ways away from achieving Fate system mastery, I'm definitely getting the hang of it - so much so that it's making me resist the shiny call of trying some other games (though now that I think of it, I could do Dresden Files Accelerated).

Looking at the map from a recent game the first thing I'd say I've learned is it is vital that everyone know the Aspects that are currently in play. Even though I play using a virtual tabletop in Roll20, I've gotten into the habit of using sticky notes to list the aspects of all of the NPCs as well as writing down the environmental aspects. One thing that's been challenging for me mentally is including aspects that the characters do not know about - the players still know about them. Now, if they want their characters to be able to get a free usage out of them they'll need to have their characters perform an action to "discover" that aspect. 

I've also learned to be cautious about overpowering the opposition. Initially I'd tended to make an NPC have the same number of consequences and stress boxes as PCs. I've learned that that model works best if an NPC will appear in multiple scenes. If an NPC appears only in one scene and he or she is statted out as if the equivalent of a PC then the battle will take quite long with the NPC having a large reserve of consequences and stress to draw from - for just that scene. On the other hand, PCs consequences often appear in multiple scenes.

Just like any other game, it is easy to get caught into a cycle of attack-defend-attack-defend. A good model of avoiding this can be found in the Star Wars film Attack of the Clones -  when Jango Fett and Obi-Wan battled, it was an evenly matched fight despite Jango having no Force powers. He managed to disarm Obi-Wan early in the fight (creating a disarmed Aspect which prevented Obi-Wan from making lightsaber attacks until he could overcome it which Jango made difficult). The key here was Jango knew Obi-Wan's best attack modes and did everything he could to prevent Obi-Wan from being able to justify using them.

One area I still have a challenge in is in making use of environmental aspects such as rough terrain, fires, etc. I'll attempt to have NPCs leverage such aspects in our next adventure.

Map Credit: Miska Fredman. Go check out his Patreon - his maps are first rate and well worth supporting.


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