Wednesday, August 17, 2016

RPG a Day - Day 17

Once again, I'm skipping the scheduled topic for one I find more interesting. Today's topic: What is your favorite revolutionary game mechanic?

I'm not sure how you'd define "revolutionary" in this context, but discovering Fate Points was a moment of awakening for me. To explain why, it would help to start from the beginning.

I started gaming back in 2007 with D&D (3.5). It's a system people love to death, enough so that when WoTC moved on to 4th Edition, people stuck with a new version of D&D 3.5, Pathfinder. I point that out just to say that it's obviously a system with redeeming qualities if people loved it this much, but it places a lot of the narrative control in the hands of the GM. Players are generally limited to interacting with the game by the "buttons and levers" on their character sheet. This is why magic users are often considered so much more powerful in those systems; they just have more options for interacting with the world than the martial classes.

Even so, that ability to interact with the world is still limited to the effects described within the rules. If the player wants to interact with the game itself, it's entirely at the discretion of the GM.

Fate Points changed that in a way that I love. They give the players a way to interact with the game that goes beyond the mechanics defined on the character sheet. A player can spend a Fate Point to, for example, declare a detail about the world, or force a certain behavior onto an NPC. In some systems, similar types of resources can be spent to declare a PC automatically succeeds at his action.

It's an incredible method for the game to become much more interactive to the players, and not just the characters. It provides means for them to be much more creative and contribute in ways that the GM may never have anticipated. It's also a great vehicle for the GM to reward the players. It's frequently the case that a player might have a great moment at the table: He comes up with a great plan, does something hilarious, or capitalizes on a dramatic moment that impresses everyone. Fate Points are a good way for the GM to reward such moments. In a system like D&D, there's no obvious way to handle this.

Like I've said, there are similar systems out there, but Fate Points were my first encounter with this sort of mechanic, and I love it. It's why Fate remains one of my favorite systems.
Besides, there's just something satisfying about passing tokens back and forth.

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