Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Space Opera Actual Play Silence Falls

The other day I ran a game of Space Opera for +Sharif Abed +Ron Frazier +Frank Falkenberg and +Brian Boring . Here is how it went.

Things that went well
Character creation: There were no big hiccups in character creation. Everyone seemed to get what I was aiming at, and it went smoothely. We had only one Human character, the rest were aliens of one sort or another. And the players really took authorship of the races they played. We even had one rce made up whole cloth(see below the video). In a couple of cases they had a firmer grasp on what was needed than I did.
Ship and world creation: Again his went very well. They started out small and we just kept building. Now they have a very rich world to play in and it was all their doing.
New races

Things that went OK
Pacing and scene description: Overall there were no problems with the pacing or direction of the game.The ship combat worked pretty well.

Things that went poorly
Jump gates: I did not have enough information on how these worked and so was not prepared for questions relating to them. To me, prior to running the game, it was a non-issue. Basically they only existed as a reason to get from one place to another. I will work on having a more definitive description of them and how they work.
The big shield debate: So...I really like the shield rules I put up in the first post. i realize that they need more written on how they work and what exactly they are. there is some dissent on this, however. It started out as a statement that gaining the invoke bonus as well as momentarily shutting down the shield was too powerful. Effectively this was seen as giving two bonuses. It then moved on to many other things, most of which were ways to change the rule in question. I don't want to do that, change the rule. I think I would rather remove the shield and weapon rules than add extra complexity to combat. I will continue to think on the shield issue, but for now I will continue running them as written.

New Rules and Addenda for Space Opera
New races
Ryleesh: An amphibian client Race of the Gora'oh. They are recent inductees to the galactic society and so are often viewed as backward or primitive. They actually have a natural affinity for fine mechanical and electrical work. They are fast becoming the Gora'oh's best engineers. They must still overcome the stigma of being 'primitive' in the eyes of galactic society. They are a short race with long delicate fingers. They are as at home in the water as on land, though they are air breathers. They do have a difficult time hearing higher frequencies fo sound, though they can hear far lower frequencies than other races.

The Smythes: One of the founding Council Races. A race of clones known primarily for there blandness of appearance and their complexity of language. Their language is the most complicated and difficult in the known galaxy. It is such that the name for their race cannot be understood or written down, they are general known for their mechanical and linguistic expertise. They own the vast majority of shipyards in the Charter Worlds and were instrumental in creating the common language of the Charter.

Additional information on existing Charter Races
Tesh: The lies of most Tesh revolve around what they call The Great Game. The main purpose of the Game is for the males to achieve the rank of Gamesman. High ranking females use mating rights as a lever to manipulate the world.
Taurai: Though they each see themselves as a sovereign entity in their own right most Taurai are associated within a clan-like structure for mutual defense if nothing else. Each clan has its own sets of morals and social strictures. Some are merely mutual aid and defense pacts, others are far more in-depth and byzantine. Exile from your clan is one of the worst things that can happen to a Taurai. They have no defense within the laws of the Taurai. They are considered a nation unto themselves, for all the good and ill that means. Also the Taurai have a much more limited auditory organs than most animal based species, they do not have a wide range of hearing, mostly in the mid range, high and low frequencies are beyond them. They are better at picking up light and light differentials than most species.

New stunts
Esp: This stunt allows you to have access to the Esp skill. The Esp skill allows for reading of minds, seeing the past, and seeing possible futures. the skill is for Overcome Actions to gain information and Create advantage actions to use your sixth sense against others or for yourself.

Galactic Martial Arts
Within the Charter there is a school dedicated to war. It is older than the Charter though few can say how much older. It is said that the Warmasters of the College are armies unto themselves, able to use any weapon to its greatest capacity.

Tharkaa Primary Gun Technique
Your Gun is your voice given form, speak forcefully and with precision and your opponent will have no rebuttal.
When using a gun gain a +2 to any create advantage rolls involving precision or aim.

The Heliar Sword First Form
Your Sword is your arm, its touch connects you with the world around you.
When using a sword to attack in the first round of combat you deal an additional two stress.

Primary Fist
Your fist is your weapon, you are never unarmed.
You gain a +2 bonus to create advantage rolls against an unarmed combatant when you have no thoer weapon.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Blue Collar Necromancy: Tobin's Spirit Guide pt 1

It was going to be a bad one, it was an old house. Far more memories and emotions in an old house. Worse, the same family had owned the house for generations. Big families and a long time scale leads to one thing, ghosts. No one wants to admit it. They would prefer that it were not the case, but there it is. Old house, old family, a lot of emotions, and a recent death means it is time to go to work. My name is Jedidiah Black. When the spirit world attacks, and no one else can help, you call me. I am a necromancer. 

Normally I would have a lot of research and a team to back me up, but time is a premium in a case like this. The Adler family are a big deal even here in Columba. They are not used to being out of their depth. They put pressure on the mayor, he puts pressure on the company, now I am going into what may be anything from a simple poltergeist or wall knocker to a Gjenganger or worse. 

The Adlers, their servants, and assorted hangers on had vacated the house for the week. They had moved up to their house on the coast for the duration of the exorcism. The sun began to set over the estate. Time to get to work. This ghost won't kick itself out.

Wall Knocker
Spectral Presence
Remember Me
Weakness: Emotional link to the house(define when you create the Wall Knocker)

Ominous Sounds: a mental attack, this is what they are known for.
Wierd Spatial Tricks: They use this to create advantages during the game
The Dark: They cannot be seen, they use this to defend.

Wall Knockers are the simplest form of Ghost. There main goal is to exert control on the world around them. They are manifest fear of being forgotten. They make a mental attack on anyone in their house/domain. You can stress them out with mental attacks, but only if you know who the ghost was. This will not take them out for good though. To thoroughly remove the Knocker you must find the item they have an emotional link with and destroy it, then stress the ghost out.

Elemental Rage
Weakness: True Name of teh ghost written using the element opposing the poltergeists linked element

Elemental effect: Allows attack with an element, fire lets them heat a room up, air gives telekinesis, and so on
GET OUT: allows for creepy effects to create advantages(walls bleeding, doors slamming, taht sort of thing)

Poltergeists are what a Knocker looks like when it wants more than to be just remembered. The angry dead are elemental rather than relational. They manifest as elemental effects, Fire, Water, Earth, and Air. To put them down permanently requires using the opposing element to write their true name within the walls of the house they inhabit. They use the Classical Greek elements so keep that in mind when designing the Poltergeist.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Magi: Test Run

I ran an alpha test of my setting and rules for Magi. A group of players from the Fate Core community graciously played in the game. Overall we had a bit of fun.

Things that I learned
-I need to add more detail to the description of what the magi are and what the characters can do.
-The skills need to be described in far more detail. I realized that I had not explained that the skills cover both magical and mundane actions.
-The world building needs a lot more work. A lot. Seriously.
-I get very easily confused as to how to build a narrative and tension in this setting. I need more specificity. I think I should take a look at how Apocalypse World and steal a couple a bits from it.

Here is a recording of the game should you wish to watch how it went:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Excelsior High: Humble Beginings

I Got into a rather large discussion on how supers would work in Fate. I had some thoughts on how they would work. As I was discussing this I thought, "why not put your money where your mouth is?" As I am not one to ignore myself I decided to try and do just that.

Funny thing is that at the same time I ran into a discussion of settings on and one jumped right out at me. Moonhunter on wrote this campaign hook in this thread:

77) The Avengers - the Animated Series

Like the X-men cartoon where the X-men were high schoolers, this reboot would have the Earth's mightiest heroes as teens in high school. Obviously a magnet school for the science types. The team would be Juniors or Sophmores.

Tony Stark, Geeky Rich Kid who buys popularity and designs power armors.
Janet - Rich kinda snobby girl, who is torn between Tony and Hank. Asian Mutant Shrinker, who gets stingers from Hank.
Hank - Science Geek who is too oblivious to realize that the greatest girl in school has a thing for him (Doing him as Yellow Jacket, so limited growth, shrink, and a little flight, with stingers)
Blake - the average sort of kid (for this school) who becomes a Young Thor. Thor kinds of scares him
Banner - Genius who made himself into a freak rage monster. Always an outsider, now more so.
Steve - Super Jock, with a true moral compass and a strong heart.

T-challa, Exchange student, Panther.
Sam - The Falcon
Hawkeye and Black Widow and Swordmaster might be those "bad kids" who are and aren't your friends.
Maybe a couple of other B-list Avengers might fill out the roster. (Tigra, Mockingbird, Moondragon, etc)

I could see Tony competing with Reed (the Freshman Wonderkin, who is actually 12) and his three friends (actually making Johnny the older brother).

The school is backed by Shield to train these kids to be an effective force.

Kang is an adult who is comming back to deal with the fools who embarassed him in High School
Hydra bad guys
Listen up True Believers, there is a high school in New York City. To all outward appearances a perfectly normal school, with perfectly normal children, going to perfectly normal classes. But all is not as it seems, my friends Within this school is a secret class of Unique Youngsters. Within the pages of this book are the stories and secrets of these young heroes. Read on to see the beginning of the greatest adventure yet. Excelsior!

A brief history of the game world
Hydra gave birth to the Super Human Era. World War II came to Europe, and with it came Super Humans. The Nazis had Super Weapons and a few Ubermenschen. The Allies Had the Invaders, Namor the Sub-Mariner, The Human Torch, Union Jack,and Captain America. in the end the Nazis Fell. Hydra Lived on. Super Humans faded into the background for a while. Fighting the hidden wars and secret mission with the world never knowing what they did.

In the last few years more and more singular individuals are cropping up in highly populated areas, and they are getting younger too. S.H.I.E.L.D. under the guidance of Col. Nick Fury set into motion the Avengers Initiative. Its mission was to gather as many of these individuals as they could into a response team for situations beyond the abilities of traditional forces. The thought was to get as many great minds and super humans as possible and stop this wave of strangeness from destroying the world. What they got was a bunch of teenagers with too much talent and not enough control.

Character Creation
I will be creating a cast of the standard Marvel Heroes that can be used as PCs or as NPCs. However if you would like to create your own character, I will be providing the guidelines here. I will endeavor to keep to these guidelines as I make each of the Marvel Characters.

1. High Concept: Same as normal
2. Trouble: Same as normal
2. Power: Write down your characters power, something like, "Spectacular Spider Powers," or, "Invincible Iron Man," you know something subtle...

This aspect is what allows you to do what you need to do. If you are making up a new character talk it over with the rest of the group. Explain how you see your power working. When dealing with normal situation you can just do whatever it is your power allows. It is when you face off against another super that you needto worry about the specifics. I go into that in the stunts bit.

Originally when I sat down to do the approaches I went a little too High School and not enough Marvel. Originally I went with this list: Jock, Nerd, Prep, Rebel, and Outcast. however that had loads of problems aside from the main one of being not comic-booky enough. So I ended up with this list:
Intelligence: When dealing with a problem through use of ones mental faculties, memory, education, or ingenuity

Strength: When dealing with a problem by way of Physical might, power, fortitude, or toughness

Speed: Dealing with a problem through agility, dexterity, quickness, or mobility

Charm: Dealing with a problem by way of personal magnetism, forcefulness, guile, or charisma

Perception: Dealing with a problem through Wit, observation, or intuition

You get six points to spend on Approaches which have a maximum rank of four. Spend them however you like.

super stats, and the various other weird abilities are a stunt you take. if you have super strength you auto win against nooks and you can set one of your dice to a plus before the roll versus players without a super stat. If you take two stunts worth of super stat you auto succeed versus mooks, you can set two dice to a plus prior to rolling when versus someone without a superstat, and you set one to a plus when versus a person with one super stat.

Example: Bruce Banner gets angry, no one likes it when that happens. He has two levels of Super Strength. If he were facing mooks or a mundane obstacle he would just succeed. Against the task master(who has no super abilities) he would set two of his dice to a plus, then roll the other two. Against spider man who has super strength and agility, he would set one of his dice to a plus and then roll the remaining three. If he were facing Thor who has the same level of super strength It would be an even roll.

There are other stunts you can take that give you wierd abilities. most work like a normal stunt, giving you a +2 to a certain circumstance within an approach. Just follow the normal rules for stunts in FAE.

The PCs are part of a special class. they go to school with regular kids, but they are each unique. Either with devices powers, or abilities(super Smarts). as the sessions go along the players will have the opportunity to pick up powers should they like. need to work on this.
When developing the school, be sure to work together to come up with the important places and faces. Who is the principle? Who is the home room teacher for the special class? What are the key locations in and around the school where the drama takes place? Aslo ask the players how much secret identity time they want? A lot means more Masters of Evil and the like, a little means more trying to get a date with Gwen Stacy while juggling your job at the bugle, your aunts failing health, and an attack by Max Dillon. Get this stuff nailed down and the game will really start to be the world you want it to be.

Who goes to Excelsior?
-Tony Stark: The big man on campus, rich, handsome, and a freaking genius. He has a bit of a rivalry with Hank Pym. Both he and Hank are generally considered the smartest kids in school. That is until Reed Richards really lets loose. He was hurt in a horrible accident and now has to have an arc reactor in his chest to keep himself going(I am considering him already having gone extremis). Tony is beginning to suspect that what happened was no accident.
-Peter Parker: Nerdy Peter Parker never had a friend. Poor poor Peter, even the nerds mock him. He loves engineering and optics. He spends so much time tinkering in his basement lab that life is passing him by. he is no Tony Stark or Reed Richards, but he works harder than either of them and in his fields he is years ahead of the curve. He recently lost his uncle. Since then he has become even more of a recluse, often missing class and shirking his friendships.
-Bruce Banner: In any other school Bruce would have been the smartest kid in it. Here he is just one of many. This didn't sit right with Bruce so began to experiment, to prove he was the best. His arrogance caused him to miscalculate. There was an explosion. When the dust settled his cousin was injured, she had been serving as his lab assistant. She needed blood, he was compatible. That was a mistake. W eek later when he first transformed into the Hulk, he realized his mistake. Now Bruce is far more humble, having learned the horrible price for hubris. He works to make the Hulk a force for good.
-Hank Pym: Intensely into the sciences, oblivious to anything else. He discovered a particle that lets him change size. He knows there is far more to this than anyone can know. He is deeply pacifistic. He would rather talk a problem out, he gets very upset when violence is used. He has recently discovered he is quite good at football. Janet has encouraged him to try out for the team.
-Janet Van Dyne: She has got it bad. If only Hank would notice her. Sometimes she gets so mad. When that happens, she uses Hank's particles to go off and have adventures in the smaller world. What she has told no one is that the particles seem to have awakened some dormant mutation within her. When she shrinks, she can fly and shoot bolts of energy! It is the most amazing thing ever. Now if she could only figure out how to tell Hank.
-Reed Richards: Child Prodigy, his mind is so far beyond what anyone understands that they had to put him here, even if he is only thirteen. He is always building things, always tinkering, always studying. He does not have any rivalries, because he just see's the science of a thing. He does not see how people might be jealous or have hurt feelings.
-Johnny Storm: Older brother of sue storm, track star, impulsive and adventurous. His father is one of the science teachers in school(maybe he is a secret SHIELD/Hydra plant to keep an eye on the kids). He likes fast cars and girls. He dreams of being a pilot, or an astronaut.
-Ben Grimm: Freshman football player. Befriends a lonely Reed Richards and protects him as best he can. Best defensive lineman in school. No one messes with Grimm.
-T'challa: Foreign exchange student from a recently discovered country in Africa
-Clint Barton: If he weren't getting into trouble all the time, he could be a star at anything he did. He is a kind of a physical genius. Able to do things that are just shy of impossible for a human. His spatial reasoning and perception are beyond compare. The problem is his mouth. When he sees something is unfair he speaks up. And when words don't work he moves to violence. Often he won't even bother with words, he'll just punch someone.
-Carol Danvers: Carol still has nightmares about that night. When the lights came. When they took her, did things to her. She is usually so sure of herself, confident, responsible, and fearless. But sometimes she forgets to keep up that facade. Sometimes the horror shines through. She see's doctor Samson(the school guidance councilor) once a week for the night mares. She hasn't told anyone yet, but she has gained abilities. She is unsure who to tell, or what to do about it.
-Barbara 'bobbi' Morse: Bobbi was raised by her father. He was marine so she grew up tough. Tomboy they called her when she was little. Now they are all a little bit afraid of her. she is still a teen and has managed to master three martial arts. Tough, fast tempered, and lonely Bobbi became something of a bully for a bit. Making fun of people and then if the tried anything taking them down. None of the adults could believe this little girl could take out a the larger guys, so she got away with it. Until she met Clint. He did not hold with her bullying, and he could face her in a fight. She hates him so much. She has yet to decide on proper revenge.

No Thor or black widow as they exist 'elsewhere for now. Maybe after an adventure in Russia or Asgard they will move to the city, but not right now.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Milestones and aspects, the proper use of

Aspects are interesting things. They are the part of Fate people grab onto early on in learning Fate. So much so that often most people want to put aspects in every game they play. People also tend to view Fate as, "that game with the aspects." There is quite a bit more to Fate than that, but they are the big shiny on the game. Now, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with aspects. I love aspects and I use them all the time. I do however often see people hanging onto aspects far longer thn they should. That is what i would like to talk about here.

The Fate Point economy depends on relevant aspects. The beauty part of it is that you can change an aspect pretty much every game session. This means that when the game starts moving in a new direction you can move your aspects in that direction, or in a different direction if you want the narrative to move that way instead. The issue I see in games though, is that people tend to not change their aspects all that much. Even when they talk about doing it, they forget or they don't care enough to follow through. Then they spend mist of the game not getting compelled  and being short on Fate Points.

The best advice I have seen on how to alter your aspects is not even from a Fate game. It is the discussion on beliefs in Burning Wheel. In Burning Wheel you have three beliefs. The advice given is to have one kind of long term belief, one in the short term, and one immediate. what this means is that you should have a belief that can be resolved in ten sessions or so, a belief that can be resolved in three, and a belief that can be resloved right now.

I see aspects in a similar light. In Fate Core you have three aspects outside of your high concept and your trouble. This means you have three aspects that can change rapidly from session to session. I like to look at these like beliefs in Burning wheel. I like to have an aspect that is relevant to my long term character goals, and aspect related to my short term character goals, and an aspect related to my immediate situation. I have found that this leads me to getting compelled a couple of times per session, if not four or five times a session. If you keep up with it, you can make sure you are relevant in any given scenario in the game.

Also by altering your aspects frequently you can direct the game. If the game is moving in a direction you do not like. Pick an immediately relevant aspect that will compel you to take actions that go against the current direction. You will not be completely altering that scenario, but you will be making it closer to what you want. Rather than meekly going with the flow, you are now forcing a narrative compromise and adding tension to the game. This is not a bad thing.

I am not saying that this is the only way to look at aspects. I am addressing an issue I have seen in games. Players will begin to look at aspects as a straight jacket rather than as a gateway into a larger world. Give my system a try, let me know what you think. Maybe I am wrong, maybe there is a better way of doing things. Until the discussion is had, we will never know.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Blue Collar Necromancy: The Unchanged and Creation

On the Nature and Name of the Sleepers(The Great Unchanged and their role)

The World is not ours. This must be known for all else to make sense. The world, and all in it, were created by and belong to the Great Unchanged. For countless Aeons they lumbered through Chaos. They had no name until we gave them one. They cannot be understood, controlled, or changed. They are beyond anything you think you understand.

The god's deaths have trapped the Great Unchanged in a forever sleep. That is what the church tells us. What they don't say, what no one says, is that sleep is an uneasy one. The Great Unchanged may have lost their purchase on this reality, but even sleeping they dream of taking it back. Those dreams are powerful. Their dreams have a will and they plan on waking the Unchanged.

More Strange Beings of the Aether and Mundane
Resurrection Men: Originally they were a bunch of grave robbers who would provide bodies for medical use. As time went along they merged with the doctors and became a cult obsessed with immortality. They willfully try and create ghosts and other undead in an effort to understand the nature of life and death. Or perhaps they are a cult of the Great Unchanged. They seek to weaken the walls of reality by creating as many undead servants of the Great Unchanged as possible. They make deals with Horrors and are ruled by vampires and other half dead.

Spirits: The remaining servants of the gods, Genii Loci, and Conceptuals(beings that cannot be destroyed so long as thinking being exist like death, love, dreams, and the like). All of these are collectively known as spirits. They are not necessarily hostile, though they are not necessarily friendly.

Horrors: The Great Unchanged sleep. Their dreams are far more alive than anyone would like to think. Those dreams are horrors, possessed of a dark will and the intention of waking the minds that created them. Pray you never meet a horror. If you do, pray you can run faster than your friends. If you can't, pray for a quick death. The are a cancer upon reality.

Those Who Have Names(Great Unchanged)
Drowned Woman: She is married to the earth, she is the sea. She demands sacrifices. When she walked the world thousands were drowned in her name. They were chained to the bottom of a lake. A lake with no name. On an island in the center of that lake she sat on a throne of skulls. Once a year she would ride forth out into the lands and select handmaidens to serve her eternally.

Shadow of Cold: In the beginning there was Ice and Darkness. A great giant walked the void between fire and ice. It was by his will that the world was formed, and by his will that the war with the gods began. He was starvation, frostbite, and darkness. King of the unchanged, if such a thing is possible. He cares for nothing save fear and pain. He was the cause of the rift between the gods and their creators.

Unspoken Dread: Tentacles, skittering legs, slime, too many eyes. This thing is every primal fear that has ever, or will ever, exist. To even speak its name is to evoke madness and to look upon it is to understand your place in the universe. Madness follows in its wake, panic run before it. Sacrifices of children were given every year to keep it away for the rest of the year. This being is restless even in sleep. Its Horrors are many and known.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Fate Core: No Skills No Nothin'

I can't sleep. Instead of that i present this kind of out there version of Fate. You get no skills. You have aspects and consequences. Your refresh needs to be pretty high(like ten or more). It also needs a physical representation, chips counters, beads, M&Ms, whatever. the only rolls that matter are versus other characters(PC or NPC). When you engage in conflict or contests you roll versus their roll, obviously. However as there are no skills that means there is no bonus to the roll. In place of that you can bid Fate Points to increase the roll by Two per aspect you invoke. this bidding must happen before the roll of dice, not after as is the norm for Fate Games. If you win the roll those Fate Points are spent, they are gone. If you lose you get to keep them.

This interests me as it creates a chicken mechanic in the game. Every time you spend a Fate Point you have to wonder if you are wasting a resource that you will need later on. You basically get to choose whether you wish to win right now or to trust to luck. i think this mechanic would need quite a bit of fleshing out, but I feel like this is a very interesting idea and would like to play with it a bit. So what do you think? Where are the hole in this? What do you think it would be good for? Inquiring minds and all that.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

FAE: First thoughts

I know I have not been putting out as many posts as I used to, loyal readers. There are reasons for this, but I would still like to apologize and explain.  I am currently reworking some of my old ideas into a bit more than they were, so in the next few weeks we should see a bit more from Magi and He Man. I am also working on Fate Points, which has taken up a bit more of my time than I originally thought it would. Then there is the major time sink in my life, I have recently been engaged to work on an as yet unnamed project. i am really excited about this, and once I can i will deffinitly write more on the subject. Again I am sorry to those of you who were really into all the various projects I had going, but I am not done writing and I will continue posting. I have just recently started writing on some other side projects that are not really blog postable yet. I appreciate all of your patience. As a reward here is my first time playing FAE and my thoughts on the system and where I think it breaks down.

The use of approaches is problematic as there comes this weird point in the game where you have to justify your approach to the table and hope they all agree. The approaches are vague enough that it is problematic, and specific enough that it is problematic. at any point there is the risk that the player will lose his vision of the action because someone disagrees with how he sees it. there is no final arbiter as every action becomes very arbitrary.

In RPGs there are generally two ways of looking at the actions of the characters.  The action equals Intent, roll, description or description, roll, follow through. FAE trends toward the latter type, but Fate games trend toward the first. This conflict of mechanical narrative is at the core of the conflict of FAE. You end up describing the action then rolling, then re-describing the action. This leads to a lengthening of the scene to no productive end. This is the first problem with the game, but not the biggest flaw.

The biggest flaw in the FAE interactive experience is the player's use of approaches. Approaches are to nebulous and too specific. What I mean is that they are too specific to be easily used in a given situation, imaginatively speaking. It is too vague in that a given action, when described, is hard to place in a given approach without debate. I ran into this issue a lot when playing. Someone wanted to use a clever action, yet it was a fight, so an argument broke out on every action. Was it clever, was it forceful, was it sneaky, was it flashy?Every action became this big uncertainty, quickly approaching singularity. It slowed down play significantly.

I think that it was supposed to be in the hands of the players, which approach was attached to which action. However that is not how it plays. What an approach is or is not is entirely up to table consensus. This leads to politicizing and filibustering behavior over the nature of any given action. This, in my experience so far, is a big problem and time synch in the game-play. It makes a simple game into something slower/weaker/uglier.