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.