Ritchie's Holmes - tagging and compelling aspects like there's no tomorrow...but not invoking?

edited January 2010 in Story Games
So, I went to see the movie yesterday with a friend, I enjoyed it for what it was (and it was a combination of Iron Man, House MD and From Hell...mostly From Hell really). But enough of the movie itself.

As with many other pulp stories in media, I couldn't help but think about the happenings onscreen in terms of FATE. There's two action scenes especially, where we are treated to how Sherlock's brilliant mind works in a fight...his powers of astute observation make him privy to the opponent's weak points which he then exploits for devastating effect. There are moments where people are compelled to act a certain way, because of their relationships. There are moments where the environment is used for advantages and disadvantages.

But I can't really remember any moments where anyone does something that would count as an Invoke. So I've been wondering, what happens if we take away the players' Aspects? What if they had to rely on (and only on) their skills? Would the game be poorer? Or would it provoke more use of those elusive circumstantial bonuses, trying hard to manipulate the environment and other people so that you get the metaphorical high ground?

I suspect it would change the way the game is played. Now, if only I could try this out.


  • edited January 2010
    See were you see tags, I see a few invokes as well. Take the scenes where Holmes observes and plans his attacks to disable various guys. First off he uses his new stunt Elementary Deduction which say lets him tag Assessed Aspects at a +3 instead of the normal +2. He sets up an obvious Aspect or two on his opponent (Or obvious to Holmes anyway), then unleashes his attack Invoking his Aspects 'Gifted Amateur Prize-Fighter' and 'Useful Knowledge of Baritsu' and tagging the temporary Assessed Aspect, for a full on knock-out combination of Victorian Kung-Fu Whup Ass that will leave his opponent Unconscious for Half Hour, Three Weeks Bed Rest, and Full Recovery Two Months. Though it could also be argued that most of the folks he took out in that fashion weren't much more then quality minions.

    Another example of an Invoke might have been for his 'Master of Disguise' Aspect for his clever and convincing quick change disguise that can fool even those with observational powers near his own. Though again he also took the time to build up some temporary Aspects onto himself for the scene, starting with 'Wearing a False Nose' and 'Stolen Overcoat'.

    As for the idea of getting rid of Invoking to make players work a little more interactively with circumstances, the environment, and others it sounds like a good idea in theory, as players often tend to just pile on their own Invoked Aspects rather then setting up Taggable Aspects and working with the story. But it would also make the use of Aspects during character creation a little bit strange, as you would go through the trouble to defining your character as 'The World's Greatest Consulting Detective'. But then never getting to use it yourself and only interacting with it mechanically when you or someone else Compelled it. SotC would lose much of the juicy flavor that Aspects bring if you couldn't Invoke them, and if Characters were only really defined by their skills. A possible compromise might be to try limiting the players to only one Invoke per roll to encourage more Compelling and Tagging.
  • So, you're talking about having no character aspects, but still allowing the use of maneuver, assessment, and declaration to spontaneously create and then take advantage of other aspects?

    Also, what is a relationship if not a character aspect? Do characters get to have those for compel purposes, but the player can't invoke them?
  • @Leonard
    Yes, precisely. Irene Adler is compelled to stay in London because of her Aspect "Has the hots for Holmes". But I don't remember her ever Invoking it for a bonus. So relationships could be a sort of "table" Aspects, they don't belong to anyone in particular. The relationship exists in the "space in between", it's not her "Character Aspect", perhaps more of a "Setting Aspect"

    As far as the fighting and deduction are concerned I see that as just the effective use of high-level skills and stunts. You do have a point there with the disguise part, that definitely was a maneuver build-up of temporary Aspects that were Invoked...hurm.

    Just to clarify, I'm not talking about playing SotC this way, I'm just toying with the idea about what would happen to a game of FATE if you hacked it this way. I'm talking about a HotB-scale hack, using FATE only as a toolset. Now, as to Aspects generating during character creation not having a mechanical impact...that is a bummer and should be addressed somehow, I just don't know how yet. Character creation etc...all of it should probably be rewritten.

    Basically, what I'd like to do is maximize the Maneuvering and Tagging (and Compelling) but minimize or remove Invoking. Or should I just give up because Diaspora already handled it with its Scopes killer app?
  • Posted By: TeataineAs far as the fighting and deduction are concerned I see that as just the effective use of high-level skills and stunts.
    Really? Nothing about who someone is ever helps anyone? In the whole movie? Just what they can do?

    ...sounds like a movie written by D&D nerds, all right.
  • In pulp stories of all kinds, this is virtually always true. Since Holmes is the granddaddy of the mystery pulps, it shouldn't surprise you that much. It would be untrue to the source material if deep issues of identity were explored.
  • edited January 2010
    I'm probably exaggerating (since mcellis has already proven me wrong above), but yeah...Watson is characterized as "doctor", "gambler", "Sherlock's friend", "engaged", "veteran". His gambler aspect is compelled but he refuses (the only time he "gambles" is when Holmes bets money instead of him), his engagement status is compelled several times, but he refuses the fate point, again, to follow Holmes instead. He does take some shrapnel out of his own arm as a doctor, but that's basically a skill use. I guess you could count it as an Invoke when his wife-to-be bails him from jail, and I can see him Invoking his "soldier" aspect in the fights.

    You could say that Holmes is Invoking his "crazy gonzo genious" aspect all over the damn place, but basically all his deductions and actions are the use of skills (Chemistry, Science, Baritsu, Perception, Disguise...), and very clever use of Maneuvering for massive free tagging. [which is what I'd like to emulate]

    Irene probably invokes her "Female Lures" Aspect a few times and Lord Blackwood does make use of his "Sinister Dude" Aspect at least once, but his whole plot is, again, a stack of Aspects maneuvered into place for maximum effect...(but obviously foiled just before the end).

    I don't think they were D&D nerds, per-se. I think they were just nerds. As mentioned, the plot is basically lifted from From Hell, there are references to Alice in Wonderland, the 5th of November, Poe...
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