[Scion] The Bindings of Fate (but not FATE)

edited May 2007 in Story Games
So, Scion is pretty awesome. Not flawless, but it's full of stuff that just jumps out and suggests magnificent things to do in a game.

Now, one of the neat ideas is the handling of Fate. Fate is sort of a catch-all destiny that helps makes the characters heroes, twists things their way and so on. mechanically, it has a number of neat effects tied into the characters 'Legend' stat, which grants a pool of expendable resources.

* It 'twists fate' to allow them to do cool, impossible things, represented by mechanical bonuses.
* It increases the likelihood of "interesting times" as the character's legend grows, basically giving the GM a freer hand with coincidences and dramatic events.
* It provides an in character explanation for the extras (i.e. Mooks) by describing it as fate ushering these people off the stage, to move on to matters important to it.

I'm pretty happy with this, if only as a clever rationalization form some of the realities of the game, but if this were all it did, I'd just go "neat" and move on. However, there's one other element to it which absolutely intrigues me in its concept, but sticks a bit in its implementation, and that is Fatebinding.

The idea is this: If you use a lot of godly foo, you run the risk of drawing the people around you into your story, and fate binding them to you. What role they'll take (allie, enemy, nemesis, lover and so on) depends on them but the bond is a mechanically supported risk of using powers too openly.

Now, I love this. Not only does it elegantly solve all of the problems that Paradox created back in Mage while still having a slowing effect on powers use, it introduces a game supported tool for the conservation of characters (the idea that while the world is very large, in a given story, characters will be re-used rather than having a constant stream of them coming in). This is, to my eyes, elegant as all hell.

The problem is that mechanically, it calls for a lot of secret rolls on the GM's part, based on the points spent, the character's legend rating and so on. It seems cumbersome and intrusive, and I don't think I could bring myself to engage in the ritual as presented.

So, Pulling back a step, the goal of this mechanic is to really do two things - give players a reason to think before solving everything with magic/powers and put a human face on the impact of the players on the world. In short, if you have to move at superhuman speed and jump a canyon to save a kid from a speeding car, the system should be resulting in that kid now being tied into your story (or at least a strong chance of that happening)

Practically, the system provides that, but in a very cumbersome fashion, so I want to peel it back further: Given a system where character's spend from a pool of points (generally one at a time, from a pool of 4, 9 or 16 points) and the desired outcome that the more legendary their actions (possibly represented by more points spent, maybe qualified by potency of effects) and the more directly they impact someone the greater the chance of this connection forming.

Right now, my instinct is more of the "get to the end of a scene, make a judgement call, pull 1-x tarot cards and a major Arcana equates to a fatebinding and provides some hint as to the flavor of the bond." It's workable, but it's crazily subjective (specifically in determining what x is) so I'm curious how others might approach the problem.

-Rob D.

Comments

  • Why not make it a single, open roll, rolling 'X' (X=Fate rating?) d10's in the storyteller way. There are success thresholds for how tight of a fatebinding that happens. But, hell, have the player see it -- there's no reason for the secrecy, and no reason to make it anything more complicated than that. I dig where you're going with the Tarot idea, but that's one more supply necessary, so I'm tempted to lay hands on the resources already at the table (d10's) and make something out of that.

    To what extent is what I'm suggesting like what they do already?
  • Sort of. The current model is to make a roll on a per action basis. The starting roll is the character's legend score (2, 3 or 4) and increases with each action, with the increase depending on what happens. If you ever get 5 successes on a roll, fatebinding occurs. This is for each PC in the scene, so it seems like it could get headachey very fast.

    I guess the biggest change I'd want to see if a switch to a single event (roll, draw, whatever) at scene end. I could probably figure otu something that's roughly comparable for probability, but I'd worry I'm sacrificing an opportunity for something cool - most specifically, I think I may want to make sure I have leeway to say "That was awesome, and my narrative sensibilities really want to skew this roll towards fatebinding" and add dice or lower difficulties appropriately.

    Maybe roll legend at the end, but reduced the difficulty from 5 by one step per cool thing.

    -Rob D.
  • First, clarification: is fatebinding a phenomenon that is recognized, understood, and perceptible in the game world?

    Secondly, the GM could just hit tally marks on each NPC sheet when powers are used, and then do the actual rolls at the end of the session. Less bookkeeping in the midst of things.
  • On the first: Yes, it's it a known phenomena, albeit a mysterious one. There is a recognition that it happens, but the understanding of why and why not is, like most workings of fate, a bit fuzzy.

    And on the second, tally marks do have a certain ease of use. I may need to overcome my resistance to marring the sheets. :)

    -Rob D>
  • Can people recognize that they are fatebound to somebody before they just start showing up repeatedly in each other's lives? If so, there's hardly any problem with rolling at point of use, since it's something that impinges on the development of the story in a way that the characters are aware of it.
  • Well, the fatebinding is pretty assymetrical - the PCs are the scions of gods and most of the time, the other party is a mortal of some sort , so it's really a matter of them showing up in your story, not the other way around (it's interesting that "your story" is really an IC artifact in the game). That said, while there _are_ ways to see fatebindings before they become obvious in events, those are reasonably rare - most often you just start noticing this guy you saved last week starts showing up in odd places.

    -Rob D.
  • The Fate-Binding stuff is such a cool idea (and one of the reasons I keep thinking about grabbing Scion despite my dislike of the 'Exalted' sytem in general) that I wonder if you could remove the randomness out of it entirely. Maybe every time you spend X total number of points (where X is Actions + Legend Status) around a person, they are automatically Fate Bound?

    Just a thought :)
  • It's an interesting question whether it would be improved if it were more certain. In some other games, I might make it a player or GM choice - spend a currency and Whammo, fatebound. But at the same time, I like the whimsy of fate and the presence of uncertainty. Undecided.

    That said, while I totally dig Scion, if you're not going to get much out of the mechanics, I can't suggest picking it up. There's some nice fiction, and it's a good illustration of the very interesting way WW is presenting their adventures these days, but it is predominantly a rule book.

    -Rob D.
  • Posted By: Rob DonoghueSort of. The current model is to make a roll on a per action basis. The starting roll is the character's legend score (2, 3 or 4) and increases with each action, with the increase depending on what happens. If you ever get 5 successes on a roll, fatebinding occurs. This is for each PC in the scene, so it seems like it could get headachey very fast.

    I guess the biggest change I'd want to see if a switch to a single event (roll, draw, whatever) at scene end. I could probably figure otu something that's roughly comparable for probability, but I'd worry I'm sacrificing an opportunity for something cool - most specifically, I think I may want to make sure I have leeway to say "That was awesome, and my narrative sensibilities really want to skew this roll towards fatebinding" and add dice or lower difficulties appropriately.

    Maybe roll legend at the end, but reduced the difficulty from 5 by one step per cool thing.
    Naw, man. Fatebinding is conceptually big and important. You just want to avoid the annoyance of action-by-action rolls, right?

    So start the dude out with a dice pool equal to his whatever (Legend? Sure.).

    Everytime he does something that uses his mojo, hand him one or more additional dice to put in that pool.

    At the end of the scene, have a big-ass exalted-style mega dice roll of whatever that pool is.

    Then take turns with the player (players) going back and forth *spending* successes out of that pool to produce the fate-bonds you want to see come to pass.
  • Posted By: Rob Donoghue I think I may want to make sure I have leeway to say "That was awesome, and my narrative sensibilities really want to skew this roll towards fatebinding" and add dice or lower difficulties appropriately.
    You could do it just like a Fate point offer for Invoking an Aspect in Fate. Offer LP or Willpower to Fatebind, player can decline by spending the same number of points, and then the offer may be escalated. Most players are going to freakin' love the idea of building a Legend around their character anyway and are going to totally eat this up when it fits with perspective on their character. No rolling needed, easily done after the current scene. Only potential downside is that those pools may refresh after the session. To avoid this either do it mid-scene or offer something else, like XP (either general or XP to increase Legend only).

    I agree that the rolling, on top of multi-step attack resolution, is a bit much.

    And as an aside, if anyone wants to know more then check out my Scion review.
Sign In or Register to comment.