Earlier today, I was asked a really great question on Google+:
I know that you wrote some articles on your site abot Fate Accelerated, but I found no information about the « Create advantage » action. For example, I’m a guard and I try to have some information from a paysan woman. I said to the GM : « He ! You know that I grow up near the market when I was a child and I perfectly know the Big Master of the market ». The player try to create an advantage to create an aspect « I know a The Big Guy of the market » to use it after to obtain some answers from the women.
I don’t see what Approach I can use to « Create advantage » in this example.
Can you help me with this ?
Why yes, I can!
The What and the How
In Fate Core, skills tell you what your character is doing. I’m hitting up my Contacts, I’m Fighting, I’m Deceiving them, etc. Fate Accelerated, however, is concerned with how you’re doing what your doing.
You don’t make a Burglary check to pick their pocket, you are Sneaky when you do it. You don’t Willfully ignore a Provoking tirade, you Forcefully bear it. You don’t Shoot your target, you run-and-gun in a Flashy manner.
The six approaches are easy enough to understand in the physical sense. Being Forceful when forcing a door open instead of rolling Physique. Being Quick when covering distance instead of rolling Athletics. When it comes to the more mental or social aspects, though, the waters get muddy.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always know which approach to use in a given circumstance. Heck, one of the great things about recording actual play audio instead of playing live is that we can cut out the “well, I’m sure it could be…umm…” type discussions. This happened a bit too often, in my opinion, when I ran a game for RPG Gamer Dad (Part 1, and Part 2). But I digress.
Socially Created Advantages
In this context, the aspect being created is a social I Know the Big Guy, or something similar. But in order to do that, we need to know how the player is bringing up the information.
Just the Facts
The first way is to declare it’s true, and spend a fate point to invoke it. This goes a bit beyond what Fate Accelerated mentions for aspect, but Fate Core says that if “you’re not looking for a free invocation, and you just think it’d make sense if there were a particular situation aspect in play, you don’t need to roll the dice or anything to make new aspects—just suggest them, and if the group thinks they’re interesting, write them down,” (Creating and Discovering New Aspects In Play).
Meaning if the player’s backstory makes sense that they could have the aspect, it’s there and the player can spend a fate point on it.
Roll Them Bones
Of course, if the player is looking for a free invoke or two, that’s when we get into dice rolling and mechanics. In that case, we need to know how the aspect is being created.
First you narrate what your character is trying to do.
The basis of all dice rolls in Fate Accelerated is based off of what is happening in the fiction. Meaning that any approach could be used for any action. In this instance, the create an advantage action, it all depends on how the name is dropped.
In my opinion, the three best approaches for an I Know The Man aspect would be either Flashy, Forceful, or Sneaky. And here’s why:
- Flashy actions draw attention to yourself. Calling out that you know someone of note to impress someone else is pretty Flashy! “Pay attention to me, I know someone important!”
- Forceful actions are not subtle. This is the equivalent of “I know someone important, and if you know what’s good for you you’ll listen to me!” Forcefully social is browbeating someone
- Sneaky actions are the opposite of Forceful. Just nonchalantly mentioning, in passing, that you know someone. You name drop knowing they’ll know who that person is, but you’re saying it in such a way that “yeah, I know this person, so what?” and moving on with the conversation
But why not the other three? Simple.
- Careful actions take time, and most social actions are in the heat of the moment. Not much time for planning
- Clever actions are you thinking fast, on your feet. If you’re going to name drop on purpose, it’s not clever. That being said, I would entertain it being used if the player wasn’t planning on dropping the name
- Quick actions are more in the realm of fast-talking, confusing them with a barrage of words so they don’t know what is going on. They just agree with you to get you to shut up and go away. If you’re dropping a big name, you want to make sure they hear it and understand.
Keep an Open Mind
Of course, with the right situation and the right players, any approach can be justified for anything. That’s the beauty of FAE! My go-to rule of thumb is that if I’m uncertain, I’ll ask the rest of the table and see what they think. If I can get a good number of them to agree (1 or 2 others) with the player, I let it ride. My groups are rarely more than 6 strong—1 GM and 4–5 players, so 3 is a majority.