Eventually, a situation will arise where the logical outcome is less obvious, either because it is unwelcome (e.g. the character gets hurt) or uncertain (e.g. can the characters sneak past the guard?). This is an explicit conflict, and it needs to be resolved in a specific way.
Frame the Scene¶
At the outset of the conflict, the GM has the option to add some aspects to the scene, by writing the aspects down on cards and putting them in the middle of the table.
Each card represents a distinct thing, like a character or a piece of scenery, and, as such, cards may have multiple aspects on them. Adding an aspect to the scene means either adding a new card or writing down an aspect on an existing card. Removing an aspect from the scene means crossing it out (and removing the card entirely, if appropriate).
It can be easiest to start with a single blank card and add two or three “environmental” aspects to it to start. You could add a card for each one if you like, but however you approach it, the way you describe a scene usually suggests the framing aspects. Dark and Warehouse suggests a very different scene than High Society Party and Swanky Penthouse.
The GM has a lot of leeway in adding aspects to a scene, but there are rules the GM must follow:
- If the aspect is detrimental to the characters (e.g. an environmental danger, an aspect on an enemy, or on a character), then the GM must pay one fate point for each detrimental aspect. However, the first aspect on a scene is free.
- If the aspect is beneficial to the characters (e.g. an ally or obvious advantage), the GM may take one fate point for each beneficial aspect.
- If the aspect is neither clearly beneficial nor detrimental (e.g. descriptors on the scene, like Thick Forest or Crowded Market) then the GM may place those for free.
As a general rule of thumb, the number of cards laid down is usually a signifier of how significant the scene is. If a scene has more than 4 cards in play, it’s probably a pretty big deal.
Characters and The Scene¶
If a character is in the scene, then all the character’s aspects are considered in the scene as well, meaning they can be invoked by anyone involved in the scene. If new aspects get put on the character (for good or ill), then the aspects should be written on the character’s status card, not on the character sheet itself.
The GM paid 2 fate points to frame this scene. The Swanky and Noisy aspects on the party are fairly neutral. If the character Piper Grace were on the invite list, Locked Down Tight would probably be neutral too, but, since she’s not, that is definitely a detrimental aspect, so the GM paid a fate point for it. The GM paid an additional fate point to add the Security Goons. Describe Action and Determine Difficulty Once the scene is framed, one of the players will describe the action their character takes.
The GM will then determine the difficulty of that action, based on the aspects in play. The difficulty starts at 0, and each aspect that clearly makes the task more difficult increases the difficulty by +2. As the GM describes the situation, she should include those difficulties as she frames the scene. .
Example: In this case, Piper Grace is trying to bluff her way into the party. Locked Down Tight and Security Goons “both seem applicable, so the GM declares the difficulty is +4. To bluff her way in, Piper’s Charming aspect seems obviously applicable, so she invokes that for free. That means she will roll at a +2, but the difficulty is 4, which is still difficult. As a Daughter of Venus, she can be very distracting, so as long as she’s willing to be a little flirty she could spend a fate point for another +2 to her roll. However, she wants to see how the scene goes before she spends anything more.
Once the scene is resolved, then it’s time for clean up.
The GM gathers up all aspects on the scene except those on the character’s status cards. Anything ephemeral should be discarded, but aspects which might be relevant if the situation comes up again should be set aside and saved. If they come up again (such as a fight in the same location, or an encounter with the same supporting character) then the GM adds them to that scene. Players also remove any aspects on their status card which would go away with the scene change (erase or cross them out), but others may linger until the situation explicitly changes them (such as medical care to remove a wound).
The Next Scene¶
Once the scene is resolved, the GM goes back to describing the situation, with players describing their actions and the GM describing reactions. Eventually there will be another conflict, and the process repeats.