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Recently I had a situation where 4 PCs and an NPC had each a very different plan for approaching an incoming war.

We decided to work it out as a conflict. We did the following:

  • The DM had 4 Fate Points (1 per player).
  • Attacks were arguments against another characters'.
  • Since a single argument could go against multiple plans, sometimes multiple characters had to deffend from it.
  • The conflict went on until there were two characters remaining whose plans were compatible. And the group went on with those plans.

This arose two questions regarding whether we handled the conflict correctly under Fate rules and philosophy:

  • Do attacks can really be done against multiple characters?
  • Do the Master really get 1 Fate Point per player when PCs are already fighting against themselves? That made it feel like the NPC (who already is very powerful, as per Fate rules) had way more chances to win the conflict.

All together: Did we handle that conflict well? If not, how should it be handled under Fate rules?

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You didn't make mistakes, but it might have worked better to do it differently.

A lot of the difficulty of running Fate is in picking a useful mechanical model for current events, as opposed to applying the rules correctly. That said, let me address your mechanical concerns first.

Attacking Multiple Targets

This is enough of a concern it's got its own paragraphs in the core book - look here for "affecting multiple targets". Short version: yes, but you have to split your total attack roll among your targets and they only defend against the part they got. Good for mook sweeping, not so much for harder targets.

Creating an advantage can create an obstacle multiple people have to overcome, and special circumstances or equipment, like a rocket launcher, can legitimately hit multiple stress tracks at full strength. But by default, your attention is divided.

Fate Points Per Scene

Maybe it feels a little off in this particular scenario, where some of you might have been on the NPC's side, but yes, no matter the opposition they're commanding, the GM gets Fate Points equal to the number of players.

A smaller number of targets are usually taking fewer total actions than the players, so having more concentrated Fate Points tips the scale there.

Doing It Differently

So, the problem with a full-on grind-on-your-stress-track conflict is that people can take lasting consequences to stay in it. That would make sense, if the GM wanted a scenario where everyone was so at loggerheads that they might wear themselves out before the enemy army even landed.

It doesn't sound like that was what you were going for, tough, so I think in this case a contest would have been a better model. It doesn't sound like anyone was trying to cow someone into submission, just make the most compelling argument. In the rules text on contests, a debate is even called out as one of the scenarios that suits a contest. (Specifically "a public debate" - yours sounded more private, but it was still more about getting your point across than shouting someone down.)

Set some total number of successes, everybody takes turns trying to win a round by getting the highest available result, creating advantages risks your turn on success, most total wins takes it, allied sides of the argument can combine successes to share the victory. On the surface it fits what you were trying to do pretty well, but only you can make the call.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Just to clarify, I was the DM. Your advice on handling it as a Contest sounds better than a Conflict. \$\endgroup\$ – Masclins Jun 23 '18 at 23:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Right, I've rewritten it to be a little more perspective-neutral. \$\endgroup\$ – Glazius Jun 24 '18 at 0:24

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