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One thing I notice about games like D&D 5e (and to a much greater extent 4e) is that because it works in a sort of building block system of adding feats and class abilities together you can build some unique and fun situations by just combining ideas.

As an example, multiclassing a paladin and warlock lets you fuel your smite with warlock spell slots. Mechanically that's powerful, but you can interpret it narratively as using eldritch powers in creative ways! I find that reanalysis extremely fun.

Or to keep the examples diverse multiclassing ranger and monk (not strictly opposed narratively, but still distinct tropes) and focusing on choices that benefit from high wisdom and dexterity mechanically, but then doubling down on what that means for the character narratively.

However, as I'm learning more about Fate and its stunt system, it feels like you go narrative first, so this building block system doesn't work, and it's harder (for me) to generate the same cool feeling by reanalysis of the mechanics.

If I can just say, reflavour a smite stunt to be powered by eldritch energies I don't feel like I've captured the cool factor from combining narratively opposed ideas.

Although not all combinations from D&D are balanced, being able to just combine things is easy.

Making stunts that capture similar feelings feels much harder, and with fewer existing stunts to lean on, I'm struggling with how to write them without a campaign in mind.

In that case can I practice writing stunts that capture this narrative feeling?

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2 Answers 2

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You can't do it alone.

You've come across an example of what was dubbed the Czege principle, which, summed up, says that it's no fun to create both your own problems and your own solutions to those problems. You derive satisfaction from seeing the places where the rules of more structured systems try to block you and then overcoming them. Fate isn't trying to limit what you can do, so there's no feeling of coolness from working your way around those limits.

However, that role can be taken on by other players, including the GM. By establishing setting Aspects that define the boundaries of the world and the setting, you can build Stunts that will allow you to surpass them, whether that means creating temporary Aspects or Boosts to Invoke, allowing you to use your Skills in non-standard ways, or gaining the ability to ignore the strictures that have just been set out. It's not the same thing as mechanical mastery, but it can accomplish similar ends.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What a fantastic answer! Thank you! \$\endgroup\$ Feb 6 at 14:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess the follow up question is, how can I make use of : Surprise by Complexity, which says "when you create the adversity, you should not be sure you can solve it". \$\endgroup\$ Feb 6 at 14:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AncientSwordRage In Fate, that sounds like other people Compelling your stuff. They introduce complications that make things harder, forcing you to think more about the situation and work around the new obstacles. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jadasc
    Feb 7 at 13:06
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Use stunts which broaden skills.

Some stunts make skills broader as such this.

Talk the Talk. You can use Burglary in place of Contacts whenever you’re dealing specifically with other thieves and burglars.

It's a fairly common optimization thing for fate players to try and tie as many things possible to one or two skills so everything you can do can benefit from lots of stunts and compatible aspects. With careful narrative persuasion of the game master you can also get broader stunts that let you use your super strong skills on a wider variety of targets.

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