As someone who only played for like an hour in an ad-hoc, two-player session as GM, i would like to get some advice:

First the example:

The basic, on-the-fly idea was that the hero gipsy arrives in a town that is more and more controlled by organized criminals (the outward sign being big casinos and lots of shady people in the corners). Now, in one scene i described the place in front of a casino, and how people went in and out. The hero, having a weakness for gambling, wants to go in but knows gipsys are not really welcome. So, she wants to flatter one of the customers to take her in. So far, so good. In the end, i just let her suceed, but i wonder how i could have applied fate rules here. What should i have the heroine do here?

A a different time she had to convince some shady guy to show her the way, in the end i let her roll an easy roll to taunt him into a gamble where she would get the desired information. What would be a good fate-y course of action?

Also, maybe related: How to decide on a difficulty of the task? Especially in such a 1:1 setting, i actually want her to succeed, also narrating the succeeding case is easier most of the time (especially for an unexperienced GM as myself), but i also want to apply fate rules and allow for unexpected outcomes, and a sense of difficulty.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ You have no less than five questions packed in here, when our format really requires one question per post. Can you cut this down to one of the questions you have? The rest can be posted as their own questions as well, so that they're each assured of getting the attention and answers they need. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 15:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well i guess the one question i have here (which is pretty broad i admit) goes along the lines of: i am telling a story already, at what point do the rules like aspects come into play? I like the idea behind the rules, but find it hard to apply them. And i find it difficult to formulate a single question out of this. I think i just want to understand how my example would work for more experienced GMs/players \$\endgroup\$
    – kutschkem
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 20:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let me stop you right there and say, you are telling a story with your player - Fate is built on empowering player narration. I think, "when do the rules some into play?" Is a great question here! \$\endgroup\$
    – gomad
    Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 15:02

2 Answers 2


Depending on how much detail you want to delve into, you can set the example scene as a simple oppposed challenge, where both the gypsy lady and the casino patron roll appropriate skills like Rapport vs Willpower (and invoke aspects as needed) and the story goes the winner's way; or you can set it up as a conflict, where the gypsy and the patron attack each other's mental stress tracks in order to take the other one out, and determine the outcome (patron is persuaded/patron dismisses the gypsy), and others can also help and interfere with the processs.

The first is quick and simple and lets you get to whatever interesting thing is happening in the next scene, the second helps you form an elaborate and interesting story around the newly forming relationship of the gypsy and the patron.


You have 2 questions:

  1. What is a scene?
  2. When do I roll?

They are both pretty simple to answer, in fact, they both have official answers for the Fate Core or FAE systems. FAE is just an implementation of Fate Core with certain dials set in certain positions. If you have questions about FAE, you can usually use the Fate Core answers without difficulty.

From the Fate Core SRD:

A scene is a unit of game time lasting anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour or more, during which the players try to achieve a goal or otherwise accomplish something significant in a scenario.

So a scene is the piece of the story where the player(s) are focused on one particular goal. Your player wants to charm her way into a place where she wants to go but isn't welcome. That's one scene. Some changes might not constitute a change of scenes. If she changes goals, for instance - she fails to charm her way in, so decides to sneak in instead, I would probably consider that a single scene if there was nothing interesting between the two efforts.

But I just said, "she fails to charm her way in..." which brings us to the question of when to roll. That also is addressed in officially.

From the FAE SRD:

Often, you just succeed, because the action isn’t hard and nobody’s trying to stop you. But if failure provides an interesting twist in the story, or if something unpredictable could happen, you need to break out the dice.

This presents the key elements of the decision:

  1. Is success assured?
  2. Is failure interesting?

First, check to see if success is assured. This is a good rule of thumb for many modern games, often summed up as Say "yes" or roll the dice (from Baker's Dogs in the Vineyard, I believe). If this is something a competent, proactive character (as all Fate characters are assumed to be) could do, just let them do it and move on.

Then, even if success is not assured, you need to ask yourself if failure is interesting. Is there going to be an exciting consequence to failure? If the cop rolls to smash down the door and it doesn't work, rolling again to try once more is not interesting. If it doesn't work and now the bad guys have gotten to their helicopter on the room and he has to figure out how to pursue them in the air, that's interesting.

Also, remember that you can fail forward in Fate. Failing forward means you got what you wanted....almost. So your gypsy PC tries to charm her way inside - and fails. Instead of just saying, "Nope, he won't let you in," failing forward would be saying, "The guard grabs your arm in his steely grip! 'Gypsy scum! The boss'll want to get a look at you!' He drags you inside and tosses you into a dark closet." Now your player is inside, but not the way she wanted, and the situation has changed and progressed. It's interesting.

If you can imagine the character reasonably failing and you can think of something interesting that happens because of failure, then go ahead and roll.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I count five questions! Two in the title and three in the body. I've voted to close until they can be split up. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 16:00

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