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Background

Our group is new to Fate, but experienced in other forms of RPGs (from pen and paper to LARP). Fate is a new concept for all of us and has a very different style from what we're used to.

The problem

When there's a conflict, usually my players simply go for attack (and defend) actions. They seem not to value the other two kinds of actions available (overcome and create an advantage. This may be due to my poor skills as GM, because I haven't stressed enough what they are, how they can be used and why they should forgo an attack to do something else.

What I've tried

Sometimes (even if rarely) NPCs try to create advantages, to show my players that characters can get bonuses without spending Fate points.

I've reminded them before, during and after the game, that they can try to produce bonuses (or remove enemy bonuses on them) with these actions, but they don't really seem receptive.

Any suggestion, both in-game and out-of-game, is welcome.

I'm looking for suggestions from both a GM and a player point of view, if possible.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this answer has some useful illustrations, even though I probably would not allow the 2x free invokes thing any more... \$\endgroup\$ – gomad Oct 9 '14 at 14:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ In my head, something clicked when I realized that Create an Advantage provides an all-encompassing combo mechanic. Even if the narration is basically an attack (maybe with some fluff), they might choose to CaA instead of dealing damage so their ally can "stack". That also makes supporter "classes" interesting: they can spend their actions solely on CaA and be pivotal to any contest. \$\endgroup\$ – Raphael Aug 31 '16 at 22:32
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Create Advantage: Make opposition more potent

In my own experience (somewhere about 20 games - mostly one-shots, though - GMed) the more potent the opposition, the more players are encouraged to make use of create advantage action. So, for instance, if a bad guy have his defence skill, which he uses to counter any attack action the players use, high enough to require them to use more than 2 fate points on average roll (Like, +6 defence vs +2 average player attack) just to make it a tie, then they'll probably start thinking about making those advantages. Same goes for high enough attack skills, that may deal significant harm to any PC.

I've had once a very interesting conflict, where PCs were facing a very strong enemy - mostly cybogized human with heavy X-COM-stylish plasma gun. He was also backed up by four henchmen. The PCs tried first to just shoot everything they saw only to realise they don't do enough damage by attacking alone (and suffer a few consequences while realising that) - henchmen are using very good cover (creating advantages for themselves) and main enemy is rather resistant to all their attacks - so they started to position themselves and making use of environment to prepare for decent strike. They end up making his henchmen to betray his master and then collapsed most of the ceiling on his head to win, one of the PCs was forced to take Extreme consequence and all of the players were mad happy about this encounter.

Tl;Dr version: For your players to start even considering using the create advantage action you must make sure they can't just shoot ot provoke everything they see without any consequences.

Side note: Be sure to prepare them somewhat before they engage such strong enemy. It's rather not fun to be used as a floor mop, when you haven't got any chance to prepare for it. My players in mentioned encounters were rather aware that the enemy will be quite strong, and in addition they let one of his henchmen escape in the previous encounter, so the baddie was also prepared for PCs.

Overcome: Give them a choice

As far as I remember, the only rule about overcomes in conflict in Fate Core rulebook is the time when you try to move more zones than 2, or something blocking your way and you must overcome it. So other than that, if you don't explicitly provide them with obstacles to move through zone, they don`t even need to overcome anything. So, for you to make them use this action, you have to either make any battlefield they encounter a war-torn bomb-and-shrapnel filled craterfield, or you could give them a choice.

By choice I mean, that they'll have some sort of reason to not just punch their enemy in the face (or make some arrangements for it - creating an advantage). It's usually not something that they can use to win over their opposition - that would be create an advantage action - but it must be something they might consider more important than winning. It might be a lock on the gate, that preventing them from escaping an endless zombie horde, or it might be some valuable shiny they might want to snatch before the pirate ship is utterly destroyed by their war mage, or whatever. It is, of course, might help them in the end to punch opposition in the face, like great artifact sword of awesomeness they spent 3 turns digging from debris, while other part of the party were fighting with incoming waves of goblins. But in general it must provide some sort of alternative goal they might have in addition to just defeat the opposition.

Tl;Dr version: Make something they will want to do other than punch their enemy in the face, and make getting that done difficult - hence, overcome action!

Side note: Of course, making some terrain hard to pass by, requiring overcome action is also a good thing if it provides some sort of tactical choice. My point, is that it is not the only one option to make overcome useful.

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Since advantages are just temporary situational aspects, one way would be to first guide your players to use whatever situational aspects you put on a scene and then point out that they can create their own by using advantages. Especially as situational aspects might be a bit more noticeable than other aspects in the scene for new players. (Especially if you follow the rule book's suggestion of placing big post-it notes with them on.)

For example, in a firefight, invoke the situational aspect Crates to let the NPC take cover behind them and then watch as the PCs get blasted apart out in the open. Then in the next firefight, the NPC creates the advantage under cover by flipping over some tables and then watch as the PCs get blasted apart out in the open unless, of course, they too use the Create advantage action to flip over some tables of their own. Hopefully, the players then learn from imitation.

A variant of this might be to just listen to the fiction, wait until a player says something innocent like "I take cover behind the tables" and jump on it, telling the player that to do that he needs to use the Create advantage action. As the GM it's your prerogative to decide what action is most suitable to use after all. If you decide that a player's attack or defense is better suited as a create advantage action that's up to you. Normally, you'd want to avoid being too heavy handed with this but in this situation it might be warranted. Of course, if all your players bring to the table is "I hit it with my sword" or "I try to block" this won't work.

Yet another option is to come up with some opposition that can only be defeated by the creative use of advantages. For example the only way to defeat the armoured killer robot is to blow up the gas bottles in the lab, creating the advantage roof collapsing on top of the robot.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you ask for editing help for your own answer? Cause I just reread it and it certainly needs one but my brain is to mushy to do a proper job atm. \$\endgroup\$ – Chryckan Oct 9 '14 at 14:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Done. Hopefully I didn't alter the meaning of your answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Nigralbus Oct 9 '14 at 14:47
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I'd say "Show them!" is the best you could do. The bad guys have all the options as well. Let them use Create Advantage and Overcome to their advantage and let the players figure it out.

My players learned to use these "obscure" actions, when the Evil Spirit Ninja created the aspect "I'm to fast for you to even attack me!" on himself. This (being an aspect) negated any attempts of the players to attack him normally. They HAD to overcome this one, in order to get along in the fight.

Mooks, being relativly weak, are a good thing there, too. Let the first group of them create an advantage, that the next batch benefits from. Showing the players, that even simple +1 or +2 skills can ammount to a threat if buffed, is priceless.

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In order to get your players to do things other than simply attacking and defending in conflict, it might be necessary to understand why this is what they are so focused on. I have played quite a few RPG systems as a player that have influenced my play style in Fate. The biggest influence has been D&D, which taught me that all I have to do in a fight is attack. In Fate, it took me some time to learn attacking was not my only option, or even always my best option.

In order to learn this fact about Fate I needed to learn the rules, take some time actually practicing said rules, and realize that attacking was not always the best option or the most fun option.

Say your Players PC's are in a fight, and they just attack every turn and eventually win/lose (something like "I shoot him, I shoot him again). now imagine that instead of that, you have them roll notice at the start of the fight, and one of them notices that the monster they are fighting is only focusing on one person at a time. Then one PC with high/decent Provoke (or deceive ,or equivalent distraction capable skill) rolls well enough, or even has to spend Fate points, to put the "Distracted" Aspect on this monster and hands the free invoke/s to the next PC in line who then rolls to attack. if there are multiple free invokes they can use more than one and even spend a Fate point to get +6 (plus 2 for each free invoke and plus 2 from Fate Point) or more on this attack. That is a more interesting style of play, and you just need to be able to show them that, I think.

In order to show your players that using create advantage can be fun, you may need to sit down with them and have a practice session (talk to them about this first, see if they are up for it, try to convince them). If they want to use the characters they have already made, and you want to use the same setting, that is fine. I recommend they make practice characters, and if they do you should advise them to put a decent amount of points on skills that are good for create advantage. skills like Athletics, Physique, Deceive, Provoke, and Stealth (Stealth isn't the best example though). If the monster you make for this practice battle has Armor 2 and your PC's have no weapon rating, this could also drive home the fact that simply attacking for this fight isn't the most efficient option (if your PC's have a weapon rating, make the Armor rating of the monster 2 higher). Now this is important, Have the Players decide their character's "stats" first ** then tailor your monster to have a decent (but not too high, maybe the same number or one point higher) defense against their attacking skill, **but abysmal defense against create advantage your PC's have some good provoke? give the monster 1 or 0 will (or whatever skill defends against provoke).

Make sure your players understand that the point of this exercise is to show them how create advantage can be useful to them. If they know their attacks do 2 shifts less damage than they rolled, but their create advantage rolls will be virtually undefended against, they will realize (or you will tell them) that a create advantage roll is mathematically stronger. If one PC rolls 6 on Fight, (as an example attack skill) and the monster rolls 4 to defend, your PC did a 2 stress hit that was negated by armor, and gets a boost. If your PC rolls 6 on provoke or deceive and the monster rolls 2 (because they exploited his weakness) to defend, they just created an advantage with style that they get 2 free invokes on, which they can pass to the next attacking PC to give a plus 4 bonus that can go up to plus 6 if they spend a Fate Point. this helps against the armor rating and still helps do extra damage.

lastly, as more or less a footnote, you can remind your PC's to try and do some reasonable Create advantage rolls before fights start as long as they have the time and know that the fight is coming,as well as when and where. for clarifications sake, you should allow them to make such create advantage rolls when it seems appropriate, and should not be allowing them to abusively make more than seems entirely reasonable.

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