I'm currently running a Legend campaign, but I'm using Fate as an add-on to handle certain scenarios that Legend isn't as good with. It seems to be doing it's job well enough, but the encounters take forever. I started a conflict two sessions ago, it went through the entire last session, and I think it might be half done. What's worse, one of the players was taken out at the end of the last session and another player is probably going to get taken out at the start of this one.

The sessions themselves are conducted online, through roll20, via text. There are 4 PCs and the current encounter pit them against 6 good nameless NPSs and one named NPC with a top stat of 5. We don't often do much with the Fate side, so they were coming in with nearly full resources (I think one was down a Fate point and another was up 1).

I suspect part of the issue is the time it takes to wait for someone to decide what to do and type their actions, then for everyone to absorb that, consider their responses, and then the next person to formulate their action(s). Unfortunately, suspecting that doesn't really help me deal with it or see a way to compensate for or ameliorate this sort of lag.

The Legend portion of the campaign does not play any role in the Fate portion.

What can be done to speed up Fate conflicts and what can I do with players who get taken out at the start of a long conflict, so they don't spend the entire session with nothing to do?

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ What's going on that it's taking so long? (I've never seen or heard of a Fate conflict taking multiple sessions to resolve before.) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 1, 2015 at 23:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, please do clarify. In this homebrew Legends/Fate crossover, how are you running your conflicts? My group's conflicts take less than an hour. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 1, 2015 at 23:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie That's a bit hard for me to say. There's nothing that stands out so I can point to it and I've never played a fate game before to have something to compare it to. Deciding on and then typing out actions seems to be eating up most of the time. The Legend and Fate sides are completely separated, so it's just a straight up fate conflict when it's a fate conflict. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 1, 2015 at 23:26
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Do you mean that you're playing online? If you're playing online, that's very relevant to both your situation and potential solutions, and should be incorporated into the question. Apart from that: an example situation might help answerers understand the question (give an overview of a conflict's series of events in hindsight so we've got an idea of the scope you mean by “conflict”, plus maybe a zoomed in example “here's an example action, it looked like this, it took YY minutes to play out…”) to better answer it. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 1, 2015 at 23:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I'll add in the part about it being online, but the examples could be difficult due to... content. I can explain the numerical arrangements, though. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 1, 2015 at 23:43

3 Answers 3


Comprehension Lag

One of the major flaws of text-only RPing is that there are so many "moving parts", so to speak.

  1. A player writes a complex action.
  2. All other players read the complex action.
  3. Next player interprets its mechanical effects.
  4. The player thinks about their own complex response from numerous options.
  5. The cycle repeats with that player writing it out.

There are 4 main parts to that cycle:

  • Reading
  • Understanding
  • Planning
  • Writing

This can be remedied by reducing the amount of mechanics in the system used, going free-form RP completely or reducing the Fate Core portion of your game to Fate Accelerated.

Going to Voice-chat

When you start using Voice-chat, the cycle shrinks:

  • Conversation
  • Planning

Reading, Writing, and Understanding share a time-slot in the cycle. While someone's talking, you're listening. This is also happening at much faster than Reading speed. Understanding manages to fit itself into the extra time, but you will still have some to spare for quick mechanics feedback.

"Can I do this?" "Yes."

Something that, if done with text, would take significantly more time and introduce many more instances of lag.

Voice chat has it's own issues with it, however, and you can experience up to and beyond the following:

  • Heavy-breathing
  • Microphone signal noise
  • Angry familial yelling
  • Other player's music playlists
  • Inane filter-less chatter
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I believe something like that is outside the bounds of the question. I already expressed the merits involved with moving to a voice-chat feature. The acquisition overhead of that feature was not listed as a merit or demerit in my answer. In regards to how difficult it is to achieve the voice-chat feature, however gotten, the amount of time spent on each players turn is unaffected. \$\endgroup\$
    – Axoren
    Oct 27, 2015 at 2:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ NP, just an idea. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 27, 2015 at 10:27

Running Fate Core Combat in a Text-Based Medium:

In a text-only environment, you need to minimize the number of decision-points while stil staying true to the system. Here's how I do it:

Before the combat-exchange:

  1. GM records the NPC actions somewhere (in a gm-only place; This will not be revealed until later)
  2. GM calls for rolls, tallies action-order or asks for initiative rolls (depending on how your group does it)

During the combat=-exchange:

  1. Players declare their actions and make the appropriate rolls.
  2. GM rolls for NPCs defense, makes notes on results
  3. GM posts a draft "Exchange Breakdown" A draft of the kind of combat breakdown I use is below.
  4. Players roll for defense & spend fate-points as they choose. (This may require discussion. This is unavoidable. Is that Aspect really appropriate? is this player using that stunt?) Players will also add in their narrative descriptions, so the end-text isn't wholly the result of the GM's writing.

After the combat-exchange:

  1. GM posts completed exchange breakdown and post the narrative, makes appropriate accounting changes to Fate-pools, Stress-tracks, etc.

The GM's Combat-Exchange Breakdown

A single combat exchange breakdown might look like this:

+5 Steve

  • Shoot NPC:Mark, Shoot:+2, Weapon-rating:+2 (pistol)
  • Steve rolled 4dF(+1) + Shoot(+2) = Attack(+3)
  • NPC:Mark rolled to Defend(+1) (I try not to reveal the specifics of the NPC's stats)
  • Math: Attack(+3) - Defend(+1) == Effort(+2) + Weapon-rating(+2) - Armor(+2) == Damage(+2)
  • NPC:Mark takes 2-stress from Steve's gun attack
  • Note: Mark already has the two-dot stress marked off. It'll have to roll-up to the 3rd stress dot or be taken as a Mild Consequence

+4 Mark

  • Punch Steve, Fists:+3
  • NPC:Mark rolled Attack(+4)
  • Steve, please roll to defend. Athletics to Dodge or Fight for close-combat
  • Default Outcome: If there's no roll by Wednesday, Steve rolls 4dF(+0)
  • Athletics(+2) for a Defend(+2) to try to jump out of the way.
  • Math: Attack(+4) - Defend(+2) == Effort(+2) + Weapon-rating(+0) == Damage(+2)
  • Steve takes 2-stress from Mark's punch...

This is not an ideal approach, but it narrows the decision points requiring player input to two: the declaration of an action and the declaration of defensive actions.

It is possible in such an approach that a single player may need to make several defensive declarations and rolls. But at least the player can post all of them at once.

I'd be pleased to read up on other folks' methods of streamlining combat for a text-based media.


You don't give a lot of details to why your conflicts take so long, so I'll try to cover most of the potential issues in brief.

First: Fate is a light, but mechanically fiddly system. Because of this, if you try to run it in its full glory online, it can take a huge amount of time--functionally, every opposed roll is a modified auction, so there can be a huge number of exchanges before it resolves.

What I'd do here is switch to a different auction mechanic. Have the player (or players, if there are more than one involved) blind bid invokes before the roll with divisions for different results (ie, "up to 2 points to win, 1 point to succeed with style" or "1 point to hit, or up to 5 points to take them out"). Or another approach is to, after the initial results are revealed, have players describe how all the invokes they're willing to use modify the conflict (this avoids a secondary descriptive step); once the results are determined you can then only charge them the invokes they needed for the result they want, or, if some of their invokes don't work narratively, possibly have it fail and not charge them at all. Either way, a given exchange is only 2 posts, rather than the upwards of 10 you can easily get if you do the full auction.

Second: It's easy to misjudge how much stress and consequences to use in a conflict, and Fate systems have varied wildly on how much they defaulted to. Err on the low side. With only 3 stress boxes and 3 consequences, combat can go plenty long, but it won't nearly drag as much as if you have 5-6 stress boxes instead.

Third: You may want to evaluate whether you want a conflict at all. Conflicts are long and involved, and while they need not take more than half an hour or so in person, in email they can get out of hand. It might be easier to use a contest instead; where the first character to three victories is the victor, and the focus can be on skills, aspects, and narrative, not damage and consequences and death spirals.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "if you try to fun it in its full glory" - i am amused by the appropriateness of this sentence, but did you mean run it? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 16, 2016 at 7:03

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .