Discouraging Violence in Fate Accelerated

In my in-progress Fate Accelerated Edition game Wardens of Ouon, I want to discourage physical violence. The unicorns of the Forest of Ouon are supposed to find peaceful solutions to problems, falling back on combat only as a last resort. This goes hand-in-hand with my desire for Wardens to be kid-friendly as well.

Fate in general and FAE in particular models physical combat the same as other forms of conflict. In FAE, there is only a single stress track, so a punch is exactly the same as an insult until you start taking consequences. How do you make violence less appealing, when by default it is mechanically the same?

Obviously, I am going to stress the value of peace and negotiation in the fiction of the world. The Forest of Ouon is a magical place, and it responds to the actions and attitudes of its residents and especially its unicorn defenders. There is an element of karma where a violent Warden finds her way growing more difficult as the world itself works against her.

But I want a mechanical system to represent this. Some options are more elegant than others. The first idea that occurred to me was just to inflict a point of stress on a character that resorts to violence before exhausting her other options. However, I think this will have the effect of encouraging characters to rely on a single, devastating strike that ends the fight right away.

After discussion with some fine Fate minds, I've hit upon a method that may do what I'm looking for. Imagine a track that measures how readily the character resorts to violence. At one end, you have a character that always strives for peace, while at the other you have a character that hits first and asks questions later (if at all).

At each step on this continuum, you have a different aspect that reflects the character's attitude toward violence. Wherever you are on the track, that aspect is on your character. It should inform how you play the character, either to reinforce the aspect or to struggle against it. I don't have a list of the aspects yet, as I anticipate the exact phrases will take a lot of tweaking.

In play, the character's actions can force them one way or the other along the track. Whenever the character moves forward on the track (toward violence), the GM gets a free invoke that she can spend to invoke against the character. In this way, pursuing violence makes your life more difficult and more complicated.

It's an idea that needs playtesting, obviously, but I wanted to put it down for people to look at. Wardens of Ouon is pretty far down my list of projects right now, but the idea was floating around this week, so there you go.

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