: Fate in Agon
Here's what I think about Agon: I think that Fate really is fate.
Let's say that there's a baseline rate at which you trade Fate for the consequence-dodging benefits it can give you. The baseline rate is, you trade Fate whenever it's obviously the optimal thing to do, plus some percentage of the time when it's borderline the optimal thing to do.
The baseline rate is set by how the dice fall out for you. Nothing else.
Now let's suppose the stingiest realistic rate: you trade Fate whenever it's obviously the optimal thing to do, never when it's borderline. And let's suppose the most generous realistic rate: you trade Fate whenever it's obviously or borderline the optimal thing to do. (Of course you can squander Fate, by trading it when it's obviously NOT the optimal thing to do, but I don't care about that.)
Here's what I think about Agon in those terms: the stingiest realistic rate and the most generous realistic rate diverge from the baseline by at most 10%.
Even though trading Fate is presented as totally your choice, it isn't; you can sway it by at most 10%. Your Fate will accumulate at a rate, Â±10%, dictated by fate, as made manifest in the dice.
You play the game to find out how great a hero your character is fated to be. This is the awesomest thing ever.
I haven't tested this, I'm just guessing, but I bet it's so.
1. On 2006-09-27, NinJ wrote:
Yeah, I think I agree with you.
Figuring out when Fate expenditure is optimal is probably a solvable issue, too. I don't know where it should be, though. My guess is, you take a hit or two and use Fate to avoid preventing you from getting Glory. Avoiding long term tactical hits is probably worth spending Fate, but the short term hits probably aren't.
But the reality of Fate is that people spend it after battling a monster for ages, taking all the hits and getting just to the point of gathering hard-core glory, only to watch their trash talking glory-hounds fellow players get it.
THAT is when math goes out the window and you spend that fate just for fucking spite.
I read your post as saying that if there were no Fate points, then your game experience wouldn't be any different (or not much different) than if you played it with the Fate points. The result is that your hero is completely at the mercy of Fate (i.e. the dice rolls).
If that's the case, then your last sentence could just as easily be re-written as: "You play the game to find out how far your Hero can get before bad die rolls bring him down". In that sense, it doesn't seem terribly revolutionary. The same could be said for D&D.
Tom, yeah, that's not what I'm saying. Fate in Agon accumulates steadily, plus there's some semi-optional additional accumulation if you feel like dodging some consequences. It's when your fate goes off the top of the scale that your guy dies.
You hasten your demise, but you get to be more effective until then.
Like I say, it's semi-optional. I bet that most of the time when you do it, you do it because you OBVIOUSLY do it.
Yes, Roger, and see how wonderfully that worked out for Antigone in the play.
Sorry, you pushed a pet peeve of mine, which is when people attribute the quotes of fictional characters to the authors, even when those fictional characters are clearly intended to be WRONG.
Ulysses, on the other hand, *hot damn* He starts out as, basically this random nobody, one of the many second fiddles to Achilles, and sits around for the whole Trojan war doing basically nothing. But then afterwards, suddenly, he's the only guy with any Fate left ...
Tom: If that's the case, then your last sentence could just as easily be re-written as: "You play the game to find out how far your Hero can get before bad die rolls bring him down". In that sense, it doesn't seem terribly revolutionary. The same could be said for D&D.
Vincent: that's not what I'm saying. Fate in Agon accumulates steadily, plus there's some semi-optional additional accumulation if you feel like dodging some consequences. It's when your fate goes off the top of the scale that your guy dies.You hasten your demise, but you get to be more effective until then.
Having never played Agon, I must quiver with glee as I point out: It's all about the feedback loops.
In D&D, the longer you avoid the bad die rolls taking you down, the less likely it is that any one bad die roll will take you down, which means the longer you can go avoiding bad die rolls taking you down. It's a positive feedback loop as you level up and get more powerful. At the real-human-being-playing level, which is (lumpley principle/Big Model) all that really matters, what you get is only one incentive: get stronger, live longer. No dilemma.
In Agon, apparently, it's a complex kind of negative feedback loop, with Fate expenditure having only beneficial effects in the short run but leading to catastrophic collapse in the long run -- which means you have conflicting incentives and are torn between "I want this thing right now" and "I want these other things later on." That's a dilemma.
I think dilemmas -- choices for the real person playing about things the real person cares about, even if it's only game points of some kind of fictional characters, and where a best-of-both-worlds solution cannot be easily optimized -- are the heart of both "gamist" and "narrativist" play (ugly terms that they are). I suspect they're simply in the way for "simulationist" (ugh) aka "celebratory" play, where they keep forcing the focus back on the real person and forcing stop-and-think choices, when the point of this style of play is to focus on the fictional world and characters for their own sake and immerse so smoothly you never have to "break character" and think "what next?"
I agree up to your final paragraph. Stop-and-think choices are a technique, not a strong indicator of creative agenda.
I can't speak to the variety in gamist play, but if you asked me, I'd estimate that at least a third, maybe more of my narrativist play has been wholly absent character-breaking decision making in play. I'd also estimate that at least a third of my simulationist play has included character-breaking decision making. (Most common: "we're all working together as a group despite the fact that there's no earthly in-character reason for it.")
So you're talking about trends in design, not about anything essential to the creative agendas.