Anger, Fear, Aggression

I recently had reason to reexamine the possibility of using Fate Accelerated to run Star Wars. This post collect my thoughts on that for later. I’ve already run a session once, nearly two years ago, which you can find here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foK_E4G7aX4 though it doesn’t use much of what follows below.

My Defaults

Fate is at its best when everyone is one the same page regarding the setting and themes for the game. With an established setting like Star Wars, opinions on the nature of the Force are varied. My own defaults: I start with only the original trilogy and negotiate from there. I don’t count sources in the EU or the prequels. (That isn’t to say that I won’t use any of it if it’s handy or interesting, but they aren’t part of my default.)

The Force

The Force is neutral. It is why people wield it and toward what end that defines the Force. The hook is that powerful emotions facilitate use of the Force but often have unintended consequences. Perhaps this is why Yoda teaches that the Jedi only use the Force for knowledge and defense, never to attack. He instructs Luke to be passive in his use of the Force. When Luke attempts to control the Force–rather than himself–and when he fails to accept the visions he receives without trying to change them, than he is exposed to the dark side. In those moments, his fear and frustration (anger!) can lead to aggression and misuse of the power he has come into.

There are two axis that I use as a guide me on evaluating how the Force is used in play: Active vs Passive and Selfess vs Selfish.

Selfless + Passive = The Jedi.
Selfless + Aggressive = Activists and Martyrs.
Selfish + Passive = Opportunists.
Selfish + Aggressive = Typical villains.

I expect that most Force-use has an element of neutrality to it, but if I suspect that its use falls within one of the four combinations above, then I want to take note and emphasize that in the storytelling. To me, Star Wars is pulpy adventure, which thrives on these contrasts.

I also define basic list of powers granted by the Force: Empathy, Prescience, and Telekinesis (which might be used to strength and speed). There are more seemingly advanced powers on display, but Luke manifests these three with a minimum of training, so the rest are addressed as they come up.

Mechanics

Having established my philosophical baseline, in what ways can I implement Force use using Fate Accelerated?

Aspects

The first thing that comes to mind is to grant permission to use the Force through an aspect. Connection to a tradition that trains people in the use of the Force or an organisation of Force-users is a great hook for this. It also suggest an ethos for Force-use that can be used to define what is “light” and “dark” for those players.

Given my personal views on the Force, I also like the idea of paying special attention to any personal aspects invoked when using the Force as a cue to the motivations and emotional state of the wielder. This not only helps as providing fodder for future Force visions, but it also may help provide a hook for temptations to abuse the power.

I can see Force-users trying to undermine or corrupt each other’s use of the Force. Creating boosts and obstacles or invoking personal aspect/consequences to vex your opponent is pretty much exactly the contest that was going on in Return of the Jedi when Luke confronts Vader in front of the Emperor. Sure, there’s a cool sword fight, but it wasn’t Vader’s life at stake but his soul.

Knowing your target’s personal aspects can be incredible asset for these types of conflicts. The inverse of this would be exploiting your own emotional consequences to act out on those darker impulses.

Feats

The basic powers of Empathy, Prescience, and Telekinesis can be given more structure here, depending upon how granular you want to make it. I’ld rather just say that Force-users can do all that stuff and use feats to build on that instead.

Empathy is the very first ability that Obi-Wan teaches Luke. There seems to be a lot of using “feelings” instead of “senses” but it inspires one to look inward to find what you need instead of focusing on the familiar senses. Empathy is your path to sensing the Force–in yourself an in others.

Empathy-inspired feats could be: Telepathy, Mind Trick, Calm/Incite Emotion, “I know”, “Search Your Feelings”, “Bury Your Feelings Deep”.

Prescience is the ultimate tool for creating advantages. “Always on motion is the future”, but the insights to be gained by looking at possible futures are incredibly useful if occasionally misleading. Predicting imminent actions can allow for interesting uses of other powers. Looking further ahead enables contests of will that span several conflicts as each party attempts to predict and block the other. Prescience can also be curiously blind on personal matters. The Emperor foresaw much, but not his defeat. That may have been more a matter of pride or arrogance, but it’s all the same to me.

Prescience-inspired feats could be: Cheat Death, Deflect, Uncanny Reflexes, “I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This”, “I Have Forseen It”.

Telekinesis of objects that the player can easily move by hand without great effort probably doesn’t need a feat, but maybe you would want a feat to grant permission (or a bonus) to moving larger/heavier/multiple objects.

Telekinesis-inspired feats could be: Burst of Speed, Impossible Jump, Push/Throw, Choke, “Size Matters Not”

Approaches

Here’s the idea I based the post’s title on. What about Force approaches? Yoda give us a pretty good list: “Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.”

I’m already using aggression as an alignment of sorts for interpreting a Force-user’s intention, so I propose Hate as an approach in its stead. Hate is an emotion, making it more in line with Anger and Fear. All three make pretty good incentives to aggression.

These approaches are probably something the bad guys would use, rather than the heroes. They replace one of the existing approaches and assume that bonus. If you replace Quickly +2 with Fear, Fear is now a +2 approach and you can’t do something quickly, unless Fear motivates you to do the task faster. This last is a key difference in how emotional, dark-side approaches should play out. Replacing existing approaches incentives you to play out the emotional state to get things done. This may skew the narration of the results in interesting ways and act as a hook to draw a character’s story into the conflict as drawing on the dark side makes it personal.

Taking on or removing Force approach should be the result of major milestone. Characters who have these approaches have very strong convictions that are as immutable as their high concept.

The justification for having one of these emotional approaches is a question that should be answered. I assume that if a player earned it with a major milestone, then the question is already answered.

The opposite of these approaches would be to not use them. “Positive” emotions don’t fit the bill. In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda tells Luke that Jedi are supposed to be passive and seems to warn against unintended consequences. In my nod toward the prequels, Jedi may be encouraged to love and compassion, but they are cautioned against attachments because love can turn to fear, loss to anger, and thus passive to aggressive.

You can try Passive as an approach, but I’m hard pressed to think of how that could be fun or exciting.

Keeping Track

There’s no magical tipping point past which a Force user is definitively a Light or Dark side user. Choices have consequences. Consequences can lead to new confrontations that can into question a Force-user’s motivations for using the power as they do. Consequences may also limit choice, encouraging desperate measures. Whatever the truth is, other’s perceptions of their is a mirror that you can use to tell the story.

One Last Gimmick

It may be that you don’t want the Force to work quite like anything else does. If new approaches don’t do that for you, maybe this idea will.

Anytime a character uses the Force, they may change one neutral result on a die to either + or -. As this is a clear manipulation of the will of the Force, it is never a passive act.

You can also create stunts that count the number of + or – appearing on a roll for an effect.

Sample Character

Darth Vader
Dark Lord of the Sith (high concept)
Prisoner of Phrophesy (trouble)
The Jedi Order is Responsible for My Family’s Deaths
Hero of the Clone Wars
More Machine than Man

+3 Cleverly
+2 Fearfuly
+1 Flashily
+3 Forcefuly
+4 Hatefuly
+2 Quickly

Stunts:
Ace Pilot
Deflection
Force Choke
Hate has Made Me Strong

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~ by Hunter Rose on May 6, 2015.

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