AWW: The Hand of Fate

Having played around with a bunch of different chart concepts for cross-referencing the player’s result dice vs. the Storyweaver’s fate dice to find out what happens with your attempt, I’ve decided to go with a slightly simpler concept and one that produces a bit more even results.

The fate dice are a 3d6 roll that exists more or less irrespectively of the result dice for the check. They’re cross-referenced to a table that has two parts, Wild Fates and Normal Fates

Wild Fates happen when the fate roll comes up triples. Each possible wild result has only a ~0.46% chance of happening, so collectively they occur ~2.76% of the time. Triple 1 and Triple 2 are extremely negative, similar to a critical failure. Triple 3 and Triple 4 are neutral/mixed. Triple 5 and Triple 6 are positive, similar to a critical success.

Wild Fates supersede normal ones, which means the odds of most given normal fate are slightly lower than normal probability analysis would otherwise indicate.

The specifics of the Wild Fates are still something I’m pondering, but I believe the Normal Fate portion of the table will look something like this:

5 or less: Injury! Succeed or faile, you hurt yourself or the person you were trying to help doing it. You gain a Wound or Injury or lose an asset, as the Storyweaver deems appropriate for the situation.

6: Embarrassment! Oops! Through sheer random chance or a moment’s inattention, you managed to make a complete fool of yourself. If you succeeded, your success stands… unless your goal was to impress someone or avoid attention. But still, you’ve hurt your pride. If you failed, you likely landed flat on your face, literally or metaphorically.

7-8: Complication! Oops, there’s a hitch. If you succeeded, then your success has an unexpected downside. If you failed, then something went wrong beyond just failing.

9-12: Situation Normal. You succeed or you don’t.

13-15: Cool! If you succeeded, this means you looked cool doing it, making it look effortless. If you failed, this means you kept your cool doing it, possibly making it seem intentional. A cool result can mitigate some of the results of failure beyond simply not succeeding; trap doesn’t go off, you don’t fall, the target you missed from hiding is still unaware you’re there, et cetera. A cool result on a success is roughly the positive version of an embarrassment: interesting flourish, might help you impress people.

16 or more: Bonus! There’s an unexpected upside, a silver lining to your failure or an unintended but positive outcome to your success. This is effectively a complication in your favor.

A few notes:

  • Situation Normal will occur a bit less than half of the time. When it doesn’t, the results are split evenly between positive and negative. On the whole positive outcomes are likely to hold an edge in frequency because of player abilities that focus on improving fate rolls.
  • While “Embarrassment” is mechanically weaker a result than “Complication” in most situations, it is ranked as being far less likely because occasional pratfalls are interesting, but frequent ones are annoying. The game is heavily geared towards larger-than-life heroes doing legendary things, so making embarrassment a more frequent outcome of trying to do things is probably not a good design decision.
  • Because I love Fool archetypes, you can make a character who is more prone to embarrassments and less prone to injuries and complications as a special ability. As long as you stay away from anything that requires subtlety and don’t care about looking cool, this is an advantage.
  • The Wound/Injury distinction: an injury puts one of your character-defining qualities into an impaired state, while a wound puts you one step closer to being out of commission. Which is worse depends on your character’s status. If you’re healthy and completely unharmed, a couple of wounds do nothing. If you’re badly wounded already, having a quality injured lowers your effectiveness but lets you keep going.