Monday, October 28, 2013

When Everything Goes Wrong....

Sometimes things are going to go wrong. It is just a fact of life, and because it is a fact of life it is a fact of story, of games, and of almost every thing that we as humans do for entertainment. Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes you go to do something routine and it becomes a horrible botch of a job.

The important thing to remember though is that things don't always go wrong, and even when things are going wrong it isn't 100% of the stuff going wrong. Something is still going right. Something is still there to be gleaned from the situation. You just have to look for it, to find it and grab it and pull it to yourself.

Sometimes things go wrong. How we deal with matters when they go wrong is what defines us. It is what makes our characters interesting. It is what makes the characters we watch, read about, talk about interesting. Who wants to hear about a person that flips out or breaks down when things go wrong? People who do that are a dime a dozen. No, we want the people who step up and shine when things go wrong.

Sometimes things go wrong. It is something to accept. Sometimes the dice just aren't on your side. Nothing seems to go your way. Your friend is lying on the ground bleeding out and your left to deal with the three armed thugs on your own. Sometimes it sucks.

Sometimes things go wrong. If it is in a game understand that sometimes things have to go wrong. Nothing is always all peaches and roses. Sometimes luck will have to run out or turn bad. Sometimes things won't go the way you are hoping or want and there may be very little that you can do about it.

The question is: when things go wrong how will you deal with it? In game? Out of game? Will you get frustrated? Will you enjoy it? When things go wrong, what will you find out about yourself, your characters, and your game?


  1. Last session a PC was significantly outnumbered in a combat with help not able to arrive in a timely fashion. The character acquitted himself well, slaying most of his foes, but was seriously wounded & close to death.

    Upon being wounded again, the player attempted to use a Fate Point to lessen the dire ramifications, but in such a way that it required to have been done before the attack, even though it was obviously after the attack. I told him that wasn't possible but he took his novel theory to the mat, all but insisting for me to cite specific rules saying he couldn't.

    He conceded that no one had ever tried essentially RetCon'ing a Fate Point expenditure but insisted on being cited a rule in the book.

    I got surprised by his sudden tense rule-lawyering (to probably save his character from death). A brief compelling argument against his novel theory is easy now but at the time, in the middle of a lengthy involved combat, I got led into his trap of rhetoric. I could not, of course, come up with a rule stating that "Fate Points are not retcon'able" &, to avoid an argument, let it pass but said it's out in the future.

    When something goes wrong, certain players will try these intense ballsy gambits & most will not.

    What gave him the room to successfully argue into getting his way was my default reaction to strong player objections that they are good-faith attempts to get the rules/result right. This player took advantage of this & kept his PC alive.

    I still like this player very much and, at this point, that incident is water under the bridge. I will take a few minutes at the beginning of next session to explain to everyone why, like everything else in the game, Fate Points are not retcon'able & we'll move on.

    However, this player's credibility for these matters has plummeted & no good-faith will be assumed when the Dr. Jeckle rules-lawyer emerges next time.

  2. There is a miraculous survival rule in the 40k games where a Fate Point can be burned, permanently, in order for a character to escape death despite having taken that many wounds.

    There are also specific rules on what a fate point can do, meaning what isn't stated ar ethings they can't do.

    Finally, there is the age old rule that as the GM you are the final arbiter of what is and isn't possible in the rules and at the end of the day your say goes.

    All that said, it can be hard to not go along with things, especially when they are compelling. The way I would normally handle this is collect my thoughts when things have calmed down, make a final ruling, and email the group the ruling with the explanation as to why.

    That said, in this case, I think the discussion of what is and isn't possible should have been shelved until after the game when you could discuss it civilly. But that isn't always viable either.

    Good luck in resolving it though. :)