by Delos

Let’s Resolve Our Differences: Challenges, Contests, and Conflicts

Challenges, Contests, and Conflicts all sound far too similar. In one of my next couple posts, I’ll be talking about renaming some things (including the three just listed) in Fate just ’cause I can. But in this post, we’ll be talking about these three resolution systems; what they are and how they’re different.

What Are They?

I seriously JUST mentioned that they’re resolution systems. Don’t you pay any attention? It’s even in the title. Well, they’re a little more than that, anyway, so I’ll let you off the hook. After all, there’s already a resolution system in Fate: roll your skill vs someone or something’s skill or a passive number.

So, why did they come up with three other resolution systems, when you seriously can just roll 4dF and be done? Because, in certain cases, that doesn’t give us enough description to make us happy.

The creators call this “Zooming in on the Action”. The gamer term for this is “pacing”, though. To read a well-thought-out mini article about the three Cs as a pacing mechanic, check out this Google+ post I found in the official Fate Community. Now I don’t have to write essentially the same thing, especially since that’s not the main focus of this article anyway.

What’s a Challenge?

As the Core book says, a Challenge is “when one or more characters try to achieve something dynamic or complicated.” But what does that mean? Good question. Let me go read how they work again…

Still here? Good. I always forget how Challenges and Contests work, and I always get them switched around (hence why I’ll be renaming them in the future post).

Well, let’s lead off with some more text from the book: “A Challenge is a series of Overcome Actions that you use to resolve an especially complicated or dynamic situation.” That’s a bit better at describing how they work, but how do we know we should use them? Well, the book keeps saying “dynamic or complicated”, but I would put it as “trying to do several different things at once or in a short period of time.” So that’s what a Challenge is.

One important note though: All the rolls are Overcome rolls and they should all use different skills. You can roll to Create an Advantage, but it doesn’t count directly towards the outcome, and it could potentially fail and give you a cost or problem.

What’s a Contest?

The book, again, has two explanations of a Contest, just like they did for Challenges. In the chapter opening, it says, “When two or more characters are competing for a goal.” Later, it says, “Whenever two or more characters have mutually exclusive goals, but they aren’t trying to harm each other directly, they’re in a contest.”

Put another way, Contests are kind of like races to see who can get something done before the other(s) gets their thing done. The “something”s must be mutually exclusive, or, at least, one person accomplishing their goal creates a major complication for the other(s).

The first to do better than the rest three times wins! There are so many mini-variants you can do with this if you’d like. My first idea was to make it so that you had to get to two more than the next highest participant in order to win. Or you can just adjust the amount of victories needed. Or you can just keep it going until you say it’s over, then check to see who won.

What’s a Conflict?

I’m not going to bother answering this one. Many people jump straight into how a game does combat, so more than likely, you have a pretty good idea how it works.

What’s the Difference?

  • Challenges are trying to get many things done in a short period of time.
  • Contests are races to separate goals.
  • Conflicts are combat.

This wasn’t an especially useful article, but I needed it in order to get a refresher anyway. I hope it helped you.


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