Getting Permission to Enter a Foreign Land, Run as a Long Conflict (Fate RPG)

Summary: Conflicts can be more than physical or social and can take place on a timescale that isn’t moment-to-moment.

I’m running a Musketeer-style game and the PCs are trying to sail into the port of a foreign country that has closed their borders. They would like to do this legally for story reasons (but are fine with sneaking in if they have to).

This is usually the perfect place for an Overcome roll or even a Challenge. But one of my favorite things about Fate is the Bronze Rule, where you can treat anything like a character.

So I turned the scene into a Conflict.

The stakes for the conflict were that if the PCs won they could enter the country legally and if they lost, they’d have to either sneak in or halt the mission.

Using the Bronze Rule, the opponents were Docking Administrators, Government Officials, and the Country’s Insular Culture.

  • Dock Administrators had ranks in Paperwork and Black Market and no consequences.
  • Government Officials had ranks in Contacts, Paperwork, and Provoke with a mild consequence.
  • The Country’s Insular Culture only had ranks in Insular with a mild consequence.

The party started the conflict by sending word ahead that they were on their way (Create Advantage) which backfired due to a bad roll, giving a favorable aspect to the Government Officials. When the party arrived at the port they found the Dock Administrators had the port on “High Alert” (their Create Advantage). This then led to the PCs attacking the Dock Administrators by undermining them with other ship captains (Attack) and taking out their couriers (another Attack).

The Country’s Insular Culture responded by causing hostility towards foreigners (Attack) while the Government Officials slowed down paperwork (Attack). The Dock Administrators were taken out by the PCs and while the ship was permitted to dock, they weren’t allowed off of the ship.

The PCs then spread the word among the poor about revolting against the aristocracy (Attack) while a key PC demonstrated that she was a hero from this foreign land by having her renown bow identified (Attack) which resulted in the Culture taking the consequence “Winning us over”.

With the Dock Administrators and the Culture taken out, the Government Officials conceded with the agreement that they shut down the fostering revolution hard and fast.

Key Points/What I Learned

  • State clearly the point of the conflict and make sure that the players want (or are open) to handling it this way.
  • Running a different kind of Conflict is slow going as players think of ways to use their skills in new ways.
  • Have a list of ideas to inspire the players if they get stuck
  • Look at the skills likely to get used and scale your opponents based on the PCs ranks. I made the mistake of setting my opponent’s skills based on the PCs apex rank instead of what was actually being used.
    • What this means is that my players were using their 0-2 ranked skills against opponents with ranks at 4-5. I quickly scaled this down in the middle of the first round.