Conflict Resolution System Idea

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I think that the FATE/Dresden Files game has come the closest to what I want. Here’s the idea:

We stage a conflict… any kind of conflict of any size… a sword fight, a bank heist, a seduction, an intergalactic race, absolutely anything where there is tension between what one side wants and what might happen to them as they try to get it.

Each “round” each player can take some kind of relevant action. A swing of the sword, gathering intel on the building, putting on perfume, charging the warp drive, whatever. They are going to roll their appropriate skill and have that skill tested against as challenging difficulty (something that may require the expense of precious resources like FATE chips, etc).

Here’s where I’m still working on things. Success is made in degrees. Either they need a certain number of X level successes (for example, Great rolls in Fate, exceptional successes in WoD, etc) or the successes are all tallied up cumulatively. In contract the opposition is making rolls which are similarly tallying successes. In each exchange several things might happen. 1) if the protagonist rolls less than the opposition, they might suffer some consequence, hit points, stress, etc. 2) Regardless of who rolls higher each side will make some progress towards achieving their goal. 3) Momentum is possible (i.e. by winning roll #1, you might have a benefit on roll #2 (for example because someone is wounded, arrested, allured, or eating your jet engine smoke) but precious player resources could mitigate that momentum. For example, if a player rolls to sneak into the building, they may get caught and get arrested removing them from the heist, but the expense of a FATE chip might mitigate that.

In the end, the first side that achieves their goal wins, but makes concessions based on the successes of the opposing side(s). Along the way they are expending resources to aid in their rolls and mitigate their failures and with each roll consequences (on both sides) are being generated. By the end of the conflict, the individuals should be changed ins some meaningful (though not necessarily permanent) way as well as both “sides” having to make some compromises about their goal.

I’m not sure if this was a response to your post, but it’s been in my head for a while and seeing this thread helped it work its way out.

My Goal: A system where car chases, social conflicts, and bank robberies are just as dynamic, fun, dangerous and full of options as a sword fight, because in the “action/spy” genre that I enjoy they usually are.

Questions, comments, rebuttals?

8 thoughts on “Conflict Resolution System Idea”

  1. I would say that the concessions and winning would have to be explained in detail and provide a good system, assuming you are looking for widespread popularity, or even the ability to be played in our circle of friends.

    Compromise is a very hard skill for most people, and potentially harder for gamers (I keep meaning to make a gaming philosophy/observation post and forgetting)

    1. As I said that part is where things are a little fuzzy. It is possible that simply taking consequences along the way would satisfy my desire for the compromise. Perhaps in the end you did perform the bank heist and got the crown jewel, but in the course of doing so you got:

      kicked out of your apartment and have to sleep on your brothers couch.
      an ex-girlfriend.
      in trouble with the mob.
      a secret you can’t share.
      a phobia.
      a simple relationship (e.g. friend) turned into a complicated one (e.g. friend with sometimes benefits or friend who I think might be an undercover cop).

      I want consequences that vary some from “broken nose” and I want players to feel like it required a combination of resources and sacrifice to accomplish their goals. Because frankly the easy win, while fun to play, does not make for a story that develops. The hard win, one with complications, leaves open new avenues for the story to go.

      Thinking on that PDQ has a neat damage track where you take damage in by reducing your abilities, and the first ability you reduce becomes a plot hook for the next scene. Hmmm.

      1. Yeah, I know about the fuzzy. 🙂

        I like the ability to have an easy win, just like I like the idea of being able to bowl a “perfect” bowling game or score 100%. Doesn’t mean I WILL, just the idea of being able to helps the continuum, I think. Likewise, being able to fail completely is also valuable. But I agree, most games its kinda one or the other.

  2. I’ve been looking for a mechanic to apply to chases in FATE as well. Something that escalates a bit more than the standard extended skill challenge. Your solution sounds promising…I think I will now steal it.


    If you allow the opposite side to get a free tag on their opposition’s consequences between each round then that might satisfy your mechanic for momentum. And of cource you could always spend fate to tag your own aspects to gain a bonus or migate a consquence being used against you.

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