A gentleman named Teo Tayobobayo on Google+ prompted me to write this comment to a post by John Fiore. I’m positing it here because I think it’s of interest to a wider audience.
As a fan of Approaches in Fate Accelerated Edition, I wanted to speak to your [Teo’s] statement above: “I am saying that when someone is hacking a computer I have a hard time deciding which Approach is most appropriate (is that Sneaky, Clever, Flashy, Forceful… it seems like it could be any of the above) whereas is it pretty easy for me to decide that it’s a matter of Crafting.”
I like Approaches because they increase the chances that players will attempt something creative. With skills, I’ve heard player conversations like “I don’t have Crafting, do you?” and self-censoring their character’s behavior, whereas I hear fewer conversations like that with Approaches.
As GM, I don’t choose which Approaches are more appropriate beforehand (though I will often form an opinion as I design a situation). Instead, I guide the player in choosing. I developed this approach (no pun intended) from narrating Dungeon World. Extending the Approaches example from FAE page 18, let’s say there’s a character named Fiona trying to creep across a dark room. The verb creep seems to make the Approach choice clear. Or does it?
When an Approach choice strikes me as odd, I’ll ask questions like “what is Fiona trying to accomplish?”, “what happens if Fiona fails?”, and “what does Fiona gain from being Forceful as she creeps across the dark room?” This can often lead to reframing the question and more interesting stakes. Consider:
- Can Fiona creep across the dark room Carefully, without leaving a trace?
- Can Fiona creep across the dark room Cleverly, without setting off the trap?
- Can Fiona creep across the dark room Flashily, taking unnecessary risks and impressing her skeptical thief lord patron?
- Can Fiona creep across the dark room Forcefully, showing a commanding presence and emboldening the rest of the party who’s wary of traps?
- Can Fiona creep across the dark room Quickly, before the patrol comes back?
- Can Fiona creep across the dark room Sneakily, without making a sound?
I realize some of these examples are more contrived that others, but I hope the point is clear. Approaches lend themselves better to this dialogue than Skills do, in my opinion.