Story Debate attempts to provide a vehicle for compelling multi-author narratives. The mechanics they utilize flesh out and arbitrate the conflicts that those stories will center upon, they encourage and incentivize their use. The combative focuses of most Story Debates inevitably emphasize warfare above all.
Fate Noosphere is intended to realize social dynamics, both domestic and foreign, that drive body politics. It also intends to make more coherent settings and cooperative worldbuilding from start to finish. Most of the bedrock is derivative of the Fate system created by Evil Hat Games, particularly its most recent iteration Fate Core & Accelerated, with some influence from Microscope.
Scale refers specifically to the three different levels of play and the different mechanics involved in each: Grand, Large, and Small. Grand scale covers the mass mobilization of the most important institutions and features the weight of the rules. Large scale covers more regional-specific events such as battles between armies or specific civil projects. Small scale is the level of play at which most Story Debates are conducted, personal stories about characters. As these are social spaces, Scale is always relative to the setting. What might be Grand scale in one setting might not even qualify as a marginal backwater in another.
The Narrative Economy
An Aspect is a short phrase describing a detail of whatever subject it is attached to; anything from a situation, a zone, an army, or even a character. They are the primary means to both gain and spend Fate points, to influence the narrative by introducing new complications to a scenario, passive opposition that has to be overcome, and bonuses to various rolls. They are detrimental or beneficial, but a good aspect should be either depending on the situation. More importantly, they tell you what is important about a scenario and when to utilize mechanics.
“Yes, but is he lucky?”
- Napoleon Bonaparte
Players have a pool of points called “Fate Points” that are the narrative currency. A well run game features an active narrative economy where Players freely manipulate circumstances to bring about victory - or even engineer their own defeats. Fate Points usually change hands in three ways: Invokes, Compels, and Declarations.
You can Invoke an Aspect for your benefit by cashing in a Fate Point. This is called an Invocation. On the inverse, when your aspects complicate your plans in some way in exchange for a Fate Point, this is called accepting a compel.
Refresh is the pool of Fate points a player begins with at the start of every narrative milestone. The total always fills up to the Refresh rating on a player's OOB, no matter how low the pool is. The only exception is if a player has saved more Fate points in their pool than their Refresh rating, in which case there is no change.
Attributes and Actions
Actions with a substantial element of risk require a roll of the dice to determine success or failure. Dice always come into play when a Player is opposed by another Player or when significant obstacles stand in the way. Otherwise success is assumed as a given. Attributes are how Players go about accomplishing complicated actions on a Grand scale, deferring to the Dice. Every OOB has four Attributes and each is rated in steps from Mediocre (+0) to Great (+4). The higher the better. There are four basic actions:
- Create Advantage
Actions are framed as Dispatches!, quick news headlines or other IC document, which are collated into a list referred to as a Bulletin at the end of every Turn. This is all that is required to participate, and it's entirely possible that a Player could finish the Story Debate doing nothing but this.
Fate Noosphere uses four Fate (also known as Fudge) dice as the base for every roll. Results are graded according to "The Ladder", which attaches adjectives and numbers to the results of a roll. It doesn't particularly matter whether one refers to the word or the number, they are understood to have the same meaning. Results can go below and above the provided ladder, though such results tend to be extremely rare and require appropriately unique and over-the-top descriptors.
The aim when rolling dice is generally to roll equal to or above your opposition, which comes in active and passive varieties. The former is when someone is rolling against you, the latter when you are merely set against a fixed difficulty. Rolling high naturally results in a successful action, and wildly successful ones come with extra benefit, but a tie less so. While some of the Player's aims are achieved it is likely nowhere near what was hoped. Failure means nothing, success at a significant cost, or a dramatic twist of the outcome.
When rolling, the difference between the Player's roll and his opposition is referred to as Shifts. A tie results in 0 Shifts. Rolling one over the difficulty is one Shift, while two would be two Shifts, etc etc.
Traits are special characteristics that change the way an attribute works for you. They indicate a special approach to situations unique to that polity, movement, or legend. Two OOBs might have the same rating in an attribute, but their traits provide drastically different benefits. Most of these will be unique to the particular game being played.
Stress and Consequences
Inevitably, over the course of a Story Debate, Players will face various forms of hardship that they can't quite fully overcome and end up on the losing end of conflicts. Two options exist to mitigate this.
Stress is the first, and generally preferable, option. It is a holistic representation of minor and superficial crises such as contained protests, a mild economic recession, war exhaustion, etc. Every OOB has Stress Tracks which will soak these disturbances and reset at the end of each turn, assuming there are no greater crises.
Consequences are another way a Player can stay on the field, but the cost is much greater. These are aspects that describe some lasting impact of a struggle on your OOB. Whereas Stress is cleared away each year Consequences require discrete action or vastly longer spans of time to recover from, which can snowball with other troubles.
Story Debates tend to have two separate halves: the writing of OOBs and their actual interaction. The two often involve fairly separate processes, and like 3.5 D&D, make much of the game take place before character interaction. As players are largely uninvolved with each other's OOBs, settings become jagged and incoherent as vastly incompatible concepts are often juxtaposed directly alongside each other in vacuum of historical isolation.
While the mechanics of Fate Noosphere may require substantial explanation for a newcomer, in practice they are fairly light. The generous headspace allows all manner of new mechanics to be added without weighing down the system.
The key is to add mechanics which capture some distinct element of the periods you are stylistically referencing or drawing upon. For example, a game mirroring the leadup to the first World War should definitely make the construction of dreadnought battleships a significant element - players will inevitably compare that information and act upon it.
Polities, Movements, and Legends
Psalm of the Three Hares (potentially)
Majorly expanding the Pregame and majorly expanding internal Elites and their interaction with Population.