[RPG] Spoilt for choice: helping traditional-system players adapt to narrative-control games


My group teethed on D&D 3.5 and loved 4e, but now we're eager to take advantage of FATE's more narrative- and character-driven philosophies. However, on our first (DFRPG) game last night, my players frequently seemed spoilt for choice: faced with "what do you want to do?" instead of "which of these options (like 4e's power cards) would you like to use?", we sometimes froze like deer in the headlights.

For a player trained in 4e that their choices are largely limited to a set of specific mechanical actions (eg power cards), narrative-based options seem vast and vague. The golden rule of FATE is to first decide what you want to do narratively and then figure out how to model it mechanically, and this is alien to my players' experience. We like it conceptually, but can't get a handle on it yet.

I know this is just new-system pains, but what can I do to make the transition easier?

Best Answer

Play a session or two of Roll For Shoes. Like an improv exercise, it will shake out your narrative muscles and make you stretch them a bit in a gaming context where it's ok to do the "wrong" thing or take the game in absurd directions.

This is the game that did the most to transition my old group from a D&D context to a more player-driven context. We had played Fate and Burning Wheel before, but they never really "stuck" and were unsatisfying. Our one session of Roll For Shoes, on the other hand, is still remembered fondly and was a resounding success in terms of the players taking up the challenge of "what do you do now?" without any premade options to lean on.