Time for another batch of random Creative Challenges. The first time I did this, the challenges were meant for players and GMs of Fate to try and push themselves to try new things with the mechanics. This time, I am going to push for story challenges. Hopefully these will push you to be more creative and inventive with your characters and the story they are playing out.
Just like last time, these challenges are targeted at FATE gamers, but since they are more story-themed they may be easier to adapt to other games.
Challenge 1: The Forbidden Area
Our first challenge is for GMs. Add a location to your game that is forbidden to enter. A simple map that has an area marked “Never Ever Go Here” is a good hook, but using an area in the middle of where the party has visited many times also works. Add the aspect “None May Enter” onto that area.
Refuse fate points for declarations that a character is an exception, or compel them with fate points to keep them out. If epic rolls ensue, offer to split the party and allow some to go in. There should probably be a good reward inside of the forbidden area, like the start of a side quest or something, but this works best if you give no hints as to what that reward might be.
The goal here is to see how hard the party will try to get into the forbidden area. This will tell you something about your group and be a good way to gage how likely hooks like these will work for them. It is also a great excuse for consequences further down the line. Say a demon or dragon that was unleashed upon your world because they went where they shouldn’t go.
Challenge2: The Unbreakable Habit
Give your character a compulsive habit that they must do as an aspect. Be sure to mention that your character is giving into the compulsion at the start of each adventure. It does not have to be something risqué like visiting a geisha house or smoking magic mushrooms. It can be something simple as brushing your teeth every morning or styling your hair.
Now, when your character gets into a situation where they cannot do that unbreakable habit, have them go nuts. Brush your teeth with a rock, hit on a cactus, or just yell a lot hysterically. Do not do anything else until someone enables you to complete your habit again.
The goal here is to make some small part of your character a big deal, and then use it as a gateway for the next part of the story. People lose their minds over the most seemingly insignificant things, but really it is all about what is important to us. As an added bonus, the next time you reach a milestone change your habit aspect to reflect a relationship with whomever helped you, reflecting a dependency on them for helping with your habit rather than the habit its self.
Challenge 3: Do It Backwards
GMs and players tend to think of a lot of quests in a straightforward manner: get the hook, overcome the challenge, and get the reward; find the body, interpret the clues, arrest the killer; meet the character, fall in love, fail to save them from a tragic death. For this challenge, take a basic adventure or quest and do it backwards.
So how would that look? Well you could let the party navigate a dungeon filled with traps that have already been disarmed and monsters are already dead. They discover a treasure chest at the end with a dead body stuck with poisonous darts (the rogue that disarmed the traps only to fall from the very last one). Then, when the party removes the treasure from the chest the traps are reset and more monsters are released into the tunnels. Now they have to navigate the dungeon to get out rather than in. Or for a simpler story, perhaps they find the dead body of someone with a tattered journal. Further adventures allow them to discover pages from that journal, learn about the dead character, and possibly fall in love with them.
The goal of this challenge is to look at a story from a different point of view. Doing the same thing backwards makes the story very different. A dungeon delve becomes an escape quest. A horrible tragedy becomes a sad but sweet love story. Seeing how these backwards adventures play out will give you more tools for running a larger variety of adventures later.
Challenge 4: Give Your Character a Secret
One of the first storytelling challenges we are given as players is when we know something that our characters don’t know. Learning to let your character do something based on their knowledge rather than yours is a big step in our hobby, and much story drama often ensues as a result. But normally for the opposite, for the character knowing something that we don’t, we just have a knowledge skill that we roll to see if the character knows it and then we as a player learn the information.
So try this instead. Give your character a secret that no one else knows: not the players, or the GM, or you. This should be a character aspect that you invoke once per session for a bonus and reveals some hint about the secret. So something like, “I Don’t Talk About My Past” may start the character as quiet or brooding. But once it is invoked to escape a vampire or jump-start a broken shuttle, suddenly everyone will be talking about why a character thought their secret would be helpful to that situation.
The goal here is to embrace an unknown aspect of your character and let it develop over time. It is meant to be a story hook driven by the player rather than the GM, something that they contribute to the story without having to flesh it out before play begins. Give it a try and see where it takes you.
Challenge 5: Give Us a Story Challenge
Got an interesting challenge that you want to see someone try? Why not give it to us? Coming up with your own challenges is a great way to grow in gaming. And maybe we will rise to the challenge, or maybe we will fail miserably. Either way, it should be fun to see someone else give your idea a try!