Rewriting Fellowship's 'Get Away'

2022-06-05

This year I've been playing Fellowship 2e, a fantasy adventure RPG that's Powered by the Apocalypse, and I have a few gripes with an otherwise great game. Since session 1, I've felt like the core move Get Away needs re-writing, and I decided to take a stab at it.

The contents of this post are licensed under CC-BY-SA. The excerpt from Fellowship is used under the same license.

The relevant move:

When you need to get somewhere out of reach or out of sight, tell us where you're going and roll +Grace. If you have the Clumsy tag, you take -1 to Get Away. On a 10+, choose two. On a 7-9, choose one:

  • You get there quickly, avoiding any harm along the way.
  • You get there quietly, drawing no attention.
  • You grab someone nearby and bring them along with you.

Two things bother me. First, I think "You grab someone nearby and bring them along with you" has only been picked a handful of times in ten sessions of play at my table. It's just not very useful in most situations. The other is the move's use of "negative choices"; the player is choosing things that don't happen, rather than things that do. This can put the GM in an awkward situation: if you don't choose "drawing no attention", does that necessarily mean you do draw attention? Does it depend on the situation?

Fortunately, I read a Gauntlet post by Jeremy Strandberg, author of the upcoming Stonetop, a little while ago:

So if you’re going to use moves that have you chose “avoid negative” options, you kind of have to assume that some players/GMs will take it one way, and others will take it another, and ask yourself if you’re okay with either interpretation.

Or you can make it clear via the move’s text which you intend. A few ways to do that. You can set the default in the “body” of the move and then let choices counter/add to the default. I think this works well for moves that mix and match “positive” and “avoid negative” choices.

[...]

Personally, I generally try to avoid moves with “__ doesn’t happen” choices. I find that moves are cleaner and easier to understand when the choices are “positive” (as in: pick things that do happen, good or bad) rather than “negative” (as in: picking things that don’t happen).

With that in mind, I thought about the move. It's not hard to imagine this being a "positive" list (as in 'pick things that happen', not 'things that are positive'), at least for the first two options. The third is a little harder, but I think with a little tweaking it could work. Here's what I'm running now:

When you need to get somewhere out of reach or out of sight, tell us where you're going and roll +Grace. If you have the Clumsy tag, you take -1 to Get Away. On any hit, you get where you're going; on a 7-9, choose one:

  • You take a treacherous route, and take damage along the way
  • You leave yourself open to being spotted or trailed
  • You leave subtly or suddenly, with your allies behind and none the wiser. You cannot choose this option while working alone

I see a few advantages. Importantly, this move is just friendlier to players. Often something that requires a character Get Away can also be Overcome (Fellowship's catch-all move for avoiding harm). Overcome's 10+ condition leaves the character perfectly fine; why not the same for Get Away? The new move also makes the outcome clear: on a 7-9, the player chooses something bad that happens, rather than taking one possible option off the table. You can either be damaged, followed, or abandon your allies. I chose to make the last option sting a little more, and also close off its use in solo scenarios.

This isn't the only tweak I've made to Fellowship, and I may have more to say about my ongoing game and the hacks I've made later. For now, if you use this in your own game, let me know!