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Fortune-in-the-middle and Fortune-at-the-end

Imagine you rolling dice to see if your character is able to do something, win something, resist something, learn something, seduce someone, etc. : I think that this happened sometimes when you played a rpg, right?

You did throw the dice and looked at the numbers. OK. These numbers decided what happened? I mean, for example, you did roll to hit a target with an arrow. You described what you were doing in detail, leaving to the roll the determination of success or failure? It's the roll that decide if you hit or not? After rolling, there is nothing more you can do? Nothing more you can decide? All you can say is "I hit the target" (or not)? Well, in this case, that roll was a kind of Fortune-at-the-end (at the end of what? At the end of all the decisions you have to do to determine if you hit that target or not)

Or it was not the end? Can you still choose different options, different interpretations, different narrations? Or you can still change the results in some way? Then that roll was "Fortune-in-the-Middle".

So, what is Fortune-in-the-Middle (FitM)? Every roll that is not Fortune-at-the-End. It's that simple. "you still have some choice after rolling" = "FitM".

The same with any other kind of "Fortune" technique (cards, coins, etc.)

"With Teeth" or "Without Teeth"

"Fortune in the Middle with Teeth" is a tongue-in-cheek way of calling a Fortune in the Middle resolution where you can choose at the end to change the outcome (using game mechanics that change the result), turning for example a failure into a success. Or, more in general, where you can use the rolled results as input data for other mechanical decision (for example, when you roll dice in the game Dogs in the Vineyard, you have still to choose the dice to use for every raise)

"Fortune in the Middle without Teeth" so is every case where this doesn't happen, where all your choices after reading the results are about the fiction that results from the roll (for example, in the game Primetime Adventures, one player can decide how the results apply to a scene - specifically, what happen with every detail not tied to the drawing of the cards - but can't change the specific outcome of the draw)

Where is Fortune-at-the-Beginning?

It doesn't exist. It can't exist.

You see, FitM and FatE are misleading names. The fruit of the gaming culture of that time, that considered "the roll", and not the choice, the important part. But FitM/FatE is not about fortune. It's not about rolling, drawing cards, throwing coins, etc. It's about choice.

At the end, do you still have something to choose, or not?

It's a binary variable, yes/no, there is not a third option.

It would have been clearer if they were called "With choice at the end" and "Without choice at the end", probably...

FitM/FatE and IIEE

IIEE look at what is happening in the fiction, what is already decided or not, and FitM/FatE look instead at what the players do, when they make choices and when they use Fortune mechanics. They are independent, even if they both are about what is decided in the fiction by the roll.


Employing a Fortune Resolution technique (dice, cards, etc) prior to fully describing the specific actions of, physical placement of, and communication among characters. The Fortune outcome is employed in establishing these elements retroactively. This technique may be employed with the dice/etc as the ultimate authority of success or failure (e.g. Sorcerer) or with the dice/etc outcome being potentially adjusted by a metagame mechanic (e.g. HeroQuest). See my review of Hero Wars, see also discussions in the Alyria forum.

Relevant threads

2001: What is Fortune in the Middle

2005: Clarify Fortune in the Middle