What does "fail forward" mean?

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What does "fail forward" mean?

Postby Stronty Girl » 5:34pm on 05 Apr 13

Hello all
Seen a couple of people use the phrase "fail forward". Can someone please explain what that means?
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Re: What does "fail forward" mean?

Postby Totally Guy » 5:54pm on 05 Apr 13

It means that something interesting has to happen on a failure and the game does not roadblock itself. The game moves forward and the players still have opportunities to make decisions in spite of the impact of the failure.
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Re: What does "fail forward" mean?

Postby Baz King » 7:21pm on 05 Apr 13

A failure shouldn't stop the game and be a blocker. The game should continue forward, but with complications, or delays, or consequences.

Generally, it's a great idea. Beware making a failure more interesting than a success though.
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Re: What does "fail forward" mean?

Postby Mick Red » 7:45pm on 05 Apr 13

Yep when I fail, I'll narrate just how shocking I was and use that to drive the story forward.... Probably doesn't work in wargames such as D&D 4th or other combat games such as Runequest 6 or Cursed Empires
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Re: What does "fail forward" mean?

Postby Baz King » 8:13pm on 05 Apr 13

It works a treat in 4th, don't you worry about that.
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Re: What does

Postby Neil Gow » 10:18pm on 05 Apr 13

Baz King wrote:It works a treat in 4th, don't you worry about that.


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Re: What does "fail forward" mean?

Postby jonnygray » 11:08pm on 05 Apr 13

Sometimes you just fail though......I know I can't be arsed to narrate something that moves the story along every time I fail on a dice roll, just move on!

Personally I'd prefer 1 or 2 fail forwards in a game. Might be that is the case in point, just I've not experienced it that much......maybe I need more indie in my life :D
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Re: What does "fail forward" mean?

Postby catty_big » 1:02am on 06 Apr 13

So it's kinda the opposite of whiffing?
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Re: What does "fail forward" mean?

Postby jonnygray » 9:23am on 06 Apr 13

I like the idea of bennies or fate points to re-roll, maybe when they run out you can fail forward, to get one back.......or is that just how the FATE system works? :?
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Re: What does "fail forward" mean?

Postby MrLloyd » 3:56pm on 08 Apr 13

I think the definition provided is sound. I think the interesting bit is when to do it. It's definitely great for reducing player frustration. I think it's particularly good for investigation type events e.g. 'You don't know what this chemical is, but you remember one of your professors at university who is an expert on this kind of analysis'. So rather than a brick wall the party get some delay, maybe have to explain what they're up to to a third party and so on.

I'm less keen on it in directly opposed settings, and I don't think I'd want to run a game where players expected this to be the norm, but it's a very handy tool in the GMing toolbox.

Incidentally, it pretty obviously implies that a 'fail backwards' is also possible. Where the players mess up and end up worse off than if they'd never acted. Probably one for high stakes situations...
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