Thursday, August 31, 2017

Looking Deeper in to FATE Core

As I have continued to absorb FATE Core I actually think I might have reached critical mass, that point at which I feel I have studied the rules and understand the underlying concepts well enough for me to tackle running the system. This is hard to do with FATE, a game system that eschews most of what I take for granted in how an RPG works. That said, I feel I genuinely grokk the four-part action economy of the system, the notion of aspects with their invokes and compels, the very important Fate Point economy and why it works like it does, and I've even been satisfied to see that the quasi-myth of FATE as the game where no one dies unless they decide it's good for their story has been dispelled; FATE Core offers up advice on different approaches to this question, but ultimately it both provides the most compelling framework for situations in which death is inescapable even as it suggests that allowing for more options than death is more important to the coherence of the story being told.

I've grabbed about all of the FATE Core supplements and can safely say that the many different worlds that Evil Hat has compiled for the game run from the incredibly useful (Venture City Source book, worth it for the great superpowers rules, or FATE Freeport which is essentially "D&D adapted to FATE")  to the interesting but very much mixed bags that are the various Evil Hat published "Worlds..." series, such as Worlds on Fire, each of which contains at least four distinct and often very different settings using FATE Core. Then there's the Setting Toolkit and the Adversary Toolkit, both of which contain lots of useful content though I have refrained from getting too involved there until I properly absorb the core rules.

So now the question is: what setting to create, and how? As a GM who lives for setting design I am not precisely the target demographic for FATE Core, which feels to me more like it is aimed at GMs who find setting design tedious and want to farm it out to the players....or RPGers who come from a different experiential angle to gaming (the Indie gaming side) in which there was no preconception about world design as a GM art/process, allowing them to relinquish control of that part of the experience to turn it in to a collaborative effort with the players.

I am not 100% sure I can totally do that, or that the players necessarily want to do that.....but I may consider trying it out anyway so I can experience FATE Core as intended. It does seem to me to require a strong level of improv, and possibly an ability to do improv by riffing off of someone else's ideas. Maybe I'll just find a pre-published FATE world I like and run with that.

I also thought about using an existing setting, such as Lingusia, and enjoying the results. It's a world my core gaming group is familiar enough with to riff off of within the constraints of the existing setting, it support the sort of character-focused story-driven game play FATE Core is known for with minimal or no effort (I propose that running 13th Age is not unlike running FATE Core in terms of the story focus experience, just with more math and numbers) and it's familiar turf, which means teaching how to work aspects, skills and stunts will be easier.

If I use it for my Ages of Lingusia campaign then I'd need to work out a definition of core schools of magic, and decide if equipment will have any additional effect as extras. Given how fluid FATE is in its resolution of effects I feel like for the first game de-emphasizing equipment is a better idea; this is a system where what you're fighting with or using is far less relevant than how you are using it and how it relates to the story, so going hardcore into the "equipment as trappings of your description" feels like a better way to emphasize the unique differences of the system.

I'm currently hip deep in an ongoing Call of Cthulhu campaign and my regular D&D 5E sessions (with Traveller on hold but returning soon) so I don't have a lot of room now, but maybe in a month or two I'll propose a 3-5 session FATE Core experience for the group. When this happens I'll be sure to post the results....!


  1. My favorite adventure as published by evil hat is basically King Arthur in space with mechs. It's amazing and a blast to run

    1. That does sound amazing. Where can i find that?

  2. I ran a FATE game. It was indeed fun but it was an adventure and world that I the GM had control over more so then the players, it was a good introductory game to the system as the characters all had 'amnesia' and created aspects and what their characters where good at a scene at a time.

    With that said, Handing over the control to the players to be a collaborative piece is difficult. Wave lengths don't match and its hard as the GM to sometimes find common sense in some of the story elements players come up with. I attempted to do that once by playing a game called microscope to build the theme of a game before play. It was a mess of stuff i had trouble digging through and pretty much ended up taking a handful of it out.

    1. I've run games where players add can be a challenge. FATE is an odd duck! While digging in to it I started to really get it, but having had to put it aside for a while I feel like I've lost "it" and would need to start all over again.