Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sell Me on the FATE System (Which I Already Own, But Don't Grok)

I supported the FATE Kickstarter, and I know there is lots of good stuff in the system - I just can't seem to grok it.

It not like my problem with Savage Worlds - I think I have that covered for the most part, less magic and powers and the like. That shit is confusing as all hell.

No, with FATE my problem is more - central. Maybe that's not the correct term. My problem is the Core, and I mean that whether we are talking FATE Core or FAE. I almost feel it's within my grasp, and then it all goes all to shit.

I'm at the point that I'm thinking of getting one of those new fangled Kindle Paperwhites, so I can read FATE Core every night before bed and then sleep with it under my pillow, in the hopes that I will absorb this shit through osmosis.

Not that I think my gaming group is all that geared towards FATE, but one never knows I'll never know until I have a firm grasp of the system myself, and right now I'm grasping at straws.

Are you a FATEr? Pros? Cons?

Better then sliced bread or worse than a loaf hugged by a 3 year old for 35 minutes while sitting in a shopping cart and you still feel obliged to buy it?


  1. I am a FATE, and you would be most welcome at my table if you ever get up to the Twin Cities. I'll also be running a Fate-based Tekumel game up at U-Con. I stayed gaming in 75 or 76, so I have played many systems. I started playing Fate when SOTC came out, so I am not a recent convert and lack some of the religious fervor of the newest converts. Its a game, not "THE game that ALL must play" (there, an Aspect). I have an SF blog at fatesf.blogspot.com

  2. Thanks for asking the question - I picked up the bundle of holding and I am wondering about Starblazer Adventures. So far, working my way through the book, I think that it is very good, but not at all for me - if that makes sense. When examples of the way that Aspects work are provided I think, 'well, how would Traveller handle that?'

    Most examples are pretty straight 'Aspectisations' of things that trad. mechanics handle well (e.g. 'Clumsy Ass' = low Dexterity). Other examples are of things that trad. games don't need mechanics for (e.g. 'background' Aspects are either a proxy for skills, and so are '1', or something that a trad. game would handle by commonsense methods [such as, 'your character was a Space Ranger, so yes, he would know X, Y and/or Z'] rather mechanizing it and tying it to diminishing pool of Fate points). And then there are the examples that appear to impede immersion to the degree that it defeats the point (e.g. Aspects for 'scenes' - an example in Stablazer is that a scene has the Fear and Trepidation Aspect, allowing a player to use his Intimidation skill - players of trad. games can, of course, argue that they should be able to intimidate the admiral rather than persuading him, and do this with the simple 'description, questions and clarifications, statement of intent, resolution, description...' cycle that drives play in trad. games, without resorting to having the potential for PC action mechanistically shaped by a defined series of key words).

    That said, I'm still reading, and it isn't something I've played, so I'm probably missing something (or maybe I'm not, and it isn't for me). And I don't want to the above to read as being confrontational.

    1. I realise that I haven't mentioned anything about Compels, etc.

      eck, I know, I like my games to simulate the world, not the story, so FATE isn't for me - and I say so without knocking those who are into that. So ignore me, I'll get back to reading Starblazer and pinching all the 'good' bits.

  3. I love Fate Accelerated Edition. That should be enough to sell you on it. :)

    Seriously though, I hated, and I mean HATED Fate....I even backed out of the Kickstarter (dumb dumb dumb).....until I played FAE. I did not understand it and could never wrap my head around it, once I played it though, all that went out the window. I have now played/ran it as a space opera (Star Wars), hard SciFi, and a WWII super-spy thing and honestly I have never seen a system that can so easily handle something with such wide power levels as a stormtrooper and a Jedi....without any modifications.

    I used to be in an eternal search for a universal game that one could easily jump in and run just about anything......FAE is it. It's bigger brother might be it as well.

  4. I think it is a mind set thing. I'm a tactical roleplayer, which means I like distances and times and measures and rules that tell me what happens. Converting from that to Fate takes a lot of effort, because Fate is not about any of that, Fate is about Story and narrative.
    The other aspect (sic) that is different is that tactical games are GM run and player experienced. With Fate its (when at its best) more a co-operative effort, the GM tells you the scene but then you all work together to work out the story.
    What has resulted from my effort to come to grips with Fate is that I have taken a lot of the narrative options from Fate and put them into my Savage Worlds game, added in some of the modern GMing suggestions that float around and will be starting a new Interface Zero/Shadowrun tomorrow. Will be interesting to see how it all melds.

  5. I understand your frustration, Erik. Fate Core is a very different beast. The best I've managed to work out so far is:
    1) You're supposed to "win", unless you decide "losing" is more entertaining. And, of course, it often is, most of the time. That clashes with the "let dice decide" bias we grew up with.
    2) Ideally, the campaign background is determined jointly by everyone ... this totally runs up against my worldbuilding drives. I don't want to wait! (Mind you, I don't /have/ to ... but it seems more polite, not to mention lazier, and I'm all for things that reduce my workload.
    3) Fate Core is a 60 page system wrapped in a 200 page orientation guide ... it's much more about how to think in a Fate Core way than to play in Fate Core. Which is sort of distracting to my "show me the RULES" mind.

    Here's what I'd recommend: Start by working through Fate Accelerated Edition, or one of the "nutshell" guides in the Fate site ... that'll help you get to the mechanics more easily. Then read ONLY the examples in Fate Core. Then, read just the first couple chapters in Fate Core, which has the system overviews. If it's not clicking, or it's just not worth the effort any more, stop. (I'm stubborn and sticking with it...)

    1. That's not much "selling", is it? :-) But it's all about knowing what you want out of a game. As other folks in the thread have noted, if you dig the tactical/miniatures angles, Fate won't fly for you. But if you dig characters, and the stories that come out of them, Fate is a sweet sweet treat.

  6. It sounds horrible, frankly. Definitely not for me. But good luck if you do decide to run it.

  7. FATE is not my cup of tea, for reasons everyone above has stated better than I could. The FATE system I got closest to grokking was Legends of Anglerre, but I ultimately realized it was sufficiently different from the play experience I was familiar with that I'd never do the game justice if I tried to run it.


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