You should play Fate Core System. Maybe you like the system you have and have absolutely no interest in a new system. Doesn’t matter. Fate Core is so radically different from the traditional RPG is such a beneficial way that there is no one–experienced player, newbie, DM, or even a cinephile– who won’t benefit from the paradigm shift that is Fate.
Fate has dice and stats like most RPGs, but all of that is secondary in Fate. Instead, the meat of your character is their aspects. Aspects are a character’s defining qualities. So, for example, Indiana Jones might have these aspects:
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Aspects don’t come off of a list and they don’t have any stat bonus. “Handy with a whip” doesn’t give +1 to attacks with whips. Instead it is describing the character. While stats give us an idea of how well the character does things, aspects hit on who the character actually is. Feats or Edges or Powers or what-have-you tell us special little things about a character, but often don’t give much insight.
“Thawed-out Caveman”, “Loyal to the organization, but not the ideal”, and “True hate is more powerful than true love” are all so tantalizing. Just seeing each one I want to know more about that character. I want to see their movie. It’s something I’ll never get from stats alone. Best of all is how it forces everyone to have actual characters. You can’t play just a bundle of stats. Even if you are more of a roll player than role player you still end up with a character with actual depth.
Aspects are great for thinking about your character and solidifying them, but how do they actually come into play? Simply put, aspects give you a basis to argue with the GM. If I am playing a pilot with the aspect “Grew up bullseyeing womp rats”, then I shouldn’t have much trouble dropping a torpedo down a ventilation shaft. But the dice are rarely so compliant with a character’s back story. So I argue that I should get a little stat bump. The GM, and group as a whole, thinks this makes sense, so we let me reroll and see if fate will favor me. This could get old really quickly, especially if someone had an aspect like,“world’s most bad-ass ninja.” So we introduce a governing factor, a currency that must be spent to allow for these arguments. And that is what fate points are.
You spend fate points to invoke an aspect. Nudging the story the way it ‘should’ go. You will also be given fate points when you have your aspects used against you (sometimes being the most bad-ass ninja carries a certain reputation). There are some other ways that fate points can change hands, but you can read up on the finer details if you buy the book. Overall fate points ebb and flow in a well paced game. When you are flush you feel invincible, and when you run low you really feel the danger.
This economy of fate points, the sine wave of highs and lows, doesn’t allow for the game to progress without building a cool story. A session where everyone wins, then wins, then fails to fail is only fun for about five minutes. Hits only feel like hits if they have their compliment of misses.
What we all want each session are those same experience that have us coming out of movie theaters kicking the air and quoting the best lines. In most games the DM, or whoever writes the module, sets up what will hopefully be an awesome roller coaster that will evoke those same flavors of excitement. Most RPGs are games where players come up with characters and then run them through an adventure, but in Fate it works a little differently. Fate Core is a game where players and the game master start with some ideas and turn them into an awesome story. Every single portion of the rules of Fate are designed to make it fun. Damage, dice, consequences, items, challenge, and experience are often the focus of games, but Fate sees them as only tools to what the game actually is, collaborative storytelling. A group of friends get together and tell stories so awesome they keep talking about them until their significant others force them to stop.
High School Spanish Class
So once you’ve tried Fate Core System what should you do with those old player guides? Don’t set them on fire just yet! The best part of Fate is that seeing the game from this new angle makes every other game so much better. You don’t need to hack the rules of Fate core into every other RPG (though that is a totally valid option). The experience is enough to reap a ton of benefits.
There is no better tool to help a student struggling with English than to work from the fresh perspective of whatever foreign language they are studying. I wouldn’t know what an indirect object is if it weren’t for a dedicated Spanish teacher. A new language was a new way of thinking that let me view details of my native tongue that were otherwise obfuscated from my view by familiarity. There is no better bootcamp for running games than Fate. DMs who run Fate learn what they need to have and what they can cut. They learn to construct adventures, not dungeons.
Fate is a kinky coed you met at a party you almost didn’t attend. Lots of fun to play with and you might find some stuff you didn’t know you were into. Don’t skip the party. Accept your Fate!
Fate Core is revolutionary and incredible beneficial to all those who gather round table to sling dice.
In the end Fate Core System runs fast and clean and with it’s focus on story over realism it is incredibly effective at evoking whatever your group is going for. Where Fate lacks is in the crunch. Inventory management or loot chasing don’t really shine. Fate wants to see “Sword that killed my brother” not “Sword of +1 strength,” so you don’t get the experience of a stepped gradual progression of gear.