My thoughts on Fate Accelerated Edition

FAE As one of the backers of Fate Core, I got the final electronic copy of both Fate Core and Fate Accelerated Edition a couple of days ago. Fate Core is a massive tome of 310 pages, so I decided to focus my attention of the much smaller FAE first. The 50-paged PDF contains a complete but heavily streamlined Fate game suited to run games in every genre. While most elements of Fate Core are still there, it feels much more lightweight.

Each character starts with three Aspects (a high concept, a trouble, and an additional one), the six approaches (Careful, Clever, Flashy, Forceful, Quick, and Sneaky) and one stunt. Most other Fate-based games have a lot more Aspects (up to ten) and use a long list of skills. Reducing the number of Aspects makes it much easier for new players to get into the game. I also guess that these two Aspects get much more use than the regular Aspect in a Fate Core game. Approaches are basically very broad skills. At first I was not too fond of the idea of replacing concrete skills with the more fuzzy approaches, I actually grow fond of them after a while. One of the goals of FAE obviously was to be more newbie-friendly. And it’s definitely easier to explain how to use the approaches instead of the regular Fate skills.

I haven’t run any FAE games yet, but I already have some ideas how it could be used by me in the future. Since it’s pretty rules-light and written in a way that even RPG newbies can understand its rules, FAE is perfect to introduce new players to the hobby. Characters can be created in mere minutes and have enough “meat on their bones” to be interesting. As soon as there’s a German translation, I will introduce the game to my RPG pub meeting crowd!

Fate has always a game that made me interested in tinkering with it. FAE makes this even easier. From what I’ve seen so far it should be easier and faster to add stuff to FAE instead of tinkering with the more massive Fate Core. BUT I haven’t delved too deep into Fate Core yet, so I might be mistaken.

FAE might also be perfectly suited for one-shots and con games. Without having to tweak the rules you should be able to run games in every setting imaginable. The approaches are genre-agnostic and stunts are player-defined, so they can easily made to fit the setting you have in mind. So you want to run a game set into the setting of your favorite TV show or computer game? No problem. Create the characters and you’re good to go. FAE might not be as easy as RISUS, but I am pretty sure it could be used in pretty much the same way.

I am definitely excited about what the community will do with the Fate Accelerated Edition rules in the future. Evil Hat will release a new edition of the Dresden Files RPG in the coming year, which could finally allow me to run games in this setting. The current Dresden Files game using the 3rd edition of the Fate rules always felt a too crunchy to me.

What are your thoughts of FAE? Are you looking forward to get it when it’s publically available? Or do you stick to regular Fate Core? Please share your thoughts below. Every comment is highly appreciated.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

18 thoughts on “My thoughts on Fate Accelerated Edition”

  1. Think of the “Approaches” as being similar to the very broad “Professsions” in WRM. They turn out to not be THAT different if you think of “Fighting” being Warrior, “Sneaking” being “Rogue or Thief”, etc. There’s just twice as many as WRM. Then WRM’s concept of “Skills” become Stunts (a bonus to your profession/approach).

    In fact… in the Fate Core kickstarter, I got the consultation pledge level, and asked them to help me finish my conversion of WRM to FATE, using FAE (using 3 Approaches of “Warrior”, “Rogue”, and “Mage”). The consultant is looking over my initial notes right now, and helping me fill in the gaps using the same mindset I was already using (a more direct conversion of WRM). He’s also going to give me an idea about doing a less literal, but more “in the spirit of” translation that wont need as much wording.

    Once they are done, my _plan_ is to get a more full fledged write-up done, something that has a similar format (in terms of wording, not graphic-layout) to WRM. Then I’ll ask Evil Hat to look it over, to be sure I haven’t put in anything they object to. Then I’ll ask you the same thing. If there aren’t any objections or major problems, then I’ll release that as a draft, under the same CC license as WRM.

    Hopefully, I’ll actually get that far :-} I’ve only been talking about a FUDGE version of WRM for, what, 2 or 3 years? 🙂

  2. I’m looking forward to run a FAE game soon, too. At present we have a RISUS hangout game delayed due to scheduling problems, and I’ve trying to lure my players into giving FAE a try. The bastards haven’t complied yet, why are humans so stubborn 🙂

    Besides that, I’m working on a personal project to make a compact fantasy (as in non-D&D, non-Tolkenian fantasy) setting using FAE as the core engine. We’ll see how it goes.

    1. Rob,

      Fate Core is the new (4th) edition of Fate (kickstarter’ed in Dec 2012, just sent off to the printers this week).

      Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) is a simple version of Fate Core (a stretch-goal from that same kickstarter project, and also sent to the printers this week).

      So, the difference is: newer, more up-to-date, and clear rules. And then “dialed down” to be a very simple version of the updated rules.

      1. I understand the relationship to Fate Core, it’s the relationship to Fate 2.0 that’s been around for ages (the one I reviewed in 2009, as per the link). What has changed?

        1. Everything. If you’re truly comparing 2001-ish’s Fate 2.0 (instead of 2006’s proto-Fate 3.0, aka Spirit of the Century) to 2013’s Fate Core (essentially 4.0), there’s sufficient change as to just say “everything”.

          We’ve got a video and a post or two about it over on

          1. It is The Hicks!

            Being me, as I am, I’m comparing the free Fate with the paid one (I have a singular track mind). Unfair comparison, I know. The Fate I reviewed blew the socks clean off my feet, across the room and through an open window. I didn’t realise it was released in 2001! I think it is fair then to say everything.

            Any chance of a free version of FAE? Perhaps a pocketmod (single page) FAE? Ah go on, you know you want to.

          2. Fate Core (300 pages, 6×9, PDF, mobi, epub) and Fate Accelerated (48 pages, 6×9, PDF, mobi, epub) will be “pay what you like including nothing”, as we’ve said all along.

          3. Really? Really! (Not “Really” to “You’ve said that all along”, it’s my bad for not paying attention but to pay-what-you-like). HELLS BELLS, Mr Hicks! I’m going to have to work out if I can review it now. It’s a bit like meeting The Hoff and then trying to work out if you can still believe in him. Good on you, sir. I tip my hat. Then I’ll shut up and get back into my box

  3. Another thing I’ve thought FAE might be a surprisingly good fit for is Superhero gaming–it seems to address the same problem as Marvel Heroic (i.e., how do we get Hawkeye and Hulk to meaningfully work on a team together) in a different way, by putting the skill focus in how you approach an action rather than what the action is.

  4. The ‘Approaches’ reminded me a bit of Smallville’s trait system and there is room for the parts of that game to be incorporated into FAE.

    The other thing I really enjoyed with the emphasis on the ‘Truth’ of aspects. I know it isn’t particularly different from FATE CORE but at least in the first draft (I haven’t read the most recent version yet) there seemed to be a sense that when you wrote down an aspect on your sheet, you created a truth in the world. So taking the aspect ‘Last of the StarKnights’ means that there used to be StarKnights in the universe and now they are gone for some reason. This adds a level of complication if you have players putting down conflicting aspects.

    I am really looking forward to sitting down and running this with my son.

  5. I don’t really get the Approaches. If two heroes are attacking with a sword, the one with +3 in Forceful is going to rush in and batter his foes defences, the one with +3 in Careful is going attack cautiously, getting a feel for his foes skill before pressing in, and the guy with +3 in Flashy is going to be doing a lot of spinning and maybe find time to quickly flirt with bystanders while attacking.

    Of course you can roleplay that out, but mechanically, I don’t see a difference. They all have the same chance to hit and the same chance to be hit back. Attacking Carefully, for example, should cost you something, and it should benefit you in some way.

    1. These things are differentiated situationally. At a +3, all the attacks you’re describing are of equal *effectiveness*. But some circumstances and situations simply wouldn’t allow a careful attack at all.

      “I want to attack this guy carefully”
      “Okay, how much time have you had to prepare your attack?”
      “… none.”
      “So, a different approach then.”

    2. Look at it this way: in Dresden Files RPG, you have a skill for hand-to-hand combat and another one for armed combat. Both can be numerically equivalent and applied in almost the same circumstances. Either of those, however, can be described as “attacking enraged”‘ “careful blow” or “quick counter-attack”. You just need to switch mental gears and translocate those two axes in order to reformulate your roll.

      So, instead of saying “I attack the ogre with my sword” and only later describing how the character leapt in the air and slashed the ogre with a powerful blow, you’d say something like “I forcefully attack the ogre” and describing how the character leapt in the air and used the weight and momentum carried by his jump to force his blade deep into the ogre’s chest.

      As Fred already pointed out, it’s a matter of perspective and the sometimes elusive joint between mechanics and fiction.

  6. My initial read of FAE left me with a good impression. I’ve actually considered converting Psi-punk (which uses Fudge) to FAE, but not necessarily Fate Core.

    As for what Sean mentioned, that is a good point. I think FAE just needs to be approached from a different mind set though. Not that everything needs to have a specific mechanical difference, but that the game is designed around role-playing.

    1. I agree with BeefGriller — I’d back a KS for a FAE version of Psi-Punk. But, it would have to be a complete book, not just a conversion document that makes references back to the Fudge edition.

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