Last weekend I wanted to give Fate another chance. Even though I have given up on Fate several times before, I wasn’t happy with that decision. In theory I love what Fate Core and Fate Accelerated represent. If I just could get into the right mindset, Fate could become one of my go-to games especially because of its endless flexibility.
My players were all fans of the Fallout series, so I decided to run a Fallout one-shot using the Fate Accelerated rules. This is something I’ve actually done before, but last time I replaced Fate Accelerated’s Approaches with Fallout’s S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes. This time I decided to use Fate Accelerated basically rules-as-written to make things easier for me. If you’re not 100% comfortable with a system you always should run it RAW instead of writing and using house rules.
I actually had a lot of fun preparing the game. I created an awesome Fallout-themed character sheet (you can download the PDF here) and made some notes on how to implement weapons, armor, chems, etc. from the video game series using Fate Accelerated rules. Unfortunately I didn’t have as much time as I hoped preparing, so I had to improvise a lot of the adventure.
One thing I noticed is that Approaches work well for active use but things become a bit more muddy, when you’re making passive tests. Often we had a hard time to decide which Action and Approach to use for detecting enemy presence, resisting radiation, or something similar. If you, my dear reader, have any advice, this would be very much appreciated. As I said before, I am still in the process of learning Fate.
Things actually worked great. We didn’t get to try all aspects of the Fate system, but that’s fine. At least noone disliked the system so far and everyone has said that they are open to playing another game using Fate in the future. One thing I noticed is that it’s very handy to have poker chips or something similar to represent Fate points. If you don’t have a physical representation of the FP lying in front of you, you tend to forget to use them, which is vital for Fate to work as it should. Next time I’ll make sure not to make the same blunder again.
But overall I was happy with how things turned out. I’ll definitely run a few more games using Fate Accelerated to get more familiar with it.
This is my first post for Stargazer’s World. Some readers may have seen my comments on Michael’s and Sunglar’s articles in the past. Like most of us I guess I have been playing RPGs since the early 1980s starting with D&D basic set (red box in my case). I am a long term advocate of Iron Crown’s Rolemaster system but I also love really simple d6 systems.
Michael suggested I use my first post as an opportunity to introduce myself but writing about yourself is hard. If you start listing stuff you have done or written then it sounds really egotistical and if you don’t then you end up with a rather blank resumé. So I will just say that I have done stuff and I will probably mention it in passing in my future posts. So that is quite enough about me and now I will move on to RPGs which is why you are here in the first place and is not something I feel awkward writing about.
This year’s #RPGaDAY has had a lot of questions about game design, from a physical product point of view, the quality of the writing, the quality of the page layout, the art and so on. One of the things I do do is I run a fanzine. This means I am writing and publishing stuff for other people to consume every single month. During #RPGaDAY it was really interesting to take a long and critical look at many of my favourite games to see how they measured up against games being released today. I reached the conclusion that great design can make a game look so good that you want to play it even if the actual rules are not really either new or engaging.
It helps to have great art but it is not essential. For some game systems art can make too many suggestions about how things should be. My orcs and goblins could be very different to yours. RPGs take place in the mind’s eye and you do not need a picture for everything. On the other hand if you are looking for a Star Wars RPG then you want to see pictures of X-wings and light sabres. There, having the right art makes you want those things, it sells the setting.
For me one of the best presented games I have ever seen is FATE. Ironically, I think FATE is a terrible game and not one bit of it appeals to me. Maybe I just don’t get it? Not everyone can like everything, after all.
So is good visual design important? I think it is if we want to encourage new players into the game or if you are looking to revive and out of fashion game. Good page and book layouts can make rules easy to navigate and make play at the table run faster. Great art can enthuse readers into wanting to run the game even as a one off to give it a go. If you litter your game with iconic images from a particular time people will buy into it. Imagine a ‘modern day’ RPG and it is littered with images of Chopper bikes and Atari games consoles and it screams 80s. That lends itself to cold war intrigue. Take the same rules and game mechanics and add some psychedelic designs and flared trousers and a red and white Gran Tourino and you are in for a Starsky and Hutch campaign. Show me helicopter gunships hovering over the jungle and I am up for a rolling up a Vietnam vet as a character.
An example of this StarFinder. Same old rules but new imagery, new looking books and you have PathFinder in space. Is it any good? That is a matter of personal choice. Does it look good? It sure does. Will people give it a go? Of course they will. Who doesn’t want to battle space pirates?
Do I want to play it? Not really but on the other hand where is that bright red Gran Tourino? That is a game I would be interested in seeing!
About a year ago, I wrote a post about how I decided Fate was not for me. I’ve struggled with the game for quite some time, loving it on the one hand and having trouble really getting it on the other hand. So in last July I decided it wasn’t worth my time wasting it on that struggle anymore.
Now a year later, I’ve changed my mind. In the midst of my self-chosen GMing hiatus, I am eager to make a break to give Fate another chance. I have hand-picked a few players, who are open to giving it a try. Instead of going into it totally unprepared, this time I plan to do some more research first. I have started by watching a couple of actual play videos to get a better feel for how other people play Fate.
There’s a lot about Fate I love: the skill system, stress and consequences, the way how advancement is handled. Aspects sometimes still give me headaches and some of the more meta aspects (no pun intended) of the mechanics are sometimes hard to swallow for me. But I am not willing to give up that easily.
Instead of using a setting of my own design, or adapting something from a book, movie, or TV series, this time I plan to use one of the official Fate Core settings from Evil Hat. I am especially tempted to run either Dresden Files Accelerated or Atomic Robo. It might be a one-shot adventure or a short campaign with only a couple of sessions, but a longer campaign is definitely off the table.
It’s meant as an experiment to me. I am trying to see if I can get Fate to work for me, and I want to see if I am ready to take on the GM’s mantle again. If this works out fine, I might ask the same players to try a couple other indie games with me, particularly some PbtA games, HeroQuest 2nd Edition and perhaps Other Worlds. These are all games I am very interested in, but which I want to try with a smaller, more dedicated group first. Wish us luck!
A Roleplaying Games blog
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