The Core of FATE
January 29, 2013 8:43 PM   Subscribe

The Fantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment (FATE) system has produced notable games ranging from the pulp themed Spirit of the Century, to the hard science fiction Diaspora, to the adaptation of the urban fantasy series Dresdin Files, and the high fantasy Legends of Anglierre. However, there's never been a basic, official version of the 3rd. edition core system. Until now.

A kickstarter was launched to fund a FATE core system, and where it started by asking for $3000 dollers, as of the closing, it has earned over $400,000 dollars, contributed by over 9,000 donors. Allegedly this is the most donors recorded in kickstarter for a tabletop roleplaying game. Part of the reason this kickstarter has been so successful is the wide range of bonus items Evil Hat Productions offered, including access to a PDF of the core system for $1.00, and a huge range of supplementary material, for only the $10.00 level, plus the promise of a hardcopy edition of the FATE Core system.

The above mentioned games aren't the only rpgs using the 3rd. edition FATE rules set. Other official FATE products include the space opera games Starblazer Adventures and Bulldogs. Unofficial FATE products include:
Tri-Fold FATE, a simple version of FATE designed to fit in three pages.
Tri-Fold Fantasy, a version of Tri-Fold FATE designed for fantasy games.
Aspect only Tri-Fold: a minimalist version of FATE using only the aspect system.
Compact FATE, an expanded version of Tri-Fold FATE.
posted by happyroach (18 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I only played one FATE game - a homebrew 7th Sea conversion on the Something Awful forum. However, I utterly love it. I don't like math, so D&D has always left me a bit cold. The main mechanic of FATE, Aspects, is perfect for that. You capture things about your character as a description that ALSO has mechanical weight.

So my 7th Sea character was a 'Fiery Castillian'. I could use that to do better in fights when people insulted me, or seduce noblewomen or help out other Castillians. But the GM could also use it to get me into trouble by making me fight when I shouldn't. But if I did that, I got FATE points!

I'm explaining it pretty badly, but these links are better: Character Creation, Invoking Aspects.

It just hits the sweet spot of my word-brain.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:51 PM on January 29, 2013

You can also find links to a sort of Let's Read of Legends of Anglierre here. It uses Aspects to build cities or even giant monsters!
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:52 PM on January 29, 2013

We just recorded the news show of my podcast, and we talked about the final minutes of the FATE Core Kickstarter. I got my pledge in with ninety minutes to spare, because I'd completely forgot about it.

Let me also mention Houses of the Blooded and Strands of FATE. Two very worthy FATE games.
posted by magstheaxe at 9:56 PM on January 29, 2013

Also they are doing the official Atomic Robo game (the cover of which was released today, so that for me is a thing of joy and beauty.

( also adding a FATE Core re-write of the Dresden Files stuff for making it to the $400K mark is a thing of awesome.)
posted by mephron at 10:38 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

They are indeed doing the Atomic Robo game.
posted by happyroach at 11:08 PM on January 29, 2013

I dont know about the rest of FATE but Diaspora looks utterly cool.
posted by newdaddy at 11:14 PM on January 29, 2013

Diaspora is a cool and very refined game. I can recommend it to just about anyone. However our group found that we prefer something more simulationist. Legends of Anglerre is also good, the setting is very much over the top (There is a monster that comes from a dimension where "the air is harder than stone".) so we played it in a different setting with slightly modified rules.
posted by Authorized User at 12:08 AM on January 30, 2013

Nice. We plebs that didn't hear about this eagerly await our Drivethru purchase links.

(FATE games are awesome because many of them have collaborative, procedural campaign generation. Diaspora's sector generation system and Dresden Files' city generation process are both inspiring.)
posted by lumensimus at 1:30 AM on January 30, 2013

The core system will actually be free in web form, like the SRD for Dungeons & Dragons 3rd ed. For people willing to pay money, Strands of Fate has been out for some time.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:17 AM on January 30, 2013

The Spirit of the Century SRD is also up on the web, for folks who would like to peruse it.

I'm really glad I supported the Fate Core Kickstarter. I just really like Evil Hat. They're huge fans of transparency (if you were a part of the KS, there were drafts made available for huge swathes of the content -- all 300 pages of the core rules, nine of the settings that will be released in the Fate Worlds book, several magic systems from the Fate Toolbox -- so people could read, comment, playtest, and help the project along); made a point of not using cheesecake art for the core books (as the father of an 11-year-old girl, I'm always happy to have an RPG book that doesn't feature women in chainmail bikinis); provide non-DRM'd, non-watermarked PDFs for free if you buy their books (their Bits and Mortar guarantee); and all kinds of neat jazz like that.

And Fred Hicks rode herd on that Kickstarter for two damned months. Up at all hours, answering (with very respectable good humor) the same questions dozens of times, coming up with new and interesting stretch goals for a project that, he admitted, he figured might see $80,000 if they got lucky.

(I'm, um, a bit of an Evil Hat fanboy now. In case it didn't show.)
posted by thudthwacker at 12:00 PM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm acquainted with Evil Hat's Brand Manager, and shot him a link to this thread on Twitter. He and Fred Hicks responded to some mis-information here. I'm not sure if they'll take time to join our thread, so here's the convo on Twitter.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 2:12 PM on January 30, 2013

Somebody on SA was attempting to run the famously mind-bending Continuum time-travel game in FATE, but appears to have given up before he began. I imagine that would prove you could literally do ANYTHING with FATE.

Someone else there is working on 7th Sea and Legend of the 5 Rings conversions, which are pretty simple. If anyone really needs them I still have some of the information saved.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:01 PM on January 30, 2013

Here's Evil Hat's comparison of different versions. Fate 2e was a well-defined thing, but Fate 3.0 was kind of ill-defined, used to describe the rules underlying Spirit of the Century, Dresden Files, Legends of Anglerre, Starblazers Adventures, Bulldogs, Diaspora... even though these things had similar, but not identical rules. Strands of Fate has marked differences from all of the above, and I think of it as its own distinct branch of the Fate family tree.

Anyway, Fate Core isn't a generic version of Fate 3.0; it's a new edition. As I understand it, Atomic Robo development has been kept in sync with Fate Core development, such that it'll be a Fate Core game per se.

What's really incredible about the Fate Core kickstarter is that the stretch goals kept piling on new content at the same price tiers (in digital form, of course -- additional print books kept costing more.) Everyone in for $10 or more gets electronic copies of all the material. Another volume of optional rules, a dozen original settings, a sequel to Shadow of the Century set in the '80's, Fate versions of three different games that exist for other systems, Jess Nevins' Strange Tales of the Century, and more.
posted by Zed at 3:17 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another free version worth mentioning: Free Fate.
posted by Zed at 12:24 AM on January 31, 2013

Thanks for bringing up Fate Core on mefi! Holy cow! :)

Zed cleared up a lot of what I was concerned about: Fate Core was originally started, projectwise, as the "Settingless Fate 3" book, but as Lenny and others worked on it it became clear that we were ending up with more of a Core-rhymes-with-4 situation. There's still a lot that ports reasonably cleanly between both versions, but Core's a new thing all the same, and thanks to the Kickstarter, a platform off which we'll be launching a bunch of new stuff.

Our long period of reeling from the Dresden Files RPG's success is over, and now we're hard-charging for giving the Fate system and the company the kind of growth and presence we've been dreaming of since the start.

Fate Core and Fate Accelerated edition will be made available on a "pay what you like including free" basis once they're released in a few months. (The text of both will also be made available under both the Open Gaming License and a Creative Commons Attribution license.)

The Fate Worlds collections of micro-settings and adventures and the Fate System Toolkit will follow, along with the Atomic Robo RPG (based on the acclaimed comic book series), Shadow of the Century, Young Centurions, Do: Fate of the Flying Temple, adaptations of The Day After Ragnarok and the Freeport Companion, Strange Tales of the Century, and eventually Dresden Files Accelerated. Exciting time!
posted by fredhicks at 7:23 AM on January 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

Everyone in for $10 or more gets electronic copies of all the material.

I did not know this part or I would have kicked in at the time.
posted by immlass at 9:35 AM on January 31, 2013

While RPG kickstarters are on-topic, I'll mention that there are also some interesting ones for Cortex Plus, the system underlying the Smallville, Leverage, and recent Marvel Heroic RPGs, and Mefi's own James Wallis recently launched one for Alas Vegas.
posted by Zed at 2:02 PM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

For the record:

Why Spirit of the Century is Awesome: It runs on a lean cinematic core that encourages people to play up their character's weaknesses and has human readable character sheets that require no knowledge of the system to understand. It also contains awesome abilities like the following:
Master of Disguise [Deceit]

Requires Clever Disguise and Mimicry.

The character can convincingly pass himself off as nearly anyone with a little time and preparation. To use this ability, the player pays a fate point and temporarily stops playing. His character is presumed to have donned a disguise and gone “off camera”. At any subsequent point during play the player may choose any nameless, filler character (a villain’s minion, a bellboy in the hotel, the cop who just pulled you over) in a scene and reveal that that character is actually the PC in disguise!

The character may remain in this state for as long as the player chooses, but if anyone is tipped off that he might be nearby, an investigator may spend a fate point and roll Investigate against the disguised character’s Deceit. If the investigator wins, his player (which may be the GM) gets to decide which filler character is actually the disguised PC (“Wait a minute – you’re the Emerald Emancipator!”).
Why FATE Core is awesome: If anything the FATE core engine is leaner than the FATE 3 one - and you certainly have less to remember. Notably on your character sheet you have one "high concept" aspect, one "weakness" and three other aspects rather than ten generic aspects, and you have ten skills rather than the 15 of Spirit of the Century. The stunts are also simpler so you need virtually no knowledge to play and spend no time looking things up. And the guidance on running a game is some of the best I've ever read.

Why Cortex Plus is awesome: Honestly, Cortex Plus is three separate systems I'll handle separately . All of which are dice pool systems which revolve around a "Keep the two highest" mechanic - and where a 1 on any of the dice doesn't prevent a success, but does mean a complication crops up. The rules are simple and inherently throw spanners into the works in all the right places and (like FATE) can also be taught to a rules-phobic player very easily. All three Cortex Plus systems are also almost perfectly pitched for running their own type of game rather than being generic systems. (For the record Fred Hicks and Rob Donahughe, designers of FATE, also have writing credits on the Cortex Plus systems).

Why Smallville is awesome. Smallville is a Drama System - it's a show about inter-personal relationships and values with superpowers thrown in. Not classic step on up play, but fits a lot of things - even Les Mis. If you want a RPG where relationships between the characters and values are far more important than physical ability, and where you start by drawing out a relationship map betweern the PCs and each other, and the rest of the major players it's the best thing on the market. (It's honestly a vast improvement over Vampire the Masquerade for playing Vampire itself).

Why Leverage is awesome. I know of no other game that runs a series of cons and heists well, and Leverage does it superbly. From excellent GMing and playing advice (including something like "The next chapter of the book is meant for the GM, and players aren't supposed to read it. And if you followed that piece of advice you're not in the right mindset for Leverage yet. Go steal yourself a role playing game!") to a structure and stat sheets designed for cons and the sort of random generation tables that let you set up the mark in less than a minute if you've nothing in mind and a character sheet that will fit comfortably on an index card it's the best there is at what it does.

Why Marvel Heroic Roleplaying is awesome. Most Superhero RPGs start off with the assumption that you are superpowered people in an ordinary world - even the licensed comic book ones. Marvel Heroic provides a number of ways of sticking to a comic-book-esque structure and has tremendously flexible powers and abilities while at the same time having a character sheet that will fit on an index card. If you want to play a comic book RPG as opposed to an RPG with superheroic elements I can think of no better system.
posted by Francis at 6:11 AM on February 1, 2013

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