Twisting Fate

I’ve been working on a tabletop RPG on and off for years now.  A couple of years ago I started taking a serious look at Fate Core, and I quickly realized that using it for my game would provide a lot of advantages.  Since then I’ve been working through the system I had already developed in conjunction with Fate to determine what adjustments need to be made to align Fate with the game’s setting and the styles of gameplay I’m looking for.  Needless to say, I’ve ended up spending lot of time scouring the web for how Fate players handle different situations, and I’ve learned a lot.

Fate Core is a very flexible, powerful system – the core actions underlying the mechanics combined with aspects and the fate point economy create a certain elegance.  The way the system is geared to simulate fiction, as opposed to how some systems simulate reality, opens a lot of doors.

Of course, learning Fate Core can be challenging to lots of players, new and long-time gamers alike.  Even Fate veterans often have difficulty coming to grips with certain elements of the system.  Some of this may be due to idiosyncrasies in how the system is presented.  A seemingly simple concept can have a very profound impact in how you use the system, and sometimes the deeper implications of a rule can be easily overlooked.

As I’ve learned more about the system and how to get the most out of it, I’ve seen some questions or concerns come up repeatedly by players.  Usually these questions are answered by members of the Fate community with great explanations that help players grasp how to apply the system, but some of these topics seem to point to circumstances where most players are unsure of how best to leverage Fate.

There are also a few fairly common responses from veteran Fate players that appear to have been repeated so often they have become more or less standardized.  In some of these cases, I think some closer examination of the underlying assumptions could prove useful.  Just because the Rules As Written (RAW) do not explicitly point to (or allow) a particular approach, doesn’t mean that a minor tweak cannot allow for some potentially awesome results.  Fate Core is very flexible (and hackable, if necessary).  Given its focus on simulating fiction, there really should be very few fictional situations it cannot easily handle.

This will likely be the first in a series of posts examining some of these topics, with the goal of understanding Fate a little better.  Hopefully, this will allow me to figure out how best to apply the system to my setting and get the style of play I’m looking for.  With a little luck, maybe this will generate some discussion that will help other players as well.

DISCLAIMER: To be clear, Fate Core works just fine as it is.  I’m not implying it needs “fixing” – just looking at the best way to achieve the goals for my game, which may just be altering how specific rules are presented.  Fate Core is largely system-agnostic and is often described a set of dials that can be adjusted.  Trying to dial in the right settings for my setting.

Here are some of the topics I plan to look at, in no particular order:

  • “Competent” aka Zero to Hero
  • Social Conflict
  • Required to use certain mechanics e.g. Conflict
  • Progression – D&D vs. Star Wars
  • Long-Term Play
  • Stakes and Physical Conflict
  • Underlying Issues – Game Creation, Failure Aversion, Implicit Stakes, Death as the Only Stakes
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