|If Fate Core was too damn crunchy...|
A lot of minds went into the development of this game. Fate has a rabid following. I really had no idea other than hearing it mentioned on podcasts here-and-there, especially when I started listening to gaming podcasts not laser-focused on the OSR (hey... people play other games!).
(As an aside, I see that Leonard Balsera was a co-creator of the game. In my many investigations of ways to handle initiative, I have heard the term "Balsera initiative" or "popcorn initiative", which I am a huge fan of. It's the initiative style where each player decides who goes next. Like, I go then I say you get to go, etc. Here's a write-up of a version of it.)
The book starts off telling us what we need and telling us what's been changed from Fate Core. Then it goes into the first order of business with any Fate or FUDGE game: what's your setting? Because, remember, these are generic games. I'll talk more about that shortly.
Special Insert: Holy shit... I just remembered vaguely that maybe I did play in at least one session of Fate several years ago. I have this crude memory of a tank and a revolution... no wait... that's not MY memory! It's a memory of a podcast where they played Fate? Holy shit I'm getting old.
Next it goes into describing characters. These are the main elements of a character:
I can see the DNA of FUDGE here because there is no straight list of attributes. You have to define your character by their Aspects and Skills and stuff. Now, in FUDGE, from what I remember, you're asked to come up with your own list of attributes. So maybe you're going to do western action and you decide that all characters will have Grit, Smarts, Shootin', and Ridin' as their main attributes. In Fate it seems to be less centralized. Each character has their own individual list of attributes.
This appears to be a very player-facing, player-friendly game.
I remember some podcast or another in which the host expressed a little confusion about how to use Aspects vs. Skills. The text says that Aspects are who you are while Skills are what you can do. That seems like a reasonable distinction but I can also see where it would be confusing in play. If my Aspect is that I'm The World's Deadliest Assassin and I have a Skill called Stab a Bastard... actually as I type this it kinda makes sense, doesn't it? The Aspect is broad and the Skill is narrow.
In fact, that is exactly the descendant of the FUDGE structure. You'd select an attribute, such as Dexterity, and then you'd have your skill, such as dancing. Dex is broad, dance is narrow.
There's a list of 19 standard Skills, such as Athletics, Lore, and Stealth. This list is similar to what you'd see in modern D&D and it seems like it would cover most of the bases for a generic game.
Skills are ranked per the adjective ladder. All PCs begin with 1 Great, 2 Good, 3 Fair, 4 Average, and the rest Mediocre. Seems legit and simple. No fiddly bits here.
Then the text tells you that when you're building your setting you'll want to consider do you want to keep this list or do you want to change it? This list seems custom-made for the most bog standard kind of RPG experience: exploring, fighting, getting treasure. So if you're thinking of using Fate to do a teenage angst drama club melodrama then maybe you'll get rid of Shoot in favor of Freestyle Rap.
|I like the FUDGE dice roller.|
As we get into the details of how to play I spy a really nice, important bit of advice: fiction first. That is, describe what you want to do then figure out how it works in the system. This seems intuitive but I think we all get caught up in what's on our character sheet and forget that this is how RP works.
I played in some D&D 4e games (I think about 10 sessions in total) and this was a really big problem. Let me be clear: the game was fun. I enjoyed the hell out of playing it and would gleefully play again. But I was not doing much roleplaying. It was mostly battle mat combat with minis. I did spend most of my time analyzing my character sheet and deciding which powers to use next. This is the opposite of roleplaying. Fun, but not RP.
|No, this is not a sourcebook.|
Other players: "BOGUS. Denied."
There's a nice bit about creating aspects (small "a") during conflicts. If I'm reading this correctly, it's just a way to formalize the use of terrain, environment, conditions, etc. So if you knock a bookcase over in front of a door maybe that becomes an aspect of the battle: BOOKCASE BLOCKADE. So when your villain tries to escape you can invoke BOOKCASE BLOCKADE and get some mods. Or something like that.
I dig that idea. Not sure how it works in play as I've never tried it. It does feel like the traditional turf of the GM to keep tabs on how that stuff affects a scene. You can do this in any RPG, narratively. But Fate gives you a crunchy rule for it.
There's a lot more to this book. It's 58 pages and what I've talked about so far is through page 28 or something. There is a lot of advice about playing and running the game, NPCs, character development Fate Points, etc. I feel like this book contains a lot of useful tips that are widely applicable to RP in general, not just this game.
And this fucker is free. So, no reason not to check it out. Will I play it? I dunno. Definitely not on my hit list to run and I'll most likely never run it. But I'd happily play in a game being ran by someone else.