October 15, 2013

[Review] Fate Core System

This is the review of the Fate Core System by Evil Hat Games. The book is available both in PDF (in the Pay-what-you-like formula) and physical copy (25$ + shipping) on the official website.

The Fate Core is a rule system mixing some traditional RPG's stuff with a lot more innovative things, with standard GM/players roles in a Customizable setting. 

The Fate Core is a task resolution system where you add Skill to the result of 4 fudge dice. The game is also based on the economy of Fate  oints. You can spend Fate Points to invoke an Aspect (a descriptive attribute of your character, of the scene, of the campaign, etc...) gaining a numerical advantage and you can gain Fate  oints making someone invoke one of your Aspects, causing you troubles. Everything can have permanent or temporary aspects and you can (and will) create a lot of them. Combat is based on one or more stress tracks and consequences (like "Breathless" or "Broken arm") If you deplete one of your stress tracks, you are taken out. You can also concede a fight before being taken out, accepting the loss but mitigating the negative effects. 

Elegant, easy, fun. You don't need more from an RPG mechanics.

The Character generation process is a cooperative process. You define your concept with an aspect (like "troubled gunslinger" or "lost prince of Atlantis"), your trouble ("Easy to trust" or "Addicted gambler") and three more aspects, normally related you your past AND the setting AND the other players. Then you choose your skills. then you make up your stunts, neat tricks make you unique, but beware that more stunts mean less Fate Points at the start of the session.
You can also go with the fast rules, naming your concept, your trouble and your peak skill and figuring all the others info during play.
With a similar process you create all together the setting and the main NPCs.

WOW! Making characters is really fun, shapes the world around you and gives to the GM a ton of stuff to build upon.

In FATE Core there is no base setting.
You and your friends will make up the setting at the start of the first session or at least the relevant parts. It's an easy process that will use something like one hour in the worst cases. The settings is defined by aspects. The NPCs are defined by aspects. 

It's really strange for me to like this much something without a clear setting, but the rules to define this during the first session are brilliant and, thanks to God, way easier than in the Dresden Files RPG.

GM are guided step by step into the Fate experience with a lot of how, a lot of because and a gazillion examples. The GM part covers almost everything you need to know from NPCs to adventures, from settings to special rules, from procedures to rules to customize your game.
There is no adventure but it's for a good cause: the book will explain to you how to write in a whim an adventure (or the start of an adventure) based on your players and only on them. 

This is simply one of the best rulebook I've ever read. Everything is super clear and there are lots of examples. The mechanics are really easy to grasp and everything, EVERYTHING, in coherent. The GM part is well written, really helpful and a pleasure to read.

I got the PDF from the kickstarter campaign so I can't talk about the book quality, but I can tell you that the artwork goes from decent to good but is never extraordinary.

THE JUDGEMENT (obviously an opinion)
I've read this book twice and this is one of the games I just WANT to play. Really, go searching for an available GM to play with. Let me give you an advice though: if you are not an indie/new wave player play this game with an experienced GM the first time, not because this is somehow difficult, but because your worst nightmare is to fall into the old traditional habits. it's ten times more fun if you let go and enjoy the Fate Core for what it is: an indie game disguised.

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